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A woman paints a portrait of a koala.
Photograph: Supplied/Bondi Paint Club

Things to do in Sydney in May

Make the most of the month indoors and the slow easing of restrictions with these fab at-home events, livestreams, and workshops

By Time Out editors
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We've come up with a list of fun things to do while you're self quarantining or social distancing.

Usually as May kicks off we're the first to bring you a run down of the month's best events popping up all over Sydney. We're still doing that with gusto, but have catered this list to our current indoor situations. Lucky for us, our city's galleries, museums, bars, restaurants, and zoos are plying us all with crafty online and deliverable solutions. Keep your chin up Sydney, and have a browse of what's in store for us this May.

RECOMMENDED: What you can and cannot do in Sydney right now.

The best things to do in May

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Aussie Gyozas at Fugetsu
Photograph: Supplied/Fugetsu

3. Eat Vegemite gyozas at this CBD eatery

News Restaurants

Konnichi wa cobbers! Market City Japanese eatery Fugetsu is giving one of its most popular menu items a true blue makeover, just in time for January 26. In what may rank as one of the most unlikely culinary fusions ever attempted, the traditional Japanese pan-fried dumpling is getting remade with Australia's favourite breakfast spread.

 

A lamington in a garden setting
Photograph: Supplied/Victor Li

4. Get a top of the line lamington at one of our top spots

News Restaurants

There is schoolyard joy in a packet of supermarket sponge cake fingers dipped in chocolate and covered in desiccated coconut like wet feet in sand. But Sydney’s pastry standards are very high, so when you want your sweet treat to feel special, these are the patissiers going the extra mile when it comes to the humble lamington. 

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People sitting at the Bondi Pavillion for outdoor screenings at Flickerfest.
Photograph: Supplied

5. Catch short flicks in a Spiegeltent at Bondi's Flickerfest

Film Film festivals Bondi Beach, Bondi Beach

Flickerfest has now been in existence for three decades, showcasing the best short films made internationally. In 2021, Flickerfest will celebrate by holding its screenings in the fancy surrounds of the Famous Spiegeltent, and a glam outdoor cinema under the stars in the Flickerfest festival garden on Bondi Beach near the pavilion where Flickerfest has always been based.  

A view of the quarantine cemetery with a superimposed mobile phone mid text conversation
Photograph: Kit Carruthers

6. Talk to the dead with this very weird history tour

News City Life

No kidding, you can have an honest-to-goodness text convo with the gravestones of the Third Quarantine Cemetery, perched on the grassy knoll of Manly’s cliffside North Head Sanctuary. Erected in 1881 to inter the fallen bodies of Sydney’s then-smallpox epidemic, it’s safe to say that this particular burial ground has seen a lot. So it should have plenty to say.

 

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Chika Ikogwe in a leopard print skirt and pink top in Fangirls at Belvoir St 2021
Photograph: Supplied/Daniel Boud

7. Get your fangirl on for this joyful Aussie play

Theatre Musicals Seymour Centre, Darlington

Yve Blake’s joyous Australian musical about the agony and ecstasy of teen longing, Fangirls, is back by popular demand as the first cab off the ranks in Belvoir St’s 2021 season. Karis Oka steps into the lead role of Edna, a teenage girl obsessed with Harry, lead singer of global sensation boyband True Connection (The Voice contestant Aydan).

Three young people run through a garden holding colourful drinks and laughing
Photograph: Supplied

8. Check out this mini festival at Olympic Park

Things to do Abattoir Blues, Sydney Olympic Park

The Summer Garden Festival is a one-day mini festival that let's the Olympic Park community out to play. Bar and eatery Abattoir Blues will play host to a day packed with markets, live music and all-ages fun. Head down to experience the festivities and feasts amongst 100-year-old heritage buildings and gardens.

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Dancers perform in Magic Mike Live Australia
Photograph: Supplied/Magic Mike Live

9. See the smooth moves of Magic Mike Live

Theatre Musicals The Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park

The show is the brainchild of dancer-turned-movie star Channing Tatum – who fronted up, stripped down, and sweated through both big screen outings. Set in the stunning, burlesque circus-like surrounds of the Arcadia, a  purpose-built upsized Spiegeltent, erected in the Entertainment Quarter, this dance extravaganza comes complete with a bar that doubles as a climbing frame.

