Your Sydney Bible: A Definitive Guide of 50 Things To Do This Summer
Consider this your Sydney Bible: where to go, eat, play, stay, and the day trips to explore. No matter whether you’re in Sydney for a weekend, a month, or a local looking for new staycation inspiration, this list is for you.
This guide of our favourite finds has a bit of everything. From free things to do to splurge activities, the best of both Sydney’s outdoors and indoors, market-hopping and more. A few activities you might’ve heard of before, whereas others are totally unique. Either way, they’re all brilliant.
So, what are you waiting for?! Let’s get stuck in.
We bring you: 50 things to do in and around Sydney this summer…
Outdoor Activities To Do In Sydney
1. Walk to the Hornby Lighthouse
Our friends Elise and Rikki told us about this one, discovered during their Sydney to Byron Bay road trip. “If you’ve got a car (or a finely tuned cardiovascular system), it is a stunning red and white lighthouse at South Head (near Watsons Bay). To get there you’ll need to walk the South Head Heritage trail from Bondi (only about a 1km loop). We went at sunset (with the rest of Sydney) and there were some pretty crazy sunset pastels. But to miss the crowds we would probably recommend visiting at sunrise.”
2. Don your togs for Sydney’s swimming pools
Alongside the beaches, it’s not a true Sydney experience without dipping your toes in one of the city’s many swimming pools. Saltwater enthusiasts should add Bronte Baths, McIver Baths in Coogee, and Murray Rose Pool (formerly known as Redleaf Pool) to their list. If you’re one to cherish swimming with mighty views, then North Sydney Olympic Swimming Pool and MacCallum Pool (both located on the Lower North Shore) are the ones for you! And if you find yourself in the city wanting to swim some laps, then Andrew Boy Charlton Pool (near the Botanic Gardens) or Prince Alfred Park Pool (opposite Central Station) are great choices! Great news: we’ve organised all of these on this pre-pinned Google Map so you can save them straight to your device!
3. Splash it out at Sydney’s beaches
We probably didn’t need to remind you of this one. But just in case, here we are! Testing out Sydney’s beautiful beaches is a must. Everyone has their favourites, so grab your togs and set aside time to test out a few. Bronte, Coogee, and Bondi are some of our favourites in the Eastern Suburbs. While Balmoral, Curl Curl and Newport get our tick of approval in the North Shore!
4. Escape the crowds with a picnic
Yes it might be a thriving city, but Sydney is also filled with many pockets of lush greens and calm vibes. Enter: perfect picnic territory! Grabs snacks, and add to your list Royal Botanic Gardens, Wendy’s Secret Garden and the Chinese Garden of Friendship.
5. Enjoy sunrise from Sydney’s Eastern beaches
This is a weekly ritual for Conor from our Marketing team… and we don’t blame him! As the sun rises over Australia’s Eastern coastline, us Sydney-siders get blessed with prime mornings. Any of your favourite beaches along the coastline will be top spots for this. Or otherwise, why not set up a sunrise picnic with views of the Bridge and Sydney Harbour – Blues Point Reserve is a goodie for this!
6. Dive into snorkeling in Manly
Discover Manly’s underwater world on a Manly snorkeling tour. In small groups of just 8 people, you’ll experience Australia’s coastal culture with a local marine expert, search for endangered species, and snorkel around with over 200 fish species. If you’re looking for an activity that ticks the boxes of unique, eco-friendly and plain flippin’ fun – then this is the one!
Want to make the magic happen? Take advantage of our value-packed City, Sun & Snorkel Package!
7. Get active on a coastal walk
You’ve heard of the Bondi to Coogee walk for a reason: it’s simply a must-do. And while you’re prepping your activewear, suss out these equally as awesome walks:
- Spit To Manly;
- Rose Bay to Watson’s Bay (which also takes in the Hermitage Foreshore Track);
- Taronga Zoo to Balmoral Beach; and
- The Opera House to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.
