Pub culture may be the most lasting legacy of Australia’s British background, and nowhere does it thrive more than in Sydney, which is home to the country’s oldest pubs—the Fortune of War and the Lord Nelson. You’ll also find a clutch of formerly down-at-the-heels corner joints that have been brought into the 21st century, like The Norfolk and The Carrington, and hundreds of neighborhood pubs (or “hotels,” as they’re commonly known here), where locals like to bond over a few pints.
Pubs are convivial, charming places to spend an afternoon relaxing, start a big night, or simply settle in until last call. You don’t have to go far—no more than a few blocks max—to come across yet another pub in boozy ol’ Sydneytown. Try these five for good brews, friendly vibes, attentive staff, and an undeniably good time.
Lord Dudley Hotel
This beloved Paddington institution is British by design; it has 18 local and imported beers on tap, sports on the TVs at all times, and a cheery atmosphere that has kept locals (and tourists) coming back for decades. Soak up the booze with a dish from the kitchen, which is run by chef Matt Fosker, who first trained in the kitchens of London and specializes in gastro-pub meals.
Watsons Bay Hotel
Go here for the views, stay to luxuriate. Watsons Bay Hotel houses the Beach Club, which gives off a Miami Beach Down Under vibe, with its vivid turquoise accents, striped awnings, and gorgeous clientele. Order a Hula Girl (rum, honey, apple and lime finished off with sparkling wine) and act as fabulous as your surroundings make you feel.
4 Pines Brewing Company
Located within spitting distance of the Manly wharf, this is a great choice for those who want to drink handcrafted pints on the same premises as the working brewery where they were born. It has an extensive menu and nightly specials during the week (my pick: Tuesday night’s $25 Curry and Pint special) that will ensure you leave with a full belly.
Lord Nelson Brewery
This historic pub on the less-traveled western end of The Rocks (it claims it’s Sydney’s oldest licensed beer joint) has a cozy vibe perfect for unwinding over a few beers with friends. Come hungry and order from the menu, which ups the usual game with items like Himalayan fish curry and an ale and star anise-braised brisket.
It’s not in the most convenient of locations—the Local is situated at a very busy intersection of three major boulevards—but it’s still worth it. This popular taphouse specializes in craft beers, so be adventurous with your order. Head up to the rooftop bar for added atmosphere and the odd movie night.