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The best beer gardens in Sydney

Sink some beers at Sydney's best open-air watering holes

Photograph: Anna Kucera

Sure, we're good at swimming and rugby, but what Australians excel at is kicking back in the leafy courtyard of our local, sinking some beers and chewing the fat with our mates. Beer garden sessions are basically our national pastime, and here's the best places to participate.

The Argyle

The Argyle may be best known as a late night, party haunt to many Sydneysiders but we are just as happy here on an afternoon, making short work of a wood fired pizza and a tall, cold, German beer out in the cobbled courtyard.

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The Rocks

Australian Youth Hotel

The Aussie Youth is definitely the most attractive and welcoming pub in the area with its well-trodden-on floorboards and sturdy old bar. Their lines are clean, their glasses are cold and their staff are friendly. Plus they have a sheltered beer garden out the back that fills up first on a summer's night.

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Glebe

The Balmain Hotel

The Balmain Hotel has undergone an ambitious transformation. Polished floorboards have replaced sticky carpet and the old bistro has become a cocktail bar and dinner hot spot. For some holiday vibes take your drinks out to the beer garden, shaded by frangipani and palm trees and lit with colourful festoon lighting.

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Balmain

The Beresford Hotel

The whole venue is enormous but it is the beer garden that is the Beresford's main draw card. It’s leafy and well lit, and oft-filled with very beautiful people. On Sundays you can enjoy a relaxed buffet barbecue set up in the expansive outdoor area for $20 a plate.

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Surry Hills

Coogee Bay Hotel

As one of two major establishments that face the golden sands of Coogee beach, the Bay has no lack of loyal followers. On the water side of the hotel there is an expansive beer garden. Early in the week it’s a quiet spot for an outdoor drink but it turns into a bit of a zoo when Selina’s nightclub opens on Saturday nights.

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Coogee

Courthouse Hotel

Surely one of the most famous beer gardens in Sydney, it feels like there is more outdoor space at the Courthouse than indoor. This is the sort of place where people get in early and leave late, whiling the day away with jugs of cider, a Courty burger and some tall tales in the afternoon sun.

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Newtown

Dick's Hotel

Born in 1874, Dick's is one of the best sports bars in the suburb. It has its feet firmly rooted in tradition, where locals are known by name. Trivia is on a Tuesday and happy hour (Mon-Fri 3-6pm) reigns supreme. Plus, from Monday to Wednesday you can get a decent rump for $15. Score.

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Balmain

El Loco at Slip Inn

El Loco’s takeover of the formerly grungy Excelsior Hotel went so well they’ve branched out and taken over the sunken beer garden that taunts drivers stuck on the City Westlink with its colourful lights and party tunes – if only all incursions resulted in colourful bunting and tacos.

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Darling Harbour

Erskineville Hotel

There’s a lot to love about the Erko. But prime real estate is out the back where you'll find a sheltered outdoor deck with a barbecue, colourful festoon lighting, sturdy picnic tables and strict capacity limits – get in early or settle for the great indoors.

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Erskineville

The Golden Barley Hotel

The spacious, low-lit bistro looks much better decked out in raw wood and exposed brick than she ever did in cold, cream tiles and the beer garden is chock full of old wooden picnic tables tucked in among the foliage.

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Marrickville

The Henson

The Henson may look like any other local haunt but the floors aren’t gunged with decades of unspeakable stickiness, the gleaming taps give plenty of space to craft brews and the stereo is cranking out the Black Keys, Ball Park Music and Electric Guest. And the beer garden is enormous.

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Marrickville

Newport Arms Hotel

At the Newport Arms the broad, blue expanse of Pittwater provides cooling breezes and a spectacular view of gently bobbing yachts, the perfect accompaniment to a beer and a meal from the bistro. The pub is huge. The beer garden is huge. The schnitzels out of the bistro are huge.

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Newport

Newtown Hotel

The upstairs balcony is one of the best spots in Newtown to people-watch, but if you want a quieter spot to catch up over drinks grab a glass of wine from the taps (that's right, wine on tap!) and hunker down in the brightly coloured beer garden.

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Newtown

The Norfolk

Once you’ve ordered your drinks you should head straight for the awesome outdoor area at the Norfolk. It’s leafy and modern, and the seats sport a very fetching navy and white nautical stripe. This is prime real estate so get in early to secure a spot.

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Redfern

The Oaks Hotel

In summer, North Shore folks clamour to quench their thirsts in the shade of the giant 70-year-old oak tree that shelters the cracking beer garden. As night falls, the tree is lit up with fairy lights and the air is heady with the smell of DIY barbecue.

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Neutral Bay

The Rose Hotel

The front bar is killer, with crowd-pleasers and envelope-pushers on tap and a cocktail list that gets you where you want to go fast. But out back is where the action is. The beer garden is dotted with bench seats and big wooden tables and an open kitchen dishing out pizza and pub grub.

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Chippendale

The Sheaf

The airy back bar is a huge space, but this ain't no beer barn: it's obvious some thought has gone into the set up. It's family friendly, with a main bistro area, another section with plasma screens so you can watch the big game but still be part of the action, and a quieter covered sitting area with '70s-style couches and tables.

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Double Bay

The Toxteth Hotel

The Toxteth's $10 weekday lunch menu covers steak, schnitzel, fish and chips and a burger, they have dinner specials during the early part of the week, service is friendly and there's a big outdoor space that is downright delightful on a summer's eve. On Sundays it hosts live music and they have misters for seriously hot days.

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Glebe

The Warren View Hotel

Stuck on the busy corner of Enmore and Stanmore Roads, The Warren View is an Inner West haven with a big, leafy beer garden that you can enter straight off the street. It's a family-friendly place that is surprisingly low on hipsters thanks to being just that little bit further from the University district.

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Enmore

Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel

The Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel has to be one of the most enviably located pubs in Sydney. When the weather is fine it's riotously popular, thanks to views out over the wide blue expanse of the bay, best enjoyed under the shade of a tree or umbrella in the sunny beer garden.

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Watsons Bay

Woolwich Pier Hotel

The wraparound timber verandah looks out on where the Parramatta and Lane Cove Rivers meet. Or if you prefer low-lying al fresco refreshments the beer garden is divided up into a shady terrace, pale blue cabanas and a patch of outdoor lawn that is mostly decorative – no furniture or eating on the greenery please.

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Woolwich

Fancy getting high?

The best rooftop bars in Sydney

We're all for a late night hootenanny, but sometimes there's nothing better than bending the elbow with the sun on your back and a cool drink to keep things chill. And we're not alone. Sydney's rooftop bars account for some of the most popular, and hard won, seats in the city, so get in quick for the glory spots with the best views.

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By: Emily Lloyd-Tait

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