8. Feel the calm of Stand Up Paddleboarding
Both relaxing and rejuvenating: enter the world of paddle boarding (or SUP as it’s commonly referred as). Spend a morning gliding across Sydney’s glorious seas and calm waters, and we bet you’ll quickly feel 11/10. If you want to SUP with Sydney’s skyline in the background, give Watsup a go. Or during your Palm Beach day trip, hire a board from Avalon SUP in Clareville.
9. Paddle it out with kayaking
With waterways galore, Sydney’s your place to paddle it out and take in the city from a new angle. There are a tonne of kayaking spots, hire companies and tours to choose from. Some of our favourites include EcoTreasures’ Kayak Tour around Ku-Ring-Gai National Park, kayaking as the sun rises over Sydney Harbour with Sydney By Kayak, or the Boathouse Balmoral’s kayak hire option.
10. Walk through the Paddington Reservoir Gardens
Free, and an absolute hidden gem of Sydney, is the Paddington Reservoir Gardens. These Gardens are reminiscent of the ancient Baths of Caracalla in Rome and are a perfect place for summer walks along the boardwalk and catching the sunset.
11. Run it out at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair
Reap the rewards of clocking up kilometers, and head out for a run at Mrs Macquaries Chair. You’ll be blessed with an extra endorphin-booster as you take on prime views of the Harbour, gorgeous greens of the Botanic Gardens, and a healthy burn as you run back up the hill.
12. Have a night under the stars at an outdoor cinema
Nothing quite beats a balmy summer night under the stars quite like an outdoor movie! Luckily, Sydney have the coolest options to choose from. The Moonlight Cinema in Centennial Park runs from 3 December 2020 through to 2021, and you can upgrade to the Gold Grass premium experience if you feel like treating yo’self. Or, go for a new, spectacular and slightly more splurge-y option, with Mov’in Boat. This is a floating cinema in Darling Harbour, where you can choose a floating bed or rowboat – pretty unique!
13. Colour your day with Royal Botanic Gardens’ inBLOOM exhibition
Explore a world of colour and light with inBLOOM at The Calyx in the Royal Botanic Garden. With over 20,000 plants on display, and one of the largest living green walls in the Southern Hemisphere, this new exhibition is one to immerse yourself in. And just quietly: it makes for the most colourful Instagram content!
14. Stretch it out with free yoga and pilates in the park
Get set to lengthen and strengthen and become fit and flexible with free outdoor yoga and pilates classes held each week! Down at The Rocks, their resident instructors will lead you through a full session in the gorgeous park grounds, all while enjoying views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House… hello perfect Instagram shot! Throughout summer, these sessions will be held on Saturdays (for pilates) and Sundays (for yoga).
Sydney Suburb Strolls
15. Take a lively stroll through Newtown
Spend an arvo strolling the colourful and creative strips of Newtown. Stock up at the many vintage stores and thrift shops (luke U-Turn Recycled Vintage), grab a drink at one of the lively pubs (The Courthouse Hotel’s beer garden is always a winner), tuck into great vegan food at Lentil As Anything, or opt for a home-style pie at The Pie Tin. Start on King Street and meander your way from there!
16. Catch the ferry to Manly
Hop on board the Sydney to Manly ferry which has its own bar. Yep, you can crack open a cold one, sit outside, and soak in that summer air while en route to laid back Manly. Once there, cruise along the Corso, do the Manly to Spit walk, head out for a swim and a surf, or relax at the 4 Pines Brewery.
17. Shop, eat and drink in Surry Hills
Head to one of Sydney’s coolest cultural hubs, Surrey Hills. Bursting with shops ranging from wacky to wonderful, spend a decent chunk of the day shopping here (with plenty of coffee, beer, and food stops along the way). Add to your hit-list Storeroom Vintage for all your op shop needs; Pigeonhole, Elms for clothing and homewares; and Oscar & Friends Booksellers.
18. Drink vino at a CBD cellar door
Drop in for an urban wine tasting at Handpicked Cellar Door in the heart of Sydney’s CBD. Relax with a wine and cheese flight, uncover new wines with a guided tasting at the bar, and afterwards take a breezy stroll along Kensington Street.
