Home > Sydney Travel Guide
Updated: November 5, 2019
The 100 best hotels, restaurants, shops, bars, clubs, shows, tours, places, and things to do in Sydney, Australia.
1. Pier One Sydney Harbour, Autograph Collection • The Rocks • $$$$
Lovingly crafted from an old warehouse, with original internal structures. Along a pier and almost under the Harbour Bridge, with million-dollar views. And the waterside ambience is so different to a charmless city high-rise. • Review • +61 2 8298 9777
2. InterContinental Sydney • Circular Quay • $$$$
Indisputable elegance and opulence across a 30-level tower erected within a wonderfully-restored 150-year-old building. Spacious rooms, jaw-dropping views, and handy location. More family-friendly than others. • Review • +61 2 9253 9000
3. Sir Stamford at Circular Quay • Circular Quay • $$$$
So charming and graceful, with lovely old-fashioned furniture in the rooms and corridors of art and antiques collated by the owner. The guests’ lounge is reminiscent of a film set, and the outdoor pool is far more welcoming than rivals’. • Review • +61 2 8274 5444
4. Ovolo Woolloomooloo • Woolloomooloo (near Kings Cross) • $$$$
Dominates a magnificently restored pier in a delightful city-fringe setting. Rooms maintain their original structures, while the décor is likeably contemporary. Direct harbour views from all windows, and oodles of waterside bistros at the entrance. • Review • +61 2 9331 9000
5. The Fullerton Hotel Sydney • City Center • $$$$
Sumptuous high-rise above the 150-year-old Post Office in the most convenient city-centre position possible. Some elegant old-fashioned rooms, but most feature a contemporary design and sublime city views. World-class facilities add to the appeal. • Review • +61 2 8223 1111
6. Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour • Circular Quay • $$$$
Unbeatable position between the harbour, botanical gardens, and opera house. Suites are ideal for families, while many offer postcard-perfect harbour views from the extensive balcony. And there are numerous waterside eateries within a one-minute walk. • +61 2 9256 4000
7. Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour • Darling Harbour • $$$$
This recently-built skyscraper dwarfs the competition, so views are among Sydney’s finest. Ultra-contemporary design and irresistible open-air pool overlooking the harbour, which is packed with shops, bars and cafés. • +61 2 8388 8888
8. Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney • City Center • $$$$
Colossal historic building along a tranquil but convenient block in the city centre. Recently-renovated, with plush corridors, colourful rooms, and plenty of character. More appealing to families than most. • Review • +61 2 8214 0000
9. Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour • Darling Harbour • $$$
Personality plus and ultra-chic design in a converted 130-year-old wool store featuring its original structures. One block from so many harbour-side shops, cafés and bars. • Review • +61 2 8586 1888
10. The Langham Sydney • The Rocks • $$$$
Refined boutique hotel on the city fringe, and a 10-minute stroll to the historic Rocks area, which bursts with boutiques and bistros. Better facilities than the size would suggest, and High Tea at the café inside is an attraction for all. • Review • +61 2 9256 2222
11. QT Sydney • City Center • $$$
Above the historic State Theatre, with a flamboyant design and funky décor that contrasts starkly with insipid high-rises nearby. Oozing personality, and so convenient to the Queen Victoria Building for classy shopping. • Review • +61 2 8262 0000
12. Simpsons of Potts Point • Potts Point (near Kings Cross) • $$
Affordable alternative in leafy suburbia within two train stops of downtown. Wonderfully maintains the ambience of the 120-year-old building, with individually furnished rooms and a congenial guests’ lounge. Rare complimentary breakfast adds to the appeal. • Review • +61 2 8354 6000
13. Medusa Hotel Sydney • Darlinghurst (near Kings Cross) • $$
Likeable and less expensive boutique lodge, with quirky design and vibrant décor. In the gentrified inner city, but so close to the harbour, downtown, and Kings Cross. • Review • +61 2 9331 1000
14. Quay • Circular Quay
