Sydneysiders are adventurous at heart. We love going on day trips up the coast and holidays across the state, but we aren’t so great at getting around our own town. With COVID-19 travel restrictions keeping us grounded, for the time being, we’re all looking for more local places to explore, and we have just the region for you. Less than an hour outside the CBD you reach Western Sydney. A cultural melting pot with a thriving foodie, arts and events scene.
Delving into the heartland of Western Sydney, from Parramatta and Granville to the Blue Mountains and Penrith, we have explored the west to uncover its best-kept local secrets. To avoid FOMO, we suggest you take a read of our edit of the best things to do in Western Sydney and plan your next weekend adventure.
Things to do in Western Sydney: Eat
Harvey's Hot Sandwiches is bringing back retro diner charm and REAL sandwiches. Imagine a 1950's American diner made a baby with the classic Australian milk bar, and you have Harvey's. What about the food? Let's start with the bread, which is thick and fluffy inside, yet nice and crisp on the outside. You could take a nap on these bad boys. Then, it's stuffed with all the fillings and extra portions of meaty, cheesy, and mouth-watering goodness.
4.05, 12 Darcy Street, Parramatta
A little over a year ago, Maurice Terzini (Icebergs) opened his osteria CicciaBella in Bondi, and now he’s back, opening a sister spot in Parramatta Square. Like the first Cicciabella, this spot is a status supernova with it’s hand-made pasta making it the place for Italian. Celebrating the simplicity of Italian food, the menu was put together by Nic Wong (Cho Cho San, Apollo) and for the drinks you can thank sommelier James Hird for his rich list of Italian varietals and Matt Whiley (Scout) for CiccaBella’s bespoke cocktail list.
T3/01 153 Macquarie Street, Parramatta
Responsible for not only some of the best Vietnamese food, An Nhien is known to serve up some of the best meat-free food in Western Sydney. Although it’s advertised as vegetarian, the menu manages to be almost entirely vegan without compromising on flavour. Our recommendations would be to start with the generous peking wraps and eggplant claypot before moving onto the extensive range of congee and vermicelli dishes.
21/180 Railway Parade, Cabramatta
Known for their fresh takes on Middle Eastern cuisine, Ibby Moubadder and Jorge Farah, the duo behind Nour and Henrietta have changed tack with Lilymu. The team are putting their best foot forward for their Parramatta restaurant with a menu by Brendan Fong (Mr Wong) that highlights the dynamic flavours of Chinese and South-East Asian cuisines. Their banquet menus are truly spectacular with fresh snapper and coconut ceviche, Kingfish sashimi with toasted rice, chicken larb, wagyu beef and, our personal pick, black garlic Mie Goreng served with leek, bean sprouts and topped with a tantalizing egg yolk. Plus, you’ll be able to wash everything down with a cocktail (or two).
Parramatta Square, 153 Macquarie Street, Parramatta
When you feel like something sweet, make your way to Abla’s Pastries – the Granville-based store that’s been satisfying sugary cravings for over 30 years. There are over 200 sweets on offer (yes, really!), and while the cakes, biscuits, nougat and handmade chocolates are tempting, Abla’s shines brightest when it comes to traditional Lebanese desserts. Think flaky pastries topped with honey and crushed nuts, and you get the idea.
52 Railway Parade, Granville
Offering a variety of high teas, an extensive a la carte menu and a relaxed open air setting, you know that an afternoon at Gatehouse High Tea Rooms is a day well spent. Their elegant, Traditional High Tea is the stuff of legend, serving up a delicious selection of cakes, pastries, finger sandwiches, and scones. If you feel a cheeky drink is needed to help smooth the afternoon over, add a glass of bubbles.
Macquarie Street Gatehouse, Parramatta Park, Parramatta
For award-winning Lebanese food that’s also cheap and cheerful, head to Al Aseel. Our advice is to go hungry so that you can feast on the likes of spice-filled lamb shoulder, king prawns, and mezze dishes served with flatbread straight from the oven. Al Aseel is also great at catering to special dietary requirements.
Alexandria, Castle Hill, Greenacre, Penrith and Wollongong
Things to do in Western Sydney: Drink
Parramatta’s ALEX & Co is the perfect all-day dining destination. The fresh interiors and neon-lined stairs provide a touch of party vibes. Complementing the funky interiors, the delicious menu of bar classic will leave you wanting more. Better still, they have happy hour every day of the week and serve up some of Western Sydney’s best cocktails.
Lot 2-4/330 Church Street, Parramatta
If a low key, authentic Mexican bar vibe is high on your agenda; Mexica Cocktail Bar in Sydney Olympic Park is the venue for you. Pull up a chair at the rustic timber bar as you imbibe in a little Mezcal tequila to get in the mood. When it comes to the food, you can go past their moreish quesadillas and epic burrito plate.