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people sitting in front of the harbour
Photograph: Supplied

11. Sip G'n'Ts with harbour views at the Royal Botanic Garden

Things to do Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney

Taking over the Royal Botanic Garden across three weeks this summer is a new, outdoor series which brings together all the things you want on a balmy January evening: live tunes, outdoor dining and glorious views of the Harbour. Oh, and G'n'Ts, all night long. 

Boat lined up in the harbour for floating cinema
Photograph: Supplied/Mov'in Boat

12. Watch movies while floating on Darling Harbour

Things to do Cockle Bay Wharf, Darling Harbour

Mov'in Bed is upping the ante on summer movie-going this year and transforming into Mov'in Boat, by bringing a fun (and socially distanced) floating cinema to the harbour. Kicking off on December 3, the water-bound season will run until March 21, 2021. 

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A woman in a fancy dress,  arms outsretched in front of the Opera House
Photograph: Supplied/Opera Australia

13. Get a taster of Opera's greatest hits

Music Classical and opera Sydney Opera House, Sydney

Are you keen to try opera on for size but a little intimidated by the length of most shows and the often hefty price tag? Well, Opera Australia has just what you're looking for.Described as ‘opera but without the boring bits’, Great Opera Hits is a zippy 90-minute collection of all the most famous tunes you might not be able to name but will definitely know.

A drummer and guitarist on stage at Restaurant Hubert
Photograph: Supplied

14. Head underground for live jazz and French fare

Restaurants French Hubert, Sydney

At Restaurant Hubert's latest offering, Jazz January, you'll be served a four-course French dinner set to the smooth tunes of live jazz music, every Monday to Saturday night throughout January. Head chef Daniel Pepperell will be comandeering the menu, which has been acclaimed by critics and drooled over by diners alike. The tunes will play from 5pm each evening, until the end of January.  

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Drag queens pose on bar
Photograph: Supplied/The Imperial Erksineville

15. Get your fix of old school glamour at this Drag'n'Dine experience

Things to do The Imperial Hotel, Erskineville

The Imperial Hotel in Erskineville is once again serving up the goods with a special Drag'n’Dine production with added feathers and rhinestones. Glitz and Glam the drag show is tucked and loaded with classic Broadway hits, big jazz standards and campy dance showstoppers. To fuel you up for all that eleganza, the chefs at Priscillas restaurant have created a new summer menu.

Beer garden at the Bank Hotel, Sydney
Photograph: Supplied/The Bank Hotel

16. Get spicy at this pop-up tequileria in Newtown

Bars Cocktail bars The Bank Hotel, Newtown

The distilled essence of the agave plant takes over the heart of King Street as the Bank’s Beer Garden transforms into Burning Heart Tequileria for the summer. They are serving up cocktails by the glass or the jug, Wednesdays to Sundays through till February 17. Treat yourself to a classic Margarita or Paloma, or try the Bank’s signature Pineapple Tequila Sour.

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A man in overalls cap and short shirt with hairy arms holds a toilet plunger aloft
Supplied/Sydney Festival/Christian Trinder

17. See Kenny on stage

Theatre Comedy Ensemble Theatre, Kirribilli

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering why something being “the shit” oddly means good instead of poop, then Kenny is the prime example. Starting life as a popular and critical hit mockumentary co-written by and starring Shane Jacobson, it cast him as the eponymous porta-dunny installer. Now, we're pumped like a septic tank for Kenny's overflow onto the stage.

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Magician James galea in a denim jacket and hat with a floating kettle filling his tea cup
Photograph: Supplied/Sydney Opera House

19. See a powerful cabal of conjurers at the Opera House

Theatre Sydney Opera House, Sydney

James Galea’s Best Trick Ever teams him with mystical talents including YouTube sensation and shadow puppet master Raymond Crowe (Australia’s Got Talent) and slippery escapologist Helen Coghlan, who racked up a celebratory hat trick bamboozling Penn and Teller on their ratings smash Fool Us.

