Working full time and having a busy life means that Scott and I are not quite as spontaneous as we would like to be. However when an opportunity to spend a weekend in Sydney arose, we jumped on it and decided to make the most of it.
Scott and I have both visited Sydney multiple times but never together. This would have been my sixth visit in nine years and Sydney never ceases to amaze me. I must admit that it took me a while to learn to appreciate and like this city, and a big part of it comes down to where I based myself on my trips.
Sydney is such a big and sprawled city that you will not be able to do everything, especially if you only have a weekend there.
So here is what I did on my weekend trip to Sydney
Drinks in Barangaroo
The Barangaroo area is hot and happening at the moment with lots of food and drink options.
- Hotel Palisade for some amazing views over city, or
- Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel for an upmarket pub experience
- Stitch for an American fare, or
- Browse the options on King Street Wharf for something that strikes your fancy
Note: Sydney CBD can be quite desolate on the weekend with the offices and workplaces closed down. On Friday night however, the city is quite busy with after work drinks and party goers, so it can feel a tiny bit rowdy.
Start early to make the most of your time in Sydney
Harbour View From Mrs Macquarie’s Chair
We grabbed an Uber from our hotel (Radisson Blu) and got dropped right at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. This cost under $10 and saved us a 20 minute walk (which we were grateful for that night).
Surrounded by the sounds of nature and locals getting some exercise for the day, you get to experience one of the most amazing views. The Opera house and Harbour Bridge in one shot. The early morning start is worth it to avoid the influx of visitors and to get that amazing shot without people in the background.
Harbour Walk from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair to Circular Quay
This a 2km walk with amazing views over Sydney, with tourists and locals mingling together. If you are lucky, you might see the people setting up weddings in the botanic garden.
This walk is best done early in the morning as it can quite hot as there are no natural shade in place.
Ferry from Circular Quay to Manly
This is one the cheapest way to see the sights from the water. Just make sure to grab a seat outside to get amazing views of the harbour, Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Ferries run from Circular Quay to Manly approximately every 20-30 minutes, from around 6am to after midnight. Make sure to get down there 15 mins in advance to ensure that you get a great seat. The ferry costs $7.20 each way and you can use your Opal card. This trip will take 30 mins each way.
Note: Is it worth taking the Manly Express/Fast Ferry?
It depends. The Manly Express/Fast Ferry will take 18 minutes to get from Circular Quay to Manly Wharf, but costs $8.20. They will not accept the Opal Card so you need to buy a separate ticket. If you already have funds loaded on your Opal card, it might not be worth it.
Brunch in Manly
Being Melburnians, we prefer brunch over breakfast. Hence we waited until we could get to Manly to get some grub. After a quick search, we settled on Belgrave Cartel. This place had some amazing food and great coffee.
However if I had to do it again, I would find a place near the beach so that I could enjoy the view while eating.
Walk to Manly Beach
The walk from Manly Wharf to the Beach takes approximately 10 minutes and it’s a nice walk looking at some cool little shops
Tip: Make sure to walk along the Corso (pedestrian access only) to check out the shops.
Manly beach is stunning with surfers waiting for waves and volleyball nets set up for players.
It was a surprisingly warm day when we were there given that it was winter but still not quite swimming weather. If you are there in summer, this is where the itinerary will differ for you as you might choose to have some beach time.
Given that it was winter, we chose to have a walk by the beach and take in the sights and just enjoy the day
On your way back to the Wharf, check out this market for some cool trinkets by local artisan. I really like the artwork by insert name. The market is on every Saturday and Sunday, from 9am-5pm.
Shops to check out in Manly:
- Wildflower shop
- Corso Street
- Artisinal Cheese Shop
- 4 Pines Brewery
Ferry Back to Circular quay
After an afternoon well spent in Manly, take the ferry back to Circular Quay. Make sure to sit outside to catch the views of entering the harbour.
Explore the Rocks
The Rocks is one of the oldest historic areas in Sydney and definitely worth exploring. The best way to do so is to wander around and discover the many hidden treasures such as the Nurses walk.
Things to check out:
- Rocks Market
- Nurses Walk
You can choose to walk from the Rocks to Darling Harbour via Barangaroo and King Street Wharf. We chose to do so and it was a wonderful but very long walk.
Darling Harbour is a very happening area and definitely worth spending some time at especially on Saturday night when there are usually some free events.
Dinner at Mejico
This was a long day filled with lots of walking and lots of exploring, so treat yourself to one of the most happening restaurants in Sydney. Mejico is a modern Mexican-inspired restaurant which totally warrants the hype. Make sure to book in advance as places are limited.
Tip: Make sure to order the guacamole with plantain chips.
Bronte to Bondi Walk
This is by far one of the most scenic walks in Sydney with the sea right there and lots of beaches to stop by for a quick dip. This walk is approx. 3 km as opposed to the full walk (Bondi to Coogee) which is 6 km.
The walk takes about an hour and goes by very quickly. The path is very well maintained with locals and tourists milling together. It is by far one of the best things to do in Sydney on a Sunday morning.
Tip: Read 10 free things to do in Sydney on the best way to get to Bondi or Bronte.
Brunch in Bondi
There are multiple food options in Bondi but beware of tourist traps. You can choose to be near the beach and enjoy the view with your food. We decided to head a bit further away from the beach to Brown Sugar for one of the best breakfast boards that I have ever had.
Ice Cream on Bondi Beach
After filling up on some delicious food, make your way back to the beach and enjoy the water, surfers and nice weather (hopefully). Bondi is one of the most iconic beaches in Australia, so it is very busy but still very enjoyable.
If you need to cool down, grab an ice cream from Anita Gelato and eat away while enjoying the view. Make sure to check out the cool street-art that lines the boardwalk.
After a wonderful weekend in Sydney, it was time to go back to our hotel to grab our luggage and head to the airport to catch our flight.
I hope you enjoyed this itinerary. Are you heading to Sydney soon? If so, what do you plan on doing? Let me know in the comments below.