19. Go undercover at one of the CBD’s hidden bars
Sydney’s no stranger to the bar scene, but one of our favourite activities is to drink somewhere new at one of the city’s hidden bars. Mix up your regular watering hole, and opt for somewhere like:
- Uncle Mings – an opium den inspired cocktail, Japanese Whisky and dumpling bar
- The Barber Shop – enter through an unassuming barber shop, and old-world cocktail and gin bar
- The Baxter Inn – you’ll find this one in the basement along an unmarked alleyway off Clarence Street… it’s hidden and magnificent.
20. Drink local at an inner-city brewery
We’re always a yes to beers at the local pub, but for something a bit different, fun and ‘cultured’ (if we may), we like to take to an independent brewery. A short train ride from the city, Batch Brewing Company and The Grifter Brewing Company are top choices in Marrickville. 4 Pines Brewery in Manly is a win for the North Shore. And Young Henrys in Newtown is consistently great.
21. Catch comedy with Cali Booze & Bites
Once a month at SoCal, you’ll find the Funny Flamingo Comedy Club. Prepare for an evening full of lols as some of Australia’s most gifted and loved stand-up comedians transform SoCal’s terrace into a laugh-fest. Tickets are just $10 and include a drink on arrival.
22. Experience the ever-changing The Grounds
Come for the brunch. Stay for the ever-evolving installations, incredible experiences, a garden, bakery & patisserie, coffee roastery, animal farm, florist, and markets.
23. Taste the world along the Kensington St precinct
Take a walk along Kensington St – a lifestyle precinct in ‘downtown’ city. Here’s your home for restaurants, cafes, markets, artists, galleries, innovative retailers, and creatives. And best of all Spice Alley: a delicious hawker-style food market, set in an open-air courtyard, with free BYO. Best budget hack going around!
The Best Markets in Sydney
24. Find vintage treasures at the Glebe Markets
Held in the large grounds of the Glebe Public School, the Glebe Markets are a (helluva) slice of vintage heaven. Discover new & recycled fashion, quirky accessories, cute homewares, books and more, all while soaking up the music and summery atmosphere. There’s also a tonne of food stalls in its marketplace, which you can order all from the convenience of an app.
25. Soak up the good vibes at the Bondi Markets
The Bondi Markets perfectly capture the creative, laid-back and quintessentially Australian scene of Bondi. With a farmers market every Saturday and a shopping market every Sunday, this is a place where you can come to and always find something to fall in love with, or the next big thing about to explode onto the fashion scene. Did you know: internationally acclaimed jewelery label Samantha Wills started at the Bondi Markets!
26. Shop with a view at the Kirribilli Markets
Set with a backdrop of the Harbour Bridge, the Kirribilli Markets are a fortnightly affair, shining the spotlight on art, design and fashion.
27. Fill your produce bag at the Marrickville Market
Nestled in Sydney’s inner-west, the Marrickville Market is a top choice for the foodies! Held every Sunday, this market offers up gourmet food and produce, specialising in Certified Organic and fresh produce.
28. Find Sydney’s artisan producers at the Carriageworks Farmers Market
Some of Sydney’s most delicious artisan producers set up shop at the Carriageworks Farmers Market. An institution held every Saturday, here you’ll find organic and biodynamic produce, artisan breads, boutique wines, single origin coffee, herbal teas, meat, eggs, freshly harvested honey and freshly cut flowers. Our tip: come here on an empty stomach.
Museums, Theatres, Culture: Where to go
At the time of writing, adults in NSW will soon receive four $25 vouchers from the NSW Government, of which two must be spent for venues such as galleries, cinemas, amusement parks and theatres. If you’re wondering where to go to spend your vouchers, below are some of our favourite choices!
29. Watch a movie within a stunning cinema
Rich in history and beautiful in its interior, The Ritz in Randwick is a heritage-listed institution that’s been going since 1937. If you find yourself on the northern side of the bridge, then the Hayden Orpheum is another must-see for a day at the movies. Beginning in 1934, the auditorium in the main theatre will set a high standard for all your future movie days!
