So Sydney ended up somewhat unexpectedly being one of our favorite places we’ve ever visited! I saw “unexpectedly” because while I was pretty sure we’d love Australia and that there are lots of things to do in Sydney, I wasn’t expecting to fall so in love with Sydney that I could absolutely see myself living there. But fall we did. I think it was the perfect combination of city life, gorgeous coastline and beaches, and warm weather that did it for me. Not to mention Australians are the nicest bunch of people literally ever! On Omied’s first day in Sydney I was working so he went out exploring by himself and ended up making so many new friends. ? So many random people started talking to him and gave him tons of recommendations on what to do and where to eat while we were in town because Australians are just so darn friendly.
Here’s my custom Google map full of the best spots to eat at and things to do in Sydney, and my full travel guide below!
Best Places to Visit in Sydney: Day 1
Where to stay. During the work portion of my trip, I stayed near Circular Quay, which is the central business (and somewhat touristy) area of Sydney right by the harbour. It was nice to start off the business part of my trip there and to be able to walk down to the beautiful Opera House, but for our vacation part of the trip, we wanted to stay in a less touristy, but still central and fun neighborhood and ended up picking Darlinghurst. We stayed at this airbnb and were very comfortable. It’s on an adorable street and there were plenty of fun restaurants and cafes within walking distance. Definitely recommend Darlinghurst as a great place to stay in Sydney!
Brunch at Le Monde Cafe. We started off our day with the most delicious brunch at Le Monde Cafe located in New South Wales. They take their coffee very seriously (which I appreciate), and my truffled poached eggs and avocado – truffle egg and avocado toast situation with halloumi was killer. And def get the matcha hotcakes. At first, when we were ordering we didn’t want to be overindulgent, but the matcha hotcakes just looked so good I thought we’d better share them for dessert. And oh my gosh was I so glad that we did! They were absolutely heavenly.
Do the Bondi to Coogee walk. Or the Coogee to Bondi walk, like we did so we could end at Bondi. The coastline is absolutely insane and just so, so gorgeous!! We did a leisurely stroll and stopped to take a dip in some of the man-made pools along the way.
Bondi Icebergs Club for swimming and drinks. Icebergs is that iconic Sydney shot you’ve seen on Instagram and thought, “where in the world is that?” With its man-made pool, black polka dot umbrellas, and Bondi beach behind it, it really is a gorgeous scene. You can purchase a day pass to go swimming there, which I definitely recommend because how often do you get to go swimming at Icebergs? Omied got some really awesome drone shots of Icebergs that remind me of a Grey Malin print. After swimming, we went upstairs to the Icebergs dining room to grab a couple of cocktails and snacks while soaking up the view.
Dinner at Upper East Side Bondi. To finish off the day, we had (even more) drinks and dinner at Upper East Side Bondi. The vibe was very beachy-chic, and we totally indulged in their chicken liver mousse and seafood dishes.
Best Places to Visit in Sydney: Day 2
Ferry to Manly Beach. We took the ferry over to Manly Beach, and the ferry ride itself was so beautiful. You get a great view of the Sydney Opera House and the rest of the city from the water. Heading over to Manly is a must-do and something that tons of locals had recommended to us.
The Boathouse Shelly Beach for lunch. After we got off the ferry and relaxed at Manly Beach for a bit, we walked along the water and made our way towards Shelly Beach. It’s a gorgeous little beach and it must have good snorkeling and diving because we saw a lot of people with their scuba gear there. There’s also an adorable restaurant there called The Boathouse, where we had a delicious lunch with views of the water.
Fairy Bower Pool and Manly Beach. After lunch we made our way back to towards Manly Beach and stopped at a man-made pool along the way. Ocean swimming pools are basically my new favorite thing and there are so many of them dotting the coastline of Sydney! Here’s a list of Timeout’s top 10 ocean pools in Sydney.
Taronga Zoo. The Taronga Zoo is in North Sydney, so it’s perfect to hit up during the same day as a visit to Manly. My favorite part was the “walk about,” where you can walk through an area with kangaroos and wallabies, and they’re able to hop right up to you if they feel so inclined. Can you tell by all the photos we took that I was just obsessing over these little nuggets?? ?? There’s also a really beautiful view from the zoo of the Sydney skyline. And you can also feed the giraffes!! Be sure to check their website for feeding times, but even if you don’t make it for the feeding time, it’s still the most up close I’ve ever gotten to a giraffe. They’re so majestic!
Walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. After the zoo we grabbed an Uber to the Pedestrian walkway to walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s not a very long walk (maybe 20 minutes, but we took longer to stop and enjoy the view and take photos), but the views are so stunning. The Opera House and Harbour and skyline just make for the perfect photo opp, and we were able to catch this view right at sunset so you really couldn’t beat it.
Drinks at the Glenmore Hotel rooftop bar. Just after you cross the bridge sits the Glenmore Hotel, which has a really fun rooftop bar with yet another gorgeous view of the Opera House. We grabbed a yummy pitcher here and perched up on their rooftop while the sun went down.
Dinner at Long Chim. We had dinner at Long Chim and loved their delicious Thai food! We did their Maa Long Chim set menu where the chef takes you on a journey of their selections, and we enjoyed a tasting of a bunch of their signature dishes. The spices and flavor were off the hook and definitely not “dumbed down,” and I loved that their curry pastes are handmade. Their Thai-inspired signature cocktails were original and delicious. Definitely get their black sticky rice and coconut slice for dessert! Sooo good.
