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Travel

Sydney City Guide with Jaharn Giles

by Sabrina Smelko

cityguidesydney

Sydney-born Jaharn Giles spent most of her childhood and young adult years in Brisbane with her family. After university, she caught the travel bug and moved to London to work as a fashion publicist. It wasn’t until she returned to Sydney two years later that she reunited with the beautiful city she now calls home.

After eight years as a fashion publicist, Jaharn found herself slowly falling out of love with the fashion industry and more in love with travel. Encouraged by her family and friends, she started the travel blog Mister Weekender and, three months later, quit her job. Jaharn is now a professional blogger, published writer and photographer who travels the globe writing, taking photos and planning her next adventure. She has been featured in countless publications and worked with huge brands, but one thing is for sure: if you’re an adventurist and nature-lover and have a question about what to see and do in Sydney, just ask Jaharn! –Sabrina

Jaharn Giles

CBD. PYRMONT.

STAY

QT Sydney is a five-star designer hotel in the heart of Sydney’s CBD (central business district) and is home to 200 guest suites. With an eye for a modern design whilst reflective of the past, QT Sydney is housed within the historic Gowings and State theatre buildings. www.qtsydney.com.au

QT Sydney_4

1888 Hotel is a boutique hotel in Sydney and combines a little of Sydney’s old world charm with a lot of contemporary design. Located in Pyrmont, just minutes from the heart of Darling Harbour, the heritage-listed hotel has 90 suites. www.1888hotel.com.au

Perfect for anyone looking to stay in the CBD, the super-hip Park8 Hotel is an intimate, 36-room boutique hotel and is located on the doorstep of Sydney’s iconic Hyde Park. Offering free access to Anytime Fitness, this hotel is perfect for a weekender or a longer stay. www.park8.com.au

Park8 Hotel

 

SEE

Offering arguably the best views of Sydney’s glowing harbour, throw on your swimsuit and do some laps down the 50m pool and Andrew Boy Charlton. Popular with city workers during the week, on weekends it offers a more relaxed vibe for many to pull up a lounge and soak under the sun. There is also a café serving some great food. The pool closes over the winter months, but the views are still worth the visit. www.abcpool.org

Fondly referred to as the MCA, this funky museum hosts Australian and international contemporary art exhibits. Some exhibits are free and some you need to pay for. Overlooking the harbour and the Opera House, head up to the roof café for lunch and killer views. www.mca.com.au

Opera House

Fancy some inner-city island camping, or a cocktail at sunset overlooking the harbour? Catch a ferry from Circular Quay to Cockatoo Island and spend the day walking around the old shipping island. Easily the best views of the harbour! www.cockatooisland.gov.au

 

DO

You haven’t seen Sydney until you climb the Harbour Bridge. Tickets are a little pricey ($198 – $358) but the views are worth every single cent. You can choose to climb the bridge at dawn, during the day and in the evening, and there are multiple climbs depending on how adventurous you are. www.bridgeclimb.com.au

Harbour Bridge

Whilst you’re in Sydney, see a show at the Opera House — it’s a must. But why not go backstage and experience the other side? A backstage tour gives you unprecedented access to never-seen-before sets, Green Room and private dressing rooms, which are usually reserved strictly for performers and staff. www.viator.com

 

EAT

Old Town Hong Kong Cuisine. You’ll be thrilled to stumble upon this hidden gem in the busy side streets of Chinatown. Sit upstairs or downstairs, it really doesn’t matter, the food still tastes just as delicious and scrumptious — and did I say delicious? I sure did. (No website)

If you fancy eating seafood straight off the trawlers, then head to the Pyrmont Fish Markets where you will find an abundance of fresh fish, oysters, lobsters, mussels and other kinds of edible sea creatures. You can also enjoy locally cooked seafood and grade-A sashimi by the tables outside, but be warned, it gets very busy so it can be difficult to find a seat and enjoy your fresh seafood. That is, if the seagulls don’t eat your seafood before you! www.sydneyfishmarkets.com.au

SURRY HILLS. Alexandria. EVELEIGH. FLEMINGTON.