30. Take an Indigenous Walking Tour at the Royal Botanic Gardens
Learn about the Cadigal people – the traditional owners of the Sydney city area – with a guided walk in the Royal Botanic Gardens. You’ll discover how the Indigenous people used local plant life to thrive, their culture and practices and depending on the season, you may get to try traditional Bush foods along the way.
31. Turn back the clock at Luna Park
Step back in time to simpler times with Luna Park’s Sideshow Games, let your hair down on the rides, or soak up the sights of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House and Luna Park as you soar to new heights on the Ferris Wheel. Because sometimes, nothing beats being a big kid.
32. Discover something new at the Powerhouse Museum
The Powerhouse Museum houses collections focused on science, technology, design, creativity and contemporary culture. We’re not afraid to say it: this is a cool place to go. Just take their current temporary exhibition as an example, Maton: Australia’s Guitar.
33. Experience the incredible State Theatre
We’re not going to say that you have to visit Sydney’s most iconic venue for film, theatre, music and more. But, if you could pick up that we want to, and add the State Theatre to your list, that’d be great! Performances like ‘Bohemian Symphony’, ‘Bowie Orchestrated’, the Sydney Comedy Festival and a bucket load more are coming up for 2021. So step inside, and experience why the State Theatre is love at first sight.
34. Rediscover the renovated Australian Museum
Having just completed a yearlong, multi-million dollar renovation, the Australian Museum is back in business! To celebrate its reopening and much-anticipated transformation, they’re also offering free general admission for the initial opening phase. Expect to find dazzling exhibitions, artefacts, and a treasure trove of cultural collections!
What Indoor Activities to do in Sydney
35. Putt Your Stuff at Holey Moley Golf
Part mini golf, part bar. What’s not to love?! Choose between their two Sydney locations (Newtown or Darlinghurst) and putt your stuff through an 80s and 90s inspired mini golf adventure. Dressing to the theme not essential, but absolutely feel free.
36. Visit the hive of activity at the Entertainment Quarter
Located in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, the Entertainment Quarter is a wicked entertainment, dining and leisure precinct, easily accessed by train from the city. There’s a year long calendar of events held here (think gigs, markets, festivals and more), so check it out and plan a visit!
37. Escape the noise at a library
Ok. We know. Libraries don’t necessarily scream “must-do”. But trust us, there are some very cool libraries here in Sydney, and when you want some time away from the buzz, then these are a mighty fine option. Green Square Library is a hidden secret with Instagrammable reading rooms, a music room with recording equipment, a grand piano to use and a whole bunch more. Woolahra Library is more like a wonderland, filled with green foliage and an indoor Secret Garden. And finally there’s Darling Square Library, which is your cool CBD go-to.
38. Have a crack at axe-throwing at Maniax
Need to let off some steam? Want to have some fun? Either way, experience Maniax and give 2020 a chop! Yep, you’re here to do some axe-throwing! Learn the ropes from one of their ‘axe-perts’, then give it a crack yourself. One bullseye and you’ll be hooked!
39. Get creative with a wine and painting class
Whether you consider yourself the next Van Gogh, or your art style is more abstract than Picasso’s, you’re destined for a super fun time at one of Sydney’s wine and painting classes, like Cork and Canvas or Cork and Chroma. Throughout the night, the staff will provide you with all the tools and guidance, while you’re able to BYO wine (and nibbles!) to drink and let your artistic prowess run free. You’ll walk away with your own hand-made souvenir to take home as well as a tonne of laughs.
40. Take up a pottery class
Get your hands dirty and take to the (pottery) wheel! At The Pottery Shed in Surry Hills, they’ll show you the ropes on spinning, forming clay and making basic vessels – no experience necessary!
41. Catch a show at The Opera House
With an ongoing calendar of comedy, music, dance and drama, you’re bound to find a show coming up that you’ll love. Prices are reasonable, but to make it extra fancy – have a drink at the Opera Bar beforehand.
Awesome Day Trips from Sydney’s CBD
42. Head north to Palm Beach
Grab one of the best seats in Sydney, at the top of your Barrenjoey Lighthouse walk in Palm Beach! Palm Beach is a slice of paradise in Sydney’s northern beaches and a must-do day trip. The setting of Home & Away’s ‘Summer Bay’, the location here is unbeatable.
