Just an hour shy of Sydney’s CBD, the Northern Beaches beckons with glinting waves, seafood feasts and beachside barefoot luxe. Here’s a classic day trip itinerary to guide you around our surfside neighbour.
The Northern Beaches is a slice of paradise that edges the coast from Manly in the south up to Palm Beach in the north. It’s blessed with glorious beaches – in fact, there are 29 to dip into – and the captivating north is also threaded with lush national parks that are ideal for bushwalking, cycling and fishing, too. The beaches are blissfully free from crowds and made for water sports, the dining and shopping is incredibly chic, and you’ll love soaking up the coastal village atmosphere.
It's easy to get to the Northern Beaches and there are a few options, depending on where you’re heading first. Manly with its pumping surf and wharf-side dining is just a 30min drive from the heart of Sydney and you can also catch the Manly Ferry from Circular Quay, which is a 20min trip along the iconic harbour – a journey in itself. If you want to explore further north from Manly, it’s about an hour’s drive from Sydney CBD to Palm Beach or you can grab a bus from the city: just keep in mind our day trip itinerary below is planned around having a car for the day.
Brunch at The Boathouse
Paddleboard across Pittwater
Shop in style at Avalon
Lunch at The Newport
Relax at hidden gem Bilgola Beach
Cocktails at Manly Wharf
Find your seaside vibes.
Start your sparkling day on the Northern Beaches with a relaxing breakfast on the water at The Boathouse, Palm Beach. Perched on the wharf overlooking Pittwater, dive into light and fresh dishes bursting with flavour. You’ll want to linger a while to soak up the views, enjoy the coastal vibe and the excellent coffee.
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 Paddleboarding – if you’re not confident you’ll be able to stand upright and paddle, book a 60min private lesson.
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; grab a takeaway sweet treat from one of the artisan cafes and stroll the streets, then perhaps pick up some new coastal-luxe threads from Deesse Boutique or French-style MamaPapa.
Seafood & surf.
One of the best places for a long lunch waterside 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 Shack.
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.
Sunset views by the water.
As the sun sets on a stunning Northern Beaches day trip, journey to Manly Wharf – 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.