Best places to stay in Sydney 2019 [best areas MASTER GUIDE]

Where to stay in Sydney 2017 - Best hotels

Last updated on January 22nd, 2019 at 10:16 pm

If you are wondering about where to stay in Sydney then you are not the only one.

This is my adopted city and in this guide, you will find all you need to determine your best area to stay, how to move around and the top experiences, including free ones too.

The best part? It’s all updated for 2019, no old stuff

I feel Sydney as my second home when is not the first one LOL I just love it. And not only for the beautiful bay, the amazing beaches, the awesome weather, the incredible nightlife and I could add so much more…..but also for the hidden corners and the many things to do.

Icebergs pool at the Bondi beach

Icebergs pool at the Bondi beach

If you are in a hurry, just jump straight to the 8 Macro areas summary and from there you can go deeper in the info. Check also the Sydney weather before your trip, the Bureau of Meteorology gives the most accurate forecast

Having a short stay in Sydney, 2-3 days, or a long one, 3-7 day, can take you to decide in a different way.

In my case, if I have a short stay my preference goes to an area, and a hotel, close to public transportation. If it’s longer I may choose an area with more “local” feeling

If you are coming to the capital of New South Wale for the first time you may want all the interesting sites to visit close to you.

Otherwise, the best place in Sydney can be in an area close to the beach or the coolest cafes and restaurants

Sydney : one of the most beautiful cities in the world

Sydney: one of the most beautiful cities in the world

If you are into photography, or just want to check out some amazing photos, you may also check the top spots in Sydney to take a photo. These areas are mostly around the CBD area and this may be another good point to stay central to Sydney.

For the evening and the events, I suggest looking at the website  It’s the reference site for any local.

Best neighborhood to stay in Sydney

Eight areas to stay in Sydney

Eight areas to stay in Sydney

  • Sydney CBD (Central Business District): perfect location if you are on a business trip, but not only. Public transportation is available everywhere and you are close to the main attractions too, which can be quite handy, especially you spend only 2/3 days in the city
  • Darling Harbour: this is a little bay directly connected to the CBD (walking distance). The view is magnificent and you have plenty of restaurant and pub options next door. The best place in Sydney to cool down, just grab a drink and enjoy the nice breeze
  • Darlinghurst: the most famous area of Sydney for nightlife and bars. It can be overwhelming, sometimes too much, however, it’s ideal if you plan to have some late nights. Just make sure to book the hotel on a quiet street.
  • Surry Hills: this is the trendy and arty area of Sydney. It’s all about being local, visit the boutique restaurants, enjoy brekky at the fashionable cafe, visit a few stylish furniture shops
  • Paddington: it is the upper-class area of the city, with some amazing art centres and small exhibitions (the Australian Photography Centre is my favourite). It’s a short bus ride to the beach which is quite handy in summer
  • Newtown: the coolest area with plenty of live music options. It has some great grunge restaurants, especially with a Middle East cuisine. It’s also very close to the airport (really a short taxi ride, same cost as public transportation)
  • Bondi: the worldwide famous beach, the place to see and be seen. In winter Bondi can be quite nostalgic, however, in summer it becomes the most popular beach in Australia. Probably not the best place to stay, unless you are into surfing, but surely a place to visit. 
  • Manly: the alternative beach, almost a sleepy village, less touristic than Bondi, more authenticly Australian. Transportation from the CBD is very quick (15mins by fast ferry or 30 minutes with the regular service) and this is a great advantage if you plan to spend most of the time at the beach with a few excursions to the major attractions. 
Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Coolest hotels in Sydney [boutique and hidden gems]

If you have only a few seconds to spare and you just want to check the coolest hotels in Sydney, including some boutique options then have a read to the below list. I have added a link to the area where the hotel is located so that you can easily scroll down to read more on it.

My favourite options are

  • The Ovolo 1888 Hotel: this is a little gem in Darling Harbour (it is actually in Pyrmont, but literally 2 minutes walking from the water). The rooms are nicely and carefully furnished and the best has still to come ๐Ÿ™‚ Most of the stuff that a usual hotel tends to charge (a lot sometime) here it is absolutely free like the minibar, coffee, laundry (usually very expensive), breakfast and sometimes even the happy hour is complimentary! Can you ask for more?

Check the best price at Ovolo 1888

Ovolo 1888 Hotel

Ovolo 1888 Hotel

  • QT Sydney : this is a beautifully designed hotel right in the middle of the CBD (city centre) and next to all you need, from business to restaurants, bars, public transportation, the Hyde Park for a walk and 200m from the Botanic Garden if you like some jogging. When you arrive to your room you will feel like stepping back in time to the gold era, but in today’s style. The restaurant is an experience by itself, famous in the city for the meat dishes

Today’s deals at QT Sydney

QT Sydney

QT Sydney

  • The Hughenden Hotel : lovely boutique hotel in the fabulous area of Paddington, meters away from the famous Saturday market and 1 minute from the Centennial Park, a fantastic place to have a walk, enjoy the life passing by or have a run. When you enter the Hughenden you may think you are in a 18th century movie set with the leather sofa, the bookcases, the lovely rags and I could go on forever. The rooms are really cosy and the breakfast is included in the price. Highly suggested if you like to stay in Paddington, 15 minutes from the CBD, 15 minutes from Bondi beach.

Best price at the Hughenden

Hughenden Hotel

Hughenden Hotel

  • Larmont Sydney by Lancemore : if you are after a contemporary design then this hotel is the perfect place to be, right in the centre of Kings Cross (Potts Point). Great location, just 2 minutes from the train and meters away from all the bars and restaurants that Kings Cross can offer. Some of the rooms have a fantastic view of the CBD skyline and/or the bay. Do not miss an ice cream at the ever popular Gelato Messina, along Victoria Street. The Buffalo dining is one of my favourite informal options with mozzarella and prosciutto imported from Italy and Spain

Great deal at the Larmont

Larmont Sydney by Lancemore

Larmont Sydney by Lancemore

  • Park Hyatt Sydney : this is the hotel with the best location in the city and with a swimming pool with an amazing view to the bay, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, just meters away. It’s positioned in The Rocks, right in the old town of Sydney where it all started. If you are after a special and unique stay then this is the place to book also because the freshly baked breakfast is to die for ๐Ÿ™‚

Check the latest price at the Park Hyatt

Park Hyatt Sydney

Park Hyatt Sydney

The quick guide to places to stay in Sydney in 2019

Before going deeper to each area, to the best restaurants, cafes and things to do there, I have organised this quick reference guide that may answer some simple questions:

  • Where to stay in Sydney for nightlife: There 2 great areas for nightlife and they are very close to each other, Darlinghurst and Potts Point. You will be next door to the most iconic and hidden pubs and bars of Sydney. I may only suggest trying to book a hotel in a quiet street or lane to enjoy a nice sleep when needed. Both areas can be quite noisy otherwise. The Larmont Sydney by Lancemore is a great accommodation in this respect.
  • Best places to stay in Sydney on a budget: The greatest choice of cheap and backpackers accommodations is around the Central Station in the CBD and in Bondi. The CBD is my option, especially for a few days stay (unless you plan to do surfing the whole day at the beach). It takes also more time to reach Bondi and to move around. The Capsule Hotel is the best value option and The Pod an amazingly cheap hostel, still on the “luxurious” side.
  • Where to stay in Sydney with family: the best location is in the CBD area, close to Circular Quay, a 20-25 minutes train trip from the Airport, next to the major attractions and a quick ferry away from Manly, a must visit beach neighbourhood. For the ultimate experience (expensive however unique) then the Park Hyatt Hotel is really unbeatable. The Grand Hotel Sydney is a much more affordable solution, clean and simple.
  • Best spot for a romantic stay: In this case, my favourite neighbourhood is Surry Hills, a bit arty, a bit secluded with plenty of boutique and hidden restaurant and cafes, such a cool place. This is not an area with big attractions, it’s made more of plenty of tiny secret places to experience with your partner. In this case, you should have a look at the 57Hotel or the Little Albion Guest House, two amazing boutique and romantic accommodations.
  • Where to stay for one night: if you have just one night then I suggest staying at Circular Quay, close to The Rocks, Sydney Opera House and the Government House

Ideas on unusual experiences

Here are a few ideas of things to do, from an unusual meal experience to a unique climb and much more:

Keep in mind that Sydney is not a cheap city, however, there are also plenty of things to do for free, or at least very little money.