43. Experience incredible nature at the Blue Mountains
An absolute must-visit for anyone staying in Sydney. The Blue Mountains are World-Heritage listed and world famous. And for good reason! They offer it all: breathtaking views, epic walking tracks, rainforests, and waterfalls. Check out our picks of some of the best walks to do in the Blue Mountains.
44. Follow the coast of the Royal National Park
Australia’s oldest national park has it all. There’s sparkling beaches, rainforests, wildlife, Aboriginal sites and some of the best walking trails. The Royal National Park is an easy day trip from Sydney that you can get to via car or train (or even, by train + ferry). There are so many activities you can take up in this park, and we’ve rounded up some of our favourites in this list.
45. Tour your way through the Hunter Valley’s wineries
One of Australia’s most famous wine regions, the Hunter Valley is a top choice for a Sydney day trip. There are countless wineries, cozy cellar doors, stunning scenery, and not to mention bucketloads of bloomin’ delicious vino.
Thirsty just thinking about it? Jump on our freshly launched, value-packed Harbour to Hunter Escape. You’ll be soaking up Sydney one day, and taking in the rolling greens of the Hunter Valley the next, with a full-day winery tour, lunch, and more!
46. Explore the vast Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park
Ku-Ring-Gai Chase is the second oldest national park in Australia. We love this Park for its proximity to Sydney, significant Aboriginal sites and stunning scenic views. There are many walks you can do here, but make sure to soak up the panoramic views at West Head Lookout! You can also go kayaking, stopping at some of the secluded beaches that line the park.
47. Head to the South Coast for a multi-day trip
Less busy than the north, come to the NSW South Coast for sun-soaking, surfing, and simply good vibes. Don’t have a car? No dramas. From Sydney’s Central Station, you can easily reach both Wollongong (grab lunch at Kneading Ruby!) and Kiama (see the famous Blowholes and stop at The Hungry Monkey to refuel).
Want the full South Coast experience? Of course you do. Hop on our 6 night / 5 day City To Surf Experience, which’ll have you learning to surf at Gerroa, and soaking up the best of it all.
Splurge Activities in Sydney
48. Climb Sydney Harbour Bridge
Tick a world-class experience off your bucket list as you climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge. You’ve taken a tonne of photos of it, now it’s time to join the ranks of Justin Timberlake, Will Smith and Cameron Diaz as you soar to the top of it with BridgeClimb.
49. Feel the rush of a Skydive
Prepare for an adrenaline rush and take up Sydney’s only beach skydive with Skydive Australia. Experience the thrill of freefall from Australia’s highest altitude of up to 15,000 feet, for up to an insane 60 seconds. Then float under canopy for 5-7 minutes soaking up spectacular views of Wollongong and the Southern Sydney beaches. Skydiving Sydney just doesn’t get any better.
50. Experience the magic of Sydney by seaplane
Fly overseas without ever leaving Sydney. Experience the magic of Sydney Harbour, the Eastern Suburbs, Palm Beach, the Northern Beaches, Pittwater, the Hawkesbury River and the Central Coast from the air.
51. Head out on a catamaran
Get a group together and enjoy a day out on the sea, with a chartered private catamaran. Explore the Sydney Harbour sights, or anchor at local and hidden beaches to swim – the choice and sea breeze is all yours.
PS. Yes, ok, we’ll admit it! We lied. This was actually fifty ONE things to do in Sydney this summer 😉
Where to stay in Sydney?
Want to save on accommodation so you can splash more cash on all of these epic experiences instead? You’ve come to the right place! Wake Up! Sydney is centrally-located in the heart of the CBD. We have both private and shared rooms, so whether you’re traveling solo, as a pair, trio or even as a group of 10… we have a space with your name on it. With quality at our top priority, a community-centric atmosphere, and the best of at our doorstep, consider your accommodation sorted. Discover our rooms here.
Of course. Please be sure to follow the advice of NSW Health and Government when travelling in and around Sydney. Information and restrictions can regularly change, and some of the below activities may be subject to change.