Sydney is one of the world's most popular gay destinations, and it's easy to see why. Over the decades, Australia's largest city has produced some of the world's biggest gay icons: Priscilla, Mardi Gras, Kylie Minogue and Speedos.
One of Sydney's big draws is the near-perfect weather. For an impressive five months of the year -- November to March -- the city's beaches and pools are filled with hot gay men. Bondi Beach is the most popular, but there are plenty of other spots for sun and fun.
Nightlife ignites on Friday, when the after-work crowd fills the bars along Oxford Street, and simmers on Saturday with numerous gay parties. But things really explode on Sunday, when the Green Park and Bank hotels are filled with boys engaged in afternoon debauchery.
If the bars and beaches aren't your thing, don't despair. Sydney has a thriving culture of indoor and outdoor sex-on-premise venues. There are saunas and sex clubs sprinkled all over the city, but the real Australian treat is the beats, the mostly outdoor cruising spots.
For a break from the city, consider a day trip to the Blue Mountains to see the three-pointed rock formation called the Three Sisters. Another popular excursion is a visit to the vineyards of the Hunter Valley, where you can sample local favorites like shiraz and semillon.
Sydney Airport sits about five miles south of the city. Getting to your hotel is easy, with taxis ($45 to $55), and Airport Link ($18.50 each way) providing fast and convenient trains from the International Airport Station to the center of Sydney approximately every 10 minutes -- a trip of 15-30 minutes. The international and domestic terminal rail stations link directly to the City Circle.
Sydney's public transportation system is extensive, but somewhat complex. The website Transport NSW has information for SydneyTrains and SydneyBus, the two main systems, and all other varieties of local public transit. Short distances are best covered by foot, and taxis might be the most rapid option for getting to where you're going.
Many of Sydney's gay people (and most of the lesbians) are hanging out in the Inner West suburbs: Newtown, Erskineville and Enmore. Here you'll find a relaxed and somewhat grungy vibe. King Street, in the heart of Newtown, is the area's main thoroughfare, with an impressive array of inexpensive restaurants filled with flannel-clad gays. This is also where you will find fantastic pubs in Victorian-era buildings.
Gays also gather in a group of inner city suburbs: Surry Hills, Darlinghurst and Potts Point. Victoria Street is the destination for casual after-work drinks and is lined with great restaurants. (Close by is Kings Cross Fitness First, the gym where Hugh Jackman works out twice a day.) Macleay Street in Potts Point is more polished and has an abundance of chic cafes. There's great shopping in nearby trendy Paddington and Crown Street in Surry Hills.
Take a hike. Starting at Bronte Beach, a beautiful walking trail winds along the coastal cliffs to Bondi Beach. See our "events and experiences" for more beach and pool information.
Flower power. Between Hyde Park and Circular Quay, the Royal Botanic Gardens is one of the world's most beautiful public parks.
Getting high. The loftiest way to experience the city is from atop the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. For a pricey but memorable half-day experience, scale it with the company BridgeClimb.
What's new at the zoo. Every great city has a zoo, but Taronga Zoo is particularly special. Located on the harbor with great views, it's an incredible setting for up-close views of koalas, kangaroos and emus.
Events. See our listings for dates of the big events including: BearPride in August over a 4-day weekend each year, orgaized by the Harbour City Bears; and, the biggest gay festival of all, Mardi Gras, attracting visitors from all over the world each February-March. Highlights include a film festival, a nighttime parade and dazzling parties.
Gay rights in Australia
Gay sex is legal in Australia. The age of consent is 16 in most states, but 17 in South Australia and 18 for anal sex in Queensland (home to Brisbane and the Gold Coast).
While same-sex marriages are not permitted in Australia, cohabiting same-sex couples are recognised as de facto couples, with the same rights as cohabiting heterosexual couples under state law. Same-sex couples have access to domestic partnership registries in New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria, and civil partnerships are performed in the Australian Capital Territory of Canberra.
For a sane voice in political discussions of sex and drugs, see the Australian Sex Party website.
