This winter all eyes are on Sydney, Australia, best experienced for its summer, for its thriving gourmet scene, extraordinary cafe culture and suburbs that each have their own sub-cultures. On a recent trip to Sydney, I did a mix of touristy and offbeat things, visited some of my favourite neighbourhoods and went on some walks, which are familiar to me.
Here are some easy-to-do ideas for your next trip to the harbour city.
1. Bondi to Coogee coastal walk
Now this one is definitely touristy, but we have got to admit that it is absolutely unmissable. The 6-km coastal walk starts at the far end of Bondi and ends at the coastal suburb of Coogee. It will take you about two hours to complete if you do it at a leisurely pace. Start at the beachfront promenade of Bondi Beach — there are some great street art spots along the beach. Be sure to stop at the historic Bondi Icebergs Club swimming pool (and the bar above it) for the most spectacular views of Bondi. As you continue, you will walk along tricky coastal pathways and high cliffs, on beautifully designed wooden pathways. Take a breather at one of the many stunning photo ops along the way. When you finally reach Coogee, stop at one of the many trendy cafes for a flat white and a hearty Aussie breakfast.
2. The world’s most Instagrammable jogging path
While the area around Sydney Opera House may be done to death, we recommend taking your morning jog under the Harbour Bridge. If you navigate your way past The Rocks (a great place for your evening bar crawl with dozens of historic pubs), you will join Hickson Road. This quiet road, mostly avoided by tourists, literally hugs the waterfront and goes right under the Harbour Bridge giving you the most spectacular perspective of the area — and some great photographs during your breather. At the end of this street is the Dawes Point Reserve, where you can enjoy a leisurely picnic, in silence. Alternatively, you can even walk across the Harbour on the bridge, and hop on a train back to the central district, if you’re too tired to walk back.
3. A vintage harbour experience
If you are looking for a unique dining experience, we would surely recommend an evening with The Sydney Showboat. This vintage-style boat, which embarks at Darling Harbour, offers you a three-course meal accompanied by a beautiful cabaret performance, can-can dancers and the works. The best part is that the boat takes a leisurely amble along the harbour after sunset and takes several laps under the bridge, past the coastal suburbs and by the Opera House. Between performances, you can get out onto the decks of the boat and soak in some magnificent views with your glass of wine. A great way to see the city from the waterside!
4. Manly afternoons
We can’t emphasise enough just how much we love the Manly Ferry. For a nominal fee, you can travel with the locals, on this public boat, which takes one of the world’s most breathtaking tracks. Board the ferry at Circular Quay in the central business district and 30 minutes later you will be in Manly. This is a stylish waterfront suburb at the northern end of Sydney. As soon as you disembark the ferry, walk into the lanes of Manly, where you can shop at the many local boutiques. Manly has a beautiful beach and promenade. We recommend trying out the fish and chips shops in the area, where you can sit on a bench on the promenade and have a lazy lunch. Once you are done at Manly, all you need to do is hop on the ferry back to central Sydney.
5. Ethnic neighbourhoods
Craving a desi fix in Sydney? Head to Harris Park, which has become the hub of Indian restaurants, street-side pav bhaji stalls, chai shops and even sweet shops. Or head to the Middle East-dominated neighbourhood of Auburn where you can try out the best cuisine from Afghan, Syrian, Egyptian and Moroccan restaurants. Or maybe one of the famous Pakistani biryani joints. And, of course, Chinatown, which, as you would expect, boasts the best dim sum kitchens and noodle bars. We've found comforting desi flavours at Chatkazz for Mumbai-style chaat, Hyderabad House serves very good Andhra-style biryani and Chulho is highly recommended for Nepalese and Tibetan momos.
6. Newtown madness
We absolutely love hanging out at Newtown, which is a young, hip, student-dominated suburb. At night, the Main Street of Newtown comes alive with bars, cafes and restaurants. Newtown is famous for its vintage shops selling clothes, records and art. This district is also one of Sydney’s food capitals and you can find restaurants here specialising in all sorts of cuisines from Nepali and Ethiopian to Italian and Peruvian. However, we love the many Thai restaurants that dot this neighbourhood, which are authentic and inexpensive. You must check out Newtown Thai, Ante Sake Bar and Flying Tong.