Sydney has an addictive vibrancy that flows from the city to its fringes, whether it be in its stylish neighbourhoods or its eclectic village-like suburbs. We have pulled together a guide so that you too can explore Sydney like a local.
A local's guide to three days in Sydney
DAY 1 - Eastern Suburbs
The stomping grounds for Sydney’s high rollers, A-list celebrities and fashionistas, the Eastern Suburbs combines urban and coastal living with style and elegance.
There is no better way to kick start a Sydney adventure then at one of the many beaches that line Sydney’s coastline. Be it Bondi Beach or its quieter neighbours, Tamarama or Bronte Beach, the aim is to get up early with the locals and dive into the deep blue for a fresh start to your day. Not one for swimming? Then the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk is the place to be.
Grab a bite to eat at Porch and Parlour, located on the north side of Bondi Beach, and then head over to Double Bay. It’s where the well-heeled go to shop. Neighbouring Rose Bay marks the start of the Hermitage Foreshore Walk, a harbourside trail which takes in some impressive views of Sydney Harbour. Take the trail to Nielsen Park in Vaucluse.
Beautiful fig trees and the calm waters of Shark Beach await you at Nielsen Park. Soak it all in while you dine at The Nielsen Restaurant – an Italian eatery that is every little bit delicious. It is easy to lose track of time here ... eating, swimming, and lazing beneath the trees.
From Nielsen Park you can either make your way to the famed Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel for some seriously impressive sunset views, or head back to your Sydney abode to prep for the night ahead.
For the wine connoisseurs among us make a direct line for Love Tilly Devine in Darlinghurst. The venue may be on the small side, but their wine list and knowledge are second to none. If wine isn’t your thing, head to Darlo Bar in Darlinghurst. It’s retro interiors and rooftop bar sets the scene for its craft beers and solid black bar selection.
Depending on your mood and preferred palate, Sydney’s dining scene will deliver tenfold. For now, settle in for the night at Cho Cho San in Potts Point. It’s a modern Japanese restaurant with inventive cocktails. Alternatively, Fred’s in Paddington is all about fresh produce cooked using old-world techniques and Buffalo Dining Club in Darlinghurst has a thing for mozzarella. Sounds weird, but it’s not. It’s Italian and it’s delicious.
DAY 2 - Inner West
A network of villages with a burgeoning arts and foodie scene, the Inner West has a European vitality with elements of grit.
Start your day in Sydney’s Inner West along the popular Bay Run. It’s a 7km loop that hugs Iron Cove Bay and has multiple starting points, one being Leichhardt Park in Lilyfield. No need to feel pressure to run the track here as it’s equally popular with walkers and cyclists. Once done, head up the road to Shenkin in Balmain. It’s a nourishing homely café with dishes inspired from their Israeli and European heritage.
If you happen to be in the area on a weekend then Glebe Markets (on a Saturday) and Marrickville Markets (on a Sunday) is where you need to be. Any other day of the week you’d be hard-pressed to look past Newtown. It’s as offbeat and arty as people say it is, and you can easily hangout here until the small hours of the morning. But we will come back to that later.
Sydney’s Inner West has a huge foodie and café scene so you’ll be wanting to sample as much as you can – but you can counteract this by jumping on a push bike. While in Newtown grab a coffee at Cuckoo Callay or if you want to really mingle with the local’s head over to West Juliett in Marrickville. Remember that bike we suggested? It’s time to jump on it and head to Petersham via the back streets, checking out the cute cottages as you go. In Petersham we’re interested in only one thing, Daisy’s Milkbar. It has a 1950’s nostalgia to it and it’s old-school Australian. Sausage rolls and fairy bread anyone?
Back in Marrickville, a drink is well-deserved at The Henson. It’s a corner pub with a beer garden and the locals swear by it. Now, if you have a taste for Asian cuisine, you’re in the right neighbourhood. Get in early and grab banh mi at Marrickville Pork Roll, otherwise Hello Auntie whips up traditional Vietnamese.
It’s time to pull yourself away from Marrickville and head back up to Newtown. If you haven’t grabbed a bite to eat yet, then Gigi’s Pizzeria has made a name for itself for its vegan pizza (it’s seriously good!). And if you hadn’t noticed yet, Newtown has an enduring love affair with Thai food, so you cold stop by Thai Pothong for a meal instead. Before hitting the bars, drop in on Cow & The Moon for its gelato. There is a line running out the door for good reason.
As for nightlife, King Street is brimming with bars and pubs, each uniquely their own – chic bars, grungy dives, old-school pubs, themed bars, live music, DJ's, open mic's – whatever you’re into, this is a place where you choose your own adventure. Enjoy!
DAY 3 – Northern Beaches to Lower North Shore
With Sydney Harbour as its backdrop, an enviable dining scene and foreshore parklands, this part of Sydney is all about the finer things in life.
Don your walking shoes because it’s time to work off all the eating (and drinking) from the day before. Jump on a ferry at Circular Quay to take the scenic route to Manly. Once there, it’s well worth stopping at Dolce Terra for a healthy bite to eat before hitting the Manly to Spit Bridge Trail via Sydney National Park. The views are stunning and there are harbour beaches along the way to cool off.
Towards the end of the trail, stop for awhile at Clontarf Reserve, it's a popular harbour beach and there is a small kiosk, Clonnys at Clontarf, to grab a bite from. If you want something a little bit more indulgent, then keep making your way around the harbour to Spit Bridge, here you will find Plonk! Beach Café. If you’re feeling energetic (we won’t blame you if you’re not) Sydney Harbour Kayaks hire out kayaks so you can spend the rest of your afternoon paddling around Middle Harbour.
Walk, paddle or catch a ride to luxurious Balmoral Beach. There is very little to do here but soak up the picturesque surrounds, swim and laze on the beach. Bliss! When the sun starts to drop you can either grab some takeaway at Bottom of the Harbour Seafoods, for what is arguably some of Sydney’s best fish n’ chips, or head up the hill to Mosman, where a nice cool drink awaits at the local watering hole, The Buena.
Catch a ride down to Mosman Ferry for a night time cruise on the harbour back into Circular Quay.
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