A foodie's guide to dining and drinking in Sydney
The Sydney restaurant hit list
Unless you have the metabolism of a nine-year-old and the finances of a Kardashian, you never stand a chance against Sydney's ferocious dining machine. The openings just don't stop – and ain't nobody got time to keep on top of what's what. Except us, of course. Behold: our eat-and-destroy list, a guide featuring some of the best new restaurants you need to try, along with some old standbys still doing things right. Go forth – and eat all the things!
The 27 most Australian dishes in Sydney
No matter how you feel about nationalism, there's one thing all Australians can agree on. We make pretty epic food. We thought we’d celebrate our country with some of Sydney’s finest fare. We’ve found the 27 most Australian dishes that Sydney has to offer. From the best pad Thai to our raddest lamington and most delicious native plant stir-fry. Here is our list, in no particular order, of Sydney's best takes on Australiana:
The best cheap eats in Sydney
In a perfect world, we'd spend every night enjoying fine cuisine at Sydney's most indulgent restaurants. We'd be at Quay, Sepia, Rockpool Bar & Grill... anywhere, really, that requires half (or all, or far more than) what's currently in your bank account for a shared plate. But we do not live in a perfect world – sometimes the stove is broken, the thought of checking your balance makes you break out in hives and skipping meals seems a viable option. But you don't have to do that! There's a host of restaurants all around our fair town serving up tasty food at prices that won't leave your wallet empty.
The best bars in Sydney
This has been the year Sydney’s bar scene got classy. People who not so long ago wouldn’t have touched a straight liquor cocktail with a bargepole are now ordering up Old Fashioneds and Sazeracs without a second thought, and they’re loving it. Sure, the lockout laws continue to dampen the late-night hijinks, but that just means our party starters have had to get creative. New bars are still popping up in any underground space, hidden enclave and lofty spot that becomes available, and the yardstick for bar snacks has been set at an all-time high. The old guard have applied fresh vigour to the cocktail craft in the last 12 months. New additions have reminded us that the best drinks aren’t always the booziest; orange wines are everywhere we look; and this year heralded the rise of locally distilled spirits. Way to level-up, Sydney.
The best pubs in Sydney
Charge your glasses, friends, and join us in a toast to Sydney’s pubs. To the fusty watering holes that champion the old ways: they’ve still got a pie warmer behind the counter, the footy is on the TV and their Reschs is cold and clean. And to the young guns swinging open the saloon doors to local breweries fermenting up a flavour storm in all corners of the city. Great evenings have been built on a foundation of schnitzel and steak, but we’re also showcasing the local pubs getting creative with counter meals and ensuring the tucker is top-notch. All up it’s been a ripper year for the Sydney pub scene: this guide is where we get to sing the praises of the best in the business.
The best things to do in Sydney
The best art galleries in Sydney
Sydney is busting at the seams with great art – from major institutions like the Art Gallery of NSW and the Museum of Contemporary Art, to incredible privately-owned but publically accessible (and free!) galleries like White Rabbit, and right down to a thriving scene of independent and artist-run initiatives. Below are some of our favourites.
The best walks in Sydney
Coastal walks, bush walks, historical walks and inner city ambles: there are many routes to choose from to discover Sydney from a new angle. See our list of ten favourite places to wander and remember to pack a camera – these walks offer some of the best vantage points for snapping our city at its best.
Indigenous tours in Sydney
From tours that take you to previously restricted bushland to self-guided, inner city augmented reality apps that show you what life was like before European settlement in Australia – these Aboriginal led and operated businesses share knowledge and history that dates back thousands of years. Find more walks in Sydney or explore our harbour islands.
Free things to do in Sydney today
Sydney may have been voted the second most expensive city in the world to live in, but if you look closely you will find cheap and free things to do on any day of the year. Want LOLs without the price tag? Here's where to find free comedy nights in Sydney. Or a cheap date idea? See these venues for free live music on any night of the week.
Most popular events in Sydney
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Direct your creativity at AFTRS summer programs
Whether you’re an enthusiastic producer looking to up-skill in the world of film, television and radio, or you’re a golden hearted film fanatic wanting to understand the craft behind the screen, the Australian Film Television and Radio School should become your home for creativity this summer. The leading screen and broadcast school, which is parked right beside Fox Studios in the Entertainment Quarter, is offering adult intensive courses for all interests and abilities. Film, TV and radio enthusiasts can choose from subjects like the filmmaking intensive, screenwriting intensive, the thought-provoking documentary production intensive, learn journalistic skills for TV and radio presenting, diverse digital production techniques, as well as intensives in prop-making and set creation. The school holidays program has something for kids from grades five and up, where they can create their own worlds with animation, learn about filmmaking, try their hand at gory movie make-up, control the story with video editing, and create the perfect soundtrack in a music for film and TV course. There are also two-day courses to give kids a flavour of Hollywood, or dedicated two-week programs like the Young Filmmakers Bootcamp that explore many aspects of media production. An industry professional or technical expert will be leading each class, so you can get experience-based insights into filmmaking whether you're participating in the summer course yourself or if you're enrolling the kids
Lights of Christmas
Maybe it’s cold outside elsewhere, but here in Sydney the weather is just warming up, and that means it’s the perfect time of year to get out of the house and enjoy some Christmas lights. Now we’re not talking about the dodgy string of fairy lights your next-door neighbour has used to rim their veranda for the past six years—the one where every other bulb’s blown and half of the remaining ones flicker. No. We mean something a little more spectacular. Christmas will once again take over St Mary’s Cathedral’s façade with a show of music, dancing lights and projections. From Wednesday December 5 to Tuesday December 25 the cathedral will be alight with vivid Christmas projections. The display will start at 7:30pm and go on until midnight each night. The festivities will also feature a number of different choirs each evening, followed by the lights at 8.30pm. The show itself is separated into three segments: a Christmas-inspired, kaleidoscopic feast of light and colour, a story written and narrated by actor and writer Simon Pryce (AKA the Red Wiggle), and finally a collection of artworks of the Madonna and Child. Best of all it’s free! So pack a picnic or bring some money and enjoy the variety of delicious food available. There’ll be churros, coffee, gelato, and a range of great savoury options for you to nibble on while you take in the displays.Check out the Lights for Christmas website for a sneak peak of what's to come this year.
Counting and Cracking
Counting and Cracking is an epic new play that will have its premiere as part of Sydney Festival, bringing together 16 actors from five countries to tell a story of Australia today. Belvoir is moving out from its Surry Hills home for January to take over Sydney Town Hall, transforming it into a Sri Lankan town hall. The show begins with a Sri Lankan meal, and a cricket scoreboard will help you navigate the continents and histories the play traverses. “I don’t know that there’s ever been a story about Australia as a migrant nation put on a mainstage of this scale before,” says Eamon Flack, Belvoir’s artistic director. “There’s been a lot of discussion recently about how much the country has changed. The population of the country is 5 million bigger than it was a generation ago, and that’s largely been driven by migration.” The play is penned by S. Shakthidharan, an Australian artist with Sri Lankan heritage who has been working with migrant communities across Sydney for more than a decade. The play is predominately set in Sydney but tells the story of one family across four generations, stretching across the world to Colombo. Flack will direct a cast that includes: Rarriwuy Hick, Nicholas Brown, Shiv Palekar and Hazem Shammas. Read our interview with Flack and Shakthidharan and check out our top 20 picks of the 2019 Sydney Festival program.