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The Bardar Guide to Sydney’s Best Clubs

An intro to this guide

Sydney’s club scene has begun to flourish once more after years in hibernation, with a slate of excellent events and thumping venues developing over the past few years. While the club scene is particularly active during Summer, there are plenty of great places to two-step the night away all year round. We’ve compiled a few of our favourites in this guide to Sydney’s best clubs.

The Guide

1. The Oxford Art Factory

The Oxford Art Factory is an alternative club that hosts a variety of artists from every genre from indie rock to hard techno, and is without question the best place to catch live music in Sydney.

Situated in the heart of Darlinghurst, The Oxford Art Factory is more than just a club; it’s a cultural institution. Known for its eclectic and constantly changing lineup of live music and DJs, this venue offers a dynamic atmosphere that attracts a diverse crowd. The space is divided into a main room for the big acts and an intimate gallery bar for more laid-back vibes. It’s a place where creativity and music come together to make every night a unique experience.

2. Club 77

Club 77 is the heartbeat of Sydney’s underground electronic music scene, offering an unpretentious and immersive experience with some of the best speakers in town.

For those who appreciate the underground scene, Club 77 in Darlinghurst is absolutely one of Sydney’s best clubs. This club has been a staple of Sydney’s nightlife for decades, known for its raw, unpretentious vibe and commitment to electronic music. With dim lighting and a subterranean feel, Club 77 is the perfect spot to cut some serious shapes well into the wee hours.

3. Mary’s Underground

Mary’s Underground is a legendary basement club that combines live music and DJ sets with a relaxed, intimate vibe.

Mary’s Underground blends the best of live music and club culture. With low ceilings and an intimate atmosphere, it’s a fantastic place to see performances of all varieties, from relaxed jazz to sweaty punk rock to electric DJ performances. Underground hosts a variety of one-off and weekly events, so be sure to check their website to work out what’s on in advance. Whether you’re there for a live gig or a DJ set, Mary’s Underground promises an unforgettable night.

Best Event: We are massive fans of Basement, a late-night techno event running every Saturday. Basement is easily one of the most reliably fun club experiences in town.

4. The Abercrombie

The Abercrombie is a multi-level playground for club enthusiasts, offering top-notch music and high-energy thrills all night long.

Recently revamped, The Abercrombie in Chippendale has quickly become a mainstay of the Sydney club scene. This multi-level venue offers something for everyone – a chill rooftop bar, a relaxed pub space and beer garden during the day and a ground-floor rave cave pumping literally all night. With a cutting-edge sound system and a lineup featuring some of the best local and international DJs, The Abercrombie guarantees a night of high-energy fun.

5. Carousel

Carousel is a first-class late-night destination, frequently showcasing the best local and international house music talent.

Another relatively new venue, Carousel has cemented itself as one of the premier destinations to catch house music in Sydney. Through an ever-changing rotation of Friday and Saturday night events, Carousel showcases a variety of local and international talent behind the decks, with excellent production and sound to boot. A soiree to Carousel is one of the best ways to keep the knees bending and elbows flexing as late as anywhere else in Sydney.

Best Event: We love the groovy, microhouse-focused S.A.S.H. parties that keep Carousel pumping every Sunday night.

6. Universal

Universal is the beating heart of Sydney’s LGBTQ+ nightlife, known for its inclusive vibe and spectacular drag shows.

Universal is a cornerstone of Sydney’s LGBTQ+ nightlife. Located on Oxford Street, this club is renowned for its inclusive atmosphere, fabulous drag shows, and energetic dance floors. The production value, including lasers, smoke machines, confetti and live dancers, is high for all their events, making it a great option for a riotous time on a Saturday night. Universal is a place where everyone is welcome and the party never stops.

7. Chinese Laundry

Chinese Laundry has re-emerged with cutting-edge sound and an electric atmosphere, continuing its legacy as a hub for underground electronic music.

Nestled in the heart of the CBD, this iconic venue has been renowned for its underground electronic music and vibrant atmosphere for over two decades. The revamped Chinese Laundry now boasts state-of-the-art sound systems and a refreshed interior that retains its edgy, urban energy. The multi-level layout features distinct spaces, each offering a unique musical experience, from deep house to drum and bass. It’s a place where longtime clubbers and newcomers alike can come together and boogie hard.

