Sydney is long, gorgeous, and laid-back. It’s blessed with stunning scenery, stunning beaches, and a vibrant community full of culture and culinary gems. There are so many things to explore in this city that it’s impossible to fit them all into a day. But one thing you can count on is having a blast trying!
If you’re thinking about grabbing breakfast in Sydney, make sure to visit Humble Bakery in Surry Hills. The bakery is owned by Ben Milgate and Elvis Abrahanowicz, chefs with impressive tattoos and a love for rockabilly style. Be sure to try their latte (with milk from the local butcher) or get inventive with your selection of savory tastes like the lamington (a sweet sponge cake dipped in chocolate and coconut flakes) or pink-topped finger buns.
Immediately after walking right by the hotel that I’m staying at, it’s just a few minutes walk to my favorite art venue, the Brett Whiteley Studio. The famous Australian painter, who was prolific and lived and worked there still-feels very much how he left it, with unfinished paintings, postcards, sketchbooks, and all.
In Sydney, find some really cool clothing boutiques! Paddington is the perfect place to start. In Parlour X, you’ll find the latest in haute brands like Isabel Marant and Balenciaga. Bring your attention to homegrown labels like Bassike (they have soft cotton t-shirts) and some of Australia’s top designers got their start in this area. You’ll want to head over to the Paddington Markets for Australian-made artisan goods, clothing, and accessories–some of the country’s best designers started out here.
One of the best ways to experience Sydney’s outdoors is through Bondi Beach, which is where you’ll find the famous public swimming club Icebergs. The lap pool overlooking the beach is unbelievable-you can see layers of blue (sky, ocean, pool) and waves crashing against the side. You cannot leave Sydney without going for a swim-and if you feel like splurge for lunch try joining the high rollers at Icebergs Dining Room and Bar with their dramatic water views. But for a more budget-friendly meal, nearby Porch and Parlour lets you skip the fussy service in favor of grilled cheese sandwiches and kimchi open sandwiches. My personal favorite is “one hander,” a milk bun served with fried egg, bacon, coleslaw and relish.
Sydney is a unique and captivating city, which makes the Coogee Coastal Walk even more impressive. It begins with a clifftop trail that takes you from beautiful New South Wales to scenic Bondi Beach and on to the Harbour Bridge with its views of iconic beaches, art galleries, restaurants, heated pools and tranquil coastal walks during the Sculptures by the Sea exhibition every spring.
In the afternoon
The Circular Quay port is the jumping-off point for exploring Sydney Harbour, home to all sorts of amazing things. It’s perfectly located in the middle of Australia’s largest city. Everything from Sydney’s iconic bridge to the Opera House and the Museum of Contemporary Art to funky indigenous art is nearby, and it’s one of my favorite places to spend a relaxing afternoon. Manly is also home to some outer suburb charm while offering fantastic eats like open-air pedestrian malls lined with surf shops, pubs, and ice cream stores. Once you’ve checked them out, skip the crowds at Manly Beach and take the more tranquil trail down to Shelly Beach so you can rest peacefully in an outdoor cove that boasts some excellent swimming and snorkeling. More importantly, goodness gracious am I full after my trip to Sunset Sabi where I indulged on handmade gyozas and sashimi plates!
Sydney is a food-and-wine-obsessed city, with enough variety and choices for the destination to be daunting. There are the expensive, upscale eateries with seating for hundreds to hole-in-the-wall Thai and ramen shops that serve lunch only. I recommend trying a cozy neighborhood place like Red Lantern. You can enjoy Vietnamese-inspired dishes like street food and wok-tossed dishes while sitting on the terrace in Darlinghurst. My favorite dishes are the turmeric and corn cake with blue swimmer crab and lemon cured kingfish served with rice paddy herbs.
After dinner, you can decide whether to head back home for the night or try your luck at catching a performance at the Belvoir Street Theatre. The theater is well known for its eclectic shows and exciting performers. And no matter what time of day it is, you’ll find a good spot to grab a drink and cheese plate at Dear Sainte Eloise afterwards. This stylish wine bar has a great drink list, and it’s always open.