There are some things you just have to do when the weather is warm in our beautiful city, and Time Out has rounded up 25 of them. Now get going!
Sydney’s answer to a 1960s Palm Springs resort is perched high atop the beautiful Ivy complex in the centre of the city. It’s constantly peppered with models, millionaires and minor celebrities – as well as plenty of locals who just want to enjoy the city’s only rooftop pool bar. Order a cocktail and lounge about on a lilo in the pool while a DJ spins sexy beats. This is as glamorous as it gets.
The Ben & Jerry's-sponsored Openair Cinema screens movies over summer, through to March 1. Every night you can catch a great live band till the sun goes down, then see a hot new release or a cult classic on the huge screen. On Sundays there's even unlimited free Ben & Jerry's ice cream.
Start at Harts for some craft beers by convict descendants. Mosey on to the Australian for the Coat of Arms pizza, and then hit the Glenmore roof for some afternoon brews. Step back in time with a Guinness at the old, sandstone Hero of Waterloo before propping yourself up at the bar of the Lord Nelson for one of their house-brewed beers and a meat pie floater. For your final hurrah you must raise a glass at the Fortune of War, thus completing the ultimate historic Sydney pub crawl. Start at Hart’s Pub. Finish at the Fortune of War.
It's one of the most coveted annual tickets in town, and you'll understand why when you settle into your seat and catch a glimpse of that view behind the stage. Following on from spectacular productions of La Traviata, Carmen and Madama Butterfly, this year Opera Australia offers up Verdi's epic tragedy Aida, with sopranos Latonia Moore and Daria Masiero alternating the lead role. It's an irrestible cocktail of fireworks, high-drama, international stars, and spectacular sets – not to mention actual cocktails and a themed menu.
The Strand is a place of grandeur – the very opposite of the suburban shopping mall. Open since 1892, it's an ornate, multi-level thoroughfare that houses premium Australian fashion designers (Dion Lee, Jac+ Jack, Sass & Bide), dapper chapeaus at Strand Hatters and stylish clogs inside Nordic fashion boutique Funkis. Not needing new clothes? Drop in anyway to marvel at the beautiful architecture and buy some truffles at Haigh's, the country's oldest chocolate retailer.
Get yours with the lot: two scoops of ice cream (we go for cinnamon and Italian custard) and whipped cream sandwiched in a brioche bun spread with Nutella. The first bite is definitely the messiest: the insides have a habit of oozing out the sides, covering every surface in a pornographic mix of spiced gelato and blobs of cream. Rip the top off your bun, and use it as a makeshift spoon, swiping the spillage as you go. This is definitely one to eat sitting down.
If you're in town during the annual Sydney Festival (Jan 8-26), make sure you drop by the Festival Village in the heart of the city. Higher Ground from Ireland's Maser that lets kids of all ages romp around inside an installation inspired by MC Escher's perspective-bending art, and there are several food stalls along with licensed bars that open from 4.30pm each day. Ticketed shows – concerts, circuses, dance parties and more – also take place inside the Famous and Aurora Spiegeltents here.
Sydney boasts pretty damn good weather year round, but summer is when we truly shine. Whether it's a rooftop rave, a party on a pontoon or an alfresco festival, you'll find somewhere to dance in the great outdoors. Local party purveyors Astral People are hosting a series of six Sunday sessions on the grounds of the historic National Art School. The beats skew house and techno and they're carefully curating a tasty selection of food trucks and cocktail menus to keep you energised.
First, a caveat: no visitor to Sydney should skip a chance to enjoy a sunny day out at the magnificent zoo on the North Shore. (Pro tip: head straight for the Meerkat Encounter.) But what about some magnificent music at sunset – with the sparkling Sydney skyline as your backdrop? This summer, the popular Twilight at Taronga concert series returns every Friday and Saturday night with headliners including Belle and Sebastian, Sarah Blasko and Rufus Wainwright.
This fabulous outdoor swimming pool is perfectly perched right at the eastern end of the Royal Botanic Gardens– with glazed glass edges that allow sunbathers on the expansive wooden deck unparalleled views of Sydney Harbour’s rippling waters. The beautiful and the bronzed like to spend sweltering days swimming laps in the eight-lane, saltwater pool alongside families who enjoy the learners’ and toddlers’ pools. The complex also features a café, yoga studio, karate dojo and massage therapists on call. After a dip, meander around the harbour’s edge towards the Sydney Opera House nearby.
It may be shut after sundown but this Inner West brewery knows how to get the good times rolling during the daylight hours. Firstly they let people bring their dogs so you get a designer dog parade with your craft brew. Got a little tacker in tow? There’s always a bunch of kids in attendance too. Young Henrys is all about the inclusive afternoon sessions and in addition to great craft beers and a seriously refreshing cloudy cider, on weekends they bring the snacks to you by getting food trucks to pull up to the brewery door.
