Awesome Ideas for A Sydney Weekender: Where to Play, Stay & Eat!

Sydney is one of the most visited cities in Australia and one that ranks high on practically everyone’s Australia Bucket-List. Boasting some of Australia’s most iconic tourist attractions – the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and Bondi Beach – to name a few, Sydney is jam packed full of amazing things to see and do! Whether you’re looking to pack everything in to one whirlwind Sydney Weekender (where long weekends are best!), or pick your highlights from the Top Things To Do in Sydney, we’ve got options and ideas to suit every budget and every style of traveler. And this guide was written by a Sydney Native – so you know her recommendations are going to be spot on!

Sydney Weekender Guide

Awesome Ideas for A Sydney Weekender – Where To Play, Stay & Eat!

A Guest Post by Paula Morgan from Sydney Expert

There is so much to see and do in Sydney that you’ll need a pretty well thought out itinerary to make the most of your limited time.  Here are my highlights for a short visit to this gorgeous harbour city, along with recommendation for where to eat and where to stay!

Top Things To Do on a Weekend In Sydney

Visit the Sydney Opera House

Things To Do in SydneyThe Opera House is at the top of every Sydney guidebooks must-see list. It belongs there; it’s an amazing piece of architecture and one you cannot fail to be impressed by.
Try to see inside the Sydney Opera House too. You can do this by getting tickets to a show or joining one of the Opera House Guided Tours. Any why not add an unusual activity to your list that will give you a vantage point that’s a little out of the ordinary? Cruise around the Harbour and watch the night  lights of Sydney come alive on a sunset dinner cruise; or get a unique aerial perspective on a Sydney Harbour Helicopter Ride!

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Get up close and personal with the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Weekend in Sydney Things To DoSydney’s other icon provides an excellent vantage point over the city. There are 3 ways to explore the famous ‘coat hanger’.

  • If you are not scared of heights or stairs then the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb is fantastic.  It will take you 134m above sea level via 1,439 stairs.
  • If 200 steps is more your style then visit the Pylon Museum – Learn how the bridge was built and get fabulous 360 degree views of the city.
  • If you are travelling on a budget you can walk across the deck of the bridge for free.

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Stroll Royal Botanic Gardens

Sydney AttractionsEven if gardens aren’t usually at the top of your travel list, you should make an exception and include this one.  You can pick up a self-guided walking or sculpture map at the information centre. Grab some wine, cheese and fruit and walk around to Mrs Macquarie’s Point for a picture perfect picnic spot.

RELATED: If you’re super short on time and would like someone to assist with planning your trip why not try out the free Sydney Greeters service for a personal guided tour given by a local resident.

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Walk Bondi to Coogee with a stop at Tamarama Beach

Sydney Beach WalkNo visit to Sydney is complete without a couple of beach stops.  After all, the city boasts more than 50 beaches along its coastline.  Tamarama, also known as Glamarama by locals for the beautiful people it attracts, is a small beach 1km along the path from the famous Bondi Beach. It’s safe for swimming and has a café that offers good coffee, all day breakfast and healthy lunches.

RELATED: If you’re looking for a beachy holiday – why not consider a Weekend on the Sunshine Coast?

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Explore the Rocks – Sydney’s Old Quarter

Iconic Are of Sydney - The RocksThe Rocks is the birthplace of Sydney. In the early days of the colony it was home to the poorest residents.  Today it boasts some of our best preserved buildings and plenty of places to stop for a beer or two while you appreciate them.

Check out my self-guided walk to help you get the lay of the land. Allow 2-3 hours to do the area justice.

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Ride the ferry to Manly Beach

Sydney Ferry Tourist AttractionThe 1940s tourism marketing campaign for Manly coined the slogan “Seven miles from Sydney, 1000 miles from care” and for me, the motto still rings true today.  As soon as I get on the Manly ferry and make my way across the harbour, it really does feel like I am escaping.

A visit to Manly ticks 2 things off the Sydney sight-seeing list; a ride on Sydney Harbour and a day at the beach – fish and chips optional.  Make sure you follow the walkway around to Shelly Beach for some great coffee at the Boathouse.

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People watch at Darling Harbour

Top Things To Do in Sydney -Darling Harbour There is almost always something happening at Darling Harbour.  A perfect spot for people watching, Darling Harbour is home to museums, nightclubs, cafes, restaurants and a fantastic new children’s playground.

Locals will tell you it’s touristy, and the food and drinks are expensive and it can be but that doesn’t mean you should miss it.  Weekends see free family events, cultural festivals and a Saturday night fireworks show several months of the year.

