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Two bartenders pour cocktails at a colourful bar
Photograph: Anna Kucera

Things to do in Sydney this weekend

All the best ways to make the most of your weekend at home or on the town

Written by
Alannah Maher
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Well Sydney, we made it! After living through a harsh compulsory lockdown since June, this week marked the end of stay-at-home orders (for most). Restrictions are easing, and schooners are pouring at pubs across the city. Let's have a proper weekend, baby!

While hospitality venues, museums, galleries, hairdressers and more have the green light to welcome back customers, the eased restrictions only apply to the fully vaccinated. So, we've divided what you can get up to into two separate lists: things to do out and about, or things to do at home.

If you're double jabbed and ready to rock and roll, we've got activities, restaurants and exhibitions galore. Sure the weather is a bit all over the shop, but that doesn't mean you can't explore our best museums and galleries, and cap it off by cuddling up at a pub or café.

If you're not yet vaccinated, or you're playing it extra safe, we have plenty more ways to keep you entertained. 

If you're headed out, make sure you have your vaccination certificate on your phone, here's how to download yours. Need a refresher? We've covered the state's three-phase plan to exit the pandemic over here.

Show your love for your favourite local businesses by voting in the Time Out Bar and Restaurant Revive Awards.

The best things to do *out and about*

  • Things to do

The sunny seasons are upon us and as the balmy spring air banishes the last chilly days of winter, it won't take long for Sydneysiders to flock to all our amazing beaches, parks and public spaces to make the most of our city’s famously fair weather. From forest bathing to stand-up paddleboarding, we've rounded up the best ways to enjoy the great outdoors while maintaining social distancing.

 

  • Health and beauty
  • Spas

After three months under stay-at-home orders, you're probably ready for a post-lockdown pampering, and it just so happens we know just the places that can sort you out. Whether you want to go all-in for transformative results or you're just in the market for a brief spot of me-time, Sydney's palaces of self-rejuvenation have you covered.

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  • Art
  • Design
  • Ultimo

The mighty Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo is open again, and there are some ripper exhibitions to celebrate. The ubiquitous gum tree gets the artistic celebration it truly deserves with Eucalyptusdom. Drawing on 400+ objects from the museum's vast collection, it explores our changing relationship to the local hardwood, and artists’ many creative uses of the material.

 

  • Restaurants

Sydney is emerging from lockdown, at long last, and as vaccination rates continue to skyrocket, the hospitality sector is more than ready to welcome back double-jabbed punters. You'll no doubt have some favourite haunts you're fanging to get back to, but don't forget to check out pastures new on your next dining adventure. We've rounded up our favourite new Sydney venues to try this month. We hope you're hungry Sydney.

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  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • The Rocks

The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) opens back up from Tuesday October 12, with a new exhibition celebrating Richard Bell. A Kamilaroi, Kooma, Jiman and Gurang Gurang man, Bell is one of Australia’s most impactful contemporary artists and dedicated activists. His illustrious 30-year career to date is celebrated in expansive new exhibition You Can Go Now.

 

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars

You’ve got to hand it to Sydney’s bars for digging deep and weathering one hell of a proverbial storm. The resilience that the hospitality industry has shown deserves a standing ovation and with reopenings (and grand openings) on the horizon, there's never been a better time to get out and support the bars, pubs and clubs that are the heartbeat of our town. Make your way down our list.

 

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  • Museums
  • History

Sydney is home to some pretty fascinating museums, places where you can learn about ships, time, military history, society, the police force and more. Rain or shine, head out on a journey of discovery at these all-weather-friendly houses of knowledge. You'll learn about fascinating natural histories, scientific endeavours, design innovations and the many surprising stories that have made this city everything it is today.

  • Shopping
  • Costumes

With Sydney opening back up, the city's best costumiers are geared up to get you all ghouled up for spooky season. Yep, small gatherings and house parties with up to 20 people will be allowed just in time for Halloween! Whether you want to swing back into the ’20s in a bedazzled frock, rock some '80s fluro vibes, or scare the bejesus out of your mates with a gory mask, these local costume experts will make sure you’re dressed to the nines.

 

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  • Art
  • Galleries
  • Sydney

We love food and we love art here at Time Out, so when those worlds collide, we are all over it. Consider our tummies rumbling at the sound of Art Gallery NSW's (AGNSW) show The Way We Eat: Celebrating food through Asian art reopening. AGNSW is open again from October 11, and you can check out this exhibition and more.