People gathered under a dinosaur skeleton
Photograph: Nick Langley

20. Explore Sydney's natural history museum after dark

Museums Natural history Australian Museum, Darlinghurst

The Australian Museum is keeping its lights on this summer with a stellar lineup of eats, beats and exhibitions to explore after hours, and general admission is free. Every Thursday the museum will grant access to its fascinating collections, including summer exhibitions Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year 2020 and Tyrannosaurs – Meet the Family until 9pm.

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A spooky dark tunnel in blasted concrete and steel far below Sydney
Photograph: Tin Sheds Gallery | ‘A Chorus #13/11/17, 2021, Julia Davis and Lisa Jones

21. Explore the secret tunnels under Sydney with this exhibition

Art Photography Tin Sheds Gallery, Paddington

Thresholds is a collaboration between artists Julia Davis and Lisa Jones that peeks behind an innocuous green door in Elizabeth Street’s St James station and dives headlong into the abandoned labyrinth beyond. The exhibition is comprised of goosebump-inducing photography alongside large-scale drawings inspired by the artists’ explorations and a video installation work that allows you to travel through the long lost times of subterranean Sydney.

 

Two canvases with Frozen the Musical scenes painted
Photograph: Supplied/Cork and Canvas

22. 'Let it Go' at this Frozen-inspired boozy art class

Things to do Classes and workshops Cork and Canvas Darlinghurst, Paddington

Calling all grown-up Disney fans, musical maniacs, and queen Elsa devotees – this one’s for you. Cork and Canvas is getting amongst the magic of Frozen the Musical’s arrival on the Sydney stage, with special sip and paint classes where you can whip up a painting of a scene from the blockbuster Broadway show. 

 

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Supplied - Jingga Water Hole at Dharawal
Photograph: Supplied

24. Seek out the best bushland swimming holes near Sydney

Attractions Parks and gardens

When the mercury rises in Sydney, leave the city behind and head for the hills. There's nothing quite like a relaxing swim in a cool, clear swimming hole surrounded by glorious nature, and thanks to the vast swathes of national parks and bushland just a stone's throw from the city, you won't have to travel very far to find such a dip. 

 

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North Sydney Olympic Pool
Photograph: City of Sydney

25. Take a lap

Things to do

There's no reason your swim time should suffer when the sun isn’t shining. The Harbour City has several excellent indoor and outdoor heated pools which operate year-round, and after a lengthy shutdown as new safety protocols were hammered out, most of them have now reopened to the public. Here’s our pick of the best of the bunch you can visit right now.

Moonlight Cinema Opening Night Melbourne
Photograph: Supplied

26. Catch flicks under the stars

Film Outdoor cinema Centennial Parklands, Centennial Park

Pack your picnic baskets, because Sydney’s favourite outdoor cinema experience is returning to Centennial Park. Settle in with a blanket and some snacks and enjoy a summer night out under the stars. Moonlight Cinema is on right through to April. 

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Frozen Capitol Theatre Disney Sydney 2019
Photograph: Deen van Meer

27. Cool down in summer with Frozen the Musical

Theatre Musicals Capitol Theatre, Haymarket

Elsa and Anna bring the magic of Frozen to Sydney. The smash hit Disney animated movie was transformed into an equally in-demand Broadway musical, which now winds its way down to Australia from its original showing in New York. 

Three kids playing at an inflatable water park
Photograph: Supplied/Waterworld

28. Make a splash at this pop-up water park

Attractions Theme parks The Entertainment Quarter, Moore Park

Waterworld Central Sydney is cooling things down at the Entertainment Quarter until January 26. Visitors will be able to zip down the multi-lane Epic Racer slide, go on an 80-metre water tubing ride, or just chillax in one of the wading pools. Ever wondered what it would be like to walk on water? Take a spin in the giant zorb cylinder and find out. Then for ultimate thrillseekers, there’s the Big Wave slide….

