A sports lover's guide to Sydney: Where to eat, drink & play
Visiting Sydney for a big game, or simply love to indulge in all things sports-related (and competitive) when travelling? Round up your mates and read our guide to the best places to eat, drink and play during five days of adventure.
- Kayak Sydney Harbour then enjoy a dumpling feast
- Have a traditional Italian breakfast before touring the Sydney Cricket Ground
- Drive a cutting-edge go-kart with a top speed of 65km/hr
- Snack your way through the street food of Little India
- Taste some of the best brews in the country on a Marrickville brewery tour
DAY ONE: Sightseeing in the city centre
You’ve probably seen Sydney’s icons on postcards and social media, but exploring the harbour in real life offers a completely different angle. See the Sydney Opera House illuminated by the rising sun with a Sydney Harbour Kayaks sunrise tour and follow it up with a BridgeClimb walk to the summit of the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, showcasing unparalleled views of the city. After a distinctly energetic morning of sightseeing, refuel with a Sydney tradition – yum cha. The Eight, famous for both the range and quality of its dim sum, is one of the city’s best.
After seeing the Sydney icons in the morning, see the city from a different perspective via Dreamtime Southern X, an Aboriginal-run tour company that has been providing culturally immersive tours around The Rocks (a historic colonial neighbourhood) for more than two decades. As the afternoon approaches, so does the game. First, get loaded up with football merch. Mick Simmons in the city is a great option, but a little extra travel will take you to Alexandria’s Ultra Football, which has a huge range of jerseys (including a big selection of national teams) as well as their usual epic collection of football merch.
Sydney has some of the finest steaks in the world, with five of the city's restaurants voted in the top 50 of the World's Best Steak Restaurants. Of these, Rockpool Bar and Grill took out the coveted eighth spot, and are renowned fr their dry-aged steaks being cooked to charcoal perfection and served with the basics mustard and housemade barbecue sauce. Can't get a reservation? Try Bistecca, The Gidley, Porteno or Firedoor, which are all equally mouthwatering.
DAY TWO: Paddington & Moore Park
Sydney has a thriving cafe culture and, no exaggeration, some of the best coffee in the world. Your second day in Sydney should start with a sample. In the leafy, historic suburb of Paddington try Morris for a modern Australian iteration or Barbetta for a traditional Italian breakfast and cappuccino. Paddington is a short walk from both the Sydney Football Stadium and Sydney Cricket Ground. At the latter, you can do a tour that takes you through the 100-year history of the ground plus its most celebrated sporting legends and epic moments.
Recharge with one of Sydney’s best burgers nearby at Mary’s in the Entertainment Quarter, then spend the afternoon making your own sporting memories at Moore Park Golf (home to a full 18-hole course and a driving range) or improving your swing at Howe 2 Golf (where you can enjoy a beer and a nibble after tackling a training course).
Paddington isn’t just famous for its pretty streets and cafes, it also has an incredible density of great pubs. Start at The Unicorn, a pub that’s made a name for itself through its old-school pub culture combined with new elements (have a look at the natural wine list). From there make your way to award-winning Paddington pubs like The Village Inn, The Paddington, , Paddo Inn, Four In Hand Hotel and The Lord Dudley. Finish at The Light Brigade, a pub with a popular rooftop and sports bar.
DAY THREE: Surry Hills & Alexandria
Start your day on the other side of the stadium precinct. Surry Hills is a trendy suburb known for good eats and pretty streets. There are many lauded cafes in the neighbourhood, but for two options in one head to Paramount Coffee Project, a trendy cafe with a sunny rooftop space housing one of Sydney's best bakeries, AP House.
The edge of Surry Hills borders Moore Park. Spend the rest of your morning swapping golf clubs for the wheel of an F1-imitating go-kart at Hyper Karting. Their German RiMO electric karts are cutting-edge and reach a max speed of 65km/hr.
Next up is Archie Brothers Cirque Electriq, a circus-themed arcade host to retro games (think Pac-Man, Space Invaders and whack-a-mole), bowling lanes, dodgems, laser tag, and VR platforms that take you on roller coaster rides and down ski slopes... all under one roof in Alexandria. It's easy to while away the hours jumping from one activity to the next, so make sure to grab some lunch beforehand at Rocks Brewing Co, which is a three-minute walk away, where you can grab ice-cold brews poured straight from the source alongside burgers, wings and nachos.