Asian food tends to be cheaper than Western food.  At lunch, you can easily eat for $10-$12 in one of the many Asian eateries around. Sometimes even for less.

My favourite area is Surry Hills, with plenty of boutique cafes and restaurants.

Another undervalued neighbourhood is Newtown, especially if you are into live music, Middle East and Asian food.

In both cases, you will likely meet more locals than tourists.

Now, let’s go deeper in the areas of Sydney, starting from the CBD, the Central Business District, the centre of the city.

Where to stay in Sydney CBD

The CBD is where the First Fleet, captained by Arthur Phillip, sailed into the harbour in 1788 declaring the area a British colony of New South Wales.

The convicts pitched their tents in what is today known as The Rocks, right under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, while the governor and the other officials went on the eastern side of the bay, where today you can experience the Botanical Garden.

This is where you can see the biggest attractions of the city: the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

It’s all very close to the Circular Quay train/metro/ferry station. It is a mandatory stop for any visit in Sydney.

Wondering around The Rocks is an experience by itself. Most of the buildings are there since the 18/19th century. You can almost smell the history, beside experiencing some amazing viewpoints as from the The Glenmore Hotel rooftop, just unique.

Why staying or visiting the area?

The CBD is probably not one of the cool places to stay in Sydney however it has some advantages

If you are on a business trip and your office is in the city centre than the CBD is really an easy option.

If you have just 1-3 days and you want to visit all you can in Sydney than the CBD is most definitely a good area to stay being well connected with any destination and attraction you think of.

In saying that, the CBD is not an amazing place for restaurants, bars and cafes. Only 10-15 years ago it was deserted after office time and in the weekend. Today the choice is there, especially in The Rocks area and in Chinatown, however it is not comparable with other districts.

Major attraction in Sydney CBD and around

You have here a vast choice,really, and that’s another beautiful thing to stay in the CBD. Add also that with a ferry with Circular Quay you can quickly visit any place in the bay.

  • The Rocks: First European settlement in Australia. The Rocks is a beautiful district of Sydney, full of narrow alleys, small lanes and gardens. The old warehouses of the Nineteenth century have been converted today in galleries and restaurants. Enjoy the oldest pubs of the city, the picturesque markets in the weekend and my beloved Museum of Contemporary Art. The area is overlooking the harbour, in the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
  • Harbour Bridge: The bridge links the Central Business District of Sydney to the North Shore over the the bay formed by the Parramatta river estuary. It was built in the 1920s and it’s used by trains, cars, bicycles and pedestrians, each one with own lane. It is also possible to climb it, a great 3-hours experience.
  • Sydney Opera House: open in 1973, the Opera House is one of the most original and significant architectural projects of the last century. It was planned by a company called ARUP under the guidance of the Danish architect Jรธrn Utzon. It has a controversial history with the Sydney Council not happy about the work and eventually asking the architect to leave. It is now one of the first tourist attractions and probably the symbol of the city.
  • Museum of Contemporary Art: one of my beloved Sydney museums. It is the only one in Australia that exhibits contemporary art of national and
    international artists. It is open every day from 10am to 5pm.
  • Sydney Tower: It is also called Center Point Tower and, with 360 metres, it is the tallest building in Australia, at the moment. It was planned and built only to attract tourists because of its incredible view. The top 2 floors, used also by restaurants, spin slowly to allow a 360 degree view of the city
  • Botanical Garden: I suggest a visit to the Government House. It is free and there will be a guide that will explain how the political system works in Australia. Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is the place to be at sunset. You will have an amazing view to the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House

These are just a few of the interesting sites. You can see a full list on the Sydney Tourism Board.

Now, the question is where should I stay if I want to sleep in this area?

Accommodations in the Central Business District

One of the most convenient and a great value too is the Sydney Hotel CBD, just minutes from everything at a bargain price for Sydney standard.

The staff is very friendly and it is walking distance from the Central Station, Darling Harbour and lots of shopping areas, including the market in China Town.

Check now the best price

Sydney Hotel CBD

Sydney Hotel CBD

The Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel at Circular Quay has a great location with few rooms overseeing the bay, the Opera House or the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

It’s so close to the ferry and train station that will make any sort of trips very convenient. Expect the great service provided by one of the leading world hotel chains. The price tag is higher than the previous option however the view is to die for.

Check availability now

Sydney Hotel CBD

Sydney Hotel CBD

If you are after a unique experience you may want to check the  Park Hyatt hotel, one of the most luxurious hotels in Sydney with the best view right in front of the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and the city. Just marvellous.

Check your dream hotel availability

Park Hyatt hotel

Park Hyatt Hotel

It’s expensive but worth the price. Save on other hotels to spend at least one night here, especially is this is possibly the only occasion you are going to visit Sydney

You will remember the swimming pool on top for many years to come, if not forever

Restaurants and bars around

I love wandering around the Rocks, so many traditional restaurants and pubs. Some of them have also great live music, especially on weekend. These are a few of my favourites and why

  • The Australian Heritage: it has over 100 years of history, very traditional and friendly. Basic pub food, however, you come here for the place and drinks more than the food
  • The Altitude Restaurant: this is where you can experience one of the best views of the Sydney bay. The food is more fusion and tasting size. It’s more of an “impress” place with, again, an amazing view and good service than a renowned food experience.
  • The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel: this is one of the hidden gems of Sydney. Difficult to find it if you are not really looking for it. Great food, an amazing historic landmark and, best of all, fantastic beer locally produced. All at an awesome price. Indeed, I visit it quite often myself ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Munich Brauhaus @ The Rocks: if you are after some exotic food…German sausages and schnitzels with German beer obviously
  • The Glenmore Hotel: my favourite end-of-the-day drinks place. The rooftop is really a special place to be. Spare 1 hour or so for a beer here. Walk up to the top floor and experience the amazing view, from the Harbour Bridge to Manly

Darling Harbour, restaurants and view

Darling Harbour is a relatively new area of Sydney being redeveloped only 30 years ago.

It used to be the docking area of the city. It is now the place to be with so many restaurants, bars and cafes. The Convention Center is also here.

If you have kids, this is the place to visit with a huge free playground and the many attraction around (read more later).

You can go to Darling Harbour by ferry or with a 20-minutes walk from the Town Hall metro station.

Why staying or visiting the area?

A stay in Darling Harbour can be extremely convenient when your main goal is to stay around the CBD area, for business or just for the places to visit in Sydney.

It’s a nice relaxed area walking distance from the City Hall metro station with so many bars and restaurants to visit.

Strangely enough, there is not a wide offer of hotels though, and you should book well in advance to stay in this area

The Ovolo 1888 Hotel is the little gem in the area with lots of add-ons quite often included in the price as breakfast, minibar and sometimes even the happy hour

Check the best price at Ovolo 1888

1888 Ovolo Hotel

1888 Ovolo Hotel

Major attraction

  • Chinese Garden of Friendship: This is a beautiful example of the perfect integration of Chinese traditions with the Australian culture. The garden was donated as a sign of friendship by the Guangdong province to the city of Sydney in 1988. It has a characteristic Chinese style with the garden formed by bridges that cross small streams, ponds, and mounds. A place of peace in the heart of the Sydney.
  • SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium: it is the largest aquarium in the world with the biggest collection of sharks in captivity. Visiting the aquarium is a unique experience. You will be able to walk underwater through transparent tunnels and admire the seals, the coral reef and the colourful fish in their natural habitat. There is also a full section dedicated to the penguins. The aquarium is part of the Sydney Wildlife World, with the largest variety of reptiles, birds, insects and Australian butterflies.
  • WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo: this zoo has only Australian animals: kangaroos, emus and, of course, the koalas, which seem to be the most popular ones with the tourists. Unique is the Kangaroo Walk-About, an area where people can walk in the animal environment separated only by a small fence
  • Madame Tussauds: the famous wax museum that opened originally in London and it is now popular in many other cities in the world, Sydney included.
  • Australian National Maritime Museum: you can visit a submarine, an impressive gunship, a magnificent replica of the James Cook’s HMB vessel and so much more.

