Set around a glistening harbour and fringed by stunning beaches, Sydney is one of the world’s most spectacular cities to explore by day. But after dark, the “Emerald City” is no less breathtaking, with an abundance of dining, entertainment and cultural venues. Sydneysiders will attest that their hometown is far from sleepy, despite what others might say.
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In this guide, we’ll share with you some of the best things to do in Sydney at night, whether you’re a visiting tourist or a local looking for entertainment once the sun goes down. We’ve got everything from family-friendly attractions to date night deals and budget options (including some that are completely free!)
Things to do around Sydney Harbour at night
Sydney Harbour is the heart and soul of Sydney and home to many of the city’s most iconic landmarks. It’s also a magical place to explore at night, with an abundance of things to do in and around Circular Quay.
#1. Sail Sydney Harbour at sunset
For a completely different perspective on the city, jump aboard a cruise to explore Sydney from the water as the sun sets over the harbour. Sydney Harbour Tall Ships offers enchanting twilight dinner cruises from Campbell’s Cove in The Rocks, complete with a delicious meal and drinks. Adults cost $89 while a family of four is $223.
#2. Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Join the team at BridgeClimb Sydney for one of their Twilight Climbs, which offer incredible views as the sun sets over Sydney Harbour. In select months, they host Sunset Sessions (a bridge climb complete with a live music performance), as well as the opportunity to belt out your favourite karaoke songs from the top. Prices start from around $250.
#3. Watch a show at the Sydney Opera House
As one of Sydney’s most recognisable landmarks, the Sydney Opera House is not to be missed and hosts live performances and events throughout the week. After your show, you can settle in for drinks and nibbles at the famous Opera Bar, which offers panoramic views across the harbour and regular live music.
#4. Experience Badu Gili
Translating as “water light” in the Gadigal language, Badu Gili is the lighting of the sails of the Opera House each evening. This six-minute projection celebrates the work and stories of female First Nations artists and is being held in collaboration with the Art Gallery of New South Wales to mark their 150th anniversary.
#5. Discover the Cahill Walk
This little-known pedestrian path follows the Cahill Expressway above the Circular Quay railway station and offers superb views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. It’s one of the best spots in the city for just watching the world go by, particularly after dark when the surrounding skyscrapers are magically illuminated.
Romantic things to do in Sydney at night for couples
Planning your next date night in Sydney? Take your pick from the following romantic things to do in Sydney once the sun goes down.
#6. Learn to dance
Sydney offers plenty of dance classes in all different styles but we think one of the most romantic to try with your significant other is salsa. Both Latin Junction in Bondi Junction and Salsa Republic in Surry Hills offer classes in everything from salsa and bachata to cha cha, starting from around $20 a class.
#7. Be pampered during a couples massage
There are few things more romantic than indulging in a massage with your partner and Sydney offers no shortage of places where you can do just that! Top recommendations include Chi, The Spa at the Shangri La Hotel, the luxurious Darling Spa at the Pyrmont and The Day Spa by Chuan at The Langham. Expect to pay around $500.
#8. Blend your own gin with Archie Rose
As one of Australia’s most highly awarded distilleries, Archie Rose is the place to head to learn all you’ve ever wanted to know about spirits. During their masterclasses ($119), you’ll blend a selection of pure botanical distillates to create two bottles of your own signature gin to take home.
#9. Catch a flick at an outdoor cinema
Sydney’s climate makes it ideal for outdoor cinemas and the city boasts no shortage to choose from. You can settle in with your partner at the Moonlight Cinema, enjoy a family-friendly film at North Sydney’s Sunset Cinema or head to Blacktown’s Skyline Drive-In.
#10. Sing karaoke at Goros
If being stuck in a room with your partner belting out your favourite tunes sounds romantic, then head to Goros in Surry Hills. This ever-popular izakaya has three artistically painted karaoke rooms to choose from, with delicious Japanese bites and drinks available at the click of a screen through their innovative ordering app.
Things to do in Sydney at night for free
Experiencing Sydney after dark doesn’t have to break the bank, with the following all completely free!
