Australia is home to several major cities, but Sydney has always been the most popular when it comes to tourism.
Largely due to its numerous landmarks and attractions. From the Sydney Opera House to Harbour Bridge to Bondi Beach, most visitors to the city tend to flock to these prime spots. There is no denying that Sydney’s biggest attractions are worth seeing, but, if you want to step away from the crowd and really take a peek into the true essence of the city, here are ten hidden gems to include in your itinerary.
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Sydney's secret laneway. 📷 via @prettylittlesydney . . . . . #kensingtonstreet #chippendale #eatstreet #sydneyfoodies #feedfeed #spicealley #sydneyeats #sydney_eats #forkyeah #eeeats #eeeeeats #sydneyfoodblogger #sydney #goodfood #foodlover #foodpics #delicious #buzzfood #sydneyvillage #sydneylocal #whatsonsydney #destinationnsw #thefork #concreteplayground #theoldrumstore #eatdrinkplay #asianfood
There are many exceptional Asian restaurants in Sydney, with Asian cuisine being hugely popular here. However, if you really want to experience an authentic Asian street food scene, head on over to Spice Alley.
This narrow alley is located just behind Kensington Street, in the Chippendale district of Sydney, and has been designed to look and feel just like an Asian street food market.
In addition to the several different pop-up stalls and restaurants that appear here over the year, there are four permanent food stalls to try:
- Alex Lee Kitchen – specializes in Chinese-Malay fusion dishes, along with Singaporean classics. Give their Hainanese Chicken Rice a try, as well as the Roti Canai
- Bang Luck – this Thai stall has a short permanent menu, but creates unique specials each and every day
- Old Jim Kee – Malaysian dishes are the star here, with the Char Kway Teow being especially popular. This is also the stall to purchase Asian drinks from, as well as fried street food snacks that can be purchased by the stick, or even by the bite
- Hong Kong Diner – This is the stall to visit for classic Chinese dishes, with everything from flavorful congees to slow-cooked brisket
One thing to keep in mind…
Cash isn’t accepted at Spice Alley. You will need to purchase a Spice Alley credit card to dine here, or use a contactless Visa card.
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The @harbourtrust has been working to renew Cockatoo Island and make it a living part of Sydney’s urban fabric. How could we encourage more people to visit? Comment below and see the link in our bio for further details. #HaveYourSay #CockatooIsland #SydneyHarbour #HarbourTrust #ILoveSydney #InstaSydney
Because this was the site of one of the largest shipyards in Australia, between the years of 1857 and 1991. Plus, before this, it used to be home to a prison, and, before that, was likely a popular fishing spot with the Aboriginals. So, it should come as no surprise that the rich history of Cockatoo Island has earned it the designation of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Wondering what there is to actually do on Cockatoo Island?
Plenty, such as:
- Sign up for a historic tour, which will teach you so much about the island’s past
- Play some vintage lawn games, including Hoopla or giant outdoor chess
- Play a game of basketball at the harbour-side court
- Check out the archival imagery exhibition; Shipyard Stories
- Relax with a picnic
Getting to Cockatoo Island is easy…
You can catch the Ferry from either Circular Quay, Barangaroo or Darling Harbour, with the island being just a short ride away. Of course, if you have access to a private boat or kayak, or can book yourself a water taxi, these are options too.
Love watching movies?
Underground Cinema, which is now in its tenth year, is a concept that will fully immerse you in the movie being screened, providing a truly unique cinematic experience.
How does it work?
You basically purchase a ticket to a screening event, although you won’t know where in the city the event is being held. Then, shortly before, you will receive information on the event’s location, which will be in theme with the movie, as well as the dress code.
Once you arrive, you will notice that the location has been done up just like an elaborate set from the movie you are about to watch, complete with actors that are in-character, interacting with the guests.
Tickets aren’t cheap, but this is guaranteed to be a movie night that you will never forget!
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
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Finally Waterfall Wednesday! Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park covers a large area on the northern edge of Sydney. There is truly something here for everyone from smooth flat walks, to more rugged, steep heart pumping adventures. You can even explore some remote water front communities, secluded beaches or secret waterfalls and swimming holes like this. 🤫 Hopefully weather turns nice soon and pressure off emergency services staff and volunteers 🙏
If you want to explore some of Sydney’s finest natural beauty, the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park will not disappoint. This is the second-oldest national park in Australia, and is located just 20 kilometers or so from the center of the city.
The best way to explore the path is by taking a stroll along one of its walking paths, with the following being the most scenic:
- Aboriginal Heritage Walk – this loop path, which takes around three hours to complete, showcases Aboriginal rock art and engravings
- American Bay Walking Track – this challenging walk takes a couple of hours, and not only takes you past Aboriginal engravings, but also some extraordinary waterfalls
- Resolute Loop Track – this is another walk that takes around two or three hours. It will take you through a forest and then to one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Sydney
For the best view on the island…
Make your way to the West Head Lookout. The stunning vistas that you will see from here will take your eye as far as the Hawkesbury River and the Lion Island Nature Reserve, as well as the sandy beaches of the Central Coast.
A vibrant suburb just a ten minute drive south from the center of the city, Newtown is undeniably trendy, full of hipster cafes, vintage bookstores and clothing boutiques. Creative culture thrives here, making this an area popular with locals on the weekends.
There is plenty to do in Newtown, but, if you are visiting for the first time, here are a few things not to be missed:
- Newtown is famous for its street art, with Bailey Street and Enmore Road being the best places to go to view some of these masterpieces
- Catch a performance at the Enmore, one of the best music venues in Sydney
- Enjoy a tasting at Young Henrys, a craft brewery that has become extremely popular with locals
- Shop for bargains at the many vintage stores in the area
- Watch a movie at The Newtown Dendy
As you can see, it isn’t surprising that Newtown is often referred to as Sydney’s “coolest” neighborhood!
