Things to do in Sydney

(Photo: Frederik SUHREN/ AAP Image)
View of Sydney from a 'Bridgecimb' tour (Photo: Frederik SUHREN/ AAP Image)
"Since the recent change in licensing laws, Sydney has tried to play catch-up with Melbourne and small bars have sprung up like incredibly delicious mushrooms."

You've climbed the bridge, taken a ferry to Manly, walked along Sydney's beaches. What next, you might ask. Here are a couple of hidden gems you won't want to miss.

Inside the big house

Everyone has their photograph taken on the steps of the Sydney Opera House, but wouldn't you like to get a little bit closer than that? The Essential Tour does just what it says, and given it only takes an hour, it's well worth the effort. You get to see inside all the theatres and hear about the trials and tribulations involved in bringing this modern architectural masterpiece to life. The best reason to tag along, however, is the access you get to the Utzon Room, a small reception venue near the main foyer. The room features the building's only true Jørn Utzon interior with colourful 14-metre-long tapestry designed by him while he listened to Bach's Hamburg symphonies. The work was created in Australia by the Victorian Tapestry Workshop and the famous architect didn't see the completed project before he died. The only way the general public can see it is by being invited to a function in the room or by taking this tour. Book online beforehand for a 25 percent discount.

Small bars, Sydney-style

Since the recent change in licensing laws, Sydney has tried to play catch-up with Melbourne and small bars have sprung up like incredibly delicious mushrooms. See what I mean at LL Wine & Dine in Kings Cross, hidden away in a space that previously housed an illegal gambling den and swinger’s club (Those hooks in the ceiling? Use your imagination). Or The Passage, open till 3am in Darlinghurst. Burton Street has had its own renaissance, collecting The Commons (Ph: (02) 9358 1487, 32 Burton St, Surry Hills), Pocket Bar (Ph: (02) 9380 7002, 13 Burton Street, Darlinghurst), and everyone’s favourite, Shady Pines Saloon (Shop 5, 256 Crown St, Darlinghurst). What about Oxford Street? Try Ching-a-lings (Ph: (02) 9360 3333, 133 Oxford St, Darlinghurst). Or head further afield to the Absinthe Salon (Ph: (02) 9211 6632, 87 Albion St, Surry Hills) if you like your drinks dangerous (and green).

What a difference a street makes

As a local, you often wonder what overseas visitors must make of Campbell Parade, the long thoroughfare that runs parallel to the famous stretch of sand at Bondi Beach. It's lined with dead-ordinary shops selling surf wear and cheap CDs, and overpriced cafes that mostly don't even have a decent view. Here's a tip: head one street back to Gould Street and you'll find a strip of cool stores, such as Ksubi, Tuchuzy, Milk Bar, Electric Monkeys and Me + Moo, which all have amazing streetwear. Another lovely lane is the tree-lined Curlewis Street, where you'll find Tea Petal for fashion, ceramics and flowers, and one of the best brekkie spots in Bondi, The Shop.

To market

The best way to gauge the pulse of a city is often by checking out its transient markets alongside the locals. Sydney has a score of them, and the one that’s right for you depends on what you’re looking for. For food, the dependable weekly choice has become Eveleigh Farmer's Market at Carriageworks, a short walk from Redfern Station (Saturday, 8am-1pm). For a more adventurous and rewarding choice take a bus to Marrickville for the organic food market instead (Sunday, 8:30am-2pm).

For the treasure hunting and those slogan t-shirts, hit up the ever-popular Glebe Markets (Saturday, 10am-4pm). Gourmet food exists alongside recycled fashion and left-wing socialist stalls. For something a bit more organised, designers peddling their wares and original artworks, you're safe at Paddington Markets, taking over the local school every Saturday right on Oxford Street (10am-4pm).

Lunch like a king

Sydney is renowned for its huge array of fine-diners, but when you’re on a big trip and big night out can make a substantial hole in your travelling funds. Luckily, some smart chefs are doing special Friday-only lunches that deliver much more than the final bill would suggest. At Marque, Mark Best’s dishes are inspired by molecular gastronomy but still resemble food. However, the $145 dinner degustation menu can leave the credit card with a little indigestion (especially when we add another $75 to the bill to have matched wines). At lunch, however, you get three courses (plus an amuse bouche of chaud-froid egg) for $45. The menu changes each week. Other favourites are Assiette, where Warren Turnbull turns out three courses of excellent Euro-inspired dishes for $35, and Foveaux Restaurant & Bar, where you get three courses of Darrell Felstead’s creative cuisine for $40.

Got any more near the beaten track suggestions? Have your say using the comments form below.

By Sydney Insider, Carrie Hutchinson

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User comments
There's so much to see in Sydney but some of the most beautiful places to experience are within 2 hours of this beautiful city. The drive down the gorgeous South Coast via the spectacular Seacliff Bridge with a stop-over at Scarborough Pub for lunch is a MUST - stay at Huskisson for a couple of days to soak up the sun on the white sanded beaches, swim in the turquoise waters and do a Dolphin Cruise on Jervis Bay. Return to Sydney via scenic Kangaroo Valley. Another MUST DO is to spend at least 3 days in the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains staying at quirky Katoomba. On the way, stop at the famous Hydro Majestic Hotel for high tea (expensive but worth it). Hike the jaw-dropping National Pass and Grand Canyon walks, take the steepest rail trip in the world on the Scenic Railway, visit The Edge cinema and sample delicious home cooked meals in the many fabulous cafes and world class restaurants in and around Leura and Katoomba.
On the 47th floor of the Summit building on George Street (near Wynyard station) is the Summit Bar located! This bar is rotating (approximately 1 rotation per hour), giving you an amazing view of the city! Drinks are quite expensive..but it's a nice place and definately worth it! Also, if you visit the Opera House, try to get tickets to visit a show,concert,performance,anything.. Of course the Opera Theatre was sold out (it was showing Swanlake) but the Concert Hall often has less popular shows. During my stay we were able to get last minute tickets to a jazz concert. Normally I don't really like jazz, but it's enough just being there. We got the last tickets available, so sat all the way in the back, but this was a good thing, because we looked out on the concert hall, which was soo beautiful!
Sydney is one of the top vacations in Australia to be enjoyed. Top things to do in Sydney are, Catch the Manly Ferry from Circular Quay, Sydney Harbor to Manly. A ferry is the perfect way to first see Sydney, and an excellent view of the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House is yours for the photo taking. Arrive a little early at Circular Quay to ensure a good position in the queue. Aim for either the front or the back of the Manly Ferry for the best view of the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House as you depart Sydney Cove. Then you have Sydney Harbor Cruise, Everybody goes on a Sydney Harbor Cruise. Just bear in the mind Sydney Harbor looks equally fabulously the same from the deck of a Sydney Ferry or a Sydney Cruise Boat. Next is the Shelly Beach. Numerous pubs, cafes and shops will crave your patron along the way.