The Best Gay Bars in Sydney, Australia

Party animals will love hitting the dance floor at the Arq in Sydney
Party animals will love hitting the dance floor at the Arq in Sydney | © Gazzarazzi Photography / Arq Sydney
Photo of Tom Smith
20 April 2021

Sydney’s gay scene is renowned around the world, and a colourful collection of LGBTQ venues adds a splash of rainbow across this huge, progressive and cosmopolitan city.

Whether you’re looking for a quiet beer garden on a Sunday afternoon or a pulsing dance floor at 3am, there is no shortage of fabulous LGBTQ watering holes located across Sydney. Grab a drink at these gay and lesbian bars and clubs in the Harbour City that guarantee a warm welcome for the queer community.

Stonewall

Gay Bar, Pub, Contemporary, $$$
Map View

Located just around the corner from the rainbow flag on Taylor Square, Stonewall is the beating heart of Sydney’s gay scene smack-bang in the middle of Oxford Street. Named after the New York City original, Stonewall offers three levels of bars and live entertainment, including popular drag shows on Friday and Saturday nights. The bar also does its bit for the community, supporting a number of LGBTQ charities and organisations over the past 23 years.

The Imperial Erskineville

Pub, Bar, Gay Bar, LGBTQ Bar, Pub Grub, $$$
Map View
Imperial Up bar © The Imperial Erskineville
© The Imperial Erskineville

The pub where Mitzi Del Bra, Bernadette Bassenger and Felicia Jollygoodfellow set off on their journey into the outback at the start of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is still one of Sydney’s most famous gay bars. The ground-floor restaurant Priscillas pays homage to the legendary Aussie film, the rooftop bar Imperial Up serves delicious cocktails, and the Basement is a safe space for expressive dance and live performance, all making the “Impy” an icon of Sydney’s bohemian Inner West.

Colombian Hotel

Bar, Nightclub, Gay Bar, LGBTQ Bar, Contemporary, $$$
Map View

Occupying a former bank on a well-positioned Oxford Street corner, the Colombian is a fixture of Sydney’s gay scene. Grab a stool in the airy street-level bar, and sip on a drink as you cast your eye over the colourful characters that stroll up and down the so-called Golden Mile – there’s always a good crowd for after-work drinks before things get wilder on Friday and Saturday nights.

Arq

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Nightclub, Gay Bar, Cocktails, $$$
Map View

Party animals pack out this Darlinghurst mega-club every weekend, open until 5am on Saturday and Sunday nights. Sitting just off Oxford Street, the cocktail bar, resident entertainers, deluxe lighting and sound system, and dual dance floors – upstairs for house and trance, downstairs for more poppy tunes – make Arq an institution of Sydney’s nightlife.

Palms on Oxford

LGBTQ Bar, Nightclub, Gay Bar, Contemporary, $$$
Map View
Revellers at a Sydney Mardi Gras party © Jeffrey Feng / Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras
© Jeffrey Feng / Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras

This attitude-free Oxford Street bar reminds you of a loose wedding reception – in a good way, of course. We’re talking daggy disco tunes, song requests, a well-populated dance floor and drinks flowing as steadily as the good vibes among the groups of friends who flock to Palms on Oxford for an unpretentious night out. Get there early on Friday and Saturday nights to avoid the queue.

The Beresford

Bar, Pub Grub, Italian, $$$
Map View
The Beresford courtyard © Courtesy of Merivale
© Merivale

This venue used to be one of the premier gay bars in the city, and, although it’s now a neighbourhood pub offering something for everyone, Sundays at the Beresford are still a staple of Sydney’s gay scene. Huge crowds flock from nearby Oxford Street to the Sunday sessions in the leafy, sun-dappled courtyard before the party heads to the Upstairs Beresford dance floor later in the evening.

Oxford Hotel

Gay Bar, Bar, Contemporary, $$$
Map View
Entertainers at the Oxford Hotel © Universal Hotels
© Universal Hotels

The four distinct spaces inside the Oxford are as diverse as its clientele. There are the ground-floor bistro and terrace of the Oxford Bar, the booming subterranean Underground, and the sophisticated top-floor Polo Lounge – but the star of the show is found on the first floor. Ginger’s is a New York-style cocktail bar lined with intimate booths and mezzanine seating, providing a stage for cabaret and live music every weekend.

Slide

Bar, Contemporary, $$$
Map View
El' Circo show at Slide © Slide
© Slide

Sitting inside an old Art Deco building at the Hyde Park end of Oxford Street, Slide is one of Sydney’s most glamorous queer-friendly venues. Enjoy dinner and a cocktail as you watch one of the cabaret shows, live performances or themed events – the venue is home to circus degustation El’ Circo and has hosted a long list of well-known artists to accompany the refined food-and-drink menu since it opened in 2005.

These recommendations were updated on April 20, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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