STAY

Voted Australia’s best hostel in 2014, Bounce Hostel is renowned for its spectacular views of the city. Offering a range of dormitory rooms with air-conditioning and lockable storage for every guest, plus a range of private rooms with ensuite and televisions, it’s no surprise this hostel is a favourite amongst budget-conscience travelers. www.bouncehotel.com.au

Located on Crown Street in the heart of Surry Hills, Adina has a plethora of hipster cafés, bars and chic boutiques on its doorstep. A short walk to the heart of Sydney’s CBD, its five-star facilities include a swimming pool — a rarity in Surry Hills. www.adinahotels.com.au

 

SEE

A contemporary, multi-function, multi-arts centre, Carriageworks plays home to Sydney Fashion Week every April, plus a multitude of other cool events, such as Semi-Permanent. The now heritage-listed site used to house the Eveleigh Rail Yards between 1880 and 1889. www.carriageworks.com.au

DO

The Flower Markets is a favourite amongst many Sydneysiders. It’s “the” place to get fresh flowers at bargain basement prices. You’ll jostle with florists and restaurant owners, and walk out with a menagerie of blooms. To see the markets live in action, it’s best to go between 5 am and 8 am on a Saturday morning. Or, for drastically reduced blooms, go between 8 am and 9 am when stallholders begin to shut up shop. www.sydneymarkets.com.au

For farm-fresh produce from paddock to plate, head to the Eveleigh Farmers’ Markets on a Saturday morning. Market stalls selling everything from cheese, flowers, bread, meat, juice, cupcakes and sausages will make you drool. It’s also a perfect spot to shop, enjoy breakfast and gaze at the trains rolling past on the train tracks. www.eveleighmarket.com.au

Love hiking? The Royal National Park offers the best hiking spots in Sydney and is only 29km south of the CBD. It costs $11 per car, per day to enter the park and there are numerous areas to hike and camp along the pristine coast. I love the coastal cliff hike between Wattamolla Beach and Marley Beach. Just remember to wear proper footwear and pack plenty of water and refreshments, as it can get very hot, even in winter. www.nationalparks.nsw.gov.au/Royal-National-Park

Royal-National-Park

 

EAT

Arguably the best Japanese restaurant in Sydney, expect the first-class sashimi at Toko Restaurant & Bar to melt in your mouth. www.tokyo-sydney.com

Welcome to Yulli’s. Everything on the menu is vegetarian and super delectable, so if you’re there with a group of friends, order the banquet. This ensures you get to eat lots, and lots more. www.yullis.com.au

A gelato shop with flavours such as passion fruit pavlova, apple pie and salted caramel, the line at Gelato Messina can get long any time of day, so be prepared to wait. It’s well worth it. www.gelatomessina.com

Bread & Circus is a trendy café spot quickly becoming a much loved brunch spot for Sydneysiders. With a quirky menu, gorgeous setting and pastel pink crockery, don’t be surprised if you find yourself having a meal next to a group of well-dressed fashion bloggers taking photos on Instagram. www.breadandcircus.com.au

BONDI BEACH. BRONTE. CLOVELLY. COOGEE. WATSONS BAY. VAUCLUSE. ROSE BAY.

STAY

Eco Hotel is an eco-friendly restored and renovated iconic art deco hotel located in the trendy area of North Bondi, which is peppered with organic cafes and restaurants. With Australia’s most famous beach only a hop and a step away, Eco Hotel is very popular amongst visitors, so book early. www.ecobondibeach.com

Luxurious, iconic and memorable, Watsons Bay Hotel is located on the water’s edge of Sydney’s glistening Harbour. The popular hotel boasts 32 luxurious suites with marble bathrooms and floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto impressive views of Watsons Bay. www.watsonsbayhotel.com.au

 

SEE

Many take in the view of Bondi Beach from the south end at Icebergs, but there is another secret spot at North Bondi — and that’s Ben Buckler Point. Offering sweeping views of Bondi Beach, it also happens to be the best spot for picnics with friends and a spot of rock-jumping into the crystal clear ocean. (No website)

Icebergs

McIver’s Baths is an ocean pool for the ladies only – sorry guys! For 20c, women can privately enjoy a swim in the salt-water pool and lounge on the grass and rocks without having to worry about prying eyes. Perfect for making friends and meeting some really beautiful local ladies. www.randwick.nsw.gov.au

McIvers Baths

With picturesque views of the Harbour Bridge and skyline, Milk Beach still remains a little secret beach spot in Sydney. With so many other options close by, only a few people make the trek to Milk Beach. If you are looking for a quiet sanctuary away from the crowds at Watsons Bay and Bondi Beach, definitely spend a day lying on the milky sand in front of heritage-listed Strickland House at Milk Beach. www.woollahra.nsw.gov.au

 

DO

If you love swimming in the ocean but aren’t keen on huge crowds, head to Icebergs at South Bondi and swim in the idyllic 50-metre ocean pool. There is a kids pool, too. Remember to wear your best swimsuit, this is a hot spot amongst the local Bondi hipsters who mostly go to Icebergs Pool to people-watch and look good, rather than swim laps. www.icebergs.com.au

