For three weeks, Sydney lights up for Vivid Sydney. Now in its eleventh year, the festival just keeps getting better and better – crowds flock from near and far to get a sneak peek at the magical installations. To get the best vantage point and avoid the crowds, we’ve rounded up the best restaurants and bars in Sydney that are guaranteed to shine.
So nab a table, crack open a bottle of bubbly and get ready to soak up some of the finest views of Vivid Sydney.
Overlooking Circular Quay, Bar Patron is one of the best places to kick off a night at Vivid. Guests can dine à la carte or from a three-course Vivid set menu ($35) available from the early opening time of 5pm-6pm. Added to the mix are half price, classic margaritas and complimentary chips and salsa throughout happy hour (4pm-6pm). We’l take two , please!
2 Phillip Street, Circular Quay
Boasting a rooftop set above The Rocks skyline, The Glenmore’s uninterrupted views are popular with Sydneysiders looking to get a birds-eye view of Vivid. The delicious pub fare and range of beers on tap provide the perfect casual setting for a Vivid dinner. The Glenmore rooftop is alfresco, so be sure to rug up.
96 Cumberland Street, The Rocks
Set right in the heart of Vivid, Cruise Bar will partner with Cointreau this year to transform the ground floor into a warming winter oasis. This year guests can enjoy uninterrupted views of the Sydney Harbour and Opera House while sipping on Cointreauinfused margaritas, cosmopolitanss and mulled wine from a cosy pop-up bar. Party into the night under the city lights, whilst dancing to the epic DJ beats.
Level 1, 2 and 3, Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay West
Located on the fourth and fifth floors of Hotel Palisade, Henry Deane takes in 180-degree views of Sydney Harbour. The floor to ceiling windows surrounding the bar will ensure that you can see the harbour lights while staying warm. The beautifully styled interiors are an Insta-worthy dream, the cocktails are on point and the food is soul-warming. All the makings of a great night out.
35 Bettington Street, Millers Point
Situated at The Rocks, the MCA rooftop terrace on level 4 offers one of the best views of Vivid. On Wednesdays between 5pm-9pm guests will be invited to admire the harbour lights and the MCA light projection, all while sipping on a vino (or two). It is free to visit but be sure to check available dates.
140 George Street, The Rocks
Perched on the 36th floor of the Shangri-La, Altitude has uninterrupted views that stretch right across the harbour. During Vivid, the restaurant will be serving a delicious five-course tasting menu, with the option to add matching wines. Our advice? Book a window seat from 6pm so you don’t miss any of the festivities.
176 Cumberland Street, Sydney
Café Sydney’s rooftop position, chic interiors and sweeping harbour views make this an essential dining spot, especially during Vivid. Unlike the other venues, Café Sydney sits atop the popular Vivid projection at heritage-listed Customs House, so diners are right at the heart of the action. Book a seat on the balcony so you can enjoy the sunset and watch the lights turn on.
Sydney Customs House- 31 Alfred Street, Sydney
For a contemporary Italian experience, head to Aqua Dining Room for a progressive dinner with sweeping harbour views. Each night diners will be able to watch the lights switch on and see the changing colours of the bridge and Opera House. Enjoy a four-course meal with matched wines between Aqua Dining and Ripples Chowder Bay with a Vivid harbour cruise in between.
Corner of Paul and Northcliffe Street, Milsons Point
Arguably Sydney’s most popular tourist dining destination, when it comes to harbour views, it really doesn’t get much better than Opera Bar. Offering a wide range of eats and libations, the alfresco area is perfect for large groups. If you’re after the perfect bridge shot, or want to get up-close and personal with the Opera House projection, get there for sunset and stay for the Vivid lights.
Lower Concourse Level, Sydney Opera House, Sydney
Matt Moran’s famed and awarded harbourside eatery is perfect for fine-diners looking to soak up the Vivid ambience. From the main dining room, diners are spoilt with views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, both centrepieces for the Vivid lights. The local produce-driven menu with wintery staples and extensive wine list will sustain you for a night of vibrant exploration.
1 Macquarie Street, Sydney
This Cuban-style bar boasts unparalleled views over Circular Quay and the Harbour Bridge, making it the perfect place to watch the Vivid lights. Offering a selection of Caribbean-inspired dishes, a curated cocktail list and ample choices of dark liquors, Hacienda spoils diners with an authentic Cuban experience. Make sure to get there early to secure your window seat.
61 Macquarie Street, Sydney