Forget the tourist traps you read in your guide book, I want you to make the most out of what Sydney and surroundings has to offer, just like a local.
Sort yourself out with one of the best breakfasts in town at the Grounds of Alexandria! This place is basically an urban farm and a fabulous way to start the day! After a delicious breakfast and a coffee from the coffee cart, head into Salt Meats Cheese to pack a picnic for later, full of fresh produce and just what the name suggests...the good stuff.
Then set your sights on a swim, and where better to do that on your first day in Sydney than at a spot with a view of the harbour. Milk Beach is a little hidden gem which is best accessed via bus or preferably car. Walking down past a beautiful heritage listed Strickland house, it wont be long until you find the salty water down the hill. Unpack your little picnic and your day wont be able to get much better than this, all in view of Sydney city and the grand Harbour Bridge.
Making a day of the sweeping city views you might as well go and get amongst it!!! Assuming you need to work up to your appetite and we are only at mid afternoon, ditch the car (if you have one) and head to the Art Gallery of NSW to peruse some of the worlds finest collections. If you're not the arty type and just want to kick back and relax then catch an afternoon film at Govindas in Darlinghurst! Its a lie down cinema where all profits go to charity, and make sure you sneak a peak at Lotus Pod on the other side of the building which is the most amazing little boutique and again not for profit! If a movie also just doesn't cut it but a whisky would then i have just the place for you; Eau de vie.
From Darlinghurst/Kings cross area head on down Darlinghurst road till you come across a vibing little bar called Jangling Jacks. The cocktails are glorious and the fried chicken is not to be missed for a snack! Continue along this road until you meet some steep stairs and decline towards the Royal Botanic Gardens! It is a magical walk that will take you the entire way around the waters edge past the Opera House and into Circular Quay. In my head this is right on sunset sort of time which would be ideal! So you have worked up a thirst and have watched the lights of the city illuminate.. Head on into the Argyle in the heart of the Rocks to find El Camino Cantina for a Margarita - and not just any margarita - a cadillac one! And if that entire 24 ounces of booze doesn't get you excited I don't know what will. Now I'm not just trying to get you wasted on your first day in Sydney so we can do one of two things.. have another Margarita, and another and that leads to tasty easy shared, well priced meal here... or if you still want to stretch a little more out of your day then get an uber to my favourite and pretty fancy restaurant; Nomad. And nope I don't own it but I wish I did! I recommend the tasting menu... because who better knows what to feed you than the chef, and then get the sommelier to match a juicy bottle of wine whilst you reflect on what an amazing first day in Sydney you have had!
If you're not done yet then check out whats going on at Frankies Pizza for some late night live music!
We are heading east.. Start your day right with a dive into the ocean at North Bondi, where the water is crystal clear and will be sure to wake you up! Then just head over the road to Porch & Parlour for an unforgettable Bloody Mary, a smooth coffee and a lot of healthy options for breakfast! Lets just say this is about as quintessential #bondi as you can get, with a spectacular view of North Bondi, this is also people watching at its best if you can get a seat outside or on the windowsill.
Making sure you have your walking shoes at hand - follow Bondi Beach south by foot to walk one of the most famous tracks in Australia.. and that's for a good reason!! This walk will have you snap happy and as you heat up along the way there are many stops along the way to splash into the ocean! Once at Bronte Beach head a short distance up Macpherson Street for a well deserved, healthy and delicious juice from Orchard St. Back on the path head on until you find Clovelly and make sure you've brought your snorkels for this! Dive in and search for the famous blue groper, (aptly named Bluey,) that lives in these waters before ending your journey along the path in Coogee.
Right on the beach head up to the newly refurbed Coogee Pavilion, score a seat up stairs on the deck, order some fresh Sydney rock oysters and a beer and watch the sun disappear. Don't get too comfortable as we are not done yet, Uber, taxi or bus back to Bondi road and pre book yourself a table at a middle eastern inspired Sefa. Again I would definitly suggest taking up their tasting menu to get a real variety, and some nights they even offer BYO so just check in with them when booking!
If you're feeling pretty satisfied after your snacks at the pavilion and don't fancy a big Middle Eastern feast at Sefa then instead just head straight up to Bondi Junction on a bus and along Spring Street until you come to Sushi Express. This little hidden gem is one of Sydney's best kept secrets and the only authentic sushi place in Bondi! The seared grilled scallop will change your life!!!! It ticks all boxes:
Cheap.. YES Tasty... Extremely! BYO...uh huh!
After dinner run across the road and catch the bus up to Bondi Junction if you're coming from Sefa or simply walk back up towards the Westfield from Sushi Express, to check out whats happening at Spring Street Social. My absolute favourite live music venue for a great assortment of acts from Jazz big band sort of stuff to some amazing African drumming music! Get online and make sure they are open when you're in town!
Lets kick breakfast off on Crown St in Surry Hills. There's ample amount of choice, and it's always buzzing full of boutiques and cafés. My favourite on this strip is Four Ate Five for their baked eggs with chorizo, and generous thick shakes! Check out a few of Sydney's best vintage shops before jumping on a bus from the city to Spit bridge.
Get the driver to tell you when to jump off, it should take more than 45 minutes generally. Once there find the 10km track which will take you along the most crystal clear northern waters for about 3-4 hours depending on how fast you're tracking. I would recommend taking your time to enjoy the beautiful tranquil little swimming spots along the way! Be sure to take a big bottle of water, sunscreen and a hat!
You've worked up a bit of a thirst so lets head on to Manly Wine for a fat selection of wines, beers and some tasty treats before boarding the ferry back to Circular Quay. Depending on how you want to finish up your fun filled weekend and how much more you want to fit in..my three favourite bars worth checking out are; Bulletin Place which is super atmospheric, cosy and the cocktails are seasonal, & especially made to your taste. Baxter Inn for Sydney's biggest & best selection of whiskies & free pretzels! Or Palmer & Co. which will transport you right back to the 1920's prohibition era. If you go with the latter it happens to be just downstairs (or should I say elevator!) from dinner... at Mr Wong's.
Dan Hong's Cantonese menu will have your tastebuds in a feeding frenzy, service is on point and theres at lease 60 items to choose from to tackle your hunger. It's traditional Chinese meets contemporary & one of Sydney's best.
Extend your stay...
Now thats how to squeeze the most out of a long weekend in Sydney but I truly think we have barely scratched the surface of what Sydney and the surrounds has to offer. If you don't happen to be on such a rigid timeline, then my top two day trips from the city area; The Blue Mountains. Its about a two hour drive to this special place, full of eucalyptus forests, dramatic valleys and pristine waterfalls. Its a wonderland for hikers and bikers and an escapee from the chaotic city life. The other of the two is in the south direction and is only about an hour and a half from Sydney - It's The Royal National Park. Boasting some of Australia's best swimming holes, cliff side ocean walks and waterfalls you can jump off! To get the most out of both of these escapes from the city I really think they both deserve more than a day trip to truely be hypnotised by their captivating and tranquil beauty.
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