The best things to do after dinner in Sydney range from relaxed stargazing and sipping craft brews to riding high-octane rollercoasters and energetic dancing. The city is positively exploding with new craft breweries, environmentally-friendly wine bars, retro cocktail lounges, burlesque and cabaret shows, and thriving night markets.

    Sydney is justifiably famous for its opera house, but there are dozens of incredible cultural centres hosting theatre, ballet, and opera. Meanwhile, at the clubs, bars and music venues around the city centre, the locals keep rocking until dawn. Spend your evening in style with our pick of the best things to do in Sydney at night.

    1

    Sydney Opera House

    A world-famous performing arts venue

    The Sydney Opera House is one of the city’s most iconic sights. This instantly recognisable structure has long been Sydney’s leading venue for theatre, dance, opera and music. Resident companies include Opera Australia, the Australian Ballet, and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Every year, it hosts numerous international stars of music and drama.

    Come hear a symphony in the soaring Concert Hall, which has an enormous 10,000-pipe organ. More intimate performances take place in the 280-seat Studio Theatre. Everyday at sunset, a short film celebrating First Nations artists is projected on the outer walls. It has 3 onsite bars serving champagne, New South Wales wine, local beers and ciders, and gourmet snacks.

    Location: Bennelong Point, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia

    Phone: +61 (0)2 9250 7111

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    2

    YCK Laneways

    Sophisticated drinking dens and historic architecture

    YCK Laneways is a thriving neighbourhood of pubs, clubs and cocktail bars covering York, Clarence and Kent Streets. These venues are often inspired by historical watering holes and occupy some of Sydney’s most beautiful heritage architecture. Frequent events include live music, fire shows and cocktail tastings.

    Drink cask ales in a wood-panelled library at Duke of Clarence, try whiskeys from Japan, Taiwan and Scotland at Uncle Ming’s, or enjoy award-winning gin at The Barber Shop, a speakeasy hidden behind a real barbershop. Cuban bar, The Lobo, serves arguably the best rum in Sydney, while The Swinging Cat feature live jazz and cocktails inspired by New Orleans.

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    3

    Circular Quay

    Known as the ‘Gateway to Sydney’

    Circular Quay is a historic area on Sydney's waterfront, overlooking the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. It hosts dozens of galleries, boutique shops, seafront bars, cultural hubs, and the city’s main ferry port. Among its diverse events are open-air art exhibitions, light shows, and a spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks display.

    If you like breathtaking harbour views, you’re spoilt for choice in Circular Quay. Try Cruise Bar, a luxe cocktail joint in the ferry terminal, The Squire’s Landing, a 2-storey microbrewery, or Cafe Sydney on the roof of the historic Customs House. Bar Mille occupies a sandstone church with stained-glass windows, whileThe Doss House exudes vintage underground vibes.

    Location: Circular Quay, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia

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    4

    Darlinghurst

    A diverse mix of culture, pubs and bars

    Darlinghurst is a cosmopolitan district of central Sydney, packed with lively bars, colourful clubs, intimate theatres and all kinds of cultural hotspots. Walkable tree-lined streets and a party atmosphere make it one of the most popular places to go after dark. In particular, Eternity Playhouse is popular for its radical and innovative theatre.

    You can drink whiskey to country music hits at Shady Pines Saloon, enjoy cocktails with a film noir aesthetic at The Long Goodbye, or sample organic and biodynamic Australian wines at Love, Tilly Devine. There’s a lot of old-fashioned fun to be had at burlesque venue The Magician’s Cabaret, and a sweet way to round off your night awaits at Gelato Messina.

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    5

    Sydney Observatory

    Museum exploring the history of stargazing

    The Sydney Observatory is housed in a historic sandstone building on a high point, overlooking the Sydney Harbour. Take an after-dark tour of the observatory to learn about its important work in astronomy and meteorology. You get to climb up to the astronomy dome, see historic and modern equipment, as well as spot the port through a telescope.

    The Sydney Observatory also has an enormous collection of historic objects relating to astronomy and everyday life in Sydney over the last 150 years. Visit during a Lates event to enjoy outdoor stargazing through the courtyard telescopes, food and drinks, and live music inspired by scientific discoveries.