Best Places to Visit in Sydney: Day 3
Pablo & Rusty’s for breakfast. We grabbed some yummy coffee and breakfast at Pablo & Rusty’s. Their miso buttered mushrooms on toast with poached eggs and other goodies was divine. Highly recommend this spot in central Sydney! They have a lot of outdoor seating if you want to enjoy the lovely Sydney weather, and inside the interior is warm and inviting if you’d rather cozy up indoors.
Mahon Pools. Clearly we couldn’t get enough of Sydney’s ocean swimming pools, because we wanted to hit up one more and settled on the Mahon Pools. You can climb around and find a secluded spot among the rocks to lay out and just wash the waves crash, and take a dip in the pool to cool off.
Coogee Pavillion. We made our way up to Coogee since it’s not too far from the Mahon Pools, and had lunch at Coogee Pavillion. So many people recommended this spot as a must-eat at restaurant for a first timer in Sydney and it definitely has all of the Sydney beachy vibes and good seafood. Be sure to ask for a table on their rooftop!
Coogee Beach. Even though we had been by Coogee Beach couple days earlier for the start of our walk from Coogee to Bondi, we hadn’t really had a chance to relax at the beach, so we took some time after lunch to just relax there.
Olio Kensington Street for dinner. We freshened up at our airbnb and got a little dressed up for an Italian dinner at Olio Kensington Street. The bars and restaurant there have a really fun vibe and we started with drinks on their outdoor terrace. For dinner we enjoyed some of their yummy pastas (oh hi, king prawn ravioli with truffle and burrata sauce ?) and seafood (we had the barramundi). By the end we were stuffed but we had to get the tiramisu and it was legit some of the best tiramisu I’d ever had. Sooo decadent and creamy and basically just the stuff that tiramisu dreams are made of.
Best Places to Visit in Sydney: Day 4
Take the ferry to Watson’s Bay. If you’re down for another beautiful ferry trip, grab the ferry from Cirqular Quay to Watsons Bay. Once you get there, take the trail to South Head Lookout where you’ll see the Hornby Lighthouse and The Gap. And of course, more stunning coastline views with dramatic cliffs and crashing waves. So dreamy!
Doyle’s on the Beach for lunch. Doyle’s on the Beach opened as Australia’s first seafood restaurant in 1885! It’s a bit pricey but worth it for the fun experience and delicious seafood spread.
Drinks at Bennelong and Opera Bar. The Sydney Opera house really is so iconic and beautiful, so I’d recommend getting drinks outside of it and enjoying the view of the harbour and the Opera House, and inside of it! The Opera Bar has a lot of outside seating along the water and is just lovely, but expect it to be crowded and hard to find a seat on Friday/Saturday nights. Bennelong is the restaurant inside of the Opera House, and they have a nice little bar area. Being married to an architect, it was the perfect way to enjoy the interiors and design of the Opera House without paying for a pricey oepra show.
Dinner at Mr. Wong. Mr. Wong continuously popped up on “best Sydney restaurants” lists and we couldn’t wait to eat there! They do Cantonese-style food and their beautiful restaurant has a 1930’s jazz-era in Shanghai vibe. Their dumplings were great and their cocktails were fantastic. If you’re looking for another restaurant rec, I’d also recommend Porteno, which is an Argentinian bbq spot that I saw on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. I went there for dinner one night during the work portion of my trip and everything we had was delish!
If you’re looking for a day trip or two outside of Sydney, if we had more time we would have hit up the Blue Mountains and the Figure Eight Pools. If you do want to venture to the Figure Eight Pools, definitely do it with a guided tour that knows what they’re doing (the park recommends Barefoot Downunder) because you can legit get crushed by a wave and die if you go during high tide rather than low tide.
Here’s a list of some tourist attractions that I didn’t have a chance to see while in Sydney but would love to see them next time I visit:
If you are looking to spend some time in nature I would highly recommend the Royal Botanic Gardens, Hyde Park, and the Royal National Park. The Queen Victoria Building is a beautiful historic building covered in gorgeous stained glass windows. If you’re looking to spend some time at the beach, check out Palm Beach in North Sydney, this location can be far but worth the drive.
If you are looking for some spots to spend time with your family, I would recommend spending time in Darling Harbour to check out the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium. Also, be sure to spend some time at the WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo to see the cute animals! There are also plenty of whale watching tours to explore and learn about.
And on that cheery note, that’s it for my Sydney travel guide! Am I missing anything? What are your favorite things to do in Sydney? Let me know!
It is recommended to spend around 5 days in Sydney to get the full experience of what the city has to offer and to explore all their amazing attractions.
Sydney can be an expensive place to travel to, however, if properly budgeted for you can easily have an amazing time.
Bondi Beach is most definitely worth visiting for its beautiful views and amazing surf. This is one of Australia’s most famous beach.
It takes around two hours to complete the entire walk from Coogee to Bondi.
Elise Armitage is an entrepreneur and founder of What The Fab, a travel + lifestyle blog based in California. At the beginning of 2019, Elise left her corporate job at Google to chase her dreams: being an entrepreneur and helping women find fabulous in the everyday. Since then, she’s launched her SEO course Six-Figure SEO, where she teaches bloggers how to create a passive revenue stream from their website using SEO. Featured in publications like Forbes, Elle, HerMoney, and Real Simple, Elise is a firm believer that you can be of both substance and style.