50 things to do in Sydney at least once in your life

Wondering how best to spend your time in Sydney? Our bucket list of attractions and fun things to do is the only guide you need
Photograph: Anna Kucera
By Time Out editors |
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Sydney’s a beautiful place to live and a glorious city to visit. We’ve picked out 50 of our favourite things to do in Sydney, whether you're here for the weekend or the rest of your life. Take a read and get cracking on that ultimate to-do list. Hungry? Find the 50 best places to eat in Sydney right now or see the city in her best light at these Sydney rooftop bars.

Done something on this list and loved it? Share it with the hashtag #TimeOutDoList and tag @TimeOutEverywhere.

You can also find out more about how Time Out selects the very best things to do all over the world, or take a look at our list of the 50 best things to do in the world right now.

50 fun things to do in Sydney

1
Bondi Icebergs Club
Sport and fitness, Pools

Swim at the Instagrammable Bondi Icebergs Pool

icon-location-pin Bondi Beach

What is is? It’s the most photographed ocean pool in Australia – at Sydney’s most famous beach. The 50-metre saltwater pool a popular spot for sunbathers and a bottleneck spot on the Bondi to Coogee walk.

Why go? The baths have been a landmark of Bondi for 100 years, and it’s only $7 for casual entry – giving you access to the pool, the sauna and the gym.

Don't miss: For the ultimate Bondi experience, book into a Yoga by the Sea class ($25, Tue-Sat during summer months).

2
Manly to Spit Middle Harbour
Photograph: Hamilton Lund / Destination NSW
Things to do, Walks and tours

Take a coastal trek from Manly to Spit

icon-location-pin Seaforth

What is it? It's a 9- or 18-km coastal trek (depending on if you're going one way or returning to Manly) that takes you from sandy coves to beautiful vantage points of Sydney Harbour, up and down rocky staircases and to at least four secret beaches. 

Why go? The views are worth every drop of sweat you lose as you climb the stairs, and there are beaches here that you can only reach on this walk or by boat. 

Don't miss: At the pinnacle, look out for the Grotto Point Aboriginal engravings; you'll find the outlines of a giant kangaroo, boomerangs, a whale and several small fish carved into the Sydney sandstone. 

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People drinking coffee with dog at Carriageworks Farmers Markets
Photograph: Daniel Boud
Shopping, Markets

Eat brekky at Carriageworks Farmers Markets

icon-location-pin Carriageworks, Eveleigh
icon-calendar

What is it? Carriageworks Farmers Market is the busiest Saturday market in the city.

Why go? It’s well worth the trip for its range of seasonal produce, including organic and biodynamic foods from farmers and producers from across New South Wales.

Don't miss: Superstar seafood chef Josh Niland there every week at the Saint Peter stand. They serve a rotating bevvy of hot snacks like prawn toast, fish sausage rolls and trout terrine. 

4
BridgeClimb 02
Photograph: Supplied
Museums

Climb Sydney Harbour Bridge

icon-location-pin The Rocks

What is it? A chance to scale the world-famous "Coathanger".

Why go? You can see Sydney Harbour in all its majesty. We recommend the express climb, which is a little shorter and takes you up the inside arc so that you are surrounded by hand-riveted steel and feel a little like you’re inside the ribs of a metal skeleton.

Don't miss: The views out west. This is an incredible experince at dawn, dusk or at night. 

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Hand picked crab at Saint Peter
Restaurants, Seafood

Feast on sustainable seafood at Saint Peter

icon-location-pin Paddington

What is it? Sydney's only dedicated sustainable seafood restaurant. 

Why go? Young gun chef Josh Niland sees that menu here changes from day to day, depending on what prized items Niland’s suppliers have wrested from the fishing nets that morning. 

Don't miss: Though this modest fish diner has scooped up awards for its dinner menus, head here for brunch for smoked eel served on pikelets and uni on crumpets.

6
Ballooning over Macarthur
Attractions, Farms

Float above Camden Valley in a hot air balloon

icon-location-pin Campbelltown

What is it? A sunrise flight across country towns with Sydney city skyline on the horizon and the blue eucalyptus haze of the Blue Mountains in the other direction.

Why go? In the padded basket everyone gets a spectacular view of the sun rising in the east and the pink tones and long shadows hitting the countryside below, including the steep hills of the Razorback Ranges to the pretty church steeples of Camden.

Don't miss: It’s around a three-hour experience, starting at 4am, so don't skip the Champagne brekky that's all part of the ticket, served up at Otis Bar and Grill at Rydges Campbelltown.

