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A Night Out Guide To Sydney

Sydney's lockout laws don’t have to ruin your night out. Check our list of places to go eat delicious food, drink wild concoctions & dance the night away.

Just because Sydney has lockout laws doesn’t mean the city is in lockdown. Trust us, there are still plenty of places to go eat delicious food, drink wild concoctions, and dance the night away!

Whether you’re just visiting Sydney or you’re a local, you’ll have heard about the lock out laws that have been well publicised since they came into effect back in 2014. If you don’t know what they are, basically these laws mean that if you’re not in a bar or club by 1:30am then you won’t be getting in, and venues in the lockout zone must be closed by 3am. But, just because Sydney has lockout laws doesn’t mean the city is in lockdown. Trust us, there are still plenty of places to go eat delicious food, drink wild concoctions, and dance the night away!

Nightlife, now.

Sydney has always been famous for its nightlife and lockout laws or no lockout laws, the bartenders, hoteliers, publicans, restaurateurs and residents of this fine city are making sure it stays this way. They’re fighting for their right to party so you can keep having a good time – right on.
On the upside, one thing that hasn’t changed with the lockout laws and that is the variety of nightlife. Sydney is a city of villages and you can be assured that each village is keeping their individual vibe alive. From rocking Oxford Street to the iconic Kings Cross, the grungy Inner West to the upmarket King Street Wharf – there really is a bar for everyone. But when you’re planning a night out the main thing you need to know is - which suburbs have been affected by the new regulations?

Where is in lockout?

The lockout laws are in affect over the Sydney CBD “Entertainment Quarter” – which is a little bit of a grey area. Basically it covers everywhere from Circular Quay to the border of Surry Hills. So if you’re hitting any of these areas, you better get there before 1:30am or risk a night out on the street (not literally).
We’ve got a handy guide showing you each area that is suffering from a case of the lockouts and how you can still have an awesome night out no matter which hot spot you’re visiting.

Kings Cross

Famed for its bars, all-night clubs and giant shimmering coke sign that was once a beacon for night time revelers – there is no denying that Kings Cross is an institution. Now that the Cross is in lock out how do you enjoy this fantastically grimy late-night spot if all the venues close at 3am?
7pm – 11pm: The night is just heating up, so why not cool down with an ice-cold delicious beverage and a bite of something to eat? Our favourite place to go for pre-party in the Cross would have to be Sweethearts Rooftop bar. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a beer and the view – it’s great people watching.
11pm – 1am: After you’ve wined and dined you should probably head to the always-busy Kings Cross Hotel. This multi-story venue pumps seven days a week and each level has a different theme. Make sure you check out what’s on before you go there, they hold some great parties at Club 3.
1am – 3am: Once you’ve commandeered the dance floor at the Kings Cross Hotel, it’s time to get your skates on and head to World Bar for some serious partying. It’s dark, loud, grimy, and can you drink cocktails from a teapot – what more could you want?
After 3am: The bars may all have closed but you still have one last stop. A good night in Kings Cross always finishes with a kebab. Head back to the main strip and take your pick of vendors. At this time of the morning any kebab, is a good kebab. 

Sydney City Centre

The city of Sydney has been getting down to business, the business of serving you amazing drinks. Recently, the small bar scene in Sydney has exploded and some amazing restaurants have opened to match. If you’re heading into the city, you’re guaranteed a great night. Here are a few of our favourite places.
7pm – 11pm: If you’re visiting Sydney, get an early evening drink at Opera Bar. Sure, it’s a little touristy but it’s beautiful and has the best view of the harbour. Once you’ve ticked that off your list, it’s time to head to the heart of the city to discover some of the best bars around. And, there are a lot of them. You’ll want to visit The Baxter Inn, Lobo Plantation, Palmer and Co. and The Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern to name a few. 
11pm – 1am: Once you’ve drunk your fill of fancy cocktails and top-shelf whiskey you should definitely head to Sydney’s newest supper club, Hubert. Late night French fare with amazing wine to match and the kitchen is open till 1am. Don’t mind if we do.
1am – 3am: It’s time to get your dancing shoes on. If you’re feeling rock and roll then Frankie’s Pizza is for you, head out the back and join the party. If EDM is more your jam then you could hit the dance floor at Chinese Laundry, Cargo Bar, Scary Canary, Marquee or Home night club. Or, if you want to keep it fancy then head to The Ivy Rooftop Pool Bar.
After 3am: You could have some traditional greasy late night-fare to finish your night off or you could head to local favourite Golden Century. Grab a big table and enjoy a late night Chinese banquet, perfection. 

