Friday, May 23, 2014

Living like a local in Sydney

Today's living like a local post comes to us from Cameron of Stunning Places, about some of the best places in sunny Sydney for eating, drinking, relaxing, and beaching - just like the locals do!

Do you want to contribute a piece about the best things to do in your hometown? I'd love to hear from you!


It’s easy enough to understand why anyone would want to live in Sydney. The weather, the beaches, and the food are just a few things the city has to offer. While locals are proud of our famous landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, these are usually left for tourists who flock here every year, empty their pockets and go back to wherever they came from.

The urban culture and diversity of Sydney gives the city a special identity and these places we are about to explore will put you on the fast track to living like a local in Sydney.

Where to eat

In the eastern suburbs and inner west of Sydney you’ll find some of the most amazing cafes, coffee roasters, bars, and restaurants. Reuben Hills is a small café and coffee roastery in Surry Hills, which has a menu inspired by coffee buying trips through Central and South America. Reuben Hills take pride in the quality of their coffee, and even offer coffee tasting sessions every Friday at 10am.

Reuben Hills coffee (via Mark Treviranus)

However, for a mouth-watering menu of modern Australian with a European twist, Bar Indigo is just for you. Named Double Bay’s best kept secret, Bar Indigo creates an amazing dining experience complete with exceptional service, food of the finest quality, and coffee to rival any espresso bar. Their vast menu includes bakery items, breakfast, salads, and more, all with a list of hand-picked wines to match.

Chocolate cake from Bar Indigo (via Bar Indigo)

If it’s coffee and cake you’re after, or maybe even a sandwich with an interesting combination of flavours, try Bourke Street Bakery, now with six different locations across Sydney. The bakery serves a range of pastries, as well as some hot food, light snacks, and loaves of bread so you can create something you love.

The bread at Bourke Street (via Bourke Street Bakery)

For those after a healthy lunch made with organic ingredients and the freshest greens, The Grounds of Alexandria must be visited. The elaborate menu of fresh salads, wraps, breakfast items, and wonderful coffee will draw you back day after day. Don’t forget to try their range of juices which change according to season, including their best-seller; apple, pear and mint. The Grounds of Alexandria also offer up a mouth-watering range of breads, pastries, tarts, cupcakes, and other desserts that draw Sydney locals to them every day.

Fresh cafe culture at The Ground of Alexandria (via Caroline Choker)

Places to stay

Feel like an authentic Australian experience?  Stay at the Lord Wolseley Hotel in Ultimo, one of the oldest pubs in Sydney and you’ll be hanging out with people who consider this place as their local. This quaint and historical hotel is located next to Chinatown and Central Station, and a mere five minute walk from Darling Harbour. The restaurant on the ground floor serves affordable and delicious bistro meals for lunch and dinner six days a week, and features live performances of some of Australia’s best blues musicians every Saturday night.

The Lord Wolseley Hotel (via James Ross-Edwards)

If you want to experience some amazing views while staying in the heart of Sydney, try The Rocks Bed and Breakfast, located in Australia’s birthplace. This heritage listed, fully restored mansion is just a short stroll to the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Botanical Gardens, and CBD. Guests in The Rocks can enjoy a number of local cafés and restaurants in the area, and immerse themselves in the culture of Sydney.

A nighttime scene at Sydney Harbour (via

For those who would prefer to leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind and head to the beach, there are a number of options available, such as Manly Beach View Bed and Breakfast. Live like a Sydney local with views of the beautiful Manly Beach, and enjoy surfing, swimming, scuba diving, jogging or bike riding along the coastline. Enjoy the many cafés in the area or relax on your private balcony in comfort.

The interior of Manly Beach View Bed and Breakfast (via Trip Advisor)

What to do in Sydney

With all this great weather Sydney receives, it’s no wonder we love to be outdoors. If we’re not on the beach, we’re probably doing yoga in the park or falling asleep in the shade of a tree. Where better to do these things than in one of Sydney’s gorgeous parks: Hyde Park. This park is 16 hectares of wide open space in the heart of Sydney, decorated with lush trees, and the famous Archibald Fountain. Hyde Park is great for fitness, relaxing, having a picnic, or just soaking up the sun. It also plays host to many events, including the Sydney Food and Wine Fair and the Sydney Festival.

Hyde Park by night (via Kimberly Shobe)

If Hyde Park is a little too close to the city for your liking, then check out Centennial Parklands, which encompasses Centennial Park, Moore Park, and Queens Park, making it a total of 360 hectares. Centennial Parklands is always bustling with locals, as the park features a range of sporting fields, exercise equipment, running tracks, and more. There is also a range of great live venues to enjoy live concerts, comedy gigs, and other special events such as the Moonlight Cinema.

The striking trees of Centennial Parklands (via Tracey Tilson)

For a breath of fresh air and a walk with a view, the Sydney Botanic Gardens are the perfect setting. Take the opportunity to discover Sydney and Australia’s history with a guided tour. Alternatively, take a scenic tour by trackless train, visit the many exhibitions, take part in a course or workshop, or take the kids to one of the many child-friendly activities hosted at the gardens.

The lush Botanic Gadrens (via Trip Advisor)


With around 100 to choose from, one of the most difficult weekend decisions for Sydney locals is which beach to head to for the day. If you’re in the northern suburbs and want to avoid the touristy crowds, head to Freshwater Beach, where you can surf, tan, or take a dip in the amazing rock pool. However, Manly also boasts some incredible conditions, and a ferry ride is sure to make you feel like a local.

For those in the eastern suburbs, your first thought is probably Bondi Beach. Bondi is famous for its beauty, but also for the sheer number of tourists it attracts every day, which can make the experience less than enjoyable. To avoid these crowds, head to the nearby Tamarama Beach, well known for being both trendy and stunning and definitely less crowded. Bronte Beach is also an amazing sight and is family friendly, with one of the best barbecue spots in Sydney.


As well as its beauty, Sydney is also famous for its shopping, and where better to indulge in some shopping than the markets dotted throughout Sydney. Paddy’s Markets is the more well-known area, but for a relaxed environment head to The Rocks Markets, open every Saturday and Sunday from 10am-5pm. With nearly 200 stalls every weekend, the colourful markets sell a range of accessories, locally-produced homewares, linen, beauty products, art, crafts, and much more. If you’re in the area, you might as well check out The Rocks Foodies Market as well, open every Friday from 9am-3pm. Try a range of delicious gourmet foods, Australian-made produce, irresistible chocolate, and fresh fruit.

Check out the wares at the Rocks Markets (via Trip Advisor)

If it’s a different kind of shopping you’re after, ditch the crowds at DFO and take a look at Birkenhead Point Outlet Centre instead. Birkenhead Point is a large outlet centre located on the water and home to many high-end and affordable stores. There’s something for everyone here, with men’s and women’s fashion, electronics, sports, health and beauty, and fresh foods.

The outlets at Birkenhead Point (via J Bar)

Cameron is the editor of Stunning Places Magazine, an online travel magazine dedicated to helping travellers find and explore new places around the world. You can find him at @StunningPlace or @CamJBlair.

(All images provided under Creative Common licensing)

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