My 20 Favourite Sydney Experiences

I Lived In Sydney For 5 Years. These Were My Favourite Experiences

Moving to Sydney in 2016, I instantly fell in love with all that the city had to offer. Brimming with the most picturesque scenes almost everywhere you look, it’s no surprise that my weekends and spare time were quickly filled up with long walks and new discoveries. Over the five years that I spent living in Sydney, I collected some of my fondest memories and magical moments. Below, I’ve summarised 20 of my favourite Sydney experiences for you, in the hope it will help to inspire your travels in this wonderful city.

And if you’re keen for even more recommendations? Earlier this month, a few from our team put together even more of their personal favourite Sydney recommendations into our Insider’s City Guide to Sydney.

20 Of My Favourite Sydney Experiences

1. Walking over the Harbour Bridge

This walk across the Bridge is as easy as it is magnificent. I don’t think I could ever tire from the views you catch from the Harbour Bridge walk, especially on a sunny day. I recommend starting from Kirribilli: you can easily catch the T1 train there from Wake Up! Sydney (a 10 minute train ride), or make your way to Circular Quay and catch the ferry over. From Kirribilli, climb up the Bridge Stairs found by the intersection of Broughton Street and Burton Street. 

2. Bouddi National Park

If you have access to a car, then do yourself a favour and drive up to the Central Coast for a day trip. The Coastal Walk at Bouddi National Park is one of my favourites. It reminds me of hiking through the Amalfi Coast, with jaw-dropping scenery. Pack your backpack with food and water supplies, and set off for this incredibly stunning hike.

3. Picnics at Cremorne Reserve

Cremorne Point Reserve is a perfect area for a picnic during the day or at sunset. You get to soak in ‘pinch-me-is-this-real’ kinda views of the Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and the whole city skyline. To get here from Wake Up! Sydney, I suggest catching the train/tram to Circular Quay, and then catching the ferry to Cremorne Point.

Sunset picnic views at Cremorne Point Reserve. One of my favourite budget-friendly things to do in Sydney.
Sunset picnic views at Cremorne Point Reserve

4. Kirribilli Market and Bondi Market

I couldn’t choose between these two, so here you are: a double market recommendation. At Kirribilli, I love the ‘General & Fashion’ market which is held once a month on a Saturday. In Bondi, you can take your pick from the Farmer’s Market (every Saturday) or the fashion and food market (every Sunday) – I loved both!

5. The Blue Mountains

You’ve likely read about The Blue Mountains, and here you are reading about them again. Let me tell you: they are recommended for a reason! It took me a few years before I finally explored The Blue Mountains. Once I was there, I immediately judged myself for not going sooner. Make sure to go to the Three Sisters and try to do one of the walks in the National Park, too. 

6. Moonlight Cinema at Centennial Park

During the summer, they show nightly movies at Centennial Park as part of the ‘Moonlight Cinema’. This is always such a fun thing to do with friends, and you can also BYO food and drink.

7. Kayaking in Sydney Harbour

I once splurged on a sunrise kayaking tour of Sydney Harbour, and it was magical. It was a true Sydney highlight for me, and so if you’re looking to do something that’s a bit more special, I completely recommend this!

8. Walking through the Royal Botanic Gardens

I still can’t believe how lucky we are to have these Gardens in the very heart of Sydney’s city! A walk (or jog for those wanting to keep up their fitness) through the Royal Botanic Gardens is an absolute must, again offering wicked views. You’ll also go through here on Wake Up! Sydney’s guided city walking tours

The best affordable hostels in Byron Bay, Sydney and Bondi Beach, Australia.

9. BYO dinners at Bar Reggio

Grab a bunch of mates and do the $35 set menu at Bar Reggio for a guaranteed good time. It’s an all you can eat menu of garlic bread, bruschettas, salads, pizzas and pastas (they also can do gluten free options). Plus, you can BYO.

10. Watching over Bondi Beach from a rooftop

Wake Up! Bondi Beach has a rooftop with uninterrupted views directly in front of Bondi Beach. Every time I was up there, I was reminded of why Bondi is so beautiful and special. It’s definitely worth staying a few nights at Wake Up! Bondi just to take advantage of this, because there’s not many other places where you can have such exclusive views.