    Location: 1003 Upper Fort St, Millers Point NSW 2000, Australia

    Open: Wednesday–Saturday from 8 pm to 10.30 pm (closed Sundays to Tuesdays)

    Phone: +61 (0)2 9217 0222

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    6

    Luna Park

    Nostalgic fun for the whole family

    Luna Park is a retro amusement park on the waterfront. As you arrive you’re greeted by an enormous smiling face, one of the original 1930s features. There are classic sideshow games with prizes, a funhouse with a mirror maze, and a carousel, as well as more modern rides like the Big Dipper rollercoaster and the terrifying Sledgehammer.

    One of its main attractions is a huge Ferris Wheel, which provides incredible views of Sydney Harbour and the Royal Opera House from 40 metres high. Amphora Wine Bar offers equally delightful views if heights aren't your thing. There’s also a gelato bar for the kids. You can take the ferry from central Sydney to get a great view of Luna Park in its full glory.

    Location: 1 Olympic Dr, Milsons Point NSW 2061, Australia

    Phone: +61 (0)2 9922 6644

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    7

    Sydney Chinatown Night Market

    Energetic food and craft market

    The Sydney Chinatown Night Market is a lively market selling delicious street food, sweet desserts, local crafts and all kinds of trinkets. Dixon Street is lit with pretty lanterns on Friday nights. Locals come out after work for dinner, drinks and browsing at this market.

    It's a great place to eat your way around Asia, with dozens of vendors selling sushi, fish balls, teppanyaki and spring rolls. Local artists and designers sell handmade jewellery, decorative glass sculptures, and terrariums containing beautiful miniature plants. During Lunar New Year, the Sydney Chinatown Night Market is a popular place to pick up traditional Chinese decorations.

    Location: Dixon St, Haymarket NSW 2000, Australia

    Open: Friday from 4 pm to 11 pm

    Phone: +61 (0)478 177 219

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    8

    Walsh Bay theatres

    Cultural institutions showcasing world-class performances

    Walsh Bay is where many prestigious and innovative cultural institutions call home. The Rebel Theatre, Wharf 1 Theatre and Bell Shakespeare host contemporary performances and timeless theatre, while virtuoso musicians regularly perform at the Australian Chamber Orchestra. You can enjoy the transcendent singing of the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs.

    Bangarra Dance Theatre is an Aboriginal dance company incorporating indigenous traditions into cutting-edge contemporary shows. Sydney Theatre Company hosts live drama and comedy in a chic minimalist space. One of the best drinking spots in Walsh Bay is Bar at the End of the Wharf, which serves Aussie wines and local craft beers on a harbourside deck.

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    9

    Marrickville craft breweries

    Experience Sydney’s booming craft beer scene

    Marrickville is a fun, laidback district that has made a name for itself with its excellent craft beers. Located west of central Sydney, old industrial warehouses and factories have gained a new lease of life, producing innovative ales and unique small-batch beers. 

    Batch Brewing Company was the one that kicked off the craft beer craze, boasting handcrafted pale ales, IPAs and milk stouts. Enjoy watermelon pilsner and dark porter in an industrial taproom at Grifter, or play pool and lounge on Bob Hawke's patio. Pioneering brewery Wildflower Brewing produces unique beers using wild yeast harvested from around New South Wales.

    Location: Marrickville, New South Wales 2204, Australia

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    10

    Oxford Street

    Round-the-clock revelry at a centre of counter-culture

    Oxford Street is a hub of restaurants and independent shops during the day, butturns into one of Sydney’s biggest parties  after sunset. It’s widely known for fabulous nightclubs, cosy pubs, and dive bars. Every year, the street hosts the colourful Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

    Oxford Art Factory is a great place to catch performances by international bands and local acts. ARQ Sydney hs an outstanding aprogramme of music, DJs and dance, while Stonewall Hotel showcases drag shows, queer karaoke nights, and trivia challenges. Try Palms on Oxford or Flashback Fridays if you want to dance to retro hits.

    Location: Oxford St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010, Australia

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    Victoria Hughes | Contributing Writer

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