A Guide to Experiencing Sydney Like a Local

January 6, 2016

I lived in Sydney for 2 years before moving to New York City, so believe me when I tell you that there’s so much more to this energetic Australian city than just the popular Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

I mean, sure, those landmarks are amazing – they’re part of what makes Sydney so beautiful and iconic, but Sydney also has about a million other cool things to do. The shopping districts, scenic walks, and hidden spots that no-one but a local would know about could keep you occupied for days. Weeks, even.

So if you’re one of those people who likes to see more than just the generic tourist’s perspective of a city, here’s a few suggestions for getting off the beaten track in Sydney.

1. Hang with the hipsters


Sydney is a hipster haven, if you know where to go. You’ll find some incredible street art, amazing coffee, hidden small bars, and some wonderfully wacky people in the suburbs of Newtown, Enmore, and Surry Hills.

It’s worth taking a full day to explore these arty areas. Once you’re there, find a spot in a cafe with a window facing the street, order a flat white and avo on toast, then watch the world go by before wandering the streets for yourself. I promise you won’t regret it.

2. Do a coastal walk


Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a professional hiker to enjoy Sydney’s coastal walks, most of them are achievable for any fitness level. The harbour and oceanfront areas are known to have some of the best views in Sydney, and by doing a coastal walk, you get to see them for free.

The Bondi to Coogee walk is one of the most popular, which takes about 1.5 hours and connects two of Sydney’s favourite beaches. Otherwise, Sydney Harbour National Park on the north shore has some insanely pretty nature walks (to prove it, here’s some photos from one that I did!)

Be sure to lather up with sunscreen and pack a brimmed hat. As any Australian would know, the sun can be harsh! You don’t want to end the day looking like a tomato.

3. Hit up some markets

Everleigh Market

Everleigh Market
And I don’t mean Paddy’s Market in the middle of tourist town (I’m joking, tourist town isn’t really a thing). Check out some local handmade art, fashion, and food markets in Glebe, Bondi, or Newtown.

Most markets open on a Saturday or Sunday morning and run into the afternoon, you can find more info on local markets here.

4. Take a public ferry

Forget an expensive harbour cruise. Instead, take a cheap public ferry between Circular Quay and the north shore.

There are countless ferries that will give you spectacular views of the harbour, the most popular being the ferry to Manly Beach which will take you directly past the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. You can also try the ferry to Milsons Point, Pyrmont, or Taronga Zoo. Take your pick!

5. Enjoy park life with the locals

Something I’ve noticed since I moved to USA is that locals just don’t enjoy public parks the same way that Australians do.

In Sydney, any day of the week with the slightest bit of sunshine will mean parks in the city will fill up with people. My personal favourites for soaking up the sun are Hyde Park, Camperdown Park, and Victoria Park.

It’s also allowed in some public parks to take in alcoholic drinks, so if you want to fit in with the Sydneysiders, take along a beach towel to use as a picnic blanket (yes, it must be a beach towel), some picnic food, and some local cider or beer.

Visit A Globe Well Travelled for more Australian travel tips. Have you ever been to Sydney? What did you think of it? Share your tips with us in the comments!

Don’t forget that you can bring a piece of Sydney home to you by placing an order on Grabr! We’ll connect you with a traveller who can snag an amazing souvenir and bring it home to you.

This article was written by Ashlea Wheeler.

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