Media and resources
The Star Observer is the local area gay magazine, to be found in bars and shops on and around Oxford Street or in online readers. Gay Scene is their monthly guide to the gay scene.
Lesbians on the Loose, or LOTL, is the Australian magazine for Lesbians, Bisexual and Gay Women, featuring stories on Sydney Mardi Gras, Lesbian Celebrities, and more.
Fuse Magazine covers gay Australia and the world from their Canberra base - read them online too.
Emen8, "Australia's biggest and boldest online sexual health and wellbeing initiative for gay men, bisexual men and men who have sex with men!" also has travel and events highlights and tips on fashion and design.
DNA Magazine is a national glossy known around the world for their very impressive photography of hot men.
SX Magazine appears to be dead, along with fellow Evo Media regional publications such as Cult, MCV (Melbourne), QP (Brisbane), and Blaze (Adelaide); also their Gay News Network and SameSame websites. See this OutinPerth article on the subject.
QueerScreen produces the annual February-March Gay Mardi Gras Film Festival, and the September Queer Screen Film Fest, as well as other film screenings throughout the year.
Sydney.com is the most comprehensive tourism website, covering arts/culture events, food/wine reviews and listings, the scoop on local nature/parks/beaches, plus shopping and accommodations information. Australia.com covers the city too, along with the rest of the country.
The City of Sydney website has places to go and things to do from the big events to finding a bicycle to rent, or a municipal swimming pool to cool off.
For locations and website links to businesses listed below, and more, see our gay Sydney map & listings pages.
Adina Apartment Hotel (359 Crown St), self-contained apartments with swimming pool, spa, gym, and barbecue area.
The Arts Hotel (21 Oxford St, Paddington) formerly Sullivan's, near most recreations including easy bus to Bondi Beach.
Comfort Inn Cambridge (212 Riley St), spacious, centrally located, three-and-half star hotel, short stroll from the Oxford Street party zone.
City Crown Motel (289 Crown St, Surry Hills), also close to Oxford Street action, various room options and it's own sidewalk cafe and barbecue area.
Governors On Fitzroy 64 Fitzroy St), renovated Victorian bed-and-breakfast, six guest rooms, full breakfast, friendly atmosphere in common rooms and spa.
The Hyde Park Inn (271 Elizabeth St), overlooks Hyde Park, views of Sydney Harbor, great location in Central Business District, with all four-star comforts.
L'Otel (114 Darlinghurst Rd), 16-room "hip, ambient, and intimate" boutique hotel, up-to-the-minute facilities and day spa.
Manor House Boutique Hotel (86 Flinders St), Victorian grand mansion, 18 rooms in elegant, gay-friendly setting, hospitable staff make you feel at home. Full breakfast served in a lovely setting around the pool.
Hotel Stellar (4 Wentworth Ave), boutique lodgings near corner of Hyde Park and Oxford Street, exactly where you want to be, at budget prices.
Travel Lodge (27 Wentworth Ave), good value room deals at edge of the Central Business District, easy walk to shops, theaters and restaurants.
The Wattle Hotel (108 Oxford St), good service, location and budget prices, at the heart of gay Sydney.
Y on the Park (5-11 Wentworth Ave), rooms from AU$79 at great location opposite Hyde Park, close to Oxford Street.
See another 20 hotels at our map & listings pages.
Bars, Pubs and Clubs
Nowhere is the partying more intense than around rowdy Oxford Street in Darlinghurst, but there's more.
ARQ (16 Flinders St at Taylor Sq, Darlinghurst) continues to be the big dance nightspot in town. The club on two-and-a-half levels has great lights, sound, and mix of both straight and gay party people. Special and theme nights include FOMO foam parties.
Beauchamp Hotel & Velvet Cocktail Lounge (265-267 Oxford St, Darlinghurst), spacious terrace bar, courtyard; canapes, platters and casual dining.
Beresford Hotel (354 Bourke St, Darlingshurst), following recent renovations, a big gay attraction, especially upstairs on Sunday nights, with men/women mix, live music and theme events. Free summer movies, Mondays in the courtyard.
