The Harbour City is the perfect destination for a weekend break. Offering delicious dining and sophisticated wining options, as well as world class entertainment, Sydney has something for everyone. The jewel in Sydney’s crown is undoubtedly Sydney Harbour, and the city’s spectacular setting in beautiful natural surrounds. There are always plenty of things to do in Sydney but if you’re looking for the best that this city has to offer, this itinerary will take you through the ideal weekend in Sydney.
Saturday morning: Sydney Harbour
Arrive early via a morning flight into Sydney and head to a hotel, preferably centrally located in the CBD, to drop your bags. Start your weekend with a walk around the harbour, working your way east to west and starting from one of Sydney’s most picturesque stops for photo opps, the Opera House. Tours are available, however you must make prior reservations. You can also go for a wander through the Botanical Gardens – there are usually locals taking a morning jog along the water’s edge. From here, make your way to the quaint cobblestones of The Rocks, the historical heart of Sydney, popping by the Museum of Contemporary Art on your way around Circular Quay. By now you should have worked up an appetite, so nip into The Fine Food Store for a well-deserved breakfast of waffles drenched in vanilla syrup and washed down with a flat white.
Saturday afternoon: Retail therapy
Recharged and refreshed, make your way to Hyde Park for a little people watching. The park is usually a hive of activity, with locals sunbathing, chilling out, or exercising and is the main site for celebrations during events such as the Sydney Festival and Night Noodle Markets. Nearby are the graceful spires of St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney’s oldest Catholic church. Catch a bus along Liverpool Street (the 333 or 380 will work) to Paddington markets, where you’ll find up and coming designers hawking their wares, vintage goods, second hand items, and stalls selling street food. If markets aren’t your thing, the Intersection at the corner of Glenmore Road and Oxford Street offers a raft of Australian designers such as Ellery, Zimmermann, Bassike and Scanlan Theodore.
Saturday after dark: Speakeasy dinner and drinks
After all that retail therapy, put your feet up at a suitably sophisticated bar. Sydney’s small bars, such as Grandma’s, Baxter Inn, and Stitch are all great places for a drink in the CBD, but if you’re looking for a spot that screams Sydney you can’t go past the Opera Bar – the views looking across the water at the Harbour Bridge are divine. For dinner, head to the subterranean space of Mr Wong’s, decked out opulently in a 1920s Hong Kong speakeasy vibe. Order the Peking duck and a salt and pepper crab, to share, then pick a cocktail or wine from the long list. For apres-dinner entertainment, check out the nearby Palmer & Co., which offers jazz tunes in a chic underground setting.
A night out in Sydney isn’t complete without a Tiger pie from Harry’s Cafe de Wheels, an institution in its own right. There are a number of pop ups now dotting the city, but you can’t go past the original, in Woolloomooloo. Somehow, pies seem better when eaten while sitting on the side of the wharf at 2am. Make sure you order the mushy peas.
Sunday morning: Rise and shine!
The best cure for a hangover? Fresh air and a long walk. Catch a bus to Coogee Beach (the 373 or 374) and take on the 8km Coastal Walk to Bondi Beach. The winding, sea-sculpted coast offers panoramic views over the ocean, and as well as the world’s most scenic cemetery and a lawn bowls club. If you’re here in early November you’ll also be able to check out Sculpture by the Sea, an annual art competition with displays installed right on the cliffs themselves. On the way, stop at Bronte Beach and have brunch at the Three Blue Ducks. Headed by a former Tetsuya chef, this funky cafe offers bright, excellent food – the perfect stopover before hitting the sands and surf of Bondi Beach.
Sunday afternoon: Get cultured
Soak up some sun at Bondi, or pay the nominal entrance fee to do some laps in the Bondi Icebergs Pool, then towel off and freshen up for a light lunch and a drink at Icebergs Bar, with great views over Bondi Beach itself. In the late afternoon, head back into the city and check out some of the latest contemporary Asian art in the White Rabbit Gallery. The gallery has a rotating display of works, and is the largest collection of post 20th century Chinese art in Australia. There’s a teahouse onsite if you need to rest and relax.
Sunday after dark: Bohemian rhapsody
A short cab ride away is Newtown, an inner-west suburb where you can explore the alternative shops, cafes and bars – this is Sydney’s bohemian side. Here, restaurant offerings trend towards the quirky and cute, rather than fine dining establishments. There is plenty to choose from, but the best way to end a big weekend is with comfort food, specifically American comfort food, at Miss Peaches Soul Food Kitchen. Exposed brick, warm leather banquettes and a diet thick with deep-fried goodness makes for a comfy, casual retreat. Cajun blackened fish and a side of okra jambalaya or mac and cheese should hit the spot. Old fashioned cocktails and imported American beers round out the menu.