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Nightlife in the Gold Coast

A Backpacker's Guide

Written by: Dave Owen

There’s a frankly ridiculous amount of things to do on Australia’s Gold Coast: amazing beaches perfect for relaxing or catching a wave, more extreme activities than you can shake a travel insurance policy at, and untouched wilderness home to some of Australia’s most iconic animals. After doing all of that, you’re going to need a drink to recover.
Thankfully, Gold Coast nightlife ranks amongst the best in the country. While it used to carry a reputation for being the domain of lads’ weekends, recent efforts to diversify mean these days the nightlife caters to every kind of reveller, whether you want a quiet drink after a hard day on the beach or a full-blown night on the town.
Here’s a quick guide to Gold Coast nightlife.
Gold Coast nightlife


Nightlife on the Gold Coast shouldn’t prove too much more expensive than going out anywhere else in Australia.
If you’re in one of the less-fancy nightclubs you can expect to pay between 5-6AUD for a schooner of beer or vodka mixer, whereas a good pint or glass of wine in a quieter bar may set you back around 8-10AUD.
Most backpackers will kick off a heavy night in their hostel bar, where the drinks are significantly cheaper, before heading on to a pub or bar around 10pm.
Just remember to pace yourself!

Where to go

There are three main regions within the Gold Coast where people head for a night out, each offering something a little bit different. Let’s break them down.
Surfers Paradise
Surfers Paradise sign night
Surfers Paradise hasn’t turned its back on the young traveller in search of a traditional wild night out (no bad thing if you’re in the mood), but has taken great steps to offer other experiences alongside it. Whatever you’re after, there’s a huge range of pubs, bars, and clubs to keep you going until the early hours.
A few favourite pubs to kick off the night include the Clock Hotel (not actually a hotel), which boasts two bars and a bistro, Waxy’s Irish Pub (not actually in Ireland), offering a huge drinks menu, and Surfers Paradise Tavern (is actually a tavern), one of the best live music venues in the area and a great spot to shoot some pool.
From there, you might move on to bars like the legendary Melbas On the Park for cocktails, dancing, and gaming, The Avenue for great food before it livens up as the night goes on, or G-Clef Karaoke if you fancy belting out a few cheesy classics.
If you can still stand up, Surfers Paradise is home to plenty of nightclubs to keep the night rolling, including Cocktails for the latest dance music, Underground for hip hop and R&B fans, or the outrageously extravagant SinCity for anybody who wants to feel like a celebrity for the night.
Broadbeach is generally a little more laid-back, offering some great (and some unusual) spots for the nightlife connoisseur to explore.
Gold Coast nightlife musician
If you’re looking to take it easy, Aura is a well worth a visit. This bar and restaurant serves delicious tapas until midnight, wields an extensive cocktail menu, and frequently plays host to local music acts. If you fancy something a little stranger, you could try JåMm, a burger bar and dessert lounge already famous for its unusual cocktails, karaoke-singing staff, and colourful mural decor.
If these get you in the mood for a bigger night out, you still have plenty of options in Broadbeach. The Star Gold Coast is a sprawling casino with eight bars, a theatre, and plenty of games to try and increase your travel funds (please gamble responsibly). EAST is an award-winning Oriental-themed bar and club that regularly features world-class DJs, while Platinum’s lighted bars and illuminated tables will have you cracking out the glow sticks in no time.
Head further north on the Gold Coast and you’ll find Southport. Not as many travellers make it here, meaning the nightlife is a little on the quieter side, but often a little more sophisticated as a result.
Tonic on Chirn is a unique industrial-chic cocktail and tapas bar offering a staggering drinks menu and relaxing atmosphere, while Parkwood Tavern is the perfect spot to kick off your night with pub grub and a casual vibe.
From there, you might move on to CSi, a huge pub with great food, extensive drinks menu, a dedicated gaming room, and loads of live music, or RSL for more live music and other acts, as well as regular games of bingo.
Gold Coast nightlife club

Gold Coast nightlife dos and don’ts

Do choose a hostel with its own bar so you can save some serious cash early in the night. Bunk is one of the most famous on the Gold Coast nightlife scene.
Don’t drink yourself insensible before you’ve actually gone anywhere!
Do ask at your accommodation for nightlife recommendations.
Don’t get carried away and go for a late-night swim in any of the canals. There might be sharks living in there!
Do try a few different places to enjoy the Gold Coast’s nightlife variety.
Don’t top off your night by stealing penguins from the local zoo, like a trio of Welshmen did back in 2012.

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