#11. Discover the light installations of Vivid
Okay, so the Vivid festival may only take place once a year but marvelling at its light installations is still one of the best free things to do in Sydney at night. Hundreds of light displays and projections take place across the city, turning Sydney into a colourful canvas. Also part of the festival is live music events, creative discussions and free family entertainment.
#12. Cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge
While you can walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge throughout the day, it’s particularly magical at night when the city is illuminated. We’d recommend heading off just before sunset so you get the best of the “golden hour” light, plus that magical moment as dusk sets in.
#13. Watch the sunset at North Head
There are plenty of places around Sydney Harbour where you can watch unforgettable sunsets but Manly’s North Head is one of the most memorable. Located where Sydney Harbour meets the Pacific Ocean, it’s an ideal spot for a dinner picnic, accompanied by panoramic views of the city.
#14. Spot fairy penguins in Manly
Manly’s fairy penguins are the only mainland breeding colony in New South Wales and can usually be seen returning to their burrows at sunset. Head to Manly Wharf to watch as these adorable creatures waddle up the shore to nest between July and February each year. If you’re taking photos, be sure to turn off the flash as it can disorientate them!
#15. Explore The Rocks
The team at I’m Free runs guided tours of The Rocks on select nights of the week, offering a fascinating insight into its history of convicts, sailors and bank robberies. While the tour is free, a tip is expected! At the end of the tour, be sure to stop in at one of the area’s legendary pubs for a drink or dinner.
Things to do in Sydney at night on a budget
If you’re on a limited budget, there’s no need to worry, with plenty of things to do in Sydney at night that don’t require you to spend a fortune.
#16. Ride a ferry across the harbour
Sydney’s ferries provide a means for both commuters and tourists to get around the city, as well as offering magnificent views from the water. One of the most popular night routes departs from Circular Quay and cruises to Manly, giving you a front-row seat when it comes to viewing the illuminated Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
#17. Watch live sports at The Golden Sheaf
If you’re a sports enthusiast, then The Golden Sheaf in Double Bay is the place to head to watch all the action on a big screen. It’s incredibly popular with fans of Sydney’s local AFL, NRL and soccer teams, with a relaxed beer garden and a rooftop cocktail lounge among its facilities.
#18. Discover the Soda Factory’s Americana
With its 50s-inspired coke machine, neon lights and wall murals, the Soda Factory offers Americana-inspired fun throughout the week. Whether you’re into musical bingo, trivia nights or buckets of fried chicken, the Soda Factory is the place to head for late-night entertainment (until 3:30 am on weekends!)
#19. Mingle with the locals at the Friend in Hand
The Friend in Hand is a Glebe institution that has something going on every night of the week. You can join their life drawing classes, attend a standup comedy show or be inspired during a poetry reading. Cheap meals and great happy hour deals are also available throughout the week.
#20. Get your detective on in Sydney’s escape rooms
If you’re into escape rooms, Sydney will see you puzzle-solving in style, with some of Australia’s best venues found here. Experience the outback-themed room at Expedition Sydney, work for the FBI at Next Level, or go on a 1940s spy mission at The Cipher Room. Pricing starts at around $60 for two people.
Things to do in Sydney at night with kids
If you’re travelling with kids, there are still plenty of things to do in Sydney at night that will keep the whole family entertained.
#21. Get your thrills at Luna Park
Open until late on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, this heritage-listed amusement park offers stunning views of Sydney Harbour and is packed with rides that will appeal to all ages. Ride accessibility is based on height, so check what your kids can enjoy ahead of time. Unlimited ride passes for Luna Park start from $44 for adults and $34 for kids aged 13 and under.
#22. Stargaze at the Sydney Observatory
The Sydney Observatory Twilight Tour is a family-friendly experience that runs for 90 minutes, beginning with sunset over the harbour while learning about the southern night sky. Once darkness sets in, you can peer through one of the observatory’s telescopes with the help of their experienced astronomers.
