The stellar city has a whole new set of venues and events.
Even beyond its natural beauty, Sydney is as vibrant as ever with new restaurants and bars sizzling, shoppers exploring the boutiques and theatres hosting some of the world’s best productions (have you heard of a little thing called Hamilton?).
Sydney is a city with endless options to explore. Go from a morning kayak at Rushcutters Bay to an afternoon at Chippendale’s art galleries and an evening bar-hopping in Manly.
Whether it is your first trip, or you are going on double digits, there is always something new to experience here.
The Australian Museum has recently reopened fresh from renovations that showcase its collection of dinosaur skeletons, Egyptian mummies and souvenirs from Captain Cook’s journey. A powerful new exhibition, Unsettled (until 10 October), reveals the untold histories behind Australia’s founding story through artworks and first-hand accounts of First Nations people.
The Sydney Opera House has launched tours behind the sails that take a detailed look at the building’s architecture and backstage areas. At sunset, the spectacular artwork Badu Gili: Wonder Women illuminates the sails in a free six-minute projection.
See the city from a different perspective on a Burrawa Climb of Sydney Harbour Bridge. Aboriginal storytellers will guide you along its famous arc, pointing out Sydney locales such as Barangaroo and Bennelong, and telling the stories behind their Indigenous namesakes.
West of the city, Featherdale Wildlife Park is the perfect family outing. Quolls, Tasmanian devils and cassowaries keep the koalas company and the park plays a vital role in wildlife conservation efforts.
1. From farm to table
A farm in the middle of Sydney? There certainly is and it’s also a restaurant. The new greenhouse-like Acre Artarmon on the Lower North Shore is popular for brunch, serving delicious housemade pastries. The urban farm’s vertical plantings and hydroponic gardens grow ingredients destined for the menu. Don’t worry, the chickens are just for eggs.
2. Dine with a view
The gobsmacking views from Aria are just one of the reasons it is a Sydney fine-dining institution. Splurge on a degustation or design your own with the likes of yellowfin tuna with spiced eggplant, black pudding with Margra lamb from Oberon and blood orange souffle.
There’s so much happening in Sydney’s inner-city suburbs and for visitors wanting to immerse themselves in these hip neighbourhoods there’s some cool, new accommodation options. Paramount House Hotel (pictured right) has taken over the former headquarters of Paramount Picture Studios in Surry Hills. Chic industrial decor complements the exposed brickwork bringing a modern feel while still paying tribute to the site’s heritage. There’s also a bar, cafe and cinema in the building.
Little wonders of the city
The boutique-stay trend extends to the city centre at the Little National Hotel near Wynyard Station. The rooms are intentionally small and minimalist because the focus is on the sprawling rooftop retreat with outdoor tables and couches, an indoor lounge around a firepit and a library with large work desks.
A fine collection of artisan distillers are revitalising industrial areas of inner-city suburbs in Sydney. Since its 2014 opening, Archie Rose has led the trend for urban distilleries with its excellent gin, whisky, vodka and white rye. Head to its Rosebery site for tours and tastings.
Last year, award-winning gin specialists Four Pillars opened up the Laboratory in hip Surry Hills. Sample their innovative cocktails in Eileen’s Bar or book a masterclass in the Gin Lab. Here, you’ll learn how to make the perfect winter cocktail or take part in a mini-distillation of a delicious gin to take home.
The city will light up this year for Vivid, the festival of light, music and ideas, from 6-28 August. Sydney’s buildings become the canvas for spectacular artworks, including large illuminations, laser light shows and 3D-mapped projections.
The festival will also host more than 50 music events and 90 talks and workshops, blending creativity with a fascinating program of thought-provoking ideas.
And while festival-goers walk the harbour foreshores, just off the coast, whales are passing through on their annual migration. It’s a good excuse to follow the coastal trails such as the Bondi to Coogee Walk or those in the Royal National Park, just south of Sydney.
To be up close when the whales breach, take a whale-watching cruise out through the heads. It’s a beautiful view from the water and a perfect way to complement your urban adventures. No wonder the whales come back every year.