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The beer garden at the Courthouse Hotel
Photograph: Anna Kucera

The best beer gardens in Sydney

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

Written by
Emily Lloyd-Tait
,
Dan Cunningham
&
Matty Hirsch
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Our unbeatable summers and mild winters make Sydney the perfect place for a schooner in the great outdoors, and lord knows we’ve got enough beer gardens to prove it. Whether surrounded by lush greenery, designer dogs, ocean views or all of the above, this list covers the best beer gardens our city has to offer. Because drinking outside sure beats drinking in.  

Looking for a brew with a view? Enjoy a cold one at one of Sydney's best rooftop bars.



The 23 best beer gardens in the Harbour City

  • Bars
  • Neutral Bay

Even after a huge facelift in October of 2019, this North Shore institution’s best asset is still the grand old oak tree in the beer garden. There are lovely terrace views of the 70-plus year-old stunner from the pub’s fine diner, Alala’s, as well as the upstairs balcony, but the best place to bend the elbow is out the back under fairy-lit foliage with a tomahawk steak from the grill. 

  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Newtown
  • price 1 of 4

It’s one of the most famous beer gardens in Sydney and feels like there’s more space outside than in. Bring your pooch after a sprint at nearby Camperdown Memorial Rest Park and settle in with cider jugs, a moutain of nachos and some tall tales in the afternoon sun. 

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  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Watsons Bay
  • price 2 of 4

This is one of the most enviably located pubs in Sydney (hot tip: take the by ferry if you’re a fan of the slow and scenic route). 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 sun-soaked beer garden.

  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Petersham
  • price 1 of 4

This Inner West staple really turned it up when Batch Brewing dropped a nanobrewery in the old carpark bottle shop in August of 2019. It’s a mere stone’s throw from the pub’s wraparound beer garden and wood-fire pizza kitchen, which knocks out authentic pies alongside the classic pub fare. Best of all, the beer garden and carpark merge on public holidays when PHP throws the biggest party in the 'burb.

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  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Newport

No one does a seaside venue quite like Merivale. Multiple outdoor eateries including a pizzeria, bistro and rotisserie? Check. Beautiful linen-clad punters everywhere? Certainly. The Newport’s beer garden looks just as good, with its juice cabana, paddling pool, grassy knolls and fully grown cacti to drink frozen cocktails under.

  • Bars
  • Surry Hills

The whole venue is enormous, but the beer garden is the Beresford's main drawcard. It’s leafy and well lit, often filled with very beautiful people, and hosts the institutional gay Sunday club night each week. Tuck in alfresco with wood-fired pizza or calzone from Vinnie’s inside, or get around the Mediterranean-style menu with antipasti, pastas and pub staples. There’s plenty of vino to match, and a huge cocktail list. Go large. 

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  • Bars
  • Marrickville

The Henson may look like any other local haunt, but the floors aren’t gunged with decades of unspeakable stickiness, and the gleaming beer taps give ample space to big and small players both. The pub’s takeaway grog shop and grocer slings cheese, charcuterie and natural wines which you can also enjoy on the premises. You may as well do that in the pub’s enormous beer garden, where kids stick to the garaged ball pit and canine companions are most welcome. 

Coogee Bay Hotel
  • Bars
  • Coogee

As one of two major establishments facing the golden sands of Coogee Beach, the “Bay” has no lack of loyal followers. The expansive beer garden on the waterside of the hotel is kindly split into smoking and non-smoking sections. Early in the week, it’s a quiet spot for an outdoor ale but turns into a hootenanny come Friday.

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The Golden Sheaf
  • Bars
  • Double Bay

The airy back bar is a huge space, but this ain’t no beer barn. This Art Deco gem has Sydney’s other iconic oak tree and a chilled atmosphere when the sun is out, with live acoustic tunes soundtracking a recovery session every Sunday. It’s no surprise then that the Sheaf goes off all weekend long starting Friday arvo, and the beer garden is very much the centre of the action.

The Balmain Hotel
  • Bars
  • Balmain

While it may not be the area’s oldest pub (it's the second), the Balmain Hotel has its best beer garden, hands down. For some tropical holiday vibes, grab a cocktail from the bar and head for the shade of frangipani and palm trees out back, lit with colourful festoon lighting and packed with Balmain locals.

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  • Bars
  • Craft beer
  • Marrickville
  • price 1 of 4

It’s the only stop on the Inner West Ale Trail with a family-friendly knoll, and thus the only craft brewery where you can enjoy a hopped-up brew under big open skies. You should definitely save a couple for the night ahead at one of the area’s many warehouse taprooms, but just remember that Sauce has the daytime edge.

