Sip and Stroll: Discover the Best Bars near Circular Quay

With over 20 bars within five minutes’ walk of the station, finding a bar near Circular Quay is not a hard mission. However, if you don’t have time for a full day (and night) of bar hopping to discover the very best, you might like a little local advice. 

Even though I am a local who has lived in Sydney all my life, I still love heading to Circular Quay Bar to meet up with friends. A bunch of fun new venues have opened up recently, so there is plenty to discover. On top of that, the transport options make it a super convenient place to converge and let’s face it, the view is pretty special.

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Visiting a bar in Circular Quay is not just for tourists, locals, love to head to the waterfront for after work or pre-dinner drinks as much as any visitor.

Positioned within a leisurely five-minute stroll of Circular Quay and historic Rocks, a treasure trove of bars awaits. Whether you’re a laid-back sipper, a cocktail aficionado, or a live music lover, you will find your place here.

The average price of a beer in Circular Quay is $10-$12, cocktails run from $18-24, but don’t despair, we have included happy hour information below.

This is not an exhaustive list. Google maps can give you that, rather these are some of my favourite bars in Sydney. The bars I choose when I am heading out for drinks with friends in Circular Quay or the northern end of Sydney CBD.

Bars with iconic views of Sydney Harbour

If you are looking for a bar at Circular Quay to watch a harbour sunset, these first few are hard to go past. Many bars in Circular Quay offer views of the harbour, but I think these offer something unique, along with uninterrupted views of the harbour.

For those perfect Sydney sunset moments I suggest:

Opera Bar 

One of the most popular bars in Circular Quay, Opera Bar, located right on the water at the Opera House, offers stunning views of the city whichever way you look. 

Opera Bar view Sydney
Opera Bar has some of the best views in the city

The vibe is relaxed, with a mix of young professionals, tourists, and locals. There is live music daily, and it’s usually upbeat, ranging from small bands to DJs, creating a fun atmosphere.

I find myself here often, it’s a place I think almost everyone will feel comfortable. No need to dress up, you can drop by in your hiking shoes and shorts or stop in before a night at the opera. There is some good food here too, so it’s a perfect spot to head to if you fancy a bite to eat.  

Blu Bar on 36 

For those who are looking for a more upscale experience, the Blu Bar on 36 is wonderful. Located on the 36th floor of the Shangri-La Hotel, Blu Bar offers possibly the most stunning views of the city in a sophisticated atmosphere.

Sydney Bar with a view Bar Blu
I am going to have to go back for a new photo soon!

If you are looking for a way to start or end a romantic evening in Circular Quay, this is a brilliant choice. It’s a little pricey, with signature cocktails starting from $29, but trust us; the views are worth every penny! 

The Glenmore Rooftop Hotel

It may not be as peaceful as the former, especially on weekends, but you can’t beat the lively atmosphere. What’s more, with the panoramic views of the whole harbour from the rooftop terrace, the sunset vistas are outstanding.

Glenmore Hotel rooftop bar has a view of the Opera House

The Glenmore offers a pretty splendid selection of craft beer and cocktails that change seasonally. If you fancy a dance, the DJ plays tunes until the wee hours on weekends, making it an ideal spot for late-night revellers. 

The Glenmore have some deals at the moment, including $14 Spritz all day Sunday and $2 oysters and $7 prosecco on Thursdays. Check the latest offers here.

Circular Quay is a popular spot for New Year’s Eve celebrations in Sydney. Check out our list of where to dine with a view of the fireworks.

During the Vivid Sydney Festival, a seat at one of these bars is the perfect spot to rest your feet.

Hyde Hacienda Sydney

Hyde Hacienda on East Circular Quay is just minutes walk from the ferry wharf and has stunning Sydney Harbour Bridge views.

The tropical decor with palm trees, wicker chairs and colourful tiles always makes me feel like this is a fun spot for a girl’s catch up or a pre-dinner cocktail. The menu features a variety of rum-based cocktails and Latin American-inspired dishes. 

Caption Hacienda Sydney, which offers a Latin-inspired menu and a rooftop bar with panoramic views of Circular Quay.

Happy hour at Hyde hacienda is from Tuesday to Friday 4pm-6pm with $9 beer or wines and $15 cocktails.

The wine list features a wide selection of Australian and New Zealand wines with some French rose thrown in because let’s face it the French do the best rose!

Cruise Bar

A popular spot on the Overseas Passenger Terminal Cruise Bar has three levels, each with a different menu. Level 2 is Junk Bar, head upstairs for drinks (and eats) with an Asian twist, and on Thursdays, $10 mini cocktails.

They also have a unique late night happy hour– Fridays from 8pm-10pm with $8 beer and wine and $12 Cosmos and espresso martinis.

Cruise Bar sits above the Overseas Passenger Terminal

Level 3 offers a comfortable outdoor area with an uninterrupted view of the Opera House.

