A ferry ride out of Circular Quay brings you to the Northern Beaches. The most well known of these is Manly. The ferry ride each way is $7.65 AUD. The cost and the fact that it takes 45ish minutes deters many people from making the trek. Most people leave Manly trips for Sundays when all travel is capped at $2.80 total for the day. This included myself until recently when I wanted to experience the Northern Beaches for myself. In my week staying in Manly I now understand the appeal and if I stay in Sydney long-term I would really look into living in this area.
The biggest plus side of Manly was the significant drop of the amount of international tourists. Many Aussie families were vacationing here and it wasn’t as crowded as say Bondi. Unfortunately, during my week the smoke from the bush fires was really impacting the air quality.
The main attraction of the area is of course all of the beaches. Some of the ones I visited included: Manly, Curl Curl, Freshwater, Dee Why, and Shelly Beach. Some of them are walkable from one to the other (Manly to Shelly or Manly to Freshwater), but they are all easy to access with the buses.
The town center of Manly was designed after Italian city centers. This is the area right by the wharf that extends to the beach. The streets are full of shops, food vendors, and music. On the weekends markets pop up. The markets were lovely because they had vendors unique to the Northern Beaches. Sundays included lots of fresh produce and food vendors. There were so many great restaurants, coffee shops, and micro breweries around Manly. I definitely didn’t get to check enough of them out. Here were some of my favorite spots around the Corso:
- Manly Bakery – really reasonable prices and yummy treats. I was obsessed with the almond croissants that were only $3 AUD
- Acai Brothers and Bare Naked Bowls (multiple locations around Sydney) – both great spots for a refreshing bowl
- With Love from Manly – awesome store with many Australian goods
- Hotel Steyne Henry’s Rooftop – great rooftop bar with views of the Corso and beach
There are a couple of walk options available for anyone wanting to get active. The big walk is from Manly to Spit Bridge. It’s about 10km one way and takes about 3.5 hours. There’s also a walk to North Head from Shelly Beach (North Head Sanctuary loop) which offers panoramic views of Sydney including the Harbor Bridge on a clear day. This walk includes stopping through the Barracks Precinct.
Sculpt Barre Fitness – this pilates studio offered 3 classes for $30 and was right by my accommodation. The classes were excellent and ranged from classic pilates, barre, a HIIT inspired class, and more.
I stayed in the Manly Beach House for my stay. The location was right on Pittwater and a short walk to the beach, wharf, or Corso. I booked it through Airbnb and it was classified as as “hostel.” I wouldn’t really call this a hostel though as the rooms were all private and many families even with kids stayed here. On their website it describes the location as a guest house. I would say this is more appropriate description. It wasn’t anything fancy, but it was a very convenient location and a good value for the price. If you are looking for cheapish accommodations and want your own room this is a good choice.