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Young boy looking over Sydney harbour
Photograph: Murray Fredericks
Things to do, Walks and tours

Ride the iconic Manly Ferry

What is it? Locals use it every day on their commute to work but the Manly Ferry voyage is an impossibly beautiful treat.

Why go? While the motors chug soothingly, enjoy the scenery of the Sydney Harbour as it glides by, taking you past the bridge, Sydney Opera House, Taronga Zoo and harbourside beaches such as Shark Beach and Camp Cove out to one of the city’s most popular beachside suburbs, great for bars, restaurants, shopping and snorkelling.

Don't miss: We suggest you hop off and explore part or all the Many to Spit walk (see 3) for spectacular views of the north and south headlands.

8
Anna_Kucera_Young_Henrys_7.jpg
Bars, Breweries

Drink locally brewed beers at Young Henrys cellar door

icon-location-pin Newtown

What is it? Young Henrys is a local beer that you’ll find on tap at all the best pubs and bars around Sydney. Prop up the bar with a frosty Newtowner beer at the brewery that made it.

Why go? Get a flavour for the bohemian suburb Newtown with the inclusive and diverse crowd at the craft beer cellar door. 

Don't miss: Sydney food trucks park up at the brewery each weekend, which makes it a busy time to visit so shake a leg in order to secure one of the prized high tables.

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White Rabbit Gallery 2010 interior view (c) Time Out Sydney photographer credit Daniel Boud
Photograph: Daniel Boud
Art, Galleries

Marvel at contemporary Chinese art at White Rabbit

icon-location-pin Chippendale

What is it? The state-of-the-art, four-floor gallery brings together 21st century Chinese art, with a rotation of four key exhibitions throughout the year. Founder Judith Neilson created the self-funded non-profit gallery to house her epic collection of post-millennial Chinese art. And entry is always free. 

Why go? White Rabbit are known for putting on bold and sometimes confronting exhibitions. In their current exhibition, Supernatural, ten life-like nude figures hang from the ceiling. They're part man, part dragonfly. 

Don't miss: Refuel with a plate of dumplings and toothsome tisanes at their in-house tea room. 

10
Show at the Imperial Hotel Erksinville
Bars, Gay bars

Celebrate Sydney's LGBTQIA history at the Imperial Hotel

icon-location-pin Erskineville

What is it? Inner West pub the Imperial has been a safe space for the LGBTQIA community since the '80s. Drag is at the forefront, queer culture is celebrated, and the music is loud, proud and Palms-level perfection.

Why go? The front bar has a fabulously daggy disco after-hours with Diana, Cher, Madonna, and Whitney on heavy rotation. The basement also hosts regular parties from some of Sydney’s best queer collectives; Honcho Disko, Heaps Gay and Girlthing.

Don't miss: Drag ‘n’ Dine, every night of the week. Your zucchini noodles will be accompanied by one of Sydney’s star drag kings and queens. 

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11
Food at A1 Canteen
Restaurants, Cafés

Eat brunch at Chippendale's buzzy A1 Canteen

icon-location-pin Chippendale

What is it? It’s brunch with fine-dining credentials, a coffee spot that also does dinner, and it’s brilliant anytime of day.

Why go? Chef Clayton Wells’ newest dining venture is one of the most exciting openings of 2018, because Sydney is a brunch town now and A1 has a licence that kicks off at 10am. That means if you want an amber ale from Marrickville’s Wildflower brewery to go with your curried scrambled eggs and LP’s Quality Meats sausage on an English muffin, you go right ahead and live your life.

Don't miss: The muffuletta pressed sandwich is already reaching cult status on Sydney’s takeaway lunch scene. 

12
Photograph: Supplied
Art, Installation

Explore experimental art and theatre at Carriageworks

icon-location-pin Eveleigh

What is it? Worth visiting for the space alone, Carriageworks is the latest incarnation of the Eveleigh Rail Yards, built in the 1880s. Its cavernous interiors are where you'll find experimental theatre, contemporary art installations and cultural festivals. 

Why go? Because this is where you'll experience Sydney's most progressive drama, dance and art companies like Performance Space, Sydney Chamber Opera and Moogahlin Performing Arts.

Don't miss: The toilets. Seriously. They're some of the best loos in Sydney. 

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A wide shot of at Wendy's Secret Garden overlooking all of the p
Things to do

Seek out the hidden oasis that's Wendy's Secret Garden

icon-location-pin Lavender Bay

What is it? This secret garden, with full views of Sydney Harbour Bridge, is part public, part private land at the foot of artist Brett Whiteley’s home in Lavender Bay.

