A night out on the town can be an amazing way to spend time with your friends and let loose. From the loud music and cheap drinks to the gorgeous outfits and all-around good times, nightclubs are great destinations for anyone looking to party.
Canberra is home to some truly great venues. Whether you’re looking for a bar-club hybrid that lets you sit and enjoy a cocktail before heading over to the dancefloor or a thumping nightclub that draws a large crowd, there’s bound to be something for you.
If you’re itching for a night out in Canberra, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll talk a bit about what makes a great nightclub, as well as a guide to some of Canberra’s favourite spots.
What makes a great nightclub?
A great venue means the difference between an average night out and an awesome one. Here’s what we look for in a great nightclub:
- Good vibes. Nightclubs and bars are for having a good time. Everyone should be happy, chatty, excited, and most importantly, safe.
- An exciting drinks menu. Standard drinks are fine in some situations but if you like to try the latest and greatest, look for a venue with an exciting drinks menu.
- Excellent tunes. From live jazz to 90s pop classics, the best nightclubs and bars in Canberra deliver killer tunes all night long.
- A vibrant calendar of events. Look for regularly organised parties, performances, DJs, and more.
- Tasty treats. It’s not all about the drinks! If you’re feeling peckish, look for a venue that serves up a fun menu of tasty treats.
The best nightclubs in Canberra
Riotact’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.
To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on Riotact and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.
Zoo Bar is much more than just a bar – this venue sprawls over 5 levels, each with their own distinct purpose, from the bar & grill on the ground floor to the nightclub on the roof. The nightclub itself, The Mile High Club, opened just this year, and with futuristic neon decor unlike any other nightclub in Canberra, it rounds out Zoo Bar as the perfect destination for a night out on the town.
As Google reviewer Shelley Prosper writes, “The most amazing staff and beautiful cocktails! This is my go-to place for a drink with friends. Highly recommend!”
Reload Bar & Games is all about the love of games, drinks, good food and good times. At Reload, get comfy on the couches and play some video, card & board games while enjoying some burgers and themed cocktails, from the Dark Knight to the Yoda Soda. Then head on over to the dance floor as the resident DJs on Saturday nights play the best retro and modern tunes to get the party going.
As ‘Local Guide’ Kaitlyn Lodewikus describes it in their Google review, “Favourite bar in Canberra. Staff are awesome, drinks are creative and yummy, and the food is AMAZING. Definitely recommend.”
Established in 2019, sideway is an intimate independent club that’s great for enjoying wine, cocktails, beers, pizzas and snacks while dancing to some great tunes from the live DJ. With events programmed weekly from live bands to club style electronic nights, all with a totally local focus, sideway is the perfect spot for a night out any night of the week.
See what Facebook user Dan Parkinson had to say in this review, “I visited this place and heard some amazing live music talent. The staff were super friendly and incredibly down to earth and fun to chat with. It is the best venue I have visited in Canberra City.”
The Boardwalk Bar & Nightclub is Belconnen’s premier nightspot with a neighbourhood vibe and waterfront views of Lake Ginninderra. Signature cocktails include The Boardwalk and Waterfront Breeze and bar snacks are on offer. Often hosting fun events for the public such as karaoke, drag shows and live DJs, plus their huge capacity, you're sure to have a great night out at Boardwalk.
As Diana Morton writes on Google, "Most incredible service from the staff and owner make this bar stand out! I have celebrated my 18th and my mother’s 50th here and can’t recommend highly enough!"
Located in the iconic Sydney Building, One22 is one of the newest additions to the Canberra nightlife. One22 hosts regular DJ takeovers, delivering a variety of music to please any crowd. Great drinks and music all set in a completely unique retro style fit-out make for a fantastic destination on your night out.
As Google user Sebastian van Lieven writes, “Absolutely lovely atmosphere, great music and vibe. Bartenders are friendly and professional, and the drinks are great. Will be taking my friends here whenever possible! Great place to start or end the night.”
Celebrate all things 80s at 88mph! (80s culture savvies will pick the namesake right away). Head to the neon bar for some cocktails, pizza and snacks, then over to the light-up dance floor and dance to some classic 80s hits. Or get a group of your friends together and book one of their karaoke rooms and sing your hearts out to some of your favourite 80s music while you get your food and drinks delivered to you!
As ‘Local Guide’ Sean Cunningham writes in this Google review, “A very funky 80’s themed bar in the outer areas of the Canberra City. The absolute best thing about this bar/club is the amazing light up dance floor. It also has a good selection of cocktails and spirits.”
Your experience with nightclubs in Canberra
Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback, if you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.
Have you had experience with any of the nightclubs listed above? Have we missed your favourite? If so, please share your feedback in the comments below!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a bar and a nightclub?
The main differences between a bar and a nightclub are that nightclubs are usually open later than bars, and bars don’t have a dance floor. Nightclubs also schedule live DJs to play music in the venue and tend to sell cheaper drinks.
How late do nightclubs stay open?
Unlike many cities around Australia, Canberra doesn’t have any lockout laws, so our nightclubs are open quite late. While they do close at different times and may stop serving alcohol before actually closing, most nightclubs remain open after midnight and some as late as 3am.
Can I host my function at a nightclub?
Sometimes. Some nightclubs do have private function rooms, but not as a rule – call the venue ahead of your event and see if there’s anything they can organise for you.
Do nightclubs serve food?
Usually, no. A nightclub might have some small snacks behind the bar, and if the venue is a bar that becomes a nightclub as the night goes on, then maybe you will be able to get some hot food.
Where are the nightclubs in Canberra?
Most of Canberra’s nightclubs are all located near each other in the city centre. This makes for a great night out as you and your friends can easily walk from one venue to the next and make the most of what our nightlife scene has to offer!