- Local Time
If there were a list of the most Instagrammable places on earth, Australia’s biggest city would rank near the top. There’s the iconic architecture, the popular public art (like the canopy of birdcages hanging overhead in Angel Place) and, of course, spectacular beaches (just try to choose among the 100 in and around Sydney).
Where to Stay
- The Old Clare Hotel SydneyThe Old ClareFor the design
- Sydney Langham hotelThe LanghamFor classic Australian art
- The Establishment Sydney hotelThe EstablishmentFor a one-stop party
- Sofitel Sydney hotel Shannon McGrathSofitel Sydney WentworthFor refined dining
- Shangri-La Sydney hotelShangri-La SydneyFor astonishing views
- Image of coffee and pastry from Two if by Sea Cafe in Halifax, Nova ScotiaOvolo WoolloomoolooFor a splash of waterfront colour
- QT Sydney HotelQT SydneyFor the proximity to shopping
eat & drink
Third–wave coffee at Paramount Coffee Project Australia’s take on third–wave coffee is now a worldwide phenomenon, and there’s no better place to sample cutting–edge caffeine philosophy than this joint venture between Mark Dundon of Melbourne’s Seven Seeds and Russell Beard of Sydney’s own Reuben Hills. Paramount is conceived as a venue for ongoing discovery, bringing a rotating cast of international roasters along for the ride.
Brunch in Bondi Beach at Porch & Parlour With a focus on high–quality ingredients, this restaurant at the north end of Bondi Beach serves the mostly local crowd coffee and a seasonal menu of Aussie brunch favourites – plenty of avocado, poached eggs and grains.
Photo: Christian Rocchi
High–end Chinese food at Mr. Wong You can’t visit Sydney without getting to know its Chinese food. Joining the longest restaurant line in Chinatown is a good start, but at the other end of the spectrum, we suggest Mr. Wong’s high–end take on Cantonese: the Chinese roast duck is the best in the city. On a lazy weekend morning, try the yum cha – think fried wagyu and truffle puffs, wild mushroom dumplings, or the specialty king prawn and bamboo shoot har gau.
Sushi and sake at Saké Restaurant and Bar Nobu–trained chef Shaun Presland makes sushi and sashimi in a retrofitted wool store decorated with hand–lettered sake barrels. Kingfish jalapeño is a specialty – kingfish, yuzu soy, jalapeño and coriander – along with a wide range of artisanal sakes by Japan’s Kozaemon.
Views and an afternoon drink at Graze MCA Locals will tell you that the best view of the Circular Quay is from the fourth–floor cafe and sculpture terrace of the Museum of Contemporary Art. You’ll find seasonal food and drink menus, but more importantly, uninterrupted views of the Bridge and the Opera House.
Meat pies at Harry’s Cafe de Wheels Bring the kids to this iconic Sydney eatery at Woolloomooloo Bay and treat them to the signature Tiger pie, an old–fashioned Aussie meat pie topped with a mountain of mashed potato, mushy peas and gravy. This casual joint offers milk crates as seats and plastic cutlery.
what to do
Manly Beach for a Bondi Beach alternative If you’ve already been to Bondi Beach, or you’re seeking a more relaxed alternative, hop on the Manly ferry at Circular Quay for a 30–minute sail across Sydney Harbour. When you arrive, load up on fish and chips at the wharf before hitting one of the beautiful beaches nearby for snorkelling, swimming or surfing. Rent a bike from Manly Bike Tours on the Esplanade and follow the handy map they affix to the handlebars.
Photo: Harbour City Ferries
Blue Mountains National Park for a day trip outside of the city Drive to the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre – take the picturesque Hawkesbury Valley route, not the motorway – and the staff will recommend the right bushwalk for your mood. Then, head to Leura for tapas and wine at Leura Garage. If you’re looking for a retreat with spa options, try the Hydro Majestic, an opulent jazz–age icon nestled on a clifftop overlooking the Megalong Valley.
Photo: NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Aine Gliddon
The Baxter Inn for the whisky cocktails Speakeasies are hardly rare, but the Baxter does it right. Don’t expect a sign – just head down an alleyway, past a dumpster, and there you’ll find a bouncer who will happily usher you into whisky wonderland. Inside, you’ll meet some of the city’s best and friendliest bar staff serving a boisterous crowd. The only foodstuff is pretzels, so don’t come on an empty stomach.
White Rabbit Gallery for the contemporary Chinese art Head to vibrant Chippendale, not far from Central Station, for one of the best under–the–radar art experiences in the city. This gallery houses Judith Neilson’s spectacular collection of contemporary and significant Chinese work over four floors. Relax in the teahouse downstairs and enjoy a selection of Chinese and Taiwanese teas along with handmade dumplings.
Photo: Courtesy of the artist and White Rabbit Collection
TreeTop Adventure Park for the thrill of adventure Hop from platform to rope ladder, and let your inner monkey loose at this exhilarating adventure park. Set amid the natural bushland of Plough and Harrow East in the sprawling Western Sydney Parklands, the park lets budding biologists discover indigenous bird species, like the red–capped parrot, during a two–hour guided safari tour. While most of the 100 challenges are open only to children over the age of 10, three sized–down courses let younger tots feel on top of the world.
Golden Age Cinema for indie film screenings Housed in a 1940s art–deco building in Surry Hills, this movie house and music venue screens a mix of first–release and classic art–house cult movies. It also hosts intimate free shows from some of the best independent bands in the city.
Carriageworks Farmers Market for the best chefs and food producers Held in the spectacular surrounds of the Carriageworks arts space every Saturday, this is the perfect place to immerse yourself in New South Wales cuisine, including seasonal artisanal treats to take home. Look out for Kylie Kwong, one of Sydney’s favourite chefs, who’s there every week chatting and serving up dumplings from her Billy Kwong stand.