Travel // Sydney, NSW

February 19, 2018

The next stop on our Australian adventure {which feels like too long ago already!}. A travelogue & mini guide to Sydney below;

In short; Don’t miss //
  • the famous Bondi to Coogee walk. And stop at Bondi Icebergs for a drink en route overlooking the swimmers at the landmark Bondi pool and surfers. 
  • Using the ferries {from circular quay in the middle of the harbour} and buses. Both were so easy with an opal card that you top up like an oyster. Lots of people recommended the app Trip View for transport but we found Google maps to be accurate for buses & ferries. 
  • Taking the ferry to Watson’s Bay 
  • We walked the Hermitage Foreshaw walk from here to Rose bay which was so pretty with harbour views and little cove beaches the whole way. 
  • Manly beach is another famous ferry ride but we skipped it this time in favour of smaller villages. 
  • The boathouse restaurant. One in Shelly beach near Manly but we loved the branch on Balmoral Beach {we walked from getting the ferry to Taronga Zoo} 
  • Surry Hills and Paddington for trendy cafes and shops. 
  • Bondi or Kings cross farmers markets. 
  • Bills {as in Bill Granger not the overstated bills cafes we have at home} for the best breakfasts and lunch. Be prepared to queue though. Multiple locations 
  • Sonoma bakery 
  • The views from Mrs Macquarie’s chair in the royal botanic gardens. The best in the city and a gorgeous walk through the lush palm filled gardens under that famous skyline. 
  • Celsius coffee at Kiribilli Wharf for incredible breakfasts in a ferry shack on the water. From here you can walk to Lavender Bay for amazing views and under the bridge. 
  • Messina gelato {!!} every Sydneysider’s favourite spot. We visited everyday, the salted caramel white chocolate was insane. 
  • We loved Vacanza pizza in Surry Hills 
  • The grounds of Alexandria. Insta worthy breakfast/lunch spot near the airport that reminded us of Petersham Nurseries meets Soho House. Go early at weekends especially. 
  • If you have time, Palm beach and Avalon further north are meant to be amazing. 
  • We stayed in this Airbnb in Potts Point {a really lovely suburb of Sydney that's upmarket & feels like Manhattan yet is close to everything} which was a perfect, good value base. If you're looking for £25 off your first airbnb trip you can use this link.

We flew on the red-eye overnight from Perth to Sydney to avoid missing out on a whole day stuck in the air {with the time difference you end up going forward in time so we didn't want to waste a day} but in hindsight it meant that we hardly had any sleep and arrived feeling a bit frazzled after a 4 hour flight and later in the day felt like we were torturing ourselves trying to stay awake.

But tiredness aside we had arrived in Sydney! And only had four days to explore so we didn't want to waste any time. The Grounds of Alexandria had been on my list to visit since forever and we realised that it was just a 5 minute uber ride from the airport. It was perfect for breakfast as we were starving & couldn't get into our airbnb until mid morning. We were also lucky it was a Thursday, as Fridays & the weekends get really busy here so definitely try and visit on a weekday or early.

As I mentioned above, The Grounds {a beautiful instaworthy oasis on the outskirts of the city} really reminded us of Petersham Nurseries come Soho House. We went straight for breakfast, as the cafe started to fill up early on even a Thursday morning.

Turmeric porridge & a green smoothie for me, eggs & sourdough for Ben.

Starting to feel a little more refreshed {if only we drank coffee!} we wandered around The Grounds, soaking up the pretty flowers and gardens. 

We dropped our bags off at the airbnb {again using Uber to get around} before deciding to start with a head clearing Bondi to Coogee walk. We quickly worked out that the buses were the best way to get around on solid Sydney ground {compared to the ferries for whizzing around the harbour} and they were so cheap. You just need an Opal card to top up, our airbnb host lent us a couple for our stay.

Bondi is the other side to the CBD but easily connectable with the trains & bus system. It's surf city, a huge wide beach full of rolling waves with a relaxed vibe. The streets behind are filled with on trend coffee shops, juice bars, surf shops & designer brands. Some of it has a bit of a backpacker feel but mostly it's on the up since I first visited back in 2008 with posh delis opening up and a beautiful farmer's market we visited on Sunday morning.

The Bondi to Coogee walk starts off at the famous pool, you follow the path round the rocks along the coastline. We didn't end up following the whole walk in the end as it was really windy the day we arrived and so we got lunch & gelato instead!

Our next stop was the Botanical Gardens, again just trying to stay awake {it was the most jet lagged I felt of the whole trip!}, I actually had a nap by the opera house in the dappled sunshine which was heaven. We would explore properly another time but that afternoon just enjoyed wandering through the tropical gardens.

Especially when we found the wild flower meadow in the heart of it all.

Summer favourites, hundreds of them, under the skyline. I remembered the botanical gardens as being one of my favourite places 10 years ago & it seems to have only got better.

The next morning, feeling so much better, was probably my favourite day in Sydney. We started with a walk through the gardens on the way to Circular Quay to catch a ferry over to Kiribilli Wharf to have breakfast at Celcius Coffee, the best waffles I've ever eaten.

