Here are 25 of our favourite things to do in Sydney right now – whether you're local or just stopping by for the weekend
What was once a vacant 22-hectare container wharf is now an impressive harbourside park with plenty of space for picnics. It's always bustling with walkers, joggers, cyclists and people holding selfie sticks – and for good reason: the park has 360-degree views of the harbour, including the Harbour Bridge, the ANZAC Bridge, the Rocks and suburbs like Balmain. Pack a hamper for the day and enjoy the vista while the sun shines.
No other city can boast such a range of beautiful places to go kayaking. Deep gorges, dense bushland, sandy beaches, wandering creeks – Sydney has it all.
In a nod to our colonial past, Sydney is a bit obsessed with tea, towers of tiny sandwiches and buttery treats in the early afternoon. You can try a ceremony at Gunners Barracks or the Observatory, but our absolute fave is in the Tea Room at the QVB: high ceilings, gold-rimmed crockery and scones so light and fluffy they practically float into your mouth.
Whether you're looking for a vintage frock or a crate of ripe avocados, Sydney has weekly neighbourhood markets that draw crowds of locals for locally-grown fruit and veg, indie arts and crafts, bric-a-brac, fresh-cut buds and all the coffee carts you could ever need.
You can’t help but want to get involved with whatever thing chef Kylie Kwong is passionate about right now. It’s a list that just keeps on growing, from bush herbs to bespoke gin. She’s now at the forefront of a culinary push of Australian wine-makers, distillers, producers and brewers. Thankfully, she still has time to make Chinese food.
It’s a Sydney tradition: a balmy summer evening, the beautiful surrounds of Mrs Macquarie's Chair, a screen set up right on the water with the Harbour Bridge and Opera House framing the scene, and a movie to boot! Films start when the sun goes down. Get in early for a good spot.
There are two things, straight off the bat, that make this pocket-sized CBD bar the standard-setter it is. That’s the drinks and the service. The menu is, on the whole, fresh juice-based and relies heavily on whatever’s in season. But go off-menu and be rewarded with a team possessing a staggering amount of cocktail knowledge.
The chef at Silvereye is Sam Miller, and the food is straight out of Noma – except that it’s uniquely, thrillingly Australian, with Indigenous produce used in abundance. There are two menus to choose from, a short one (11 courses) and a long (17). An extra $35 gets you the bigger one, which isn’t much when you’re spending a small fortune anyway. If the prices at Silvereye are too scary, the good news is: there's another five-star restaurant just downstairs. Head to Automata for a killer meal that won't break the bank.
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.
Jesus Christ this is a good sandwich. It has been cut up into three – soft white, crustless bread (thanks mum) encasing massive wodges of succulent, crisp-fried pork, crunchy cabbage, sweet American mustard and sweet’n’sour Japanese barbecue sauce. It’s a monster size, the pork significantly thicker than the bread. And it’s only $10. Are we still in Sydney?
Start the week with a ‘Monday Twerkout’, improve your pointe at Sydney Dance Company or take a beginners class in rock'n'roll at Miss Peaches. Time Out's tried-and-tested list of the best dance classes includes places where you can drop in and swing – right up to term-length classes to help you master fancy footwork.
Sydney’s CBD is home to some of this city’s best bars. The tricky thing is knowing where they are as many of them are tucked away out of sight, signalled only by a scrap of light under the door, a queue in an alley, or the sound of revelry as the door swings shut. Consult this handy list of hidden gems and be one of the people in the know.
There’s a deep, all-pervading smoke through everything you eat, which makes for a pretty specific menu. Our advice? Pick a couple of (quality) meats, and have a blast with the sides.
The current program from the STC – which boasts Andrew Upton (aka Mr Cate Blanchett) as its creative director – is a big one: shows like King Lear, The Present and Orlando and stars like Geoffrey Rush, Blanchett, Hugo Weaving and Richard Roxburgh. All this, and in the historic surrounds of Walsh Bay, perched right on the harbour at the edge of the city.
Mrs Jones the Baker comes to you from husband and wife team Lucy and Barry Jones. Lucy has worked as a pastry chef around the world, including at Harrods in London as well as Café Sydney and the Bathers Pavilion here in Sydney. Barry has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants throughout Europe as pastry chef. He made Sly Stallone’s wedding cake! These guys sure know how to bake, and here they are in little old Freshwater.
Sculpture by the Sea is one of Sydney's key annual arts events, drawing around 500,000 to the coastal walk from Bondi to Tamarama to enjoy sculptures by top artists and emerging talents from Australia and abroad. To avoid the crowds, get there for sunrise – or wait until the end of the day for a perfectly-timed sunset stroll.
Fancy sipping on rosé on the harbour while listening to Balearic house tunes? You’re in luck. Time Out has rounded up the best outdoor parties taking place this season, from rooftop sessions at the Museum of Contemporary Art to late-night DJ sets on a floating pontoon.
Sydney's biggest summer festival celebrates its 40th year in 2016. The hot days and balmy nights are filled with opportunities to experience delightful, confronting or mind-blowing performances, with events spanning from the Opera House to Parramatta. Don't miss the free concert in the Domain from the Flaming Lips, a live storytelling show in which locals over 65 share true stories from their sex lives and a massive Ferris wheel made of trash.
Bypass the main thoroughfare in Manly and seek out these independent stores for an antiques shop filled with Americana, second-hand books and records and artfully sourced fashion, such as Aussie labels Romance Was Born and Camilla & Marc. You'll pass as a local in no time.
In a town filled with great spots to watch the sunset, we dare you to find a better one than Taronga Zoo. Go one better than a day trip and camp there overnight. Who wouldn't want to (safely) rise to the sounds of the jungle? That's where Roar and Snore comes in.
Newtown Festival celebrates neighbourhood pride and inclusivity. This year will see the return of the ‘Newtown Locals’ area of pop-ups from neighbourhood bars, cafés and restaurants – plus there will be more locally brewed beers on tap than ever before. Look out for featured authors in the Writers’ Tent, hands-on activities in the Vocal Local Village and performers at the popular Kids Zone.
Did you know that Clark Island used to be a humble veggie patch? Or that Cockatoo Island was once a prison? Sydney's islands are full of colourful history – and great places to lay a picnic blanket, too.
It’s a bar you’ll want to drink in early and dance in late. Pad your stomach with some skewers before you start in on the booze here – and oh, the booze here. So much, so good. Make sure you order one of their famous monkey heads before moving to a Piña Colada. Then make your way to the dancefloor, a spacious spot framed by a school of paper fish, seaweed and a couple of cute jellyfish hanging overhead. Go on, make a splash.
The Art Gallery of New South Wales is the leading museum of art in New South Wales and Sydney, and one of Australia's foremost cultural institutions. It holds significant collections of Australian, European and Asian art, and presents nearly 40 exhibitions annually. Every Wednesday night it opens its doors until 10pm for the Art After Hours program; catch lectures, workshops, celebrity talks, film screenings – or check out the exhibitions. If you're hungry, try Matt Moran's restaurant Chiswick at the Gallery.
Boy, oh, boy! You’ve got to be brave to take the plunge in the annual ocean swim with a difference. Last year one thousand people ditched their clothes and swam in the ocean together in Sydney’s most exhibitionist sports event. The Sydney Skinny first launched in 2013, an idea by Nigel Marsh, the author of Fat, Forty and Fired and Fit, Fifty and Fired-Up. Marsh came up with the concept after he was caught short without swimmers and decided to take a dip in the ocean anyway – it was a hot day, we’ve all been there.