Restaurants and bars around

  • Cohibar: great view to the city and a nice beach life feeling around it. Specialised in cocktails. It can be very very busy on Friday nights and weekends
  • Zaaffran: located on the first floor of the Shopping Center this restaurant delivers amazing dishes. It is a bit of a new fusion Indian style food, do not expect the usual suspects. I was also impressed by the long list of wines
  • Muum Maam Barangaroo: the long walk to the bottom end of Darling Harbour is well worth the effort for this hidden gem. Such delicious food

Darlinghurst, the nightlife

Darlinghurst to Potts Point is the area where the biggest part of the nightlife is.

In saying that there are super quiet streets as well as super parties streets where it is impossible to sleep due to the noise.

I was in the area a few times an on one occasion I did not realise my accommodation was just in front of a bar open till 4am. But during the day it was super quiet. Guess what I did….just joined the party LOL

Oxford Street is the area with possibly the highest concentration of bars and pubs in the whole of Australia. There is a big influence from the gay community that uses this area for the famous Mardi Gras parade, an event not to be missed if in the city in early March.

After the second world war, this area was mostly inhabited by refugees and European immigrants that took here foreign customs as cafes and cabarets that soon transformed in strip clubs.

Bare Island Fort

Bare Island Fort

The 70s and 80s were years when prostitution and drugs were reigning in the area and it’s almost incredible and unthinkable, the change Darlinghurst, Potts Point and Woolloomooloo have gone through.

Once you leave the main streets and explore inside these districts you can find real gems, peaceful alleys and lanes beside the amazing restaurants and trendy eateries.
It’s one of my favourite areas to stay, however being selective is really the password otherwise you may end up with a sleepless night.

Major attraction from Darlinghurst to Elizabeth Bay

  • Sydney Jewish Museum: an interesting place to discover the history of the Jewish from the first fleet, which included few Jews, to nowadays, going through some of the darkest years of our past. At 12pm they organise a free 40 minutes guided tour, not to be missed.
  • National Art School: an interesting building to visit, the formal gaol of Darlinghurst. The students have also organised an area where they show the own work. It can actually be quite interesting and you could come across some of the future names in the art world.
  • Artspace: it’s the centre for experimentation and contemporary art. It’s admission free.
  • Elizabeth Bay House: It was known as the finest house in the colony. It has been refurbished and taken back to its splendour. I loved both the interior and the view to the bay

Restaurants and bars around

Here is a great news, most of my favourite spots are in the same area, almost in the same street actually.

  • Buffalo Dining Club : think fresh buffalo mozzarella flown from Italy together with a great range of prosciutto and jamon serrano from Spain. Pasta is also available if you still have space ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Una’s Restaurant : real German food with German beers of course. Plenty of schnitzels at a reasonable price served with a great service. One of my favourite Teutonic places outside Germany
  • Kings Cross Hotel : a great local pub on 4 levels. Walk up to the rooftop in summer. Live bands are also common, especially in the weekend.

If you are after an hotel in this area I would suggest the Ovolo Hotel in Woolloomooloo, an amazing gem not to be missed. It is in one of the old pier, formerly a woollen dock, fully refurbished and redesigned.

Stunning position, just minutes away from the CBD and the Botanical Garden, the Ovolo offer complimentary breakfast, as well as the free happy hour. And in 15 minutes walking, you are the heart of Darlinghurst.

Check availability at the Ovolo Hotel

Ovolo Hotel in Woolloomooloo

Ovolo Hotel in Woolloomooloo

Surry Hills, the trendy and arty area

I find incredible how Surry Hills has gone through such a dramatic change in the last 15 years or so. It was once one of the cheapest areas to buy a property. It is now one of the most expensive areas.

And there s a good reason for that.

There are so many beautiful cafes, restaurants and bars around, together with parks and leafy streets. The nightlife is here respectful. There is no craziness ongoing, everyone wants just to have an enjoyable and easy time.

Add to that the multitude of art centres and art exhibitions. If you can make it to one of the openings you will be suddenly immersed in the local underground art community

Surry Hills is also so close to the CBD that makes it an interesting area to be based even on a business trip. You leave the office and you walk to one of the coolest places in Australia.

It’s walking distance from the Central Station which makes it a super convenient place to stay.

Sydney Library

Sydney Library

Things to do in Surry Hills

You will find more galleries in Surry Hills, Waterloo and Alexandria than in any other area of Sydney.

Most of the openings are on Thursday. There is usually a talk from the artist(s) and sometimes drinks and appetisers are offered.

I love the openings as you end up always meeting interesting people, mostly locals.

You should not feel any kind of pressure to actually buy anything unless you love the piece of art of course. When and if you see something interesting, then move in, otherwise just have an “arty” chat

This is just a small list of galleries. You can have a look to an extensive directory on ArtGuide.

If you need free internet access or you just want to have some reading time, you can visit the local gallery on Crown Street.

Where to stay in Surry Hills

There is not a great choice of hotels in this area, however, ironically, here you can find one of the best value accommodations in Sydney, the Best Western Plus Hotel Stellar. It’s meters away from Hyde Park, the CBD and the all Surry Hills cafe and restaurants area. Great hotel in a fantastic location.

Check availability at the Stellar

Best Western Stellar Hotel

Best Western Hotel Stellar

Restaurants and bars around

There are really plenty of them. It’s hard to suggest any, really. Not to talk about the cafes, almost on every corner of Surry Hills.

I like to list these below just because they provide something unique in my opinion

  • Il Baretto : simple Italian food. In saying simple I mean back to the origin of the real Italian food. No fusion, no Italian tapas etc. Just a few mains on offer based only on fresh ingredients. One of my favourite Italian restaurant in Sydney
  • The Carrington: nice local pub off the main road. They offer a good selection of beer and some Mexican/Spanish food which is not probably what you are here for
  • Bourke Street Bakery : best pies ever….full stop! It can be very busy
  • Dove & Olive : nice gastro pub feeling with one of the biggest selection of beers I have ever seen. Every night they have a special beer and a special main which can save you some dollars however still eating amazing food


If you are looking for cool places to stay in Sydney then you should look into Newtown, in my opinion, the best if you want to experience the local Sydney life with lots of pub, restaurants, cafes, design shops and much more.

It’s around 4 km from the CBD however it is very well connected with frequent trains that will take you to Circular Quay in minutes.

It’s also super convenient if you fly in. The airport is so close that you better take a taxi, it’s much quicker and cheaper too.

Live music is another constant presence in the area with bands in pubs, mostly in the weekends, and theatres with a great line-up of famous names.

The first part of King Street, from the Victoria Park till the station, has some amazing Thai and Asia restaurants, supposedly the best in Sydney

If you are after middle east food then head to Enmore Road or King Street, after the station, towards Sydney Park.

Fashionable cafes are everywhere, meters from each other.

You will hardly experience any tourist here. This is the place to experience the local Sydney life.

The Sydney Park Hotel is one of the hidden secrets of Newtown. Amazing interior design that can take you back in time. Bathrooms are shared but believe you me there is great attention to the cleanliness. Price wise…unbeatable for Sydney!

