The lovely Nia left London a few years ago for a super dose of the sunshine in my hometown of Sydney. Taking up residency at vibrant Oz fashion label Mink Pink’s offices as their Marketing Manager, she made Australia’s biggest city her own. Lucky for us, she’s coming back to the UK soon to do her Masters (and teach yoga YAY!), so I grabbed her top tips for everything she loved about this amazing city before she left. So if you want to experience Sydney like a local, check out my full city guide including all Nia’s tips here.
As a London girl based here for the past two years, one thing I can’t get enough of is the outdoor Sydney lifestyle. Yes, I’m that girl waking up at 5.30am to run along the coastal path before grabbing a green smoothie with a friend. I can’t help it, it’s just infectious here. All that blue sky, blue water, and all the tanned toned bodies just make you want to be outside, getting those happy endorphins and smiling at everyone you pass.
So for that reason, most of my tips centre around the outdoor things to do in Sydney. Bonus – they’re free! Don’t worry, I’ll hit onto the drinking part later, it’s not all smug #gettheglow hashtags – because there’s nothing better than a cold beer at the end of a hard day at the beach.
Walks and beaches in Sydney
The first thing you’ll need to do is the iconic Bondi to Coogee coastal walk, a 2hr path along some of the most iconic bays in the country. Head to Coogee Pavillion for that aforementioned refreshing beer once you get there – the rooftop bar is great fun.
Quieter bays like Milk Beach are best for calm waves and a view over the iconic harbour. Or take the ferry to Watsons Bay – go paddleboarding then treat yourself to some Oysters from the takeaway kiosk of the best seafood restaurant in town, Doyles.
Take a swim in the iconic Icebergs pool overlooking Bondi’s ocean, or try a yoga class there with the same relaxing view (grab that green juice afterwards and take a smug selfie for your friends back home, of course).
It’s amazing that most of the bigger beaches have gas barbeques for free use – head down to Bronte one evening with a group of friends for a sunset swim and throw a few shrimps on the barbie.
One of the best things about Sydney is the fact that you can drive an hour out of town and feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere. Head to the national parks (either Ka-Rung-Gai Chase, north of the city, or Bundeena in the south) and you’ll drive through stunning bushland and be able to stop at various hiking trails, deserted beaches or waterfalls.
Things to do indoors in Sydney
Now that you’ve had your vitamin D fix (and likely gotten burnt…wear sunscreen!), I’ll move indoors. If it rains, (which doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it pours!) you can spend a good few hours on a lazy brunch with friends. The food here is amazing and brunch is an institution.
Make sure you check out some of the amazing local music artists while you’re in Australia – at the iconic Sydney Opera House perhaps? And to soundtrack your visit, go for the upbeat ‘Let’s Go to the Beach’ by Melbourne artist Banoffee, guaranteed to bring the sunny summer vibes.
Restaurants in Sydney
For food, here are some of my favourites:
Nomad in Surry Hills – sit at the bar and watch the chefs cook, while you over-order on delicious share plates.
The Butler in Potts Point – sit out on the roof terrace in summer for an amazing view of the sun setting over the city skyline.
North Bondi Fish – amazing seafood with a view of the sea. Don’t forget to finish off with a Negroni Popsicle on your way out.
Newtown is a grungy, arty area full of vintage shops, bookshops and bars. Head to Mary’s for the best burger in town.
Actually… the whole food scene in Sydney is incredible, so I’ll just reel off a few more: 121BC, Acme, Apollo, Master, Buffalo Dining Club (their pasta is served through a giant wheel of parmesan… YES, SERVED THROUGH A GIANT WHEEL OF PARMESAN), Riley Street Garage…. Ok, now I’m getting hungry.
Bars in Sydney
For drinks or dates:
Arcadia Liquors in Redfern – in an up and coming area full of dive bars, Arcadia Liquors is a cute bar that’s apparently the most popular bar in Sydney for Tinder dates. Move on to the Bearded Tit just down the road and marvel at the wacky interior.
Another cute bar is Bulletin Place in the city – head upstairs through the unmarked door next to Tapavino. Their list of cocktails scrawled on a sheet of paper above the bar, changes daily.
Paddington is a quaint, leafy area full of beautiful Victorian terrace houses. Stroll around the boutique shops and pop into 10 William Stfor a glass of wine and delicious Italian food.
De Orazio in Bondi serves amazing pizza and porchetta (side note: the waiters are super hot and the white uniform really sets off their tan)
For a fun laid back Friday night with friends, try the Cricketers Arms in Surry Hills.
Try a tour and gin tasting at the stunning Archie Rose Gin Distillery in Roseberry – guaranteed to have you walking in a wobbly line within the first hour.
Catch a new or classic film at the beautiful Golden Age Cinema in Surry Hills, situated within a heritage-listed building with original art deco features.
Hit the bar and pool on the rooftop of the Old Clare Hotel for some glamorous cocktails.
Check out my full city guide for Sydney, including Nia’s tips, here.