Sydney rooftop bars ooze instant cool. They help us escape the hustle and bustle of the streets without having to leave the city. They also dose us up on vitamin D, expose us to fresh air, and help us feel like we’re on top of the world—even if we’re only a couple of storeys up.
It’s hardly surprising then that in a city like Sydney, which bathes in close to 2500 hours of sunlight a year, rooftop bars are a popular choice.
1. Sweethearts Rooftop, Potts Point
On the rooftop of the Potts Point Hotel, you will find Sweethearts. The urban chic decor of colour-faded picnic tables and fairy lights in the plants and trees give Sweethearts a laidback atmosphere that can really pump up when people start ordering Pimm’s on tap or the signature cocktails. The venue will be trading from 5pm Thursday-Sunday nights and to ensure you get a seat at this popular nightspot, book ahead. Oh, and it’s open regardless of the weather because it has a retractable roof.
The Potts Point Hotel is also home to some brilliant comedy nights.
📍 33-37 Darlinghurst Road, Potts Point
2. Marrickville Springs at Philter Brewing, Marrickville
Step off the retro stairs and onto the rooftop at Philter Brewing and an 80s garden oasis awaits. Sunshine is on the menu but so too are frozen beer cocktails, Philter Brewing beers on tap and in tinnies as well as a healthy selection of wines. And thanks to the weather-proof retractable roof, Marrickville Springs is fabulous all-year round.
📍 92-98 Sydenham Road, Marrickville
3. Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel, Watsons Bay
The Beach Club at Watsons Bay is where the seaside party sails from the day into the night. Arrive for lunch, stay for sunset cocktails, and feel the buzz around you slowly rise until the sounds of good times float across the lit-up shoreline. Phenomenal views of Sydney’s skyline from the second-floor terrace are a perfect match to the classic blue and white maritime decor, which has made the Beach Club one of Sydney’s most favoured photo hotspots.
📍 1 Military Road, Watsons Bay
4. Old Mate’s Place, CBD
Old Mate’s Place is a favourite Sydney small bar. They’ve got a top-shelf drinks list as well as a sumptuous Philly Cheesesteak menu.
📍 Level 4, 199 Clarence Street, Sydney
5. Manly Greenhouse, Manly
While you don’t need to be on the rooftop at Manly Greenhouse to enjoy the panoramic views, you’d be doing yourself an injustice by not climbing the stairs to the very top. Once there you will be surrounded by greenery and bathed in light, the fresh seaside breeze putting a spring in your step on the way to the bar, where cocktails and highballs await. While downstairs offers more food options, the rooftop focuses on pizzas, snacks and share plates to bring groups together.
📍 36-38 South Steyne, Manly
6. Bridgeview Hotel, Willoughby
The Bridgeview Hotel, affectionately called the Bridgey by locals, is the go-to place for drinks in the sun in Willoughby. Though not fancy and swanky like some of the other venues on this list, the Bridgey is all neighbourly pub charm with coloured barstools, an astroturf terrace, and an all-weather TV mounted outside so you don’t miss any of the weekend’s sporting action.
📍 580 Willoughby Road, Willoughby
7. Coogee Pavilion, Coogee
There’s possibly no better view from any rooftop bar than from Coogee Pavilion’s wraparound balcony. There’s just something about being able to look out over the ocean as far as you can that is a beautiful feeling. The downside to this is that Coogee Pavilion, also right across from the beach, is one helluva popular venue. Nonetheless, it’s always worth it to try your luck and find yourself a nook or cranny among its four inside/outside bars sporting their own exotic flair. The food, an eastern Mediterranean-style menu is also pretty damn good. And with a large selection of beers, wines and cocktails, your only concern is getting in.
📍 169 Dolphin Street
8. SoCal, Neutral Bay
Dip into Southern California at SoCal restaurant and rooftop bar without ever having to leave Neutral Bay. With a bright and colourful upstairs serving a tempting selection of (mostly tequila-based) cocktails and Latin-infused share plates, as well as Tuesday Taco specials and weekend fiestas, the SoCal rooftop is laidback, cool, and for the easygoing. You might not get ocean views, but you’ll definitely feel like you are somewhere else.
📍 1 Young Street, Neutral Bay
9. Webster’s Bar, Newtown
Up past the steampunk-style bar and the 800-strong whisky selection on the second storey, you’ll find Webster’s rooftop bar transporting you back to 1950s Australia complete with astroturf, hanging plants, long rustic wooden tables, a bbq pit and the Australiana memorabilia to match. Come up for a drink and a feed, and enjoy the Newtown sunset over King Street.
📍 323 King Street, Newtown
10. The Old Clare Hotel, Chippendale
Chippendale has become home to art galleries, posh cocktail bars, design studios and some of Sydney’s best restaurants. It’s clear then that The Old Clare Hotel, and its rooftop complete with swimming pool, sits on the classier side of life. Though the swimming pool is reserved almost always for guests, the rooftop bar is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday, serving classic and signature cocktails, as well as eastern-Mediterranean snacks and bites.
📍 1 Kensington Street, Chippendale
11. The Rooftop, CBD
Sitting atop the Shelbourne Hotel, the aptly named The Rooftop has some of the best harbour views Sydney has to offer. With a fully retractable roof, floor-to-ceiling glass windows, hanging chairs and garden vibes, you’d be forgiven for thinking you had stepped into the Hamptons. Order from the crafted signature cocktail selection and keep an eye on the weekly chef special—but really, you won’t go wrong with any of the seafood, meats or salads on the menu.
📍 200 Sussex Street, CBD
12. Ching-a-Lings, Darlinghurst
Ching-a-Lings is not like your other rooftop bars (or the ones on this list). Instead of glam views and coastal feels, this rooftop haven takes its inspiration from the loft bars of NYC, meaning underground DJs, live bands and a fun attitude for its 100 patrons—ll trying to stand out on the deck regardless of the weather. (Either that or working up a sweat on the dancefloor.) Bonus points if you remember where the entrance is after a big night out!
📍 133 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst
13. Elm Rooftop Bar at The Taphouse, Darlinghurst
Drink well, drink local. That’s the driving idea behind The Taphouse, which sees them serving up beer from over 60 taps. They reckon they’ve got a beer for every occasion and, to be honest, they’re probably right. But up on the rooftop, they also do cocktails, with the list separated into gins, spritzes, the classics and cocktail jugs, so you and your friends can gather around and share the good times in the sunshine.
The Taphouse Hotel is also dog-friendly.
📍 122 Flinders Street, Darlinghurst
14. Smoke, Barangaroo
Smoke: the bar that Sydney has always dreamed of. You will be greeted at the entrance, shown to your table and a tab will be opened for you, as all service at Smoke is table service. You will sip on classy cocktails or choose a glass of wine or champagne from a superb list of offerings (which also includes luxury spirits not found elsewhere in Sydney), all while taking in the best possible views of the harbour. If you’re feeling a little moreish, there is also a bar menu, featuring their now-famous skewers. All in all, having a drink at the top of Barangaroo House is more an event than an after-work tipple.
📍 35 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo
15. Corridor, Newtown
We already know that not all rooftops have been graced with the same spectacular views. But those rooftops that miss out on a little bit of the spectacular sights make up for it with a whole heap of charm. Corridor in Newtown is no different and walking up the rickety staircase, past the intimate and candle-lit rooms, and onto the bar you’ll soon see what makes this rooftop bounce. Their so-called ‘bar-chefs’ know what they’re on about and will happily explain the finer points of their imaginative concoctions.
📍 153 King Street, Newtown