Check the price at the Sydney Park

Sydney Park Hotel in Newtown

Sydney Park Hotel in Newtown

What to visit in Newtown

  • The Camperdown Cemetery: this is a unique place in its genre. It’s just behind the St. Stephen’s Anglican Church and you will suddenly feel in a Dracula movie, it’s not scaring, it’s actually quite interesting. It’s very tiny too….can I see a boutique one LOL
  • The Sydney Park: this is another big park that you can visit for a rest or for some jogging. It’s right between Newtown and Glebe, another interesting University area.
  • Gouldโ€™s Book Arcade: this bookshop on King Street is an amazing place to visit just to admire the number of books that the owner was able to amass in a relatively tiny space. There are columns of them and I always have a feeling they are going to collapse on me. Great spot to wander around

Restaurants and live music

My first time in Newtown was over 10 years ago. It was difficult to find a cafe and Newtown had some great restaurants.

You go now and there is a cafe every 5 meters and the remaining space is used by restaurants.

The style is more on the Asian side on King street, till the Newtown station (coming from the CBD).

From there you can keep going on King Street or turn to Enmore Road. In both cases, the style is more Middle East with plenty of Turkish eateries.

My favourites here?

  • Corellis Cafe Gallery : a real local cafe with some honest food. I like it and I do not know why :o….good sign I guess ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Lentil As Anything : vegetarian and vegan restaurant run on a voluntary basis. They have just 2-3 mains on offer, based on the fresh food of the day. No price, up to you to leave what you think it is right (they give suggestions on the wall)
  • Thai Pothong Restaurant : an institution. Nominated multiple time the best Thai restaurant in Sydney
  • Brewtown Newtown : is it a bookshop or a cafe’….probably both…great place for some quiet time
  • The Sultan’s Table : amazing Turkish eatery. It is BYO (there is a wine shop next door)

Paddington, the upper class area

Paddington is a fascinating are of well-refurbished terrace houses, trendy boutiques, cosy restaurants and cafes, niche art galleries and a few bookshops.

Add the biggest park in Sydney, the Centennial Park, and leafy streets everywhere.

This area reaches its best on Saturdays with the Paddington Markets next to the lovely Uniting Church.

Peaceful and arty are the two words that come to my mind when someone asks me about Paddington.

It is located just between the CBD and Bondi beach which can make it convenient if you plan to visit both. Busses run continuously on Oxford Street however they can be quite full during business hours and slowed down by the city traffic too.

Of all of the areas in this post, Paddington is probably the one that is less convenient for transportation and it will take you more time to move around.

What to see in Paddington

  • Paddington markets: running on Saturdays, this is the place to spend easily a morning wandering around. Every time I go I find always a new and unusual thing to buy….it may be just me though LOL
  • Australian Centre of Photography: a must see if photography is your thing. There are exhibitions that change on a regular basis and I was never disappointed. Try to match a visit with an opening speech, always interesting
  • Centennial Park: the biggest in Sydney. The place for any sport, to do or watch. Few stadiums are also in the area, beside a great playground for kids and an area with cinemas, restaurants and bars.

Right in the park, you will find the most unique accommodation you can have in Sydney, the Residences Centennial Park. These are the two houses (3 or 4 bedrooms) originally used by the rangers in charge of the Centennial Park.

They have been tastefully renovated in a Victoria style. They have an amazing view and you will almost feel to be in the outback although you are right in the centre of the most populated city in Australia

If you are looking for where to stay in Sydney with family and friends then this may be the perfect, and unusual, solution

Check availability in this unique place

The Residences Centennial Park

The Residences Centennial Park

Bondi Beach, famous around the world

Let me start with the bad news first. It is not conveniently connected to Sydney. You need to take a bus and a train. It will take time to go to most of the attractions.

In saying that, if you plan to stay 5-7 days in Sydney and you want to mix some beach life with some museums, and other places to visit, then Bondi could be the solution.

Worthless to say that the beach is just magnificent and that is why it is so popular.

If you are into surfing you can rent a board or take a few lessons. If you want to have a quiet swim you can visit one of the many swimming pool built into the rocks in one of the many small bays so close to Bondi.

Do not miss the great walk from Bondi to Coogee beach, back by public bus. You will experience one of the best coastal walk in Australia. Moreover, you will go through the incredible Waverley Cemetery, overlooking the Ocean. Really unique.

From Bondi Beach to the Iceberg Swimming Pools_20140127_110401-2-Edit-Edit-min

From Bondi Beach to the Iceberg Swimming Pools

Activities in Bondi Beach

  • Surfing and time at the beach: this is the main activity here, as easy as that
  • Bondi to Coogee walk: a 6km walk that will remember for a long long while. The coastal scenery is just amazing. Have a rest and a swim in one of the many small bay along the walk
  • Watson Bay: it’s a 20 minutes ride by direct bus. A beautiful area to explore with some nice beaches overlooking the bay area
  • Walking around the Bondi Pavilion, always some interesting characters around ๐Ÿ™‚

Restaurants and bars

  • Funky Pies : away from the touristy area. Good food, lovely service and an honest price too.
  • Bondi Beach Hardware : really a nice place for a night out. It stands out from the Bondi crowd for both the food and the interior design
  • Papa Pasticceria : this is a little gem you should not miss. It’s an Italian inspired pasticceria (patisserie). Amazing for coffees in the morning…..and the afternoon ๐Ÿ™‚

Where to stay in Bondi

There are plenty of options in Bondi. The unfortunate thing is that they do not come cheap. You can go for a hotel or rent an apartment. Here I like to suggest one of my favourites in Sydney for the great interior, the QT Bondi

It’s an absolute gem, a great boutique accommodation, something you will remember for a long time and so close to the beach too, just a couple of hundreds of meters. This is Bondi in style and at an affordable price, for Bondi.

Check price at the QT Bondi

QT Bondi

QT Bondi

Manly Beach, the alternative

Is Manly the alternative beach to Bondi? I am not sure about that. I personally prefer Manly to Bondi, however it must be said that the beach is not as dramatic.

Why do I like so much Manly?

Because of many reasons:

  • it is very well connected to the CBD and all the attractions that Sydney offers. There is a speed ferry that takes just 15 minutes or, alternatively, the public ferry in 30 minutes. Plenty of options.
  • there is a surf beach on the ocean side for some action and there is a quiet beach of the bay side for some easy time and swimming, perfect for the kids.
  • Manly has such a village cooled down attitude that you immediately feel miles away from the business area. You feel on vacation, more than any place in Sydney
  • there are some of the most beautiful walks, inside the Sydney Harbour National Park, with spectacular views to the city and the bay
  • restaurants, bars and cafes with a good range or quality and prices

There is only a small drawback. It’s far away from the Airport although not as complicated to arrive. Take a direct train from the Airport to Circular Quay and the Ferry from there. It should take around one hour, based on connection time.

What to do in Manly Beach

It is right in this park another unique accommodation, the Q Station, one of the best value accommodation in Sydney. It’s a resort on its own in a beautifully restored old building with a private beach just in front of it.

If isolation is your thing then Q Station is the place to be.

The Ferry station is a 25-30 minutes walk from the hotel. There is also an available hourly bus that takes just 5 minutes.

Check the best price now

Drone view of the Q Station

Drone view of the Q Station

Where to have a drink or some food in Manly

I always found hard to find a good cafe’ in Manly till I walked in Market Place, a parallel of the Corso and I stopped at the Market Lane Cafe.

Two meters from there you can also find Jipang, a place I always go back for its nice Japanese food.

And next door is Momo Bar, a dumplings and pokรฉ bowls eatery, my favourite in the Manly area.

For a good beer head down to the 4 Pines Brewing Company, meters away from the ferry station, on the bay side. Great selection, you can also go for the taste mix

Transportation in Sydney

Let’s start with something practical before going into more juice. 

The transportation system is not probably something Sydney is famous for, especially considering the size of the city (5 million people).

