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People sitting on couches at Estate
Photograph: Anna Kucera

The 26 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

By Time Out editors
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We're all about a funky underground dive bar or two – but in a good-looker of a city like ours, sometimes it seems like a damn shame to retreat underground. Here are the best spots in the city to sip a cold one under a gorgeous open sky. But beware: Sydney's rooftop bars play host to some of the most contested seats in the city, so get in early for a spot with unblemished views. 

For more al fresco drinking try one of Sydney's best beer gardens, or waterfront bars.

Looking for another top-notch watering hole? Check out the 50 best bars in Sydney.

Sydney's best rooftop bars

People sitting on rooftop at Old Mates Place
Photograph: Anna Kucera

1. Old Mate's Place

Bars Cocktail bars Sydney

Old Mate’s Place is a chimera, combining the best of moody candle lit drinking with the surprise element of a sunny rooftop bar into the bargain. Clock off early to score a seat up amongst the potted plants and down Negronis and Jamaican beers in the late-evening light.  

People sitting outside drinking at Smoke Bar Barangaroo
Photograph: Anna Kucera

2. Smoke

Bars Cocktail bars Barangaroo

It’s only once you’re sitting on the beautiful deck of this third-floor cocktail lounge that you realise that it was the missing piece of Sydney’s bar puzzle all along. The Solotel group went and made Opera Bar a suave sister in the form of Smoke – the crowning glory of Barangaroo House. Up here, things are strictly professional. You are greeted at the entranceway, shown to a seat, started a tab and possibly given a time limit until the next booking arrives (they do not follow the finders keepers rules here). 

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Rooftop dining at East Village
Photograph: Jack Ailwood

3. East Village Hotel

Bars Darlinghurst

We don’t need to tell you how much Sydney loves a rooftop bar, and the top floor addition to the East Village Hotel (previously the Darlo Village) is an A-grade, lofty drinking perch. Sure, if cardio isn’t your friend you may even find you have to take a breather at the second floor, but that’s not going to be a problem because that’s where they added the Athletic Club, a vintage sports-themed bar that has a very toffy, “I went to Eton during the Downton Abbey years” vibe about it. 

Estate Coogee, prawns, food overview, seafood
Photograph: Anna Kucera

4. Estate Coogee Beach

Restaurants Mexican Coogee

Not unlike its nearby neighbour, the Coogee Pavillion, three-in-one venue occupying the ground floor of the Crowne Plaza Hotel Estate has maximised its appeal by having differently styled spaces geared to the needs of very different crowds. Making the most of its beachside location, the alfresco Terrace is pitched at a younger, casual clientele, who can kick back with friends, vodka soda in hand, as evening moves in over the Coogee sands just across the street. This leafy courtyard has its own dedicated bar, housed in a gleaming stainless steel Airstream-style trailer, and laidback, Coachella vibes that effortlessly transition to an after-dark party atmosphere with live music, DJ sets, a projector screening beachy flicks and twinkling bistro lights strung overhead.

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5. Glenmore Hotel

Bars The Rocks

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.

6. Henry Deane

Bars Millers Point

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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7. Coogee Pavilion

Bars Coogee

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.

The sun setting behind the city skyline as seen from a rooftop bar
Photograph: Supplied

8. The Light Brigade

Bars Woollahra

Like Narcissus staring adoringly at his own reflection, Sydney’s a city enamoured with its own good looks, hence our obsession with rooftop bars. Happily there’s a rooftop in town where you can do just that. The open-air, top floor bar is definitely the jewel in the Light Brigade’s rejuvenated crown. The old pub underwent extensive changes since the Bayfield family took ownership a few years back, and adding the top floor bar was a power move that makes the most of the pub’s prime Oxford Street location, with views stretching from Paddington clear across to the Coathanger. 

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9. SoCal Neutral Bay

Neutral Bay

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

Rooftop at Slim’s Rooftop at Hyde Park House
Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan

10. Hyde Park House

Bars Darlinghurst

Slim’s Rooftop is named after American socialite photographer Slim Aarons, though it could equally refer to the narrow stairs leading to rooftop — there’s a good amount of side-sashaying and waiting-on-the-landing as staff and patrons patiently wait to climb up or down the stairs. But don’t despair, because it’s a stairway to heaven. Slim’s is an open-air oasis with succulent plants and low walls, allowing for stunning views of the art-deco buildings on William Street and the glittery skyscrapers of the not-too-distant CBD. 

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Dining area at the Imperial Hotel Erksinville
Photograph: Supplied

11. The Imperial Hotel

Bars Erskineville

It's everything you know and love about the Imperial – camp, glitz, glamour, disco, pop art and Queerdom in all its fabulousness – just one level up, with a more Italian-leaning menu and a glittery golden pizza oven. We vote yas. 