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Find a Street art mural and some craft beer in Newtown

Street Art Sydney Things To DoJust 4 kms from the city centre, Newtown offers more than its share when it comes to great food, street art and quirky shops. Pretty much anything goes here, and there is lots to see and do. It’s a good place to wander in the late afternoon. Check out my street art walking tour if this sounds like you. It highlights some of the best murals and some great eats along the way.  Make sure you try a local beer or cider in one of the many pubs along King Street.

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Visit Sydney Harbour National Park at Watson’s Bay

Top Sydney Beaches - Watsons bay20 minutes on an inner harbour ferry and you will find yourself at Watson’s Bay.   Take a short walk through the National Park to Hornby Lighthouse and the rocky cliffs of The Gap. After your walk grab a beer at the Watsons Bay Hotel or splurge on a meal at Doyle’s, Australia’s oldest seafood restaurant.

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Check out Chippendale

Sydney Weekend Things To DoThis almost forgotten part of the city on the southern fringe near Central station has recently been transformed into a centre of arts, food and entertainment. Check out White Rabbit Gallery for contemporary Chinese art, take your taste buds on a quick trip to Asia with a meal from a hawker stall in Spice Alley and explore the award winning Central Park complex with its cutting edge architecture.

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Sydney Activities For Families & Children

Things To Do in Sydney With KidsSydney has a great range of activities for families, children (and big kids!) – with the indoor options providing alternatives to the usual top stops when the Sydney weather isn’t playing nice! For the wildlife enthusiasts, a visit to  Taronga Zoo can get you mixing with the animals; the SEALife Center offers a peek into the underwater world; Slip in a cheeky history lesson with the Dinosaurs at the Australian Museum; or inspire the astrologer within with some stargazing at the Sydney Observatory. And, when you’ve exhausted those options, don’t forget Luna Park – whose Ferris Wheel has been delighting visitors since 1935!

Traveling as a family? Read more about Things to do with Kids in Sydney

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Where to Eat on a Sydney Weekender

Have Yum Cha for breakfast at The Palace

What to eat in SydneyMuch of the world refers to this style of eating as Dim Sum, but here we call it Yum Cha. Apparently, dim sum refers to the food eaten while Yum Cha is the name given to the meal itself. Regardless of what you call it the range and quality of Dim Sum in Sydney is fantastic.

My Favourite is The Palace in Piccadilly, Din Tai Fung in World Square and East Ocean in Chinatown.  Yum Cha is available between 11-3pm daily but the best time is to go is 11.45am before the crowds. Vegetarians don’t have to miss out, Bodhi in the Park near St Mary’s Cathedral offers fantastic vegetarian yum cha daily.

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Black Star Pastry

Try the Most Instagrammed cake in Australia (which is also available in their newly-opened Melbourne Store). Black Star Pastry’s watermelon cake hit Instagram a couple of years ago and quickly became the most In(sta)famous cake in the country.

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Opera Bar at Sydney Opera House

Weekend in SydneyA cocktail and snacks at Opera Bar at sunset is the perfect way to end a day in Sydney!

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Where To Stay in Sydney

Primus Hotel Sydney - Luxury Stay ($200+ per night)

The hotel has 172 contemporary rooms that are fitted with all the essentials to ensure an enjoyable stay. After settling in to their room, guests can discover the area with use of Museum Railway Station, which is a short stroll from the hotel.
Sydney's attractions, such as Queen Victoria Building and St Mary's Cathedral, are within easy walking distance of Primus Hotel Sydney. The local neighbourhood is also well-known for its shopping.
Book Now | Compare Prices for Later | Read Trip Advisor Reviews
Vibe Hotel - Mid-Range Stay ($100-$200 per night)

Located centrally, Vibe Hotel Sydney allows for easy access to Sydney's popular retail areas and tourist attractions. The various facilities this modern hotel has to offer include a rooftop pool, a sauna and 24-hour room service.
This chic hotel provides meeting rooms, a coffee bar and a convention center. Staff are available 24-hours a day and can assist with booking tours and tickets.
Book Now | Compare Prices for Later | Read Trip Advisor Reviews
Socially Responsible Hotel - Social Enterprise Hotel
Song Hotel Sydney - Budget Stay (3*) (<$100 per night)

The hotel is situated in Sydney and is close to local attractions, such as Hyde Park, Oxford Street and St Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney. It is conveniently located in the city centre.
Song Hotel Sydney formerly Y Hotel Hyde Park features a 24/7 reception, plus free Wi-Fi and meeting rooms. For added convenience, it offers an airport shuttle, luggage storage and a tour desk.
Book Now | Compare Prices for Later | Read Trip Advisor Reviews
Original Backpacker Lodge - Backpackers (<$50 per night)

