24 Hours InTravel

24 Hours in Sydney, Australia with Bird & Knoll

by Stephanie

One of our favorite things about working online is getting to connect with people who live halfway (or all the way) across the globe. And outside of North America, Australians make up the largest percentage of our community here at Design*Sponge- a fact that makes us forever hopeful that one day our whole team will be able to take the big flight over together.

Although I’ve never been able to visit this famous harbor city, Sydney has always made my top-10 list of travel spots year after year (along with the rest of our team). So when the ladies of Bird & Knoll – Natalie Knoll and Macayla Chapman – came around with a 24 Hours In Sydney guide, we couldn’t resist. Natalie takes us on a lovely tour of this magical city, full of delicious treats, gorgeous artwork and picturesque sunsets. We hope you’ll tag along for this virtual trip and hopefully we’ll get to see all these incredible spaces in person one day! –Stephanie

*Click here for more city guides within Australia and here to check out our favorite Australian homes we’ve ever featured.

Read the full guide after the jump!

Sydney is my adopted city (I am a nomadic South African who has lived for extended periods in London and New York) and there is nowhere that I would rather call home. Even after living here for nearly ten years, I am constantly surprised and amazed by its natural beauty and sophisticated charm. I think there are very few cities in the world that can satisfy design aesthetes and nature lovers in such equal measure.

8 am: The sound of laughing kookaburras outside our bedroom window wakes me early, and after Saturday morning cuddles with my husband and daughters I head next door to my local cafe and organic bakery, Gusto and Bake Bar, for my coffee fix and the world’s greatest spelt scone. We take our coffee very seriously in Australia and not only does everyone have their favorite cafe, they will also have their favorite barista in that cafe. You can’t really go wrong at Gusto, though!

24 Hours in Australia

9:30 am:  We head to nearby Bondi for the famous Bondi to Bronte walk, a beautiful path that hugs the coastline between local beaches. It can get a lot of traffic, but you are compensated by the amazing seascapes. In October/ November every year, there is an incredible outdoor exhibition by local artists of sculpture installations  – Sculptures by the Sea – that dots the walk and its beaches, cliffs and parks. It has become a real must-see on the annual calendar. 

12:30 pm: Shopping is definitely a favorite pastime of mine in Sydney, but I don’t have a lot of time to do it. I am a huge fan of Australian designers – I think that what they offer the contemporary woman is fresh and a little bit ironic. There is an area in the quaint Sydney suburb of Paddington called The Intersection, a few street corners populated by a few of the top names in Australian fashion. I know that in less than an hour I can find what I need here and finish off my indulgent couple of hours with lunch at Jackies. Their sashimi salad is delicious and the fashion eye candy parade passing through is inspiring.

Inner Harbour beaches

3 pm: Sydney is a great city to raise children in. Having been away for six years in London, we are still introducing our girls to a lot of iconic Sydney experiences, like exploring the harbour on local ferries or kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding at one of the many stunning inner harbor beaches. Rose Bay is one of our local favorites, perfect for doing all three. Our dog Harri is welcome here too…one of the few Sydney beaches where she can also enjoy the water.

24 Hours in Australia

5:30 pm: Sundowners at the Opera Bar. I feel like the ultimate tourist when I meet friends for a sunset cocktail at this packed bar below the Opera House, but there is something to be said for sipping a Bellini and enjoying views of the Opera House to my right and the Harbor Bridge to my left. 

24 Hours in Australia

8 pm: Foodies will love Sydney. We are really spoilt for choice with venues that offer the whole package – aesthetic design, fresh produce and innovative menus. One of my favorites is China Lane in the CBD. Set in a lane strung with bird cages like something from the alleyways of Shanghai, their contemporary take on traditional Chinese dishes is an absolute culinary delight. 

24 Hours in Australia

Favorite Shops: Homewares and fashion – Husk in Mosman. Their store is a perfectly curated eclectic mix of high fashion (including Bird and Knoll scarves) and interesting homewares.

Favorite Cafes: Flat White in Woollahra. Their Z’atar eggs are sublime.

Hotels: The QT in the city centre is FUN! Very interesting design aesthetic and cool touches, like a lift that changes the music it plays depending on the number of people in there (think “Just the Two of Us” if two people, “All by Myself” if one, “Let’s Get This Party Started” if more than two.)

Attractions: There are so many to choose from, but if you are in Sydney during the summer months, the St. George OpenAir Cinema is an amazing experience. Imagine sitting outdoors watching a movie on a screen set in the Sydney Harbor with the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge in the background and cruise ships passing by.

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  • I love this! We were in Sydney in October 2013 for a short 36 hours and literally packed as much in as we could.
    We grabbed drinks and watched fireworks in Darling Harbor (where we were staying) the first night we were there. The next day we took the ferry to do a tour of the Opera House, then headed up to Manly for a few hours. Once we got back to Circular Quay, we walked through The Rocks on our way back to our hotel. That evening we met up with a friend living in Sydney and did the coastal walk starting in Bondi and ending at Coogee. After dinner at a beach fish shack, we got gelato at Messina in Surry Hills and then walked back to our hotel stopping in China Town.
    I wish I could go back and do some of the suggestions above!

  • Ahhhh, Sydney is fab. And I’m glad to see Australians representing in your readership! Woohoo! I live on the east coast of Australia, just outside Byron Bay { one of Australia’s coolest little towns } Maybe you’d like a post from here one of these days? Let me know!

    Amber at Adventures of a Rainbow Mama x

  • Don’t forget that one of the best things among the hundreds of great things about Sydney is the outstanding public transportation system.
    I would add go to some lovely little Thai or Vietnamese place and bring your own bottle after having purchased it in a nearby bottle shop…one of the best things about eating out in Sydney.

  • “Don’t forget that one of the best things among the hundreds of great things about Sydney is the outstanding public transportation system.”

    Thanks for the laugh!


  • I always visit the Museum of Sydney when I’m there because they have top quality exhibitions and I learn so much about the city (and country!). That’s where I was also introduced to Louise Hawson’s work at 52 Suburbs, the beautiful blog that began by chronicling a neighborhood of Sydney each week for a year!