8. Civic Underground

Civic Underground is an intimate haven for electronic music lovers, offering an immersive and powerful clubbing experience.

Hidden beneath the Civic Hotel in the CBD, Civic Underground is a gem for those who love electronic music. The club’s intimate setting and powerful sound system combine for a potent experience, making it easy to lose yourself in the music. It’s a sanctuary for music lovers who want to feel the beat deep in their bones.

9. Home the Venue

Home The Venue is a multi-level nightlife powerhouse offering diverse music and spectacular views of Darling Harbour.

As one of the largest clubs in Sydney, Home the Venue is a powerhouse of nightlife entertainment. Located in Darling Harbour, this multi-level club features numerous dance floors, each with its own unique atmosphere. From house and techno to R&B and hip-hop, Home the Venue has something for every music lover.

Best Event: Sandbox – A monthly techno and trance event that goes hard on production value and heavy beats.

10. The Ivy

One of Sydney’s premier true nightclub experiences, the Ivy is a fantastic destination if you want a big-room clubbing experience, particularly on Saturday and Sunday nights.

Along with Home, the Ivy is one of Sydney’s two real super clubs. The Ivy hosts a weekly series of rotating events across a range of musical genres from commercial to hard techno, and you can expect a radically different experience depending on the night you decide to go. The Ivy routinely books the best international talent touring in Australia for their house-oriented Saturday and Sunday parties, drawing some of the biggest crowds in town no matter what they put on.

Best Event: Lost Sundays – a Sunday night house and techno party finishing at midnight that goes off during summer and books a tonne of excellent touring DJs.

11. Selina’s Coogee

Selina’s is an institution of Sydney’s live music scene, and while it’s more of a live music venue than a strict nightclub, it’s worth mentioning among Sydney’s best dance destinations.

Selina’s is a storied concert venue in Coogee and has played host to numerous first-class international bands and artists over its long lifespan, including The Prodigy, Beastie Boys, Nirvana, The Killers, Bag Raiders and more. Recently, Selina’s has been hosting a variety of monthly house and techno events, and when one of these is on Selina’s gives the best clubs in Sydney a run for their money.

Best Event: Switch, a monthly house/techno event on Saturdays that attracts great local and international talent.

Honourable Mentions – Commercial Clubs

Because the Bardar team are house and techno heads, the clubs on this list are mostly focused on dance music, great sound systems and specific events. For a more standard, commercial club experience there are plenty of decent spots around town, with some of the best being Cargo Bar, Soda Factory and Cliff Dive.

It’s also worth noting that tonnes of great pubs around Sydney like The Clock, The Beach Road Hotel, Coogee Pavilion, Bank, Beresford, Golden Sheaf, Hotel Harry and Imperial Erskineville reliably get a good dance floor on a Friday and Saturday night.

Sydney Club Nights

Generally, the best way to experience Sydney’s clubbing scene is to pick a good event at one club and then head there for the night. Therefore, we’re providing a couple of night plans that involve hitting a local pub or two first for warmup drinks before heading to the main event at one of our fav clubs.

Central Syd Night Out

If the plan is to head to any of our favourite clubs on or around Oxford Street, we highly recommend hitting one or two of Surry Hill’s finest pubs. These venues are a short walk from Oxford St, have a great vibe and are reliably pumping every Friday/Saturday night. Plus, If you’re feeling it early, The Clock and Beresford (upstairs) have good warmup dance floors.

Plan: Clock/Dolphin/Beresford → Carousel/Universal/OAF/Club 77

Wynyard/Circular Quay Night Out

In the city, we recommend warming at a few pubs around the Rocks before heading to Mary’s or the Ivy. The Rocks has the best concentration of pubs for early drinks, and is probably the liveliest area of the city on the weekend, which is why we recommend it as the starting point of a big night in or around the city.