Chinese Laundry (111 Sussex St), below Slip Inn, dance club, House, Electro, Prog, Tech, Hip-Hop, D&B; gay special events.
The Colombian (117 Oxford St, Darlinghurst), slick, modern gay pub and lounge on very gay corner, straight friendly too. On two levels, boasting the largest rotation of DJs in Sydney, lively dance crowd, drag diva emcees.
Coopers Hotel (221 King St, Newton), traditional Aussie pub, games, bistro deck, beer garden, extensive tapas to full meals menu, wine and cocktails; Tranny Bingo nights.
Ivy (330 George St, Downtown), entertainment complex of hotels, diverse bars and restaurants; summer pool parties, special events include gay/lesbian-specific nights.
Kinselas (383 Bourke St), Friday drag competitions, Wednesday Tranny Trivia nights, ornate art deco ceilings, mixed crowd.
Low 302 (302 Crown St, Darlingshurst), casual artsy/creative mixed crowd cocktail bar, restaurant, live bands; favorite warm-up for nearby Oxford Street dance clubs.
Oxford Hotel (134 Oxford St, Darlinghurst), four bars: street level Main Bar, bears, leather guys, large heated deck, games, cafe from 10am; Ginger's luxurious cocktail lounge, live entertainment cabaret, intimate booths; Polo Lounge with fireplaces and balcony; and Underground Bar in the bowels, with LED walls, lasers, smoke machine, pool table, dancing, fetish nights and jockstrap parties.
Opera Bar (2 Macquarie St), Sydney Opera House bar, Harbour Bridge views, lunch and dinner, weekend live jazz bands, DJ nights, famous NYE dance party.
Palms On Oxford (124 Oxford St, Darlinghurst) basement level piano and drag entertainment nightclub, attitude free, draws many locals for "retro" evenings.
Shift Club (91 Oxford St, Darlinghurst), guys of all kinds/ages video bar, drag cabaret Transisters shows, movie nights, karaoke, bingo, trivia games, "bun/bum boy" waiters serve pub menu food.
Slide (41 Oxford St, Darlinghurst), nightclub, supper club, lounge, restaurant all-in-one; Tuesday through Sunday cabaret shows; wining, dining, and circus-inspired entertainment, divas, and comedy for capacity crowds.
Stonewall (175 Oxford St, Darlinghurst), three-story entertainment complex, open daily from noon; top Sydney DJs and entertainers, big generally young crowds, weekend dancing and drag shows, Wednesday Male Box pickup night, karaoke, Thursday dancing boys on the bar.
Periodic events include: Club Exile men-only parties; Flaunt; The Series with dance parties at Home Nightclub and Shift Club; Swagger LGBTQ RnB/Hip Hop parties; and Trough Sydney men-only dance and cruise theme nights.
CLOSED: Phoenix at Exchange Hotel (34 Oxford St, Darlinghurst), Friday/Saturday night underground dance club.
In addition to the Beauchamp, Coopers, Low, Opera Bar, Shift and Slide (above), check out the restaurants, take-out eateries, and cafes that dot the golden mile along gay Oxford Street, along with those we list below. Service is usually laid-back and easygoing in that quintessential Australian way.
Bank Hotel (324 King St, Newtown), street bar and terrace, plates to share, pizza, "bun stuffers," salads, steak/fish/chicken mains, cocktails, beer garden.
Forage (181 Marrickville Rd, Marrickville), every day breakfast, lunch, evening tapas and wine bar, patio, Thursday-Saturday dinner.
Lumiere (13/425 Bourke St), cafe and patisserie, perfect place to tryst with very Surry Hills feel. A bit out of the crush, so more likely to have seats and bring food faster. Known for good, hearty breakfasts, also tempting baked goods, plus beverages.
Maggie's (50 MacLeay St, Potts Point), authentic Tyrolean Austrian-German food, daily 8am-10:30pm. Fresh fish, meat, potatoes, big German beers (and men too).