Wake Up! Bondi Beach - backpacking hostel directly in front of Sydney's most famous beach.
The view from Wake Up! Bondi is pretty incredible, directly in front of Bondi Beach.

11. Walking Through The Rocks

You feel like you’re in a totally different city (and era) when walking through The Rocks. I love wandering the streets here during the early afternoon, and popping into one of the (many!!) pubs in the area. There are so many to choose from, and you really can’t go wrong at any of them!

12. Eating Out

I think it’s impossible to list all of my favourite places to eat out at for lunch and dinner. But some of the eateries I kept going back to time and time again included: Spice Alley (a hawker-style laneway with inexpensive Asian street food), South Dowling Sandwiches, Rara (delicious ramen, conveniently located near the Redfern train station), Emma’s Snack Bar (for Lebanese food and BYO), Flying Fajita Sisters (for tasty tacos in the really cool area of Glebe).

13. Catching the Ferry

One of the things that never gets old in Sydney, is catching a ferry for public transport. Yes, they may take slightly longer than a train or catching an Uber, but how can you resist seeing Sydney from the water for a cheap-as-chips ticket price?

14. Watching a Footy Match at The SCG

I’m a big Australian Rules Football (‘AFL’) fan, and the matches at Sydney’s main stadium (the SCG) always have a vibe. Even better, the SCG is walking distance from Oxford St and Surry Hills, so you can easily grab a drink after the match. The SCG is also an easy tram ride away from Wake Up! Sydney Central.

15. Happy Hour at Salty’s Bondi

Not once did I ever have a bad time at Salty’s Bondi. The best music and live DJs, delicious margarita cocktails, food that’s perfect for sharing, directly opposite the beach… it ticks all the boxes. My tip is to go during happy hour, when you can enjoy half price share plates, and $6 drinks.

16. Royal National Park

You might notice the magnitude of Royal National Park in the plane when flying over Sydney. It is a huge area, where forest and wilderness meet the ocean, and made for a very memorable day trip. You can reach Royal National Park by car (in which case, you may choose to visit a number of areas within the Park), or via public transport. On the Wake Up! blog, you can read up on some popular walking tracks in the Royal National Park as well as how to get there from Wake Up! Sydney.

Royal National Park. Yes! They are deers, roaming around!

17. Walking Everywhere

We mention quite a lot of Sydney walks here on the Wake Up! blog, and it’s because they really are the best things to do in Sydney! No matter how many times I did a coastal walk, or a walk along the Harbour, I always felt like I was the luckiest duck to be able to experience their views. Beaches aside, I also loved walking through suburbs like Paddington, Glebe, Newtown, and Surry Hills.

18. Gelato Messina

I have no regrets in dedicating an entire recommendation to a gelati store. Walking into the heavenly scenes of Gelato Messina and grabbing a scoop of your favourite flavour(s) is something everyone should have the pleasure of experiencing. Each week, they bring out about four special ‘flavours’ (like, ‘Peanut gelato with malt-o-milk biscuits and nutella fudge’. Omg. Yes.)

19. Joining Class Pass

As a very indecisive person, I loved joining Class Pass as a way to experience so many different gyms and fitness centres in Sydney. From pilates to boxing to rowing, it was fun to be able to step inside a whole range of Sydney’s studios. If you’re into fitness, but content in staying at the one gym, then you might like to know that guests at Wake Up! Sydney Central can enjoy half price gym passes for the local Anytime Fitness gym – bargain!

20. Seeing the Sunrise Over the Beach

Having now moved to a city where the sun doesn’t rise over the beach, I now realise how lucky I was to see this in Sydney. Waking up early, going to the beach, and seeing the sun slowly rise over the beautiful ocean while the sky changes colour, is something so incredibly inspiring and motivating. If you’re not an early riser, please try to do this at least once! To make it easier, perhaps stay at Wake Up! Bondi Beach, where you will literally be staying directly in front of the beach (meaning, you can stay sleeping until the very last minute!).

Backpacking or travelling Australia? Book your Sydney accommodation at Wake Up! Hostel in the centre of the city.

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