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Chicken wing box with chillis nearby
Photograph: Supplied/Winghaus

29. Turn up the heat with this celebration of spicy wings

Restaurants Winghaus by Bavarian, Circular Quay

Dial up the heat with Winghaus by Bavarian's new three-month-long celebration of the mighty chicken wing. You've got 13 new flavours of wings to try: they range from the universally appealing, to the "turbo-charged". Taste-test the nacho cheese or garlic parmesan wings to start with, and then slowly ease yourself into the higher spice tiers.

Two people drive a golf cart.
Photograph: Supplied/Pixar Putt

30. Play putt putt with Buzz and Woody

Things to do Games and hobbies Bankwest Stadium, Parramatta

Pixar Putt supplies reams of nostalgic putt putt fun for those of us who grew up wishing our toys would come to life like in Toy Story, or imagining what it would be like to face Hopper and his gang in A Bug’s Life, it's a dream. The Disney Pixar-themed mini-golf course is sticking around until the end of January 31 due to popular demand.

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A red-haired Nikki Shiels looking over her shoulder, close-up, as Sybylla in Belvoir’s My Brilliant Career
Photograph: Supplied/Belvoir/Brett Boardman

31. See a new adaption of My Brilliant Career at Belvoir

Theatre Drama Belvoir St Theatre, Surry Hills

Relive the brilliant story made famous on-screen by Judy Davis  and Sam Neil. Now you can see it come alive all over again on stage at Belvoir St Theatre thanks to a brand-new adaptation by Australian playwright Kendall Feaver (The Almighty Sometimes) and directed by Kate Champion (Every Brilliant Thing). The magnificent Nikki Shiels (The Sugar House, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) steps into Sybylla’s shoes.

 

Fresh produce at Carriageworks Farmers Markets
Photograph: Daniel Boud

32. Check out one of the best markets in Sydney

Shopping Markets

To market, to market? Whether it’s the promise of brekky pho or the racks of vintage threads that gets you out of bed in the morning, these are the markets that we've been itching to get back to, with their local produce, creative wares and delicious snacks.

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Erskine Creek
Photograph: Dillon Seitchik-Reardon

33. Take a dip at the best secret swimming spots around Sydney

Attractions

High-density urban living means that the ability to get away from our daily routines and be at peace in nature is more important than ever. We are lucky that even within Australia’s most populated city, there are plenty of places you can go to disconnect from it all. Here are some of the most secluded places to take a dip in and around Sydney.

Westpac Openair Cinema
Photograph: Fiora Sacco

34. Watch a movie outdoors with Sydney Harbour views

Film Outdoor cinema Mrs Macquaries Point, Sydney

Westpac OpenAir returns to Mrs Macquaries Point with the Opera House and Bridge as the staggering backdrop. You can see Eric Bana in Aussie thriller The Dry, catch Naomi Watts in emotional biopic Penguin Bloom, lush queer historical drama Ammonite, hilarious looking Irish romantic movie Wild Mountain Thyme, Australian Western High Ground and classics including Love Actually, Almost Famous, Thelma & Louise, The Devil Wears Prada and Pulp Fiction.

 

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Object/Art/Specimen exhibition
Photograph: Chantel Le Cross

35. Explore Sydney's brand new museum (and meet its mummies)

Museums Camperdown

Art, science, history and ancient cultures meet under one roof at the purpose-built Chau Chak Wing Museum, whose collections are 150 years in the making. The museum combines three powerful collections from the vaults of the University of Sydney – including three ancient Egyptian mummies. The Chau Chak Wing Museum is open seven days a week, and entry is free.

Lindy Lee's bronze, liquid-like globule sculpture 'Unnameable’
Photograph: Anna Kucera

36. Celebrate the 40-year career of one of Australia's most exciting contemporary artists

Art Galleries Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), The Rocks

The MCA is fully embracing the new normal, throwing the focus on Australian artists. It’s in this spirit that we get absolutely spoiled with a cracking retrospective of Lindy Lee’s exhilarating career. Lindy Lee: Moon in a Dew Drop celebrates the Australian-Chinese artist’s genius, nimbly dancing through four decades of jaw-dropping creativity crossing mediums and cultures.