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  • Art
  • Sculpture and installations
  • Zetland

Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran is one of Australia’s most exciting contemporary artists, so it’s only right and proper that he has a brand new solo show opening just in time for Sydney unlocking. The Guardians opens at Zetland’s Sullivan and Strumpf gallery on October 14, transforming the ground floor space into a surreal mythological playground of incredible creatures sculpted in ceramic and bronze.

 

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  • Things to do

As Sydney waits out the remaining restrictions of the Delta lockdown, picnics are back on. Yep, up to five fully vaccinated adults can gather to enjoy a sanga in the sunshine. Check out our list of top picnic spots, and don't worry, we've done the research on if there’s parking, toilets and barbecues available.

  • Sport and fitness
  • Pools

Public pools across NSW have permission to reopen from September 27, so lap it up! Tucked away in CBD parks, a stone's throw from the harbour and in quiet suburban parks, these superb swimming spots have got your back(stroke). Many are open under strict "swim and go" rules, meaning lap swimmers will be happy, but loungers and sunbathers will need to look elsewhere to make a splash. Also check out Sydney’s ocean pools.

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  • Sport and fitness
  • Walks

From easy breezy coastal walks to half-day bush hikes and multi-day expeditions, Sydney’s blessed with many different walking paths that’ll suit amblers of all abilities. Take a look at our list of 13 walks in Sydney that’ll take you over dramatic sandstone cliffs, cobbled stone paths, sandy inlets and well-trodden boardwalks.

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream and gelato
  • Freshwater

Most of Sydney can simply summon an eccentric gelato fix delivery from one of its 14 NSW outlets. But north of the harbour has been a Messina-free zone. Until now, that is. Messina has launched a new collaboration with Freshwater fave the Harbord Hotel. In the pub’s carpark, punters can roll up to the cute-AF Messina caravan to pick up takeaway tubs of gelato, as well as a selection of bake-at-home sweet treats.

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Find the best things to do *at home*

  • Film
  • Sci-Fi
  • Sydney

The SciFi Film Festival has been bringing Sydney audiences the very best in speculative cinema since 2016, scouring every corner of the planet (and others) for cutting-edge features, documentaries and shorts. This year, they’re boldly going where they have never gone before, presenting a national online program from October 15-31. Fielding 13 features and 67 shorts from 28 countries including Japan, China, Canada, America, Russia, Sweden, Spain and Brazil, it’s an incredible line-up.

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  • Shopping
  • Gifts

If you get a kick out of making purchases from local makers and artists, check out the new online directory from the team behind Sydney's biannual Etsy Made Local markets. You’ll discover gifts that practically scream “Yes, I’m the hip family member living in Sydney. Lockdowns aside, this affords me superior culture and taste” – like handcrafted ceramic wares, chunky statement earrings ripped from an art teacher’s wildest dreams, and socks and apparel emblazoned with quirky Australiana-invoking imagery of Chiko rolls and pink gallahs. 

 

  • Things to do
  • Weird & Wonderful

Keepers have just welcomed five purrfect new African lion cubs into the Taronga family. This is the first time Taronga Zoo has had lion cubs in over 18 years. While the babes are still finding their paws, the public will be able to gain live behind-the-scenes access to watch the cubs grow on what the zoo is calling ‘Cub Cam’. With a small tax-deductible donation of just $7, you can access a 24/7 live stream. There is also plenty more free livestreams and keeper talks to watch on Taronga TV.

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  • Shopping
  • Book stores

It's one of life's simple joys, flicking through the pages of a must-read book. But it doesn’t work so well if you’re doing the household chores. That’s when the joy of listening to an audiobook kicks in. There are millions of brilliant audiobooks on the go, and some of them are even free. Plus there’s the added bonus of hanging out aurally with famous Aussies as they read the books of also famous authors – and even sometimes their own.

 

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  • Restaurants
  • Portuguese

As far as we’re concerned, there's never a bad time to have a Portuguese tart. Burnished, sweet, wobbling custard resting in a nest of crisp puffed pastry layers, the “pastel de nata” as they are known in its homeland, can be tricky to get right. So, when a good one comes along, it’s cause for celebration – especially if said tart can be delivered to your door.

