Sydneysiders love a lot of things — beaches, fireworks and exorbitant real estate prices, to name a handful — but few of them rival the city’s passion for rooftop bars. Here are 10 of the best in town.
Whether you’re thirsty for an al fresco craft beer, sweeping views of the suburbs or the skyline, or a seaside schooner just a stroll from the sand, Australia’s biggest city seems to enjoy an endless supply of spectacular rooftop watering holes. So grab yourself a beer or a cocktail and nestle into one of these 10 rooftop bars in Sydney, Australia.
If you only visit one rooftop bar in Sydney, make it this one. The Glenmore boasts unrivalled views of Sydney Harbour, with a busy terrace overlooking the nearby Harbour Bridge and the sparkly white Opera House across Circular Quay. This friendly, casual pub is jam-packed on weekends so head there early or during a weekday to snag a table and tuck into some pub grub with a view.
From the street, this nondescript high-rise looks just like any other boring building in Sydney’s business district. But once you hop out of the lift on the top floor, you’ll find a very modern rooftop bar brimming with character. The Rook curates a colourful cocktail list, a broad selection of craft beers and a vibrant food menu made up of burgers and fresh whole lobsters.
The Coogee Pav, as the immaculately tanned and preened locals call it, is where Sydney’s social set comes to see and be seen. The rooftop features four different bars and a sun-drenched balcony that wraps around the huge building, offering panoramic views of the Coogee coastline and the salubrious surrounding suburbs. Join the dolled-up clientele for a summery cocktail and a nibble from the Mediterranean-inspired food menu.
This Newtown venue has a storied history, originally as the site of the New Town Store that gave the neighbourhood its name, then as legendary nightspot Zanzibar, an icon of this bohemian corner of the inner-west. Now named Websters after the owners of that original corner store, this rooftop bar sits above the ground-floor bar and restaurant plus the second-floor bourbon bar and grill, serving a selection of more than 600 different whiskies in a relaxed outdoor space.
The Ivy is a behemoth of Sydney’s hospitality scene and its rooftop pool is the jewel in the crown. Book a poolside cabana on a sunny Sunday afternoon to see the venue in all its glory. The decor is a bright, flashy blend of Los Angeles, Hawaii and the Italian Riviera. The exotic cocktails are tasty, the music is thumping and the party vibes are the closest Sydney can come to Las Vegas.
Craft beer lovers will go weak at the knees for this Darlinghurst favourite, which offers a rotating selection of 20-plus microbrews to sample in old-school pub surroundings. Nab a spot on the cosy rooftop to slurp down a pint in the sunshine or partner a mouth-watering grazing plate with a tasting paddle of different craft beers.
The balcony of the old Kit and Kaboodle nightclub has enjoyed a sophisticated facelift, kitting out this old Kings Cross favourite with luscious greenery, a chic pastel-themed design, a fresh cocktail menu and a trendy food menu including a generous banquet option to share on one of the long wooden tables. Try to make a reservation in advance so you don’t climb seven flights of stairs only to be denied entry at the door!
The third floor of The Republic Hotel is one of the business district’s most popular balcony bars — just ask the punters who pack it out every Friday evening for knock-off drinks at the end of the working week. Join the suits for a mug of Asahi or a glass of rosé after 5pm during the week, or pop in on the weekend for DJs and a dance floor in the fresh air.
The Sydney Hilton’s rooftop terrace exudes sophistication, but the cocktail menu more than matches the views of downtown Sydney and the Queen Victoria Building just across the road. Zeta’s mixologists have picked up award after award for their crafty concoctions — the team creates all their own syrups in-house, experiments with molecular gastronomy and deconstructed classics, and has joined forces with the kitchen downstairs to produce a range of edible ‘culinary cocktails’.
Paddington is peppered with plenty of historic pubs that have been gussied up for its well-heeled residents, but this one is something special. Ascend through The Royal’s ground-floor sports bar, second-floor gastropub, then third and fourth-floor cocktail bar to reach the intimate rooftop terrace, themed like an English garden. There’s only space for 40 punters and those lucky enough to squeeze in are gifted an unspoiled view of the Sydney skyline.