Darlinghurst & Oxford Street

Darlinghurst is Sydney’s centre of cool. It’s full of art galleries, famous restaurants, theatre, great bars and venues. From hipster gig venues to trendy small saloons and Sydney’s favourite gay bars – there is something for everyone. If you’re spending time in Sydney, you have to spend at least one night on Oxford Street.
7pm -11pm: Start your night with the locals and grab a drink at Darlo Bar or The Local Taphouse. Both these big pubs have a great selection of food and drinks available. Once you’ve appropriately lined your stomach this area is yours to explore.
11pm – 1am: It’s time for a bar hop, you must head to hidden Shady Pines – this hard to find but always rocking saloon is the place to be. Some other bars worth visiting are the uber hip Ching-a-lings, cocktail masters Eau de Vie or enjoy American style sports bar Surlys. 
1am – 3am: This is when Oxford Street kicks off. There is a great selection of late-night venues and they are all quite close together. Get tiki and hit the dancefloor at The Cliff Dive, be amazed by the drag queens at Stonewall, catch a gig at Oxford Art Factory or play bowling at The Standard. The only question is, which one will you choose?
3am: Forget a burger, the last stop in your Darlinghurst adventure has to be Mr Crackles. They are serving up incredible roast pork rolls until 4am. It’s the late-night food that dreams are made of.

Opinions from the Experts

We caught up with a few of our favourite Sydney bloggers to give us their recommendations on where to hit when you’re out in Sydney:
Amie Hamling – Simply Weekend (simplyweekend.com)
“As a Sydneysider, the bars and clubs I go back to again and again are those with a community-type vibe. Bartenders that treat you like a human, welcome you with open arms, and suggest crazy cocktails and new craft beers to try on a night out. That's why The Little Guy in Glebe and Knox Bar in Chippendale are venues with loyal patrons. The atmosphere is homely, and provides the best environment to grab a drink with your mates.”
“The best nights out I've had in Sydney are bar hopping with a group of friends through the inner west. I've had plenty of amazing nights out in Newtown, starting down one end of King Street and ending in the beer garden of The Bank Hotel, one of the more casual places in Sydney still open to the early hours of the morning.”
Glen Fitzgerald – Style Editor, Sydney Chic (sydneychic.com.au)
“Whilst Sydney has an array of cool hot spots to enjoy, for me Double Bay in the east, just five minutes outside the city is perhaps one of the best party destinations. Once the diamond of Sydney's social scene, Double Bay has had quite the resurgence in recent years, and it’s located outside the lock out zone so you can start and finish your evening here.”
“From small, intimate bars like Vine, to swanky, buzzing spots like Mrs Sippy and Pelicano in beautiful Bay St, to the grand scale of the Golden Sheaf Hotel, which features a variety of areas to mingle in, including their amazing new indoor/outdoor lounge area. If it’s a nightclub you're after, then look no further then Casablanca. Make sure you get glammed up in advance because you’ll more than likely see a few paparazzi hanging about outside! Double Bay is well worth checking out.”
Still more to explore!
That’s the low down on how to have a great night in Sydney, lockout or no lockout. And remember there are still so many other hotspots to explore. You’ve still got to tick Newtown, Manly, Surry Hills, Redfern and Bondi off your party bucket list. Check out our Sydney guide for more tips and hints, or if you're ready to book, check out ibis' cheap hotels in Sydney.

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