Stretching from the Blue Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, Sydney, Australia’s largest city, is the perfect mix of cosmopolitan glamour and laid-back vibes. With over a hundred beaches—some just a short ferry ride from Circular Quay in Sydney Harbour—you can catch a wave and a show at the Sydney Opera House all in the same day. With its top-tier dining experiences, art galleries, and rich history, it’s no wonder that this cultural hub has earned a well-deserved spot among the top travel destinations in the world. From Potts Point to Parramatta, Sydney will no doubt charm you with its welcoming people and free spiritedness. Read on for the best places to eat, surf, and stay.
What to See
The Royal Botanic Garden
Located along the Sydney Harbour, the Royal Botanic Garden is a veritable oasis filled with native and exotic international flora. Walk the tree trail and check out the towering Klinki pine, macadamia, and magnolia trees, then spot brilliant banksias and bold grevilleas in the Native Rockery or travel back in time through the primitive Rainforest Garden boasting rare ferns, palms, and orchids.
Big Heart Sing at the Sydney Opera House
Most people visit the Sydney Opera House to watch world renowned artists perform. I visited to pretend, for one magical night, that I was one of the aforementioned artists. On the first Monday of every month, the venue opens its doors to dreamers and shower singers to join a public choir and shine in the limelight. And if you can’t hold a tune to save your life, don’t be deterred: this lighthearted and joyful program brings all sorts of crooners together in melodic harmony.
Attention surfers: This chill beach town is full of sun, sand, and waves for pros, kooks (beginners), and groms (kids) alike. With a lively social scene of hip bars, boutique shops, and year-round art and music festivals, Bondi is Sydney’s most popular beach for locals and travelers. To get the full experience of the breathtaking coastline, commit to the two-hour Bondi to Coogee walk. You won’t regret it.
Where to Eat
The hottest Parisian restaurant is in Sydney. (Who knew?) Indulge in caviar service and duck parfait at Restaurant Hubert, along with cote de boeuf lathered in a béarnaise sauce and a live jazz band. Equal parts fine dining and thrilling entertainment, you can also revel in La Vie Royale, a carnival cabaret complete with free-flowing wine.
Alibi Bar & Dining
Inside the Ovolo Woolloomooloo hotel is an indoor-outdoor vegan dining experience that is sure to excite your tastebuds. The Mediterranean plant-based menu at Alibi is locally sourced and relies heavily on chef Shannon Martinez’s Spanish heritage. Standouts include the braised “meatballs” in salsa de almendras, the summer paella, and the delectable fried eggplant, bathed in a heavenly agrodolce fig caramel sauce.
Harry’s Cafe de Wheels
Take an evening walk by the Sydney docks and be sure to stop by this famous caravan café for the best late-night snack pies you’ll ever have. While these little delights are perfectly sized for one, you will likely find yourself eating two, or three, with a side of piping-hot chips. Choose your fighter: pepper pie, curry chicken, or tiger—the flavors don’t miss. Counting Anthony Bourdain, Sir Elton John, and Prince Harry among its regulars, Harry’s Café de Wheels is a must-try.
Where to Drink
Orchard Street Elixir Bar
Just a short walk from Bondi Beach is Orchard Street Elixir Bar, a delightful spot where you can cool off with a selection of organic juices and fruit-packed Elixir bowls. This apothecary-based corner café operates with a mantra of “Activism through Herbalism,” providing a sustainable and health-conscious menu designed to foster inner wellness. While the juices are the star of the show, don’t sleep on the “Harmonise & Restore” Sticky Chai Tea. Blended with Australian honey, ashwagandha, cloves, and black pepper, it lives up to the name.
The Bar at Park Hyatt Sydney
Why not enjoy a stylish and sophisticated night at The Bar, located in the Park Hyatt Sydney? Take in the stunning cityscape with a glass of Australian wine paired with Sapphire Coast rock oysters, or delight in a signature cocktail on the rocks.
The Grounds of the City
Locals here are serious about their coffee. In Sydney’s CBD district, The Grounds of the City is where you can go to enjoy the best flat white out there. The cozy atmosphere will prompt you to linger long after with a book and a snack. And thanks to its new Grounds Roastery, you can take its signature blends back home to friends and famil…then keep them all to yourself instead.
Where to Stay
The Ovolo Woolloomooloo is a boutique five-star hotel with musically-inspired rooms (yes, you read that right). For an unforgettable night, book the AC/DC penthouse suite and turn up the perfectly curated music station to rock out ‘til the wee hours. Rumor has it that a certain celebrity booked this suite during a recent Sydney visit, which, counting myself of course, makes for two pitch-perfect singers that may or may not have danced on the couch.
Park Hyatt Sydney
The stylish and swanky Park Hyatt Sydney places you firmly in the heart of Sydney. The gorgeous view of the entire Sydney Harbour is only a little slice of what this hotel to offer. There’s also the luxurious rooms (with contemporary and Aboriginal artwork adorning the walls), a year-round rooftop pool, and decadent dining options. Make your stay unforgettable by booking a treatment or two at the spa.
A visit to Bondi Beach will make you want to move there for the rest of your life, so you should probably book an apartment at QT Bondi. Situated directly in front of the beach, you won’t miss a single wave or sunrise. Rooms here come with their own kitchenette, laundry services, and even private balconies to bask in the endless Bondi sunshine and take in the salt-filled air. Breathe in, breathe out, repeat to yourself: this is paradise.
Yousra oversees the visual look and feel of Elle.com and curates a vast array of imagery that exemplifies the modern Elle woman.