Manly is one of those places that offers the best of both worlds, cosmopolitan buzz and a relaxed vibe. It's just a short yet incredibly scenic ferry ride from the CBD and boasts a vibrant coastal atmosphere, with its Norfolk Island pine-lined promenade, sprawling three-kilometre beach (so big, in fact, that it's patrolled by a total of three surf lifesaving clubs) and fantastic oceanfront eateries. 



On the beach

Manly Beach is the main drawcard. The world's first surfing contest was held at Manly in 1964, making it one of Australia's most famous beaches. Stretching out for three kilometres, it is usually less crowded than its Eastern Suburbs counterparts. A popular place to learn to surf, sign up for lessons with Manly Surf School or Manly Surf Guide. The snorkelling at Shelly Beach is fantastic and the pretty Fairy Bower Pool is popular with families.

Crowds enjoying a Summer's day at Manly Beach in Manly, Sydney North

Manly Beach, Manly

Picnic tables on the tree-lined promenade are a perfect perch to eat your takeaway fish and chips. Shelly Beach in Cabbage Tree Bay, an aquatic reserve, has barbecue facilities and it’s a great spot for fun family activities including stand-up paddleboarding. If you want to explore the waters with an expert, take a guided tour with Ecotreasures.

Things to do

The Corso connects the harbourside wharf to the famous ocean beach. The pedestrian mall is dotted with surf shops, boutiques and classic pubs. On the weekends, explore the Manly Markets, which takes over Sydney Road, just off the Corso, with a variety of arts and crafts stalls.

Prefer to see Manly from the ground rather than via water? Hire a bicycle from Manly Bike Tours and Hire and discover hidden harbour coves and beaches, such as Little Manly Cove and Collins Flat Beach. The 10km Spit Bridge to Manly Walk rewards you with fantastic views across the harbour.

For a hit of history, explore ancient Aboriginal rock engravings at Grotto Point and if nature excites you, go on a whale-watching cruise from May to November with Manly Ocean Adventures or Manly Whale Watching. Check out the vibrant events calendar for celebrations such as the Manly Jazz Festival which attracts thousands every September.

Eat & drink

You're spoilt for choice if you're looking for a waterside eatery. Step off the ferry and grab a drink at Wharf Bar or Hugo's. If you're looking for local brews, there's the 4 Pines Manly Brewpub along the Esplanade or Nomad Brewing Co and Manly Spirits Co Distillery in nearby Brookvale. For something a bit different, head to The Cumberland, a speakeasy-style underground bar serving a selection of over 250 whiskies.

Couple enjoying food and drinks at Hugos Manly at Manly Wharf

Hugo's Manly, on Manly Wharf

It makes sense to have seafood by the sea and Garfish Manly is a firm local favourite. For sushi and Japanese fare head to Sake Restaurant and Bar or Sunset Sabi. The Manly Pavilion and The Pantry both enjoy incredible ocean views and something for everyone, while The Boathouse Shelly Beach does fantastic fish and chips.  

Getting there & where to stay

Enjoy the 30-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay as it takes you across the harbour and out past the heads. Manly has accommodation options to suit various budgets, including the allegedly-haunted Q Station, a heritage-listed former quarantine station with magnificent harbour views (which also offers ghost and history tours), and the recently refurbished Sebel hotel.


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