An ocean cliff located in the stunning suburb of Watsons Bay, The Gap lookout offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and is known as “the” spot for sunrise. Stunning on sunny days, and wild on rainy days, this spot is a favourite of Sydneysiders taking a leisurely stroll and stopping to have a picnic with friends in the park just across the road. (No website)

Gordon’s Bay is by far the most beautiful bay in Sydney. Its seclusion is what makes this spot so special, as is the Almafi Coast vibe it gives visitors. Gordon’s Bay is created by the deeply carved gully and protected by the headlands, making it the perfect spot for snorkeling. The beach itself is tiny, so most people walk onto the rocks on both sides for the perfect vantage spots. www.randwick.nsw.gov.au

Start the day right and workout on water with the perfect blend of stand-up paddling, yoga and the gorgeous views of Rose Bay. The instructor is Charlotte Piho, who also happens to be an Australian SUPyoga Master Trainer. Her love of the water is palpable and no two classes are the same. So remember to book in advance as her classes fill up quickly with deeply tanned Bondi yogis and hipsters. www.workoutonwater.com

 

EAT

Slipping into the clean eating scene without fuss, the menu at Henley’s Wholefoods changes daily and the food is organic, nutritious and delicious. www.facebook.com/henleyswholefoods

Henley's

Porch and Parlour is where the Bondi hipsters hang out, and no wonder because this organic café serves clean, organic food all day long. Order the smashed eggs with avocado and a fresh green smoothie whilst spotting a celebrity or two jogging past. www.porchandparlour.com.au

Known for delicious food, great coffee, its bubbly atmosphere and good-looking waiters, Three Blue Ducks is the perfect place to have a long brunch in Sydney. Try to get an outside table, it’s great for people-watching. www.threeblueducks.com

Kirribilli. MOSMAN. Balmain. MANLY. Palm Beach.

EAT

With tropical palms and hanging vines adorning The Botanist, its no surprise the menu is inspired by botanics. Make sure you order the tiki-style House Zombie cocktail. www.thebotanist.com.au

Botanist

Serving up a rustic inspired menu with mouth-watering cocktails, The Cottage is located in a typical Sydney-style terrace house with seating in the front garden and throughout the terrace house. Musicians play in the garden on weekends, which adds a nice touch. www.thecottagebalmain.com.au

The Cottage

So what’s my favourite café in Sydney? Fika. This Swedish café is like taking a step into Sweden and IKEA simultaneously. With a Swedish menu and pantry, the food is almost too pretty to eat! Definitely try the Skagenröra. www.fikaswedishkitchen.com.au

If you fancy a road trip, jump in the car and head to Palm Beach to have lunch at The Boathouse. The lines can get long, so get there early to ensure a seat with a view on the back outdoor deck. And remember to try the milkshakes! www.theboathousepb.com.au

 

SEE

There is no other zoo in the world quite like Taronga Zoo. Recently visited by the British royals, the zoo is a melting pot of fun! To avoid waiting in a queue for your ticket, try and buy your tickets online before you go. www.taronga.org.au/taronga-zoo

For gorgeous views of Sydney, go for a hike around North Head. Walk through the peaceful and pristine heathland and enjoy the local wildlife as you easily forget the CBD is a mere 11 kilometres away. www.harbourtrust.gov.au/visit/north-head-sanctuary-manly

North Head

 

DO

It’s free to surf in Manly, and anywhere in Sydney, but you need a surfboard. If you don’t have one or if you don’t know how to surf, there are plenty of places in Manly to hire a board or take lessons. Surfing is a quintessential pastime of Australians, so get involved. Just remember to stay outside the red and yellow flags, and you must be a strong swimmer. The swell can get a little intense. www.manlysurfschool.com.au

Surfing in Manly

Pack a picnic and hire a kayak from Rose Bay Marina and spend the day out on the water kayaking past the foreshore along Milk Beach, Shark Beach, Parsley Bay, Watsons Bay and over to Store Beach. Just around from North Head, Store Beach is only accessible by boat or kayak, which means you’ll more than likely have the secluded beach to yourself. (No website)

Additional favourites

  • Coogee Pavilion for sunset and Sunday afternoon sessions with friends
  • Jump in the car and road trip to the Blue Mountain for the day or a weekender
  • Watch the sunset over Sydney’s CBD from Hornby Lighthouse at South Head
  • For delicious Thai, look no further than Rice Pot in Bondi

Blue Mountains

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