Sydney is an adventurer’s dream. A place infused with a laid-back attitude, a melting pot of surfboards and business suits. It really is a sun-kissed city built around, within, and directly on top of water. The second you step foot in Sydney you can feel the fresh life, character, and curiosity all around you.
I still remember my first day in Sydney, staring up, wide-eyed, at the architectural beauty of the Opera House thinking this city is special. I had the opportunity to explore the winding inlets, the dive bars, the National Parks, the miles of pristine coastline, and the diverse suburbs. I had an opportunity to really delve into the secrets that Sydney guidebooks don’t often show you.
So you’ve never been to Sydney before? Here are six secrets that will lead you off the beaten path and into all of the magic that is Sydney, Australia.
Whether you indulge in a boozy, yet historical Tall Harbour Cruise, opt for an insider’s look at life on the sea through an airbnb yacht rental, prefer an endorphin- soaked jet boat ride, or simply set off on a Sydney ferry; you cannot miss this ‘not so secret, secret.’
I have done them all, and each is a unique experience.
A tiny strip of sand and rock nestled amongst multi-million dollar houses with award-winning views of the Opera House and the Harbor, Milk beach is well worth the small hassle of getting there. Bring a picnic, ciders, and whatever your little heart may desire for a day at the beach, because there is absolutely nothing around in terms of eating or drinking!
Get your adventurous shoes on and embark on the 1.5-2 hour scenic walk from Manly Beach to North Head. The North Head lookout located behind the cemetery grants one of the most beautiful views of the entire Sydney Harbour, and leads you through abandoned military barracks and the old Quarantine Station.
Getting there: From Circular Quay take the ferry to Manly Wharf. Once in Manly head through the Corso (main shopping street) and towards the iconic Shelly Beach. Follow the signs up and behind Shelly, which lead toward the North Head lookout!
‘Getting amongst it’ is always a good idea when it comes to a Sunday session in Sydney. There is really nothing better than a cold cider (or 5) on a Sunday afternoon. The choices for venues are endless, but my absolute favorite spot in town is the Coogee Pavillion. Located right off Coogee Beach, the Pavilion caters to a diverse crowd, and their retro-beach infused décor is very inviting.
Suggestion: Do the infamous Bondi-Coogee walk (beautiful ocean-side walk which takes about 2 hours to complete and winds through renowned beaches and cliff-side mansions). This lands you right at the Pavilion’s doorstep!
Wattamolla Beach is a hidden gem located inside the Bundeena National Park, approximately an hour’s drive south of Sydney. After navigating through lush national park forest, you will come upon Wattamolla Beach.
The Figure 8 hike (sometimes referred to as Burning Palms) also lies inside the park, just a little further south. This hike winds you through the bush, past ocean-side shacks, and across barren boulders. The Figure 8 pool is completely natural, yet unbelievably symmetrical, and looks as if it has been perfectly carved.
Newtown is an up and coming suburb with a vibrant edge. This trendy, hipster, homosexual-friendly area is an adventurer’s dream. If you want a good morning-after story, this is the place for you. Start at one of the discretely located bars (Earl’s Juke Joint is my favorite, and is disguised as an old meat store). After a couple beers, try Lentil As Anything (a donation based Vegan joint), or any of the worldly cuisine along King St. before making your way to ‘The Bank’ for a night you will never forget!
Stepping into a new city can be extremely overwhelming, and it’s hard to know where to begin. Tuck these secrets into your back pocket, and next time you’re in Sydney, explore a little deeper into the nooks and crannies of adventure and fun. Sydney is my favorite city in the world, and I know you will love it too!
Have you ever been to Sydney? Are there other secrets lurking around the winding inlets that I’m sure I’ve missed? Please comment below 🙂