Why go? For years, the land was tangled, overgrown and strewn with rubbish, but when Whiteley died in 1992, his widow Wendy channelled her grief into creating a place of enchantment. Sydneysiders come to escape the busier parks and enjoy a picnic in the hidden oasis.

Don't miss: The chance to snap a pic of Sydney Harbour surrounded by towering fig trees and native plants. 

14
Three people kayaking toward harbour bridge for Sydney by Kayak
Things to do, Walks and tours

Paddle under the Coathanger with Sydney by Kayak

icon-location-pin North Shore

What is it? A sunrise kayak and coffee tour with glorious photo opportunities that’ll make your hungover friends incredibly jealous. 

Why go? Instructor Laura Stone and husband Ben run weekly dawn tours that make the most of Sydney Harbour before most people turn and hit snooze. The harbour water is velvety smooth, and the kayaks are very stable so you don’t need to work hard to paddle around Luna Park and into position as the sunlight hits Sydney Opera House. 

Don't miss: Flat whites never tasted saltier than when you're bobbing under the Bridge, paddle under arm and wrangling a camera for that perfect Instagram shot. 

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Culture Scouts tour Sydney
Things to do, Walks and tours

Discover local street art on a Culture Scouts: Inner West Tour

icon-location-pin Newtown

What is it? A three-hour walking tour of Newtown and Enmore where your local guide will point out the iconic and lesser-known street art of the Inner West.

Why go? You’ve heard of local artists Lister, Numbskull and Skulk, but how many times have you stopped to look at their work? There’s time on this to appreciate the works right under our noses, like Lister’s dancing ballerinas on the Hub building, or the sweeping layers of pink, blue and turquoise of ‘Save Our Coral Reef’ by Phibs and George Rose. 

Don't miss: The more discreet ways our street artists make their mark. We bet even residents would learn something new.

16
Ciccone_and_Sons--gelato-cup.jpg
Restaurants

Get a scoop of gelato at Ciccone and Sons Gelateria

icon-location-pin Redfern

What is it? Ciccone and Sons are doing gelato the way it should be made in a hot climate like ours: cool, refreshing and totally delicious.

Why go? The joint itself is pared back but adorable. It's a long, thin room with bunting on the walls, a couple of little church pews to sit on, rock ’n’ roll on the stereo and a chest freezer with ice cream up the back. 

Don't miss: Their buttermilk and passionfruit flavour is possibly the most refreshing iced treat you could imagine – sweet'n'sour and slightly salty. 

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Golden Age Cinema
Film, Special screenings

Watch a cult indie flick at Golden Age Cinema

icon-location-pin Surry Hills

What is it? A boutique, 60-seat cinema in Surry Hills where you can catch the latest indie releases as well as cult film screenings, attend weekly movie trivia nights and hang out in their golden age-inspired basement bar. 

Why go? The building was constructed in 1940 as the offices of Paramount Pictures. Two vintage projectors remain on the premises, although the new cinema utilises a digital projector.

Don't miss: High-quality cinema snacks are offered in the adjoining bar – expect the finest choc-tops in Sydney. 

18
Courtyard at Lansdowne Hotel
Bars, Pubs

Support local live music at the Lansdowne Hotel

icon-location-pin Chippendale

What is it? It's a beloved Sydney pub revived by the duo behind Mary's and the Unicorn that serves up natural wines and pizza downstairs, and a stellar live music program upstairs.

Why go? The first floor bandroom gives breath to Sydney's oxygen deprived live-music scene – a few bucks and a wristband get you upstairs access to the velvet banquette-lined, 250-person venue that manages to feel intimate for a folky show, but gives you room to cut loose when King Tide or You Am I are on the stage. 

Don't miss: Now they've conquered burgers, Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham have set their sights on pizza and they've opened Mary's Pizzeria inside the Lansdowne. There're only 12 seats in the cordoned off pizzeria – so get in early, or late, to secure a seat. 

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Man swimming with view of city at Bronte Pools Baths
Photograph: Daniel Boud
Sport and fitness, Pools

Take a sunrise swim at Bronte Baths

icon-location-pin Bronte

What is it? Built into the rocky cliffside, this ocean pool is popular with earlyrisers for salty laps and Instagram pics of the sunrise. 

