It’s probably the first city that comes to mind when you think of Australia. During my first trip here in 2014 I somehow avoided going to Sydney all together (minus the airport). Upon arriving in Sydney I was struck by two things, 1. it was cold and 2. the CBD (Central Business District) reminded me so much of NYC.
Sure Sydney wasn’t as crowded and definitely not as dirty as New York, but it has major urban vibes. When walking around you see so many American chains including, but not limited to McDonalds, Starbucks, Joe and the Juice, and so on. One raining evening I was sitting in a restaurant and looking out the window it was so gray and full of scaffolding I could have believed that I was transported back to NYC. All this could be comforting and could cure possible home sickness, but I left New York for a reason and this didn’t feel like what I was chasing coming out to Australia. So I was feeling a little disheartened.
Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I took action and moved myself out to Bondi Beach and as a result was much happier immediately. I realized I didn’t want to trade one city for another, but craved a different experience. At the end of September and early October, Bondi was great and not yet over crowded with tourists, but as the “summer” months approach it will be more crowded so I also don’t love that. I really like Bondi because you can be on a beautiful beach or take a 20 minute transit ride into the heart of the city. Seriously, the best of both worlds. Being closer to the beach I began to appreciate Sydney. Here are some of my favorite things to do and see are in the Sydney area:
- Coogee to Bondi Coastal Walk – This is a classic “must do” at least once in Sydney. I recommend starting in Coogee and walking to Bondi and stopping for a coffee or drink afterwards.
- State Library of NSW – admittance to the library is free and upstairs there are a few very interesting art/informational exhibits.
- Anzac Memorial – multi-level memorial dedicated to the service and sacrifice of Australians in armed conflicts throughout the years including WWII. It’s really beautifully done and all free of charge.
- Sydney Opera House – seeing the Opera House is impressive. There are tours of the interior, shows that are on nightly, or bars and restaurants on the harbor with the iconic view. A lot of options to get your culture on and take some pictures.
- Going anywhere on Sundays (especially longer trips like the Blue Mountains or the Ferry to Manly) – travel anywhere on Sundays is capped at $2.80.
- Luna Park – an easy ferry ride from Circular Quay and constant deals on Groupon for a fun day out to embrace your inner kid.
- Grabbing a cheeky cocktail at Bucket List in Bondi – this is a gorgeous bar as close to the beach as you can get. They have a really great menu, but going for a drink or a pitcher is the perfect way to spend an arvo (afternoon).
- Watson’s Bay – a quick bus ride from Bondi and a beautiful change of pace. There’s a beach just down the road and once you’ve had your fill of the sun you can head to the bay for some fish and chips or ice cream. Not to mention the Watson’s Bay Hotel is the perfect spot for a sunset drink.
- Weekend Markets – looking for a unique find? Head to any of the markets over the weekend Glebe, Kirribilli, Bondi Beach, etc. just Google beforehand to make sure they are on.
- Workout Scene – I wasn’t worried about there being a lack of workout options in Australia, but I also wasn’t expecting it to compare to NYC’s scene. Except for the lack of Flywheel and Soulcyle, there’s pretty much anything you could want here: Barry’s Bootcamp, F45 (founded in Australia), tons of yoga, pilates, HIIT, bootcamp, and group exercise studios. Oh and did I mention ClassPass is available here?