4 Dawn Fraser Avenue, Sydney Olympic Park
This uber-cool dive bar in the heart of Parramatta gives us straight up grungy, underground vibes. Serving up deli sandwiches, craft beers and hip-hop beats, you’ll come for Uncle Kurt’s warm hospitality and stay for the killer atmosphere.
Beneath City Centre Carpark, Horwood Place, Parramatta
Sitting pretty on High Street, this café-slash-restaurant-slash-bar is cool yet approachable. Serving up classic eats and bar snacks, make sure to arrive hungry. If you love cocktails and have a keen sense of adventure, their signature list will be right up your alley. From light, botanical blends to robust, flavoursome heavyweights, there is something for everyone to love.
467 High Street, Penrith
Things to do in Western Sydney: Play
For a bit of nostalgia, Skyline Drive-In Cinema endures all four seasons, but it shines brightest in summer. Part of Event Cinemas, the venue is always running the latest new releases, so Western Sydney’s film buffs know where to venture on balmy nights. Grab your friends, snacks and vehicle – ideally with a large boot that allows you to spread out.
Cricketers Arms Road, Blacktown
For an awesome day out this summer, Raging Waters Sydney has got you sorted. This ultra-fun water park in the heart of Western Sydney has a massive range of rides, slides, and pools to ensure you have an unforgettable time. Needing a lunchtime break spot? Book a beach view cabana to relax in before you hit up the rides again post-lunch.
427 Reservoir Road, Prospect
From creative workshops and exhibitions, to an extensive film program and live music offering, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre has something inspiring on show for every kind of creative. Right now, you can experience the immersive digital sculpture The Mind at Work and catch their film program online.
1 Powerhouse Road, Casula
Nothing gets the adrenalin pumping quite like skydiving does. But if the leap out of a plane, cruising at up to 15,000 feet, freefalling at over 200km/hr and floating to the ground is a bit too much for you, why not try indoor skydiving? At iFLY you can get the rush of skydiving without the jump and fall factor. You’ll feel like you’re flying as you float on a cushion of controlled air, and your instructor will help you get the most fun out of the experience.
123 Mulgoa Road, Penrith
Handpicked and crafted with love is the spirit at these markets. From seasonal produce to organic dairy, fresh-cut flowers and gourmet treats, everything at Parramatta Farmers Market is handmade. Along with an impressive array of local produce, the market entices with international cuisines, sweet treats and artisan finds.
Every Friday, 7:30am to 2:30pm.
Centenary Square, Church Street, Parramatta
The home of musical theatre and cabaret, Riverside Parramatta has been entertaining audiences with their wide array of new and re-interpreted works. Frequently hosting a number of independent productions and festival shows you are bound to find some unique talents and quirky productions.
Corner Market and Church Street, Parramatta
Home to world-class sporting and recreation facilities, and a bounty of nature reserves and walking tracks, Sydney Olympic Park is your local go-to action centre. While you’re there you can hire a bike to ride around the park, or get your eye in with an archery session. If walking, running, swimming and jumping is all too much for you, set down your picnic rug and enjoy a good book in the fresh air.
The Joan is Western Sydney’s arts and culture hub, with a huge line-up of artistic performances that capture the cross between culture and community. From all-genres of dance and lively musicals to gigs and theatre performances, there is always something great to catch at The Joan.
597 High Street, Penrith
Things to do in Western Sydney: Explore
Arguably one of Western Sydney’s most versatile hangouts, the picturesque Western Sydney Parklands offer everything from walks and picnic spots, to lookouts and animal encounters across an impressive 5,280-hectare site. With so much room to move, you’ll have no trouble finding your group a private little corner to spread out your blanket and feast in style amongst breathtaking scenery.
You don’t need to travel too far for an eco-friendly, safari experience. In Western Sydney at Featherdale Wildlife Park, you’ll meet some of the most incredible species on earth, and find out how you can help their survival. Each day they have scheduled encounter sessions with lorikeets, pelicans, koalas, penguins, quokkas, and crocodiles, where you can get up close and personal.
217-229 Kildare Road, Doonside
TreeTop Adventure Park combines exploration and play, making it the perfect family-friendly adventure. Discover an exciting new world, high up in the treetops, made up of a vast network of obstacles like rope ladders, tunnels and zip lines. You’ll experience a whole new sense of gravity and appreciation for nature as you make your way through the self-guided course.
Plough & Harrow East, Western Sydney Parklands, 749 Elizabeth Drive, Abbotsbury
If you like to experience a region through their cuisine, then you need to book yourself a spot on a Taste Cultural Food Tour. With eight different tours available across Western Sydney, you’ll get to taste the region’s best food. From Aussie produce and Vietnamese cuisine, to Indian flavours and Mediterranean fare, each tour celebrates the cultural diversity of Western Sydney and its incredible culinary history.