#23. Sleep out on Cockatoo Island
Located in the heart of Sydney Harbour, Cockatoo Island is a former convict penal settlement that is now designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the best ways to experience the island is while “glamping” overnight with the kids ($135 per tent) and joining the family-friendly Dark Past tour ($26 for adults and $16 for kids aged 12 and under).
#24. Watch the Darling Harbour fireworks
Darling Harbour has a reputation for being one of Sydney’s most family-friendly destinations, with plenty of attractions that kids will love. But after dark, the best thing to do has to be watching the free fireworks that take place on select Saturday nights throughout the year. In summer, things kick off at 9 pm and are a little earlier during the winter months.
#25. Experience Taronga Zoo’s Roar and Snore
Ever wanted to fall asleep listening to a lion’s roar? Well, you can do just that at Taronga Zoo during this unforgettable overnight experience. It includes a night safari to spot some of the zoo’s nocturnal species, plus a behind-the-scenes tour in the morning. Prices for a family start from around $965.
Sydney night tours and things to do for solo travellers
Travelling solo or want to mingle with like-minded individuals? Check out these engaging tours to explore Sydney after dark.
#26. Hit the streets with Local Sauce
Local Sauce offers a variety of small-group experiences in Sydney that range from secret bar crawls to ice cream adventures and Newtown restaurant tours (prices start from around $50). They’re all about showcasing venues that are a little off-the-beaten tourist track, as well as Sydney’s incredible street art.
#27. Join a sunset photography tour
If you’re a keen shutterbug, learn how to capture Sydney’s landmarks in the best light during a sunset photography tour. Picture Me Sydney offers 3.5-hour tours ($147) led by highly experienced photographers and with a maximum of six people to ensure you get plenty of one-on-one instruction.
#28. Experience one of Q Station’s ghost tours
As one of Sydney’s most haunted sites, the Quarantine Station on North Head offers one of the city’s best ghost tours. Whether you’re a skeptic or a firm believer, these eerie tours ($55) bring to life the untimely deaths and misfortunes that have taken place here.
#29. Join a pub crawl
One of the best ways to meet people after dark in Sydney is on a guided pub crawl, which will also introduce you to some of the city’s best watering holes. There are options for everyone, from raucous, backpacker-oriented pub crawls to more sophisticated small bar tours through Surry Hills
#30. Delve into Sydney’s dark past on a true crime tour
While The Rocks is one of Sydney’s most affluent areas today, it was once a notoriously violent neighbourhood. The team at Dark Stories brings this history to life on their immersive true crime tours ($34), with everything from gang killings to fatal lead poisonings to discover.
Culture in Sydney at night
Sydney is home to some of Australia’s most celebrated cultural institutions, several of which stay open late on select nights of the week. Whether you’re after an art fix or want to experience Sydney’s legendary theatres, we have you covered.
#31. Attend the Art Gallery of NSW’s Art After Hours
Every Wednesday night, the Art Gallery of New South Wales stays open until 9 pm for after-work explorations of its current exhibitions. Drinks and meals are available at the cafe and live music is held on occasions.
#32. Experience MCA Late
The MCA at Circular Quay stays open late on Friday evenings, with live performances, music and cocktails all part of this free experience. Alternatively, you can join the Museum of Contemporary Art’s ever-popular Sundown Sketch Club ($44), which will see you exploring your creative potential with wine and cheese in hand.
#33. Watch a classic at the Golden Age Cinema
Occupying an Art Deco building in Surry Hills, this 50-seat cinema screens classic and cult movies ($22.50). The on-site bar offers small plates, cheese platters and tinned fish served with fresh sourdough bread, as well as the obligatory choc-top for dessert.
#34. See a play at the Belvoir Street Theatre
The Belvoir is one of Australia’s most renowned theatre companies and has been at the forefront of storytelling since 1984. Located in Surry Hills, it hosts cutting-edge plays in its 350-seat theatre with an iconic corner stage.