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A green hued circus tent cast photo from the Us tour of Pippin
Photograph: Terry Shapiro

37. Flip out with this circus musical

Theatre Musicals Sydney Lyric Theatre, Darling Harbour

Before Hamilton hysteria takes hold of Sydney, Tony Award-winning musical-meets-magic-meets-circus show Pippin takes over the Lyric Theatre. Pippin is the story of a young man who has to make a big call about what to do with his life. Follow in his hot shot dad’s footsteps, or choose his own adventure?

Garden bubble
Photograph: Supplied/Pier One

38. Book out a flower-decked garden bubble overlooking a Sydney pier

News City Life

Looking for excellent food, sweeping Sydney water views, a high 'grammability rating and a touch of social seclusion? We've got just the spot for you. Walsh Bay's Pier One Hotel nailed it in winter with their 'Igloos on the Pier', and now they're back with a springtime edition. Your 'bubble' is a greenery-filled Garden of Eden-style oasis teeming with lush plants, plush cushions and chic décor.

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Four women sitting at table
Photograph: Supplied/Golden Sheaf

39. Dine in style with a bottomless gin cocktail lunch

News Bars & Pubs

If you're ready for some real drinks with your next weekend feast, look no further than the Golden Sheaf's new gin cocktail lunch bonanza. Choose from one of three cocktails to go with your bottomless lunch, two out of three are made with Bombay Sapphire's new Berry Bramble gin, a summery, fruity twist on the OG.

 

Patricia Larter 'Pat's anger' 1992
Photograph: Mim Stirling

40. Discover works from an overlooked Aussie artist

Art Galleries Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney

The late, great Australian artist Pat Larter rewrote the book on female desire and sexuality, throwing out hoary old conventions and busting stupid stereotypes. So much more than the muse of husband and fellow artist Richard Larter, Pat Larter Get Arted at the Art Gallery of NSW is the showcase she deserves. The first solo exhibition of her work to be hosted in a public art museum, it’s long overdue.

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Jacaranda tress at the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Photograph: Destination NSW

41. Get some fresh air at one of Sydney's best parks

Attractions Parks and gardens

Whether you're looking to go for a run, walk your dog, have a sedate picnic or just take a break from your four walls, these are the parks to visit. They have sprawling open spaces, free barbecues and shaded spots to while away an afternoon or simply catch a break at lunchtime.

Bar 83
Photograph: Supplied/Robert Walsh

42. Check out Sydney's new sky high revolving bar

Bars Sydney

The vibe of the top-to-bottom refurbishment of Sydney Tower’s top floor, now home to the loftiest cocktail lounge in the city, is not so much a nod to the ‘60s as it is a full-throated power ballad to the kitschest, campest, most swinging design trends of the age. Sitting 83 storeys above street level, Bar 83's transformation is something to see.

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Person walking through park at Paddington Reservoir Gardens
Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan

43. Check out the best public gardens to visit in and around Sydney

Attractions

You might think that the difference between a park and garden is just a matter of semantics, but in truth, they’re different spaces. Parks are all about activity and versatility – they can become whatever we need them to be. Gardens on the other hand offer carefully curated experiences.

Cakes and wine High tea at Langham Hotel
Photograph: Supplied

44. Pass the scones at one of Sydney's best high teas

Restaurants Tea rooms

Do you love cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off, scones with jam and cream and tiered plates of petit fours? Sydney is obsessed with high tea, and with good reason – we know how to bake a good scone. Once you pair them with beautiful harbour views, like at the Mosman Barracks, or cultivated gardens at historic Vaucluse House, and throw in a cheeky glass of Champagne – you've got yourself an aspirational afternoon of leisure.

