Sydney, Australia

Sydney truly is one of the best cities in the world, with long, balmy summers and mild winters, photographic rock pools and beaches, trendy cafe’s and restaurants and some of the friendliest people on earth – if Australia is ‘God’s country’, Sydney is the pearly gate.

I never thought I would find myself as a Sydney local but if I could choose to be a local in any city in the world, this would be it (apart from Cape Town). I love everything about living here, from my daily commute via ferry past the opera house, to the water views and beaches on my door step – Sydney gets the balance of work, life and play right (for the most part). Here are some top tips and recommendations to help visitors explore and enjoy this city as much as I do and I’ll keep adding as I go.

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Views from my daily commute into the city from Manly
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Icebergs, Bondi
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My mom and I about to catch a show at the Opera House

Transport

Sydney airport is located close to the CBD so it is fairly easy to get into the city once you arrive. We usually get a taxi/Uber which is probably the easiest mode of transport if you have luggage and aren’t going into the CBD directly. Another fast and convenient way to reach the city and Eastern suburbs is via train (the Airport Link) – to use the train you will need to purchase an Opal card from the station or WHS (and load with credit/value) or use your debit/credit card. Public transport trains, buses, ferries and now the light rail all operate using the Opal card so it would be good to get one on arrival however, more and more services are allowing wireless bank cards too. Note, you have to tap on and tap off of each transport mode at the designated Opal card reader when you travel and arrive at your destination, the system then automatically deducts the fare. On Sundays, public transport is capped at $2 so a great day for exploring and venturing further afield.

For more info on the Opal and transport, visit here

Places to stay

These hotels all come highly recommended but whenever we’ve stayed in Sydney we’ve used Airbnb

Restaurants

  • Mr Wong, CBD for modern Asian
  • Ms G’s, Potts Point for modern Asian
  • Chester White, Potts Point – walk ins only
  • The Apollo, Potts Point for modern Greek
  • The Butler, Potts Point for great food and cocktails
  • Pasta Emilia, Surry Hills for all things pasta
  • VaCanza pizza, Surry Hills for the best pizza outside of Italy
  • Chin Chin, Surry Hills for Australian with a South-East Asian injection
  • Madame Nhu, Surry Hills, low key cafe with the best pho
  • Three Blue Ducks, Bronte for modern Australian and a great brunch
  • Totti’s, Bondi for casual Italian in a great setting
  • Gelato Messina
  • The Depot, North Bondi for brunch
  • Bangkok Bites, Bondi for the best Thai
  • Watson’s Bay hotel, Watson’s Bay for a weekend lunch (try the fish and chips)
  • 10 William street, Paddington for intimate Italian
  • The Paddington, Paddington for great pub food
  • Fred’s, Paddington for farm to table
  • Bloom at Mosman for delicious breakfast
  • Queen Chow, Manly for Hong Kong inspired street food
  • Sunset Sabi, Manly for modern Japanese, a definite favourite
  • Chica Bonita, Manly for the best Mexican
  • Hugos, Manly for italian in an iconic setting at the ferry wharf
  • The Wharf hotel, Manly for casual pub grub and seafood
  • The Newport, Newport
  • The Skiff Club, Manly for great food and water views
  • The Boathouse Palm Beach, love the Balmoral and Manly ones too
  • Merivale group has a large portfolio of trendy eateries and bars – a visit to any of them is a safe bet!
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Deep fried ice cream at Mr Wongs
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Breakfast at the Boathouse
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Lunch with a few at Icebergs Club and Bistro with my brother James
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The Apollo

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Four Hands creperie
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Watson’s Bay Hotel
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Newport
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Newport

Bars

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Endeavour Tap Rooms
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Opera Bar with my brother, James
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Views from Blu Bar, Shangri La (Photo credit: Megan Simpson)

Coffee

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Beautiful flower displays at the Grounds

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View from the Bower

Things to do

  • Enjoy one of Sydney’s many beaches, our favourites include Tamarama, Freshwater and some of the inner harbour beaches like Cuttie beach and Fairlight.
  • Explore the Royal Botanic Gardens; take a walk along the waters edge to Mrs Macquarie’s chair and back through the gardens.
  • Visit the weekly farmer’s market at Carriage Works, Eveleigh on Saturdays
  • Check what’s on at Newtown’s Enmore theatre, one of the best music venues I’ve ever been to.
  • Catch a ferry to Manly (you’ll get the best view of the Opera House from the water) and walk to Shelly beach. Manly has lovely weekender markets too.
  • Visit Balmoral beach, Mosman and have a coffee or bite at one of the many cafes
  • Walk the Hermitage trail from Rose Bay to Watson’s bay lighthouse – highlights include Parsley Bay and secret Cuttie Beach.
  • An absolute must is the Bondi to Coogee walk, an urban coastal walk of roughly 6km. Enjoy lunch at Coogee Pavilion and then catch a bus back to Bondi.
  • Bondi is home to many cafes and shops so take your time exploring. It’s definitely worth popping into Aquabumps, a local beach/surf photographer. Take in the famous Iceberg’s swimming club and soak up the views with a coffee or drink at Crabbe Hole café/Iceberg’s club & bistro
  • Catch a free walking tour of the rocks – some great facts and history to uncover. I recommend this to anyone visiting Sydney.
  • Catch a show at the Sydney Opera house, you can check what’s on here and for the full experience, dine at Bennelong with their pre-theatre dinner.
  • Take a drive up the Northern beaches and soak up the views. From Freshwater to Palm beach there are ample places to stop for a browse, bite to eat or drink. At Palm beach you can take a walk up to the lighthouse for great views. Recommended lunch spots include, Boat House Palm Beach or the Newport in Newport.
  • Explore Paddington’s boutiques on William Street and surrounds. Check out Five Ways, a junction of streets at the heart of Paddington and grab a spot to have a coffee/drink.
  • Visit Darling Harbour.
  • Explore the boutiques of Queen Victoria building for beautiful architecture and a feel for the city’s CBD
  • If you visit in Jan/Feb, catch a film at Sydney’s open air cinema on the harbour front.
  • Enjoy yoga by the sea at one of the many classes around Sydney’s coastal suburbs.
  • While away a few hours in designer Double Bay. Browse/shop along Knox, Cross and Bay streets and brunch at popular spots like the Redleaf Pool Café or Little Jean.
  • Go whale watching with Manly Ocean Adventures – highly recommend this experience
  • Catch an Australian football league (AFL) game for a dose of sport spectating

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Catch an AFL game
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Carriageworks market
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Manly Ocean Adventures
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Sydney Opera House
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Palm Beach lighthouse walk with Jamie and Sarah Higgins
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Tamara
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QVB
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Harbour beaches along Hermitage trail
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Cuttie Beach

For more inspiration visit

If Paris is a city of lights, Sydney is the city of fireworks. – Baz Luhrman

 

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