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Sometimes it feels like there’s a tradeoff between partying and truly experiencing the culture of a new place. Walking tours and museums are a little less fun while hungover, and it’s hard to appreciate a bright new city when the light feels like fire in your eyes. Such is not the case in Australia. That is, nightlife is a massive part of Australian culture — we’d even go so far as to say partying is “important”. There’s an incredible amount to do and appreciate once the sun goes down including dive bars and trendy clubs in the city to more remote places for BBQs in the outback. If you’re the party-going type, here’s a list of the best places to get down Down Under.
Consistently ranked as the number one place in the world to live, Melbourne is undoubtedly the coolest city to party in Australia. It’s jam-packed with late-night eats (with some restaurants serving dinner until 1 am), and bars, clubs, and activities that stay open until sunrise.
Start off your night at Fitzroy, a famously trendy suburb with street art and live music, and head to Black Pearl’s for a wild cocktail, KBOX for karaoke, Bar Open for some no-frills beers, and Cherry Bar for live music. Once the night is in full swing, head over to Laundry Bar to check out the city’s rap/hip-hop scene, and eventually make your way over to Boney’s’ rave cave, which is open until 7 am. Generally speaking, you can’t go wrong on Fitzroy or Acland Street. They’re both lined with great bars and restaurants with plenty of outdoor seating, and they’re popular with the backpacker crowd so you’ll be around fellow travelers.
For the uninitiated, there’s a passionate rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney. While Melbourne probably wins on the creative and hipster fronts, Sydney is unrivaled when it comes to beaches, beachside bars and clubs, and beach hotels. Just a stone’s throw from the beach are Hotel Bondi and Side Bar, two great spots to mingle with locals and travelers until the sun rises.
Off the beach, King’s Cross is a neighborhood with lots of live music that hosts plenty of trendy bars and restaurants. If you’re feeling like letting loose on the dance floor, check out Club Soho and the Imperial Hotel. If you want to ditch the crowds, be on the lookout for Sydney’s underground parties. Promoters such as People Must Jam, Picnic, and Under the Radar host events at warehouses and other dingy places around the city.
Byron Bay is Australia’s most idyllic, chilled-out beachside town. It’s a relaxing paradise, equipped with a nightlife scene that’s equal parts grungy and sandy. Start out at the Railway Friendly Bar or Treehouse on Belongil for live music, and later to the Cheeky Monkey which can get a bit rowdier. Woody’s Surf Shack is another great option for those looking to hunker down in one place for the entire night.
Just west and inland of Byron Bay, Nimbin is the ultimate hippie town in Australia. With more and more people opting for herbs instead of alcohol, the vibes in Nimbin may be all you’re looking for in a nightlife scene. Surprisingly, one time of the year you must visit Nimbin is during Mardis Gras, usually around early March. The town goes all out with festivals, costumes, parades with floats shaped like spliffs, and tons of drum circles.
The Gold Coast is where you visit in Australia if you’re one for chart-topping hits, sweaty dance floors, and drinks with enough sugar to make you regret ever coming to Oz. Pub crawls are easily the best way to take advantage of the scene here. Check out Hangover Crawl or Wicked Club Crawl which regularly host outings around the city for travelers and locals alike. Surfer’s Paradise — the suburb of Gold Coast that has become synonymous with nightlife — is known as the premier destination for students on spring break. In this area, check out Surfer’s Paradise Beer Garden (known as the Beery), and anywhere on Orchid Avenue including Sin City or Cocktails Nightclub. If the spring break crowd isn’t exactly calling your name, swing by Elsewhere Bar where you’ll find a more alternative and older scene.