Sydney Nightlife

Sydney’s nightlife canvas is wide and varying. Oxford Street, the heart of Sydney's gay area, buzzes with cafes, bars and clubs (gay, straight and mixed) while the established red-light district spills out from Kings Cross. The Rocks and King Street Wharf are more upmarket; drinks at the harbourside terraces are expensive but worth it for the views. A large number of small Melbourne-like bars have sprung up across the city.

As with its bars and clubs, the city’s cultural life is equally diverse, from high classical at the Sydney Opera House to cutting-edge contemporary and experimental performance art.

Nightlife and cultural listings appear in Metro, the Friday edition entertainment section of the Sydney Morning Herald and in Time Out. Tickets are available for purchase from Ticketek (tel: (02) 9266 4800; and Ticketmaster (tel: 136 100, in Australia only;

Bars in Sydney

Café Sydney

This offers one of the most spectacular views in Sydney. Overlooking Circular Quay, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, atop the historic Customs House, its hard to go ignore. Enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail or glass of wine from the extensive wine list. You may start with a beverage in mind but if the view takes you in, you can also enjoy a fine dining experience. Bookings recommended.

31 Alfred Street, Circular Quay, Sydney, Australia
Telephone: (02) 9251 8683

This sensationally Melbourne-esque “laneway bar” is typical of the ‘small bar’ trend in Sydney and one not to be missed. Never fear, though it might seem like you’re being led down a dark laneway to be mugged but this gem is a delightful surprise. Enjoy a cocktail from their quirky list or a sensational vino from their wine list, it’s a perfect spot for a pre-dinner beverage.

1 Temperance Lane, Sydney, Australia
Telephone: (02) 9947 9025.
Opera Bar

Unrivalled in terms of location, with uninterrupted water views of Sydney Harbour Bridge and in the shade of the Sydney Opera House, Opera Bar is a spectacular place for a sunset beverage and a casual bite with friends.

Lower Concourse Level, Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia
Telephone: (02) 9247 1666.

Clubs in Sydney


Boasting one of the city’s best sound systems and lighting rigs, this spacious, two-level club is by far the best decked-out club in the GLBT scene. Expect a mix of house, dance and trance – along with commercial music downstairs – and a bevy of pretty shirtless boys and carefree, straight women enjoying a hassle-free night out. No cheese, no shirts and no attitude.

16 Flinders Street, Taylor Square, Sydney, Australia
Telephone: (02) 9380 8700.

A self-proclaimed ‘super-club’, Home is definitely one of the most popular clubbing haunts in the city. And with four different ‘rooms’ playing a variety of music, including funk, techno, two-step and disco, it’s easy to see why. There are also chill-out areas, balconies and a great VIP lounge. Though drinks err on the side of pricey, if you're in the mood for a big night, then this is it.

101/1-5 Wheat Road, Cockle Bay Wharf, Sydney, Australia
Telephone: (02) 9266 0600.

Located within strolling distance from Kings Cross station, Soho is notable Sydney clubbing institution. Spanning two floors and boasting a world-class sound system and state-of-the-art lighting installation, Soho has neatly carved itself as the 'it' venue of Kings Cross. Chic but relaxed, this art deco-inspired venue attracts a mixed crowd, including the odd international celebrity. Dress to impress, and you'll fit right in.

171 Victoria Street, Potts Point, Sydney, Australia
Telephone: (02) 9358 6511.

Live Music in Sydney

Annandale Hotel

The Annandale Hotel is one of the best centrally located venues for up-and-coming bands. Since opening its doors in the 1930s, this Aussie pub has played host to a plethora of bands spanning genres. Numerous artists have graced its stage including The Cat Empire, The Dandy Warhols, Sarah Blasko and Newton Faulkner. This is a true Sydney rock ‘n’ roll institution.

17 Parramatta Road, Annandale, Sydney, Australia
Telephone: (02) 9550 1078
Sydney Entertainment Centre

One of the most well-known live music venues around, Sydney Entertainment Centre has earned its reputation as the most versatile entertainment complex in the city. Here bookings from such luminaries as Leonard Cohen, Pink, Tom Jones, Lady Gaga and John Mayer are common week-to-week. With these international pop stars come the legions of fans happy to pay top dollar for a night of high-energy arena spectacular.

35 Harbour Street, Darling Harbour, Sydney, Australia
Telephone: (02) 9320 4200.
The Basement

One of the country's foremost clubs for live jazz, acoustic, folk, funk, blues, world and soul, this place has an adventurous regular line-up of local and international musicians. In this intimate venue, you’ll never be far from the action, but choose how close with cabaret-style tables (for a pre-show supper or snack perhaps?) near the stage or an elevated bar at the back. Acts appear every night, so it’s best to book ahead.

29 Reiby Place, Circular Quay, Sydney, Australia
Telephone: (02) 9251 2797.

Classical Music in Sydney

Conservatorium of Music

Known locally as ‘The Con’, this is one of the oldest and most prestigious music schools in Australia. Located adjacent to the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens the Conservatorium hosts symphony, wind and chamber concerts (as well as big jazz bands), both from some of the world’s leading musicians and talented staff and students. Look out for the regular lunchtime concerts.

1 Conservatorium Road (Macquarie Street), Sydney, Australia
Telephone: (02) 9351 1222.

Opera in Sydney

Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House is a premier performance venue for the Sydney Symphony, the Sydney Philharmonic Choirs, Opera Australia and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. The Australian Ballet performs mainly traditional pieces during its summer and winter season at the Sydney Opera House. Similarly, the Sydney Dance Company, the city's leading contemporary dance group, performs at the opera house for two seasons per year.

Bennelong Point, Circular Quay, Sydney, Australia
Telephone: (02) 9250 7111.

Dance in Sydney

Bangarra Dance Theatre

Performing a fusion of contemporary and traditional dance at various venues throughout the city (including its home theatre). The multi award-winning company was established as a dance company to celebrate Australia’s indigenous peoples and their culture. Each year, Bangarra performs to approximately 50,000 people around Australia and the world and its productions are regularly sold out.

Pier 4, 15 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay, Sydney, Australia
Telephone: (02) 9251 5333.

Theatre in Sydney

Belvoir Street Theatre

Tucked in-between terraces and flats in a converted leather factory, the fringe-style Belvoir Street Theatre has seen acting luminaries, such as Geoffrey Rush and Cate Blanchett grace its (well-used) stage. Performances often star well-known Australian actors, playing in either "Company B", upstairs, or "B Sharp", downstairs. There is a foyer bar for before, during or after performance drinks.

25 Belvoir Street, Surry Hills, Sydney, Australia
Telephone: (02) 9699 3444,
Sydney Theatre Company

A major in Australian drama since its establishment in 1978, the Sydney Theatre Company helped launch the careers of internationally-renowned Australian actors like Mel Gibson, Geoffrey Rush, Toni Collette and Cate Blanchett. Catch one of an impressive repertoire of Australian and international plays at its home base, The Wharf, on the harbour, or at the Sydney Opera House. Enjoy a pre-show drink or nibble at originally named “The Bar at the End of The Wharf”.

Pier 4, Hickson Road, Walsh Bay, Sydney, Australia
Telephone: (02) 9250 1999.
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