Melbourne might reign supreme when it comes to Australian bars, cafes and restaurants, but Sydney is putting up a damn good fight, and the bars on offer get better by the year. I’m here to share some of my personal favourites with you.
Once you’ve touched down in Sydney, there’s so much to see and do both during the day and at night that you’ll need your energy, so don’t let being tired from the flight hold you back. Take a comfortable neck pillow for that long trip with you so you can stay fresh throughout and hit the ground running when you land.
One of the great things about Sydney is that it is, being a beach city and found in Australia, a country famed for its laid back attitude and living in flip flops, ultra-casual, so you don’t need to dress up as much as you would to go out in other major cities.
Of course, there are plenty of places where you can suit up if you so desire, but there are also plenty of spots with a more relaxed and informal vibe, more focused on having fun than how you look while doing so.
There are a multitude of things to explore in Australia. Options are aplenty when it comes to bars too, and it wasn’t easy to narrow my selection down to just five, but in the end, I whittled it down to the five gems you’ll find below, all extremely different from one another.
The top 5 Sydney bars
The Opera Bar
If we’re talking Sydney, there’s no way we could leave this one out.
The experience of having a drink or a bite to eat in such an iconic location is one you’ll never forget and is a perfect selfie opportunity. There’s an enormous amount of outdoor space here, although it does fill up early, especially on weekends.
If you decide to eat rather than just enjoy a glass of something, you can sit inside in the air conditioning and watch those out on the terrace melt in the heat, which they tend to do in the summer months. However, in the winter a table outside is the perfect spot for a little winter sun.
A cracking spot for those of you on a budget looking for somewhere cheap and remarkably cheerful.
The prices here will delight anyone trying to keep an eye on what they’re spending, as many of Sydney’s bars can tend to be a bit on the pricey side.
The prices do their job well and this place is always packed, but you should be able to find somewhere to perch by the bar or in the brick courtyard. You’ll find this diamond in the rough in Redfern Jamtown
You’ll find this Jamaican joint on Manly’s Belgrave Street, and it fully lives up to all expectations.
You’ll probably be staying in the central city, so you get to adventure over here on the ferry. You might want to come over to Manly earlier in the day to enjoy the beach and make this a pit stop on your way back.
The drinks menu is quintessentially Jamaican, with Red Stripe playing a leading role, and the cocktails all go relatively heavy on the rum, with plenty of tropical flavours. The music’s great, and make sure you come with an appetite because the menu is to-die-for, with classic Jamaican flavours.
A particular highlight is the limbo pole next to the bar. Make it under it and you’ll get a 10% discount on your meal. Challenge accepted!
You’ll be hitting Bondi Beach at some point, so why not treat yourself to a drink and a snack at another of Sydney’s best bars while you’re there, and really soak up the atmosphere. It’s got a laid-back vibe, but the drinks are incredibly sophisticated.
If you’re hungry after all that beaching, try the mac and cheese. They recommend a wine that goes beautifully with every dish.
If you’re around on a Sunday, a DJ is playing to entertain those getting stuck into a Sunday session and they serve up a killer roast.
Sydney is known for shutting down relatively early, but Big Poppa’s is a relatively new offering that’s serving full meals till 3 am every night of the week. This place has been opened by some big names in Sydney’s bar world, and you’ll find the bar in the basement.
The cocktails are cracking, and the wines aren’t bad either. Just be warned that this place does fill up early, and they don’t take bookings, so get there nice and early or show up in the wee hours, especially if you’re in search of a good feed having filled your boots elsewhere.
There’s more to Sydney than its bars
Those are my five favourite bars in Sydney, but with so much on offer don’t stop there.
From classy hotel bars to karaoke joints to distilleries producing their own spirits on the premises, there’s a huge amount to discover barwise city-wide. Just make sure you stay organised packing wise during your travels so that you can grab your partywear & hit the ground running.
Start your night (or even day) off at one of these spots, then embrace the Aussie spirit and see where the wind takes you.