The Playmaker
Let's play
PLAYMAKER
  • It's Thursday
    What day is it?
  • Now
    What time is it?
  • Anywhere in Sydney
    Where are you?
  • What do you feel like?
    What do you feel like?
  • And what else?
    And what else?
  • LET'S PLAY
A DAY AND NIGHT GUIDE
SYDNEY CBD
Flip the switch below and discover Sydney by day or night
By Concrete Playground
November 11, 2020
  shares
By Concrete Playground
November 11, 2020
  shares

From the beating heart of the city to the beauty of the harbour and around to Barangaroo, there’s a lot to soak up in the CBD and its surrounds.

In partnership with City of Sydney, we’re celebrating what makes the CBD such a vibrant community to live in and visit: its local businesses. It’s been a tough year, and these bars, restaurants, shops and cultural spaces need your patronage more than ever. It’s time to hit the streets, spend consciously, and throw your support behind these local gems.

Flick the switch above and we’ll dim the lights to show you the best things to do once the sun goes down. You can also explore more inner city suburbs and discover more local businesses to support here.

From the beating heart of the city to the beauty of the harbour and around to Barangaroo, there’s a lot to soak up in the CBD and its surrounds.

In partnership with City of Sydney, we’re celebrating what makes the CBD such a vibrant community to live in and visit: its local businesses. It’s been a tough year, and these bars, restaurants, shops and cultural spaces need your patronage more than ever. It’s time to hit the streets, spend consciously, and throw your support behind these local gems.

Flick the switch above and we’ll turn on the lights to show you the best things to do pre-6pm.You can also explore more inner city suburbs and discover more local businesses to support here.

DID YOU KNOW

The Queen Victoria Building was built in honour of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Construction took five years, from 1893–98 and the site takes up an entire city block that was once home to a produce market and the Central Police Court.

GETTING AROUND

Town Hall and Wynyard train stations are central to the CBD, while Circular Quay station meets the harbour and The Rocks areas. Ferries run from Circular Quay and Barangaroo Wharf, and there are plenty of bus services. Hit the pavement and take Wynyard Walk to Barangaroo or explore the hidden laneways of The Rocks by foot.

DON’T MISS

Walking around town can work up an appetite so grab a treat from Lorraine’s Patisserie, hidden underneath the Ivy building on Palings Lane, where you can watch the magic happen in the tiny, open-plan kitchen. Lorraine’s cheesecakes are legendary, and rumour has it she made the wedding cake for a certain Prime Minister’s daughter.

LOCALS LOVE

Stretching from Macquarie Street all the way to the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Botanic Garden is an oasis in the city. Do as the locals do and take a stroll through the gardens, read a book on the lawns, or just sit back and enjoy the view.

DID YOU KNOW

The Rocks has been keeping Sydneysiders and its visitors imbibed for almost two centuries and is home to Sydney’s oldest pub. So, who takes the honour? Well, that’s a matter of ongoing debate between the Fortune of War and The Lord Nelson, both of which lay claim to being the longest continuously licensed hotel in the city. Best discussed over a beer (or two).

GETTING AROUND

Town Hall and Wynyard train stations are central to the CBD, while Circular Quay station meets the harbour and The Rocks areas. Ferries run from Circular Quay and Barangaroo Wharf, and there are plenty of bus services. Hit the pavement and take Wynyard Walk to Barangaroo or explore the hidden laneways of The Rocks by foot.

DON’T MISS

The harbour at night is a thing of beauty. See the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge illuminated from Circular Quay then make your way to Dawes Point to watch the lights from Luna Park on the northern side of the bridge smiling back over the water.

LOCALS LOVE

This is an area made for showing off water views, and locals take full advantage of the fact, usually with a drink in hand. From the rooftop at Hotel Palisade to the heights of the Shangri-La’s Blu Bar, it’s all about the view. See also: Opera Bar, Hacienda, The Squire’s Landing and The Glenmore.

How to do the Sydney CBD

Do as the locals do.

