A day trip to the Northern Beaches: What to see, eat & do

Spanning the coast from Manly to Palm Beach, the Northern Beaches are blessed with glorious beaches – in fact, there are 29 to dip into – and threaded with lush national parks. Not to mention the incredibly chic dining and shopping.

Destination NSW

Destination NSW

May 2024 -
min read

Morning: Find your seaside vibes 

Start your sparkling day on the Northern Beaches with a relaxing breakfast on the water at Palm Beach’s Dune Kiosk. Dig into vegan hash browns, chia pudding fruit compote or a classic egg and bacon roll, and linger to soak up the views and coastal vibe.  

If you would prefer to get your caffeine fix en route, stop in to Effie’s, a lovingly-converted corner store that opens as a coffee shop by day and wine bar by night, located in Balgowlah. Serving cookies from Manly’s Butter Boy Bake, bread from Seaforth’s Staple Bread & Necessities and coffee beans by Skittle Lane, it’s somewhat of a love letter to the local community.  

Next, get active and glide out onto Pittwater on a paddleboard to explore this beautiful part of the world. At Clareville Beach, hire a couple of boards from Tony Henry’s Avalon Stand Up Paddleboard – if you’re not confident you’ll be able to stand upright and paddle, book a 60-minute private lesson. If you’d rather explore by kayak, join Pittwater Kayak Tours for a sunrise or morning tour. 

Sunrise kayaking experience in Pittwater with Pittwater Kayak Tours, Palm Beach

Sunrise kayaking experience in Pittwater with Pittwater Kayak Tours, Palm Beach

It’s time for a spot of retail therapy, and the collection of beautiful boutiques in Avalon Village will have you loaded up with stylish treasures. Select from exquisite jewellery and homewares at chic spaces such as Kristina Brenke and Africanologie; grab a takeaway sweet treat from one of the artisan cafes and stroll the streets; then pick up some new coastal-luxe threads from Deesse Boutique or French-style MamaPapa. 

Women shopping for clothing at Africanologie, Avalon

Africanologie, Avalon

Afternoon: Seafood and surf 

One of the best places for a long waterside lunch is at The Newport – find a seat in the sprawling beer garden shaded by trees and edged by the ocean vistas of Pittwater, and select your favourite feast from among plentiful options in the outdoor food marketplace. You can have freshly shucked oysters from the Seafood Market, crispy and tasty Neapolitan pizzas straight from the wood-fired oven at Vinnie’s Pizza or classic fish and chips from The Shack. 

The Newport in Newport, Sydney North - Photo Credit: Merivale

The Newport, Newport - Credit: Merivale

Spend the afternoon catching some sunshine and waves at Bilgola Beach – a hidden gem nestled between two dramatic headlands. Pop up to the Bilgola North Lookout for a bird’s-eye view of the rising aqua waves and the rocky headlands. Another top surf beach to pop on your list for the afternoon is Narrabeen – wax up the surfboard and take on the foamy peaks or just chill on the golden sand and watch the locals. 

Surfer in the water at Bilgola Beach, Northern Beaches

Bilgola Beach, Northern Beaches

Evening: Sunset views by the water 

As the sun sets on a stunning Northern Beaches day trip, journey to the Manly marina – one of Sydney’s hottest drinking and dining precincts. There’s nothing better than a fresh and fragrant cocktail as you sit on the wharf at sundown watching the happy crowds, the ferries taking off and the glittering waterway. Try Manly Wharf Bar for epic views, innovative cocktails and huge, fresh platters of seafood to share, or Hugo’s for pizza and a fantastic wine list. Next door, the heritage-listed Manly Pavilion also offers front-row seats to the gorgeous vista of Manly Cove. 


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