With a favorable exchange rate and a multitude of affordable lodging, Sydney, Australia is an exceptional destination for backpackers and other young travelers. Yet, while many famous attractions are a must-see, such as the Sydney Opera House and Bondi Beach, the millennial crowd will also want to check out some of the nightlife that Australia’s largest city is famous for. The following is a party guide to five of the most popular hotspots for the college-aged crowd.
How To Get Around Sydney
Unless the traveler is within walking distance of their choice of nightlife, the best way to get around Sydney is with public transportation. The simplest and most efficient method is with the Sydney Trains system, with service to the Central Business District (CBD), Central Train Station, Kings Cross, Darlinghurst, Darling Harbour, Pyrmont and the Sydney Airport. While some train routes will stop running between midnight and 4:30 a.m., an additional service known as NightRide buses will take the place of most of the train service. Of course, Sydney also has several taxi companies operating in the most popular nightspots as well as popular ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber.
With a world-renowned opera house, live theatre and concerts, Sydney is one of the hottest destinations on the planet for nightlife. But most college-aged international visitors will want to do the club circuit and have a few drinks while enjoying the hottest new sounds in dance music. As long as the international traveler is at least 18 years old, knows that a hotel in Australia might mean a bar and brings along a passport for ID, there are many top nightclubs and bars in Sydney to enjoy that are on par with some of the world’s best. The top spots for millennials in Sydney are in the CBD, Darlinghurst and Surry Hills near the Central Train Station.
16 Flinders St.
Darlinghurst NSW 2010, Australia
+61 2 9380 8700
It’s safe to say ARQ lives up to its self-described claim as the “Premier LGBTQI Nightclub of Sydney since 1999.” Located in the one of the hottest sections of the city for nightlife, the enormously popular club is one of the largest in the city and features a world acclaimed light and sound system and two levels of state-of-the-art dance floors/entertainment space. The club takes great pride in promoting diversity, tolerance and equality by ensuring everyone has a safe and exciting place to have a great time. Both the upstairs Arena and the downstairs Vortex require a separate cover charge and the club observes a moderate dress code which disallows thongs or sandals, no colors or gang related items of clothing and no tracksuit pants. ARQ Sydney also features a number of resident DJs and drag artists who rank among Australia’s most popular performers.
111 Sussex St.
Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
+61 2 9240 3000
First opened in 1996, Chinese Laundry is one of the biggest and longest running underground clubs in Sydney. Featuring three levels of themed dance floors, a courtyard and a cutting edge NEXO sound system, the popular nightclub consistently hosts many of the best international and local talent playing House, Techno, Electro, Hip-Hop and other popular contemporary music genres. Open Saturday and Sunday from 9 p.m. to 3:30 a.m., the Chinese Laundry can be found below the Slip Inn in Sydney’s Central Business District and within walking distance of top local attractions like Madame Tussauds Sydney, Sydney Sea Life Aquarium and the King Street Wharf.
101/1-5 Wheat Road, Darling Harbour NSW 2000, Australia
+61 2 9266 0600
Featuring three levels, eight bars, six dance floors and a capacity of over 2,000 guests, Home Nightclub is the largest nightclub in Australia. Situated on Cockle Bay Wharf with tremendous views of Darling Harbour, the enormous superclub offers four venue areas including a spacious rooftop terrace and the Tokio Hotel (bar) for live music, DJs and dining seven days a week. Considered one of the most unique entertainment venues in the city, Home Nightclub also features an exceptional JBL Vertec sound system, a world-class art lighting system and dance floors with a maximum capacity of 700. The amazing nightclub also brings in many of Australia’s top DJs, such as Brooke Evers, Rees Hellmers and Nick Arbor, along with a full calendar of ongoing special events.
330 George St.
Sydney NSW 2000 Australia
+61 2 9240 3000
Ivy is an enormous, six-level shopping and entertainment complex in the heart of Sydney’s Central Business District. Of the many things to do, the must-see spots for nightlife are the only rooftop pool bar in the city and Pacha Sydney, a lively multi-level electronic dance club that’s part of the Pacha Group, best known for its legendary club on the Spanish island of Ibiza that ranks among the world’s best. Like its famous predecessor, Pacha Sydney features an enormous dance floor, incredible sound system and light show, several stage and circus performers and an ongoing calendar of major events, with recent appearances by Odd Mob, The Mambo Brothers, Mashd N Kutcher, Sigala and Anna Lunoe
Plymouth NSW 2009, Australia
+61 2 9657 7737
If the name sounds distinctly familiar, it’s because this premium nightclub is part of the world-acclaimed Marquee brand, with other ultra-high profile clubs in New York and Las Vegas. Situated on the top tier of The Star hotel, spa and casino complex, Marquee Sydney is very much like its American counterparts, drawing leading local and international DJs and other music performers, as well as attracting a well dressed and energetic crowd. Among the notable performers who have made appearances here are Hardwell, Armin Van Buuren, Havana Brown, Avicii and Korean pop star Psy. Overlooking Darling Harbour, The Star is a five-star hotel complex with the second largest casino in Australia and eight other bars on-site.
Live Music & Other Notable Nightspots
Max Watts Sydney
Building 220, 11 Lang Road, Moore Park NSW 2021, Australia
+61 3 9654 0993
Oxrford Art Factory
38-46 Oxford St., Darlinghurst NSW 2010, Australia
+61 2 9332 3711
18 Argyle St., The Rocks NSW 2000, Australia
+61 2 9247 5500
The Basement Nightclub
29 Reiby Place, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
+61 2 9251 2797
The World Bar
24 Bayswater Road
Kings Cross NSW 2011, Australia
+61 2 9357 7700
Where To Stay
As the largest city in Australia, Sydney boasts nearly 100 hostels and hundreds of hotels, many of which are very affordable. For prospective visitors, the best areas to stay for nightlife are, once again, in the Sydney Central Business District (CBD) or neighboring suburbs like Kings Cross, Darlinghurst, Darling Harbour and The Rocks. Although only a few hostels are located in the historic harbor area of The Rocks section of the CBD, a large cluster of notable hostels can be found near the Central Train Station and in Kings Cross/Potts Point. Similarly, several affordable hotels are located near the Central Train Station and Sydney CBD. Prices for hostels typical range from about $25 per night to over $100 and affordable hotels can range from $60 to over $110.
Backpackers HQ (Potts Point)
Blue Parrot Backpackers (Potts Point)
Bounce Sydney (Surry-Hills/Central Train Station)
Eva’s Backpackers (Kings Cross)
Original Backpackers Hostel (Kings Cross)
Railway Square YHA (Sydney CBD/Central Train Station)
Sydney Central YHA (Sydney CBD/Central Train Station)
Sydney Harbour YHA (The Rocks)
The Funk House (Potts Point)
Wake Up! Sydney Central (Sydney CBD/Central Train Station)
BreakFree On George (Sydney CBD)
Castlereagh Boutique Hotel (Sydney CBD)
Central Station Hotel (Sydney CBD)
Dunkirk Hotel (Pyrmont)
George Street Hotel (Sydney CBD)
Hotel Stellar (Darlinghurst)
Metro Marlow Sydney (Sydney CBD)
Park Regis City Centre (Sydney CBD)
Siesta Inn Sydney (Sydney CBD)
Springfield Lodge (Kings Cross)
Related: Backpackers Guide To Asia
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer covering national/international travel for CBS Local and all things San Francisco for CBS San Francisco. In 2012, he received a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. He may be contacted via Twitter or Linkedin .