Cafes

Coffee is serious business, and thankfully everyone is well served, from suits on coffee breaks to daytime harbour strollers.

1. Regiment

A bustling CBD cafe serving Five Senses coffee, soba noodle salad and hunks of caramel slice.

2. Single O CBD

This takeaway window on York Street serves great coffee, loaded crumpets and bacon and egg rolls.

3. Industry Beans York St

The Melbourne coffee pioneer has brought its famed bubble tea-like cold brews to Sydney.

4. The Grounds of the City

The Grounds of Alexandria's CBD venue sets an impossibly high standard for themed dining in Sydney.

5. June's Shoppe

Visit this bright yellow cafe in the CBD for open sandos and top-notch coffee.

Restaurants and Pubs

Top-shelf takeaway joints, cosy pubs and sun-filled terraces ensure you won’t ever go hungry in the CBD — especially during the working week.

1. Jardin St James

Find a slice of Parisian paradise in a CBD church's courtyard.

2. Bar Luca

Go for the Blame Canada, stay for an outrageous weekly special.

3. The Glenmore

This pub in The Rocks has a rooftop with one of the best views over the harbour.

4. Hotel Palisade

This bar gained a new lease on life in 2015. Keep things casual downstairs, or head upstairs to enjoy the killer view.

5. Continental Deli Bar Bistro CBD

A shrine of cocktails, charcuterie and canned stuff in the CBD.

Shops

Beyond the big department stores the area is home to some of the best fashion, homewares and food shops Sydney has to offer.

1. Sorry Thanks I Love You

Every message you need to say, you can say through these perfectly curated artisanal gifts.

2. Shortstop Coffee & Donuts

Kick the sugar cravings with a cult-favourite doughnut.

3. Jet Cycles

Here's where you'll find premium bike brands Specialized and Cannondale.

4. Courtesy of the Artist

An inner city collective of artistic minds and passionate jewellery designers, championing Aussie materials, workers and talent.

5. Mister Mister

Visit this Strand Arcade store for made-to-measure suits, jackets and trousers.

Arts and Culture

Get to know the city better on a walking tour or at one of the many museums and galleries dotted throughout. Best of all, most of these are free to visit.

1. Customs House

Lose a few hours exploring the multi-storey library and contemporary exhibitions.

2. Museum of Sydney

A salute to Sydney, past and present.

3. Justice and Police Museum

Discover the dark history of Sydney's real life cops and robbers.

4. Art Gallery of NSW

Soak up some contemporary art and earn serious culture cred at this Sydney institution.

5. The Rocks Aboriginal Dreaming Tour

Take a journey into Indigenous heritage and culture.

Leisure

Unwind in stunning gardens by the sea, swim laps in a waterside sea salt pool or put your problem-solving skills to the test.

1. Andrew 'Boy' Charlton Pool

Make sure to admire the Sydney Harbour views as you come up for air.

2. Royal Botanic Garden

So much more than a pretty park.

3. Observatory Hill Park

Take in the Sydney Harbour Bridge and skyline from one of the best vantage points in the city.

4. The Enigma Room

Expect mind-bending codes and sensory overload at one of Sydney's most innovative escape rooms.

5. The Rocks Markets

Spend the weekend hunting for handmade goods.

Shop Online

Can't visit the area soon enough? Do some online browsing and get gems from these CBD-based businesses sent straight to you instead.

1. Incu

The elusive mix of high-end and high-street fashion here will hook you in every time.

2. Haigh's Chocolates

Replace your chocolate bunny with an artisanal bilby.

3. Strand Hatters

Where to go if you want to drop money on a hat that will last you 20 years.

4. Double Monk

High-quality, handmade mens shoes perfect for city workers and special occasions.

5. The Tea Centre Sydney

An ethical tea emporium in Sydney's CBD.

How to do the Sydney CBD

Do as the locals do.

Restaurants and Pubs

You’ll find some of the best restaurants in the city in this area, and with the Barangaroo precinct now added to the menu, there’s even more to choose from.

