Sydney is just stunningly beautiful! Chic and posh but at the same time laidback, relaxed and close to nature it represents the quintessential Australian lifestyle. You find interesting architecture and galleries but also beaches and coastal walks and lots of pretty cafes everywhere.
Stay: Ovolo Wooloomooloo Hotel! It’s beautiful, it’s fun, it’s central and has just the best name. In the morning you can go for a run in the botanic gardens and walk to the opera house along the waterfront. We had an awesome time here, especially during happy hour!
Do: Explore the central area The Rocks with the Queen Victoria Building, the fantastic Sydney Opera House, views on the Harbour Bridge and Circular Quay where most ferries leave for the surrounding areas. While you’re waiting for the next ferry pop into the small Aesop shop at George street or the old Customs House right across the terminal with its interesting exhibition space and library. Sydney has some fantastic art and culture spaces all over the city, like the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Art Gallery of NSW, as well as the State Library of NSW and the National History Museum. Another highlight is also the White Rabbit Gallery in Chippendale with its focus on contemporary Chinese artists.
To see more of the city’s many suburbs hop on a ferry to Kirribilli or just cruise around the harbor between the stops. From Kirribilli you have a great view of Sydney’s skyline. Explore the old-fashioned Luna Park and public pool or have coffee and lunch at Celsius Coffee right in the small ferry terminal of Kirribilli wharf.
But also the neighborhoods further south are interesting. In the area around Oxford street in Paddington you find nice shops and restaurants. The Unicorn is a cool pub for delicious food and drinks and Gorman, Incu, Camilla or Parlour X (located in an old church) are great fashion stores. You also find nice cafes around Glenmore road, like the neighborhood cafe Sonder.
The neighborhoods Woolloomooloo and Darlinghurst are also fun to explore. There is the Kings Cross organic food market on weekends at Fitzroy Gardens, the busy MacLeay street with antique, fashion and flower shops and the historic food truck Harry’s Cafe down at the naval dockyards. A highlight for most visitors is Bondi with the famous beach and icebergs pool. However, even better is the Bondi to Cogee Beach Walk! The walk takes you along the coastline passing by great beaches and lookouts but in summer it’s best to avoid the midday heat and come here early or in the afternoon. After six kilometers you arrive in Coogee right at the fantastic Coogee Pavillon. Relax somewhere in this huge, pretty venue, order a pizza, drinks or gelato and enjoy the afternoon sun.
Going to Manly takes only 30 minutes by ferry but feels like a holiday away from the city. Manly and Shelly beach are perfect for a relaxed beach day with surf schools and many cafes close by, like the sweet, organic Ora cafe or the bright Boathouse at Shelly beach. Another more active way to explore the beautiful nature in Manly is the North Head Walk. It takes you along Manly beach to Shelly Beach and further into the bushland, always along the clifftop and with stunning views of Sydney harbor. Enjoy the lush flora and fauna around and learn a little bit about the region’s military history when passing by the old forts and military sites. When arriving at the Fairfax Lookout you can take the bus back to the Manly ferry terminal.
In the evening go to the opera and enjoy a concert and the stunning architecture from the inside. Sydney is also famous for its great outdoor cinemas in summer, like popular Moonlight and St. George OpenAir Cinema.
Eat: There are so many nice cafes and lunch spots in the city, it’s impossible to try them all. But Porch&Parlour, Vida Surf Store, Axil Coffee, Bills and the famous Grounds of Alexandria, (which can be hard to find) are great. A special way to spend the afternoon is having afternoon tea at The Westin Hotel because they serve a funny and delicious Alice in Wonderland themed teatime.
Getting around: The city is spread across many bays and small hills and it can be a bit difficult to navigate from the skyscraper jungle in the business district (CBD) to the villas in Surrey Hill. But trains, buses and ferries will bring you everywhere. The Opal card is a top up ticket and can be used for all public transportation.