It’s a question that’s on the top of mind for a lot of students moving to Sydney for studies: how is the nightlife in Sydney? While we always encourage students to work hard and study harder, we definitely agree that there’s a time and place for letting loose, making friends, and going out on a quiet weekend to enjoy the nightlife on offer.
Here’s your complete student guide to the nightlife in Sydney (and how best to enjoy it!)
Does Sydney have a good nightlife?
Sydney is one of the biggest cities in Australia, which lends no surprise that there’s so much happening in Sydney after dark.
Due to lockout laws in earlier years, it had a pretty bad rap in terms of nightlife. But since the lockout laws and lockdowns have passed and people are working hard to make spaces more welcoming and safe: the nightlife is now the best it’s ever been, with a real rebirth of the scene.
There’s a number of bars, clubs, outdoor cinema, late-night art shows, stand-up comedy, live music and a dozen of other rich events that light the streets during the evening. Due to the rich culture of this city, you’ll have no trouble finding the perfect night out in Sydney that’ll help you unwind, your way.
Purple Flag accreditation for student safety
It means that when you see the Purple Flag sign, you can rest assured that the area meets the standards outlined in this scheme. Parramatta CBD, Haldon Street, Lakemba and Marrickville are part of this new pilot program, which is being rolled out throughout 2023.
To achieve accreditation, areas need to include access to public transport, adequate street lighting, great food and beverage options, have broad appeal, be open late, as well as a number of item strict criteria that ensure the safety and enjoyment of your night out.
It’s an ideal system for students to take advantage of, ensuring you can let loose, without stress.
While this scheme is still being developed and refined, it’s still worth keeping an eye out for these Purple Flag areas when you plan your next night out.
The best of the Sydney nightlife for students
1. Maybe Sammy
Ideal for: Flashing back to the 50s with a quirky and unique cocktail experience among close friends, with some live music to set the tone
Maybe Sammy takes inspiration from the roaring Fifties (otherwise known as “the rebirth of cool”), the era in which fashion and fun prevailed. Each and every delectable drink on this menu will take you through an eye-opening and distinct experience, with beers, cocktails, wine and small plates served in this chic bar with regular live music.
It’s the perfect haunt for students to let loose, and was even named the best international bar team at the Tales of the Cocktail 2022 Spirited Awards, and the best bar in Australasia at the World’s 50 Bars 2021. It is definitely worth checking out this gorgeous establishment at the Rocks, Sydney! Especially if you’re looking to jump back into the past to a lighter time in history…
2. The Abercrombie
Ideal for: An old school rave, a chance to duck upstairs for a late-night meal, and big groups with varying needs!
The multi-level heritage listed Abercrombie has undergone an incredible transformation, with three venues now all under one roof to create the ultimate party palace – that’s open 24 hours!
On the ground floor, you’ll find an incredible performance and club space, public bar and beer garden, which is known for its “old school raves”. The rave-cave of yesteryear plays host to some of the best party crews in Sydney to put on an incredible curated roster of events.
And that 24-hour licence paves way for some epic, non-stop parties!
Upstairs you’ll find a more relaxed atmosphere in Casa Rosa, a playful, late-night Italo-disco cocktail lounge and rooftop terrace with an electric mix of DJs on high rotation throughout the week.
And in the adjoining terrace, you’ll find Chippendales (very) late night wine bar and shop, Lil Sis, inspired by the charming “cave à vins” found in the neighbourhoods of Paris.
It’s the perfect venue for students who want to let loose and party the night away, all under one roof. You can change the mood in three different ways in this venue, and it’s great for big groups who want a little more variation for their varying personalities.
Everyone will find something to love here! And the best part? To mark the opening, Abercrombie is getting ready for a 36-hour party, kicking off at 5PM December 23 and running until 5am Christmas Day!
It’s the perfect event to look forward to if you’re going to be in Sydney for the silly season!
