For a person that’s been nomadic for the last year and doesn’t really know if “home” will ever be one place, this is a rare sentence I’m about to utter. Sydney is a city I would live in. I know, it doesn’t seem so surprising, but the desire to put down roots is an odd feeling for me, so I thought it best to acknowledge.
So what do I love so much about Sydney? Well, there’s quite a few things on that list. It’s got great food, stunning scenic views, the beach AND the city within a manageable radius, a multicultural population from all over the world and pretty great weather year round – what more could you want? If you haven’t already visited this Australian city, I highly recommend putting it on your list ASAP. And just to convince you even further, here are 13 reasons why.
One of the Most Scenic Coastal Walks in the World
The Bondi to Coogee walk is a 6km path that sits up on the cliffs of Sydney’s stunning coast for anyone to enjoy — and both tourists and locals take equal advantage. It was my favorite thing I did over the course of three weeks in the city, and I practically dedicated a whole day to it, stopping often for pictures and breaking for lunch along Bondi Beach before doing the walk back home all over again.
Most people only do it in one direction, but I loved seeing how the scenery changed between mid-day and golden hour. With that said, it can be quite an endeavor to do the whole walk in the heat, so I recommend picking morning or afternoon when the temperature cools off a bit.
A Brunch Culture to Die For
Australians do not mess around when it comes to their “brekkie,” and typical breakfast food seems to be served all day at many of Sydney’s most beloved establishments. The best part is that while the food is so tasty, it’s also so much healthier than your standard American diner fare. You won’t find a plethora of pancakes, croissants and bacon strips on the menus here.
Rather, expect for every spot to put their own twist on “avo smash” and serve up a healthy dose of açai bowls and eggs with dukkah. My favorite brunch spots while in Sydney were Porch and Parlour, Shuk, and Sadhana Kitchen. The only downside: brunch can easily cost $40 after you’ve thrown a fresh pressed juice or flat white into the mix.
While the Sydney food scene definitely has a noticeable inclination towards the healthy, it seems to compensate by offering up the most insane desserts ever. Never in my life have I eaten such an extravagant ice cream cone as the one I had at Aqua S (pictured above), Sydney’s most popular soft serve joint where my order was literally handed to me inside a cloud of cotton candy.
Extreme milkshakes have also been a rising trend for the last year and have the most ridiculous toppings, including but not limited to things like entire donuts, oreos, cookie dough chunks and anything else that will run your blood sugar levels into overdrive.
The Iconic Opera House
Witnessing this architectural beauty is reason alone to make a stop in Sydney — and it’s easy to get an epic view from a multitude of spots around the harbour. Of course getting up close and personal is a must (as is a cocktail at the famed Opera Bar next door), but I also enjoyed the views of the Opera House from the Royal Botanical Gardens and by ferry. Next time I visit Sydney, I’ll definitely be checking out the Opera House performance schedule ahead of time and booking tickets for a show to get the full experience.
The Most Photographed Pool in the World
Just south of Bondi Beach is Sydney’s most famous pool, and even perhaps the most photographed the world over. Yes, that would be the Bondi Icebergs. A Sydney staple, this ocean-front rock pool has been an icon of the city for over 100 years and costs a surprisingly low $6.50 for an adult day pass despite its high-end allure. This is definitely a must if you want a classic Sydney experience and some great Instagram material to go with it.
A Gorgeous New Tap Room Just Came Into Town
Most breweries seem to follow a certain theme: masculine, industrial, probably heavy on the metal and wooden accents, rustic. Ya feel me? Well, let the new Endeavor Tap Rooms totally blow your mind. I happened to stumble upon this gem during a self-led walking tour of the famous Rocks district, and seriously never wanted to leave. Welcome to my brewery of dreams.
Architecture That Will Surprise You
Before visiting Sydney, I imagined it as a super modern city. Not to the futuristic scale of places like Dubai and Singapore, but I just didn’t imagine that the gorgeous old-world architecture you find in Europe would exist here. However, I was very quickly proven wrong as on many occasions while exploring Sydney’s CBD, I felt instantly transported to London or Paris.
If you’re a Europhile, get your fix of architectural charm by heading straight to the Queen Victoria Building, which was originally built in the late 1800s and now serves as a shopping arcade. The Strand Arcade nearby is another such building, but the only one of its kind that still stands in its original structure. I also loved the details inside the Wentworth Gallery at Elizabeth Street, which quickly transported me to Paris. It also happens to be a great place to check out both contemporary and aboriginal art.