With an expensively renovated décor and extensively revamped menu, it won ‘Australia’s Best Restaurant’ award again in 2018. Expect modern cuisine, with multi-course meals, and heavenly harbor views. • +61 2 9251 5600
15. Doyles on the Beach • Watsons Bay (eastern Sydney)
Serving seafood in the same priceless location since 1885, it’s accessible by ferry and makes a perfect day out. Their legendary fish and chips are also available from a takeaway shop at the ferry terminal. • +61 2 9337 2007
16. Aria • Circular Quay
Renowned for its celebrity chef and full-frontal views of the harbour and opera house. Ideal for a quickish meal before a show. • +61 2 9240 2255
17. Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney • City Center
Opulent bistro serving contemporary Australian cuisine with subtle Asian influences. Famous for its luminary chef and Art Deco setting. Come for steak, seafood, and the extensive wine list. • +61 2 8099 7077
18. Bennelong • Circular Quay
With the same superstar chef as the award-winning Quay (see earlier) and astonishing setting within the Sydney Opera House. Focusses on Australian produce, such as barramundi fish and lamb. • +61 2 9240 8000
19. Saint Peter • Paddington (inner southeast)
Admired among rival chefs, this newbie is dedicated entirely to seafood, with unique dishes like Salt & Pepperberry Shoalhaven Whitebait. Minimalist décor ensures guests focus on the food and conversation. • +61 2 8937 2530
20. Farmhouse Kings Cross • near Kings Cross
Perennial favorite among shrewd locals, it’s intimate and friendly; in fact, most tables are long and must be shared with complete strangers. Effusive staff and ever-changing five-course set menu. • +61 448 413 791
21. Fish at The Rocks • The Rocks
In a quieter part of this historic area, it’s popular for terrific service, surprisingly reasonable prices, and multi-page wine list. Try the much-loved Linguini Pasta or Seafood Pie. • +61 2 9252 4614
22. Icebergs Dining Room and Bar • Bondi Beach
With dazzling views of the iconic cove, it’s chic but casual. An extensive menu of modern Italian cuisine, as well as steak and seafood. Lunchtime specials complete a perfect day out. • +61 2 9365 9000
23. Kingsleys Woolloomooloo • Woolloomooloo (near Kings Cross)
Modern Australian cuisine, focussing on succulent steak and lip-smacking seafood. One of several along the renovated Finger Wharf, it’s casual and open-air, with flawless service and extensive harbor views. • +61 2 8322 2090
24. Sydney Dinner Cruise • Sydney Harbour
No finer setting than the middle of the harbour for a buffet dinner (or lunch). Particularly photogenic and romantic at night, with the bridge and opera house illuminated magnificently. • +61 2 8296 7354
25. Queen Victoria Building • City Center
Site of the city’s first markets and now gloriously renovated with about 200 fashionable boutiques and elegant bistros across four levels. Check out the original stained glass windows and mosaic tiled floors.
26. The Corso • Manly
This 300m-long (mostly) traffic-free street links the ferry terminal and main beach at one of Sydney’s most scenic suburbs. Lined with jewellery stores, surf-wear shops, and ice cream parlors, there’s also a street market on Saturdays and Sundays.
27. The Rocks Markets • The Rocks
Some 200 stalls offer locally-made jewellery, art, and clothes each Saturday and Sunday – with food only also for sale on Fridays. Far better than the average street market because of the historic setting and harbor views.
28. Pitt Street Mall • City Center
A 200m walkway smack bang in the city center, with fashionable department stores and hundreds of speciality shops. Shopaholics can rejoice as the mall connects with even more places to spend: the Mid City Centre, the Westfield Sydney, and the 19th-century Strand Arcade.
29. The Galeries • City Center
Oddly-spelt, with four levels of sophisticated shopping, focusing on fashion, food, and art. Always popular for its numerous chic boutiques and stylish bistros.
30. The Intersection • Paddington (inner southeast)
Oh-so trendy cluster of locally-operated fashion boutiques with names like We Are Kindred and LIFEwithBIRD. Frequented by a plethora of famous people, there are also a few swanky cafés.
