Ten of the best Sydney pubs and bars

Pubs and bars have been a part of the social fabric of Sydney since settlement, and today the city's drinking scene encompasses everything from historic locals to boutique brewhouses and uber trendy rooftop hangouts. Joanne Karcz checks in with a list of ten must-visit venues...

Ten of the best Sydney pubs

Hotel Palisade. Image: Gus Medero Photography

With so many fabulous bars and pubs in Sydney, any list of the best ten will omit at least another ten that also deserve mention.

My list of ten of the best Sydney pubs and bars includes options that will enhance your visit to Sydney. These venues are either destinations in their own right or part of a bigger experience, and include historic Sydney pubs whose walls have many tales to tell, iconic waterfront watering holes, and rooftop bars that afford mind-blowing city and harbour views.

I’ve also included a couple of great ‘locals’, for reasons that will become apparent. So, let’s get started!

Ten of the best Sydney pubs

Ten of the best Sydney pubs: The Australian Heritage Hotel. Image: Bigstock

A walk across the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge is almost obligatory for every visitor to the city. Afterwards, I like to relax with a drink and lunch at the Australian Heritage Hotel. Located in Cumberland Street in The Rocks, the Australian is known for its gourmet kangaroo, emu and crocodile pizzas. The hotel has been operating on its current site for more than 100 years and still has many of its Edwardian features, including metal awnings, etched signage and saloon-style doors.

Ten of the best Sydney pubs

Henry Deane Bar, Hotel Palisade. Image courtesy of De Simone Designs

There are three other fabulous historic pubs to check out in The Rocks. The first is the Hotel Palisade. Perfect for a refreshing break from sightseeing or a pre-theatre meal, it now boasts a ground floor pub, boutique accommodation and the super-stylish rooftop Henry Deane Bar, which offers great views of the bridge and harbour.

Just a stone’s throw from there is the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel. Craft beer is brewed on site, in what is arguably Sydney’s oldest hotel.

Ten of the best Sydney pubs

Ten of the best Sydney pubs: The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel. Image: Joanne Karcz


Last but not least of this trio of characters is the quaint Hero of Waterloo, which dates back to the mid 1840s. The cellar (complete with wall shackles) has a tunnel entrance, which legend has it was used for rum smuggling. It can still be seen today. Live music on weekends adds to the atmosphere.

Ten of the best Sydney pubs

Ten of the best Sydney pubs. Image courtesy of Hero of Waterloo

Not far from The Rocks on the 47th floor of Australia Square is the revolving O Bar. For the price of a drink (other than beer) you can travel 360 degrees over the course of an hour, soaking up the city sights as you go. Besides the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, look for the Sydney Cricket Ground, Olympic Park, the Prime Minister’s residence in Kirribilli,  and even the Blue Mountains in the distance. O Bar is open seven nights from 5pm to late and for lunch on Fridays from 12 noon.

Ten of the best Sydney pubs

Ten of the best Sydney pubs. Image courtesy of O Bar and Dining

For another bird’s eye view of the city, head up to the Sky Terrace — the rooftop bar at The Star. It’s a great spot to relax with a drink before or after visiting the casino or taking in a show at the Lyric Theatre.

Most visitors to Sydney head for the beach at some point during their stay. Many choose to walk the popular six-kilometre coastal trail between Bondi Beach and Coogee, and here you’ll find another worthy addition to this list of ten of the best Sydney pubs. The iconic Coogee Bay Hotel boasts numerous bars and a popular beer garden. Famous rugby teams have been known to relax here (my daughter once played pool at the Coogee Bay Hotel with the Springboks!).

Ten of the best Sydney pubs

Ten of the best Sydney pubs. Image courtesy of Coogee Bay Hotel

There are not many places in the world as beautiful as Sydney Harbour. One of the best spots to sit and take in this famous waterway is from another famous watering hole — the Watsons Bay Hotel. The sublime water views are the perfect accompaniment to a glass of white wine and a serve of fresh fish and chips.

Ten of the best Sydney pubs

Image courtesy of Watsons Bay Hotel


For something different, I often take my visitors to Sydney for a walk along King Street in Newtown. It’s home to an eclectic range of stores that sell the wares of both emerging and established designers. It’s here that I first stumbled across Corridor — a food and wine bar which, as its name implies, is long and narrow. Described as an ‘intimate nook’, it has a really relaxed and friendly atmosphere.

Ten of the best Sydney pubs

Ten of the best Sydney pubs: Corridor. Image: Joanne Karcz

I’ll wrap up this list of ten of the best Sydney pubs and bars with an option that’s perfect for a drink before attending the theatre or a weekend jazz performance at the Seymour Centre in Chippendale. It’s The Rose Hotel, which has been a part of the Chippendale community for well over a century. Located on the corner of Cleveland and Shepherd Streets, the beer garden has a lovely feel to it. It’s not always easy to get a table, but we usually manage to find a spot.

Ten of the best Sydney pubs

Image courtesy of The Rose Hotel

So there you have it — a list of my recommendations for ten of the best Sydney pubs and bars. I hope you enjoy dropping into these wonderful watering holes as much as I do.

Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of ten of the best Sydney pubs and bars? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Additional images: Bigstock

 

About the writer

Joanne Karcz published a blog when she walked the Camino de Santiago some years ago and has been writing about her travels ever since. She is also an aspiring travel photographer and takes her camera wherever she goes. Joanne loves discovering new things to see and do in her own Sydney backyard, and blogs regularly about the city’s suburbs. She has travelled through Europe and South America and taken a group of friends on the trip of a lifetime to South Africa, Botswana and Zambia. Her visits to Cuba and India were bucket list items, but she still has a few destinations to tick off!


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