Cuisine and cocktails
Sydney is blessed to have an incredibly diverse food scene. My favourite restaurant at the moment is Jamie’s Italian. There’s often a line of people waiting for a table, but the amazing food and delicious cocktails – try the Blueberry & Basil Smash – more than make up for the wait.
The tapas and sangria at Spanish Tapas keep me coming back for more. On Friday and Saturday nights, be entertained by flamenco dancers while you indulge in some of the tastiest food around.
The Grounds of Alexandria is an amazing spot to grab brunch. Produce is sourced from its own chicken coop and garden, and speciality coffee is roasted in the cafe itself. On certain weekends they even hold farmers markets.
If you’re after a relaxing lunch or dinner, head to Matt Moran’s Chiswick in Woollahra. Much of the produce comes from the on-site garden and the seasonal menu is designed for sharing – the whole roast chicken and Moran family lamb (above) are absolute standouts.
My favourite weekend market, Glebe Markets, is a great place to pick up handcrafted jewellery, locally-designed clothes and one-off pieces of artwork. I love the banana bread stall, which is a regular vendor. Their pear and raspberry bread is a must buy.
Paddington Markets is good for unique clothes from local designers like Karen Dye and Pretty in Pink.
Mrs Macquarie’s Chair gives a picture-perfect view of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Located within the Royal Botanic Gardens, the huge sandstone rock is a popular spot for picnickers and newly-wed couples taking photos.
The view of Jamison Valley to the Three Sisters (a rock formation in the Blue Mountains) from Echo Point Lookout can’t be beaten. The oils from eucalyptus trees mingle with dust particles and water vapour to produce the blue haze for which it’s famous.
Shady Pines Saloon is a great spot to catch up with friends. The intimate American-style tavern is hidden in an alley off Crown Street. There’s an impressive range of craft beer from America, Australia and Belgium on the menu.
The Vanguard is an iconic little live music venue with everything from jazz performances and shows by local bands to burlesque and cabaret nights. The inside looks like a 1920s bar and they serve some pretty decent pizzas and main courses.
I absolutely love the Chinese Garden of Friendship, an oasis of calm set behind high walls right in the middle of the CBD. Here you can really escape and explore little pathways framed with gorgeous plants and waterfalls. There is also a Teahouse for enjoying dim sum and aromatic Chinese tea.
The Jenolan Caves, four hours from the city, always felt so magical to visit as a child, and they still do. Set deep in the Blue Mountains are 10 caves with many underground rivers and beautiful limestone formations. Take an adventure caving tour, which is truly exhilarating, if not nerve-wracking. You can stay at the historic Caves House and go on tranquil bush walks. Concerts are occasionally held in one of the caves.
During the summer months there are a number of outdoor cinemas where you can catch the latest blockbuster or indie films in a beautiful setting. My favourite is Moonlight Cinema in Centennial Park. Bring along a picnic basket with a bottle of wine and watch the sun go down behind the trees. Grab a seat in “Gold Grass”, a premium viewing area where you’ll get a comfy beanbag to lounge on.
Manly is a great place to spend a sunny day relaxing on the beach or exploring the shops nearby. It’s generally a lot quieter than Bondi Beach. Taking the ferry there from Circular Quay is a quintessential experience as you pass by the Harbour Bridge and Opera House.
View other useful insider’s guides.
PHOTOS DESTINATION NSW / MARK ‘CHOPS’ WILEY / INMAGINE
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.