Beautiful Sydney, Australia has a charm that is all its own. The city is chic and cosmopolitan, with iconic landmarks like the stunning Sydney Opera House and impressive Harbour Bridge, and is filled with world-class museums, cultural attractions, and fantastic restaurants…enough to keep visitors happily engaged within the city center for days.
Yet at the same time, Sydney is warm, friendly, laid-back, and outdoor loving. In fact, five national parks surround the city, including Sydney Harbour National Park and Royal National Park to the south, the World-Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park 90 minutes to the west, and to the north are Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and Lane Cove National Park. The parks off er Sydney residents and visitors alike quick access to hiking trails, mountain biking, rock climbing, swimming, and camping among pristine forests, lakes and rivers.
As a coastal city, Sydney also boasts around 100 beaches—an impressive number and something that makes this city truly special. A visit to Sydney is incomplete without joining the locals and other tourists in enjoying a few of the white sand beaches and turquoise water—perfect for soaking in the sun, enjoying a picnic, paddle boarding, snorkeling and surfing. While Sydney’s beaches are infamously great, here are a few best-of-the-best.
Bondi Beach is the most famous of Sydney’s beaches, drawing tourists and locals alike, and the beach can be enjoyed year-round. Even with an influx of visitors, Bondi is known for its pristine sands, clear water, great surf, and laid back, eclectic community. Beachgoers can take a break to eat at the many beachside cafes, restaurants, and fish and chip stands or wander through Bondi’s boutique shops and outdoor organic farmer’s market.
Beginning at Bondi Beach, the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk stretches about 4 miles and connects several family-friendly parks, stunning coastal lookouts, and fantastic beaches. The walk takes you past Bronte Beach, popular with locals for its challenging surf, and then continues on to Clovelly Beach, set in a small, peaceful bay that is great for snorkeling, swimming, and picnicking with children. The walk then continues on to Coogee Beach, a great family destination with a patrolled beach and a promenade with barbeque areas and playgrounds. From May to November along the coastal walk, keep an eye out for migrating whales.
Other can’t-miss beaches include Manly Beach, one of Australia’s most famous surfing beaches. The first world surfing championship was held here in 1964, and today Manly hosts the Australian Open of Surfing every February. Take a surfing lesson through the Manly Surf School or take the kids to the nearby Manly Sea Life Sanctuary, home to marine life including sharks, sea turtles, and stingrays. For significantly less crowds, take a quick 10-minute walk from Manly to Shelly Beach, which is secluded, quiet, and an excellent snorkeling spot.
For more of a day-long adventure, head south to Garie Beach in the Royal National Park. This sprawling beach gets you away from the bustle of the city—great for relaxing and enjoying the spectacular views. And to the north of the city sits the exclusive-feeling Palm Beach, best known as the backdrop to the popular Australian soap opera Home and Away.
While Sydney’s many outdoor pursuits should be taken advantage of, there is no need to rough it when it comes to accommodations. Sydney is home to numerous five-star hotels that offer exceptional attention to guest comfort and excellence.
The five-star Primus Hotel Sydney juxtaposes both old and new. The hotel sits in an iconic 1930’s building in the heart of the city and, inside, offers guests a contemporary, art deco aesthetic. The 172 guestrooms feature thoughtful touches such as Nespresso® coffeemakers and iPod® docking stations. And atop the hotel sits an urban oasis of sorts—the rooftop heated pool, large sun deck and lounge seating area along with a full bar featuring housecrafted cocktails.
The Primus Hotel Sydney’s modern and artistic edge is mirrored in its restaurant, The Wilmot. Headed by chef Ryan Hong, The Wilmot offers contemporary cuisine with an Asian flair, showcasing local produce. The beverage list also features an expansive selection of high-end local craft beers for guests to sample. From 3 to 5 p.m. every day, guests can also indulge in high tea, featuring an array of carefully selected teas and nibbles such as vanilla cheesecake with charred pineapple, pumpkin tarts, and lemon and white chocolate scones.
The beautiful, residential-style The Langham Sydney sits on Kent Street in the historic rocks district of the city. This opulent five-star hotel touts the city’s largest guestrooms, featuring opening windows with Parisian-style shutters, Juliette balconies, and expansive terraces that boast views of either the sweeping Western Harbour or the Sydney skyline. The 98 elegant rooms feature handcrafted furniture, soft paneled walls, high ceilings, and sizeable marble bathrooms that feature double basins and a separate shower and bath.
Bistro Remy is The Langham’s upscale neighborhood bistro, which serves contemporary bistro fare with an elegant twist. Classically French-trained chef Dave Whitting showcases Australia’s finest produce and wine for Bistro Remy’s diners. Guests can head to the Palm Court tearoom overlooking the Western Harbour to enjoy an afternoon tea daily that features pastries, truffles, and macarons handcrafted by The Langham’s in-house patisserie.
The hotel’s indoor pool is a tranquil haven with pale stone columns, a star-dappled sky ceiling—look for Southern Hemisphere constellations— and luxurious poolside lounges. Across the street guests can work up a sweat on the hotel’s tennis courts fitted with flood lights and a club house. Lessons are also available.
The Swissotel Sydney is a luxury five-star hotel located above one of Australia’s most iconic department stores and centrally placed among Sydney’s prime shopping and entertainment districts. The hotel’s modern design aims to bring a sense of Sydney’s playfulness and glamour indoors. The 369 guestrooms are all recently refurbished and tastefully designed with a clean, simple aesthetic with playful splashes of color. Guests will find modern touches such as rainshowers, Nespresso coffee machines, and a Bluetooth® music system.
The hotel’s chic urban eatery, JPB, features a mix of classic and cutting-edge dishes made from local produce, including Tasmanian sirloin and Ora King salmon from New Zealand. You’ll also find a lavish high tea at the Swissotel Sydney. Savor delicate finger sandwiches, a chocolate fountain, and seasonal cocktails, such as the “starry eyed cocktail,” made with lychee, strawberry syrup, sparkling wine, and rose petals.
With world-class hotels, iconic landmarks, a lively social scene and as many opportunities to experience the natural beauty of Australia’s eastern coast as you could hope for, Sydney doesn’t leave much to be desired.