Why go? The waves at Bronte Beach can get a little hairy for the less experienced swimmers, but here you can enjoy the best of both worlds with a protected saltwater pool that has waves crashing at the walls. 

Don't miss: Try and get here before 7am – watching the sun breach over the ocean’s horizon from this vantage point is pretty special.

20
at Queen Chow Manly
Restaurants, Chinese

Dine on dumplings by the wharf at Queen Chow Manly

icon-location-pin Manly

What is it? A high-end Cantonese restaurant that isn’t so much waterfront as it is launched out over the water on Manly Wharf.

Why go? Head chef Patrick Friesen and rising talent Sam Young have transplanted the dining concept that worked so well at the Queen’s Hotel in Enmore, and replicated it in sunny Manly, replete with A3 laminated menus that boast sweet and sour pork, and salt and pepper squid. But to elevate it from suburban Chinese you’ll also find tanks of live lobsters, cleverly reduxed retro dishes and excellent dumplings. 

Don't miss: Start with the plump xiao long bao – the exterior is more sturdy and practical than dainty and delicate, but neatly folded to capture a nub of ginger flecked pork and plenty of soup.

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Above sydney in Helicopter
Photograph: Emily Lloyd-Tait
Things to do, Walks and tours

See Sydney from the skies with Sydney HeliTours

icon-location-pin Mascot

What is it? A helicopter ride that'll make you feel like James Bond as it ferries you over Sydney CBD. 

Why go? The cabin is mostly glass, so every seat gets excellent views. You'll hover over Darling Harbour before hooking out towards Goat Island to make a majestic run at the Bridge. From here you'll head out towards the heads before taking a sharp right to track the coastline from Vaucluse to the golden sands of Bondi and Maroubra.

Don't miss: Be sure to capture that coastline with a decent camera as you glide from Vaucluse to the famous golden sands of Bondi and Maroubra before heading back into Botany Bay. 

22
Interior at Jacoby's Tiki Bar
Bars, Cocktail bars

Party at Twin Peaks themed bar Jacoby's

icon-location-pin Enmore

What is it? An Inner West Tiki bar decked out in glowing fishing floats, dried puffer fish, and flocked banana palm wallpaper. They’re also sporting some of the city’s most ridiculous cocktails, and a whole lot of Twin Peaks references for die-hard fans.

Why go? This bar is built on the back of a killer team who know the secret recipe for having a good time. 

Don't miss: The Shark Bait – strap in for a big, white plastic shell full of crushed ice at sea in a mix of rums, Yellow Chartreuse, absinthe and bitters, lime juice, falernum and grenadine. And did we mention that it’s on fire?

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Royal National Park
Photograph: Klara Kalocsay
Things to do

Go whale watching or hiking in the Royal National Park

What is it? It's 26 kilometres of national park with stunning coastline walks, secluded beaches, natural rock pools and rock formations that are Insta-worthy.

Why go? Whether you want to swim, trek, picnic, swim, bike ride, swim or just GTFO of Sydney for the day, the Royal National Park will provide an outdoors, adventure-filled day away. Tread with caution at hot spots like Wedding Cake Rock and the Figure 8 rock pools.

Don't miss: Whale watching season runs from May to November and the Royal National Park is one of the best places to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures on their migration. 

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Sydney Opera House backstage tour
Photograph: Prudence Upton
Things to do

Take a stickybeak into closed off areas at Sydney Opera House

What is it? It's a chance to see behind the scenes of Sydney Opera House, allowing you access to areas normally reserved for big stars and their entourages.

Why go? Guests meet at the stage door for an experience that will have you treading the boards of its illustrious stages and sneaking into the dressing rooms of the Concert Hall, Opera and Drama Theatres, Playhouse and the Studio. You’ll be regaled with the secrets and stories that go on behind the curtain, from pulleys to props, sequins to soundchecks.

Don't miss: Tours include a hearty breakfast served in the Green Room.

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Outside at Museum of Contemporary Art
Photograph: VirtualWolf
Museums

Expand your mind at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)

icon-location-pin The Rocks

What is it? The harbourside MCA is the go-to venue for cutting-edge art on a local and international level.

Why go? The Museum of Contemporary Art often hosts exhibitions by huge international artists, including heavyweights like Anish Kapoor, Yoko Ono and Grayson Perry. This year's summer exhibition is of mostly black-and-white photos by South African photographer David Goldblatt.

Don't miss: The MCA has a rooftop café and sculpture terrace with superb views of Circular Quay, including the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. 

