Do you miss the feeling of being a tourist in a new city, of putting band aids over blisters after a day of exploring new cafes, buzzing bars or experiencing landmarks you’d only seen in films? Me too.
With interstate travel finally re-emerging as an option, the opportunity to be a tourist is back on the cards.
When it comes to Australian cities packed with spectacular landmarks, delicious dining experiences and city-wide festivals, Sydney is hard to beat. Here are a few spots to entice you.
If you’re a sucker for a meal paired with a side of theatre, then a sashimi platter that arrives at the table leaving a waft of dry ice in its wake will be your cup of sake. The modern Japanese restaurant, headed by executive chef Chase Kojima who started his global career at Nobu in the US, features a menu packed with fresh sushi rolls, sashimi, meats and some very spicy edamame.
Belles Hot Chicken
Chat to someone from Melbourne and they’re sure to have had Belles Hot Chicken once or twice, it’s a bit of an institution. Since opening in 2014, Belles is now serving up chicken dishes that range from mild to “sex panther” (which we gather is exceptionally hot) plus mac and cheese, pickles and all the sides at six venues, including three in Sydney.
Housed on the top level of the heritage-listed Hotel Palisade, it is hard to beat the sweeping views of the Harbour Bridge and beyond, that this stylish cocktail lounge has to offer. The menu is light on carbs but big on flavour with the “corn ribs” an unexpected cut of vegetable and taste sensation.
The bread at this bistro is almost enough to warrant a trip to Sydney, so adding a great wine list and unforgettable pasta may mean you’ll never want to leave. Its bustling CBD location is perfect for a lunch to break up a day of shopping and the Newtown locale lends itself to a long afternoon of picking at antipasto and sipping negroni.
The Royal Botanic Garden
There is something special about escaping a busy city to find solace in its public garden, and Sydney’s version offers 30ha of lush greenery. It’s come a long way since being established in 1816 — with perfectly manicured spaces, exhibition space and restaurant Botanic House which features a menu designed by celebrity chef Luke Nguyen — but it still has an array of trees that have stood proud in the gardens for decades.
Autumn is the perfect time to travel to the Harbour City as it comes to life with the immersive Vivid Sydney festival, a city-wide extravaganza that brings together 200 events that creatively celebrate diversity, beauty, resilience, and First Nations culture.
The festival is known for its massive light installations. Both Yarrkalpa-Hunting Ground, 2021 by the Martu Artists (from the Pilbara region) and work by Curiious will be projected into the Opera House. Customs House will have a projection by renowned artist Ken Done. Mandylights has also put together an 8km light walk and the largest laser and water sculpture display ever seen in Sydney.
For music lovers, the Opera House will host an array of diverse acts including Paul Kelly and Thelma Plum, Sampa The Great, Berlin-based prodigy Nils Frahm and Tkay Maidza. Across a range of venues, from St Stephen’s Uniting Church to The Royal Botanic Garden, the likes of Marcia Hines and Perth’s Alter Boy will also perform.
The Vivid Ideas brings together some of the world’s most interesting minds, including Oscar and Emmy award-winning director and writer Aaron Sorkin, journalist Leigh Sales, and Perth-raised musician Troye Sivan.
My Sydney Boat
A family-run business, My Sydney Boat is an intimate experience that’s plenty of fun — it takes punters to secluded spots even locals may not have seen.
There is no better way to conquer your fear of heights than a guided tour of one of the most iconic structures in Australia. Not only will you feel safe and secure (harness, rails and safety precaution guides) but you’ll be so distracted by Sydney’s beauty and the history of the bridge that you won’t notice you’re 134m above sea level at its summit (this coming from someone terrified of heights).
Opera House Tour
How many tiles are on the Opera House roof, and did its architect Jorn Utzon ever see his final design in all its glory? You’ll find out the answer to these questions, and so much more, on a tour of the building.
Situated almost directly under the Harbour Bridge, this hotel on the water ticks all of the boxes for location, style and comfort. Plus it is pet-friendly, so whether you’re travelling with your companion or enjoy patting a friendly pooch, it’s another perk on the stylish space.
Feeling more like the architectural home of a trendy couple rather than a hotel, this Surry Hills accommodation is a must-stay if you’re looking to be among some of the city’s best restaurants and bars.
Sure its casino has been clouded in controversy, but the rooms at this $2.2 billion hotel are the height of luxury if you’re looking to spoil yourself on your holiday. There is an array of high-end restaurants that make the most of luxurious ingredients and the building’s Barangaroo views, plus a day spa and pool.