31. Aboriginal Art Galleries • Circular Quay
Convenient and sizeable outlet selling authentic and quality arts and crafts, such as didgeridoos. Showcases the unique styles of about 100 established and newer indigenous artists. • +61 2 9251 0511
32. Paddy’s Markets • Haymarket (city center)
Near Darling Harbour and Chinatown, hundreds of stalls at Sydney’s oldest market sell anything and everything, including fresh food. More about grabbing a bargain than enjoying any semblance of elegance. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
33. UGG • near Queen Victoria Building (City Center)
Main outlet of iconic brand of Australian-made and internationally-known woolen products, such as slippers, rugs, and the legendary UGG boots. • +61 2 9264 8940
34. Vollé Jewellery • City Center
Uniquely handcrafted jewellery using pink diamonds, Pacific pearls, and Australian opals. Convenient location, lavish décor, and supportive staff add to the positive experience. • +61 2 9269 0898
35. Rip Curl • Bondi Beach
Appropriately beachside store among this celebrated chain of surf shops. Mostly for summer gear and souvenirs, including T-shirts, bags, and sunglasses. • +61 2 9130 2660
36. Establishment Bar • City Center
Fashionable watering hole facing hectic George Street. With a broad menu and 40m-long marble bar, it’s also venerated by city workers for the beer garden and leather lounges. • +61 2 9114 7310/1
37. O Bar and Dining • City Center
Wow-oh-wow panoramas from the lounge bar of a revolving restaurant on the 47th floor. Be mightily impressed by the cocktails, sunsets, city lights, and healthy tapas. • +61 2 9247 9777
38. Pumphouse Bar & Restaurant • Darling Harbour
Historic, atmospheric, and perfect for people watching as it overlooks a vast traffic-free square. With about 100 different beers, including some brewed onsite, and Aussie-style pub grub. • +61 2 8217 4100
39. Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel • The Rocks
Perhaps Sydney’s oldest pub is in an historic area. Always busy for the ales brewed in the basement, old-style menu (eg pork pies and ploughman’s lunch), and sporting events on big-screen TVs. • +61 2 9251 4044
40. Wharf Bar • Manly
At the ferry terminal, and very popular for constant breezes, easy-going ambience, and sea views through the abundant glass. Locals also come for the DJs, and to support the local football teams on TV. Not surprisingly, the menu specialises in seafood. • +61 2 9977 1266
41. Opera Bar • Circular Quay
Facing the prominent bridge and alongside the dominant opera house, this relaxed, yet elegant, beer garden is another must-visit. For inspiring views, tantalizing cocktails, and sophisticated live music. • +61 2 9247 1666
42. The Vanguard (formerly Leadbelly) • Newtown (inner southwest)
Intimate and edgy, offering an eclectic array of live music nightly, mostly jazz, soul, and blues. Decent selection of beer, wine, and cocktails, but menu is limited to pizzas and curries. • +61 2 9557 7992
43. The Metro Theatre • City Center
Sydney’s funkiest theatre always offers something entertaining, educating, or fascinating, whether bizarre cabaret, politically-incorrect comedy, or extreme metal music. Comfortable seating, and it’s easy to see the performers. • +61 2 9550 3666
44. State Theatre • City Center
About 100 years old, this revered theatre hosts nightly films and live performances, and home to regular festivals. Check out the architectural delights: the chandelier is apparently the world’s second-largest. • +61 2 9373 6655
45. Oxford Art Factory • Darlinghurst (near Kings Cross)
Large enough to attract major bands, but small enough to actually see them play. One of a decreasing number of live venues among the inner suburbs. • +61 2 9332 3711
46. Home The Venue • Darling Harbour
Three levels of DJs and light shows for those who know the difference between techno, house and trance music. Shoulder-to-shoulder Friday nights. • +61 2 9266 0600
47. Cargo Bar • Darling Harbour
With a beer garden and bistro, this recently-revamped twin-level icon is best known for its live music and DJs. Party like it’s 1985. • +61 2 8322 2006
48. Harbour Cruises
49. Big Bus Tours
This hop-on/off double-decker bus (leaving from Central Station) is ideal for a quick city tour. With over 30 stops, including Bondi and other lovely beaches, and commentary in eight languages. • +61 2 9567 8400
50. Blue Mountains
About 1½ to 2 hours from Sydney, a tour is the best way to admire the views, wildlife, waterfalls, and caves among these extraordinary mountains. • +61 1300 661 225
Ideal way to truly appreciate the colonial and indigenous history of this very popular area. Informative guides explain Australia’s first European settlement and its gruesome convict past. Plenty of views and shops to distract. • +61 2 9247 6678
Explains the pre-colonial culture and natural history of the city and Royal Botanic Gardens. With an indigenous guide and tastings of ‘bush food’. Three times weekly. • +61 2 9231 8330
Drinking and tasting of wines and/or locally-brewed ales around the city center, suburbs, and beyond. Always fun, and usually includes lunch.
Things to See in Sydney
54. Sydney Harbour Bridge • The Rocks
The world’s heaviest steel arch bridge and much-loved icon spans the inner city harbour. Visitors can walk across it or take about 200 steps to the Pylon Lookout for vast views and substantial history. The more adventurous can join the guided BridgeClimb.
