There is so much more to Sydney than just the central business district (CBD). The city has a great number of suburbs with unique qualities.
While I was in Sydney, I was able to visit a few of the city’s suburbs. So here is some information about each of the suburbs to give you an idea of what to do and see outside of the city center.
Bondi Beach is perhaps the most iconic of Sydney’s beaches. And it is conveniently close to the CBD; the suburb lies about 7 kilometers east of the city center. The beach is a beautiful stretch of soft, white sand with clear water. A nearby gently sloping grassy hill provides a good alternative for sunbathing if you don’t like sand but still want to enjoy ocean views.
The beach is a popular spot for surfing. The southern end has a strong rip current that produces sizable waves that consistently crash near the shore. If you prefer to swim, head toward the much calmer northern end of the beach. There are usually yellow and red flags up to mark the areas that are safe for swimming. If you enjoy a long walk with beautiful views, check out the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk. It offers stunning views along the coast. And in October and November, the area is an outdoor exhibition featuring sculptures from local and international artists during Sculpture by the Sea.
The suburb has a mix of upscale and budget restaurants, cafés and bars. There are also a number of boutique street stalls and beachfront dining options. Bondi Beach is one of the most visited and photographed tourist locations in Australia, so it is a definite must see when in Sydney.
Manly is a little beach suburb with ample shops and restaurants. It is a quaint area with some beautiful beaches, the most notable of which is Manly Beach. Manly is 17 kilometers northeast of the city and is best reached by taking a 30-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay. The ride costs about $16 round trip.
You can take a bus (or a combination of buses) for a bit cheaper and twice as long of a journey, but it’d be a shame to visit Sydney and not get out on the harbour. Taking the ferry to Manly is a win-win, because you’re transported to the area, and you get some great views of the city and its iconic structures. There are a couple of options for privately run ferries, which get you there about 10 minutes faster, but cost slightly more.
Once you arrive in Manly, stroll around the shops and eateries that line the streets near Manly Wharf. There are two beaches beside the wharf, but I recommend taking the short walk through the streets to Manly Beach. Manly Beach is much larger and has better sand. You can also visit the markets at the Manly Market Place on the weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Kings Cross is a bit of a seedy area, but it has its charms. The suburb is about 2 kilometers east of the CBD. The main street is Darlinghurst Road, which is filled with bars, strip clubs, nightclubs and restaurants. Kings Cross is the area to party in; party of all sorts, as it is the red-light district and has a substantial drug presence.
Whether it is cause and effect, or correlation, Kings Cross is also one of the most prevalent spots for cheap backpacker accommodation. There are a number of cheap hostels in the area. I stayed at Hump Backpackers hostel in Kings Cross. I would happily stay there again; the facilities are well kept and the staff is welcoming and helpful, so long as you catch them within the allotted reception hours. I felt pretty safe staying in the Cross, but it is wise to be vigilant when walking around, especially at night.
Newtown is a popular area for students and people on a budget. The suburb, which is right by the University of Sydney, is full of cheap and eclectic shopping, dining and entertainment options. King Street is the main entertainment and commercial area, with large numbers of funky cafés, quirky restaurants, and interesting bars featuring a huge variety of international food. It is also a great place to shop on a budget as well as see live music and theatrical performances. Newtown is in the inner west, about 4 kilometers southwest of the CBD.
In November each year, the suburb holds the Newtown Festival. It is a one-day event. The festival is huge and has a lot going on. There are multiple live performances, crafty stalls, merchants, food stalls and so much more. The festival has a large array of food and goods vendors. If you happen to be in Sydney during the festival, definitely make your way there, but expect massive crowds. Entrance is on a donation basis, and that money is used to fund services for the local community.
Paddington is the area for designer fashion. Oxford Street is the main shopping strip with specialty shops and clothing boutiques. You’ll also find salons, bookstores, cafés and restaurants. The suburb is about 3 kilometers east of the CBD.
The Paddington Markets are held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. in the Paddington Uniting Church grounds. The markets feature local craftspeople, fashion designers, artists and jewelry makers. There are a few food vendors, but it is mostly centered on goods and clothing. It is a bit more upscale and slightly pricier than other markets.
I wouldn’t say you need to go out of your way to visit the market or the suburb. But if you have extra time or you enjoy boutique fashion, pop by for a quick browse around Oxford Street and the market if it happens to be a Saturday.
Visit the Sydney Public Transport website to plan your visit around Sydney. Currently, some trains, buses and ferries are allowing individual ticket purchases, but soon the system will be changed over to the Opal card. The cards are free and are available at many convenient stores and stations. To learn more about the system, visit the website.