Sydney is a show pony – a teasing minx with her blue skies, beaches, boats and sparkling harbour. After a decade dining, drinking and discovering in this superb city, here’s my 48 hour guide.
Day One – sails, seafood and small bars
The Rocks is Sydney’s historic, and tourist, centre and your perfect starting point to drink in superb views around the harbour including the iconic bridge, and Opera House.
Take the mandatory snap in front of the gleaming white sails of the Opera House and meander down the charming, cobbled laneways where European settlers first came in 1788.
The Rocks is the best place to get a flavour for Sydney, past and present and spending a pleasant morning checking out the many art galleries and tea shops.
History buffs can take in a walking tour to hear the colourful stories of convicts and sailors from this interesting area and colourful weekend markets are filled with an abundance of colourful goods from crafts to indigenous art.
Sydney Fish Market
When you’ve had your fill of culture, a spot of lunch? I firmly believe your first meal in Sydney should be seafood. If you want to taste the freshest in town – and you really should – head to Sydney Fish Market.
Smelly, lively and bustling – this is a working port and you’ll need to fight your way through the crowds. There’s a handy bottle shop, bakery and fruit shop with juice bar for those ‘dining’ in.
Seafood can be cooked to order and you can pick up platters of the best Balmain bugs, blue swimmer crab and lobster mornay in town without paying extortionate restaurant costs.
Stock up on everything you need and find a patch of grass outside – just beware, the hungry seagulls don’t get to your chips before you do.
For an afternoon exploring a different side to Sydney, head to Newtown, a couple of kilometres out from the CBD and just ten minutes on the train.
Newtown is the seedy heart of Sydney’s inner-west. Definitely not the glitziest part of Sydney – but if shopping, dining, drinking and people-watching is your thing – definitely worth a visit.
Newtown’s main drag, King St, is a melting pot of students, hipsters, basket weavers and goths. It’s also the best Sydney spot to discover amazing vintage shops, quirky boutiques, and eclectic dining – anything from African to Scandinavian goes.
While you’re there, be sure to check out some of Sydney’s best – and quirkiest – small bars.
We lived opposite Earl’s Juke Joint for two years before realising the grotty, old, butcher’s shop complete with metal grille on the door was actually a front for one of Newtown’s most happening bars.
Day 2 – boats, beaches and beer
Devote your second day to one of Sydney’s many great beaches. Of course, you might want to visit Bondi, but a day trip across the north side of the harbour bridge to Manly is my recommendation.
Grab ferry from wharf three at Circular Quay and skim across the shimmering harbour to Manly. This is also the secret to nabbing the best views of the opera house and harbour bridge.
The ferry takes exactly thirty minutes, passing the opera house and wide-toothed smile entrance to Luna Park – Sydney’s iconic 1930’s amusement park. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a dolphin or two en route.
Once you arrive in Manly, you’ll notice the pace of life kicks back a notch. Folks round these parts are relaxed, they leave their attitude – and often their shoes – at home.
A pleasant morning can be passed chilling at Manly Brach or exploring the shops on The Corso. The wharf offers a range of dining options – lobster rolls at Wharf Bar and wood-fired pizza at Hugos. The popular Bavarian Beer Cafe offers humungous rustic plates of sour kraut and schnitzel and a vast selection of beers, served ice cold Aussie-style.
A short walk down from Manly, lies Shelly Beach. The water here is only about 12 metres deep and very still, so its a great spot for beginner scuba divers.
If diving’s not your thing, Shelly Beach has electric barbecues, toilets and showers so you can easily pass a pleasant afternoon.
Head back to Manly in time for sunset – you won’t regret it. At Manly 16ft Skiff Club, you can nab yourself the best views across the beach.
Grab a cold beer and order the lobster-topped seafood platter teaming with delicious Balmain bugs, Aussie prawns and calamari. Sit back, kick off your Havaianas, and enjoy the view as the sun sinks on your second day in Sydney.
Have you been to Sydney? What were your favourite spots?