55. Sydney Opera House • Circular Quay
With its white ‘sails’, Australia’s most recognizable landmark also dominates the harbour. It’s easy to walk around the base or admire it from a bar or café. Otherwise, attend one of the 2,000+ annual performances or join a tour. • +61 2 9250 7111
56. Taronga Zoo Sydney • North Sydney
Thousands of animals, including unique Australian species, are lovingly housed across a million-dollar hillside setting facing the harbour. Feedings, shows, and a cable car provide much fun for the family, and entertainment is often held on summer evenings (November to March). • +61 2 9969 2777
57. The Rocks • City Center
Site of Australia’s first British settlement, with lanes chiselled by hand by convicts through cliffs (hence the name). To appreciate it fully, visit The Rocks Discovery Museum (free entry) or join a walking tour (see earlier). Best on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, when the markets are on (see earlier).
58. Darling Harbour • City Center
Seemingly under perpetual renovations, these former dockyards are a very popular place to wander about and spend money. So many shops, bars, and cafés, as well as attractions, such as Madame Tussauds and the Aquarium (see below).
59. Sydney Tower Eye • City Center
Soaring about 300m above the skyscraper-dominated horizon, the jaw-dropping views can be appreciated from the Observation Deck; one of the two revolving restaurants; or the super-scary Skywalk (closed at the time of research). • +61 1800 258 693
60. Australian Museum • City Center
Australia’s first is far better than imagined, especially following recent renovations. Displays focus on, among other things, dinosaurs, outer space, and the natural history of Australia and the Pacific region. Particularly noteworthy are exhibits dedicated to Aboriginal history. • +61 2 9320 6000
61. Sydney Observatory • near The Rocks
Beautifully located on a hill, Australia’s oldest stargazing facility features some historically-important equipment, telescopes providing panoramas of the galaxies at night, and an educational 3D theatre. Plenty of fun for families. • +61 2 9217 0111
62. Cockatoo Island • Sydney Harbour
Renovated and UNESCO-listed former dockyards, convict prison, and WWII bastion is the largest island in the harbour. Historic relics and million-dollar harbour views in all directions. Accessible by ferry, with a café/bar, various accommodation, and self-guided tours. • +61 2 8969 2100
63. Powerhouse Museum • near Darling Harbour
Australia’s largest museum bursts with fascinating scientific and technological stuff guaranteed to impress jaded travelers and hard-to-please children. (Free entry for those 16 and under.) • +61 2 9217 0519
64. Sydney Fish Market • near Darling Harbour
The largest in the Southern Hemisphere is smelly but fascinating. Free and convenient, with delicatessens, cafés, cooking classes, and tours available. • +61 2 9004 1111
Walks in Sydney
65. Bondi to Coogee (6km/3.5 miles, about 2.5 hours)
Very picturesque path along beachside cliffs in the inner eastern suburbs. From iconic Bondi to Coogee via other gorgeous beaches such as Tamarama and Bronte (see below). Stop/start at any beach and return to the city by bus.
66. Royal Botanic Gardens to Darling Harbour (4km/2.5 miles, about 2 hours plus stops)
Easy, stop-when-you-like stroll from Mrs Macquarie’s Point (in the eastern gardens) following the water’s edge to Darling Harbour (for shopping), via Circular Quay (for views), The Rocks (for history), and Barangaroo (for eateries).
67. Manly Scenic Walkway (10km/6.2 miles, 4-5 hours)
From Manly (a worthwhile trip in itself) to the Spit Bridge in suburban Mosman. Endless views, several classy eateries along the way, and bush-walking through a national park with Aboriginal rock paintings.
Beaches in Sydney
68. Bondi • eastern Sydney
Australia’s most famous beach is an extended but shade-less crescent of white sand. Waves are often more suitable for surfing than swimming, but the shops, cafés, and seaside park are more than appealing enough for a day out. Avoid summer weekends. Regular buses from downtown.
69. Manly • northeast Sydney
Two beaches for the price of one: long, oceanfront, and lined with pine trees; the other is calmer and inside the harbour. So much to see and do, and the ferry ride from the city center is worth the visit alone.
70. Tamarama • eastern Sydney
With less than 100m of sand and flanked by sheer cliffs, the setting is quite stunning. Swimming is often terrifying, however, because of subtle rips, although popular with surfers. Get there by bus from the city, or walk along the coastal path (see earlier) from Bondi, Bronte, or Coogee.