#35. Attend a drag show at the Imperial Hotel
The Imperial Erskineville is one of Sydney’s most iconic LGBTQ+ venues and was where the opening scene of “Priscilla Queen of the Desert ” was filmed. Priscilla’s restaurant offers a vegetarian-focused menu complete with a fabulous drag show on Thursday to Sunday nights.
Night classes in Sydney
Once you clock off work for the day, there are so many opportunities to learn a new skill in Sydney. Whether you’re into culinary creations of works of art, here are some of our favourite night classes.
#36. Get hands-on during a dumpling-making class
At Honkas Bar + Eats in Potts Point, you can learn how to make two different styles of dumplings, along with an Asian-style cocktail. Classes ($99) include a feast prepared by the restaurant’s chefs.
#37. Spin clay and sip wine at Print Paint and Pot
Print Paint and Pot in Artarmon offers clay and sip pottery classes ($160 for a couple), which are ideal for date nights or a fun excuse to hang out with your bestie. After a short instruction in wheel throwing, you’ll have plenty of time to hone your skills before firing your creation.
#38. Enjoy Pinot and Picasso
Based in Balmain, this paint and sip art class ($59) is led by an experienced teacher who will introduce you to the basics of painting in a fun and supportive environment. BYO wine and snacks to enjoy while you create your masterpiece, with all art equipment supplied.
#39. Prepare Spanish paella and tapas
The Sydney Cooking School offers a wide choice of classes, ranging from international cuisines to the basics of baking. Their Spanish paella and tapas class ($145) is ideal for an after-dark experience, with full instruction by a talented chef before you sit down to eat your meal accompanied by homemade sangria.
#40. Make native-inspired cocktails in Redfern
Native ingredients are having a moment and one unique way to enjoy them is in a handcrafted cocktail. With the team at Redfern’s Tippled, you’ll learn the secrets of making great cocktails using ingredients that can be foraged in Sydney ($95).
Great places to eat in Sydney at night
Sydney is home to a culinary scene that is hard to beat, with everything from hole-in-the-wall eateries to Michelin-star restaurants. If you’re looking for somewhere to eat after dark, we have you covered, no matter what your budget is.
#41. Cheap eats in Chinatown
Every Friday night, Little Hay Street ignites with the Chinatown Night Market where you’ll find a great feed at an affordable price. During the Lunar New Year, things ramp it up a notch with dragon dancing, lanterns and light installations.
#42. Dine on the Coat of Arms
Nestled in The Rocks, the Australian Heritage Hotel is a Sydney icon and serves up cuisine that is distinctly local. Not to miss is their Coat of Arms Pizza (topped with emu and kangaroo), accompanied by a tasting paddle of Australian beers.
#43. Feast on Italian fare at Icebergs
Overlooking Bondi’s famous ocean pool, this upscale restaurant offers a modern take on Italian cuisine. The menu is inspired by Maurice Terzini’s heritage, with sustainably sourced seafood and artisanal produce a feature.
Festivals at night in Sydney
Although the below events are seasonal, if you are lucky enough to be in Sydney during these festivals then you won’t have to look far for things to do at night.
#44. Mardi Gras (February)
#45. Sydney Fringe Festival (September)
#46. Real Festival (September – November)
#47. New Years Eve Fireworks (31st December)
You can find more about these festivals here.
Looking for a hotel to spend the night in Sydney?
Why not complete a perfect evening in Sydney by staying overnight in a spectacular hotel with a mesmerising Sydney Harbour view. Here are our top picks!
#49. Vibe Hotel Sydney Darling Harbour: Mid-Range Hotel stay
Central to Sydney’s premier attractions, Vibe hotel is perfectly positioned in Sydney CBD. The in-house restaurant serves delicious cuisine that will leave you wanting more.
If you don’t want to break the bank but still want the scenic views of Sydney Opera House then Sydney Harbour YHA is a perfect choice. It has a large rooftop area which is perfect for winding down in the evening, you won’t ever want to leave!
There’s no doubt about it, there are things to do in Sydney at night for everyone. Know something we may have missed? Be sure to leave a message in the comments below.