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The best rooftop bars in Sydney

Down an amber ale in the afternoon sun or see the city from on high at Sydney's best rooftop bars

Photograph: Anna Kucera

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.

Sydney's best rooftop bars

Bridgeview Hotel

For an old pub, the Bridgeview scrubs up nicely. A bit of an upgrade has resulted in a welcoming public bar, an amiable dining room and a rooftop, because everyone loves booze with a view. There’s even an all-weather TV up on the Astro-Turfed terrace so you can kick back on the picnic tables and barrack for your team under the open sky.

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Willoughby

The Bristol Arms

Unless you are desperately afraid of heights, we recommend heading for the fifth floor at this newly refurbed city pub. The rooftop is the crowning glory. You’ll feel like the king of the castle under the ropes of pearl bulbs with a wagyu minute steak sandwich in one hand, a Peroni in the other and a little Florence Welch on the stereo.

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Darling Harbour

Ching-a-lings

The tricky thing about this small bar is finding it, but hey - no sign, no line. They don't do cocktails and don't be expecting a wine glass for your sauvignon blanc - it's all about wine in tumblers, mixer drinks and Coopers longnecks. The main bar area seems much less popular than the wooden outdoor deck, even on a particularly wet and chilly evening.

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Darlinghurst

Coogee Pavilion

The Coogee Pavilion and its spectacular rooftop are making a serious play for our number one summertime hauntGo here for cold-pressed juice highballs, tasty meats cooked over coals and the uninterrupted glory of the Sydney coastline.

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Coogee

Corridor

A friendly neighbourhood bar that is not much wider than its moniker suggests, they do long necks, local wines, a few craft beers, simple cocktails and a few snacks. Prized real estate is the open rooftop overlooking Newtown's backstreets.

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Newtown

Darlo Bar

There's a bit of an Alice in Wonderland, garden party feel to the Darlo patio, with Astro-Turf on the floor, chintzy white metal lawn furniture and Chinese lanterns, big citrus green walls and pink flamingos scattering the 'lawn'. Warning though: if you don't like breathing a few clouds of Marlboro Light, avoid.

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Darlinghurst

Gaslight Inn

Upstairs at the Gasso there are pool tables on high and the outdoor area, with it's bleached back boards, white bucket seats and built-in benches, is totally no-fuss and as laid back and beachy as you could find in Surry Hills.

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Darlinghurst

Glenmore Hotel

There are few views in Sydney that can rival the majesty of the harbour panorama from rooftop of the Glenmore Hotel down in the Rocks. It's always a good bet for when you have visitors from out of town and weekends get crowded, but we're just as keen on heading here on a Monday for a $12 steak and a quiet drink with mates.

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The Rocks

Henry Deane

Up on top of the newly renovated Hotel Palisade is a new bar called Henry Deane, which is taking your after work drinks in the Rocks to great new heights, and we're guessing will be a hotly contested space for the New Year's fireworks displays.

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Millers Point

Hotel Sweeney's

Getting to the roof of this bar is like an Olympic event, but it's worth it when you get there. Make your way to the top of this tower and be rewarded with tooth-freezingly cold Peronis and great views over the big city canopy.

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Sydney

Ivy Pool Club

Everyone has an opinion about the Pool Club. But when you get down to it, the fact that you can get your gills wet up high in the heart of the city, cold drink in hand, is undeniably awesome. And there's usually a hot bod or two to gawp at.

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Sydney

The Local Taphouse

Craft beers are all the rage in Sydney right now and there’s no better place to try a bunch of weird stuff all in one go than the Local Taphouse. Head upstairs to the rooftop bar, sit back in the warm sunshine, order a tasting paddle and really make a day of it.

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Darlinghurst

Metropolitan Hotel

The Metropolitan Hotel has reopened after extensive renovations, which means you can once again enjoy your pulled lamb sliders, fancy fish and chips and sausages and mash on the rooftop terrace that overlooks George and Bridge Streets.

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Sydney

New Brighton Hotel

The new-New Brighton Hotel is a fresh-faced and shiny as a debutante. But this four-storey pub on the Corso is well-versed in the Manly boozing scene. That means there's a craft beer and cocktail bar on level one, a nightclub on level two that is open late and a rooftop garden bar with views to Shelley Beach.

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Manly

The Rook

We’re of the opinion that any high-rise in Sydney that could have a cracking cocktail bar on its roof and doesn’t is a tragic waste of lofty boozing opportunities. And one that does lobster and burgers is definitely making it onto the Christmas card list. There’s just something so much better about drinking at altitude and dinner on high.

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Sydney

Royal Hotel - Paddington

The local soccer teams post work crowd often forget about the upper levels of this expansive Paddington hotel. Head right for the top to score a seat on the tiny rooftop that looks out over to the Sydney city skyline.

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Paddington

SoCal Neutral Bay

The people behind Bondi Hardware and The Botanist have opened a Southern Californian-style restaurant and bar with a sunny rooftop for the consumption of quesadillas, ceviche, hot dogs and tacos.

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Neutral Bay

Strawberry Hills Hotel

Once a wizened watering hole for elderly gents and gig-goers spilling over from the nearby Gaelic Club, the Strawberry Hills has been rebirthed as a hipster hideaway following a snazzy refurbishment and a late-night license that’s as rare as hen’s teeth. All the action is to be found upstairs out on the rooftop terrace that is open to the night sky.

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Surry Hills

Sweethearts Rooftop BBQ

When you think you're at the top – keep walking. That's what you need to know if you're taking the stairs to the peak of the Sugarmill, where you'll find new barbecue joint and rooftop bar, Sweethearts. Cheap backyard party drinks (shandies!) and big-boy barbecue food from chef Robert Taylor.

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Potts Point

Taylor's Rooftop Bar

There’s something about being elevated and exposed to the elements that enhances a night on the tiles, so it's good news all round that the Republic Hotel has opened a rooftop bar called Taylors.If you head here around knock-off the place is packed with people who know what good tailoring looks like. This is the place to order up chilled glass tankards of Asahi, frosty Peronis or a crisp rose.

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Sydney

The Workers

The Workers is decked out like a Mad Hatter's tea party with plants growing up the walls, red vinyl booths, oversized dining chairs and tartan carpet. And there's also near-billboard-sized pictures on the ceiling of Hawke, Whitlam and Wran, for that political touch. But the best seats in the house are in the rooftop “garden” – a faux-grassed outdoor terrace.

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Balmain

ZanziBar

Sometimes you can turn an average drinking session into something special just by adding a flight of stairs. The sunny Cloud 9 bar at ZanziBar is decked out with wrought-iron furniture, spiky potted plants and terracotta tiles – squint (hard) and you could almost be drinking in Marrakech.

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Newtown

Zeta Bar

You'll get an exceptional cocktail here – the crew behind the bar make all their own syrups. The list can get a bit la-di-da with all kinds of vanilla- infused hooey, but stand out on their deck overlooking the QVB with a Moscow Mule and be happy.

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Sydney

Prefer seaside drinks? Right this way

The best waterfront bars in Sydney

Because if you've got a cold drink in your hand and the sea breeze in your hair then it's a good day to be you.

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By: Emily Lloyd-Tait

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