Plan: Orient/Glenmore → Ivy/Mary’s/Chinese Laundry

Other Areas

For the other venues on our list that aren’t as clumped together, we would recommend picking a nearby pub or bar that’s busy to get the energy up and build some momentum before heading to the event at the club. While we’re a bit biased, we recommend using Bardar to check out how busy nearby venues are, and pick a warmup spot based on our live data.

Outro

Sydney’s club scene has truly experienced a renaissance in recent years, and there are now tonnes of viable options all around town for a few drinks and a boogie. However, when going clubbing in Sydney it’s best to be organised ahead of time, picking specific events and venues for the night rather than just wandering out and hoping for the best.

If you’re looking for a tool to make doing this easy, check out our app, Bardar, now available on iOS!

The Bardar Guide to Sydney’s Best Bars

An intro to this guide

There can be no criticising Sydney’s bar scene. The depth and variety of venues across town, from basement drinking dens to relaxed rooftops, saloons to speakeasies, is simply awesome. The Bardar team loves getting around a bar the odd cocktail or two, and so we’ve compiled a (by no means exhaustive) list of Sydney’s best bars.

The guide

1. Old Mate’s Place

Old Mate’s Place is a hidden rooftop gem offering panoramic views and an impressive whiskey selection.

Ascend the narrow staircase of an unassuming building on Clarence St, and you’re greeted with an intimate setting that feels like a well-kept secret. The rooftop bar offers sweeping city views, making it an idyllic spot for both laid-back afternoons and lively evenings. Their cocktail menu, brimming with classics and innovative concoctions, pairs perfectly with an extensive whiskey selection that would make any enthusiast’s heart sing.

2. Maybe Sammy

Maybe Sammy blends 1950s glamour with masterfully crafted cocktails so well it earned the title of “Best Bar in Australasia” in 2023.

If Gatsby were to open a bar in modern-day Sydney, it would probably look like Maybe Sammy. Stepping into this 1950s-inspired cocktail bar is akin to stepping back in time, where elegance meets a touch of playful mischief. The bartenders here are performers in their own right, crafting cocktails with a flourish that is as entertaining as it is delicious. Each sip is a journey, each drink a story, making Maybe Sammy a must-visit for those who appreciate the finer things in life.

3. Apollonia

Apollonia offers a Sicilian escape with its classic Italian cocktails and cozy underground vibe.

To descend into Apollonia is to discover a secret haven inspired by the rustic charm of Sicily. This underground bar, with its dim lighting and intimate corners, invites you to savour classic Italian cocktails as authentic as they are delightful. The ambience whispers tales of old-world romance and clandestine meetings, perfectly encapsulating the essence of the Godfather character from which the bar draws its name.

4. Bar 1880

Bar 1880 marries historic charm with an innovative cocktail menu and is one of Sydney’s best new bars.

Situated in a historic building, Bar 1880 exudes a rich, vintage ambience that transports you to a bygone era. The sophisticated décor, complete with plush furnishings and ornate details, creates an atmosphere of refined elegance. Their selection of wines and spirits is carefully curated, ensuring that every glass is a testament to quality and taste. It’s the perfect spot for a quiet evening with friends, or an intimate date.

5. Dean and Nancy on 22

Dean and Nancy on 22 elevates your night with stunning city views and luxurious cocktails.

Dean and Nancy on 22 offers not just drinks, but an experience. The upscale, retro-chic décor, paired with an expertly crafted menu, makes it a destination for those looking to elevate their evening—both literally and figuratively. It’s a place where every detail is designed to impress, from the stunning views to the luxurious ambience.

6. Tio’s Cerveceria

Tio’s Cerveceria infuses Sydney’s nightlife with vibrant Mexican flair and a stellar tequila selection.

If you’re looking for a bar that feels like a fiesta every night, Tio’s Cerveceria is your destination. This Mexican-inspired bar is a riot of colours, eclectic décor, and an infectiously relaxed atmosphere. The margarita is the drink of choice here, and the many delicious takes on this classic slung at Tio’s make this bar a hotspot for those who prefer their nights with a bit of spice and a lot of fun.

7. Bar Planet

Bar Planet transports you to a celestial realm with its creative cocktails and cosmic ambience.

