Image: Vibe Hotel Sydney Darling Harbour
SYDNEY: Forget bar-hopping in and around Darling Harbour, in this age of social distancing it’s all about rooftop bar-hopping, with a variety of fab open-air venues dotted around the waterfront.
Above 319 is the latest rooftop hideaway to join the elite list. Located atop the new Vibe Darling Sydney Harbour Hotel, Above 319 allows you to take in Darling Harbour’s skyline as you make the most of Sydney’s balmy spring and summer weather by day or sip a cocktail (or two) under the stars by night. An all-day dining and grazing menu will ensure you never want to leave.
Helm Bar in Darling Harbour is perched above the marina near Sydney Aquarium and offers uninterrupted dock side views across the water to the National Maritime Museum (ok, the views are slightly interrupted by the bobbing masts of the charter boats and million-dollar catamarans below). A great spot to enjoy sunset on a balmy summer evening or to bask in the winter sun.
Further along the harbour, Cockle Bay is home to Hunter & Barrel. With the CBD office blocks looming large in the background, Hunter & Barrel is a rustic oasis amongst the concrete. The atmosphere is buzzy, filled with Sydney locals and visitors alike, congregating under exposed wood beams, amongst the oak barrels that feature throughout the space.
Café Del Mar’s expansive terrace provides possibly the best vantage point to view Darling Harbor on high. Its French Riviera style décor creates the perfect setting for a chill-out Sunday session, accompanied by laid back tunes from the resident DJ, or mid-week drinks after a day of site-seeing.
From the French Riviera, head to the Hamptons-inspired surroundings of The Rooftop Bar – another offering spectacular views over Darling Harbour. Handwoven rattan hanging chairs and herringbone tiles evoke a relaxed vibe and the retractable roof creates a year-round weatherproof setting.
The Barangaroo precinct is home to a growing list of fine eateries and bars and taking pride of place is Barangaroo House. A multi-level bar and dining experience, both the ground floor waterfront Home Bar and rooftop Smoke Bar are seriously impressive. Smoke Bar offers a great vantage point to watch the sunset with the Sake Martini highly recommended from the stellar cocktail list.
If you want to get back to grass roots rooftops (is there such a thing?) then The Glenmore pub in the historic Rocks offers panoramic views across to the Sydney Opera House and Circular Quay, atop one of the city’s oldest heritage watering holes. This is champagne views on a beer budget where you’ll well and truly be mixing with the locals.
If you like a more urban setting, then Hotel Sweeneys, located on the fringe of Darling Harbour has a Melbourne-esque style rooftop bar accessed via a rickety staircase. Less glitter and more grunge than other rooftop choices but full of character and offering great pub grub.
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