Ah Sydney, land of all things visually stimulating. Whether you’re lying on the beach at Bondi or sipping craft cocktails in Darlinghurst, it’s impossible not to notice that you’re surrounded by beauty. Let’s start with the people. Half of the population look like literal models, and the rest aren’t half bad either. But the people are the caramel popcorn garnish atop the sea salt soft serve (a la the city’s ice cream of the moment) that is the scenery; individually, they’re impressive but together, they’re unforgettable. With eye candy, a stunning skyline and the kind of nature you’ll want to get close to, Sydneysiders are truly spoiled for choice and you know you want some of that.
This isn’t a comprehensive list by any means but add a few items to your Sydney itinerary and get your eyes ready for a treat (and document it because, you know, memories). Here are a few of the best Sydney Instagram spots…
1. Complete the Coogee to Bondi Coastal Cliff Walk
You can do this the other way around, but I’d recommend starting at Coogee because then you can while away the rest of the day at Icebergs when you finish at Bondi. But first things first. This 6 km coastal cliff walk takes about 2 hours to complete (give or take depending on how many photos you snap). Get ready to be amazed by the sheer gorgeousness of Sydney’s beaches (including Clovelly, Bronte, Tamarama), and inspired by the local runners who use it to keep in beachbody shape all year round. Celebrate when you make it to Bondi, and head over to Icebergs to grab a bite at The Crabbe Hole, a quaint cafe that overlooks the world’s most gorgeous public pool. Enjoy fresh sandwiches, cold lemonade, and hot people watching. Don’t forget the sunscreen.
2. Eat Sweet Treats
With a 95% approval rating from over 1,600 reviewers on Urbanspoon, you know Gelato Messina must be good. A long-standing Sydney go-to for the smoothest, creamiest, freshest gelato, they also have a sundae bar for times you want to yo self and indulge the way.
For something a little different, make your way over to Aqua S at Regent Place. Photos of these soft serve cones have likely made their way across your feeds, and I’m happy to report it really is worth trying. Flavours change every 2 weeks, which keeps lines long even on weekday afternoons.
3. People watch at Opera Bar
The food and drink at Opera Bar is fine, but the best part about this place is the a) view of the Harbour and b) the people watching. The scene includes smartly dressed up-and-coming twenty something power couples, stylish girlfriends, art scene leaders and more, so the vibe is international, cultured, and successful yet relaxed. You know, like you.
4. Picnic at Mrs. Macquarie’s Point
Beautifully plated food in a sceney restaurant is delightful for sure, but maybe you just want to kick back and take it easy one night (the Sydney vibe can rub off on you). After a day at the beach or an afternoon browsing the galleries, grab your take out of choice, something to sit on, and make your way to this patch of grass for an evening picnic. With stunning night views of the Opera House and Woolloomooloo Wharf, it’s the perfect place to get lost in your thoughts for awhile, sitting still and thinking about life.
5. Spend the night in Darlinghurst
Let’s be real though. We all need downtime sometimes, but we can’t deny the joy of feeling like a pretty young thing in the prime of our life. If you’re looking at playing this role in Sydney, and so hip it hurts is your thing, make your way to Darlinghurst and seek out the no reservations Buffalo Dining Club. Exposed brick, cured meats and fresh cheeses, and homemade chili sauces and pastes – you know the scene.
Full to the brim and wanting a good cocktail (or mocktail) of the same caliber? Walk 5 minutes to The Victoria Room. Glamourama Sydneysiders kick things off early, and this bar gets packed even on a Saturday evening at 7:30 pm. Sydney may be a laidback city, but that doesn’t necessarily apply to style with gorgeously bearded sartorially-savvy bartenders, and women dressed to the nines in full makeup, heels, and hair. I judge a place by the care it puts into even mocktails and this place passes with flying colours; whatever your tipple of choice, you won’t be disappointed here.
6. Take a #koalaselfie at the Australian Reptile Park
So you want to get up close and personal with a koala, kangaroo and/or wombat – when in Australia, right? Okay, this one is kind of touristy, but if it’s on your bucket list then make the trip about an hour North of the city to visit theAustralian Reptile Park in Somersby. It’s well-maintained, filled with workers passionate about their jobs, and set-up with sessions so visitors can snap selfies with their favourite cuddly creature.
7. Hangout at the Weekend Markets
Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s worth experiencing Sydney on a Saturday morning at the markets and take in the atmosphere. Check out Paddington Markets for quirky and homey but refined wares. You’ll find indie fashion designers, artisan chocolate makers, florists, musicians and more here. For Sassy girls who love the thrill of the hunt, check out Glebe Markets. Glebe’s vibe is more hippie and alternative, and caters to those who love their vintage, used books, and funky jewellery.
8. Brunch in Alexandria
Venture a few miles south of the CBD for brunch among Sydney’s creative class in industrial Alexandria. The Grounds of Alexandria is one place that has generated a well-deserved following. There’s usually a line for a table, but check out the bakery, florist, mini farm, kitchen garden and roastery while you wait. It’ll be worth it. Think breakfast burgers packed with bacon, fried egg, avocado, lettuce, cheese, tomato relish and smokey mayo, and served with a side of polenta chips. And for the chocoholics among us, indulge with treats such as homemade chocolate creme eggs from the bakery.
For Sassy girls who are more Gwyneth than Jennifer Lawrence, Bread & Circus is for you. The menu changes daily but former offerings have included a “Breakfast With Gwyneth” dish made up of sautéed white quinoa, kale and mixed greens with garlic and chilli under two fried biodynamic eggs. Simple, quality ingredients are the stars of the show at this eatery and you really can taste the difference. Soak in a slow morning here, sipping from the signature rosy pink coffee cup as you wait for your meal.
9. Stand in Awe at the Blue Mountains
Ask a Sydneysider or Sydney-lover for a list of ‘to do’s’ while visiting the city, and I’ll bet the Blue Mountains will come up. This scenic region encompasses cliffs, forests and waterfalls, and gets its name from a blue glow that emanates when eucalyptus oil from the forests hits dust particles and water vapour, and scatters short-wave length rays of light. Whether you choose to do a short trail walk to visit the famed Three Sisters, or take advantage of the campgrounds while completing the 3-day Six Foot Track, get ready to to have your breath taken away.
10. Be a Culture Vulture
If you’re like me, no city vacay is complete without a trip to a gallery or two. In Sydney, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) and the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) both have free admission so there’s no excuse not to check them out. The permanent collection at the MCA has over 4,000 works and chic gallery attendants that are more than happy to tell you about the works should you have any questions. For Sassy girl’s who’d rather spend the day at the beach, head to the latter on a Wednesday night for Art After Hours events and get in on the free live music, lectures, guided tours, and access to the collections of international and Australian art.
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Image #4 sourced via Pinterest, Image #6 by Jee Young Kim.