Sydney Travel Guide

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Updated: January 10, 2022

The 99 best hotels, restaurants, shops, bars, clubs, shows, tours, places, and things to do in Sydney, Australia.

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Sydney Travel Guide

A ferry from the Circular Quay in Sydney, Australia.

Sydney Hotels

1. Pier One Sydney Harbour • 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 • 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 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 harbor views from all windows, and oodles of waterside bistros at the entrance. • Review • +61 2 9331 9000

5. The Fullerton • 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 harbor, botanical gardens, and opera house. Suites are ideal for families, while many offer postcard-perfect harbor views from the extensive balcony. And there are numerous waterside eateries within a one-minute walk. • Review • +61 2 9256 4000

7. Sofitel 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 harbor, which is packed with shops, bars and cafés. • Review • +61 2 8388 8888

8. Radisson Blu Plaza • City Center • $$$$

Colossal historic building along a tranquil but convenient block in the city centre. Recently-renovated, with plush corridors, colorful 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 harbor-side shops, cafés and bars. • Review • +61 2 8586 1888

10. Langham • 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 • 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. Medusa • 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 harbor, downtown, and Kings Cross. • Review • +61 2 9331 1000

Sydney Restaurants

13. 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

14. 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

15. Aria • Circular Quay

Renowned for its celebrity chef and full-frontal views of the harbor and opera house. Ideal for a quickish meal before a show. • +61 2 9240 2255

16. 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

17. 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

18. 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

19. 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

20. 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

21. 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

22. 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

23. Sydney Dinner Cruise • Sydney Harbour

No finer setting than the middle of the harbor for a buffet dinner (or lunch). Particularly photogenic and romantic at night, with the bridge and opera house illuminated magnificently. • +61 2 8296 7354

Sydney Shopping

24. 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.

25. 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.

26. 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.

27. 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.

28. 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.

29. 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.

30. 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

31. 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.

32. 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

33. 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

34. 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

Sydney Bars

35. 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

36. 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

37. 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

38. 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

39. 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

40. 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

Sydney Nightlife

41. 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

42. 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

43. 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

44. 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

45. 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

46. 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

Sydney Tours

47. Harbour Cruises

Exploration of the magnificent harbor is mandatory. Join a cruise for a couple of hours with commentary, or do-it-yourself with a hop-on/off day-pass, or simply take a ferry to Manly or Watsons Bay.

48. 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

49. 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

50. The Rocks Walking Tours

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

51. Aboriginal Heritage Tour

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

52. Brewery and Winery Tours

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

53. Sydney Harbour Bridge • The Rocks

The world’s heaviest steel arch bridge and much-loved icon spans the inner city harbor. 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.

54. Sydney Opera House • Circular Quay

With its white ‘sails’, Australia’s most recognizable landmark also dominates the harbor. 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

55. Taronga Zoo Sydney • North Sydney

Thousands of animals, including unique Australian species, are lovingly housed across a million-dollar hillside setting facing the harbor. 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

56. 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).

57. 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).

58. 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

59. 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

60. 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

61. Cockatoo Island • Sydney Harbour

Renovated and UNESCO-listed former dockyards, convict prison, and WWII bastion is the largest island in the harbor. Historic relics and million-dollar harbor views in all directions. Accessible by ferry, with a café/bar, various accommodation, and self-guided tours. • +61 2 8969 2100

62. 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

63. 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

64. 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.

65. 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).

66. 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

67. 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.

68. Manly • northeast Sydney

Two beaches for the price of one: long, oceanfront, and lined with pine trees; the other is calmer and inside the harbor. So much to see and do, and the ferry ride from the city center is worth the visit alone.

69. 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.

70. 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.

71. 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 harbor-side water is more suitable for younger ones, but a long trip by bus from the city.

Family Fun in Sydney

72. 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

73. Luna Park • North Sydney

The gigantic clown-head entrance can be seen from across the harbor. 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

74. 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

75. Madame Tussauds • 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

76. 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).

77. Raging Waters Sydney (formerly Wet ‘n’ Wild Sydney)

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

78. Sydney Festival • January

Three-week extravaganza of music, theater, dance, art, and circuses across the city, with many free events.

79. 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.

80. 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.

81. 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.

82. Sydney Hobart Yacht Race • from 26th December

One of Australia’s premier sporting events and revered by locals. Hundreds escort participants out of the harbor in their own boats, while thousands more watch from prime harbor-side positions.

Short Trips from Sydney

83. 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).

84. 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.

85. 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.

86. 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

87. 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

88. 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.

89. 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).

90. 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.

91. 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.

Sydney Areas

92. 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 HarbourLanghamFour Seasons (so convenient, graceful, and luxurious) • Fish at The RocksThe Rocks MarketsLord Nelson Brewery HotelHarbour View Hotel (affable pub with affordable meals) • Henry Deane (sophisticated cocktail lounge and outstanding views) • The Rocks Walking Tours • Sydney Harbour & BridgeClimb • Sydney ObservatoryThe Rocks Discovery Museum

93. 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: InterContinentalSir Stamford Circular QuayPullman Quay Grand Sydney HarbourQuay restaurant • Aria restaurant • Bennelong restaurant • Q Dining (harbor-side, modern cuisine, and chic décor) • Aboriginal Art GalleriesOpera BarQuay Bar (tasty cocktails and terrific vistas) • Hyde Hacienda Sydney (Cuban-themed lounge bar with extensive views) • Sydney Opera HouseMuseum of Contemporary Art Australia (displays, events, and prime harbor-side position)

94. 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 Darling HarbourOvolo 1888 Darling HarbourNovotel Darling Harbour (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 & RestaurantHome The Venue nightclub • Cargo BarPowerhouse MuseumSEA LIFE Sydney AquariumMadame Tussauds museum • Sydney Fish MarketTumbalong Park

95. 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: FullertonRadisson Blu PlazaQTRockpool Bar & Grill SydneyThe 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 MallThe Galeries shopping center • UGG shoe store • Vollé Jewellery shop • Establishment BarO Bar and DiningThe Metro TheatreState TheatreSydney Tower EyeAustralian MuseumRoyal Botanic GardenHyde ParkAboriginal Heritage Tour

96. Manly

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 views of the harbor.
Best Stuff: Novotel Manly Pacific (beachfront, sizable, and functional) • Sebel Manly Beach (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) • 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 WalkwayNorth Head (lovely walk and clifftop views) • Manly Art Gallery & Museum (local art and old photos)

97. North Sydney

A mini-city just across the harbor bridge and only two or three train stops from downtown. Plenty of cafés, bars, and shops, and endless views across the harbor. A quieter and more affordable base than the city center.
Best Stuff: 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 SydneyRoar & Snore zoo sleepover • Luna Park amusement rides • Pylon Lookout (Sydney Harbour Bridge)

98. 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 WoolloomoolooMedusaFarmhouse 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)

99. 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 BarHurricane’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 BeachTamarama BeachBronte BeachGiles Baths (swimming, safe from waves and sharks) • Bondi to Coogee walk

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