City life: Aspire’s guide to seeing the best of Sydney
A world-famous opera house, picturesque twinkling harbour and a seemingly endless choice of exceptional golden sand beaches
The relaxed life of a Sydneysider is focussed around beach, surf and delicious cuisine. Hollie-Rae Brader shares her tips for this wonderfully photogenic city
Think of Sydney and you’ll either think of firework filled visions of the New Year’s Eve celebrations or surfer filled oceans. With its world-famous opera house, picturesque twinkling harbour and a seemingly endless choice of exceptional golden sand beaches to visit, it’s not hard to see why Sydney is regarded as one of the finest cities in the world. Let’s face it, this place is a stunner.
While it isn’t the capital of Australia, it’s certainly the country’s most popular spot for visitors who flock here and take advantage of Sydney’s position as a key gateway to Oz. To that end it’s the perfect spot to start or end an Aussie adventure, just make sure you dedicate enough time to sampling the lifestyle of a Sydneysider.
Here’s Aspire’s guide to exploring Sydney in style.
Why sell it
Sydney is on most people’s travel wish lists due for all the reasons listed above, so if your client isn’t put off by the distance it shouldn’t be too much of a hard sell. And with strong historical links to the UK, the destination feels like home, just much sunnier and with better beaches!
If your client is heading to Oz, a trip to Sydney is inevitable. Pushing Australia as a destination comes with many perks; not only does it allow you to get creative and tailor-make a very special itinerary (something your client will definitely appreciate), but you’re also going to earn a pretty penny for doing so. The sheer distance between the UK and Australia means flights to the other side of the world are naturally a big-ticket item. National carrier Qantas offers business class flights from **, with first class available from **. And with the journey likely to take anything from 20 hours and above to get there, your client will definitely want the joy of a lie-flat bed.
Sydney is a seriously foodie city, and as a result mouth-watering menus are being served up at new restaurants most weeks. Amongst the new venues that have opened their doors so far this year are Hong Kong inspired diner Canton! Canton!; Bondi beach located Italian restaurant Totti; Israeli venue Shuk; and SoBar, which serves up Italian food with a Japanese twist.
The luxury hotel scene hasn’t changed massively in Sydney in recent years aside for some smaller boutique properties opening their doors. But more big brands are pitching up in the coming years. Ritz-Carlton will open a 220-room hotel above The Star casino opening at the end of 2020. Also in 2020, the W Hotels brand will open a 593-room property as part of Darling Harbour’s new ‘The Ribbon’ development.
When to go
The majority of travellers venture to Sydney for winter sun, with the peak period running from late November until mid-February. However, it can be insanely hot during these months, so a trip in the shoulder seasons is worth considering. During spring and autumn, Sydney is equally stunning, and you’re still bound to get sunshine-filled days without the mercury soaring to unnaturally hot temperatures.
Where to stay
Shangri-La and Park Hyatt are among two of the city’s finest hotels, both delivering stunning views of the harbour. If you’re looking for something more boutique and intimate, 20-room Spicers Potts Point would fit the bill. If your client prefers quirkier options, Paramount House Hotel, located in the heritage listed formed Paramount Pictures building is the perfect choice. The property has just 29 rooms and is located in the trendy Surry Hills neighbourhood.
What to do
Sydney has some incredibly iconic buildings and structures – you only need to be flashed an image of the Opera House or the Harbour Bridge to know where in the world you’re being shown. So it’s a given that those two will be among the first spots visitors to Sydney will head to, especially if they’re first timers. A climb across the bridge delivers perfect 360degree aerial views over the city (starting from £148 per person), although you’ll need to book it in advance to secure your time slot (I’d recommend the twilight climb). Head to the harbour after dark for stunning views of the famous bridge and the neighbouring Opera House. There’s plenty of bars and restaurants around here, and usually the alfresco Opera Bar has a great atmosphere.
Blessed with more than 100 beaches, you won’t struggle to find your favourite coastal spot. Sydneysiders flock to the beach most weekends, particularly if the surf is looking good. The most popular, and most obvious, choice is Bondi. And while it is beautiful, it’s often extremely crowded. Instead, head a little further out of the city for a quieter and more serene sunbathing spot. Coogee, Manly and Palm Beach are all perfect options. If you want to escape the tourists completely, Freshwater and Tamarama beach would suit.
If being outdoors is up your client’s streets, recommend they enjoy some of Sydney’s coastal walking routes, one being Bondi to Coogee beach.
Once you’re done with the beach, head to creative spot Newtown to see a different side to the city. Here you’ll find street art covered walls, good shopping shops and trendy cafes. Culture Scouts offer a two-house tour of this eclectic spot from £30.
Where to dine
Like most cities, Sydney delivers some exceptional options on the culinary front. Here, Asian cuisine is king. For Korean head to Madang, but expect long queues of hungry locals to have the same idea. For a slice of Sri Lankan new venue Lankan Filling Station will tick the box and if it’s Cambodian you’re after, set your sights on Kingdom of Rice. Billy Kwong, a restaurant from highly regarded Aussie chef Kylie Kwong, serves up Cantonese/Australian fusion with indigenous ingredients pulled into most dishes.
But don’t be fooled, it isn’t all about Asian cuisine here, because there’s a bounty of restaurants serving up dishes from most corners of the world.
If you haven’t got time to catch a show at the Opera House, head there for a meal at the very least. Bennelong is one of the city’s hot spots for tourists on the prowl for a delicious dinner.
My personal recommendations would be small eatery Sean’s Panorama in Bondi, where the menu changes daily and is written on a blackboard, and Japanese venue Cho Cho San, located in the Potts Points district.
Pair it with
Head to the Blue Mountains or Hunter Valley for a rural retreat away from the city. Alternatively, venture an hour north of Sydney to Palm Beach for a beautiful suburban beach getaway. Home to where they record hit Aussie TV show Home and Away (we all watched it at some point). Full of holiday homes for rich Sydneysiders, quaint restaurants (dine at Barrenjoey if you get the chance) and a perfect coastline, it’s a must for those keen to see more than just the usual Sydney spots. Once in Palm Beach take the Central Coastal Ferry to Wagstaffe and book yourself into Pretty Beach House – one of the most stunning luxury lodges in all of Oz!
Hollie is editor of Aspire’s print and online products. She is responsible for the running of the club and ensuring the content produced and the events organised are relevant to the Aspire audience. She was previously deputy news editor and cruise writer for sister title Travel Weekly. She loves exploring new destinations and is gradually ticking new countries off her list. She most enjoys writing about cruise, South America and Japan. Before working in the travel industry she held news reporting roles at the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star.