The best pubs in Sydney

Everyone has a favourite and no doubt one of the this Sydney’s 800 pub venues will miss a mention. But for visitors to this city here are a select few of the best pubs in Sydney.

They can include everything from the sandstone rabbit-warren of a historic boozer in a cobbled laneway to a glamorous reincarnation of a much-loved favourite just a few metres up the road. Then there are huge waterside pubs, from the Watsons Bay Hotel in Sydney Harbour to the brand new The Log Cabin on the river in Penrith, at the foot of the Blue Mountains. Whatever your tipple, there’s no shortage of opportunities to indulge.



Watsons Bay Hotel

When you catch a ferry across the harbour to this gem of a venue you can feel like you are a million miles away from the centre of Sydney. Despite major renovations, multiple new decks and a revamp of the old-style pub accommodation into a flash boutique hotel, there is still a relaxed coastal vibe to this venue affectionately known as “the Watto”.  There are plenty of beers on tap, great seafood and pub-style mains to indulge in as you gaze at yachts and powerboats zipping around the harbour. Good weather will mean it will be popular on weekends, so get there early, with all the best pubs.

1 Military Rd, Watsons Bay, 9337 5444,


Manly Wharf Bar

While many of the visitors to Manly get off the ferry and walk straight past the Wharf Bar on their way to the beach at Manly, this is a top spot to take in the breeze and the back beach. A relaxed vibe, with its white walls and subtle green tones and stone and timber textures, is helped somewhat by the outdoor bar hanging, literally, over the water. You may even spot a little penguin looking for its own lunch as you tuck into pub grub of burgers, fish and chips, tacos and pizza.        

East Esplanade, Manly, 9977 1266,


The numerous pubs in The Rocks were once infamous for their wild times and these days still offer plenty of entertainment but of a much safer kind. There used to be one pretty much on every corner, and even if you tried to offer a top 10 of pubs in the Rocks, you’d still miss a few. So, that’s why it has a section all its own. While we are all for responsible drinking, here’s a few for your long hitlist of its best pubs.

best pubs

Fortune of War

Sydney’s oldest pub has been operating continuously in The Rocks for almost 200 years. An iconic pub, with a  warm and welcoming atmosphere, offers 16 local and imported beers on tap and Aussie classics on the menu. It also features an expansive beer garden and live music. 

137 George St, The Rocks, Sydney, 9247 7785,


The Australian Heritage Hotel 

Another character-filled original Sydney pub. It serves a huge range of homegrown craft beers – 130 in all – plus Aussie pizza that can be enjoyed on the now extended sunny forecourt tables out front of one of best pubs. 

100 Cumberland St, The Rocks, 9247 2229,


The Glenmore

A buzzy hotel that still has the feel of a local serving elevated pub grub, from slow-cooked lamb shoulder and chicken parma. Enjoy a beer – of an espresso martini  – in the outdoor area on Cumberland Street. The is one of the classics among Sydney’s best pubs. 

96 Cumberland St, The Rocks, 9247 4794,


The Mercantile

Sydney’s oldest Irish pub – and there are plenty of them. The “Merky” is famous  for patrons spilling out onto the streets and enjoying  good times primed by pints of Guinness. Gather round an outdoor table on George Street with a pint in hand and a hearty Irish meal on the table at this character-filled pub – maybe a Shamrock Pie – and watch the night’s foot traffic go by.

25 George St, The Rocks, 9247 3570,


The Orient

If the walls of this popular pub had ears and could talk, what a story it could tell. The Orient was established in 1844 and as the centuries passed it has only gotten better with age. These days the various rooms have expanded into outdoor eating and drinking areas. On the ground floor there is the Public Bar and the beer garden. There is also seating with harbour-views out front. Upstairs, is Mrs Jones, a modern dining area and terrace bar with sliding glass walls and a retractable roof, named after one of the hotel’s earliest licensees, Jane Jones. Enjoy battered local fish or a kangaroo rump, alongside local wines and premium beers at one of Sydney’s best pubs. 

89 George St, The Rocks, 9251 1255,



best pubs

Jacksons on George

Jacksons on George bar on the ground-floor of the new Sydney Place development in Circular Quay is Mk II of this well known-moniker. While the reincarnation is a lot more opulent than the dark, brooding but fun boozer it used to be, you can now  enjoy all-day dining with contemporary pub classics and a diverse drink selection featuring local breweries, a small curated wine list and a modern interpretation of classic cocktails. Happy hour(s) is 4pm-6pm, Monday to Friday.

76 George St, Sydney, 8027 9997, 


best pubs

The Abercrombie Hotel

The old brick and yellow tile facade of this inner city pub gives some indication as to its past life as an after-work hideaway, then known as the Australian Hotel, where journalists imbibed after working at John Fairfax (SMH Financial Review)) across the road. It has been transformed into a multi-level nightclub, beer garden, cocktail bar and dining venue. The ground floor features the club space, public bar and beer garden while upstairs is Casa Rosa, a late-night Italo-disco cocktail lounge and rooftop terrace with an eclectic mix of DJs on high rotation throughout the week. The adjoining terraces feature a late-night wine bar and bottle shop, Lil Sis.

100 Broadway, Chippendale, 8823 0555,



Coogee Bay Hotel

Facing the famous Coogee sands, the Coogee Bay Hotel is among Sydney’s best pubs and is a quintessential destination for those looking to bask in the warmth of the sun and indulge in a few beers beachside. Apart from the hugely popular Garden Bar, there is a Balcony Bar, Marra Bar & Grill and the Sports Bar. The new menu is Mediterranean-inspired, think grilled octopus and parmesan crusted veal loin, plus plenty of entertainment including live music and DJ sets in a venue with a vibrant atmosphere.

253 Coogee Bay Rd, Coogee, 9665 0000,


Coogee Pavilion

This three-level venue is a more sophisticated rival to the pub up the road. From coffee and juices for breakfast, morphing into a more serious pub diner for lunch and dinner, this is one of hospitality supergroup Merivale’s more iconic venues. Downstairs offers a more casual menu from affordable Italian pizza to pricier seafood bar with Hervey Bay scallops or local rock lobster, all paired with great Australian wines, cocktails and craft beers. Save upstairs venues for another day.

Ground Floor, 169 Dolphin St, Coogee, 9114 7321,

best pubs

Hotel Steyne

Hotel Steyne has been a fixture in Manly since 1859. The beachside venue provides a great space to catch up with friends over a drink and a bite to eat. After a recent renovation, there are bright new dining areas and Manly’s best rooftop bar with views over iconic Manly Beach. The menus offer a mix of traditional pub grub, plus modern Australian dsihes.

75 The Corso, Manly, 9977 4977,



best pubs

The Log Cabin

The Log Cabin is a historic hotel on the banks of the Nepean River that has been reimagined by a local pub family, after a devastating fire. While it has become a new hub in Sydney west, the location has long been part of the local Penrith community, and is well known for its role in providing a meeting place for all to enjoy great food, drinks, views and more. It features the Regatta Bar downstairs, two large outdoor decks overlooking the Nepean River and a beer garden, with fun for little ones in the Loggie Train play area. There is also Darwin’s Rest cocktail bar and modern Australian restaurant, Sinclair’s, that features local produce from the Greater Nepean Region. Arguably of best pubs in the west.

20 Memorial Ave, Penrith, 4711 3324, is the ultimate guide to visiting Sydney. It provides up-to-date information on attractions, places to visit, restaurants, shops, visitor information and transport. The site is published by Cruise Media Australasia, a Big Splash Media company. Editor-in-Chief and Publisher: Peter Lynch.

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