The Golden Barley Hotel
  • Bars
  • Marrickville
  • price 1 of 4

The Barley’s exterior has all the charming vestiges of a bygone era, and you’d never guess there's a tiny jungle of a beer garden hiding out back. A canopy of ferns and hibiscus looms over long tables packed with reliably great schnitzels, mezze and salads from the pumping kitchen. Like most pubs in the area, this one gets busy. But drop by on a quiet Monday, and you might get this secret garden all to yourself.

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The Rose Hotel
  • Bars
  • Chippendale

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 the beer garden is where the action is. It’s dotted with bench seats and big wooden tables, with an open kitchen dishing out pizza, inventive milk-bunned burgers and classic pub mains with a twist.

The Oxford Tavern
  • Bars
  • Petersham
  • price 1 of 4

The Ox has changed hands more than once in the last handful of years, but the grungy Americana vibe and beer garden have remained intact, meat smoker and all. The Smokehouse Sunday Roast is religiously attended from midday each week, and the tap list has local craft numbers on heavy rotation to match that brisket, pork belly or smoked vegan goodness you so badly need to cure last night’s shenanigans.

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Erskineville Hotel
  • Bars
  • Erskineville
  • price 1 of 4

There’s a lot to love about the Erko – the front bar has free pool on Mondays and the arcade machine “grotto” is rammed with classic games. But prime real estate is found at the sheltered outdoor deck complete with a barbecue, sturdy picnic tables and strict capacity limits. Get in early or settle for the great indoors.

  • Bars
  • Enmore

This family-owned boozer's been commanding the busy of Enmore and Stanmore Roads since 1870, but the old girl's probably in the best shape she's been in after all these years. Out back, in the semi-sheltered courtyard, you've got a choice of both high tables and low, big screens and craft beers aplenty to keep you company.

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Dick's Hotel
  • Bars
  • Balmain

Born in 1874, Dick's is one of the best sports bars in Balmain. It has its feet firmly rooted in tradition, where locals are known by name and Tuesday trivia is an institution. There are plenty of weeknight food specials, too, like burgers for a tenner on Wednesdays. But before you do any of those things, you should start off with a cold one in the sheltered beer garden, where happy hour kicks off at 3pm daily.

  • Bars
  • Woolwich

This old dame has class in spades after a November 2018 revamp and more than a century standing in one of the city’s fanciest suburbs. The white-timbered beer garden, with its shady terrace, pavilions and fairylights, offers superb vistas of the city skyline. It’s the best seat in the house to sip Prosecco like a local and take in the view (which is just as stunning from wraparound deck upstairs).

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  • Bars
  • Craft beer
  • Rozelle

There's not a whole lot of room back here, but that's a big part of the appeal. You could almost be in the outskirts of London, such is the quiet suburban mood that makes this such a pleasant little spot. They've got a killer selection of craft beers, too, and a smarter-than-average pub menu sporting the likes free-range chicken pho, seaweed salad and bulgogi-style Wagyu skirt steak.

  • Bars
  • Lane Cove

Out the back of the Longueville Hotel – or the Longy as it is affectionately dubbed – there's a thick-trunked sprawling palm shading the wooden deck. The deck’s view is mostly obscured by trees and the local swimming pool, but the edges of the CBD’s skyline peak out from behind tall leafy gumtrees, reminding you that you that even though you’re in Lane Cove, you’re still just a few kilometres from the harbour. 

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  • Bars
  • Breweries
  • Botany
  • price 1 of 4

Sprawling it ain't, but this petite patch of AstroTurf (both dog and family-friendly) with milk-crate seating and a chilled-out DIY vibe is totally in line with what wife-and-husband duo Meg Barbic and Clay Grant are all about at their Botany brewery. Taste your way through the eight rotating taps and get amongst the best of whatever food truck is parked out back.

The Tilbury Hotel
  • Bars
  • Woolloomooloo
  • price 2 of 4

This Eastern Suburbs go-to has long been a destination for glamazons in need of a solid feed, but popping by for a glass of bubbles or a crisp rosé is never a bad idea. It's choose your own adventure when it comes to outdoor areas – whether it be the tables out front, the upstairs balcony or the whitewashed courtyard behind the dining room, livened by pops of pastel.  

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El Loco at Slip Inn
  • Bars
  • Darling Harbour

El Loco’s takeover of the once grungy Excelsior Hotel went so well that Merivale branched out and took over the sunken beer garden that taunts drivers stuck on the City Westlink with bright lights and party tunes. If only all trips to the pub resulted in colourful bunting, Margarita slushies and do-it-yourself tacos.

Fancy getting high?

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars

Sometimes there's nothing better than bending the elbow with the sun on your back and a cool drink to keep things chill. 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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