Late night haunts from inner city bars, to gargantuan nightclubs and suburban pubs will keep you drinking, partying and socializing till the wee hours of the morning…so no need to rush! Follow our guide to the very best of Sydney’s nightlife and come join the locals for an all-nighter with a most definite Down Under twist.
Sydney’s historic pubs
Ok, so you know this list is not necessarily going to be very long, given that the city’s mostly renowned for its modern, avant-garde joints which seem to pop up (and down) on a very regular basis. Nevertheless, the city’s oldest nook, The Rocks, does boast some rather deep–rooted institutions; fantastic old pubs which offer great tucker (that would Aussie slang for food), fantastic craft beers on tap, and a sometime rowdy but always jovial crowd. The most famous pub would have to be the Lord Nelson, the name alone hinting at its colonial origins, and its status as the city’s oldest pub and holder of Sydney’s longest-running alcohol license.
Nowadays, the Nelson is still renowned for brewing some of Australia’s best beers; its Nelson’s Blood drop strong enough to make grown men feel like they’ve yet to reach puberty. Yet the Nelson’s kitchen has also gained a cult following over the years, their homemade pies with mushy peas, and beer-battered fish and chips delicious enough to convince travellers to book a room upstairs next time they’re in town, lest they waste precious time just getting here. This sandstone mansion just oozes history (to Australian levels of course), has a great atmosphere and boasts a convivial bar ideal for lonesome wanderers. Do note that the bar closes at 11pm, but its central location means that finding a continuation venue should not be too hard at all.
Look out for the Fortune of War Hotel on George St and drop in for a drink at the other pub claiming to be the oldest in Sydney! The Fortune is a small little gem which may seem somewhat dodgy at first glance, but it actually has a great Aussie vibe and awesome live local bands on week-ends.
Sydney’s best nightclubs
If you want to shake your booty whilst on a Sydney vacation, let it be known that the city’s mega-clubs, which often attract some of the world’s most famous DJs, are as swanky, pricey and yes, even pretentious, as the best hubs of New York or London. The latest kid on the block, the super-trendy The Marquee Club, commands a $30 cover charge and an impossibly fashionable crowd. The best VIP booths go for a mere $10,000 a pop but hey, the club does boast three huge and rather distinct areas of varying musical tastes, so at least you’ll get your money’s worth no doubt!
The outdoor patio gifts fantastic harbour side views (The Marquee is on the top floor of the Star Casino), the unisex powder rooms are interesting, and the snazzy decor more than befitting this clubbing emporium. If you want to see how Sydney does over-the-top Vegas-style bling, this is the place you may want to check out.
Darlinghurst’s Stonewall is by far the most prominent LGBT-oriented club in Sydney and yes, straight dudes and dudettes may have a hard time getting in on busy nights, which is a real pity actually, because between the eye candy, hypnotic music and fab drag shows, it’s really one of the city’s top entertainment venues. Pick a weeknight to head to Oxford St and you may have more luck getting in; also do keep in mind that the fashion-police here are as over-the-top as the drag queens on show.
Sydney’s cool, harbour side bars
Sydney is home to some really great bars, blending the casual vibe of pubs with the more sophisticated edgy side of clubs. Infinitely popular choices like the Slip Inn (famous for being the bar where Mary Donaldson met her Danish Prince during the 2000 Olympics), Bungalow 8 and Cargo Bar (just two of many along the King Street Wharf strip) are great choices if you want to sip a cocktail or two, nibble on some yummy food, enjoy outstanding harbour views and perhaps have a boogie. Most of the King St. and Cockle Bay Wharf lounge bars are set out in a similar manner, with open street front ground floor bars, complemented by dance floors on the first level.
Sydney’s best theatre shows
Visiting Sydney and spending a glorious evening enjoying a concert at one of the city’s premier theatres would have to rate as the number one night-time activity to indulge in. Between the Opera House, Capitol and State Theatres, as well as many suburban performance theatres, hosting world-famous shows regularly, you’re bound to find something to take your fancy. Catching a ballet show, or perhaps an opera, symphony orchestra, cabaret show, comedy act or classical music concert in one of these great theatres would certainly make for a fantastic night out in Sydney.
Check out Ticketek for a comprehensive list of up and coming shows and concerts.