71. Bronte • eastern Sydney
Another cute cove of sand, and popular with families for its shady lawns and natural rock pools safer than the waves. Accessible by bus from downtown, or stroll along the coastal path (see earlier) from Bondi, Tamarama, or Coogee.
72. Palm Beach • far northern Sydney
Famed location for the Australian TV drama Home and Away, it’s a quintessential rural beach: extensive, often empty, and lined with sand dunes. The far calmer harbour-side water is more suitable for younger ones, but a long trip by bus from the city.
Family Fun in Sydney
73. Roar & Snore • North Sydney
Extraordinary experience, with a sleepover in comfortable tents at Taronga Zoo (see earlier). Includes visiting sleepy and nocturnal inhabitants at night and buffet dinner. For those five years and above. • +61 2 9969 2777
74. Luna Park • North Sydney
The gigantic clown-head entrance can be seen from across the harbour. Tacky but unquestionably fun, with plenty of rides, a Ferris wheel, and entertainment on summer evenings. Free entry, and affordable day-passes for families. • +61 2 9922 6644
75. SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium • Darling Harbour
Hugely impressive, with 12,000 marine creatures, including penguins, dugongs, and sharks, viewable from walk-through tunnels. Also, an amazing mini-version of the Great Barrier Reef. Can be included in a day-pass with Madame Tussauds (see below). • +61 1800 199 657
76. Madame Tussauds Sydney • Darling Harbour
An outlet of the world-renowned collection of lifelike wax dummies. Take a selfie with ‘Barack Obama’ or ‘Taylor Swift’. • +61 1800 205 851
77. Tumbalong Park • Darling Harbour
Lawns to scamper about, and an impressive playground with water jets, a super-slide, jumbo swings, and other things to make kids squeal with delight. Free entry, and events often held in summer (November to March).
Less than an hour west of the city centre, this massive waterpark is guaranteed to impress the younger ones – and adults, too. Dozens of slides and rides, as well as a wave pool and the terrifying Sydney SkyCoaster. Summer only (October to April). • +61 13 33 86.
Festivals & Events in Sydney
79. Sydney Festival • January
Three-week extravaganza of music, theater, dance, art, and circuses across the city, with many free events.
80. Vivid Sydney • late May to mid-June
Mind-blowing music and light and dance shows, with iconic places like the Sydney Opera House, Taronga Zoo, and Darling Harbour magnificently illuminated at night.
81. Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras • mid-February to early March
More than two weeks of events culminating with a massive parade on the first Saturday night in March. This is when hundreds of participants saunter down a main road along the inner city and are cheered on by thousands of spectators.
82. New Year’s Eve • 31st December
Sydneysiders just love to party. And the fireworks at midnight above the Harbour Bridge are so exceptional that they’re broadcast live across the world.
83. Sydney Hobart Yacht Race • from 26th December
One of Australia’s premier sporting events and revered by locals. Hundreds escort participants out of the harbour in their own boats, while thousands more watch from prime harbor-side positions.
Short Trips from Sydney
84. Blue Mountains • 1.5 to 2 hours west of Sydney
These mountains and its UNESCO-listed national park separate the city from the interior. Hugely popular for bush-walks and views of waterfalls, rock formations, caves, and valleys. Hire a car; take a train to Katoomba and admire scenery along the way; or, best, join a tour (see above).
85. Hawkesbury River • 1 hour northwest of Sydney
Often ignored by visitors, this gorgeous river meanders throughout pristine bushland and national parks. Great for outdoor activities such as bush-walking and water-skiing. Accessible by car or on a tour.
86. Hunter Valley • 2 hours north of Sydney
One of Australia’s foremost wine-growing districts is home to about 150 wineries, and offers other activities such as hot-air ballooning and horse-riding. Start early if coming for the day, or join a tour.
87. Australian Reptile Park • 1 hour north of Sydney
All sorts of slippery creatures and other more approachable animals in a bush setting. What child (and adult) doesn’t want to cuddle a koala or handfeed a baby kangaroo? • +61 2 4340 1022
88. Penrith • 1 hour west of Sydney
Once a separate city but now part of Sydney’s relentless urban sprawl. The train trip offers glimpses of the ‘real Sydney’ across the western suburbs, while Penrith is home to a couple of museums and parks.
