Mixing equal parts beach, boutiques, iconic architecture and legendary eats, this 72-hour itinerary puts Sydney’s best on show.
Discover how to spend the perfect long weekend in Sydney. Surf at the birthplace of Australian surfing, shop at boutiques and then hit the town with fantastic restaurants and live music.
The ultimate cocktail of salty air, refreshing surf, award-winning menus and, of course, some of Australia’s most iconic sights — Sydney has it all. Take in every side to the city on this 72-hour itinerary: get up close to endless glittering seascapes with a snorkel or surf session, then indulge in a dose of retail therapy along some of the city’s coolest shopping strips. Every Sydney trip needs a visit to our icons — you’ll explore the Sydney Opera House sails both inside and out, as well as dine on world-class food and drink with epic views of the harbour city.
Hit the surf at Freshwater Beach
Snorkel the underwater world at Shelly Beach
Go for a morning stroll across the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Lunch right by the harbour at Opera Bar
Take in the ocean views along the Bondi to Coogee walk
Shop with the cool kids in Newtown
Day One: Friday
Under the sea.
Sydney is synonymous with surf, so start day one in the waves at Freshwater Beach. These shores on the Northern Beaches are known as Australia’s birthplace of surfing when Hawaiian "Duke" Kahanamoku famously carved a board from a piece of wood and demonstrated the sport to a local crowd in 1915. Book in a surf lesson on Freshie’s sandy shores with Chix Surf School, an all-female team of expert coaches who take pride in teaching women to ride the ocean, and also offer private sessions for both sexes.
Your post-surf feed is served at the bright and breezy Harbord Hotel, a legend of the neighbourhood and just a stone’s throw from the water’s edge. Taking inspiration from the colourful Californian coast, the menu ticks off everything you would want at a beachside fiesta, with ocean-fresh seafood, punchy tacos and zesty cocktails.
Head to Manly for a stroll along the Corso’s shopping strip and browse beach boutiques before a walk on the promenade. Follow the coastline along Marine Parade and in just a few minutes you’ll end up at the beautiful cove known as Shelly Beach. This is one of Sydney’s best snorkelling spots as it encompasses Cabbage Tree Bay, a protected marine reserve that offers beautiful corals and sealife in a shallow bay. Don your snorkels and fins and spy on this stunning underwater world.
Once you’ve dried off and dressed up, spend the evening unwinding at one of the Northern Beaches best seafood restaurants, Garfish Manly. The modern menu makes the most of market-fresh fish and crustaceans, think tea-smoked rainbow trout on paperbark, scorched kingfish, woodfired Moreton Bay bugs, and more. A lengthy Aussie-leaning wine list and a fun and fruity list of cocktails make this the perfect end to a sun-kissed day out.
Day Two: Saturday
Meet the icons.
Take it easy this morning with a peaceful stroll through Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden at Lavender Bay. A haven of manicured garden paths and grassy patches lead to lush outcrops of Sydney Harbour. Keep your journey going on foot with a walk across Sydney’s most famous landmark, the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The spectacular 1.5km pedestrian walk takes in views of the Sydney Opera House, CBD and the sparkling harbour.
Once you’ve made it to the other side of the bridge, head down to Circular Quay and sit down for lunch at Opera Bar for a decadent feast with a spectacular waterfront backdrop. The all-day menu heroes local Sydney suppliers, and is overseen by celebrity chef Matt Moran.
From sitting outside the sails, to getting beneath them — head inside with a behind-the-scenes tour of the Sydney Opera House. Available in multiple languages, this tour lets you in on a few secrets of these hallowed halls, and gets you up close to the stages where some of the world’s best musicians have performed since it opened in 1973.
Take your time on your way to dinner and wander through the historic cobblestone streets of The Rocks. European settlers first stepped ashore here in 1788, making The Rocks the birthplace of modern Sydney. Dinner is at the century-old Hotel Palisade, a heritage pub with a slick rooftop bar, Henry Deane, offering some of Sydney’s best views. Watch the sunset as you tuck into their contemporary menu, with dishes like whole-baked spatchcock and glazed lamb, alongside some pretty special cocktails.
As the sun dips into the harbour and golden skies turn inky blue, find your way to The Doss House. A former convict hospital turned opium den, this historic underground lair built in the 1840s has been reborn as an upscale speakeasy bar, with intimate rooms and a 150-strong collection of whiskies.
Day Three: Sunday
Find a wilder side.
There’s no better wake up in Sydney than the cool sea breeze and dramatic water views along the Bondi to Coogee walk. From the city’s most famous beach, wind your way along staggering cliffs, turquoise inlets, rockpools, parks and sandy beaches until you reach the golden swathe of Coogee Beach.
Take a breath — and a beverage — at Coogee Pavilion. This three-storey bar and restaurant offers both casual meals and refreshing drinks on its bottom levels, as well as fine-dining at Mimi’s and sophisticated tapas at Una Mas on the upstairs floors. Wherever you choose to dine, you’ll be treated to picture-perfect ocean views.
It’s time for a change of scenery, and the heart of Sydney’s Inner West is a vibrant place to experience the city’s more bohemian side. Hop on a bus from Coogee to King Street in Newtown, a long strip offering some of the city’s coolest boutiques, most sought-after vintage shops and vibrant pubs and restaurants. When five o’clock hits, settle into the leafy beer garden of the Courthouse Hotel for happy hour drinks at one of Newtown’s most beloved pubs.
For dinner, nab a seat at Bella Brutta, one of the hottest restaurants in the neighbourhood. It’s famous for its smart drinks' menu, constantly changing antipasti plates and perfectly blistered wood-fired pizzas — their surf-clam pizza is Sydney-meets-Italy on a plate, and a favourite of the city’s best food writers.
Your long weekend may almost be over, but the night is still young. Cap off your 72 hours in Sydney at a local favourite in Marrickville, an Inner West suburb that’s listed in the top 10 coolest neighbourhoods in the world. Here you’ll find Camelot Lounge, a boutique venue showcasing local performances of jazz, blues, cabaret, comedy and more, making your final hours in Sydney some of the most entertaining.
Destination NSW acknowledges and respects Aboriginal people as the state’s first people and nations and recognises Aboriginal people as the traditional owners and occupants of New South Wales land and water.