The Best Districts and Neighborhoods to Visit in Sydney

Everyone knows the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour, but when it comes to sorting out Bondi from Bronte, visitors may feel lost. We’ve gathered some of our favorite neighborhoods, from old standby inner suburbs to up-and-coming cultural districts.

Hickson Rd, Barangaroo NSW 2000, Australia
An Aboriginal territory turned shipping port between the Rocks district and King Street Wharf has been transformed into a harborfront reserve, modeled after what the headland may have looked like before Europeans arrived. It’s a great area for a walk or a picnic as well as for special events. And the surrounding area is home to dozens of new bars and restaurants. The seafood-centric Cirrus is run by the award-winning Bentley Restaurant team, and 12-Micron celebrates Australian produce through a menu organized around the elements. Early birds flock to cult favorites Micro by Coffee Alchemy and Bourke Street Bakery, while the after-work crowd unwinds at Sydney’s first vermouth bar, Banksii; the tropical rooftop Untied; and Smoke bar, on the top level of Barangaroo House.
245 Wilson St, Eveleigh NSW 2015, Australia
The brick-and-iron warehouses of the old Eveleigh Railway Workshops host a diverse lineup of experimental music, theater, film, and fine art. Located on the border of Redfern and Waterloo, Carriageworks was restored to keep the historical roots intact while providing a space for cutting-edge culture. Every Saturday, more than 70 stalls fill the former railyard outside with organic produce, artisan breads, specialty coffee, and exotic flowers as well as street food from the likes of chef Kylie Kwong during the farmers’ market. Fuel up at the market and then get inspired by whatever is on display inside this artist-run venue. Big annual events for Sydney Contemporary, Pacific Runway, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, and the Sydney Festival are also held here throughout the year.
Sydney, Australia
Australia’s most famous beach has played many roles throughout history. In 1907, a group of local swimmers became the world’s first lifeguards; during World War II, it was fortified by barbed wire and iron stakes; and over the last few decades, it has become a play land for international backpackers. More recently, the bohemian surf hood has morphed into a lively dining and shopping hub, with restaurants ranging from standbys like Sean’s Panaroma to the friendly burger joint Bonditony’s to Italian favorite Da Orazio Pizza and Porchetta, opened by Icebergs Dining Room owner Maurice Terzino. (Don’t miss the pool and sauna at Icebergs either.) Once fed, check in at the QT Hotel, shop along Gould Street, and walk the stunning Bondi to Coogee coastal path.

Anyone can swim in this glorious pool for a mere $5.50. Mon-Fri: 6:00-6:30pm Sat, Sun: 6:30-6:30pm Closed Thursdays.
1 Notts Ave, Bondi Beach NSW 2026, Australia
This 7.5-mile round-trip walk has some of the most amazing coastal views in Sydney and is a great introduction to the city’s Eastern Suburbs. Starting from Icebergs pool in Bondi, the path hugs cornmeal-sand coves, natural seawater pools, a marine reserve (Gordons Bay) that’s great for snorkeling, and unique attractions from ancient Aboriginal rock art sites to the oceanview Waverley Cemetery. In late October, site-specific art installations pop up along the cliffs between Bondi and Tamarama beaches as part of the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition, one of the largest outdoor sculpture events in the world. Spring (September through November) is also an excellent time to see migrating southern right whales spouting in the sunset. Toast your trek with a drink at the Coogee Pavilion.
Manly NSW 2095, Australia
From Shelly Beach in Manly, the path climbs a flight of stairs surrounded by jungle foliage before alternating between idyllic neighborhoods, clifftop bushland, secluded beaches, and more rainforest. Along the way, you’ll see tropical flowers and eucalyptus trees as well as many colorful birds and the area’s ubiquitous “water dragon” lizards. As soon as you feel hungry, you’ll likely encounter a beach café such as the cabana at Little Manly Cove that serves great paninis. White sand beaches with turquoise waters are the norm, and the path guides you to many that you would have otherwise never found. When you finally reach the Spit Bridge, you’ll be filled with accomplishment and the feeling that you covered a lot more than just six or seven miles.
Harbour St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
The largest and most storied of the Sydney Harbour islands, Cockatoo was once an Aboriginal fishing ground, a naval shipyard, a girls’ reform school, and a gruesome prison. Today, it offers fascinating walking tours, a casual café, and a number of events such as the Biennale of Sydney. When most visitors line up in the evening to catch the ferry home, those staying on the island are just setting off on a leisurely sunset stroll. They can watch the city light up from what feels like another world and then retreat to their campsite, canvas “glamping” tent, heritage home, or modern apartment until they wake up to birds and boats the next morning.
Palm Beach NSW 2108, Australia
The most northern of the Northern Beaches, Palm Beach makes for a relaxing day or weekend trip. Here, a sandy isthmus straddles ocean waves and harbor sails, and the Barrenjoey Lighthouse stands watch a short hike up the hill. Snag a spot on the deck of the Boathouse—a Hamptons-style beach shack complete with crab traps, striped awnings, and all manner of flowers and produce on display—for a bacon and egg roll, croissant French toast, or beer-battered flathead and chips overlooking the water. After finishing that cappuccino, which started with an anchor stamped into the foam, take the ferry across the inlet to the Basin campground in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park to swim, stand-up paddle board, and search for wallabies in the wild.
69A Wentworth Rd, Vaucluse NSW 2030, Australia
For a glimpse of Sydney‘s high society, visit Vaucluse House, a beautiful villa and garden in the Eastern Suburbs near Watsons Bay. A gothic revival mansion built in 1803, Vaucluse House once belonged to ex-convict Sir Henry Browne Hayes, who was shipped to Australia from England for abducting a banker’s daughter. Some punishment. The mansion also served as the home of writer, explorer, and local dignitary William Charles Wentworth. Once you’re done eyeing the antiques and memorabilia, check out the tropical gardens and settle in for a cup of English breakfast and a warm scone at the well-appointed tearoom. There’s also Milk Beach and the Hermitage Foreshore Track nearby, a gorgeous coastal walk for those looking for a little more adventure.
More from AFAR
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
AFAR Journeys
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: United States
Journeys: Sports + Adventure