Is Nightlife Better In Sydney Or Melbourne?

Is Nightlife Better In Sydney Or Melbourne? Image | East Coast Tours Australia

Which city has better nightlife, Sydney or Melbourne? It’s a debate as old as time that has sparked breakups, fallouts and feuds for decades.

Ask a Melbournian that question and they’ll give you a very different answer to a Sydneysider. Both cities have their pros and cons, and there are good arguments to be made for each one. It all depends on the kind of night you’re looking for.

Do you dream of drinks on a glamorous rooftop terrace or are you looking for an underground club where you can dance your socks off until the sun comes up? Do you want to rock out to local live music or bop to lo-fi beats? Are you seeking out an exclusive soirée, a headline event, or an eclectic arts night?  Let’s dive a little deeper and see what each Australian city has to offer its party animals and night owls.

Why not check out our full list of nightlife recommendations across Australia’s towns and cities?

Two people toasting with cocktails in front of Sydney Harbour Bridge

Does Sydney have good nightlife?

Sydney is the place to be if your dream night out consists of swanky rooftop bars, colourful cocktails, live music, and dreamy sea views. Plus, public transport means it’s easy to get home to and from the party without forking out too much for an Uber.

Head to Eastern Suburb spots like Coogee or Bondi for bougie bars overlooking the beach, or venture out to The Rocks or Barangaroo for a night out by the harbour - complete with a fireworks display on Saturdays!

If you want to keep the party going, make your way into more central spots like Oxford Street, Newtown, or Chippendale for bars and music venues that keep their doors open until the early hours of the morning.

Backpackers posing on Bondi Beach in Sydney

Are there still lockout laws in Sydney?

Sydney nightlife has unfortunately developed a bad reputation after years of strict ‘lockout laws’. Thankfully, anyone planning to visit Sydney will be relieved to hear that these laws, that once forced bars, pubs and clubs to follow strict curfew times, have since been lifted. Today, it’s easy to stumble upon venues across the city that stay open late - and, in some cases, for 24 hours.

That being said, Sydneysiders will be the first to tell you that you need to be on your best behaviour during a night out in the Harbour City. Sydney’s bouncers are notoriously strict and won’t hesitate to send you on your way if they suspect you’ve had one drink too many. As a result, bar-hopping can be a bit of a challenge, so locals are more likely to choose one venue and stick to it for the night.

A backpacker drinking a glass of wine in Sydney

Where do people party in Sydney?

That depends - what sort of night are you looking for? If you’re in need of some well-deserved post-work drinks, head to Darling Harbour and let your hair down with the other 9-5ers at Bungalow 8, Cargo Bar, or Pumphouse.

If you’re a backpacker in search of a jam-packed event pumping great tunes all night long, see if you can score tickets for Ivy in Sydney’s CBD. Whether it’s their famous Ivy Thursdays nights, running until 4am, or their iconic Saturday pool party, there’s always something to keep party animals entertained.

On the hunt for a thriving LGBTQ+ club scene? Look no further than Oxford Street in Darlinghurst or King Street in Newtown where you’ll find LGBTQ+ party hubs like Universal, The Columbian Hotel, or Stonewall Hotel.

If you’re craving a night out in Sydney and you’re not sure where to go, there are some popular Instagram pages that can point you in the right direction. Check out accounts like @bondi_lines,, or for the most up-to-date nightlife recommendations.

Sticking around in Sydney for a while? Check out our full list of the top things to do.

Two backpackers standing in front of Sydney Opera House in Sydney, New South Wales

Does Melbourne have good nightlife?

Of all of Australia’s major cities, Melbourne easily has the best reputation for nightlife. While Sydney has taken great strides to create a better nightlife industry, most Aussies will agree that it’s still playing catch-up with Melbs.

It’s no surprise, since Melbourne is considered home to all things arts, culture, food and drink, with a booming dance scene, heaps of live music venues, and venues that stay open all night long.

Take a look through our full list of the best places to go out in Melbourne for our top nightlife recommendations.

A city view of Melbourne, Victoria

Is Melbourne a late-night city?

Melbourne is known as a late-night city with clubs that stay open until sunrise, restaurants that serve mouth-watering dishes long after midnight, and pubs that pull pints well into the early hours.

Even after the clock strikes twelve, Melbourne is filled with music and laughter from bars, clubs, restaurants, and theatres across the city. Visitors and locals alike could go for days without having to retreat to their homes if they pleased. At any given time there are hundreds, if not thousands, of venues to choose from. 

For many tourists and backpackers who touch down in Melbourne, one of the biggest dilemmas they face is finding the time to sleep. Can you blame them? They’re spoiled for choice between roaring live music venues booked solid with both local and international acts, intimate jazz bars, exhilarating all-night raves, and casual late bars.

A backpacker walking through the streets of Melbourne

Is Melbourne nightlife better than Sydney?

That’s up to you. Melbourne offers dwellers a different kind of night out to Sydney. Expect a much more laid-back atmosphere in Melbourne’s late-night venues than in Sydneys. No need to dress up too much or over-plan your night. The beauty of Melbourne’s late-night scene is there’s always somewhere new to keep the party going.

Many locals will tell you that Melbourne’s nightlife scene offers more variety than Sydney’s. Looking for the city’s queer bar scene? Choose between casual LGBTQ+ friendly bars like Beans Bar in Fitzroy or DT’s Hotel in Richmond and all-out drag events and cabarets in venues like The 86 in Fitzroy or Poof Doof in South Yarra.

Simply searching for somewhere to dance until the morning? Jam out to house music at Bar Onesixone until 7am, bust a move at Radar until 6am, or get your fill of techno and bass at Sub Club until 7am. If you’re in the mood for some hard rock head-banging, check out the famous Cherry Bar on AC/DC Lane or catch a punk show at Stay Gold on Sydney Road.

Looking for more things to do while you’re in town? Check out our backpacker guide to Melbourne.

A sign for AC/DC Lane in Melbourne

Why not try out Melbourne and Sydney's nightlife scenes for yourself and have your say? Check out our jam-packed itineraries which stop in the both Aussie cities!

Or, build your own itinerary with our customised itinerary builder.

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