Sydney is a massive city, almost overwhelmingly so.
There really is something for everyone, and having lived there my whole life, it pains me to see how so many travelers come and see only a fraction of what there is to offer. So here is my list of spots that are a must see in my eyes.
Firstly, I think Sydney is at its best between November and January… End of Spring until Mid summer… and you want to get out before it gets stinking hot! At this time of year there are several events – many free, there are a lot of people buzzing around, and a general optimism; Christmas and New Year’s eve are fast approaching, and everyone is getting ready for the warmth of the silly season.
If you’re into City-run events:
- Sydney festival. This runs for 2-3 weeks every January, playing host to several music gigs, movie premiers, creative workshops and theatre productions. Visit www.sydneyfestival.org.au/info
- Newtown festival. Always on 2nd Sunday of November, held in the Camperdown Memorial Park, this festival is a local treat, showcasing hundreds of stalls, delicious food, vegan goods, beautiful handmade clothing and jewelry and above all, local and international musical performances. Capacity reaches around 100,000 in the afternoon, so be prepared for some squishy vibes! Visit www.newtownfestival.org/
- Latin festival. Held between 29th and 31st of January, this is the perfect place to get your groove on! With salsa, samba and swing classes, there’s a lot of fun to be had. Visit www.latindancecalendar.com/festivals/sydney-latin-festival/
If you’re into clubbing, gigs and night life:
- King’s cross has always been considered the heart of Sydney’s clubbing scene. But this iconic strip is quickly loosing its reputation, thanks to certain laws and regulations. To see what once was, and maybe to experience the last drops of night life, take a stroll down Darlighurt Road, and be sure to take a shot of the infamous CocaCola billboard!
- The City centre has plenty night life: Good God… always there for you to have a boogie in the sweaty underground room, The Civic Hotel – providing all devoted reggae lovers with a monday night jam (free), Bar Century – located in the heart of the city on George Street, it’s probably the cheapest place to get a vodka cranberry, any night of the week. Frankie’s is where you’ll find Sydney’s ‘trendy’ youngsters… there’s music, pizza, and of course graffiti and all the walls. If you still aren’t satisfied, stroll down Liverpool, George and Bathurst Street for those hole-in-the-wall hidden gems, And China Town is always good for a little kareoke 🙂
- Newtown is probably the most alternative suburb in Sydney. It is the easiest place to go without a plan. King Street stretches for about 4 km, it’s constantly buzzing with every type of person and has every thing one small suburb can offer. Well worth a visit are… The Corridor – A tiny bar with music every other night, cosy decor and lounge-room vibes, $5 pints at happy hour and an amazing (albeit rather expensive) menu. Tokyo Singsong – nightclub underneath the Marlborough Hotel, always packed with avid dancers. Earl’s Duke Joint – located on the quieter south side of King St, this bar has got it all, the best mixologists in town, a great soundtrack and dim lighting to ease you into the night.
*Be sure to pack your ID as everyone checks!
If you’re into nature, hiking and road trips:
- The Royal National Park is about an hour drive south of Sydney, and it is spectacular. Cruise through the leafy roads, jump of the cliff into the ocean at Wattomolla, visit the epic figure 8 pools or hire a kayak in Bundeena. All in all, the perfect place to spend a day, or 2 or 3 😉 There is am $11 fee/car to enter the Park.
- Bondi to Coogee Walk. Two of Sydney’s most famous beaches, so why not walk between them? The walk runs along the coast, high above the water, providing you with some of the most beautiful ocean views around. The walk can take 2 – 4 hours, depending on how many stop you take along the way for swims, beers or icecream.
- The Blue Mountains are an easy 1.5 – 2 hour train ride from Sydney’s Central Station. Go for a day trip, see the Three Sisters, explore the hidden waterfalls and take a hike through thousands of trees. If you’re feeling less active, keep it simple by strolling up and down the streets of Leura and Katoomba, there are plenty of cute cafes, second hand stores and little knick-knack shops. Plus there’s always a busker or two lurking around.
If you’re into beaches, lakes and anything on the coast:
- The Northern Beaches beaches are beautiful and plentiful; take the L90 from Wynyard Station, and within 45 mins you’ll be 10 minutes walk away from so many amazing beaches. Keep going for an hour + and you’ll get to Whale and Palm Beach… incredibly beautiful! Manly Dam is also gorgeous and great for walking and bike riding.
- The Eastern suburbs host several pretty beaches, and are closer to the city. If you visit Coogee Beach, make sure you go to Gordon’s Bay, perfect for lazing on hot rocks and snorkeling. Elizabeth bay and Watson’s bay are also worthy, and can be reached via Sydney Ferries.
- Right under the Harbour Bridge lies The Rocks, an old cobblestone filled area with more of a ‘ritzy’ feel than the rest of the city. Great for walks on cooler days, and across the water there’s a big green hill near Luna Park, great for picnics.
If you’re into culture, shopping, food and music:
- Newtown has got you covered. You want gelato, Thai, frozen yogurt, coffee, pastry, burgers, cocktails, vegan treats or vegetarian feasts? Than take a stroll down King st and be overwhelmed! Also home to a magnitude of street art, street festivals, quirky shops, record stores and right around the corner is Enmore Theatre, host to some of the best gigs in the state.
- Surry Hills is home to an abundence of fashion shops and hip bars and restaurants. Walk down Queen and Crown st.
- Dulwich Hill is a little further away from the city, but if you want some authentic Lebanese food, than it is a must see! Marrickville is close by and has amazing and good value Pho, as well as a large amount of Greek delis, budget fabric shops and delicious bakeries.
- Lakemba and Auburn – even further away but easily accessible by train – have the cheapest fruit and veg, as well as Sport-brand warehouses such as Nike and Adidas. Also home to the best middle Eastern food in Sydney – super cheap too!
It’s not everyone’s favorite day, certainly not mine, but the 26th of January is Australia day – countless events are on offer. The city centre is packed out with parades, music, market stalls and patriotic performances. Play it a little more low key and see what’s going on in Bondi, Newtown or Enmore.