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A Former Local’s Guide to Sydney, Australia

After over a year of living in Sydney, Australia I feel I truly got the lay of the land. I walked thousands of steps a day, trained for a half-marathon for which I ran all over the city, tried a different coffee shop daily and swam in just about every possible body of water I could find. I ate out constantly, drank more than I’d care to admit and experienced the arts, markets and local culture.

Here are my most recommended things to see and do and places to eat and drink:


  • Get an Opal card, public transport is decent and includes the ferries which are a must
  • I’m biased but would recommend staying in North Bondi – it has a unique, laidback beach feel. North Bondi specifically doesn’t feel touristy. Everyone walks around barefoot in bathing suits, there’s plenty of great restaurants and idyllic for avid walkers. The Bungalows at Bondi are gorg and in the perfect location.

Bondi Things to Do:

  • Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk – One of my fave activities! Stop at the pools for a dip along the way. Sea Salt is a café along the way in Clovelly I’d recommend. Regardless of the poor reviews it has a nice vibe, good food and views of Clovelly pool.
  • Swim at Icebergs in Bondi – iconic. This is where the coastal walk starts.
  • Drinks at Icebergs – you can go fancy in the dining room or pay ¼ the price and get the same views downstairs at the club.(The entrances are right next door to each other.) The club is more relaxed local experience and they have trivia nights and occasionally live music.
  • Bondi Farmer’s Market – every Saturday AM, they have food trucks and local artisan stalls with jewelry, etc.
  • Grab some food and have a picnic at Ben Buckler Point
  • Take a Body by Berner Pilates class in Bondi – the studio is so chic
  • Sunset Cinema in Bondi – outdoor movies at Bondi Pavilion
  • Clovelly Bowls – Seaside lawn bowls, fun local activity with a view. May need to book in advance.
  • Shop local in Bondi on Gould and Hall St

Shopping in Bondi:

  • Academy Brand
  • Assembly Label
  • Bailey Nelson
  • Dissh
  • Nimble Activewear
  • Saturdays NYC
  • SIR
  • Triangl
  • Zimmerman

Early morning swims are a way of life in Sydney

  • Bondi Icebergs ofc
  • Murray Rose Pool in Redleaf – non-touristy pool with views of Sydney CBD
  • Bronte Rock Pool
  • Wylie’s Bath in Coogee – 1st coed pool in Aus
  • Camp Cove Beach
  • McIvers Bath – ladies only bath in Coogee
  • Parsley Bay Beach – I like to extend the Hermitage Foreshore walk through Vaucluse neighborhoods, Parsley Bay (stopping here for a swim) then past Watsons Bay and up to the Hornby Lighthouse. It’s a long walk but so stunning.  
  • Camp Cove Beach – another stop on the extended Hermitage walk
  • Maccallum Seawater Pool
  • Favorite restaurants and coffee sops:

Bondi Restaurants & Cafes

  • Speedos Café in Bondi for coffee/brunch – a must imo, delish, beautiful food with a view
  • Eden Bondi – upscale vegan
  • Orchard St in Bondi
  • Hotel Ravesis – party vibes w/ DJ
  • Totti’s Bondi – Merivale is an Australia restaurant group and everything they touch turns to gold so if you’re ever in doubt look for the nearest Merivale restaurant
  • Sean’s – A Bondi staple, so cute and quaint with a view
  • Harry’s – Bondi café
  • Shuk Bakery – Bondi café
  • Una Mas – tapas bar in Cooggee
  • Iggy’s – located in Bronte if you need a bread break along the Bondi coastal walk

Outside of Bondi: Sydney’s CBD & Beyond

  • Bonza Bikes – Touristy but fun way to cover a lot of ground and see some Sydney landmarks. Start at the Rocks and is a 4-hour tour.
  • Explore the Rocks, check out the Rocks Market (craft and food market on weekends), Endeavor Tap Rooms
  • The Glenmore Hotel – One of my fave rooftop bars in Sydney, located in the Rocks, can get busy!
  • Sydney Swans match – not the most exciting sport but it’s a fun, classic experience.
  • Moonlight Cinema in Centennial Park – another outdoor movie experience – beats the Bondi option imo
  • Take the ferry from Rose Bay to Watson’s Bay Boutique Hotel
  • Take the ferry from Rose Bay or Watsons Bay to Manly
    • From Manly Wharf walk through town, along the beach then along Marine Parade to Shelly Beach, lunch at The Boathouse
  • See if there’s a show at the Opera House while you’re there!
  • Royal Botanical Gardens – probably on most tourist recommendation lists but don’t skip it
  • Centennial Park – massive if you’re looking for somewhere to walk, plenty of cafes within the park
  • Hermitage Foreshore walk – Highly recommend! Non-touristy coastal walk. Goes through parks and neighborhoods with views of Sydney Harbour. Stop at The Nielsen along the way for a coffee
  • Spice Alley Food Court – located in Chippendale

Sydney Restaurants:

  • Chin Chin in Surry Hills or Spice I Am for BYO
  • Catalina Restaurant – iconic Sydney fine dining, located in Rose Bay
  • The Boathouse Rose Bay
  • Chiswick Woolahra – another iconic Sydney establishment
  • Little Felix – cocktail lounge in CBD

Weekend Trips from Sydney:

  • Avalon/Palm Beach – Barrenjoey Lighthouse Walk and have lunch at The Boathouse Palm Beach.
  • Hunter Valley – wine country
  • Blue Mountains

Annual Events:

  • February: Pride/Mardi Gras
  • May: The Wharf Revue – Satirical, musical comedy. Located at Sydney Theatre Company
  • August: City2Surf
  • September: Sydney Marathon – They close down the roads – unique opportunity to see the harbour, bridge and Opera House views on foot
  • October – November: Sculpture by the Sea

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