Bar Planet is the perfect place to go if you’re looking for a (please forgive us) out-of-this-world martini. With its celestial-themed décor and a menu that pushes the boundaries of creativity, this bar promises an otherworldly experience. From the complimentary popcorn to the gelato-slushy cocktails to their famous “Infinite Spirit” gin martinis, no Hitchhiker’s Guide to Sydney’s cocktail bars is complete without mentioning this fine establishment.

8. Shady Pines

Shady Pines delivers a Nashville honkey-tonk experience with great live music and expertly mixed drinks.

Walking into Shady Pines is like stepping into a rustic Nashville saloon. The atmosphere is laid-back, the décor charmingly rough-around-the-edges, and the live music a delightful treat. Known for its warm, friendly vibe and expertly crafted drinks, it’s a local favourite for those who want a break from the polished and the predictable.

9. Lobo

The Lobo brings the Caribbean to Sydney with its exceptional rum cocktails and tropical ambience.

Lobo is a celebration of all things rum. This Cuban-inspired bar, with its tropical décor and lively atmosphere, offers an extensive list of rum-based cocktails that will transport you straight to the Caribbean. The staff’s passion for their craft is evident in every drink, making it a must-visit for rum enthusiasts and casual drinkers alike.

10. Baxter Inn

Baxter Inn is a speakeasy-style bar with one of the best whiskey selections in Sydney.

The allure of Baxter Inn lies in its speakeasy charm. Nestled in a basement, this bar is a haven for whiskey lovers, boasting an extensive collection that spans the globe. The atmosphere is both intimate and unpretentious, inviting whisky connoisseurs and newbies alike to sample their diverse offerings.

11. PS40

PS40 sets the bar high with house-made sodas and inventive cocktails in a chic, industrial space.

Whereas most bars look to the past, harkening back to the drinking dens of bygone eras to create unique aesthetics, PS40 is refreshingly forward-looking. PS40 stands out with its innovative approach to mixology. Known for crafting their own sodas, this bar’s cocktails are creative, ingenious and futuristic. The modern, industrial décor adds to the vibe, making it a hotspot for those who appreciate cutting-edge drinks in a stylish setting.

12. The Rover

The Rover blends vintage charm with modern sophistication, offering expertly crafted cocktails in a relaxed, cosy setting.

Nestled in the heart of Surry Hills, The Rover is a charming bar that combines old-world elegance with the comforts of modernity. A warm and intimate ambience is created by the cozy, dimly lit interior – replete with exposed brick walls and plush banquettes to sink into. The Rover is renowned for its expertly crafted cocktails, which are as visually stunning as they are delicious. Their menu also features a carefully curated selection of wines and spirits, ensuring there’s something to satisfy every palate. With its warm vibe, the Rover is the perfect spot for a relaxed drink in Surry Hills.

13. The Caterpillar Club

The Caterpillar Club is a hidden speakeasy offering masterfully crafted cocktails, great vibes and live music in a charming, vintage setting.

Hidden away beneath the bustling streets of Sydney, The Caterpillar Club is a speakeasy-style bar that would feel like a well-kept secret, were it not for the massive line out the front. This gem of a bar exudes an air of sophistication and charm, with its dim lighting, plush vintage furnishings, and jazz-infused ambience. The Caterpillar Club bartenders are savants, and with a 4 am license on Fridays and Saturdays, are slinging their excellent beverages late into the evening. The Caterpillar Club also hosts “one of the world’s largest private record collections” and has live music and DJs, adding a lively touch to this sensual speakeasy.

Sydney Bar Crawls

Clarence St. Slide

This bar crawl takes advantage of the fact that four of Sydney’s best bars are so close together. Amble down Clarence St, hitting each of these venues at your leisure for a night of good times and better drinks.

Plan: The Lobo → Baxter Inn → Old Mate’s Place → PS40

Quay Crawl

This bar crawl focuses on the best spots in the Circular Quay area, hitting the busier Dean and Nancy and Maybe Sammy first before they get too packed and then heading over to the less flashy 1880 and Apollonia for a nightcap.

