Last year I went to Sydney for three days. It was a stop-over on the way home from New Zealand. I couldn’t travel to that part of the world, and not take the opportunity to quickly visit Australia. What I didn’t know when I booked the flights was that my brother would move to Sydney two days before I arrived there. So of course I ended up in an Irish pub on my first night.
What to Do
Some of the friends I made while travelling around New Zealand are from Australia. So on my first full day in Sydney we met up at Circular Quay to get the ferry to Manly Beach. We took the ferry around mid day on a Sunday so it was packed. But they go regularly everyday and it’s a great way to get good views of Sydney Harbour from the water. Manly is a beach resort north of the city, just a short walk from the ferry terminal. After a few hours lazing on the sandy beach and chilling in the water, we walked back through the town. There was a small gathering of market stalls, where I picked up a cool print for my apartment.
This was without a doubt the highlight of my short trip to Australia. I knew when I first heard about this coastal walk that I would love it. I took a reverse approach and started at Coogee, a laid back suburb with a wide stretch of sandy beach. From there, I took the pathway that hugged the rocky coastline and provided dramatic views of the ocean. This lead me towards Clovelly beach, a small patch of sand at the end of a narrow bay. There were a lot of people around as there was a relay race or duathlon taking place. I don’t know how those kids were running up and down hills in the blazing sun. The next part of the route took me through an enormous cliff edge cemetery – which was somewhat unexpected. Apparently there are over 50,000 tombs and mausoleums in this beautiful setting. Further on, I reached Bronte Beach, where I took a break to watch the surfers out on the waves. At the south end there’s a pool, Bronte Baths, set within the rocks. I continued on to Tamarama, which is the penultimate beach on the walk. The scenery was stunning. Needless to say I took a ridiculous amount of photos. Eventually, I reached the iconic Bondi Icebergs Pools. It was just as striking in real life as I had imagined. Waves from the Pacific Ocean constantly crashed over into the pool, while a small number of people swam laps. And Bondi Beach itself curved off into the distance. I made my way down and sat on the sand, relaxing and taking it all in.
After grabbing lunch & ice-cream, I reluctantly left Bondi Beach and ventured to Circular Quay to witness two of Australia’s most famous structures – the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. As my friends know, I appreciate a good bridge. And structures in general. The Sydney Opera House was designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzo. His proposal was selected in 1957, but the Opera House only formally opened in 1973. The precast ‘shells’ are coated in millions of glossy white and matt cream tiles in a chevron pattern. It’s very impressive in real life and is obviously a Sydney must-see.
On my last night, I strolled down to Darling Harbour to go for dinner with my brother. This pedestrianised area is a harbour surrounded by shops, restaurants and bars. It’s particularly lovely on a summer evening as the sunlight fades, and the harbour lights up. I didn’t know much about this part of Sydney before I went, so I was pleasantly surprised. I don’t remember where we went – we grabbed dinner and a drink on the terrace of one of many restaurants.
Where to Eat
Shop 2/15 The Corso
Manly Beach, NSW 2095
This is where we grabbed lunch when we first arrived at Manly. My friend brought us to this healthy Asian salad place, not far from the ferry terminal. Banana Blossom is focused on healthy fast food with local ingredients and Asian flavours. Go for the satay noodle salad, you won’t regret it (unless you have a peanut allergy).
169 Dolphin Street
Coogee, NSW 2034
Unfortunately I didn’t make it to Coogee Pavilion while I was in Sydney. But it comes highly recommended. It’s got a great roof terrace and would be an ideal place to relax after doing the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk.
186 Campbell Parade
Bondi Beach, NSW 2026
I stumbled across this cute little restaurant after eventually tearing myself away from the beach. I can credit Parida with my obsession with Patatas Bravas. I had never had tapas before, but ever since then I’ve had an addiction to this classic Spanish dish. I also love that all the windows fold back along the front. This place is a must for tasty, fresh food and cool interiors.
180 Campbell Parade
Bondi Beach, NSW 2026
No beach day is complete without ice cream. And after walking from Coogee to Bondi, I had worked up quite the appetite. I hadn’t done any research but luckily stumbled across Anita. This boutique ice cream parlour has an overwhelming array of flavours, all of which are 100% handmade. I’d personally recommend the Kinder Beuno gelato.
18/7 Macquarie St
Sydney, NSW 2000
It was incredibly hot. And I was walking the legs off myself. So I stopped by this craft beer bar for refreshments, WiFi and a break from the sun. I skipped the beer and opted for a lemon & lime bitter, which is an Australia/New Zealand thing.
Sydney Opera House Lower Concourse Level
Sydney, NSW 2000
You’ve probably seen many Instagram photos taken from the Opera Bar. Adjacent to the Sydney Opera House, this bar/restaurant has a great outdoor space with a view of Sydney Harbour. It’s a really good place to relax with a drink and appreciate the amazing setting.
Where to Stay
YHA Sydney Central Hostel
11 Rawson Place
Sydney, NSW 2000
I booked this hostel based on recommendations from friends, as the location is super convenient. Central train station is just up the street and it’s within walking distance of Darling Harbour and Circular Quay. There’s a restaurant, In Cafe, on the ground floor. The food is decent and it’s great for when you’re too tired to venture from the hostel or to grab breakfast before a day of exploring.
Where to Shop
Westfield Bondi Juncion
500 Oxford St,
Bondi Junction, NSW 2022
The weather took a turn for the worse on my last day. I woke up to torrential rain. Which was a good excuse for last minute shopping before my flight that evening. I got the bus to Westfield Bondi Junction. It’s very similar to the Westfield shopping centres in London. There were a couple of different shops that are worth a look. I got some beautiful jewellery in Tree of Life. And Glassons is like the Australasia answer to New Look or Bershka.