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  • Shopping
  • Homewares

You might as well take the opportunity to make your space really yours. To help you figure out your budget, we've categorised the stores on our list by a metric close to the Time Out heart: booze. You've got your 'goon' budget for objects that won't break the bank, your 'beer' budget that factors in posher craft brews as well as unassuming ales, and the 'Champagne' budget for those seeking out those top-of-the-line, showily upper-market finds. 

 

  • Shopping
  • Homewares

Do you suffer from the black thumb? Don't despair. Pour one out for those succulents you over-watered, and that supposedly drought-resistant bloomer that crumbled to dust on your watch. Marrickville's own foliage whisperer Felicity Keep, the owner and director of PlantGirl, is here to help. Take these tips and order up some foliage friends from the best plant shops and nurseries that deliver in Sydney to brighten up your space this spring.

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  • Theatre
  • Theatre & Performance

Sydney Dance Company’s (SDC) library of digital lessons has proven so wildly popular that the company has added a livestream component to the mix. Trawl a library of pre-recorded classes from the iconic Wharf Studios, or tune in for Lockdown Livestream Class, beaming live Monday to Friday at 6pm, and twice on Saturdays.

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  • Shopping

“Can you grab a bottle of wine on your way?” Such a simple request, on the surface. So why does it fill many of us with dread? It’s a cliche to the point of being a punchline, but wine can be intimidating. Why are we swirling our glasses? Why is she sticking her nose into her glass like it’s an oxygen mask? Should I just order from the bottom of the list? Will they laugh at me if I just buy the cheapest?

 

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  • Shopping
  • Arts and crafts

We’ve all been staring at our walls a bit more than normal of late. Which is why it’s a great idea to brighten those large-scale canvases with, well, some actual canvases. But buying art can be an expensive endeavour. One way to brighten up your home without busting the budget is to snap up a print instead. We've rounded up a few of our favourite places to pick up prints in Sydney, all of which can be ordered online too.

 

  • Shopping
  • Cosmetics

We could all use a little tender love and care right about now, not to mention some respite from the innumerable stresses of lockdown life. Establish some time for self-pampering and support a business from Sydney or regional New South Wales while you're at it with our tried and tested product suggestions. Our list focuses on ranges that hero natural and native ingredients, and that are as gentle on the earth as they are on your body.

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  • Things to do
  • Talks and discussions
  • Sydney

We might not be able to stroll into the Museum of Sydney, Hyde Park Barracks or Vaucluse House right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be inspired by the stories of our city, past, present and yet to be written. The curatorial team at Sydney Living Museums has created a scintillating and totally free online talk series to keep us all connected, with new chats dropping every Tuesday (with some bonus Thursday sessions too).

 

  • Restaurants

Why not take that at-home dining experience one step further with a fun and educational online cooking experience? These aren't exactly the usual google of how to cook the perfect egg or 'is it ok to eat pasta for breakfast?' Some of Sydney's best gourmands are taking to the world wide web to share their insider tips and tricks to keep us mere mortals cooking along with the best of them.

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  • Things to do
  • Talks and discussions
  • Sydney

Looking for some brain fodder to keep your mind off lockdown? The Opera House has just dropped more digital content to get the cogs turning. The cultural institution’s long-running podcast Ideas at the House gets a beautifully filmed treatment with a series of original, one-on-one interviews with some of the most inspiring women of the moment back in March as part of the All About Women Festival.

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  • Restaurants

Let's face it, a lot of us are eating and drinking our feelings at the moment. That's totally fine, but as lockdown drags on, your bod might be craving sustenance of a slightly more healthy variety right about now. But what if we told you that there’s a better way to eat healthily? These top healthy dishes in Sydney prove that eating well can be just as satisfying when you know where to look. 

  • Things to do
  • Games and hobbies

As fabulous literatti Zelda Fitzgerald once wrote in her essay Eulogy on the Flapper, “she refused to be bored chiefly because she wasn’t boring.” There are all sorts of fascinating ways to spend your days, so boredom need not be a thing. We spoke to five people about the cool and unusual hobbies that keep them eternally interested and interesting. Maybe you’ll be intrigued enough to try one out?