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Dry ice and plates on food on a table
Photograph: Supplied/Hello Auntie

45. Feast on chilled caviar and flowing Spritzes at this new bottomless brunch

News Restaurants

Hello Auntie's luxurious bottomless brunch at its Darling Sqaure eatery is designed to have you feeling like you've spent beyond your means. Feast on a menu of delicacies like bo tai (aged beef tartare with caviar) and ca hoi tai (cured salmon with crème fraiche, tamarind gel and Jerusalem artichoke) – all for $70 per person. There's only one sitting each Saturday, between noon and 2pm.

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Mrs Macquarie's Chair
Photograph: Destination NSW

47. Soak up the scenery at the nine most beautiful lookouts near Sydney

Things to do

For a sizable chunk of 2020, the nicest view most of us could hope for was the one through our living room window. So, since we’re allowed to roam free across the state once more, we reckon it’s about time you levelled-up your vista. Just cop an eyeful of these breathtaking sights in and around Sydney, then start planning your next day trip to behold them IRL.

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Two women laugh as they sculpt clay with wine and cheese on the table
Photograph: Supplied/Clay Sydney

49. Get your hands dirty at this ceramics studio

Things to do Enmore

Clay Sydney’s new Enmore studio offers chilled-out one-off workshops suitable for total beginners as well as short courses covering wheel-throwing, hand-building, firing and glazing techniques for the clay-curious. If you fancy learning the basics while throwing back a bevvie, the wine and clay night might just be up your alley. 

Interior of Sydney Jewish Museum
Photograph: Supplied/Sydney Jewish Museum

50. Expand your world view at the Sydney Jewish Museum

Museums Darlinghurst

If you haven't visited this Darlinghurst Museum, it's about time you did. There is a misunderstanding that the Jewish Museum is only meant for Jewish people to visit, or only of interest to WWII buffs. In reality, the museum’s mission is to make history accessible through the lens of the Jewish experience, and in doing so, help us to understand our present. Check out new exhibitions like Jews from Islamic Lands while you're there.

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Easy hikes in Sydney
Photograph: Destination NSW

51. Take a stroll with the best easy day hikes near Sydney

Sport and fitness Walks

There are plenty of opportunities near Sydney for novice hikers to experience the great outdoors without trekking too far from civilisation. In the national parks that sit on the city’s fringes, you'll find several wonderful hikes that are perfect for those who prefer a relaxed amble to a major expedition.

Hilltops region
Photograph: Destination NSW

52. Plan a trip to the most underrated holiday destinations in NSW

Travel

International borders look set to remain sealed until at least next year and restrictions on interstate travel are still in effect for much of the country. Fortunately, there's a wealth of great getaway options right here in New South Wales ready and waiting to receive eager holidaymakers. 

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BridgeClimb 01
Photograph: Supplied

53. Scale the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Museums The Rocks

Yes, you have to wear an unflattering grey jumpsuit – but if climbing the fourth-longest single-span steel arch bridge in the world is a should-see for out-of-towners and visiting celebrities, then it’s an absolute can’t-miss for locals.  

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Two blue chairs in front of white wall
Photograph: Supplied/Raes on Wategos

55. Get fancy with the most luxurious accommodation in NSW

Hotels

Sometimes you just want to exchange your everyday for an alternate reality where plush robes come hand-laundered to your door. We have rounded up some of the most luxurious hotels in NSW for you to escape the rigours of modern life with on a truly indulgent vacay. 

People walking along Coast Track Royal National Park
Photograph: David Finnegan

56. Start planning your next day trip

Travel Collection: Short getaways

Follow your traveller's instinct and get away for a day to one of our best day trips from the city – featuring quaint villages, seaside hangouts and mountain escapes. Around a two-hour drive or a scenic train ride away, you'll find yourself rambling through eucalyptus gums, gazing out over gorgeous ocean cliffs, or watching the world go by in a sleepy village. 

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The 50 best bars in Sydney right now

'Tis the season to carb load

Spaghetti prawns at Fratelli Paradiso
Spaghetti prawns at Fratelli Paradiso
Photograph: Anna Kucera

The best Italian restaurants in Sydney

Restaurants Italian

While good pizzerias and dirt-cheap red sauces places are harder to find than the poshest stuff, there are still spades of options to choose from. We've picked our favourites from every style.

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