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Let's Go Surfing
Photograph: Supplied
Sport and fitness

Hang ten at Bondi Beach with Let's Go Surfing

icon-location-pin Bondi North

What is it? Surfing a wave at Bondi should be on everyone’s bucket list. If you’re rusty with a surfboard, book in for a class at Let’s Go Surfing.

Why go? The school prides itself on the popular two-hour beginners’ course that goes through the essentials of water safety (including Bondi’s dangerous rips), paddling and how to catch a wave. Each lesson starts on the sand so you can ask embarrassing questions without fear. 

Don't miss: After your lesson, head to one of North Bondi's excellent cafés like Porch and Parlour or Harry's Bondi. 

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Cockatoo Island Aerial view
Things to do

Take a ferry to Cockatoo Island

icon-location-pin Sydney

What is it? It's the largest island in Sydney's harbour and set at the junction of the Parramatta and Lane Cove rivers. It's been a film set, a gaol, a shipping yard and home to arts and culture festivals. 

Why go? Because it has so much history. Before 1839, when a prison was built to house convicts from Norfolk Island, it was covered with red gums and was almost certainly an Aboriginal fishing spot. The island had a brief stint hosting an industrial school for girls and a naval training ship for boys. However, the island was mostly used for shipbuilding and repairs. Today, the island is run by the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust and they run different types of tours.

Don't miss: There are camp sites, glamping packages, apartments or heritage holiday houses to choose from if you want to extend your trip to the storied island. 

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Nielsen Park/Shark Beach
Photograph: Creative Commons
Sport and fitness, Walks

Stroll past hidden beaches on the Hermitage Foreshore Walk

icon-location-pin Rose Bay

What is it? This easy, breezy 1.8km walk rewards visitors with stunning views of the harbour for not a lot of effort.

Why go? Along the way you’ll catch views of the Harbour Bridge and Shark Island, as well as historic Strickland House, a heritage-listed Victorian Italianate mansion built in the 1850s.

Don't miss: You’d also be wise to pack swimmers and sunscreen, as you’ll pass by a number of idyllic harbour beaches.

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Taronga Zoo
Museums

Encounter the wildest locals at Taronga Zoo

icon-location-pin Mosman

What is it? A not-for-profit zoo with harbourside views featuring 4,000 animals from koalas and echidnas to giraffes and elephants.

Why go? You're guaranteed sightings of many Australian animals, plus threatened species. They run talks and animal encounters daily – and even glamping sleepovers. 

Don't miss: Taronga Zoo boasts some of the best harbour views in the city, and as you walk along its wide, snaking paths you’ll spot the Bridge and Sydney Opera House as often as you spot the wildlife.

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Art Gallery of New South Wales 2017 exterior daylight August feat Archibald Prize banners (C) AGNSW photographer credit Felicity Jenkins
Photograph: Felicity Jenkins
Art, Galleries

Visit cultural institution, the Art Gallery of NSW

icon-location-pin Sydney

What is it? One of Australia’s foremost cultural institutions holding significant collections of Australian, European and Asian art. 

Why go? The Gallery presents nearly 40 exhibitions annually and they host workshops, talks and film screenings each week – most of which is free to access.  

Don't miss: Here on a Wednesday? They’re open late till 10pm for workshops, talks, film screenings in a weekly program called Art After Hours.

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Red fish at the Sydney Fish Markets
Things to do, Classes and workshops

Eat oysters at Sydney Fish Market

icon-location-pin Pyrmont

What is it? The largest fish market in the Southern Hemisphere is a working port and a popular lunchtime spot. 

Why go? Dine in or buy fresh seafood, or book into one of their early morning Behind the Scenes Tours to weave your way around 55 tonnes of fish on the auction floor, learning key facts about how to buy seafood at its freshest. 

Don't miss: Get up early and catch the noisy wholesale fish auctions; they start at 5.30am, with tours for public starting at 6.40am.

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Sign at Beneath Driver Lane
Photograph: Graham Denholm
Shopping, Department stores

Browse Australian boutiques at Strand Arcade

icon-location-pin Sydney

What is it? When it opened in 1892 the Strand Arcade was regarded as the very latest in shopping-centre architecture. It's still one of the most beautiful thoroughfares to visit today. 

Why go? The narrow, multi-level shopping arcade houses premium Australian fashion designers, including Jac+ Jack, Lover, Sass & Bide and Dion Lee. Plus, vibrant and distinctive jewellery from local brand Dinosaur Designs and natural beauty products at Aesop. 