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  • Things to do
  • Classes and workshops
  • Sydney

Chippendale’s Peach Black Gallery may have had to close the doors for a while, but they didn’t want to let down their loyal life drawing community. So they’ve come up with a very now solution. The two-hour livestreamed classes run twice a week via Zoom, on Wednesday nights at 6pm and Saturday morning at 10am.

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  • Restaurants

Neil Perry’s new Double Bay restaurant Margaret was set to open in July of this year. Clearly, the world had other plans. In a dramatic pivot away from the fine dining and silver service that Perry is famous for, the restaurant veteran will be returning to the grill to flip burgers for hungry locals. Wednesday through Saturday from 12pm, Perry will be serving up just 200 burgers.

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  • Restaurants

Sure, you could go full Bo Burnham and lose your mind in a small room, surviving on packets of two-minute noodles and dry toast. But we reckon a better solution is to treat yourself with one of Sydney's more luxurious dining experiences, that you can now have delivered to the comfort of your own home. Order in from these seafood palaces and fine dining faves.

 

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  • Things to do

In the throes of the first stay-at-home orders in 2020, we all had big ambitions of totally transforming ourselves. But if you totally forgot to keep up all your iso side hustles the second restrictions started lifting, you're certainly not alone. We’ve done some investigating into the hobbies that might actually maintain the attention of your distraction-prone brain, even after lockdown ends.

  • Things to do

Gone are the days of booking a babysitter and heading out for dinner and a movie. But before you resign yourself to an absence of romance during lockdown, all is not lost. We’ve put together a dummies' guide to date night at home so you can bring cupid out of iso and forget about the world (screaming intensifies) for a while.

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  • Art
  • Art

The gallery has dropped not one, but two digital versions of their biggest blockbuster exhibitions for you to gorge on at home. You’ll be able to explore the winners and finalists of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prize exhibitions in a swish 360-degree immersive self-guided tour; and swoon over the lush abstracts of Hilma af Klint: The Secret Paintings in a fun YouTube walk through.

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  • Restaurants
  • Restaurants

Premium meal delivery service Providoor is expanding and now Sydneysiders have access to more top-tier restaurants than ever before. Joining the fleet of top-tier restaurants are Sydney big dogs Cirrus, Monopole, Yellow, the Apollo, Cho Cho San, Icebergs Dining Room + Bar, Golden Century, Spice Temple, Rockpool and Ciccia Bella. Meals are delivered with the idea of being finished at home by customers, integrating them into both the cooking and dining experience.

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  • Film
  • Film

Did you have big plans to head to your local cinema soon? Don’t get too upset at the choc top block. You can still get the popcorn popping. The Randwick Ritz has been running an on-demand film service for a while now, but in light of our current lockdown sitch, they're hosting a special lockdown sale with more than 20 major movies available to stream for just $3.

 

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  • Shopping
  • Delis

Make another night at home much more camem-bear-able with a feast of fromage. Whether you’re after the most indulgent, globe-trotting cheese board you've ever seen, or you're after one of the funkiest washed rinds ever to accompany a special bottle of wine, these are the cheese focused providores that'll ensure your dairy game is strong. 

 

  • Sport and fitness

During times of uncertainty, a reliable routine can really help. But if fitness was part of your daily ritual, you might be a little rattled by not having access to a gym right now. Or maybe you're just looking for new ways to get your body moving with that spare time you're now saving on the office commute? We’ve picked out some of our favourite online workouts by local experts.

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  • Things to do
  • Classes and workshops

It's high time to gather your tools and unleash your creative juices. However, a blank canvas sitting before you can be a bit of an overwhelming prospect. Thankfully, local ‘sip and paint’ studios are now offering at-home options so you can have an instructor on hand to guide your creative spark (it’s just up to you to keep your wine glass topped up). 

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  • Things to do
  • Classes and workshops

With many of us spending more time just pottering around the house, there’s never been a better time to try your hand at being a literal potter. Although they’ve had to close their studio doors to the public, a bunch of local ceramics studios have adapted their businesses so you can get busy moulding your own mugs, vases and assorted sculptural vessels at home.

 

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  • Things to do
  • City Life

Taronga Zoo has relaunched Taronga TV, a digital platform streaming animal enclosures, behind-the-scenes 'sneak peeks’ and after-hours footage revealing what the keepers and the animals they care for getting up to when the park is closed to the public.

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