There is a small metro ring with 7 stations in the CBD and that is it. From almost any of these stations, you can catch a train to the outskirts of Sydney.

Sometime to reach a place, even as famous as Bondi, you need to catch a train and change to a bus paying two tickets. It has to be said that the transportation cost is low, when compared to other Australian cities as Melbourne.

The bus network is actually very good although it may be intimidating for people visiting Sydney for the first time. Bus stops are not always clearly marked. The bus does not provide the name of the next stop and this may be an issue for someone.

My advice here is to run Google Map and follow where you are. The alternative is to go the old way, seat close to the driver and ask him/her. They are usually super nice and very entertaining. I always have lots of fun

Ferries are probably the best and quickest way of transportation. Very reliable and punctual. A place like Mainly may look far away however it is just 15 minutes by fast ferry.

You may want to check how well is served the area (more on it later), when you look for a place to stay in Sydney. Here you can find a few maps and timetables of the transportation system.

Circular Quay with the CBD in the background

Circular Quay with the CBD in the background

Travel Photography Stefano FerroStef Ferro is the founder and editor of MEL365, a travel & photography website made to enhance the travelling experience and improve the photography work.

Stef is a professional travel photographer with past experience in the cycling and film industry.ย 

Stef runs travel photography workshops in Melbourne and around the world.ย 


Andrea is the hotel and city areas specialist.
It's not about being in a place or city for few days.
It's about experiencing it, living in it and enjoying it ;)
Many years around the globe and still looking forward to new sites to explore and love.
Life is beautiful, travelling is awesome :D
    • Sydney for a weekend
    • March 20, 2019

    I am trying to organise a weekend in Sydney for my friends 30th birthday and can’t decide whether to stay in Circular Quay or Darling Harbour! I love the look of the Sofitel Darling Harbour, but my friend doesn’t love huge hotels… she would prefer somewhere like the Pullman at Circular Quay, but for the money, the rooms don’t look that amazing online! Also trying to decide between dinner at Aria or Bennelong. Have you been to either? Any ideas or recommendations would be great! Thank you, Fiona

    • Gina - 10 days in Sydney x
    • March 19, 2019

    Hi Andrea,
    I am planning to visit Sydney in July 2019 for 10 days!!! I am super excited and happy. Your blog is very helpful too! I was wondering if you could please recommend an area+ hotel for me to stay , I am 33, not much into clubbing and loud music, love cafes and bars, nature, people, medium budget.
    I also want to know how safe it is for a girl, if lets say I want to go for a drink in a lounge/bar? Are Uber fine to use? This is my very first solo travel.
    Thank you so much and looking forward to hear back ๐Ÿ™‚ xxxx

    • Reply

      Hi Gina, thanks for your feedback ๐Ÿ™‚
      Uber is definitely used in Sydney, a lot. The city is generally quite safe. There are a few suburbs that probably I would not recommend but they are not very touristy either, no much point to visit them, honestly.
      Bars and pubs are quite safe too. Nothing happened to me in my last 15 years. Of course, if I see a couple of guys going to the mat then I would step back or leave the place altogether. There are plenty of bouncers around. Again, like any other city, I guess.
      I would consider these options:
      Surry Hills
      For more of a cafe, bar, restaurant and arty experience. I just love this area. It’s also walking distance to the city in case you want to visit a few museum or main attractions. The Moore Park and the Centennial Park are next door and you can easily catch a bus to Bondi beach for some sunbathing.
      The Little Albion is a cute boutique hotel, one I would always suggest. It’s very good value for money considering what they offer.
      Another accommodation I like is the Arts Hotel. It’s in Paddington, just bordering Surry Hills. It’s cheaper however it is not a boutique hotel, more of a classic accommodation.
      It’s the famous beach side of Sydney. I would suggest it if nature has priority over cafes and art. The walks there are spectacular, like the Bondi to Coogee walk, following 3km on a cliff with an amazing view (even walking through a cemetery).
      Take a bus or ride a bike to Watsons Bay for another amazing walk and view. Really plenty of possibilities.
      The cafe scene is not as good as Surry Hills. There are many bars, the one I would suggest is the iconic Icebergs. What a view from there!!
      The Hotel Bondi is right there in the centre of the beach facing the water.
      The Adina Apartment Hotel is 3 streets from the beach, it has, however, a more modern style and design, which I prefer if your priority is not the view.
      If you are more into an AirBnb style apartment than the Bondi Heaven unit is really unbeatable for the view. probably the best in the area.
      Of course, you can also mix the two experiences with 4/5 days in Surry Hills and the remaining part in Bondi.
      I hope I was able to help and don’t hesitate to leave another question
      Enjoy your stay

    • ANGIE/Langham Sydney
    • January 22, 2019

    Hi, I just left a message. Would you recommend the Langham Sydney, Pullman Quay or something else? Again, booking at end of Feb. for mom and teenage daughter so we want safe/comfortable/and relaxing. Thank you so much!

    • Reply

      The Langham Quay is a beautiful hotel, very close to the city, still in a quiet location and close to lots of attractions. The only thing you will miss is the beach, but you have a pool.
      Another option is the Shangri-La, with probably one of the best view of the city bay.
      Have a great stay!!

    • Angie/Week Trip in Sydney
    • January 22, 2019

    I am booking a first time trip to Sydney (I think over Melbourne) for myself and 17 year old daughter. It will be the last week of feb. We LOVE beaches, relaxation, adventures and a bit upscale hotel that is safe and beautiful views. We have no idea where to stay and I am planning on must see/do adventures. What do you recommend? THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

    • Reply

      Hi Angie,
      there are two great locations that should fit your like.

      The first ne is BONDI. It’s closer to the airport (grab a taxi there, so much quicker). The beach is amazing, a few nice restaurants and cafes and my favourite walk (great for jogging too) along the coast to Coogee. For the best view and lovely food head to the Icebergs Dining Room. Exceptional but it doesn’t come cheap.
      QT Bondi is a great upscale accommodations and good value for money too, I think.
      From Bondi to the CBD you need to grab a bus or a taxi. Off peak hours it usually takes 30-40 minutes. On peak hours it takes much longer

      The alternative is MANLY. You get more of a village & surfing feeling. There are two beaches, the surfing one and another one facing the bay, great for swimming.
      The beautiful thing is that Manly is connected to the CBD (Circular Quay and the Rocks) with a quick 15 minnutes fast ferry or the usual 30 minutes ferry.
      From the airport take the train to Circular Quay and the ferry from there, easy.
      In Manly you can book this beach house with possibly the most beautiful view in Sydney. Hard to get anything better than that.
      In Manly there is a national park, great for walks, and you have the possibility to explore by bike most of the unspoiled beaches in the north on the city. There is also a fabulous walk that follows the bay. Plenty to do.
      Enjoy your stay!!!

    • Lucy
    • November 9, 2018

    Hi Andrea,
    Fantastic job with this post, it is really helpful! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you! Wondering if by any chance you could provide tips on Perth too.

    • Reply

      Hey Lucy,
      it’s something in the pipeline however it’s far from being ready. As you can imagine, it takes time to build a good informative guide

      My quick suggestion here is to book in Fremantle, it’s really a cool are to stay, next to the beach and with some great restaurants, cafes and bars. Really beautiful. It’s also very well connected.
      The Be Fremantle hotel is absolutely in the best location ever, overlooking the port and at a bargain price for what you have. The view is to die for.

      Enjoy your stay in Australia!!

