With its sun-bathed setting, energetic atmosphere, and old-world charm, Sydney is well worth the long flight. Add in its unique brand of casual Aussie warmth, and you have the ideal formula for a great night out. Here is how we would spend a perfect evening in Sydney:
A Night at the Opera (Bar)
So you haven't got a ticket for the opera, but you can still enjoy the unique atmosphere of Sydney's most iconic landmark with a drink at the Opera Bar. Sample a local wine in the winged setting of the building's nine shells, or grab a table outdoors on the lower concourse to see how the late evening light transforms this stunning building.
Given its location, it's hardly surprising that Sydney is full of Asian restaurants, but one stands out from the rest. Longrain, on Commonwealth Street, is a stylish eatery where Martin Boetz's modern Thai dishes take centre stage. You cannot make a reservation for this wildly popular restaurant, so you will start off in the cocktail area. Local DJs provide the background music as you tuck into fish cakes and a trademark "stick drink". When you are finally seated at one of the communal tables, look out for the caramelized pork hock and the salt and pepper baby barramundi. For a more homely atmosphere, try Sean's Panaroma on Campbell Parade. This fashionably run-down beach shack serves Oz-style Italian comfort food, such as mozzarella-and-anchovy-stuffed aubergine and linguini. Service is friendly and laid-back.
Some of Sydney's night spots can be a bit predictable, but the young and trendy Darlinghurst neighborhood is a definite exception. Head to the Kirketon Boutique Hotel on Darlinghurst Road and its hip cocktail lounge. the lobby has been transformed into a dark and sultry lounge, where the beautiful people sip from a menu of 100 special cocktails.
If you want variety, but you don't want to spend the evening rushing all over town, the Establishment Hotel on Bridge Lane could be for you. Choose from the sleek Establishment Bar the Tank Stream Bar (a banker haunt), the swish bazaar-style Hemmesphere, and the after-hours dance club Tank. An exclusive atmosphere means these bars and clubs are not for the casual dresser!
If you're fussy about your acoustics, head to Chinese Laundry, home of the best sound system in Sydney. One of the city's longest running nightclubs, it offers a great selection of international and local DJs in a quirky setting. Sydney is opening up as a hub for live music. The Enmore Theatre is the city's premier live music venue, hosting everyone from the Stones to Sonic Youth. Art Deco architecture and wonderful acoustics make it an exciting place to catch a live act. Oxford Art Factory is one of the more ambitious new venues. Inspired by Andy Warhol's Factory, it focuses both on music and art, so you can appreciate installations, art collections, and murals, while having a drink or dancing to live music or DJs.