As an exceptionally pale individual, Australian beaches are really not my thing. In fact I feel a touch of sunburn just thinking about them. Sydney has some amazing beaches, but for the Sun-Surf-Sand-intolerant, there’s a whole lot more to the city that doesn’t involve searing off the soles of your feet running across the hot sand.
Sydney is great for outdoor weekend markets where you can find a hidden gem at a low price. Glebe Markets and Rozelle Markets (two suburbs not too far from the city centre) are my favourite two.
At Glebe, you can expect to find second hand (and homemade) clothes, jewelry, books, shoes, CDs… well anything really! If shopping for too long is dangerous to your mental wellbeing, its still nice to chill out on the grass with some live music and delicious food (the ‘gozleme’ (a Turkish spinach and cheese crepe-type creation) may make you rethink all you’ve ever valued in life). Rozelle is pretty similar but on a smaller scale, and a bit further away from the city (and one time they gave me burnt gozleme).
Location: Corner of Derby Place and Glebe Pt. Rd., Glebe. Held in the grounds of Glebe Public School
Time: Every Saturday 10am – 4pm.
Location: Rozelle Public School. 663 Darling St, Sydney NSW 2039, Australia
Time: Saturdays and Sundays, 9am-3pm
China Town is right in the middle of the city centre – it’s pretty small but there’s a lot crammed in there! Approximately a zillion Chinese restaurants line the streets, with a tiny window to buy 30 cent emperor puffs (a hot dough ball filled with cream) hidden in the South side. Obviously it’s a great place to go for Yum Cha (oh Yum Cha, I miss you so much), but the best thing about China Town is the night markets! Every Friday night from around 5pm until 11pm, the street is lined with stalls selling all types of delicious street food and a few places with clothes and other little knick knacks.
Location: Haymarket, between Central Station and Darling Harbour.
If you fancy a walk around some interesting suburbs, Newtown and Surry Hills are good choices. They are both only around 10 minutes from Central Station, and have a range of quirky clothes shops, cafés and bars. Newtown is my suburb of choice for shopping, eating and drinking – but I have to warn you – it can be pretty pricey! After Australia went insane for poached eggs and avocado, a good big brekkie in a Newtown café could set you back around $15-$20. King street is the main strip, where you can find a bunch of vintage clothes shops, as well vegetarian, vegan and organic food, music shops, sex shops, legal smoking herbs, 4000 Thai restaurants, and lots of bars.
In terms of the bars, there’s a lovely little cocktail bar called Kuletos which makes amazing drinks, and has happy hour between 6-7.30 (2 for 1 price!). There is also a few bars that don’t look like bars because they are hidden in places like old butcher’s shop with no other signage. They’re a little tricky to find but if you stumble upon one they have great atmosphere and excellent drinks.
If you want to see some more heavy nightlife (clubs and dancing, not just bars), the main area is called Kings Cross. I wouldn’t describe this area as particularly nice –there’s a lot of strip bars and a bit of violence around the area – however I have been there by myself at 3am with no problems. If you’re going to visit “The Cross”, my favourite bar/club there is World Bar. They serve their cocktails in teapots, which is super cute – but be warned, it could cost around $20 just for the cover charge (and they yell at you if you drink straight from the teapot spout. I know because it happened to… uh…. A friend..).
Another great area of Sydney for nightlife is Oxford Street. It has a lot of gay bars and is a fun place to party in the city centre!
Finding a nice garden in the middle of a busy city can be like a haven. In the centre of Sydney there is The Chinese Garden of Friendship, the Botantical Gardens, and Hyde park (not so much a pretty garden but still a nice big green area).
The Chinese gardens are at one end of China town, and have been created to look like a beautiful old-style Chinese garden. It’s not very big but you can spend around half an hour wandering around before going for a cup of tea or a snack at the café. For only $6 it’s a really sweet place to chill out away from the busyness of the surrounding streets. You can also dress up in traditional Chinese clothes (costs extra though!) and take pictures of your rad new look around the garden.
Location: Pier St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Opening hours: 9.30am-5pm
Royal Botanic Gardens
Sydney’s botanic gardens are the oldest botanic gardens in Australia, and if you think you plan to see the whole thing in a day, prepare for disappointment, because they are BIG! They have thousands of different plant species throughout many different gardens, information about science and conservation, a little train for kids, ponds and local bird life – but don’t feel too overwhelmed because they offer free walking tours every day at 10.30am. The Botanic gardens are also a nice place to spend an afternoon lying down and having a picnic and overlooking the harbour. To top it all off, entry is for freeeee!
Location: Mrs Macquaries Road Sydney NSW 2000 Australia
Opening hours: 7am-5pm in winter, 7am-8pm in summer.
Many people think that because Sydney is a big city that it’s just for eating, shopping, and being an important businessmanorlady. But Sydney has some great bushwalking tracks! The Lane Cove National Park (in the North) and the Royal National Park (in the South) offer some really good walking tracks where you can experience all the awesome Australian flora and fauna. The Blue Mountains also has really amazing bushwalking, but it’s a little bit out of the city (and by ‘a little bit’ I mean a 2.5 hour drive).
You can visit this website for information about the walking tracks (difficulty, estimated time, terrain, etc), but there really is something for everyone – from flat 2km walks to my-legs-are-screaming-and-my-lungs-are-on-fire 20km hikes.
Museums and Art Galleries
For the inside-inclined, Sydney has several great Museums and Art Galleries. The list is long, but I will just mention my top picks.
I LOVE the powerhouse museum. It is really fun for kids, and also for the inquisitive adult, with sections on science, technology, arts and design, and pop culture. Lots of really good interactive stuff, making science fun for even the most unwilling child (or adult).
Address: 500 Harris St, Ultimo 2007
Opening hours: 10am-5pm; 9.30am-5pm during school holidays; (closed Christmas)
Dinosaurs, spiders and fossils, oh my! The Australian museums hosts awesome collections of animals, birds, insects, and, most importantly, DINOSAURS! It also has a section about Indigenous Australian culture, a kid’s section, and did I mention that it also has totally awesome dinosaurs?!
Address: 1 William Street Sydney NSW 2010 Australia
Opening hours: 9.30am-5pm every day (Except Christmas)
Price: $15 for an adult
The MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) is the favourite of lots of people I’ve spoken to, but I personally like the Art Gallery of New South Wales much more. The latter has collections from Australia, Europe, and Asia, and is open until 10pm on Wednesdays for ‘Art After Hours’, which includes lectures, workshops, and films!
Art Gallery of NSW:
Address: Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney 2000
Opening Hours: 10am-5pm every day, 10am-10pm Wednesdays
Address: 140 George St, The Rocks NSW 2000, Australia
Opening hours: 10am-5pm every day, 10am-9pm Thursdays