I spent six years living in Sydney before I moved to London. From postcard destinations to uncovering local gems, I savoured every minute of this harbourside city. ⛴️
Visitors often experience choice overload when it comes to exploring, and trust me its the same story for Sydneysiders when it comes to weekend planning.
Here ‘s my shortlist of hubs around the city that offer a truly memorable experience for locals and visitors. Each area boasts stunning scenery, good transport connections and great food options. 😋
Circular Quay epitomises a Sydney postcard and it hosts the most spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks in the country. 🥳
A day in Circular Quay will keep you busy, but food options tend to be overpriced. The Rocks is just a stone’s throw away and has better dining options, or you can organise a picnic in the gardens with a view.
Transport: Circular Quay is well connected and serviced by rail, light rail, buses and of course the classic green and yellow Sydney Ferries.
A short stroll from Circular Quay and at the doorstep of Sydney Harbour Bridge is The Rocks – a heritage district from the settlement days with cobbled lanes and home to one of Australia’s oldest pubs.
Enjoy the famous markets at the weekend; this is where you’ll find the perfect souvenir! Christmas in July is a particularly fun time to visit. 🎁
Weather is pleasant year round, but if you’re after something special then check out Vivid Sydney in May and June when the city becomes a festival of light and sound where art meets technology.
Transport: a short walk from Circular Quay and its many transport connections, and the area is also directly serviced by buses.
Easily spend a whole day exploring this peaceful paradise. You can enjoy scenic walks from Lavender Bay to Milson’s Point, stop by Wendy’s Secret Garden, and swim at the North Sydney Olympic Pool by sunset. If you have energy to spare, return back to the city via the pedestrian walk across the bridge.
Also be sure to check whether the Kirribilli Markets happening this weekend – you never know what you might find! 💎
Transport: the area is serviced by buses and ferry or a short walk from Milson’s Point train station.
Balmoral Beach isn’t for surfers. It’s actually one of Sydney’s quieter beaches in terms of crowds and the waves. 🌊
Situated in the harbour, Balmoral Beach offers leisure activities like swimming, stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkelling or strolling down the boardwalk with gelato in hand.
Rocky Point Island is the perfect picnic spot which is accessible via an idyllic bridge, and there are plenty of eateries around to satisfy everyone’s tastes and budget. Personally I recommend getting fish ‘n’ chips takeaway from the famous Bottom of the Harbour.
Transport: the area is serviced by buses, or you can drive but parking prices can be steep.
Spit to Manly walk
This 10km bush walk offers stunning coastal views and the opportunity to spot some wildlife (the non venomous variety, if you stick to the trail!). You can take your time or power walk your way through, so it’s perfect for all fitness levels.
Technically you can start from either end, but most people start from The Spit Bridge in Mosman and finish up in Manly. This is probably due to the variety of food options awaiting you at the finish line.
Along the route you’ll come across ancient Aboriginal rock carvings, sub-tropical bushland, secret beaches and more. The path itself consists of paved walkways, boardwalks, bush trails and stretches of sand to cross. 🐚
Transport: buses to The Spit Bridge in Mosman, and both buses and ferries to and from Manly.
Speaking of Manly… While Bondi is more widely known across the globe, Manly is frequented more by locals and visitors alike.
Its tree-limed promenade is perfect for watching surfers and beach volleyball players, and off to the side is its quieter counterpart Shelly Beach which is perfect for snorkelling. 🐟
If you don’t fancy getting your hair wet, you can also explore its many eateries and bars as well as retail stores, boutiques and markets. It’s also a hub of thriving nightlife, so don’t be in a rush to leave.
Transport: ferries from Circular Quay or frequent bus services.
Palm Beach – aka “Summer Bay” from Home and Away – is situated at the farthest reaches of the Northern Beaches. Its stunning scenery and quiet privacy often attracts celebrities as their choice location for a Sydney getaway.
Its other claim to fame is the iconic view from Barrenjoey Headland. Standing alongside a picturesque lighthouse, you can take in sweeping views of the peninsula flanked by beaches on both sides. If you can turn your gaze to the opposite direction, you can see as far as the Central Coast region!
There’s two pathways to the summits; a long winding trail and a short steep path. I recommend taking the short route uphill for a bit of exercise and taking it easy on the way down.
Transport: regular buses or accessible by ferry from the Central Coast.
Bondi Beach is where you’ll show off your Sydney holiday on Instagram: gelato in one hand, a cocktail in the other, sand between your toes and saltwater in your hair. 🤳
Transport: the area is serviced by buses, or you can walk 15min from Bondi Junction train station.
Know a secret spot or local gem that everyone should experience in Sydney? Share your insider tips in the comments! 👇