Related: Bars with a view in Sydney

Bars with live music near Circular Quay

You can find live music in Circular Quay. Some of the venues here serve up fantastic live performances to complement their drinks! Are you seeking a place to enjoy some tunes? If so, consider the following: 

The Push Bar

Want to experience the charismatic aura of a classic piano bar while sipping on a fine glass of wine or whiskey? Look no further than The Push Bar on the ground floor of the Russell Hotel in George Street.

Fridays and Saturday night the baby grand comes to life as the piano man entertains and happily plays all your requests. 

The drinks list is varied, with classic cocktails and a strong focus on Aussie wines mixed with some French classics. Order some classic shared eats like nachos, chips and dip or arachini when hunger strikes. We always have a fun night here.

The Argyle

Regarded as one of Sydney’s most historical buildings, The Argyle gives you the chance to party the night away with high-energy live bands and DJs who play everything, right from retro hits to the latest chart-toppers.

They also have an epic happy hour – currently 5pm-7pm with one litre beer jugs $19 and $5 House Beer, Wines & Sparkling.

Bar Ombré Rooftop

If you are looking for great eats, then make a visit to the stunning Bar Ombré Rooftop. Tucked atop the Gateway building, this bar offers a laid-back atmosphere with outdoor seating and panoramic views of the Harbour Bridge.

They also have some great happy hour deals. Weekdays between 4pm-6pm you will score  $12 cocktails and $8 house beer, wine and bubbles. 

It’s a prime spot for unwinding after a busy day out in Sydney. They do fabulous pizzas and Italian inspired small plates with a special snack size menu offered between 3pm and 5pm.

Weekends see DJs take over the rooftop from 6pm on Friday and Saturday and Sundays from 2pm.

Bars in Circular Quay for wine lovers

Next up is bars for the wine buffs. There’s a little something for every sort of wine enthusiast around Circular Quay, no matter if you’re a casual sipper, a true aficionado, or someone just looking to love a delightful glass with a fine view.

Bar Messenger 

I recently discovered Bar Messenger, hidden below Transport House, it’s easily recognisable by the captivating sculpture of Mercury, the Messenger of the Gods, beckoning you inside.

Find the painting to find the entry

Follow Mercury and prepare for a wine journey like no other. 

There is a good range of wines available by the glass from $15. The bar menu focuses heavily on cheese and even features a few delicious cheese toasties! 

The wine selection here is a tribute to Australian classics, starting with the story of the very first grapevines planted in the Royal Botanical Gardens.

Bar Messenger has a fantastic wine list

These vines paved the way for the Australian wine industry. Those cuttings, primarily Syrah and Grenache, played a pivotal role in establishing both the Hunter Valley vineyards and Australia’s wine legacy.

The Bennelong Bar

Located inside one of the iconic sails of the Sydney Opera House alongside Bennelong Restaurant, Bennelong Bar offers an extensive drinks menu that spans 24 pages!

The bar food menu includes everything from olives and Australian cheese to rock oysters and $400 servings of caviar. 

Want more wine, check out these wine bars in Potts Point

The Dining Room, Park Hyatt

Adding an upscale spin to the Circular Quay wine scene is the Park Hyatt’s The Dining Room. Its wine list is certainly well worth a visit.

Along with its very impressive Opera House views, it boasts an impressive mix of international and indigenous wines. You might want to hang back for that fancy dinner as well. 

Circular Quay’s most unique cocktail bars

Are you searching for a cocktail bar that offers a unique drinks menu unlike any other? Whether you’re a cocktail connoisseur or a curious first-timer, these bars are sure to excite your palate.

Grain Bar

Grain Bar, in Four Seasons Hotel Sydney offers something truly extraordinary from their impressive list of Epic and Signature cocktails to their wide array of beverages, including one of the largest whiskey selections in the city, you’re guaranteed to find something that tickles your fancy here. 

Grain Bar

If cocktails aren’t your thing, they also have a superb wine list with a global selection that will surely please wine buffs.

It’s the perfect bar for relaxing after a busy day, thanks to its comfortable leather seats and cosy lighting. If you love a Negroni as much as I do, try the new Café Negroni for a twist on an old classic which will not disappoint.

If you are in the mood for tunes, Fridays from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm, there is a live DJ and saxophone  

If you are in the mood for tunes, Thursday from 6-9pm there is a live DJ and saxophone and weekends see popular DJ sets. 

Maybe Sammy 

If you’re looking for a unique cocktail experience in Circular Quay, then you can’t pass up a visit to Maybe Sammy. Ranked among the World’s 50 Best Bars, this venue is all about glamour and sophistication, borrowing its vibe from 1950s Las Vegas lounge culture. 