Sydney Parks & Gardens
89. Royal Botanic Garden • City Center
Extensive and serene, with 9,000 plant species in a prime city-center location. Eat at the café, explore the old Government House (free), or take a tour (also free). Consider joining the Aboriginal Heritage Tour (see earlier), while the Choochoo Express mini-train saves on walking.
90. Centennial Parklands • inner southeast
Massive area loved by joggers and birds. Walk or hire bikes to explore the sports grounds, historic buildings, lakes, and picnic gardens. Particularly pretty in autumn, and plenty of activities offered on summer evenings (November to March).
91. Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park • far northern Sydney
Astonishing and so unspoilt. Along the distant fringes of the northern suburbs, it boasts a priceless harbor-side setting. Popular for walks along the 100km-long coastline, picnic spots, and well-preserved Aboriginal cave paintings.
92. Hyde Park • City Center
This former military field and racecourse provides immaculate gardens where city workers enjoy lunch in the shade. Also, fountains, memorials, and abundant birdlife among the surrounding concrete jungle.
93. The Rocks
Original site of Sydney 230 years ago and now a beautifully renovated area of cobblestone lanes lined with classy places to eat, drink, and shop. Home to bustling weekend markets, it’s also walkable to downtown and most attractions in the city center.
Best Stuff: Pier One Sydney Harbour, Autograph Collection hotel • The Langham Sydney hotel • Four Seasons Hotel Sydney (so convenient, graceful, and luxurious) • Fish at The Rocks • Wild Ginger Dining + Bar (refined Thai restaurant with heavenly views) • The Rocks Markets • Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel • Harbour View Hotel (affable pub with affordable meals) • Henry Deane (sophisticated cocktail lounge and outstanding views) • The Rocks Walking Tours • Sydney Harbour & BridgeClimb • Sydney Observatory • The Rocks Discovery Museum
94. Circular Quay
Alongside The Rocks, there is no quay and the port is semi-circular, but it is home to the only ferry terminal in the city center, as well as a bus and train station. Pulsating with buskers and commuters, and packed with boutiques, bistros, and bars, the numerous top-end hotels offer luxury and unparalleled views.
Best Stuff: InterContinental Sydney hotel • Sir Stamford at Circular Quay hotel • Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour hotel • Quay restaurant • Aria restaurant • Bennelong restaurant • Q Dining (harbor-side, modern cuisine, and chic décor) • Aboriginal Art Galleries • Opera Bar • Quay Bar (tasty cocktails and terrific vistas) • Hyde Hacienda Sydney (Cuban-themed lounge bar with extensive views) • Sydney Opera House • Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (displays, events, and prime harbour-side position)
95. Darling Harbour
Inner-city former dockyards jam-packed with waterside bistros, bars, and boutiques. Home to several attractions and numerous top-notch hotels, it’s particularly popular with families and an easy stroll to downtown.
Best Stuff: Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour hotel • Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour hotel • Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour hotel (family-friendly and central) • Blue Fish (superb seafood and waterside setting) • Harbour Bar & Kitchen (barbeque ribs, spit-roasted beef, and happy hours) • Olivo Harbourside (pasta, seafood, and people-watching) • Harbourside (oodles of bars, restaurants, and shops) • Cockle Bay Wharf (even more places to eat, drink, and shop) • Pumphouse Bar & Restaurant • Home The Venue nightclub • Cargo Bar • Powerhouse Museum • SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium • Madame Tussauds Sydney museum • Sydney Fish Market • Tumbalong Park
96. City Center
Throbbing on weekdays, but surprisingly quiet at night and on weekends. Handy to numerous elegant bistros, classy theaters, shopping precincts, and historical buildings, and an easy stroll to major attractions and transport options.
Best Stuff: The Fullerton Hotel Sydney hotel • Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney • QT Sydney hotel • Rockpool Bar & Grill Sydney • The Morrison Bar and Oyster Room (popular historic pub with drink and food specials) • Ivy Complex (cluster of chic cafés, with rooftop bar and trendy nightclub) • Queen Victoria Building shopping center • Pitt Street Mall • The Galeries shopping center • UGG shoe store • Vollé Jewellery shop • Establishment Bar • O Bar and Dining • The Metro Theatre • State Theatre • Sydney Tower Eye • Australian Museum • Royal Botanic Garden • Hyde Park • Aboriginal Heritage Tour
Adorable residential suburb with a permanent holiday vibe. On a headland, with two beaches linked by an attractive pedestrian street. Best accessed by the ferry that provides wide-sweeping panoramas of the harbour.