22 Queen Street, Granville
For an action-packed afternoon head straight to Bicentennial Park, set on the Sydney Olympic Park site. With views of the wetlands, bike trails and parks, you can set up a picnic for lunch and chill out all afternoon.
Australia Avenue, Sydney Olympic Park
Not just a day out for kids, adults will love spending a leisurely afternoon wandering meandering paths and taking a peek at the inhabiting wildlife at Sydney Zoo. With exhibits dedicated to marine life, primates, native fauna, and Asian and African animals, there is much to explore. If you’re looking for a unique experience, check out their animal encounters where you can get up-close and personal with meerkats, capybaras and dingo puppies.
700 Great Western Highway, Bungarribee
While in Western Sydney, book in a day trip to explore the mountains. Where the Australian bush gives way to villages that echo bygone eras, the Blue Mountains in all its rugged beauty has plenty to offer on and off the beaten track.
From the world heritage Blue Mountains National Park to the rustic elegance of colonial homes and villages, the Blue Mountains has a charm that draws the crowds. Boutique shopping, art galleries and a burgeoning foodie scene that plays on the very essence of home-style cooking ensure people come for the incredible vistas but stay for the warm hospitality.
If the day trip turns into an overnight escape, you can book in a stay at Fairmont Blue Mountains Resort & Spa. With the renowned Ukiba Day Spa and five dining destinations all within the resort, you may very well end up booking a second night to make the most of it!
Things to do in Western Sydney: Stay
Warwick Farm’s William Inglis Hotel combines boutique, five star luxury with thoroughbred horses. Spanning eight levels and 144 rooms, this hotel is a stone’s throw from the racecourse. Following the equine theme, each guest room is personalised to the champion racehorse it is named after, featuring an artistic painting of the winning jockey silks, and an image or original artwork of the horse.
The hotel has a paddock-to-plate restaurant, The Newmarket Room, which focuses on heroing local produce, and 1867 Lounge pours high-end whisky and wine for the perfect after dinner tipple. For self-care, The William Inglis Hotel boasts a kitted-out 24-hour gym and their luxurious day spa offers a variety of indulgent massages and beauty treatments.
From $199 per night
155 Governor Macquarie Drive, Warwick Farm
If you’re looking for a hotel that has it all, book a stay at Novotel Sydney Parramatta. Situated in the heart of the CBD, the newly renovated rooms are modern in look and feel and have been designed for absolute comfort. Take your pick between four rooms and two suites, with the option of either park or river views.
Make the most of your stay by exploring everything the hotel has to offer. Make some time to work out in the gym before putting on your swimmers and taking a dip in the outdoor pool and spa.
When it comes to dining look no further than the modern Australian cuisine at 350 Restaurant & Lounge. We recommend pairing any dish with a vino from their award-winning wine list.
From $115 per night
350 Church Street, Parramatta
For a five-star experience in Western Sydney look no further than Pullman Sydney Olympic Park. Spacious and well appointed, you’ll find all the creature comforts of luxury accommodation within your room or suite.
For foodies there is plenty to taste and experience, with a host of gourmet offers to whet your appetite. From an indulgent three-course set menu to a luxurious high tea experience, Bacar Restaurant is your one-stop culinary shop.
If you’re looking to get in some retail therapy, head over to DFO Homebush. One of Sydney’s largest outlet shopping centres, you can get your hands on clothes from a range of local and international brands.
From $239 per night
Olympic Boulevard, Sydney Olympic Park
Situated in the heart of Western Sydney, the Mercure Sydney Parramatta is close to everything you need. The accommodation is modern, yet cosy, with a range of spacious rooms and suites available for any kind of stay.
When it comes to things to do, there is plenty of action on site. Be sure to pack your swimmers for the outdoor pool, and your runners for the tennis court.
From $105 per night
106 Hassall Street, Rosehill
With contemporary interiors and a relaxing vibe, the rooms and suites at Novotel Sydney Olympic Park provide the perfect space for a weekend stay.
When you have rested and are ready to explore, head straight to The Brewery Bar + Kitchen. A buzzing pub with entertainment and live sports at the centre, you can stop in for a beer or a classic pub lunch.
After lunch get amongst the outdoors and discover the diverse flora and fauna that call Sydney Olympic Park home. From parks and lakes, to playgrounds and sporting activities, there is much to see, do and experience right at Novotel Sydney Olympic Park’s front door.
From $219 per night
11A Olympic Boulevard, Sydney Olympic Park
Loved our edit of the best things to do in Western Sydney and looking for more? From the best restaurants and bars to walks and cafes, we’ve got your weekend plans sorted!
For more beautiful stays across Western Sydney,Accor’scollection of well-appointed, luxury hotels have all your holiday needs sorted.