Maybe Sammy is a bar that definitely warrants a visit during your time in Sydney, even if you are on a budget. You can enjoy Mini happy hour cocktails from their signature cocktail list for $7, from Tuesday to Saturday between 4:30 pm til 5:30 pm.

The ambience is cosy yet lively. Decked up in gold and pink furnishings, lit subtly and complemented by jazz music in the background.

Circular Quay’s hidden bars

Now, for those looking for a unique experience, these next few bars are something special. They may not have harbour views, but they are fun and interesting venues with great drinks to boot!

The Doss House

The Doss House nestled in the rocks near the Harbour Bridge. This subterranean whisky bar housed in a heritage building may not have city skyline views but with more than 150 different whiskies to choose from its worth heading to the Rocks District for.

The Doss House in The Rocks

The beautifully designed interiors exude a warm and cosy atmosphere, making it a perfect choice for any whisky lover looking forward to a quiet evening. 

Bar Besuto

Bar Besuto is a new small bar in Underwood Street that offers an exceptional range of Japanese whiskies served by a friendly, knowledgeable team. It’s a must-visit for whisky lovers and a great way to discover the flavours of fine Japanese whisky.

Co-owner, Joel Best, has handpicked a curated an exceptional collection of whiskey that you can try by the glass or if you prefer order a whisky flight.

Japanese whiskey takes centre stage at Bar Besuto

If whisky is not your thing there are a number of Japanese highballs and cocktails with my favourite Roku gin one of the stars.

Happy hour is from 4pm-6pm Tuesday – Friday – you can score a Highball for $12 (normally $18), or a Highball & nori-salted fries for $18.

On our visit last week we ordered the Hokkaido scallop shumai with a couple of yuzu and Roku highballs… delicious!


Hidden in a bustling laneway, Appolina is quaint but oh-so-stylish, providing a warm welcome to all who venture inside. 

With its godfather themed drinks and Italian-inspired menu, Appolina transports you to Sicily in this underground bar that promises “some mystery, some drama, some fun and lots of love”

Appolina is hidden underground behind Customs House

My favourite drink on their extensive cocktail menu is the Yuzu Vine, which features local Hickson Road Gin

Plenty of cheese and cold meats on the snacks menu but if you are not feeling super health conscious I implore you to order the Sicilian spiced waffle fries – You will thank me!

Great spots for a beer in Circular Quay

When it comes to finding the best brews in Circular Quay, you have plenty of options, including local craft brews and your favourite international classics. These are our favorite venues for a nice cold ale in Circular Quay.

The Australian Heritage Hotel

A classic pub with an “old-worldly” charm, The Australian Heritage Hotel, boasts over 100 Australian craft beers. Order a tasting paddle that allows you to sample a variety of brews. This venue is ideal for real ale lovers, looking to expand their beer horizons. 

The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel

Claiming to be Sydney’s oldest continually licensed hotel, The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel has been serving up their house-made ales since 1986.

Lord Nelson The Rocks
One of the oldest hotels in the Rocks

Enthusiasts can sample six ales on tap, from the lighter Quayle Ale to the full-bodied Old Admiral. It’s a nodded preference for those who fancy a pint with a side of history. 

The Squire’s Landing

The Squire’s Landing is the flagship brew bar of the James Squire Brewhouse franchise at Circular Quay West.

Squires Landing looks directly out at Sydney’s icons

What’s offer change seasonally and incorporates an array of flavours crafted by their in-house brewer. A definite must-visit if you hold a fondness for speciality craft beers. 

Happy Hour is Mon-Fri 4.30pm-6pm with pints of selected tap beers and house wine for $9.

If you ask us, there’s nothing that beats the experience of simultaneously sipping a cold one and gazing upon the iconic Opera House from the end of the Overseas Passenger Terminal.

Discover all the historic pubs in The Rocks using our guide.

Circular Quay’s late night bar scene

Sydney’s waterfront is not known for its late night scene, but there are some fun spots. These are the best bars in Circular Quay for a sneaky late night drink. These two bars are just a short walk from the waterfront.

The Morrison Bar and Oyster Room 

Keep the night rolling at The Morrison Bar and Oyster Room. This place is not just for seafood lovers; it’s a late-night hub that invites everyone looking to unwind into the early hours of the day.

With a sultry New York inspired interior that perfectly balances out the modern lux vibe and an extensive list of global wines and spirits, it’s where Circular Quay’s night owls get their groove on. Just grab a glass, order some bar snacks, and let the vibrant atmosphere of The Morrison wash over you. 

Take a tour with a local guide

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Jacksons on George

The late night bar of my youth, the recently relaunched Jackson’s on George is the newest venue is Circular Quay. This three-level bar has a public bar on the ground floor, a bistro and rooftop terrace.

The bar scene in Circular Quay is constantly developing, with new bars opening regularly. If you hear of a new bar you think should be on our list, please head over to our Facebook Group and share it! 

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