You’re in one of the world’s most beautiful cities – it’s time to drink in the views. Understandably, Sydney comes with plenty of bars and pubs that offer panoramas over the city and its dazzling harbour. Whatever your location or your tipple of choice, here are standout establishments to enjoy a cold one in – and get some perspective of – Australia’s largest city.
The Glenmore Hotel
Location: The Rocks
Great for: Postcard-worthy views of the Opera House and classic pub vibes.
When it comes to sparkling harbour views, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better vantage than this. With one of the most photographed outlooks in Sydney, The Glenmore Hotel offers dreamy water views all the way to the Sydney Opera House, ideally enjoyed with a beer in one hand and a burger in the other. Unlike its equally wonderful, but more buttoned-up cousin Opera Bar across Circular Quay, The Glenmore is all about laid-back pub vibes.
Yes, you can go a little bit fancy with oysters and polenta chips. But most visitors – whether in a business suit or board shorts – come here for a chicken schnitty and chips and a jug or two of whatever’s on tap, to quench a thirst after a long day exploring The Rocks.
Think all of Sydney's best rooftop bars call the CBD home? Think again. Nick & Nora's towers above most other rooftop bars in Sydney, resting on the 26th floor of the V by Crown in Parramatta – those with vertigo might want to look away.
It's not just the physical heights that make this rooftop bar so dreamy – the experience is of the highest quality, as well. Taking inspiration from the 1934 detective novel The Thin Man, this isn't your average bar. A celebration of the lively party culture during Prohibition, the opulent decor, classy service and fancy cocktails and champagne list will transport you back to the days of flappers and dapper gents. Expect champagne cocktails and caviar to accompany your sparkling backdrop.
An institution in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, Icebergs is the kind of place you see on Sydney postcards. Overlooking the waves of legendary Bondi Beach, this is the perfect perch for a few quiet – or maybe a few rowdy – beverages when the sun is shining.
While Icebergs Dining Room and Bar is more tailored to special events, the outdoor terrace is just the spot for an afternoon with friends and a bottle of champagne. Think breezy seaside bliss, complete with lightly shaded wooden furniture, beautiful greenery and light bites like marron and scampi with finger lime, or Sydney rock oysters with lemon myrtle granita.
Great for:Refreshing cocktails enjoyed at a lofty vantage.
Sitting pretty atop The Republic Hotel, Taylor’s Rooftop provides open-air escapism in the heart of the city. This place is less about the views – yes, you’re high up – and more about the experience, with the focus on stellar cocktails, great wines and tasty snacks. Try the southern fried chicken burger.
With a retractable roof, Taylor’s can even accommodate a bit of bad weather. But for the most part you’ll have complete exposure to Mother Nature, your setting all ensconced in vertical green walls. Come here on weekends for tunes from some of the city’s best DJs.
Sydney's craft beer scene is as dynamic as it is delicious. Seriously, is there anything local makers can’t brew with? But The Taphouse got in on the ground floor and has been celebrating Aussie brewers for years. With a rotating list of brews that reaches 400-plus annually, there's bound to be something for beer aficionados and novices alike. The Taphouse serves up classic, rustic pub vibes across its three floors, but the welcoming rooftop is the pick of the bunch.
You're not going to find live and loud sport or thumping tunes on this rooftop, and it doesn't even have the same majestic view of others on this list. But you will get pints pulled from more than 60 taps and a classic pub-inspired menu – think tacos, brisket, Southern fried chicken sandwiches and barbecue platters.
Great for: Surrounding skyscrapers in a cosy nook.
Hidden away in a run-down Clarence Street office building, Old Mate’s Place may be hard to find, but it is well worth the effort. The bar’s lower floor could be mistaken for an old library, decorated with bookshelves, dark timbers, quirky family heirlooms and overgrowing potted plants, while the secluded rooftop space – open from Thursday to Saturday – gives you views of the surrounding skyscraper peaks.
Nap a spot at the bar or one of the few tables and order the signature Philly cheesesteak as a side while you make your way through the ever-changing cocktail list. Think concentrated pina coladas (served inside an old tome) or tall glasses of refreshing sake, gin, watermelon, sherry and lemon in the summertime.
Great for: Harbour views just a hop, skip and a jump from the bustling city.
Sitting atop the beautiful Mitchell Building at the State Library of NSW– a previously unused (and underutilized) space – the aptly named Library Bar might be one of the best places in Sydney to sip on a sunset cocktail while enjoying harbour views.
Taking inspiration from other tucked-away CBD drinking dens, like those that populate the cobblestone alleyways around YCK Laneways, guests access the venue from a secret entry on Hospital Road. From there, walk down the grungy corridor and jump on the old goods lift to the observation deck.
The Library Bar at the State Library of NSW - Credit: Yusuke Oba
Great for: Celestial astronomy-inspired cocktails and vistas of the city's icons.
Previously only accessible to hotel guests, Aster is the newly reopened bar on the 32nd floor of the Intercontinental Sydney, which underwent a $120 million refurbishment in 2022. The creative cocktail list features drinks made with thoughtfully selected ingredients, inspired by the proximity to the sweeping Sydney skies. Think white truffle negronis or the signature Orange Sky Waves made with fermented mandarin and gin, and sip while admiring the 270-degree views of Sydney Harbour, the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.