1. Restaurant Hubert

High-class French food in a subterranean space on Bligh Street, where the chicken fricassée is the stuff of legend.

2. Indu

This is the Indian food we've been waiting for.

3. Long Chim

Prep your chilli tolerance for a visit to David Thompson's Thai fine dining restaurant.

4. Bistecca

This underground CBD restaurant specialises in just one cut of steak.

5. Cirrus Dining

A cloud-shaped Barangaroo restaurant from the Bentley team.

Bars

Whether you're looking for a rooftop for midweek bevs or want to take in the sights sipping a cocktail, there’s plenty of top spots for a tipple.

1. Old Mate's Place

Creative cocktails, Philly cheesesteaks and old-school library vibes tucked away in a Clarence Street office building.

2. Cantina OK!

A hole-in-the-wall mezcal bar by the Tio's team.

3. PS40

The 'open soda door' from former Bulletin Place, Sokyo and Der Raum folks.

4. Maybe Sammy

An opulent 50s-inspired bar from the Maybe Frank team.

5. Bulletin Place

This long-standing CBD cocktail bar is still one of the best in the city (and the country).

Live Music

The CBD's live music scene caters for classical music aficionados, avid rock fans and everyone in between. Plus, you'll find yourself in some incredible venues.

1. City Recital Hall

The Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Pinchgut Opera (among others) call this CBD concert hall home.

2. Since I Left You

This courtyard bar could be your CBD paradise.

3. Sydney Opera House

The word iconic is overused, but not when it comes to the harbour city’s crowning glory.

4. Frankie's

Part dive bar, part New York-style pizza parlour, part blast from the past in the form of 80s metal.

5. The Orient Hotel

Yet another longstanding pub in The Rocks that's had a makeover in recent years.

Shops

Browse beautiful boutiques, a 60-year-old bottle shop and rare designs all after 6pm.

1. Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tart

Queue up, then load up on these famous cheesy, creamy tarts.

2. The Oak Barrel

As one of the oldest bottle shops in Sydney, the range is something to behold.

3. Men's Biz Sydney

Walk out of this CBD barbershop feeling fresh and fine, with new skin and hair care products to keep it going.

4. Title Barangaroo

Here's an independent bookshop proving print isn't dead.

5. Sneakerboy

The high-end underground sneaker store of Kanye's wildest dreams.

Arts and Culture

When the sun goes down there’s plenty to do — catch a play, attend a talk or simply look up at the stars.

1. Sydney Theatre Company

Discover the cream of Sydney's creativity crop at Roslyn Packer Theatre.

2. State Theatre

Old-world opulence awaits in this heritage-listed performance space.

3. Sydney Observatory

Yes, the CBD has its own stargazing spot — head here after dark and discover the magic of the southern sky.

4. Books Kinokuniya

Pick up a book, attend a talk or meet a new author at this Japanese megastore.

5. Employees Only

Visit NYC's world-class cocktail bar's first late-night Australian outpost for cocktails and cabaret.

CP Staff Faves

Here are our favourite haunts for when the sun goes down and the streets of CBD come alive.

1. Ramblin' Rascal Tavern

Head to this basement bar for a booze-slingin' good time.

2. Bar Topa

A pint-sized tapas bar serving up innovative snacks and $8 half-size cocktails.

3. The Baxter Inn

A cavernous whisky bar where the bartenders know their stuff and good times are at the top of the agenda.

4. Ragazzi Wine and Pasta

A CBD wine and pasta bar from the Love, Tilly Devine crew.

5. Mr. Wong

A classic CBD eatery loved for its dim sim, mud crab and vintage setting.

Editor's Itinerary

Here is how our editor loves to spend a few hours in the CBD.

Find Your Way Through the CBD

Track down the must-visit local haunts.

ARE OUT OF VIEW SHOW ALL

Explore more of Sydney and your favourite suburbs through the eyes of other locals by following #sydneylocal on Instagram.

Tap and select Add to Home Screen to access Concrete Playground easily next time. x
Counter