The Original Backpackers Lodge offers award-winning accommodation in Sydney and is within a five-minute walk of Kings Cross Railway Station. It also provides free Wi-Fi and is within a five-minute stroll of Kings Cross.
Book Now | Compare Prices for Later | Read Trip Advisor Reviews

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Extra Sydney Adventures

IF YOU HAVE THE LUXURY OF TIME AND CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF SYDNEY, TAKE A LOOK AT THESE GREAT TOURS TO EXPLORE THE SURROUNDING AREA:

  • The Hunter Valley is one of the most famous wine regions in Australia. Make it a food and wine themed day on this Hunter Valley Tour complete with wine and craft beer tasting and a chef-prepared lunch.
  • Get out into the wilds on the Blue Mountain Tour & River Cruise & the opportunity to cuddle up to Koalas and Kangaroo. Spend a day with the Flora and Fauna and you’ll be able call yourself a true Aussie!

RELATED: Ready to see more of Australia? Check out the Top Australian & New Zealand Adventure Activities!

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Essential Visitor Info

How To Get Here & Get Around

  • Unless you’re planning to drive to Sydney on an epic road trip through Australia (book your car hire here), plane is going to be your best bet (that goes for International visitors too). Use Momondo to compare prices and get the best deal.
  • To get from the airport to the city, Sydney does have an AirportLink which boasts a short 13 minute train ride for $18AUD per adult ($15 per child); There are also multiple companies who offer shuttle bus transfers. The best deal I could find  at the time of publishing was around $16AUD one way (Google “Sydney Airport Shuttle Bus”) – with Airbus offering $30AUD return per person. It will take slightly longer with the traffic element but on a super tight budget is a great way to save a couple of bucks.
  • Sydney is a lovely city to walk (although terrible to drive!) and most people will enjoy exploring on foot. To use the local public transport system (trains, bus & ferry – with the exception of the Manly Ferry) visitors will need to buy an Opal Card (available online and at various CBD locations). Prices per journey depend on the distance traveled and generally lie between $3.38 (up to 10km) – $6.50AUD (up to 65km)

When to Visit (Climate)

  • Between September – November (Spring) and March – May (Autumn) are usually thought of as the best time of year to visit Sydney offering the best balance of weather, price and lack of school holiday crowds. Average Temperatures range between Max 21°C & Min 12°C during this period.
  • The busiest times of year to visit is the Summer/high season of December – February where crowd numbers swell as families and holidaymakers arrive in droves to enjoy the good weather, and when Sydney’s beaches continue to see record numbers of visitors year on year. Average temperatures range between Max 26°C & Min 18°C during this period.

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So there you have it – hopefully we’ve given you enough information to plan the perfect Sydney Weekender – and given you a great list of things to do in Sydney to make sure you get the most from your visit. Don’t forget to let me know you’re own highlights once you’re back!

Oh, and if you liked this post please tweet, pin and share – I’d really appreciate it! Click the P in the share bar for full size images!

Weekend in Sydney   Things To Do in Sydney

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Hi There! Thanks for reading our Awesome Ideas for a Sydney Weekender – Where To stay, Play & Eat! I just wanted to let you know that this post contains affiliate links, which help support this site at absolutely no cost to you. If you enjoyed this article and are going to be searching for some of the things I mention anyway, I would love it if you could click through from the links above. These links help me keep this site online and updated – so thank you in advance! Read my full Disclosure here.

Paula Morgan has been sharing tips to help you explore Sydney on her blog Sydney Expert since 2012.

You can keep up with all her adventures on Facebook and Instagram

Awesome Ideas for A Sydney Weekender: Where to Play, Stay & Eat! was last modified: by

30 thoughts on “Awesome Ideas for A Sydney Weekender: Where to Play, Stay & Eat!

  1. Sasha says:

    These are some great tips for a visit to Sydney. I’m from the central coast (an hours north) and I’ve still never done the Bondi to Cooggee walk, which is embarrassing I know. Will definitely do it next time I’m home.

    • Vicki says:

      Thanks Sasha – and I can totally understand how that happens – we get so focused on exploring the far flung and exotic that we often miss the highlights in our backyard. At least that is what I am guilty of anyway!

  2. Natasha says:

    This is a great post. I had no idea you could fit so much into a weekend in Sydney! the path along the beach and the cake look identical to the paths and cakes in Ibiza!