West-facing Zephyr is a luxury sky bar overlooking Darling Harbour, that is blessed with epic sunset views. The award-winning bar is known for its extensive spirit and liquor menu that features rare and exclusive gin, rum and whisky among others. There are also classic and signature cocktails, including premium creations, ice cream cocktails and drinks to share. Pair with oysters, share plates and delicious desserts.
Zephyr Sky Bar, in the Hyatt Regency Sydney. Image Credit: Hyatt Regency Sydney.
Great for: Middle Eastern cuisine and inner-city vibes.
Hidden away above Westfield Sydney, Babylon Rooftop is a sprawling restaurant and bar. The Middle Eastern-inspired spot has skyscraper views from both the roof terrace and indoor restaurant and bar, with styling modelled on the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
The food menu features flavours and textures of Levantine cuisine which stretches modern Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Syria and Turkey. And the drinks menu includes signature cocktails with Middle Eastern influence along with a substantial wine list and beers on tap.
Filled with plants and greenery, Green Moustache feels miles away from the high rises of North Sydney. The rooftop garden bar and restaurant features a botanically inspired cocktail menu along with a 275 strong wine list. Seasonally sourced ingredients make up the food menu, with options for lunch, dinner, bar snacks and a weekend bottomless brunch.
Dessert options are a real highlight, created by an ex-Nomad pastry chef, and include coconut panna cotta, vanilla shortbread tart with Belgian chocolate crémeux and sweet buttermilk millefeuille with roast pistachio cream.
Great for: Craft beer and pizza fresh from the oven.
Beer enthusiasts will love Keg & Brew in Surry Hills. The pub has a spacious open-air terrace with a pizza oven, serving up a selection of treats along with over 30 beers on tap and three hand pumps. Try local craft ales from 4 Pines, Young Henrys and Willie the Boatman along with old favourites. Or go for the cocktail jugs, wine by the glass or one of the many bourbons on offer while you enjoy the city views.
If you don’t fancy pizza, the food menu features a range of Southern American-inspired dishes including chipotle mac ‘n’ cheese croquettes, buffalo wings and buttermilk fried chicken burgers. Which is perfectly in fitting with the cowhide wallpaper and animal heads adorning the walls.
The Light Brigade features four levels of bar and dining rooms on Paddington's Oxford Street. Head past the ground-floor sports bar, first-floor bistro and second-floor 1920s Art Deco Lounge to the Brigade Rooftop. From the lofty vantage point, you can admire views of the Sydney skyline while dining on a wood-fired pizza.
There are daily food specials including $15 schnitzel on Wednesdays and 241 Tuesdays, along with drink deals such as $12 margaritas on Thursdays and $12 cocktails on Saturdays.
Set overlooking Coogee’s beautiful sandy shore, the Coogee Pavilion is the perfect post-beach spot. With a family-friendly ground floor serving pizza, a selection of dining options on the middle floor and an adult-only rooftop terrace, you’re covered for all eventualities.
The rooftop features four indoor and outdoor bars, filled with greenery and boasting some of the best views in the city. Food comes from Jimmy’s Chicken and includes Middle Eastern mezze, wraps and large plates.
This Australian-styled bar is a rooftop oasis in Sydney’s newly updated Barangaroo waterfront precinct. Enjoy tropical cocktails like the Flamin' Galah and Beach Dreams along with an eclectic food menu that includes seafood, a variety of fusion-style plates and excellent veggie and vegan options.
Brunch with Soul on Saturdays offers two hours of bottomless cocktails, with live entertainment and Southern-style food, and on Sundays try the five-course plant-based menu that includes barbecue pulled shiitake tacos, crispy cauliflower bites and raspberry chocolate truffle.
In the bustling CBD on York Street, The Rook takes up the 7th floor of an office building and is the perfect spot to indulge in a few post work drinks and tasty bar food. Order the signature lobster snack roll or the excellent sliders while you wind down in the chicly-styled bar.
On the drink's menu, try one of the innovative and fruity cocktails like the Sunsetter – made with gin, Chambord, apple schnapps, lime and blackberries – or the Apricot Rumble, a mixture of white rum, apricot brandy, dry vermouth, Campari, pineapple and lime.
Great for: Palm Springs-styled cocktails with a heritage outlook.
Despite being over a century old, Quarryman's Hotel is a chic and modern spot for drinks and dining. Along with the main downstairs bar and courtyard, and upstairs restaurant, is the Palm Springs-inspired rooftop bar. This is the spot to try some of the excellent cocktails.
The pub specialises in craft beer, and you can sample a rotating selection of 34 beers on tap, sourced from mainly independent breweries throughout Australia. The food menu features pub classics with a few international flavours thrown in.
Great for: Views of the city and Ibero-American dishes.
Take in panoramic views of the Sydney skyline at The Butler, a hidden gem full of vintage charm. This terrace restaurant and bar has perfected the zesty and tangy flavours of Ibero-American cuisine, offering classic dishes such as lamb barbacoa, confit pork carnitas, pan seared sea scallops, ensalada fresca and more.
In addition to the city views, the terrace dining area is infused with luscious greenery that provides an exotic twist on traditional colonial architecture. It's the perfect place to unwind and indulge in an extensive selection of beer, wine and fruity cocktails — from classic margaritas to signature concoctions like the Pineapple & Ginger Fizz.
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