Having spent a handful of nights out in central Sydney courtesy of my local tour guide, I found myself wanting to explore what outer city nightlife Sydney had to offer. To do this we decided to head north to the suburb of Manly. Although (if you have a designated driver) you can drive to Manly or catch a bus or Uber, the scenic route passes the Harbour Bridge and Opera house on water. The 30-minute ferry from Circular Quay leaves approximately every half hour and is valid for travel using an Opal Card. Alternatively, if this is too long on water for you, you can also catch the Manly Fast Ferry which takes a mere 18 minutes. The ferry trip itself is extremely pleasant – with a bar and charging points with leads on board. Outside there are extensive seating areas which are fantastic for catching views of the city. The trip has become somewhat of a tourist attraction in itself which can seem strange when you see locals on their daily commutes!
Hitting ground at Manly Wharf, the first thing we did was walk along to Manly Beach. Surprisingly, even in the depths of winter it was popular with people wrapped up in coats still enjoying the rays of sun despite the strong breeze. The walk along the beach is pleasant and only a 10-minute walk from the wharf – which takes you past multiple souvenir shops and Aboriginal Dreamtime Fine Art Gallery. There are numerous benches along the front where you can sit and take in the views or alternatively go for a dip or surf (wetsuit recommended in winter!).
Heading back in the direction of the Wharf, we stumbled across a fantastic bar on level one of the New Brighton Hotel. 33 Degrees has a balcony with distant views of Manly Beach and offers a choice of cocktails for under $20 and jugs for around $30. My advice would be to grab a pricier drink here before heading to a bar that caught our attention after immediately getting off the ferry.
The Bavarian Manly Wharf is a rustic bar overlooking the waterfront and offering fireplaces inside and chic seating outside. More importantly they have beer boots for $20! Between 4-6pm every day you also receive free premium snacks (topped chips, sausage rolls or popcorn chicken) with every drink purchase. Happy hour is on offer every day at the same times – with $5 lychee cocktails, beers and spirits. The bar/restaurant is lively with both locals and tourists and has an awesome atmosphere. I’d highly recommend a visit.
From here, if you survive happy hour, 4 Pines Brew Pub offers an extensive food menu (prices range from a $7 small plate to a $40 Roasted Pig Belly sharing platter) including vegetarian and vegan options. On Mondays they additionally offer a free pint with every meal from 5pm! There is a variety of beers on tap so you will be spoilt for choice.
The last ferry from Manly to Circular Quay is at around midnight, however, it is worth double-checking departure times before beginning your exploration of all Manly has to offer – unless of course you plan to stay in Manly overnight. Once back on the ferry, it is your choice whether you continue the night in Sydney or call it a night. Just don’t miss out on the gorgeous views of the Opera House and the city lit up against the dark!