  3. Bhusha says:

    That’s a very detailed post, esp very useful for first-time visitors to Sydney!
    Harbor bridge climb looks like one thing that I wouldn’t miss at all! The Street Art in New Town looks absolutely stunning. The architecture in Chippendale looks very intriguing as well!

  4. yukti says:

    Very detailed description with no information being left out. You have covered each and every thing in your blog for a tourist. Chipendale is very unique – and somewhere I hadn’t heard of before.

  5. Fiona Maclean says:

    I’d love to visit Sydney – hopefully in the next few years. I do have family friends not far away, so it’s definitely on the list and this is an excellent guide for when I finally make it ‘down-under’

  6. Shobha says:

    I’ve always wanted to go to Sydney for New Years. The fireworks over the Opera House they televise looks spectacular. One of these years, we’ll do it and I’ll stop off for some strawberry watermelon cake, too! And, I’m loving the architecture in Chippendale.

  7. Bridget says:

    Sydney has been on my bucket list for years! I love that you included where to eat and stay as well as activities. Definitely keeping this all in mind when we finally get to go on our trip, especially the bridge. I love bridges!

  8. Jitaditya Narzary says:

    Thanks for such a detailed post with so many new ideas! I have seen other Sydney guides but this again comes up with something extra. This is the thing about great cities, there is always something more to be explored!

  9. Rhonda Albom says:

    Thanks Paula, you truly are a Sydney Expert. I have only been three times to Sydney, but it is my favourite city is Australia. We talk about moving there every time we visit. We have done many of the things here but misses all your food recommendations, and the Chippendale. Sounds like we need another visit.

  10. Kerri says:

    Paula is most definitely a Sydney Expert. What an incredibly useful article that does its absolute best to highlight such a wonderful city and put it up in lights. I need to check out Chippendale next time I’m there. I know nothing about this place, but if it’s an up and coming place, especially for food, I’m interested. I was also interested to learn about the 1940s tourism campaign….I agree with Paula too…..it still feels as though that term could apply. I always love catching the ferry over to Manly and enjoying a meal and glass of wine on the ocean front. I also can’t go past The Rocks – one of my all time fave Sydney locations.

  11. Jennifer says:

    The dim sum looks amazing! And Sydney looks like a great city that combines urban things to do like great restaurants and food with nature nearby. This is why I haven’t visited Australia yet – I can’t decide where to go first!

  12. Michelle W says:

    First of all, as an organizer at heart, I LOVE how organized this post is. Your table of contents is perfect! This is so thorough and informational, I’m going to save it to Pinterest for if I ever make it to Australia. I honestly had no idea there was this much to do in Sydney.

  13. Amy says:

    I love how in depth and broken down this is for someone like myself, who has never been, but dreams of going! The Dinner Cruise, Bridge Climb and Walk from Bondi to Coogee would be at the top of our list!

  14. Iza Abao says:

    I like all of your recommendations especially eating Yum Cha and watermelon cake. They look so delicious! When I think of Sydney, the Bondi Beach is the first place that I would really love to visit. It symbolizes the laid back lifestyle that I am expecting to see in Australia.

  15. Punita Malhotra says:

    This post is so exhaustive. You covered everything there is to do in Sydney. The Tamarama walk would be the first thing I would do if we went the second time. And the pastry shot is superb.

  16. Juliette | Snorkels to Snow says:

    Excellent list, have done them all and 100% agree! I love Mrs Macquarie’s Point. One of my favourite Sydney beaches that I used to go to is Clovelly which used to have a really nice restaurant/cafe next to it which served the most amazing salt & pepper squid! But that was 10+ years ago…! The Hunter Valley tour is great as well if that’s your thing, very beautiful.

  17. Viktoria says:

    I highly recommend the ferry ride as well. I don’t remember where we departed but we made into the city and I loved the view that I had. The opera house and bridge – stunning!

  18. melody pittman says:

    Wow! If this post doesn’t make your readers want to go to Sydney, nothing will. Tamarama Beach is spectacular. So gorgeous, I would want to hang out there a lot. The food all looks decadent but that Black Star Pastry, and their totally instagrammable desserts, is spectacular!

  19. Fernanda says:

    Loved all your tips, thanks for sharing it. Sydney seems to be such an amazing place, I wish one day I can explore it all (specially the food scene 😉 )

  20. Mike Cotton says:

    Oh how very timely. I’m planning a visit to Oz in December. Your photography here is beautiful, you have really made Sydney stand out. I can’t wait to photograph the city.

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