19 Oct 2021

Rooftop bars to ghost stories: The 22 best things to do in The Rocks

Looking for something to do? We got you. Check out our list of the 22 best things to do in The Rocks and see if you can cross them all off your to-do.
Rooftop bars to ghost stories: The 22 best things to do in The Rocks
There’s always something to do in The Rocks. There are charming cafes hidden down brick alleyways, and thriving artisan markets under the shadow of Sydney’s Harbour bridge. There are rooftop bars with panoramic harbour views, award-winning French pastries to taste and centuries of fascinating history to experience.

To help you make the most of your next visit, here are the 22 best things to do in The Rocks, Sydney.

Cut some shapes at The Argyle

The Argyle features six bars set over two levels in one of the oldest buildings in The Rocks. It’s famous for its sun-drenched sandstone courtyard and it's packed dancefloor that keeps going into the wee hours. This is without doubt one of the best bars in Sydney for a big night out.

See Australia’s best collection of contemporary art at the MCA

Art-lovers looking for things to do in Sydney shouldn’t go past the galleries of the incredible Museum of Contemporary Art. This ultra-modern building sits pretty right on the water in The Rocks and is home to the country’s most complete collection of contemporary art.

Visit countless local galleries

If you can’t get enough of Sydney’s awesome local art, there are dozens of galleries within walking distance in The Rocks. Make sure you check out the iconic Ken Done Gallery and experience the psychedelic surrealism of Charles Billich’s work.

Get spooked at The Rocks Ghost Tour

The Rocks Ghost Tours give you the chance to experience the bizarre and macabre side of the suburb’s long history. Tour famous landmarks and haunted houses and discover the darker side of The Rocks with a real historian as your guide.

Picnic under the bridge

More into sunshine and picnics then haunted history? Grab some takeaway, roll up your picnic blanket and skip down to Dawes Point - a grassy lawn underneath the Harbour Bridge with sea views and plenty of shade. Both pet and child friendly!

Watch live music at Sydney’s oldest bar - Fortune of War

Almost two centuries ago, a convicted stocking thief and transported felon - Samuel Terry - rebuilt the Fortune of War pub. In the beginning, it was the first and last stop ashore for soldiers and sailors before heading off to battle. Today, it’s Sydney’s oldest continually licensed public hotel and the home of local, live music. Grab a pint and settle in for the show.

Shop local at The Rocks Markets

In the heart of The Rocks, you’ll find an open air weekend market featuring stalls by countless local artisans and makers - including delicious food, fabulous art, gorgeous homewares and unique Australian gifts. If you don’t have time to meet the makers in person, jump online and shop direct from all the stallholders here at The Rocks Market online.

Pamper yourself at Barber Supreme or Endota Spa

The Rocks is the perfect place to treat yo’ self to a luxurious pamper session. For a next-level cut, go to Barber Supreme - an old-school barber for the modern gentlemen that has premium hair styling and shaves. Or head to Endota Spa to press pause and pamper yourself with an extensive range of spa treatments.

Bike around the harbour

The best way to see Sydney is via pedal power around the harbour. Rent a bike and get out there in the sunshine. Best experienced as a group!

Have a drink with 180 degree views at The Glenmore

The Glenmore Hotel is an iconic Sydney pub in a historic character building. Grab a drink at the rooftop bar and take in panoramic views over the harbour and the Opera house.

Get your future told at Argyle Oracle

The future may be uncertain to you, but the clairvoyants at the Argyle Oracle know what’s ahead. Pay a visit to be entertained and enlightened with psychic readings, spiritual healing, palmistry, tarot card readings and more.

Explore The Rocks Discovery Museum

You’ll love The Rocks Discovery Museum; packed with thousands of years of history! Housed in a restored 1850s sandstone warehouse, the museum is home to a unique collection of images and archaeological artefacts found in The Rocks – some of which you can even hold. Four permanent exhibitions have been developed in close consultation with the Metropolitan Aboriginal Land Council which share the history and stories of the area and the impact of European settlement. The exhibitions cover the periods:

  • Warrane (pre-1788)
  • Colony (1788–1820)
  • Port (1820–1900)
  • Transformations (1900–present)

Eat award winning pastries at La Ren

We consider ourselves connoisseurs in all things carby and buttery, and we can confidently say that La Renaissance serves the best French pastries in Australia. Do yourself a favour and try them next time you’re in The Rocks.

World famous pancakes at Pancakes on The Rocks

Few things are more delicious and more comforting than fluffy golden pancakes piled high, drenched in maple syrup and served with crispy bacon. Get your doughy fix and try the world famous stacks at Pancakes on The Rocks.

Have a pint of Guinness at Australia’s oldest Irish pub

Transport yourself to Dublin in 1914 at The Mercantile Hotel, Australia’s oldest (and possibly most jolly) Irish pub. If you're partial to a bit of Irish fare, try their Shamrock beef and guinness pie, best washed down with a pint of guinness.

Coffee at ASLAN, Fine Foods, Black & White Espresso and Creperie Suzette

Our city has better coffee than your city and we can prove it. Head down to ASLAN, Fine Foods, Black & White Espresso or Creperie Suzette, grab a flat white and try and tell us that’s not the best coffee you’ve ever tasted.

Discover hidden laneways

In the early 19th century, The Rocks was known as one of the most cutthroat ports in the world. Art galleries, leafy parks and cocktail bars now occupy where brothels, gambling dens and slums once ruled, connected by a maze of shadowy laneways. Today, you can still glimpse hints of the area's colourful past by strolling down the laneways that remain, like Nurses’ Walk or Kendall Lane.

Check out Foundation Park

Just a minutes’ walk from the harbour, you’ll find the ruins of a collection of tiny terraced homes that give you a rare and fascinating insight into what life was like here in the 1800s. These cramped 3x3 metre terraces were once home to families of up to ten.

Have a juicy steak at The Cut

Australia is home to some of the world’s best steak and The Cut in The Rocks is the perfect place to taste it. Enjoy large cuts of wagyu or slow-cooked prime rib off the bone in their opulent dining room in the heart of The Rocks.

Discover a hidden underground bar

Since its construction in the 1840s, the basement space that The Doss House whiskey bar now occupies has been home to a boot maker, doctor’s surgery & opium den. Original fireplaces, sandstone walls and vintage charm still remain - but now visitors will find a huge selection of premium whiskies and a beautiful sunny terraced area to drink in. The best bar in Sydney for a dram in sophisticated surrounds.

Once you are done head to Frank Mac's. Inside the sandstone walls of a two-story heritage building, you’ll find one of Sydney’s largest collections of gins and a team of mixologists who know their way around a cocktail. Behind Frank Mac’s 5-metre long bar, there’s over 80 juniper blends sourced from all over Australia and the world.

High Tea at The Tea Cosy

Scones and tea are the ultimate comforts, and nobody does them better than The Tea Cosy in The Rocks. We suggest you go all out high tea style with the Grandstand - a three-tiered tower of scones, jams and ribbon sandwiches all served with a hot cuppa.

Get Shopping

Shopping local is easy at The Rocks - the area is home to countless homegrown designers, makers and creatives. Why not shop steampunk inspired jewelry at AHW Studio, or luxury men’s clothing at Joe Bananas. Or discover gorgeous, handmade homewares at DUX Collection and the best up-and-coming fashion designers at FAID.