It was an unassuming, teeny shack above the water which served probably the best breakfast menu we saw in Sydney.

I've been dreaming about the peanut butter cream on those waffles ever since & Ben's breakfast was amazing too - he had a hard time choosing from the menu. We loved that spot & hope that if we ever return it will still be there. And a huge thank you to the lovely person who commented on my blog post recommending it. 

From Kiribilli Wharf we had a pretty walk along some of the steep streets overlooking the city round to Luna Park area, past the base of the Harbour Bridge. It reminded me a lot of the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, with a grassy area overlooking the famous skyline.

Ben was making me laugh taking these photos. That was such a happy morning!

Our backs to the most incredible properties {Sydney has one of the highest value property markets in the world} we walked along the lush green streets. 

We walked to Lavender Bay, filled with boats the other side of the Harbour Bridge, and stopped for a while in Wendy's Secret Garden. It's not so secret but is a little jungle haven filled with plants and amazing views.

The streets were filled with {what I later discovered via Instagram} crepe myrtle trees in bloom, super pretty against the blue sky.

From Lavender Bay, we walked around to the next ferry point and took the ferry to Watson's Bay, whizzing past the Opera House.

I'd remembered Watson's Bay from that past trip with my family & again, it had only got better. The famous Doyle's seafood was still there {we bought shrimp salads for lunch} but now they have a trendy boutique hotel there, and the views from the bay are just as good as ever.

There are little beach shacks and boats all along the waterfront. And an amazing gelato stop Gelatissimo at the top of the green where we cooled down before our long walk.

We walked from Watson's Bay to Rose Bay, following the track along the coast and eventually joining the Hermitage Foreshaw walk. The whole way, you have incredible views of the city from across the harbour, finding quiet little bays and the most insane streets {that felt like Beverly Hills}. Again, the property here is top dollar.

We expected to see spiders but although I didn't look too closely, we didn't spot any! It was such a beautiful, quiet walk and luckily it clouded over so it didn't feel too hot either. I loved that afternoon so much.

Rose Bay was a lovely suburb and from there we got the bus back, alll walked out.

On another morning we got the ferry over to Taronga Zoo {not to visit the zoo, although it did look amazing with giraffes in front of the city} but to walk to Balmoral Beach for lunch. You get the ferry over then instead of going into the zoo, hang a left and take the coast path. We followed google maps and after a fairly steep 40 minutes, we were there! {it was too hot on the way back to walk though so we got the bus, it runs on a loop from the ferry to the beach}.

We chose Balmoral to visit over Manly in the end as we'd both been to Manly before & it was quite a way out. Instead Balmoral had a Boathouse restaurant which made for the best lunch we had in Sydney.

The beach, a quiet little bay, was more our scene than surfy Manly too. 

And the Boathouse was a must visit.

Right on the water, somebody on Instagram described it to me as Daylesford meets the sea! With all the floral displays and delicious menu. I loved their anchor branding on the napkins & coffee cups along with the nautical stripes inside.

We found a table {you have to kind of hang around for a table then grab one if it comes available before going up to order} and soaked up the Sydney sun.

Lunch was so delicious & then we had a stroll along the beach before getting the ferry back across to the city.

Watching the weekend boaters on the way.

Our first stop back in the CBD was Messina gelato {again} and a walk around the Rocks weekend market {and to stop off at Aesop! An Australian institution}.

That evening we walked around our neighbourhood Potts Point with all the beautiful buildings, people spilling out onto the street from buzzy upmarket bars & we saw the sunset over the skyline.

A kookaburra!

We really loved a couple of the local farmers markets, both in Potts Point on a Saturday morning {where I could have bought SO many beautiful dresses although limited myself to just one} and loved seeing the flowers & fresh fruit.

Along with the Bondi Farmer's Market on a Sunday morning.

On our last morning we went over to Bondi one last time, and this time found it more buzzy on a Sunday morning with all the locals having brunch & coffee before visiting the market.

In particular Sonoma Bakery, heart eyes. And we picked up some fresh juices from the market.

We couldn't leave Sydney without a walk to Mrs Macquirie's chair in the Botanic garden for the best views of the city.

It was such a clear beautiful morning and I remember feeling so in awe of this city, probably because it doesn't feel much like a city at all. There were countless people out in their workout gear, boats heading out to all the suburbs, and just zero traffic. So clean, you have all the best shops/restaurants etc but you also have beaches & the harbour and huge parks.

There were so many more parts we could have explored. We had a quick wander through Surry Hills right before we left for the airport, and had pizza & Gelato {seriously, if you go to Gelato Messina you really do have to go back everyday}. Surry Hills reminded me of the West Village in NYC and really lovely for a wander on a Sunday. We wanted to stop at Bill's but the line was too long to risk missing our flight.

And from there it was to the airport {again, another totally stress free example of Australian life, the domestic terminals are so easy & have the best food outlets in}. A quick hop up the coast to Byron Bay & we waved our few beautiful days in Sydney behind.

Up next, Byron Bay & Noosa for the fourth and final parts of our trip.

Have you been to Sydney? Where are your favourite spots?

R <3 xx

P.s You can catch the rest of this Australia series here.

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