People enjoy cocktails on a rooftop
Photograph: Supplied/The Burdekin

12. The Burdekin

Bars Darlinghurst

The Burdekin is a skinny corner pub that has been guarding the entrance to Oxford Street since 1847, and it has recently added a rooftop bar to the mix. Standing five storeys up, this casual-chic watering hole is the only one of its kind on Oxford Street. Take in sweeping views of Sydney’s main drag for queer partying, stretching out to Hyde Park and to the Domain as you sip on original cocktails by the likes of the Back Ally, the Slutty Mermaid and the Pink Flamingo. 

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Main balcony at Nick and Nora's
Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan

13. Nick & Nora's

Bars Cocktail bars Parramatta

Nick and Nora's is all about the numbers: it's 26 levels up in the air, has room for 300 punters, boasts a list of spirits 900-strong and 270-degree views that stretch from the Blue Mountains on one side to a teeny tiny Harbour Bridge on the other horizon.

Bartender at Local Taphouse, Darlinghurst
Photograph: Anna Kucera

14. The Taphouse

Bars Darlinghurst

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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People sitting outside at Babylon
Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan

15. Babylon

Restaurants Middle Eastern Sydney

So what if it's on top of a Westfield? You're smack bang in the centre of the city, which makes this massive Middle Eastern rooftop bar, lounge and restaurant a handy option to keep in your back pocket after a long day of shopping or if you're in need an al fresco hangout for after-work drinks. Cocktails have clever Levantine twists (cumin seeds, Turkish coffee, baklava caramel) and there's a solid menu of modern meze to keep your stomach lined, including a wicked duck gozleme.

Royal Hotel Paddington
Photograph: Kitti Smallbone

16. Royal Hotel - Paddington

Bars Paddington

This legendary boozer at Five Ways has been a Paddo locals' favourite for many a decade, but the roof still remains something of secret. If the climb to the top doesn't take your breath away, the skyline views certainly will – and a 2019 refresh saw the installation of a retractable roof and wine taps, which means that you can rosé all day even when the stormy weather hits.

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17. The Rook

Bars Sydney

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.

Food and drink at Bar Ombre
Photograph: Kitti Gould

18. Bar Ombré

Bars Cocktail bars Circular Quay

The forces behind Salt Meats Cheese have turned their attention to the bar side of things, and Ombré is the result. There's somewhat of a shortage of rooftop drinking stops in and around Circular Quay, surprisingly, which makes this Italian-ish option all the more tempting... and so does aperitivo hour from 4-6pm all through the working week. 

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People having cocktails  at Untied Barangaroo
Photograph: Supplied

19. Untied

Bars Pubs Barangaroo

It turns out there's even more to the Streets of Barangaroo than what you see at ground level. Head up to this leafy open-air spot for tropical cocktails named after birds (yes, there's a Flamin' Galah) and direct views over Darling Harbour.

20. Taylor's Rooftop Bar

Bars Sydney

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 rosé.

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Zeta Bar Terrace
Photograph: Supplied

21. Zeta Bar

Bars Sydney

Hotel bars don't get quite the hype in Sydney that they should. You'll get an exceptional cocktail here – the crew behind the bar make pretty much everything from scratch. The list can get a bit la-di-da with all kinds of vanilla-infused hooey, but stand out on the deck overlooking the QVB with a Moscow Mule and be happy.

22. Hotel Sweeney's

Bars Sydney

Note: Hotel Sweeney's has not yet announced when it will reopen. Check its social media for the latest. 

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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24. Ivy Pool Club

Bars Sydney

Note: The Ivy Pool Club has not yet announced when it will reopen. Check its social media for the latest. 

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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25. Corridor

Bars Newtown

Note: Corridor has not yet announced when it will reopen. Check its social media for the latest.

A friendly Newtown local haunt 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 chilled-out open rooftop overlooking the backstreets.

26. The Bristol Arms

Bars Darling Harbour

Unless you are desperately afraid of heights, we recommend heading for the fifth floor at this refurbed city pub that used to be the Retro. 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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27. Sweethearts Rooftop

Restaurants Potts Point

The Cross is reimagining itself in 2021, but Sweethearts is a reliable classic. Get the squad together, head up the seven flights of stairs and spend the afternoon necking Pimm's on tap and jugs of sangria. It's not only wines on tap here, but beers as well – come for the drinks, stay for the quasi beach-club-style atmosphere. 

28. Strawberry Hills Hotel

Bars Surry Hills

Once a wizened watering hole for elderly gents and gig-goers spilling over from the nearby Gaelic Club, the Strawberry Hills is now more of 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.

Prefer seaside drinks?

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