Don't miss: The very dapper hat collection at Strand Hatters. If you came to Australia without sufficient head protection, they'll sort you out with a stylish Akubra, Brixton or Panama. 

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People sitting patiently waiting for a show to start
Photography: Daniel Boud
Music

See a gig at the Enmore Theatre

icon-location-pin Newtown

What is it? This 1,600-seat Art Deco landmark has seating and a mezzanine, and plays host to a wide range of shows – everything from rowdy band gigs to giant dance parties and stand-up comedy revues.

Why go? You're just as likely to see people lining up to see the Living End as you are to see Lily Allen, or spilling out of a night following a gig by the Rubens or Rufus Wainwright. No matter the music genre, there's no judgement. It's a safe place to be yourself. 

Don't miss: While you're on Enmore Road, make sure you head out for dinner and a drink after. Head behind the pink façade of the Marie-Louise Salon to find Stanbuli – Turkish mezze cooked by the lauded Ibrahim Kasif.

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A bartender smiling behind the bar at Bulletin Place stiring a c
Bars, Cocktail bars

Seek out hidden cocktail bar Bulletin Place

icon-location-pin Circular Quay

What is it? The little DIY attic above a café down near Circular Quay was not where anyone expected to find the city’s best fruit-driven, seasonal cocktail menu. And yet it totally works. 

Why go? Forget what you think you know about what you like. These guys will turn it all on its head and make booze and fruit the best of friends. No surprises then this place is enduringly popular. If you’re going to drop cash on cocktails, Bulletin Place is where you do it.

Don't miss: The opportunity to have a cheese boards or charcuterie plates delivered to your table or made up ready to take away. White Label Supper Club is an offshoot of Bulletin Place and a seriously good accompaniment to the already great bar service. 

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Couple horse riding in Centennial Parklands
Photograph: Supplied
Sport and fitness

Trot around Centennial Parklands

icon-location-pin Moore Park

What is it? The beautiful and vast Centennial Parklands has great walking and cycling tracks, but it’s also one of the world’s only urban parks with riding facilities, with five riding schools that can take you out for a trot any day of the week. 

Why go? Centennial Park has a picturesque 3.6km horse track. Horse riding has always been part of the Parklands’ history and has been taking place since it opened in 1888. Open 365 days a year, the Equestrian Centre is home to 200 stables onsite. The best way to enjoy it is to take a one-hour circuit of the park with a professional instructor.

Don't miss: Take a picnic with you and enjoy the views of Sydney skyline from the edge of the pond. 

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fluffy pancake at Edition Coffee Roasters
Restaurants

Order the soufflé pancakes at Edition Coffee Roasters

icon-location-pin Haymarket

What is it? The second edition of this Scandi Japanese café is a Kyoto cool kid dressed in charcoal black.  

Why go? Make time to slide down into the sunken seats lining the windows and commit to the 20-minute wait for the soufflé pancakes. Whipped to within an inch of its life, risen in the oven like a phoenix and served with a vanilla and white chocolate ganache and strawberries, this outrageously wobbling dessert wearing three Michelin Man rolls is not quite what it seems.

Don't miss: They’re making an A-grade chai and their own genmaicha tea.

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Karaoke room at Dynasty Karaoke
Things to do

Bust a lung at Dynasty Karaoke

icon-location-pin Haymarket

What it is? An unobtrusive doorway in the middle 
of Chinatown leads to an elevator, and into a Blade Runner-style idea of the Shanghai wine bar... which all leads to private karaoke rooms with a truly cheesy selection of songs to sing along to.  

Why go? It’s gaudy and shiny and over the top, with statues on everything, one-way mirrors on the private rooms, unisex toilets and touchscreen tabletop games if you get bored with the singing.

Don't miss: Staffers here seem to think that if they keep you fed and watered, you’ll stay all night. They’re right. We especially recommend the beef noodles. 

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A view of Mackenzies Point on the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk
Sport and fitness, Walks

Walk the Bondi to Coogee coastal path

icon-location-pin Bondi Beach

What is it? It’s a six-kilometre stretch of coastline; you’ll walk by Waverley Cemetery, where it can get windy through the suspended walkway, past Clovelly Bowls Club, the secluded nook that is Gordon’s Bay, and on to Coogee where you can reward your efforts with a cold drink from Coogee Pavilion’s rooftop bar.

Why go? When Time Out has visitors in town this is one of the first things we recommend they do. It’s an easy-to-moderate stroll with stunning beaches and people every stretch of the way. 