The dazzling capper to the three-week Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras attracts thousands to the city's 'golden gay mile' (otherwise known as Oxford Street), where they cheer on the spirited celebrants strutting, dancing and marching in a riot of glitter, sequins and political protest. This year's festival theme is 'Passion', so there's bound to be lots of love in the air – not to mention a whole lot of kissing along the way.
Put the art back in party by taking in the latest shows at the Art Gallery of NSW and MCA as the sun's going down. Both venues have special evenings packed with music, screenings, celebrity talks and best of all... bars!
There’s a deep, all-pervading smoke through everything you eat, which can mean a pretty narrowly specific menu. Our advice? Pick a couple of (quality) meats, and have a blast with the sides and cured things.
You'll hear a lot about the Bondi to Coogee cliffside walk while you're here, and yes, you should do it. But if you end up in Manly (and you should do that, too), this is a must. All up, this is a 10km walk that can take up to four hours to complete – but the good news is it has multiple access points if you're after something less strenuous, and the views of the harbour and city will make you forget all about your aching feet. Consider getting sidetracked for a peek at the Grotto Point Light House along the way.
From the outside it looks innocent enough – dark timber, a small bar, kitchen and a handful of tables – but this Bondi local has a tendency to incite unexpected good times. Case in point: this frightening (yet delicious) take on a Bloody Maria: mescal, tawny Port, spiced Clamato juice, citrus, garnished jerky stick and a crab claw. Criminy.
Like rugby and soccer, every four years the top international cricket teams converge for the World Cup. Running from the end of summer into the first month of autumn, this year the one day games in Sydney will be played at the SCG, which means you get to be front and centre for England vs Afghanistan, Australia vs Sri Lanka, South Africa West Indies, the first quarter final and the second semi final as the teams face-off for wickets and glory.
This is chef Pasi Petanen’s place, reborn on the old Café Pacifico site. After hosing it out and painting it entirely grey (it’s got a bit of a post-modern theatrical vibe), the ex-head chef of Marque reopened the Darlinghurst warehouse with a progressive, playful and esoteric 11-course menu.
Your first port of call at Sydney’s newest water park (which saw huge crowds during last summer’s inaugural season) is the 360Rush, a mammoth set of duelling slides which each loops a full 360 degrees. We suggest climbing six storeys to the top with a mate before racing each other down. You’ll hit speeds of 60km/h. Which, in water-slide-speed terms, is pretty freaking fast.
This city is world-renowned for its talented drag queens – this is, after all, where a certain pink bus started her cross-country journey. If you’re a sucker for verisimilitude, you’ll want to head to the Imperial Hotel, spiritual home of Sydney drag and setting for the opening scene of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Over on the golden gay mile known as Oxford Street, Stonewall and the Midnight Shift offer regular shows full of sequins and sass, and megaclub Arq features weekend extravaganzas and Drag for Dollars, a popular amateur contest that packs ‘em in every Thursday night.
This lovingly restored landmark in the heart of Surry Hills has in recent years become home to a wonderful assortment of businesses. No movie lover should leave town without seeing a classic at the Golden Age Cinema downstairs – or having a cocktail and a bite to eat at its gorgeous bar. (We like the Spielberger: a toasted pastrami, Gruyere and pickle sandwich.) Upstairs is Paramount Coffee Project, a schmick filter bar where you can sit and work while the supernice waitstaff make you a coffee on the convection stovetop.
This onetime convict prison is our version of Alcatraz – just as creepy and foreboding, but gussied up in a way that invites you to kick back and stay awhile. Grab a ferry here and enjoy an audio or guided tour. The Island Bar heaves with revellers in warmweather months, and there are 135 sites for those who want to camp out here. Don’t want to rough it? They also have glamping, apartment and heritage house options.
The Tomahawk is a monster rib eye weighing in between 1.6 and 1.9 kilos. It comes with roast potatoes, green beans and three serves of gravy and will cost you up to $95 a go. Yes, you can share it, but if you eat it all yourself you get a free hat. Choose wisely.
There are more than a dozen galleries in ‘Chippo’, and moving between them makes for a pleasant stroll – why not see how many you can hit in an afternoon? Start at the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo before visiting the contemporary Chinese artfocused White Rabbit Gallery (catch their excellent exhibition Commune for free through Sun Feb 1), the DNA Projects, the UTS Gallery and MOP Projects. Wind your way to the Pine Street Creative Art Centre and maybe having a bit of a sit down to finish. Your feet will have earned it.
This gorgeous spot is full of majestic trees, spacious lawns, birdfilled ponds, ornamental flowerbeds and even a fernery. Spend some time ambling the grounds during your visit – pretty likely given the Opera House is at the northern end. There are free guided walks (10.30am daily) or you can take the ‘trackless train’, which stops at areas of interest. Be sure to visit the Art Gallery of New South Wales, too – it’s just across the Domain and admission to peruse its general collection is free.