Plan: Caterpillar Club → Dean and Nancy on 22 → Maybe Sammy → Bar 1880 → Apollonia

Surry Hills Shindig

Heading over to Surry Hills, this bar crawl is a great way to spend a raucous Saturday night. A bit looser and more relaxed than the fancy spots in the city, these bars are the perfect places to unwind and catch up with your close pals. Plus, ending on Oxford St with Shady Pines leaves you with plenty of lively afters options, such as Universal, Carousel or Club 77.

Plan: The Rover → Tio’s → Shady Pines Saloon

Outro

Sydney’s bar scene is a kaleidoscope of experiences, each bar offering its own unique charm and character. Sydney’s best bars promise more than just great drinks — they offer stories, atmospheres, and moments that linger long after the night ends. That’s why we think you’ve got to get out there and start giving a few of these joints a try yourselves!

By the way, if you’re looking for the best method to discover even more of Sydney’s exceptional bars, check out the Bardar app – available now on iOS to help you amplify your nights out!

The Bardar Guide to Sydney’s Best Pubs

About this Guide to Sydney’s Pubs

While no guide to Sydney’s pubs could cover all of the phenomenal venues around town, we’ve nonetheless put together a short list of the Bardar favourites to get you started.

In this guide, we’ve tried to include the best pubs of all styles from different areas – from live music hotspots to raucous Irish pubs to laid-back watering holes. But don’t just take it from us – the depth of Sydney’s pub scene is best experienced rather than read about.

The Guide

1. The Clock

The Clock is a Surry Hills staple offering great views, a diverse drink selection, and a relaxed atmosphere.

Perched on Crown Street in Surry Hills, The Clock is a beloved institution that perfectly captures the essence of a great pub. With its sprawling balconies overlooking the bustling Crown Street, it’s a best-in-class spot for getting into some serious people-watching over a cold drink or ten. Additionally, the Clock has a very pleasant beer courtyard and develops a lively vibe on the weekend when DJs spin on both levels of this fantastic venue.

2. The Vic on the Park

The Vic on the Park is an Inner West stalwart that’s always pumping and possesses perhaps the finest beer garden in Sydney.

The inevitable final destination of any inner-west pub crawl worth its salt is the Vic. The Vic’s main drawcard is its expansive beer garden, featuring a basketball court and grandstand seating. The Vic’s beer garden is among the most raucous in town, often buzzing late into the evening – as befitting a venue with a 3 am license. The Vic also hosts live music regularly, and projects live sport onto a massive screen in the beer garden

3. Coogee Pavilion

Coogee Pav combines beachside charm with a versatile venue offering stunning views and a vibrant atmosphere.

Affectionately known as the Coogee Pav, this beachside pub offers stunning views of Coogee Beach. It’s a multi-level venue with something for everyone: a rooftop bar, a ground-floor restaurant, and even a games area. The rooftop is especially energetic on the weekends, with live DJs keeping it pumping all night. Coogee Pav is also one of Sydney’s most popular Sunday arvo destinations, especially in summer.

4. Beach Road Hotel

Beach Road Hotel captures Bondi’s laid-back spirit with its spacious beer garden, live music, and great food.

Located in Bondi, the Beach Road Hotel is the quintessential Sydney pub; boasting a relaxed vibe, spacious beer garden, regular live music, busy dance floors and a menu featuring everything from pub classics to fresh seafood. It’s a favourite among locals and visitors alike.

5. Forrester’s

At Forrester’s you will find a combination of historic charm with a modern twist, offering a refined pub experience in Surry Hills.

Forrester’s in Surry Hills is a pub that effortlessly blends the old with the new. Its historic façade houses a modern interior where you can enjoy a wide range of beers, wines, and cocktails. The food menu is a step above typical pub fare, featuring a mix of comfort food and more refined dishes.

6. Burdekin

The Burdekin is one of the most versatile pubs in town, offering everything from a sophisticated rooftop bar to proper rave and live music spaces.

