Sydney Nightlife: The best Bars & Clubs

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Have you just arrived and need somewhere to party? If you are looking for nightlife in Sydney the city is full of great places to have a drink or party until morning – you will not be disappointed! With so much choice, how do you begin your search? Here are a few good ideas to get you started.  

Sydney Neighborhoods -where is best to party?

The best neighbourhood for nightlife depends on your partying style. As a general statement the main neighbourhoods to visit are:

  • The CBD (Central Business District) and Darling Harbor neighbourhoods are at the heart of the city and therefore attract a rather “classy” population favoured by young professionals socialising after a day at the office. 
  • The Rocks offer a relaxed atmosphere, which is perfect for tourists and families.
  • The neighbourhoods of Oxford Street and Newtown offer trendy bars and restaurants appealing to the younger population.
  • Surry Hills is known as the best eating & drinking precinct in the city and is a haven for hipsters. 
  • Kingscross is THE party spot and includes many of the city’s bars and clubs.

Bars and clubs in Sydney

The best bars

There are so many places to go out in Sydney with new bars opening all the time. Here are some of our best picks:

The Opera Bar (for a view of the Opera House)

Sydney Opera House, Macquarie St, Sydney

This is a must if you are passing through Sydney and probably one of the city’s most famous bars due to its location. It is at the foot of the Sydney Opera House, offering amazing views of the Harbor Bridge. This place serves as a bar and restaurant with its outdoor terrace literally feet from the water. As you can imagine, it is incredibly popular with tourists so if you plan to visit, arrive early to ensure a table with a view!  

The 360 ​​bar and dining (for a first class city view)

F4 Castlereagh St, Sydney

Rise and climb to the top of Sydney Tower for a 360-degree view of the city thanks to this revolving restaurant and bar. Located at the top floor of Westfield shopping mall it offers a chic atmosphere with chic prices to match. Ideal for a special occasion or if you just go for a beer, pints are between $ 11 and $13. 

The Glenmore Hotel (for a city view without the chic pricetag)

96 Cumberland St, The Rocks 

Located in The Rocks, this bar offers an equally nice view of the city and its illuminated skyline. We particularly love the terrace and the wide selection of beer. However, we’re not the only ones who love this view, the Glenmore Hotel is very popular so arrive early to reserve the best spot!

Scary Canary (an ideal spot for pre-drinks)

469 Kent St, Sydney A 

As a popular backpacker spot, this dance bar combines cheap drinks with a regular themed party = a win, win situation! There is a nightclub area which consists of a large hall that ignites every Tuesday for the “Silent Disco” evenings with $5 drink deals on until midnight. Definitely a nightlife hot spot in Sydney.

S.A.S.H – Greenwood Hotel (for a Sundays sesh)

36 Blue St, North Sydney

A bit out of the way in Sydney’s North, this church-turned-bar rose to fame with it’s Sunday sessions known as S.A.S.H. Offering incredible DJs from day till night music starts at 2 pm all the way through to 4 am. From drinking to dining the Greenwood Hotel offers four areas including a Chapel and Courtyard for you to enjoy the tastiest of cocktails and good tunes to match. 

The best nightclubs

Ivy Precinct (commercial music, RnB, house)

330 George St, Sydney

If there is one place to dance in Sydney, it’s the Ivy! From locals to international backpackers, the dancefloor of the Ivy welcomes everyone. Located in the heart of the CBD, it is more of an entertainment complex than simply a nightclub. Consisting of several areas both indoors and out offering different styles of music and dining areas with limitless options available day or night!  The Ivy Precinct even has a hip rooftop pool bar so if you don’t fancy dancing the night away, enjoy day time drinks with a swim in the pool. Enjoy the nightlife in Sydney and dance your bum off at Ivy.

The Ivy is highly prized by backpackers thanks to its mix of genres from RnB Fridays to Ministry of Sound Saturdays and even free entry on Thursdays before 10 pm.

Home The Venue (commercial music, RnB, electro)

101 / 1-5 Wheat Rd, Darling Harbor

Located in Darling Harbor, this is Sydney’s leading superclub with a capacity of over 2000 people, split over 3 floors and 9 different bars. During the day you can access the Home Bar and its terrace with views of Darling Harbor. At night, you have a choice between 4 large rooms each offering a different genre of music.

The venue hosts famous DJs from around the world as well as popular club nights such as S.A.S.H by night and Homemade Saturdays.

Understandably due to its size, the queues to enter can be quite long and be warned, the drinks can also be expensive.

Argyle (commercial music, Rnb)

18 Argyle St, The Rocks 

Like the previous recommendations, the Argyle is both a bar and restaurant during the day and then a nightclub in the evening. It consists of a large outdoor courtyard and 3 dance halls. If you like salsa parties, then Thursdays are the best day to go! On weekends expect chart music and popular tunes to keep everyone happy. 

The Establishment

Ground Floor / 252 George St, Sydney

Also in the heart of the city, The Establishment offers the same kind of salsa party as the Argyle but on Tuesday nights! The place is a more upmarket affair, with a large bar in the centre and an outdoor terrace. 

Marquee (commercial music)

Pirrama Rd, Pyrmont

Part of one of the most famous nightclub chains in the world, the Marquee of Sydney is just as popular as it’s sister clubs in New York, Singapore and Vegas. With a capacity of more than 1000 people and 3 rooms showcasing world famous DJs, an unmissable evening is to be had. Entry can be expensive due to the talent on offer with entry costing anywhere from $20+ on a Friday to $40+ on a Saturday depending on the DJ or act performing. As a tip, tickets are usually cheaper when booked online in advance and it also saves time queuing at the door! 

Chinese Laundry (electro music)

111 Sussex St, Sydney

For all electro fans, head to Chinese Laundry located on the side of Darling Harbor. This place offers 3 dancefloors and a courtyard surrounded by funky Chinese decor. Entry tickets can be purchased in advance online to save time and money. Definitely a very well-known nightlife hotspot in Sydney.

Burdekin Hotel (electro music)

2 Oxford St, Darlinghurst 

A second popular venue for electro enthusiasts! Located in the area of ​​Oxford Street, Burdekin Hotel is famous for its “We love” parties which offer epic tunes from a crowd-pleasing lineup. Entry cost $15 if you arrive before 11 pm but up to $25 thereafter. 

marquee sydney nightlife

The opinion of the community

Although our selection above is based on our personal experiences, we also asked travellers currently in Sydney for their opinions. In a Facebook group, we recently launched a poll on “Where to go out in Sydney”. Here are the results :

If you have your own favourite club night or cocktail destination in Sydney, do not hesitate to comment below to help your fellow backpackers and tell us what you think about the nightlife in Sydney. 

  1. Sash by day
  2. Establishment
  3. Argyle
  4. Ivy
  5. Homebar
  6. Sash by night
  7. Marquee
  8. Coogee Beach
  9. Scary Canary
  10. Bush / Doof Party
  11. Malborough Hotel
  12. Goodbar

Practical information for a night out in Sydney

In addition to moderate drinking (of course), remember that in Australia, especially in Sydney, the nightlife ends early and starts early! It’s not uncommon for dancefloors to start filling up around 10 pm. 

Then due to licensing laws, the vast majority of clubs have strict entry rules and cannot accept anybody after a certain time (usually 1 or 2 am). For this reason, head out early and don’t be shocked by the queues! 

Finally, always research the dress code before you go and make sure to bring ID. Proof of age for alcohol is required everywhere, not just night clubs. We hope you have an amazing night, wherever you choose to go to Sydney! 

Updated on the 19/11/2019. Initially published on the 24/07/2019.