    • Suggestions for Auckland?
    • November 5, 2018

    Hello Andrea,
    Just wondering if you’ve done a helpful guide such as this for Auckland? My husband and I are going to be in Sydney for a few days for our first time and the guide was very informative! We will be spending the remainder of our week in Avalon before we head to Auckland.
    Thank you,

    • Reply

      Hi Christine,
      thanks for your feedback, really appreciated. I have the guide of Auckland in the pipeline but it’s not quite there unfortunately. As you can imagine, it takes time to build a city guide ๐Ÿ™‚

      If I can give you a quick suggestion I would say:
      > Stay in the CBD if it’s your first visit to Auckland. This is the area with the most of the attractions and it’s very easy to walk through it. Plenty of restaurants and cafes. Easy connections to the airport, other areas and the islands. My personal hotel choice goes to the City Lodge, for a very affordable price, or otherwise the MGallery by Sofitel, absolutely gorgeous
      > Ponsonby, a bit hipster a bit high-class. Lots of nice restaurants and cafes and close to the city. It does not have really attractions, it’s more about experiencing the local life,including the great nightlife
      > Parnell, more of an upper class area, with good restaurants, similar to Paddington in Sydney. A few galleries, great if you are into art
      > Mt Eden, more to visit for the historical buildings and a nice walk ๐Ÿ˜‰
      I hope I was able to help ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Britni
    • October 14, 2018

    So helpful! You may want to update your post though, just checked Sea Life in Manly and it’s been closed since January. So sad because we were thinking about going to Manly and spending a few hours there!

    • Reply

      Thanks so much Britni
      So sad to hear about the Sea Life in MAnly. It was actually a great place to spend some time. I knew they were suffering the own competition (Sea Life is also in the Darling Harbour) but not at that extent.
      Thanks for letting me know. I am already updating the guide accordingly

    • Mayank - Best Hotel in Sydney for a short stay (and Melbourne)
    • September 6, 2018

    Hey Andrea, great post. Apologies for repeating the question. My wife and I would be traveling to Sydney from India in mid-October 2018 for just 2 days (short on time) before moving to Melbourne for another 2 days. I am really confused on where to stay both in Sydney as well as Melbourne. It would really be a great help if you could suggest some areas to stay. For background, we would just be doing the regular touristy stuff in both the places and we are looking for budget hotels.

    • Reply

      Hi Mayank,
      indeed 2 days are quite short and you do not want to mess around with travelling time.
      For both Melbourne and Sydney I suggest staying in the CBD area. In both cases, the trip from the airport is so much easier (direct train or bus) and moving around the city is definitely quicker.

      About SYDNEY
      I suggest a hotel close to Circular Quay. This will allow you a good number of the attractions which are a stone away, like the Rocks. The train station is meters away and you can also take a ferry from there to visit the bay (a must do). Hotels I would suggest:
      >> Park Hyatt hotel, the best view and a great hotel, however it comes at a high price tag
      >> The Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel is another option, again with an amazing view and at a lower price tag
      >> The Russell Hotel is a great value for money, especially considering the location, right in The Rocks

      About MELBOURNE
      The CBD works great. It has most of the attractions, the best restaurants, lots of characteristic lanes, cafes, beautiful bars etc. Really all you need for the day and night.
      You can read more on Where to stay in Melbourne here. Below I add 3 quick options.
      >> Ovolo Hotel, my favourite. A great boutique hotel in a typical Melbourne lane. Possibly the best value in Melbourne
      >> The Lindrum is one of the oldest building and most characteristic in Melbourne. The location is great if you like to have early walks in the nearby park
      >> The Victoria Hotel is another great value place. Great price for what you get.

      Have a great trip!!

    • Sydney Rocks for family stay, San
    • August 28, 2018

    Hi Andrea,
    Thank you for taking the time to make this extremely helpful and detailed post.My husband and 10 yr old daughter are accompanying me on our 1st visit to Australia.We are planning on spending 5 days in Perth and 5 days in Sydney.
    My daughter’s requests are whale watching,seeing kangaroos and holding a koala bear.
    Hubby wants to relax and enjoy wine and views.
    My interest is in visiting the major attractions and a day trip to the beach.
    We are flying in from Middle east so its an 8 to 10 hours journey.Would The Rocks be a good place to base ourselves? Is it easy to reach from the airport?

    • Reply

      Hi San,
      so glad you found useful this guide.
      The Rocks is a great place, the oldest part of Sydney, with lots of character. It’s an ideal place for what you are after. Lots of restaurants and cafes, plus a few meters from the main ferry station and the train station too (Circular Quay). The major attractions are all around or reachable by a short train ride. If you get the right hotel then your view will be just magnificent.
      The Park Hyatt Sydney is my favourite. Amazing position and best view in Sydney.
      The Harbour Rocks Hotel is another great option.
      Whales and dolphins watching are usually organised at Circular Quay, based on the season.
      For the Kangaroos I suggest also a visit to Rottnest Island, a day trip from Perth. You will see there a unique species of tiny ones, so cute. You will be more likely to see wild animals around Perth than around Sydney.
      In Perth, I suggest staying in the Fremantle area. The city tends to empty after business hours. Have a look to the Be Fremantle, great serviced apartments at a bargain price and what a view!
      Enjoy your trip!!

    • Beverly Preece - Best area to stay in Sydney first time
    • August 22, 2018

    I am interested in a recommendation on an area to stay in Sydney. There will be 5 of us all around 50 years old. It’s our first trip to Australia, and we are planning on spending 4 nights in Sydney before moving on to Cairns and the Sunshine Coast. We aren’t planning on renting a vehicle in Sydney, but would like to visit the Bridge, opera house, blue mountains, have restaraunts and pubs within walking distance. What area would you recommend?

      • Stef
      • August 22, 2018

      Hi Beverly,
      being the first time I would suggest to stay around the CBD area. That would give you easy access to all of the attractions, either by ferry, train or bus. The closer you are to the Rocks/Circular Quay the better. There are more pub/restaurants, not too far also from Darling Harbour (an amazing area for drinks and food) and a step away from the bay and all the ferries (my favourite way to visit the city).
      Here 3 options, however, there are many others, it just depends on the budget and period of the year.
      Park Hyatt Sydney: for the best location of Sydney, unique view
      – the Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel: less expensive, still good view
      Sydney Hotel CBD: for a great value accommodation, however more in the city

      Most of the trips to Blue Mountains leave from the CBD (the main station or the hotel)
      Enjoy Australia!!!

    • Otto
    • August 13, 2018

    Hi Andrea, thank you for the great guide
    I am coming for the Gay Parade weekend in February next year.
    Do you have any tip on where to stay in Sydney trying to be close to the party area but still far enough to have a quiet night.

      • Andrea
      • August 13, 2018

      Hey Otto,
      my choice would go to a couple of areas:
      – the CBD, try to stay on the east side of it, close to Hyde Park. The Parade starts from the Liverpool/Oxford Street intersection
      – Surry Hills, however far from Oxford Street where the party keeps going till late in the night
      CBD has more hotels options.
      I hope I was able to help ๐Ÿ™‚
      Have fun

    • Lauren
    • August 1, 2018

    thank you so much, so many information here.
    I come to Sydney in summer, maybe January or February, is it too hot that time of the year?
    where is better to stay in Sydney, close to the beach or in the city centre?
    I am worried that is too hot for me

      • Andrea
      • August 2, 2018

      No worries Lauren,
      January and February are usually the hottest months. Temperature can go up to 40 degrees, but just for a few days.
      I would personally book a place in Manly or Bondi, at least you can spend some time at the beach too.
      – in Manly you can catch a ferry to the CBD (15 minutes, for the expensive quick service, or 30 minutes)
      – in Bondi you can catch a bus, around 30 minutes, however avoid the business hours as the road can get really busy
      Enjoy your trip!!

    • Jilly
    • July 15, 2018

    Great post Andrea, I was wondering where to stay in Sydney for the NYE.
    Do you have any special suggestion? I will be there only for 3 days and I would like to experience the most of the attractions of the city.
    Many thanks!

      • Andrea
      • July 18, 2018

      Thanks Jilly,
      the biggest event is in Darling Harbour with the greatest fireworks in Australia I believe. It’s right in the centre of the bay and it usually starts at 9pm. Big tip here, get there before 730 to get a spot. Last year I arrived there at 830pm and they closed the gates so I had to quickly find another point.
      There is a hotel with a fantastic view, the Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour. Of course, rooms tend to be booked out for that night but worth a try.