Newtown Hotel (174 King St, Newtown), live music club, DJs, drag queens to punk rockers, Greek restaurant lunch and dinner.
We list these and more restaurants at our maps & listings pages.
Saunas and Sex-On-Premises
357 (357 Sussex St), large, busy sauna and Boys On Top bar and cafe in Downtown Chinatown; four levels, sauna, steam, private rooms, large-screen cinema, massage services, towel-free nights, Sunday afternoon Foam Party/ evening drag show, wide variety of guys.
Adult World (124-A Oxford St), state-of-the-art video booths, choice of 15 movies, anytime. Backroom booths, sling, bondage room, mirror room, plus porn video lounges.
Bodyline (10 Taylor St), four floors of steamy adventure, large Romanesque Jacuzzi, cedar-wood dry sauna, maze, and large cabins - some with slings. Therooftop deck draws a crowd day and night.
Headquarters (273 Crown St), on four floors, the area's biggest sex club, open 24 hours. Fantasy play-world includes mineshaft, jail, SUK-station, water sports space, sling rooms, glory holes, cruise areas, douche rooms; private rooms, video lounge and coffee bar. Theme parties include Speedos, piss, and naked nights, among the monthly events.
Pleasure Chest (705 George St, Haymarket), 24/7 adult video and toy store where you can also scratch the itch.
Signal (81 Oxford St), more than just lube 'n' condoms, more than 25 rooms: movie lounges, douche facilities, plus a "hole lot more." Accessible from Toolshed or discreet outdoor entrance. Guys with more than 8 inches get special Monday discounts.
Sydney Sauna (38-42 Oxford St), next to Exchange Hotel, clean, comfortable place for release, and after-work relaxation. The only sauna on Oxford Street, diverse crowd, gym, traditional cedar sauna, steam room, free internet and Wi-Fi, large cinema room, cafe, private rooms and playroom. Was Kingsteam.
For those curious about a wild side that mixes everyone up together, the Aarows Gay & Bi Sex Party Club (17 Bridge St, Rydalmere) is primarily for bisexual men and women, trannies, and lesbians, singles and couples, twenty four hours, seven days a week.
Note: as a North American website we can no longer link to escort services - see local Sydney media for information.
Delivery Boys (278 Cleveland St; discreet Perry St side entrance), legit male bordello, "duty manager" greets and introduces the guys one at a time, in relaxed, private environment. Online photo gallery preview.
Knightcall (185 Brougham St), escort services by the hour, on-site or at your place, daily from 11am until "late." Look the guys over with online photos, or more intimately, on location.
Madesco Escorts luxury male and executive escort service, has models, VIP and high-class escorts available in most large Australian cities, including Sydney.
RentBoyAustralia has an online selection of gay escorts - for rent/hire ayor.
Aussie Boys (102 Oxford St), gay clothing and accessories, footwear, leather goods, toiletries, CDs, hand-made cards, and more.
Bang (4 Flinders St), wide range of gay clothing labels from around the world; specialize in men's swimwear, gym wear, underwear, and club gear.
Bookshop (207 Oxford St), the Sydney specialist for gay and lesbian books, and wide range of magazines.
Sax Fetish (110-A Oxford St), Australia's preeminent fetish department store, prominent Oxford Street location, caters to wide range of pleasure preferences. Quality fetish clothing, BDSM accessories, toys to indulge every lusty spasm.
Toolshed (two locations: 81 Oxford St; 191 Oxford St at Taylor Sq), a giant among gay and lesbian adult stores; adult products, vast selection of porn, clothing, cards, and pride items.
Beauty Room (220 Goulburn Street) with pampering from professionally-trained therapists (both male and female), this skincare center offers a large selection of relaxing treatments, from facial peels to micro dermabrasion and massage.
City Gym (107 Crown St), Sydney's oldest shrine to gay narcissism, has a three level facility, studios, fitness rooms and an entire floor for strength training.
Fitness Network (63 Oxford St), with over 70 clubs across Australia, is gay-mobbed. Their beginner's training area has workout machines specially designed for 'first timers' of any age.