Best Sydney suburbs: must-visit list, what to do and see
Sydney neighbourhoods, what about a beachside suburb to explore, just a ferry ride away. Follow the journey around Sydney’s districts checking out what to see and do. Heritage to nightlife and everything in between. Let’s find out where to shop, and what to do in Sydney beyond the city centre and Circular Quay.
Sydney’s glorious front door is a marine hot spot with plenty of room for visitors. Sydney’s relationship with the water embraces the harbour. Beach culture + harbour Sydney ticks all the boxes. Here is a list of activities where you always have the water in your view. For instance the zoo is very special. Where else could you have a photo moment, with a giraffe framed against an iconic insta moment harbour.
You are spoiled for choice for your instagram frame. For the great sunrise or sunset moment check out Sydney Harbour National Park handy tips where to go.
Sydney Harbour : what to do and see
- Taronga Zoo, a zoo with views of the harbour around every corner is a great place for all ages, from romantic nights under a luxury tent to personal encounter with a koala during feeding time. The Zoo has packages to match visitor expectations.
- Bradleys Head Amphitheatre, part of Sydney Harbour circle walk is a great spot to soak in the harbour landscape as well as capture the place as part of your photo journey.
- Fort Denison is the site of Australia’s only Martello Tower. A self- guided tour will explore the heritage artefacts of this former military site, including the Fort Denison’s museum and canons gunpowder store. You will be interested in the fully operational tide gauge room where Sydney’ tidal benchmark is recorded.
Darling Harbour : an entertainment and dining hub
The main area of Darling Harbour is dedicated to entertainment and visitor experiences. Darling Harbour promenade is wall to wall cafes and restaurants with their menus displayed on the pavement to assist with choosing where to eat and drink. Remember to check google for reviews. And the area is not cheap. You are charged for the privilege of dining at Darling.
- Many of the guided tour harbor cruises depart from the docks here and it is also home to the Sealife Aquarium. A polished aquarium experience for younger members of your group will not disappoint. It is sometimes crowded as it is part of the mass tour bus circuit.
- The National Maritime Museum is part of the Darling Harbour. A mecca for all ages interested in the sea and the ocean. Stories of the relationship between the sea and the immigrants who spent months at sea is relayed through personal narratives drawing the viewer into the harrowing experience. A favourite place is the welcome wall. Perhaps a photo moment against the wall of names. Then there are the artefacts of ships and voyaging in interactive exhibits where we can be part of the sailors story. Wildlife, animals and birds have their part in the museum story.
- Madame Tussauds Wax Museum is a firm favourite for those who want to get up-close and personal with their favourite celebrities for a photo moment.
- Chinese Friendship Garden could appeal to the younger members of your party who can wander the Chinese Friendship Garden dressed in a Chinese costume. The garden was designed in 1988 by landscape architects and gardeners from Sydney’s sister city, Guangzhou. The Chinese Garden of Friendship follows the principles of ‘Yin-Yang’ – the balance of opposing yet complementary forces – and ‘Wu-Xing’ – the harmonious five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water. The garden has narrow curved paths which can be overcrowded during peak visiting periods.
Circular Quay a meeting point for visitors and locals alike
Iconic and instantly recognizable as a Sydney landmark Circular Quay. This is a transport hub, a place to meet friends, a place filled with casual eating cafes and restaurants, a place to book tickets to events and venues, a place that serves as a visitor magnet. Alongside Circular Quay is the Sydney Opera House and a range of museums and landmarks. The Sydney Opera House, part of the Circular Quay promenade is an instantly recognisable landmark. It is a great high point for visitors if you need a direction guide. Just look for the winged roofs and you are on your way. The Opera House has guided tours and is an integral part of the Vivid Festive. The roofs painted with light depicting the story of Australia is a personal favourite.
Kings Cross is the suburb that never sleeps.
Kings Cross Known as a “Red Light District” of a sort, Kings Cross is full of characters. This is a great marketing tool for a suburb that never sleeps. Kings Cross has nightclubs, restaurants and everything in between. Kings Cross is the location for Fitzroy Gardens, the well known Coca-Cola billboard sign, the location for a thousand selfies, El Alamein Foundation, a World War II memorial and arts centre, The Cross Art Projects is a fascinating gallery narrating contemporary work and curatorial projects that reflect the multiple relationships between art and life, art and the public sphere, and explores the boundaries of this context. Small corner shops, next to a shuttered nightclub, next to slightly seedy general store with innovative design spaces give the area buzz and energy.
Paddington is Victorian elaborate buildings repurposed as design outlets.
Paddington’s Victorian terraced buildings along Oxford Street and Five Ways provide a heritage setting for individual designers and local artisans to market their wares. Together with the Saturday Paddington market a shopping day is in the making with a visit to Paddington. Paddington market’s focus is trendy design wear with vintage clothing sold in the adjacent school hall. A cluster of boutiques at the Intersection showcases Australian design. The galleries of the contemporary art precinct form a local creative hub. Paddington Reservoir Gardens are a short walk away from the main street for those who need a break from retail therapy. The original reservoir stored Sydney’s water, now the disused site has been restored using the reservoir’s original framework where possible. It is a re-imagined space in a new way. Original brick, timber and iron fixtures were salvaged forming part of a public space for people in the district to relax in.
Surry Hills is funky, trendy, a tad expensive and definitively a good address.
Surry Hills This is Sydney’s is where visitors come to explore Sydney-siders life and lives. The area is known for its stylish cultural and cafe scene. Nineteenth century refurbished terraced houses street frontages are now the home of hip coffee joints, fashion boutiques and global eateries. Trendy pubs, wine bars and galleries dot the area around Surry Hills Library, a community hub with a contemporary, sustainable design. The library is a great photo moment for visitors interested in architecture and urban design. Then there is the once a month, Surry Hills Markets luring shoppers for snacks and vintage goods.
Manly is Sydney’s alternative to Bondi for locals.
Manly is a short ferry ride away from the bustle of Sydney’s heart. It is an iconic beach side suburban living for Australians. The beach, the harbour with its ferry ride set the tone for a relaxed holiday vibe. The tree fringed beach is a well known surf location. Manly is part of the coastal walking tracks to Shelly beach and beyond. The Corso pedestrian strip is predominantly focused on eateries, pubs with wide open doors spilling out sound and noise, and shops catering for visitors who need new swimmers.
Photo moments from the beach towards Sydney or perhaps on the bush trails at North Head with sweeping harbour and city skyline views.
Sydney is a holiday for locals and visitors alike. There is a suburb for all tastes and experiences from romantic sunset photo moments to buzzing nightlife to a peaceful retreat in a city reservoir park.
The journey is worth it.