    • Peter5
    • April 8, 2018

    Great post Andrea! Just starting my travel planning for about 12 nights in Australia with 5-6 nights in Sydney during the last week of Sept this year. Itโ€™ll be our first visit. Very helpful and thorough descriptions of the different neighborhoods. This trip will be for my wife and I (59 years young and active) and my sister and Mom (64 yrs and 86 yrs). Thinking about The Rocks area to stay. Was wondering if this is a good area for my Mom who at 86 loves travel and food and holds up fairly well. Are there any special events happening in and around Sydney at that time?

    • Reply

      Thanks Peter!! Really appreciated.
      That sounds like a great family trip, I am sure you will love it ๐Ÿ™‚
      And great to hear about your mom. 86 years wow ๐Ÿ˜ฎ and still in great shape.
      The Rocks is a touch hilly but it has the great benefit of an amazing place to be obviously. Right in the art of the city, close to the train and ferry station too and with plenty of food options. The weekend has also the famous street market, which is a fantastic plus.
      In that area I may suggest :
      > Park Hyatt Sydney : it’s the best however it does not come cheap. I see it for that special days. It’s right on the water, so no climbing. The view is unique, in the world. Even for one night stay
      > Holiday Inn Old Sydney, again fantastic view, great location, meters from the water, no climbing involved
      > Harbour Rock Hotel – MGALLERY BY SOFITEL, one of my favorite building in the area. So much character. You will feel back in the 1800s, really fascinating.
      I may also add some spots you may want to visit/enjoy:
      Museum of Contemporary Art : they offer free daily tours. Times vary based on the day. Really worthy, I had personally a great time.
      La Renaissance Patisserie : the risk is to go back every day haahah, right meter from all of the hotels listed above
      – The Glenmore Hotel: there is a bit a climb (see map here), however the view from the rooftop is amazing
      – Susannah Place Museum: a tiny house depicting the life the people living in the area till from 1850. Really interesting. There are few stairs to go up but nothing dramatic.
      September events mhmhmhhm thinking thinking …… the Festival of the winds in Bondi and the Surry Hills Festival, really nice. The Cabramatta Moon Festival is also on (huge street festival in John Street)

    • Sarah Jane Maloles
    • March 20, 2018

    Hello, thanks for a very detailed post. Helped me a lot in deciding where to stay in Sydney. My family and I will be in Sydney and Melbourne this April. Just wondering if you have the same detailed info’s for Melbourne? Thank you!

      • Andrea
      • March 20, 2018

      Many thanks Sarah for your comment. Believe it or not I am just writing the Melbourne one and it will be published soon, however probably not in time for your trip, sorry for that ๐Ÿ™
      I will keep you updated

    • Thaisa
    • February 9, 2018

    Thanks for the article. I was looking for something more detailed and you have answered lots of my questions ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Reply

      No worries Thaisa. Let me know if you need more info.

    • Swati Negi
    • January 8, 2018

    Hi Andrea, Also any comments on these places – North (Kirribilli, McMahons Point), East (Coogee), Inner West (Balmain, Enmore, Glebe)? Thanks

    • Reply

      Hi Swati,
      let me say that I am sure you will enjoy Sydney, such a great and multicultural city.
      For nature and landscape photography I would probably stay closer to the coast and Surry Hill is just an easy bus ride from it, beside having an amazing coffee culture and lovely restaurants. Coogee is also another great option however you would need to commute every day and the bus network is not fantastic in Sydney on peak hours. In saying that, once you are in Coogee, there are amazing walks you can easily cover in the weekend.
      For live music and street photography I would go for Newtown. Great street art, interesting people around and some of the best live music. the coffee scene is also awesome and an easy 5m train ride from the city centre. But you are far away from the coast.
      I love the Inner West however I find it more of a family oriented area than live music etc. Photography is also limited.
      I hope I was able to help ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Swati Negi
    • January 8, 2018

    Hi Andrea, This is really helpful – you’ve covered everything. I’m glad to have stumbled on this page. I will be visiting Sydney for an official purpose for 2 months (Feb & March) this year 2018. Going by the description provided above, I have managed to short-list Surry Hill & Newtown – closer to the office on Phillip Street- for accommodation. Could you suggest which out of the two is better? I prefer nature, photography, live music, cafes. Look forward to your help. Thank you so much ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Julie Jablonowski
    • November 2, 2017

    Dear Andrea,

    Thank you so much for such a wonderfully thorough description of Sydney. I am just looking at hotels for my trip to Sydney in December. I am taking my 3 kids – ages 21, 17, and 15. We will be in Sydney for 8 days after spending 6 days in Cairns. I have been having a tough time trying to decide what area in Sydney to stay. This is a trip of a lifetime for us, so I want to take advantage of everything the city has to offer while not overwhelming my kids. I haven’t been to Sydney for 20 years and I can’t wait to go and show them my favorite place on earth. I was trying to decide between Manly/Bondi for easy access to the beach, but still being able to take them into the city for the typical touristy things like climbing the bridge and taking a harbor cruise. A trip to the Blue Mountains will also be on the agenda for us. Can you suggest anything else?
    Thanks so much!

    • Reply

      Good day Julie,
      first of all, enjoy your time in Australia and especially in Sydney, surely one of the most beautiful city in the world.
      I think the areas you mentioned are both fantastic to have a bit of both. I would personally stay in Manly because access to the city is 30 minutes by ferry, very easy (or even 15minutes on the quick ferry, although a touch more expensive). Beside the transportation, Manly has everything, a great surfing beach and a bay beach with calm water and a net to swim safely. Have a look also to Shelly Beach, a fantastic and picturesque small bay on the south side of Manly.
      Bondi is beautiful as well of course, however I feel like Manly has more Aussie life style meanwhile Bondi is nowadays more of a touristic area.
      Your “kids” will enjoy the lay back Manly, the great walks and the beautiful beaches on the north shore that you can reach by bus or just cycling. Still in 30mins(or 15) you are in the city, museums, etc
      From Bondi you need to catch a bus (usually in the traffic) and a train…
      An alternative is Coogee, but still access to the city is by bus and it takes time, beside not having that feeling of good time and romanticism of a ferry (just my 2c here ๐Ÿ™‚ )
      For Manly you may have a look to these beach front accommodations. Dream location for a memorable trip of a life time ๐Ÿ˜‰
      Manly Paradise Motel & Apartments
      Luxe 7 Beachfront, my favourite

      Blue Mountains are fabulous, great choice!!
      If you stay in Manly I suggest to spend 2 days exploring the north beaches up to Palm beach and the Barrenjoey Lighthouse (30km). Take the bus 155 and than L90 or just rent a bike in Manly. Alternatively you can also rent a car. So beautiful up there and not really on the touristic track, which makes it even better I think
      Also a walk in the North Head park next to Manly is a must. There is also another fantastic walk along the bay from Manly to the Split where you can catch a bus back to Manly or to the CBD. You follow the Fairlight walk, that goes on the N Harbour Walk (here is a link to the walk)
      There are many beaches where you can stop for a swim, just a great time.
      In Manly you can also rent a kayak for half a day in the bay.
      If you stay in Bondi you should do the popular Bondi to Coogee walk and also take the bus to Watson Bay. From there you can take a direct ferry to the CBD.
      If you like to visit wineries don’t miss a day trip to the Hunter Valley, one of the most famous wine areas in Australia (2-3hours one way)
      I hope I was able to help.
      Enjoy your trip!!

    • Mary Rose
    • October 18, 2017

    Andrea! As someone who knows NOTHING about Sydney and going for 9 nights with my fiancรฉ next month, I am so happy to have stumbled upon this article. SO much useful information, so thank you.