Best Stuff: Novotel Sydney Manly Pacific hotel (beachfront, sizeable, and functional) • The Sebel Manly Beach hotel (faces the ocean and family-friendly) • Quest Manly (modern, family-friendly apartments) • Manly Wine (beachfront, seafood, and live music) • Garfish Manly (sublime position for seafood and sunsets) • Ouzeria (authentic Greek food at beachfront corner) • The Corso mall • Wharf Bar restaurant and bar • 4 Pines Brewery (famous micro-brewery with pub food) • Hotel Steyne (long-established pub, full of locals) • Manly Beach and Manly Cove • Manly Scenic Walkway • North Head (lovely walk and clifftop views) • Manly Art Gallery & Museum (local art and old photos)
98. North Sydney
A mini-city just across the harbour bridge and only two or three train stops from downtown. Plenty of cafés, bars, and shops, and endless views across the harbour. A quieter and more affordable base than the city center.
Best Stuff: The McLaren Hotel (quaint and quiet) • View Sydney (views, convenience, and well-equipped) • Rydges North Sydney (modern, functional, and good-value) • Aqua Dining (contemporary Italian, with poolside setting) • Sails on Lavender Bay (chic bistro in a heavenly location) • Cala Luna (intimate Italian, with street-side tables) • The Botanist (unique décor, signature cocktails, and shared platters) • The Oaks (iconic, popular pub with five bars) • Union Hotel (affordable Parisienne-style bistro) • Taronga Zoo Sydney • Roar & Snore zoo sleepover • Luna Park amusement rides • Pylon Lookout (Sydney Harbour Bridge)
99. Kings Cross and around
Quieter and more affordable, yet still dynamic options for accommodation include Kings Cross – (in)famous for its nightclubs and girlie bars – and the more pleasant neighboring districts of Woolloomooloo, Potts Point, and Darlinghurst. All are within a 15-20 minute walk of the city edge and two-three train stops from downtown.
Best Stuff: Ovolo Woolloomooloo hotel • Simpsons of Potts Point hotel • Medusa Hotel Sydney • Farmhouse Kings Cross restaurant • Kingsleys Woolloomooloo restaurant • Black Bottle (Mediterranean eatery for platters, oysters, and wines) • 169 Darlinghurst (corner pub for contemporary cuisine and people-watching) • Royal Sovereign Hotel (celebrated pub with affordable meals) • Kings Cross Hotel (legendary corner pub with rooftop bar) • ARQ Sydney (ultra-chic, gay-friendly, and trendy DJs) • Oxford Art Factory music venue • Elizabeth Bay House (restored colonial house)
100. Eastern Beaches
Includes Bondi and the quainter and quieter beaches at Tamarama, Bronte, and Coogee – all linked by a gorgeous coastal path. Each has white sand, but the sea is sometimes more suitable for surfing than swimming. All are accessible by bus only from the city center.
Best Stuff: Hotel Bondi (along the esplanade, but basic) • Coogee Sands Hotel & Apartments (classy, friendly, and beach frontage) • Crowne Plaza Coogee Beach (large, well-established, and spacious) • Icebergs Dining Room and Bar • Hurricane’s Grill & Bar (popular steakhouse with street-side tables) • Drake Eatery (casual, chic, and funky) • Out of the Blue (renowned seafood café) • Coogee Bay Hotel (dynamic pub with live music) • Hotel Bondi Bistro (juicy steaks, fresh seafood, and kids’ menu) • Rip Curl surf-wear shop • Bondi Beach • Tamarama Beach • Bronte Beach • Giles Baths (swimming, safe from waves and sharks) • Bondi to Coogee walk
All Sydney Hotel Reviews
- Establishment Hotel
- Hotel Bondi
- InterContinental Sydney
- Medusa Hotel Sydney
- Novotel Sydney Darling Harbour
- Novotel Sydney Darling Square
- Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour
- Ovolo Woolloomooloo
- Pier One Sydney Harbour, Autograph Collection
- Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour
- QT Sydney
- Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney
- Simpsons of Potts Point Hotel
- Sir Stamford Circular Quay Hotel
- Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour Hotel
- The Fullerton Hotel Sydney
- The Hughenden Boutique Hotel
- The Langham Sydney
- The Sebel Sydney Manly Beach