Best Places To Eat, Drink, And Be Merry By The Sea In Sydney Australia

Best Places To Eat, Drink, And Be Merry By The Sea In Sydney Australia

All photos by Christian Gustavsson.

Mention your travel plans to Sydney among many Australians, and you might encounter some skepticism. But that’s how it goes – urban dwellers often face a certain stigma from those in more rural regions, don’t they? As a Scandinavian outsider, I can’t help but see Sydneysiders as blessed with abundant choices in almost everything worth experiencing. Their lives seem effortlessly vibrant in a harbor city adorned with striking architecture, surrounded by awe-inspiring landscapes, dotted with pristine beaches, vibrant street art, eclectic shopping, rich cultural offerings, and basking in year-round sunshine. There’s much to envy if urban living suits your style.

In my personal experience, one of the most enjoyable ways to immerse oneself in Sydney’s charm is to explore its outdoor beer gardens, waterfront beach clubs, and sky-high rooftop bars. The views from these venues are diverse yet consistently breathtaking, and you’re likely to encounter some of the genuinely lovely locals that make Sydney special.

Allow me to share seven of my personal favorites, where you can soak up the essence of Sydney’s allure.

Bucket List, on Bondi Beach.
Bucket List, on Bondi Beach.

Bucket List

If you possess even a modest knowledge of Sydney, chances are you’re familiar with the renowned Bondi Beach. While it does tend to attract substantial crowds during the scorching summer months, visiting this beach is an absolute must, and it’s not as touristy as one might assume. One section of the iconic Bondi Surf Pavilion has been transformed into the relaxed and unpretentious Bucket List. Here, you can leave your sandy flip-flops at the door and unwind in one of its inviting spaces: the Fish Bowl, the Blue Room, the Fireplace, or Uncle Barefoot’s Garden Terrace. Indulge in delectable beach-inspired bites like burgers and fish tacos, all served with an effortless charm. The cocktail menu offers a range of classic options, but don’t miss out on the bar’s specialties, such as the captivatingly named “Paid to Surf,” a passion fruit mojito that is sure to delight your taste buds.

Watson Bay Beach Club

In recent years, the Watson Bay Beach Club underwent a remarkable transformation, with over $2 million AUD invested to create what is now hailed as “Sydney’s most Instagrammable restaurant.” While I personally appreciate the growing trend of eateries discouraging food photography (after all, food is meant to be savored, not just visually admired), the cuisine at this establishment is not only incredibly delicious but also visually stunning. The ambiance is delightful, offering a sense of tranquility, warmth, and a stylish beach vibe. It feels as if you’ve embarked on a gourmet picnic. If you plan on visiting for a meal, remember to bring your swimwear, as the nearby Watson Bay boasts a picturesque white sandy beach and crystalline waters, inviting you to take a refreshing dip. You can also explore the surrounding area by paddleboarding on a SUP board, further enhancing your experience.

Also read: Sydney to Melbourne Itinerary

Café del Mar Terrace

To truly appreciate the scenic beauty and sophistication of CafĂ© del Mar at Cockle Bay Wharf, the best way to arrive is by water taxi—although if you happen to have local friends with a private boat, that’s an even better option. As you step into the sunlit day lounge, you’ll be greeted by stylish and comfortable furniture adorned with various nautical designs. It’s the perfect spot to relax and indulge in a leisurely drink (or perhaps a few) while immersing yourself in the panoramic views of the stunning Darling Harbour.

The view from the Glenmore.
The view from the Glenmore.

The Glenmore Rooftop

Whenever I find myself in a new city, one of my first missions is to seek out a rooftop bar. Not only am I a fan of craft cocktails, but these elevated establishments also offer unparalleled views of the urban landscape, without the hassle of waiting in long lines at touristy viewpoints. In Sydney, the rooftop bar at the Glenmore Hotel, nestled in the historic Rocks District, fulfills this desire perfectly. Despite its sky-high location, the atmosphere remains grounded and intimate, providing a 180-degree view of Sydney Harbour that is simply breathtaking, especially during sunset. Pairing this mesmerizing vista with a delicious drink in hand truly creates a memorable and delightful experience.

Golden Sheaf Hotel

When traveling around Australia, one quickly realizes that the term “hotel” doesn’t always imply accommodation. It’s a common word used to describe unpretentious watering holes, akin to British pubs. So, don’t be confused by the fact that the Golden Sheaf Hotel, with its heritage-style charm, doesn’t offer any beds for an overnight stay. Here’s another local tip: even if a place advertises a beer garden, nobody will frown upon indulging in a cocktail. At the Sheaf, you can catch an exciting rugby match, enjoy the sounds of live jazz in the newly opened Garden Bar, unwind comfortably on the Terrace Bar, or celebrate special moments with friends beneath the majestic canopy of a colossal Morton Bay fig tree that graces the Beer Garden. In fact, just making it to this iconic establishment is reason enough to raise a toast and revel in the festivities.

The Ivy is luxe and casual.
The Ivy is luxe and casual.

The Ivy

The Ivy proudly declares itself as a “sophisticated urban playground for adults,” which might sound a tad pretentious, but fear not, as the ambiance is anything but. This extraordinary venue spans a vast space, meticulously organized around a central courtyard with diverse areas catering to various tastes. Looking for a DJed enclave? They’ve got it! Craving a grill restaurant? It’s there! Longing for a pool club? They’ve got that covered too! In search of a delightful tapas bistro? You’ll find it at The Ivy! And the list goes on and on, ensuring that there’s something to suit everyone’s preferences. Once you step inside, time seems to fly, as each experience seamlessly transitions into the next. The Ivy welcomes guests all week long, but if you’re seeking a memorable night of revelry, Saturday evening at the Pacha area, complete with burlesque performances, is undoubtedly your best choice.

The Winery

Surry Hills, situated in the inner south of Sydney, can be likened to the Williamsburg of the city. This vibrant neighborhood is adorned with converted warehouses-turned-galleries, trendy bars, unique boutiques, fashionable coffee roasters, and stylish pubs. Amidst this fierce competition, the distinctive Winery manages to shine brightly, effortlessly maintaining its elegance while embracing its playful charm. The secret to its allure lies in its ability to blend an unassuming ambiance—an urban oasis of gardens—with an impeccably curated wine list featuring a plethora of choices. The Winery doesn’t take itself too seriously, but when it comes to the grapes, they’re taken with utmost seriousness. Hence, the menu offers delectable dishes such as fish and chips, sausage ragĂč, and barbecued chicken, while the wine selection boasts a range of bottles, including some priced up to 1,300 AUD. Rest assured, though, there’s also an abundance of affordable wines available by the glass for a mere tenner.

Also read: Top 10 Experiences on Australia’s East Coast

Getting there

Ready to kick up your feet in Sydney? We can get you there. Check out our small group tours to Australia here.

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