East End Taste has debuted their new column: My City. My City includes a feature Q&A with residents from notable cities and regions from across the world, highlighting the best places to stay, eat and what to do for visitors of all ages. This week’s feature is is an insider’s guide to Sydney, Australia with Raphaela of @OverpackedSuitcase.
Where should one go first when visiting your city for the first time?
Head to Circular Quay to see Sydney Harbour, the Harbour Bridge and Opera House.
In your opinion, what is the best time of year to visit?
November – March
Which district is the best area to stay in? Any hotels you recommend?
AirBnb – Areas:
Close to the Beach – Bondi, Coogee, Manly, Balmoral.
In between City and Beaches – Paddington, Kirribilli, Newtown, Surry Hills.
Close to the Blue Mountains – Leura, Wentworth Falls, Katoomba.
Hotels in the City:
Pullman Quay Grand Sydney Harbour
Sofitel in Darling Harbour
Hotel in Bondi: QT Bondi
Where are your three favorite spots to dine?
Celsius Coffee Co in Kirribilli – amazing view on the Harbour! Make sure you get in early on the weekends as there is usually a queue and often a short wait of about 30 minutes to get a table.
Lotus Restaurant at the Galeries or Barangaroo (a bit pricey) – delicious Shanghainese/Catonese cuisine.
Macchiato – Italian restaurant in the heart of the city of Sydney – try the pizza, it’s a must.
Describe your perfect day in your city.
Head down to the Botanical Gardens and visit Mrs Macquarie’s Chair for a great view of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Then take a walk through the Botanical Gardens to Circular Quay, where will experience the Opera House close up (perhaps have a coffee, lunch or drink at Opera Bar). It is also a great opportunity to take some awesome pictures with the Harbour Bridge in the background. Alternatively, if you want some great shots with the Opera House as a backdrop, just head around Circular Quay to the opposite side. There you will find Cruise Bar (try out the restaurant on the first floor). Cruise Bar is located next to the Overseas Passenger Terminal.
Once you have had lunch, drinks or just taken in the view, head towards the Rocks to explore the olden day Sydney feel. If you have an eye for art, definitely stop along the way at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Once in the Rocks, check out the cute stores and restaurants (if you are hungry). If you are, and have a sweet tooth, you must try out Pancakes on the Rocks – they have a huge variety of pancakes (in fact both sweet and savoury). If you head to the Rocks on the weekend, you will most likely get to experience the markets that pop up there – you will find a variety of goods, which vary from second hand sales, homemade foods and/or small business promoting their handmade/homemade products. From the Rocks you can head around the harbour, going underneath the Harbour Bridge and moving onto Barangaroo.
Sydney’s newly built business district. Why would I want to go anywhere near a business district when I’m on holidays you might ask – well, the ground floor of the business buildings that make up Barangaroo, line the harbour, and are littered with countless restaurants, bars and coffee shops. There are a variety of places that cater for everyone – varying from fine dining to fast food joints. You may also find some pop up stalls. From there head onto Darling Harbour, which is another short walk and has some great places to see, which include the Australian National Maritime Musuem, Sea Life Aquarium, Wild Life Sydney Zoo, Madam Tussauds, Chinese Garden of Friendship among others.
- During the summer months (December to February inclusive) there is usually a fireworks show at Darling Harbour that is on every Saturday night.
- You will need about one day to just see the places listed in Darling Harbour, but it’s a good way to end the day and then re-start next morning.
- Make sure you get one of the multi passes, which offer entry to more than one attraction – this way you will get a discounted entry.
Alternatively if you are a beach bum and are staying in an AirBnb that is not in the city, but along the Parramatta River – take the Ferry to Circular Quay and then head off to one of the beaches. If you decide to head up North to Manly, then you can jump onto another ferry. Otherwise, if you are heading East to Bondi, Bronte or Coogee then you’ll have to grab a bus.
Another option is to take a road trip (which would mean hiring a car) down South to the National park and spending time on one of the beaches there. You may also go for hikes through the National park – there are many different tracks to choose from with the length of time to complete each one varying.
Another alternative yet, would be to take a road trip (which would mean hiring a car), or taking a train to the Blue Mountains. There you can experience the blue haze of the Blue Mountains (which is a result of the eucalyptus trees that grow there), take in the beautiful view and head down into the caves.
Hiring Cars – If you are interested in hiring a car ‘Bayswater Car Rental’ (also known as ‘No Birds’) have really good affordable options.
Which three hidden spots are a must do/see while visiting?
For the thrill seekers – high speed boat (with Ocean Extreme) that takes you from Circular Quay to Bondi Beach.
For the sunset lovers – Sunday Sunset Sessions at Fort Denison in Sydney Harbour (have to book in advance and organise a water taxi to take you out to the fort) – side note a bit pricey, but definitely worth the experience. For equally beautiful sunsets views head out to Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair in the Botanical Gardens.
For the lovers of great city views – O bar (pricey) is the place to go, alternatively head up to Sydney Tower Eye for a buffet (the restaurant revolves and takes approximately 1hour to revolve 360) or just head up to the observation deck, which also has 360 views overlooking the city.
Raphaela is from Sydney, Australia. Follow her on Instagram at @overpackedsuitcase.