    Quick back story: my fiancรฉ and I live in San Francisco and when we travel we definitely want to immerse ourselves in the local flare. That being said, this vacation is coming at a much-needed time where we are both completely pooped from work and just want to relax. It sounds like Paddington may be the area for us? Or do you think we should spend a few nights near Bondi or Manly and then go to CBD or Paddington for a few of the other nights? Just FYI we love good food and going out to bars until the wee hours of the night, and then sleeping in and heading to the beach in the afternoon. Do people lay out on the beach in November? I seriously know NOTHING so any advice would be so great. Thank you!

    • Reply

      Hi Mary,
      no worries. It was great to be able to help out.

      Paddington is beautiful and the great thing is that it is halfway from the city to Bondi. If you like a bit of nightlife just go to Oxford street and around. So many bars and pub. Or Kings Cross, the other party area. Just keep in mind that they now close mostly at 1am (NSW law) with few exceptions. Both areas are walking distance (depends where you stay in Paddington) or a short uber/taxi ride.
      Paddington is quiet which is great for a good sleep

      CBD has the greatest choice of Accommodation I believe and it’s awesome with transportation (is staying close to Circular Quay).

      Manly is not really a party place meanwhile Bondi is indeed. But I suggest a ferry trip to Manly for the experience. It’s more of a surfing village.

      November weather can be awesome, 30-32 degrees easy. However being spring you may have a crazy weather week with 20 or so and maybe rain. Autumn and Spring are my favourite seasons. Not too hot (and it can be really humid and hot in Sydney). Best choice I believe. I suggest you also the Bondi to Coogee walk (, beautiful and with many small beaches and natural pools

      Just my 2c here, I think for a week you should just book one place in one of these 3 areas: Paddington, Surry Hills, Kings Cross


    • Albert
    • March 6, 2017

    Hi Andrea,
    I am going to Sydney next April and I am checking through some Airbnb in the north side of the bridge. I see that you do not have this area in your list. Any reason? Are they bad areas?

      • Andrea
      • March 19, 2017

      Hi Albert,
      sorry for the late reply, I was on a trip with limited internet connectivity.

      Actually the North side of the bridge has some of the most expensive houses and it is a bit of a exclusive area in some cases. In saying that it is very residential compared to all of the other areas I mentioned.

      If you decide to stay in the north side of the Sydney bridge, just keep in mind that you will have to take public transportation for any site you want to visit.

      Enjoy Sydney!!

    • Nura
    • February 25, 2017

    ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Andrea, you have done an amazing job here.

    I will be in Sydney for 5 days end of March. I was thinking about having half of my time checking the major attractions and the other half enjoying some beach time and maybe some walking.

    Where should I stay in your opinion? City centre or Manly or Bondi?

      • Andrea
      • February 27, 2017

      Good day Nura,
      wow, that will be awesome. Great time to be in Sydney, you will avoid the extreme hot and humidity of January and February.

      About your stay…..I think you have two possibilities.

      You stay in the Melbourne CBD for first 2 nights. You have a full immersion on the many activities and places to visit in the Sydney central area. I promise you will not get bored LOL

      You than book the other 3 nights in Bondi. This is the place to be if you like walking. There are some amazing walking departing from Bondi, both sides of the beach. The one to Coogee is one of the best I have ever done in my life. Moreover there are so many small coves with free pools on the way, perfect spots for some relax and a picnic.

      From Bondi beach you can also take the bus 380 that will take you to Watson Bay, another awesome spot for both beach and walking time.

      I am suggesting you to split the Syndey visit in two places because the trip from Bondi to the CBD is a real pain. It takes a long time and you want to do it only once ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Stay 5 days in Manly. Easy ferry transportation to the CBD for some Sydney attractions. You could even split the day in two parts; morning for museums and other places to visit and back in the afternoon for some beach time.

      The advantage of Manly, compared to Bondi, is that you have both Bay and Ocean beach.

      There are some beautiful walking tracks also close to Manly, like the Sydney Harbour National Park, however not comparable to the ones in Bondi.

      Enjoy your time there ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • neha
    • February 21, 2017

    Not just where to stay in Sydney. It is like a complete guide on Sydney. Where to stay, what transportation to take, what places to visit , you have covered it all so elaborately. I am going to save it for future.

      • Andrea
      • February 21, 2017

      Good day Neha and thanks for your feedback.

      Indeed there is all you need for Sydney really, although there are so many other things to do and see. I love Sydney, it’s such an amazing city.

      I never get bored. Even simply walking in the local streets of Surry Hills or Newtown is an activity by itself LOL

      Hopefully you can make it sooner rather than later and, if you can, plan at least a week. The city really deserves some time.

      Happy travelling

    • Chris
    • February 19, 2017

    Hi Andrea,
    I am coming to Sydney in April and I was wondering if the weather is still good for some beach time. If so do you have any preference between Manly and Bondi?
    I heard you can cling the Harbour Bridge. Do you know how?
    Thanks so much
    Great work

      • Andrea
      • February 21, 2017

      Hi Chris,
      you can still do lots of swimming in April, no worries. In fact it is the time when the Ocean water is at the highest temperature. Nice and warm ๐Ÿ™‚

      The weather can be also quite magnificent. Right now the temperature in Sydney is way to high, over 45 and the humidity is a killer, but in April it is awesome because the day are usually warm, around 25-30 Celsius, but not super hot.

      My favourite spot is Manly. There is more of a cool down, easy going, feeling there. I almost feel like in a village than in a district of a big city. It’s easy to reach it, with a 15 or 30 ferry ride. Also the Northern beaches are amazing, you can get there with a bike or just Uber, cheap enough.

      In saying that, my favourite walk is the one from Bondi to Coogee, an amazing 6km with a unique scenery.

      Hard to choose, I know.

      I would personally go for Manly, you can go for the surfing beach or the bay side beach, perfect for swimming and with kids, and this is a big bonus. And if the weather is not as good, it happens also in Sydney ๐Ÿ™‚ , you can always ferry to some attractions in the city.

      Cling the bridge? mhmhm, not sure….LOL…I guess you meant climb the bridge. Indeed you can climb the Harbour Bridge. It does not come cheap however it is a real unique experience, an activity in the to-do list. My only suggestion is to book your ticket in advance as they can become seriously booked out more often than expected. This is a link to the climb.

      Enjoy your stay ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Scott
    • February 17, 2017

    Wow that’s a long post.

    I will be in Sydney in the beginning of March for 4 days. Do you know if there is any special event I should go or follow?

    I was thinking about skydiving. Do you know if it is possible in Sydney? I guess the view of the bay from the top must be magnificent.

    All the best

      • Andrea
      • February 21, 2017

      Hi Scott, yes, very long, I love writing LOL and honestly Sydney has so many areas to explore and stay that anything less would not cover enough of the city

      So you will be in Sydney beginning of March. So sorry, there will not be anything happening in the city. It will be super boring……just kidding, it’s actually one of the best time to be in Sydney. Mardi Gras is on. Have a look to the official website for more info on activities and dates.

      The main event is the parade on Oxford street. It’s usually packed!! So try to go there a couple of hours in advance to get a viewing spot. It’s an awesome event and it seems that most of the city is there, really busy. After the parade you will find parties in every single pub and bar in the area. Really great.

      If you are up for a quick pizza have a check at the Dimitri’s Pizza, almost on the corner of Campbell and Crown St. It is an institution in the area, old style Aussie pizza. If you are after some fancy food have a check at the Winery, about 20m after Dimitri, on the right side. It’s in a hidden courtyard with a fantastic view to the city. Good also for just drinks.

      Skydiving in Sydney is indeed possible. Have a look here for more info.

      Enjoy your time….it looks like with lots of adrenaline ๐Ÿ™‚

By clicking on the "Submit your comment" button you are giving permission to store your data (name, email and website, if added). You can always send a request to delete or collect your stored data anytime in future. Read more information on the Privacy Policy. This message has been added to conform with the European Union GPDR Policiesย 

Leave a Comment