Everyone has heard of smash rooms and escape rooms. The new kid on the block? Challenge rooms. And Sydney has its own version in a nearby warehouse. Developed by the Funlab team (the creators of the mini-golf chain Holey Moley), visitors tocan choose between five, 10 or 15 games (with the full course taking around 2.5 hours), and the rooms themed around board games like Scrabble and Twister, historic events like Titanic, or just crazy concepts like The Floor is Lava. Bar snacks and cocktails are available, making it a competitive yet fun night out with friends.
Feeling thirsty following the interactive games? Head to Yulli's Brews, a taproom and brewery less than a five-minute drive away. The menu is brimming with delightful vegan bar snacks, such as kimchi dumplings and gyros stuffed with grilled eggplant, and board games and late-night live music will keep everyone entertained.
DAY FOUR: Parramatta & Sydney Olympic Park
Today it’s time to head west. Parramatta has a diverse and rapidly growing cafe scene and one of the newest players is Misc, a trendy restaurant nestled into Parramatta Park with a menu and interiors tailor-made for Instagram. If you’re looking for a more humble and homey setting, then settle into Circa Espresso in central Parramatta. The cafe is a local institution that’s been winning awards for its coffee and Middle Eastern-influenced fare since opening in 2010. After breakfast, go explore. The park where you started the day overlooks Parramatta River and it’s full of World Heritage-listed colonial sites, including Elizabeth Farm and , some of the oldest colonial buildings in Australia. In the city centre check out the local theatre and arts scene.
Just next to Parramatta is one of Sydney’s most bustling street food scenes, Harris Park, also known as Little India. Wigram Street is the main street, where the heritage federation homes have been refitted as restaurants or street food pop-ups selling flatbreads, sweets and fried snacks. Try favourites such as Chatkazz, Dosa Hut and Ginger Indian Restaurant.
Just a few train stops from Harris Park is Sydney Olympic Park, an adventure playground for both international competitors and amateur athletes. Jump into the pool at the Aquatic Centre and see how close you can get to Ian Thorpe’s record, then head to the Archery Centre to see how many attempts you need to take to replicate Simon Fairweather’s gold medal-winning score.
Sydney Olympic Park is also home to one of the most storied stadiums in the country, Stadium Australia. Sporting fans will get a thrill out of visiting the epic stadiums that hosted the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, which are now open to the public. A 10-minute drive away, those needing to blow off some steam (in a healthy way) should also check out Smash Room City, where you can smash all the TVs, glassware and ceramics with a sledgehammer. Four people are allowed in the room at a time, everyone is fitted out in safety gear beforehand, and you get to pick your preferred rage tunes before heading in.
Head for dinner at Burwood Chinatown, just two stops away by train. This neon-lit food precinct has become a popular spot for late-night snacking, with traditional restaurants and more than 30 street food stalls hawking everything from guo kui (clay oven-baked flatbreads), lamb skewers, sweet egg waffles, bubble teas and more.
DAY FIVE: Inner West
The last day in Sydney is an exploration of the inner west, an area historically known for artistic communities and early European migration, and now for its thriving community, diverse eats and late-night options. Start in Newtown at an innovative but comfy cafe like Rising Sun Workshop (Asian-inspired breakfasts next to a motorcycle workshop) or Soulmate Coffee (a relaxed space with great sandwiches and breakfast burgers). Then take a few minutes to explore either the cute, leafy Newtown backstreets or bustling King Street for vintage shops, music stores and a huge range of snack options.
Newtown has one of the best escape rooms in Australia, Cipher Room. Check out this international award-winner for a range of immersive puzzles suitable for newbies or escape room veterans. For lunch, take a short train or bus ride to Marrickville, a hip neighbourhood where Greek, Vietnamese and Sydney’s art communities mix. Both Marrickville and Illawarra Roads are dotted with excellent Vietnamese restaurants such as VN Street Foods and Banh Cuon Ba Oanh, but for Greek, the iconic Corinthian Rotisserie, which has been serving Marrickville’s Greek community for four decades, is a must-try. Then, just up the road, finish your meal at old-school gelateria, Gelato Franco.
Marrickville has more breweries than most cities, so to end this epic five days in Sydney, tour through the best. Starting at the southern end, pop into Batch Brewing Company then The Bob Hawke Beer & Leisure Centre next door (grab a bowl of noodles and a plate of dumplings while you’re there). Just up the road is the beer garden of Philter Brewing and the warehouse brewery Sauce Brewing Co. The final two, just another few blocks down the road, are the award winning Grifter Brewing Co and the one-of-a-kind wild fermented sour beers at Wildflower. Finally, go one more block to Vic on The Park, a lively pub with a charcoal grill, multiple screens to watch games and basketball courts (set in a former car park) to play hoops with your friends.