Don't miss: The chance to live in your activewear all day long. No one will bat an eyelid. 

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Chicken schnitzel at The Unicorn
Bars, Cocktail bars

Go to the true-blue Aussie pub, the Unicorn Hotel

icon-location-pin Paddington

What is it? It’s the most resolutely Aussie joint in town. There’s no room for cultural cringe, because at the Unicorn they have a deep and enduring love for Australiana.

Why go? Please help yourself to some Jatz crackers and French onion dip, or a proper free range, hormone-free schnitzel. They cook it right – a very hot pan to get that crisp, caramelised shell, and a liberal hand with the seasoning.

Don't miss: There’s also darts, pool and a piano man for a Friday night sing-a-long.

Time Out says
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Shark Dive Xtreme at Sydney Sealife Aquarium
Attractions, Wildlife centres

Swim with sharks at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium

icon-location-pin Darling Harbour

What is it? The only cageless shark diving experience in Sydney. You can join a colony of grey nurse sharks on a 30-minute diving experience in Darling Harbour.

Why go? Though the grey nurse sharks range from one to three metres long in the tank, they’re placid creatures and do very little other than give you a curious side eye as they swim by. The biggest benefit of diving with them at the aquarium, rather than in the open ocean, is the guarantee of seeing so many sharks in one spot.

Don't miss: the colony of king and gentoo penguins who also call the aquarium home. 

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People sitting on rooftop at Old Mates Place
Photograph: Anna Kucera
Bars, Cocktail bars

Head to Sydney's newest rooftop bar Old Mate's Place

icon-location-pin Sydney

What is it? Old Mate’s Place is somewhere that ticks a lot of boxes. You can drink cold beers and simple mixes on the roof among the palms and festoon lights, or you can get cocktails that deserve their place in a leather-bound tome downstairs under the chandeliers.

Why go? Everyone wants to linger in the evening light with a rum and coconut, a Jamaican lager or the compact thirst-busting powers of a crisp VB throwdown.

Don't miss: The booze-sopping Philly cheesesteak that’s so soft and melty you barely need to chew.

Time Out says
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Yabbies with roti and onion puree and muntries at Momofuku Seiobo
Restaurants

Splash out at Momofuku Seiobo

icon-location-pin Darling Harbour

What is it? Momofuku is a Japanese word (it’s the name of the man who invented instant ramen) but this five-star restaurant serves an 11-course degustation with an entirely different accent.

Why go? Chef Paul Carmichael was born in Barbados, and his Caribbean upbringing shines through in his food, which is matched with the most interesting beverage list we’ve seen in ages, from sake to cider, orange wine to sherry. Carmichael has brought about a new age for this restaurant – one that is more exciting than it has ever been.

Don't miss: Ringside seats don’t get better than the stools lining the Momofuku Seiobo kitchen. This is as close to the cooking action as you can get without Carmichael reaching over and handing you a veggie peeler and a bag of spuds. 

Time Out says
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Day Bed at Bubble Tent Blue Mountains
Travel, Short getaways

Sleep under the stars with Bubbletent Australia

What is it? Australia’s first bubble tent – aptly named Bubbletent Australia. There are three tents to choose from, each overlooking a different aspect of the Capertee Valley, the largest valley in the world.

Why go? All three offer total seclusion, which is not only pleasant but needed, since the central chamber of each one has a 360 degree view out, and in. Thanks to its high altitude and low light pollution, Capertee, two hours and 45 minutes west of Sydney, has some of the best stargazing near the city.

Don't miss: Book the ‘Virgo’ tent, and you’ll even get access to a wood-fired hot tub.

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The Cipher Room Espionage escape room
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Games and hobbies

Beat the clock at the Cipher Room

icon-location-pin Erskineville

What is it? One of the best escape rooms in Sydney; there are three rooms to choose from and in each room you have to solve a series of puzzles in the allotted time in order to escape.

Why go? The Cipher Room is a labour of love for its co-creators, Newtown locals Marise Watson and David Vella. Game designer Marise spent a year researching escape rooms around Australia and in New York before creating Espionage. Husband David is the builder who put together the room’s ingenious bits and pieces by hand.

Don't miss: The Cipher Room’s second game room the Cabin, which has a serial killer theme, and is decidedly scarier.

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Palm Beach NSW Sydney
Photograph: Herry Lawford
Things to do

Take a day trip to TV famous Palm Beach

icon-location-pin Palm Beach

What is it? Palm Beach is the ideal Australian package. Located one hour away from Sydney’s CBD on the Northern Beaches, this hot spot is perfect for a relaxing day trip away from the commotion of the city. 

