One Editor's Week in Sydney
Sydney isn’t necessarily top of mind when it comes to long weekend escapes or annual family vacations. It won’t typically show up on one’s social media feed the same way Tokyo or some European city would, but just one visit would immediately beg the question: Why haven’t I gone sooner? Sydney, Australia’s biggest city, is often mistaken as the country’s capital (that’s Canberra for you), but it is world-famous for many reasons: The iconic Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, the fantastic selection of beaches, roughly 300 days of sunshine per year, delicious food (and coffee) everywhere you turn, and just the right mix of the laidback and fast-paced city life. All in all, it’s a stunning concrete jungle set against breathtaking coastlines. I got the chance to visit this lovely city a couple of months back, and a week was just enough to convince me that Sydneysiders do get a pretty good slice of life. Be sure to check out these spots on your trip to Oz!
The Sydney Opera House, no matter how cliche it may be, is a must!
GO & DO
Sydney is such an outdoorsy city, you’ll find yourself understanding why their malls close at 5PM. There’s just so much to enjoy outside you won’t find yourself running to the malls for something to do. Devote a day or two taking in the iconic Sydney landmarks—admire their beauty while sipping coffee or a chilled glass of wine, and snap a few selfies while you’re at it. There’s no shame in the tourist game!
The Sydney Opera House
This landmark is perhaps the immediate image that comes to mind when you mention this city, so don’t miss out on seeing its greatness in real life when you head to Circular Quay. Time your visit around sunset, get a table at Opera Bar, and enjoy a cocktail as the breathtaking Sydney Harbour bids another day goodbye.
Explore the towns
Sydney is such a big city, and a week is truly not enough to see its inner towns and neighborhoods. Feel the rush of the CBD, with its towering office buildings, but make sure to take a day to explore areas like Newtown and Surry Hills as well, where hipster bars, cafes, pubs, and restaurants run aplenty. Shop for uniquely Aussie designer brands like Bailey Nelson eyewear in these areas, too, as though a bit pricey, pieces in these boutiques are truly worth the find.
Colorful terraced houses in the neighborhood of Alexandria
Editor’s tip: Walk it! Seeing all those traditional Victorian-style houses that line the streets is such a treat. Most of them provide a great backdrop for #OOTDs, too!
Be a kid at Taronga Zoo
You’re never too old to visit a zoo, especially one as beautiful as this. Taronga Zoo is frequented by kids and adults from all over the world because of the extensive list of animals it houses, as well as special exhibits, and a jaw-dropping view of the Sydney Harbour. Shift your vantage point: Take a ferry ride over to Mosman where the zoo is situated, and prepare to be amazed at the beauty of this city as you get a 360-degree view from the sea.
NEED TO KNOW
Sydney is pretty much a traveler-friendly city, but keeping these tips in mind can make your life a tad bit easier
1 The primary language is English, though Aussies tend to have an accent so thick, you have to listen with double the effort!
2 Get yourself an Opal card, the only card you need to get around the city with its interconnected trains, buses, and ferries. You can easily top up at convenience stores when needed. Taxis are also available although they tend to be pricey. The ever-reliable Uber is also an option you can go for when you need to get somewhere quick. There’s virtually no traffic in this city, so that’s a plus!
3 Download Google Maps or Citymapper to help plan your routes. If you don’t avail your network’s roaming services, you can easily buy a local sim from Vodafone or Telstra so you can get internet access on-the-go.
4 Opt for an Airbnb over hotels, that way you can get a feel of what it’s like living in one of Sydney’s many charming neighborhoods!
The calm in the neighborhood of Newtown
Dining in Sydney is pretty much synonymous to brunch, in fact they are so devoted to it that any visitor could not help but take notice, and eventually follow suit. Though prices may seem to be a bit much compared to Manila, I’d say the dishes (and the experiences that come along with it) are worth every buck.
The Grounds of Alexandria
I might as well go ahead and say that this place is an Instagrammer’s heaven: A dimly-lit café + bakery + patisserie on one side, a potting shed on another, a flower shop of your dreams, a mini zoo, an outdoor bar, a roastery, and so much more. Think of it as a place to catch up with an old friend, enjoy the outdoors with your family, or simply treat yourself to a beautiful meal.
Editor’s picks: The Grounds Burger with Coco Berry Smoothie
Bread & Circus
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t come to this place for its charming interiors, and the good thing about it is that their food did not disappoint either. Set inside a warehouse-inspired building, it sits beside cafés and a chocolate bar, which makes for the perfect brunch, lunch, or afternoon hangout place.
Editor’s picks: Breakfast with Gwyneth (sautéed quinoa, biodynamic eggs, mixed greens)
Bourke Street Bakery
Arguably one of the most iconic Sydney spots, the Bourke Street Bakery boasts of no-nonsense baked goods, coffee, and lunch plates that are a winner in everyone’s book. They have a couple of branches scattered throughout the city, but head over to the one on Devonshire cor. Bourke Street in Surry Hills for a quaint neighborhood feel.
Editor’s picks: The Beef Pie, Lamb Roll, Ginger Brule Tart, Almond Praline Croissant, and homemade Iced Coffee in a bottle
The Lamb Roll + Iced Coffee = the perfect brunch combo!
If you ever find yourself in Coogee Beach, the Coogee Pavilion is a must visit for amazing interiors, good food and music, a play place for the kids, and an al fresco rooftop bar with a view! It is pure laidback goodness, and you’ll find yourself thinking “am I really here?” a couple of times—the ambiance is that good.
Editor’s picks: The Broccolini pizza, classic fish and chips, a chilled glass of rosé, or an Aperol Spritz from the rooftop bar.
The lively atmosphere at the Coogee Pavillion is something to experience at least once!
If there’s only one brunch place you can go to, make it Bill’s. Their Bondi branch is especially cool since it’s just walking distance to the world-famous Bondi beach. Pretty interiors, delicious food, and an equally cool crowd to dine with, Bill’s has made a name for itself by serving honest-to-goodness dishes that leave you wanting more.
Editor’s picks: Ricotta hotcakes with banana and honeycomb butter, Steak Sandwich with Grilled Oyster Mushrooms, Watercress, Tarragon Dressing and Fine Onion Rings, and the Crab, Chorizo, and House Kimchi Fried Rice.
Chic interiors at Bill's Bondi
Sydney is home to many pretty designer brands, and classic RTW faves like Cotton On. Here are some of our must-visit and must-buy pieces for your Sydney shopping sesh:
Insta-fave Alice McCall is the go-to for frilly, flirty cocktail dresses that cost a bit, but are great statement pieces you can invest in.
Self-respecting Aussie women have paw paw ointment in their bags for chapped lips, dry skin, and a lot more—so why don’t you grab a tube or five for your girlfriends back home?
The fitness culture in Sydney is so evident, and they have amazing homegrown athleisure brands worthy of your attention. Nimble is a great brand for top quality, stylish workout gear you can invest in.
Nimble makes working out look so pretty!
The home to cult hand creams, hydrating face masques, serums, and more, this Melbourne-established brand is now world-famous, so drop by one of their Sydney shops to nab goodies at prices a little lower than the usual.
Photographs by Kate Paras