If ever a city was set up for outdoor drinking, it is this one. Sydney’s hilly terrain, incredible native bushland and all that water are practically crying out for a spot to drink outdoors. Here are a few of our favourite venues that fill the brief with aplomb.
Courtyards, gardens and balcony bars
The Greens of North Sydney
This bowling club revamp has made the gorgeous outdoor space a highlight. There’s plenty of seating, bowling greens (of course), herb beds, an aviary and a weekend petting zoo. Top it off with fresh cocktails and views from St Leonards Park hill across the city. Keep an eye out for Moonlight Cinema, too.
50 Ridge Street, North Sydney
At The Butler you’ll find a welcoming balcony terrace with views across to the city. Add French-colonial inspired décor, a bountiful botanical theme and a drinks list including Espresso Martinis three ways, and you’ve got a classic spot at which to sip away springtime evenings and weekends.
123 Victoria Street, Potts Point
The Commons Local Eating House
The Commons has one of the sweetest front courtyards going. Filled with hanging pots and vines, wrought iron and intimate little tables, it’s perfect for a casual afternoon lingering into evening tête-à-tête without any fuss. It’s a little green oasis right in the heart of Darlinghurst.
32 Burton Street, Darlinghurst
The Cottage Bar & Kitchen
A dainty, tiered, front-garden courtyard and heritage terrace, complete with festoon lights and cottage-garden greenery. In other words, a perfect spot to sip cocktails and look over Darling Street as evening sets in. It also has an intimate dining courtyard out the back, but we like the front yard, which looks like the kind of place you could might spy fairies dancing.
342 Darling Street, Balmain
The Oaks Hotel
The long-standing and faithful beer garden at The Oaks has been keeping locals out in the open for years. With a verdant garden pavilion; the huge central namesake tree smothered in twinkling fairy lights; and sizzling DIY barbecues, it’s no wonder this perfectly casual outdoor drinking spot is a perennial favourite.
118 Military Road, Neutral Bay
The Scarborough Hotel
Worth the hour-ish drive out of Sydney, the outdoor area here is more rolling green lawns than courtyard. With astonishing views across the Illawarra coast from a cliff-top position, this historic hotel has been serving drinks with a sea breeze since 1886. Grab a cabana for long-lunch style drinks in the sunshine at their out-of-town best.
281 Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Scarborough
The gloriously roofless terrace at Darlo Bar has a garden-party feel. The walls are decked out in green tiles, and potted plants with naked bulbs hang in strings across the roof. This is a popular spot as soon as there’s even a hint of sunshine.
306 Liverpool Street, Darlinghurst
Sweethearts Rooftop Barbeque
This is Southern-style American barbecue with a beach-house vibe for your alfresco drinks. The rooftop is a great spot for relaxing under sunny skies while colourful strings of bulbs dance overhead next to views of the surrounding city, and there’s a rooftop cinema when the weather warms.
33–37 Darlinghurst Road, Potts Point
On the rooftop you’ll find views to the beach, a leafy conservatory-style vibe and food and drinks by the Merivale team. There’s plenty going on downstairs, too (from seafood bars to a barber shop), but it’s the rooftop – with loads of sunny seating and quirky interior style – that’s the place to be when the sun shines.
169 Dolphin Street, Coogee
Hidden up a flight of stairs in Neutral Bay, this Southern California-inspired spot has a rooftop terrace filled with verdant green planters, bleached-out bright colours, beachy vibes and soft tacos. Casual drinks are what it’s all about.
1 Young Street, Neutral Bay
The Glenmore Hotel
You can’t have an outdoor drinking list without including The Glenmore (since 1921). The view from the rooftop over The Rocks to Sydney harbour isn’t just for tourists – it’s an opportunity to sit back in the sunshine and appreciate the beauty of this city all over again. It certainly makes this spot a stayer.
96 Cumberland Street, The Rocks
Best of all worlds
Watsons Bay Hotel
When it comes to outdoor spaces for a drink; this is the motherload. With beachfront views across Watsons Bay, you can choose from outdoor tables in the expansive courtyard to upper-level balconies and decks, all with colourful umbrellas and beachfront style. From lunchtime drinks to moody, starlit evenings, this is the beachside best.
1 Military Road, Watson’s Bay