Ideal for: Putting homesick feelings to bed and enjoying a relaxed, cosy environment to chat the night away in
Granny may not live in Sydney’s CBD, but here’s a bar you can venture to that will spoil you just the same…
Grandma’s is one of Sydney’s first ever small bars, acting as the perfect place to kick back, get cosy and accept hand-delivered delights from the grandkids. They’re a cosy home away from home where people can come in, relax and receive a desired experience.
It’s located down an innocuous basement in the hectic centre of the CBD, offering a relaxed and welcoming tiki-inspired small bar with a focus on fantastic hospitality, vibrant drinks and friendly service.
There’s no place like home: except Grandma’s. Which is why this location is a must-see for all students in Sydney. It’s a great way to get a little taste of home, so you can put your homesickness to bed and enjoy a really wholesome night out!
4. Oxford Art Factory
Ideal for: The best of live music and a chance to break in your dancing shoes!
The Oxford Art Factory aims to work as a three-tiered enterprise, comprised of ‘The Gallery’, ‘The Live Art Space’ and ‘The Cube’. Each area of the venue has the capacity to work as a stand-alone entity, while also operating as a combined and coherent business.
As its name suggests, art provides the framework for this venue’s concept, and throughout it creates a showcase for visual art, performance art and live music.
It’s all inspired from Andy Warhol’s Factory in the big apple during the 60s, creating a cultural focal point for international and local artists. It provides artists with a aowlrd-class platform from which to showcase their unique talents to an estimated weekly audience of over 5,000 people.
It’s a guaranteed great night out for students, especially those with a little ‘creative spark’ in their hearts.
5. Soda Factory
Ideal for: Weekend party nights to soul and disco hits – made affordable!
If you’re looking for a place that pumps out party vibes even on a Wednesday night and is all about cheap fun, then Soda Factory is the place for you. It’s extremely popular for anyone who wants to boogie to soul tunes, golden oldies, and disco from the ’70s to now, with a hectic queue.
It’s Sydney’s best hidden gem, literally hidden behind the guise of ‘Bobby’s Boss Dogs’ a phoney fifties coke machine that creates a secret entrance.
It features stripped back plaster, intricate murals and neon signs, with live bands and guest international DJs. You can grab a seat and catch up with your friends or get up and dance the night away!
And, with the American Diner offering juicy burgers and mouth-watering gourmet hot-dogs, fried chicken and a signature mac n’ cheese, you’ll have no trouble finding something for everyone here.
It’s well worth the visit for any student in Sydney – even if only once to experience that quirky secret entrance!
Ideal for: Your go-to location for watching a floor show and getting down on the dance floor!
ARQ comprises two venues – the upstairs Arena and downstairs Vortex.
The Arena was built to accommodate the sound system, giving you the ultimate 360 degree aural stimulation. It’s known all over the world for its penetrating sound, euphoric light displays, resident performers and guests, and a mezzanine level that allows you to rise above the magic and take it in from above. It’s Sydney’s most aspiring clubbing venue today and has been at the forefront of entertainment for over 18 years.
The downstairs Vortex was designed as ARQ’s innate performance space, with purpose built staging equipped with backstage facilities and dressing rooms, playing host to a multitude of production shows every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It’s renowned for its versatility, revered for its grandeur, and admired for its functionality.
Its frequented by drag divas and the A-gays (there’s reports Jean Paul Gaultier has been seen there!) and is the quintessential queer Sydney experience. No matter who you are – you’ll have no trouble having a great time at this amazing location!
So, how’s the nightlife in Sydney? Better than it’s ever been, with a real rebirth of the scene since lockout laws and lockdowns have finally passed.
While students will spend most of their time under a pile of work, there’s always time to let loose, take a break from the studies, and get all your friends together for a chance to unwind and take advantage of this gorgeous city.
This guide should help you enjoy the very best of the Sydney nightlife, no matter what interests are top of mind for you!
If you’re looking for quality accommodation in Sydney that’ll help you live, study, and let loose in comfort? Sydney Student Living is the place to find your #squad. We’ll give you the inside scoop on all there is to know about the rich nightlife, upcoming events, all from a convenient location that’ll keep you in on all the action of this bustling city.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can enhance your stay in Sydney.