The Most Epic Fireworks in the World
I was lucky enough to spend New Year’s Eve in Sydney to ring in 2017, but the last day of the year isn’t the only time you can catch the city’s world-famous fireworks. Next time you’re planning a visit, make sure to check the Darling Harbour schedule to see what events or holidays are upcoming, as it’s not a rare occurrence to catch a spontaneous Saturday night fireworks show here.
The Bondi Markets
The Bondi Markets are held every weekend at the Bondi Public School just a hop, skip and a jump away from the beach, and they’re a fun way to experience local Sydney life. On Saturdays, the school grounds double as a farmer’s market with local eats, serving up everything from fresh produce and gourmet goods to homemade chai tea and dumplings. Each Sunday, the area then transforms into a shopping market, where local vendors sell the cutest beach-worthy clothes for a fraction of the price you’d pay for them in a Bondi boutique.
The Grounds of Alexandria
The Grounds of Alexandria is just one of those places you have to see for yourself. It’s hard to describe, but is somewhere along the lines of a cafe, wedding venue, restaurant, gourmet lemonade stand, bakery, garden and farmer’s market all rolled into one. The expansive property is home to a variety of different spaces, all selling their own theme of delicious offerings, which means you could literally spend an entire day here eating your way through each vendor. This is a great spot for a relaxing Sunday spent with friends.
The Perfect Intersection of Beach and Urban Culture
Sydney isn’t quite a bustling metropolis, or a beach town. Instead, it’s something somewhere in the middle — and that’s one of the reasons I love it so much. In short, you can have your cake and eat it too. Want to spend your day relaxing on the coast, sipping fresh pressed juice and soaking up that Vitamin D? No problem. Bondi, Bronte, Coogee, Tamarama — take your pick of the beautiful beaches on offer. Need to meet a friend for dinner in the heart of Sydney’s CBD? A quick 20 minute bus or train ride will get you where you need to go. As the Aussie’s would say: “too easy.”
A Wide Variety of Art to Admire
Sydney may not be as experimental in the arts as its rival city, Melbourne, but it does have a wide variety of art to be experienced. For one, there’s the world-renowned Sculpture by the Sea (I sadly missed this), which takes place every year during Australian Spring. Welcoming 520,000 visitors per year, it is now the largest free-to-the-public sculpture exhibition in the world.
Taking a very different tone is the street art of Bondi, which you can often witness in the making along Bondi Beach’s famous boardwalk. During my visit, I caught @em_carey creating this gorgeous doodle world map. I know, the subject matter couldn’t have been more perfect, right?
You’ll also discover the predominance of indigenous artworks, which I absolutely loved for its abstract, colorful and interpretive nature. I enjoyed viewing aboriginal art at Wentworth Galleries and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, but The Culture Trip also has a great list of galleries where you can view art by aboriginals. Also not to be missed is The Gallery of NSW, Sydney’s most important public gallery which houses a collection of Australian, European and Asian contemporary art.
The Skyline at Night
The Sydney skyline is perhaps even more beautiful at night, and because of the way Sydney Harbour is oriented, it’s easy to get a multitude of different views while still staying on land. I loved the view from Kirribilli located on the North side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, as this neighborhood is situated directly across from the Opera House and has optimal views without any cruise ships or other obstructions.
Have you been to Sydney, Australia before? Leave a comment below with some of your favorite activities in the city!
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Wow Michelle this post is epic!! Makes me want to move there … today! Thanks for all the superb photos, really wonderful. ???
I’m an Aussie from Byron and I lived in Sydney for a time. Just came across this post and it made me realise how much I need to pay a visit to my favourite Aussie city – thank you! x
Thanks so much for reading, Lani! Hope you make it back to Sydney soon. It’s one of my favorites xx
I am heading to Australia at the end of January!! Can’t wait, reading your blog posts are making me so excited! I know it is their summer then, but i am nervous as reading online i learned that it is also their rain season. Did you find it rained a lot in January/Feb or still not very much?
Hi Megan, I wouldn’t worry about rain at all! I don’t remember it having an effect on my trip and I was there for 2 months, December and January. Maybe pack a small umbrella so you’re prepared, but you’ll find that most days are VERY hot and sunny in Aus during this time of year 🙂
Thanks for your blog Lots of nice words in this article , nice to read , Do not stop.