Why go? Fans of Home & Away may recognise the location as Summer Bay, but Palm Beach is so much more than Alf Stewart's favourite fishing spot – there is calm water on one side for stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking and big waves on the other for surfing. Plus, you can walk to the lighthouse on the hill, which is a great spot for whale watching. 

Don't miss: The cheapest way to get there is by the L90 bus from Wynyard Station for around $2.61 with an Opal card.

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Aboriginal Heritage Tour Botanic Gardens Sydney
Photograph: Supplied
Things to do, Walks and tours

Go on a bush foods tour of the Royal Botanic Gardens

icon-location-pin Sydney

What is it? A 1.5-hour guided tour of the Royal Botanic Gardens where you'll learn about the Indigenous history of the land. You’ll learn about how the Gadigal people lived and worked with the seasons before the area was colonised.

Why go? Stingless bee colonies, climbing Moreton Bay fig trees and juicy Davidson plums are just a few of the natural wonders you’ll see (and taste) on this tour of Sydney’s harbourside horticultural oasis. You’ll walk by some of Sydney’s most famous landmarks as you trail around the fringe of the city looking back out to the Opera House, Mrs Macquarie's Chair and the Harbour Bridge.

Don't miss: You’ll also learn about the deep connection to seasonality – when wattles are in bloom you’ll know that whales are migrating, while stingless bee colonies act as natural barometer. 

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Vietnamese Banh Xeo
Photograph: Parker Blaine
Restaurants, Vietnamese

Dine at the best cheap eat in Sydney at Banh Xeo Bar

icon-location-pin Rosebery

What is it? A Vietnamese diner in Sydney’s south offers inventive takes on the classics. Don’t you dare pre-snack because you’ll need every inch for the banh xeo.

Why go? Those titular, lacey-edged, coconutty pancakes in a luminous turmeric gold envelope contain a core of pumpkin, corn, crunchy pig’s head nuggets or barbecued lemongrass chicken. Break it up, add pickled onion, carrot, fresh shiso and mint leaves, and ferry the lot to your mouth in rafts of cos lettuce. It’s a culinary chimera.

Don't miss: Upgrade to a multi-meat menagerie and add pork shoulder and pig’s head nuggets to the mix for an extra $3. 

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Dive Centre Manly snorkel tour of Fairlight Beach 01
Attractions, Beaches

Take a snorkel tour of Fairlight Beach

icon-location-pin Manly

What is it? Dive Centre Manly runs Snorkel Safaris of three popular spots in the area, and they take visitors on underwater adventures every day.

Why go? You don’t need to travel to the Great Barrier Reef to discover Australia’s marine life – you can see cockatoo fish, leatherjackets, sea urchin and teeny tiny pomfrets in Manly. 

Don't miss: Hire a mask, snorkel, fins and floaty for the day for $25 and explore more of Sydney underwater. 

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Watermelon strawerry cake at Black Star Pastry
Photograph: Anna Kucera
Restaurants

Try the famous watermelon cake from Black Star Pastry

icon-location-pin Newtown

What is it? Texturally it is perfection – light, fluffy rose-scented cream, softly crumbed almond dacquoise and crisp, juicy watermelon. The topping of jelly-like strawberry glaze, fresh strawberries, Iranian pistachios and rose petals complete what is truly a masterpiece of baking.

Why go? The brainchild of Christopher Thé (former pastry chef at Woollahra fine diner Claude's), the Newtown patisserie offers everything from macaroons to individual tartes Tatins and even a toast station. 

Don't miss: Black Star has outlets in Rosebery, Moore Park and the CBD, too. 

Got visitors?

Sydney Opera House Tour
Photograph: Jamie Williams
Attractions, Beaches

Tourist attractions that don’t suck

Just because they’re popular doesn’t make them tacky... These tried-and-tested tourist attractions around Sydney range from thrill seeking adventures to scenic tours of our city's peaceful gardens and parks.

Eat at the best restaurants in Sydney

More great things to do across the globe

Uluru’s ‘Field of Light’
Photograph: Mark Pickthall, courtesy Field of Light, Uluru, Bruce Munro 2016
Things to do

The 50 best things to do in the world right now

Going out and doing things satisfies our need to explore, to learn and to grow (and then to brag about it on social media). Our hope is that the DO List becomes not just your bucket list, but your inspiration to experience and appreciate the corners of magic in the world.

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