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#Repost @seeshots with @make_repost ・・・ Manly is so close yet so far from Watson's Bay. This shot was taken earlier this year & still one of my favourites to date. I try to challenge myself to capture something different. . . . #visitsydney #seeaustralia #dronefan #dronegear #flightography #ilovesydney #visitnsw #sydney #droneaddicts #southhead #australiagram #skysupply #wow_australia2018 #sydneyharbour #watsonsbay #visitnsw #sydfromabove #ig_drone #droneoftheday #fromwhereidrone #dronestagram #dronephotography #droneglobe #explorationdrone #dronesdaily #passionpassport #dronedose #lensbible
Famous for being the oldest fishing village in Australia, Watsons Bay is the go-to spot for locals seeking out a fresh seafood meal with spectacular views.
How do you get there?
You can take the ferry from Circular Quay, with this short trip taking you just across the Sydney Harbour.
Once you get there, spend some time taking in the views by strolling around the bay. There are several walks that you can take, showcasing everything from ocean cliffs to historic lighthouses to panoramic beaches. If you take the southern coastal walk, you will also come across a famous shipwreck from 1857.
Now, on to the more important matters…
The fresh seafood!
There are quite a few waterside restaurants here that serve up delicious seafood dishes, with the best being:
- Doyles on the Beach – legendary for its fresh lobster, fish and prawn
- Doyles on the Wharf – perfect for a casual meal of fish and chips by the jetty
- The Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel – pair your fresh seafood with sophisticated cocktails at this stylish hotel
Deep within the heart of Sydney lies a pedestrian lane that brings together ornithology (the study of birds) and art.
With an installation that was originally created as a temporary piece, but became so popular that it was made permanent.
What does the installation depict?
It consists of a canopy of empty bird cages that hang above your head, stretching out over the entire lane. Sound artwork is incorporated too, with the calls from 50 bird species filtering their way down through the cages.
The birds chosen for these recordings are all species that used to thrive in the Sydney area, but are now either extinct or have been pushed away due to habitat loss. The bird songs change through the day, with the calls from nocturnal birds being more prominent once the sun goes down. This is an installation that highlights such an important problem in today’s modern world, with habitat loss being something that everybody should be aware of.
Wondering where this lane actually is?
It is known as Angel Place, and can be found just next to George Street. Speaking of George Street, while you’re there, do stop by at the OROGOLD Sydney store to treat your skin to a VIP gold facial or other product demonstrations.
Located in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, Nielson Park, which is a part of the Sydney Harbour National Park, is the perfect spot from which to soak up the great outdoors.
This is where you will find some of the best harbor views in the city, along with the infamous Shark Beach. Yes, this gorgeous sandy stretch used to be the site of several shark attacks, but, back in the 30s, the city countered by building a large swimming enclosure, protected by shark-proof netting.
The best way to explore Nielson Park is by taking the Heritage Foreshore Track, an easy walk that you can complete in just half an hour if you are in a rush. Considered to be one of Sydney’s great coastal walks, this path offers prime views of some of Sydney’s bigger landmarks, including the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Located halfway between the CBD and the airport, Alexandria is a suburb that used to be considered no-man’s land.
Because there was really nothing much here, other than old warehouse buildings, many of them quite derelict.
However, this has all changed in recent years…
Alexandria has been treated to quite the upgrade, and is now home to some stylish hipster hangouts, including concept cafes, fashion outlets and organic eateries.
Tempted to pay Alexandria a visit?
Here are some spots you won’t want to miss:
- The Grounds of Alexandria – this concept cafe is situated in an old pie factory, and places a strong emphasis on the perfect cup of coffee
- Sub-Station Cafe – located in a converted electrical substation, this trendy cafe only has a small menu, as they prefer to focus on quality over quantity, with the menu changing with the seasons
- Simon Johnson – if you love food, or need to buy a gift for someone who does, Simon Johnson is the place to go. They sell everything from artisan cheese and olive oil to kitchen gadgets, and they even host fun cooking classes
- Living Edge – do up your home in a unique way with products from Living Edge, a high-end furnishings store
- Pana Chocolate – you won’t need to feel guilty indulging in the chocolate treats from this cafe, as they are soy, dairy, gluten and refined sugar-free!
Paddington Reservoir Gardens
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It’s a jungle out here 🌿 loved exploring Paddington Reservoir Gardens with @jyslakay – this unique space utilises the old reservoir structure to create a gorgeous work of art right outside the city. Save this post for your next trip to Sydney!!⭐️ Wearing @connieandlunastudio @faithfullthebrand @baredfootwear
Back in 1866, this area of Paddington used to be a water reservoir, but it was decommissioned in 1914. In 1993, after the roof caved in, the site was sadly abandoned and left derelict.
Well, it now has a new lease of life, having been reborn in 2008 as the Paddington Reservoir Gardens. The original brick arches and water chamber features have been retained, with the garden being planned around these, making for some truly interesting views.
The sunken garden is the highlight, which can be accessed by both stairs and an elevator. This lush green paradise features a “lake of contemplation” at its center, with the entire setting exuding such a tranquil ambience.
Don’t forget to also spend some time taking in all of the street art that you will see around you. Many of these pieces were created decades ago, but have now been preserved.
If you have been looking for something new, unusual and slightly quirky to do in Sydney, these ten hidden gems will definitely not disappoint. Whether you’re seeking authentic Asian cuisine, a day of history and learning, or some exquisite natural beauty, Sydney offers up all of this plus so much more.