From the best harbourside dining to cliffside coastal walks, everything good comes with an awesome water view
Sydney is internationally renowned for its white sand surf beaches, but while the tourists make a beeline for Bondi, local residents are headed to the harbour for their spot in the sun. Camp Cove, situated just past Watsons Bay (have an afternoon drink in the Watsons Bay Hotel beer garden BTW), is one of the last beaches before the heads open up to the Pacific Ocean, which means the water is crystal clear. Grab an ice cream from the beach canteen, pull up a Turkish towel and watch as yachts large and small come in to drop anchor. The even more adventurous would do well to take the foreshore walk to nudist beach Lady Jane just around the next bay.
TRAVEL TRUFFLE: If you are after more of a family experience (aka fewer cruisers moored and a little more Lycra on beach goers) drive around to the nearby Nielsen Park. This popular BBQ spot also houses a café, while the beach itself is netted off for an ensured shark-free dip, so it’s ideal for kids.
After extensive renovations last year, this Paddington pub debuted a new dining space helmed by chef James Metcalfe, previously of Bécasse, to complement its popular front bar. The result is a beautifully outfitted bistro with a modern European menu (Metcalfe cut his teeth in the London gastro pub scene), dominated by seasonal produce and also sporting an adjoining oyster and caviar bar and an outdoor terrace area. Think cured scallops with seaweed and white peach dressing for starters, followed by black olive poached blue-eye, clams, tomato caramel and summer vegetables.
TRAVEL TRUFFLE: If you fancy flexing your local gastro muscles further try Guillaume Brahimi’s food at The Four in Hand pub down the road on Sutherland Street.
Unlike many global cities, Sydney is not blessed with a plethora of boutique design hotels, and even good 5-star hotels are few and far between. However, the city’s premier stay is easily the Park Hyatt, thanks to its contemporary interiors and harbourside location with uninterrupted views of the Sydney Opera House. The hotel’s 155 residential appointed rooms and suites feature prominent Australian artists, and it is nestled within the historic Rocks area (now a restaurant Mecca) on the edge of the central business district. There’s also a bunch of great pubs that reflect the city’s English naval heritage located nearby, with the standout being the Lord Nelson, which is Australia’s oldest pub brewery.
TRAVEL TRUFFLE: The Park Hyatt has its own spa and impressive rooftop swimming pool but we would recommend a morning jog around Circular Quay to the beautiful waterfront Royal Botanical Gardens. Established in 1816, it is the country’s oldest botanic garden and is hosting a range of events from opera to painting workshops for its bicentenary this year.
Nobody does the great outdoors quite like the Aussies, and the striking cliff-faces and small bays that make up Sydney’s Bondi to Bronte coastal walk are the city’s natural high. Before 8am on weekdays this well-worn fitness trail is bustling with locals (with trainers in tow), while the weekend is a more relaxed affair.
TRAVEL TRUFFLE: After a refreshing stroll, finish off with breakfast at Bill Granger’s Bills in North Bondi, or if it’s mid-afternoon, have a drink at Icebergs bar, which sits high above the famous South Bondi saltwater rock pool. Icebergs is named after the winter swimming club founded in 1929, which attracts committed locals year round, regardless of the sea temps.
Sydney loves its food and excels in fine dining venues blessed with world-class views, from Woolloomooloo Wharf’s Otto to Bondi’s Icebergs Dining Room. That said, it is hard to beat Eastern Suburbs institution Catalina. Situated at the water’s edge overlooking Rose Bay, here the dining hierarchy is measured by how close your table is to the water – with the best balcony seats soaking in views of the bay and seaplanes landing from day-trips to Palm Beach. This bright white seafood restaurant always offers a sunny view of Sydney.
TRAVEL TRUFFLE: Let’s not beat around the bay, the prices here are about as steep as they come – aside from top restaurant Tetsuya’s – but few know that you can swing by for a drink and some oysters, or a dessert at the sea-slung balcony bar, which is usually reserved for waiting dinner guests.
“You burn through a lot of adjectives describing the best of Sydney, with its great beaches, top-notch restaurants and endless bars and nightclubs.”
“Sydney perennially occupies the upper ranks of T+L readers’ favorite cities. And why not? Impressively cosmopolitan, almost embarrassingly handsome—but as breezy and casual as any sunsoaked harbor town—Australia’s largest city could win any visitor over on looks and climate alone.”