Skip to Content

An Insider’s Guide to Sydney

An Insider’s Guide to Sydney

Today’s blog is from Lucy over at The Unlikely Bookworm. She’s currently living in Sydney and, as you can tell from this post, has fallen head over heals in love with the city. Here’s her insider’s guide to Sydney with some great things to see and do and gorgeous places to eat and drink.

Often cited as one of the world’s most beautiful cities, Sydney seems to have it all. Home to some of Australia’s most beloved – and famous – beaches, from beautiful Bondi to Home & Away’s Summer Bay – it also boasts a bustling CBD, a cosmopolitan café culture and, of course, the famous Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Add in to the mix endless stretches of rugged coast line and a near perfect skyline, and its easy to see why ex-pats, backpackers and globetrotters alike flock to its sunny shores in their droves.


Since moving to Sydney a little over a year ago, I’ve made little secret of how much I’ve fallen in love with this new city of mine; with its endless coastal walks, beautiful balmy temperatures and sunset-spots a-plenty. And while Bondi and its world-famous beach is where I call home, and is certainly a hot spot for tourists, there are endless pockets of the city, from the pretty streets of Paddington, to the bright lights of the city that are oh-so worth visiting.

What to see in Sydney

There are an abundance of scenic sites to see while you’re in Sydney, most of which are situated in the central CBD. Top of any tourist’s hit list should be the spectacular Harbour Bridge (which you can climb if you’re feeling daring), the iconic Opera House, the oasis-like Botanical Gardens and shore-side Taronga Zoo whose harbour views and animal life


Where to stay in Sydney

Perfect for the more discerning traveller is The QT Hotel. Fusing hints of gothic with art deco interiors, the QT is nestled between the historic Gowlings and State Theatre buildings and is within easy walking distance of the famous Opera House. With a lively restaurant and relaxing spa and Hamman, this boutique hotel is achingly hip and a stone’s throw from trendy bars and restaurants; perfect for anyone wanting to explore the city. Offering an extensive breakfast menu – with everything from indulgent pancakes to their signature Eggs Rockerfeller, city-side living doesn’t get much better than this.

Travel Hack Tip: If you ned to check out of your hotel or hostel before you’re done exploring Sydney, check out Sydney Nannybag luggage storage service! You can store them for a few hours or even days if you want to travel without your luggage weighing you down.


What to do in Sydney


Coastal Walking

While the most famous coastal walk is Sydney is perhaps the Bondi to Bronte – or Bondi to Coogee if you’re feeling energetic – my personal favourite has got to be Rose Bay to Nielsen Park. The beach at Rose Bay is fairly quiet – even in peak season – and attracts local dog-walkers and those wanting a sun drenched afternoon on the sand with views of the famous harbour bridge. The walk to Nielsen Park is just over and features beautiful harbour views, remnant heaths, woodland and some patches of rainforest as well as craggy cliffs and secluded coves for fishing. Post walk, Nielsen Park – deemed by many as one of Sydney’s best beaches; with gorgeous white sand and a bustling picnic area for friends and families alike – is a great spot to drink in the views of Sydney with a fresh juice or some tempting bites from the shaded café.


Paddle Boarding

If you want to make like a local, there are few better ways to see Sydney’s beautiful water scene than on a paddle board. Available to hire from beaches across the city, the most scenic spots include Watson’s Bay – whose ocean vista offers an unbeatable view of the Harbour Bridge, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park – where you can paddle down the vast, still waters of the Basin, and Shelley Beach in Manly, perfect for soaking up the surf atmosphere.


Shark Island

A small island that lies off Sydney suburbs Point Piper, Vaucluse and Rose Bay, this 1.5 hectare island is well worth a visit. Accessible by ferry from Circular Keys, water taxi if you’re feeling flush; or kayaking if you’re feeling energetic, this beautiful and history-drenched spot is well worth a visit. Pack a picnic and enjoy the outstanding sea views.

Where to eat in Sydney

Bar Machiavelle

Nestled down a quiet street a short walk from Rushcutters Bay’s beautiful harbour, is Italian Restaurant Bar Machiavelli. Housed in a historic tyre factory, the décor is urban – with soaring brick walls and cinematic graphics of Hollywood movie stars – the atmosphere is bustling; the food delicious. Try the half shell scallops and the fig with prosciutto salad.


For food with a view, few places do it better than Rose Bay’s Catalina. Located on the harbour, the restaurant offers scenic views of the water and is the perfect place to watch the sun set over the city. Try the mango panna cotta with fresh passionfruit and coconut sorbet; the perfect combination of refreshing and sweet.


Café Del Mar

Set in tourist hotspot Darling Harbour, Café Del Mar’s Mediterranean menu and bustling location makes it a must-visit for anyone wanting to explore Sydney’s best bits. With an outdoor terrace and panoramic views of Darling Harbour, the menu is as tasty as it is tantalising. Try the spiced seafood stew for two.

Where to drink in Sydney

The Royal Paddington

Few places do sundown drinks like they do them in Sydney and for unbeatable views of the city’s skyline, The Royal Paddington’s Elephant Bar and Rooftop is where it’s at. The perfect place to watch the sun go down with a cocktail in hand, The Elephant Bar and rooftop offers a lively vibe and a mouthwatering cocktail List. Try the Passionate Botanist and watch the sun set in style.

Bondi Hardware

Make like a Bondi native by visiting locals favourite Bondi Hardware. A stone’s throw from the beach, it attracts a crowd made up of travellers and post-work revellers and is a great spot to spend an evening after a day on the beach. Try the Fresh Prince of Bell Air for a retro vibe.

screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-12-50-01Lucy is a certified bookworm, wanderluster and yogi with a thirst for adventure and love for life. Formerly a Londoner, she is now a converted Sydney-sider, loving life down-under. You can read her blog here and find her on Instagram and Twitter.

Read more about Sydney:

10 things you need to know to fall in love with Sydney 

Robert M Teague

Thursday 22nd of December 2016

I love Sydney, but it's been a few years since I was there last. I personally would recommend the Harbour Rocks Hotel as a place to stay and the Lord Nelson for drinks. Thanks for the article, it brought back many fond memories.


Saturday 31st of December 2016

Hi Robert, do you have any other recommendations?

Aftab Pathan

Sunday 18th of December 2016

Sydney has always been on my list of places to visit. Definitely going to bookmark this for my potential trip next year!

Sophie Jones

Friday 16th of December 2016

Sydney looks so much more spectacular than when I went. I was only there for a few a days and really didn't make the most of it. The weather was dark and moody for the short time I was there, I would certainly like to go back and see it for how it really is!


Thursday 15th of December 2016

Such a great post! I've wanted to visit Australia for at least 7 years now, but it's just SO FAR... But I surely haven't given up hope! I'll definitely keep this post in my bookmarks and return to it when my wallet finally allows me to book the flights. :)