Situated on Sydney’s ex-party thoroughfare, Oxford St, the Burdekin is known for its vibrant nightlife and eclectic crowd. This multi-level pub features different atmospheres on each floor, including a rooftop bar, standard pub space and live music/club rooms. The Burdekin hosts a diverse array of events from emo nights to house and techno parties. It’s a great spot for those looking to start their night with a casual drink and see where the evening takes them.

7. PJ O’Brien’s

PJ O’Brien’s is the crown jewel of Sydney’s Irish pub scene.

Step into PJ O’Brien’s, and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a traditional Irish pub. Located in the heart of the CBD, this pub is known for its warm, welcoming atmosphere and hearty Irish fare. With a great selection of beers and whiskeys, PJ O’Brien’s is the place to go for a taste of Ireland in Sydney. PJ’s truly comes alive Thursday through Saturday, when live music transforms this pub into one of the most boisterous spots in town.

8. Courty (The Courthouse Hotel)

The Courty offers a laid-back vibe and an unbelievably pleasant beer garden, making a stong case for one of the most relaxed spots in Sydney.

Affectionately known as the Courty, this Newtown institution is beloved for its chill energy and expansive beer garden. It’s the perfect place to unwind with friends over a few drinks and some pub grub – the Nachos are a Bardar team favourite. The Courty is also known for its dog-friendly policy, making it a hit with pet owners.

9. Darlo Bar

Darlo Bar is a colourful Darlinghurst pub with eclectic décor and a cozy rooftop terrace.

darlo1.jpg

You will find Darlo Bar is an inner-city classic with an eccentric aesthetic and casual atmosphere making it a favourite among locals looking for a place to unwind. The rooftop terrace is a particularly top spot to enjoy a beverage or two while taking in the views of the city.

10. The Dolphin

The Dolphin blends a modern aesthetic with great food and well-made cocktails, offering a sophisticated pub experience in Surry Hills.

The recently renovated Dolphin in Surry Hills prides itself on its contemporary design and innovative menu. With multiple spaces, including a wine room and a dining area, The Dolphin offers a sophisticated yet relaxed setting. The food and drink options are all top-notch, making it a must-visit. We recommend snagging a seat in the balcony space and indulging in one of the Dolphin’s excellent espresso martinis.

11. The White Cockatoo Hotel

Another laid-back inner west staple, the White Cockatoo is a great spot to settle in for a night of tasty drinks and great chats with your pals.

Known for its friendly vibe, extensive craft beer selection and tasty tucker, The White Cockatoo Hotel in Petersham is an absolute gem. With spacious and comfortable seating both inside and in their lovely beer garden it’s a versatile spot that can be happily enjoyed year-round.

12. The Chippo

The Chippo is a haven for live music enthusiasts, offering a vibrant downstairs band room and a cozy upstairs pub.

If you want a pub with a strong focus on live music you’ll love the Chippo. The downstairs band room has seen many up-and-coming artists perform, and hosts both live bands and DJs. Upstairs, you’ll find a more traditional pub setting, perfect for a relaxing drink and a chat.

Sydney Pub Crawl Guides

The Crown St Crawl

The Crown St Crawl takes you on a journey through the many pumping pubs that line Surry Hills’ main drag.

Plan: Trinity → The Clock → Forrester’s → The Dolphin → The Beresford

The King St Crawl

The Newtown/Enmore strip of King St is one of Sydney’s densest pub hotspots and a solid selection for a relaxed evening with your pals.

Plan: The Newtown Hotel → Coopers → The Courty → The Vic

The Oxford St Crawl

Oxford St starts off pretty chill but gets livelier as you get closer to the city. There are many great afters spots like Carousel or Universal available at the end of this crawl.

Plan: Paddo Inn → Unicorn → Kinselas → Burdekin → ?

Outro

When it comes to Sydney’s pubs, there are a staggering variety of venues to sample and enjoy. We’ve provided a selection of our favourites, but there are so many other great spots around town! We highly recommend that you get out there and start exploring for yourself.

For a more comprehensive guide to Sydney’s pubs, check out the Bardar app, now on iOS. Get real-time data on how busy every pub in Sydney is, along with info about events, live music and what’s on.

Thanks for reading our guide to Sydney’s best pubs.