What to do in Sydney when you’re not dancing tango

History, drama, people watching, a little shopping, a lot of walking and some really good scones. Just don’t go to The Rocks on a Tuesday.

Enjoy the view

I know this is an obvious one, but I’m pretty sure that no matter how times you visit Sydney, you’ll always come back here. Whether you see it from Circular Quay, from the water, from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, on a sunny or a cloudy day, this really is one of the most beautiful harbours in the world…


There’s a great view of the harbour and the Sydney Opera House from the bridge and if you don’t want to invest 200 AUD or so doing the Bridge Climb, you can walk across on the pedestrian path for free. Access it from the south entrance via the steps on Cumberland Street (very close to Circular Quay and the Rocks). Or you can enter from the northern side at Milsons Point. Another option is the Pylon Lookout which costs 13 AUD and unlike the Bridge Climb, you can bring your own camera with you.


Head for the beach


As mentioned in a previous post, the weather wasn’t great when I was in Sydney, but there were three sunny days and on two of them, I went to the beach. The first day I took the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly. After walking along Manly beach I did the Cabbage Tree Bay to Shelly Beach Walk. It’s only about 15 minutes walking and there are some lovely views. Shelly Beach is quite secluded and so is a quieter alternative to Manly. There are little sculptures along the way of the local marine life…


and scuba divers ….





If you prefer to do a longer walk, you can find more information about walks from Manly here. My other beach day was spent at Collins Flat Beach in the Sydney Harbour National Park, which I mentioned in the previous post on Sydney. I think this might be my second favourite beach in the whole world. So far.


Go for a walk around The Rocks


First: get a feel for the place, walk along narrow lanes, on cobbled streets, in the oldest part of Sydney …


If you want to know more about the history of this neighbourhood, The Rocks Discovery Museum is your next stop. Four permanent exhibitions tell the story of this area through a combination of visual, interactive and multimedia exhibits from pre-European Settlement to the present day. Entrance is free.

If museums aren’t your thing, you can download the free “Walking the Rocks App” on itunes or Google Play. There is also a free guided walk of the Rocks every evening at 6pm which is run by I’m Free Walking Tours.


If you’re in Sydney at the weekend, you should check out The Rocks Markets. They run from 10 – 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays with a foodie market on Fridays. Great for souvenir hunting, browsing or grabbing a bite to eat…


… speaking of which ….


… for the best scones in Sydney, head for the Tea Cosy on George Street. You deserve it after all that walking.
And this is why you don’t want to go to the Rocks on a Tuesday, folks: the Tea Cosy is not open! Now, aren’t you glad you read this post before your trip?

Spend a day (or night) in Newtown

The day I went to Newtown it was pouring down. All day. Without stopping. That’s probably why I took very few photos that day.


Instead, I dodged in and out of the quirky shops which line King Street, the most exciting shopping street in Sydney. Apart from the shopping there are loads of cafés and restaurants along, as well as one of the best second hand bookshops I have ever been in, Goulds Book Archade. It’s open seven days a week at least until 9pm (10:30pm Thursday – Saturday) and it’s the perfect place for browsing; you can find a mind boggling range of genres from cooking to espionage. As you might expect there is also a wide selection of Australian literature, history and travel books. I picked up a copy of Secret Tasmania to prepare for the next stage of my trip (find out in the next post how I got on!).


See a show

Although the Sydney Opera House might be the first option that comes to mind as a visitor to Sydney and I’m not saying it’s a bad one, but tickets can be quite pricey and there is so much to choose from when it comes to live performances in Sydney. During my stay I went to see Britannia Waves the Rules at the New Theatre in Newtown.
This is a powerful and moving play about a young man who thinks he has finally found a place he belongs when he joins the army and the effect the conflict has on him when he returns from Afghanistan.

If you are looking for other ideas for theatre or other performances while in Sydney, check out Sport for Jove Theatre Company, which also has outdoor performances in summertime and Bangarra, an indigenous contemporary dance company.

Continue exploring…

Other Sydney neighbourhoods you might like to visit: Leichhardt, Balmain and Glebe.

I would also recommend a trip to the Blue Mountains if you have time and the weather is good. It’s only a two hour train ride from Sydney, so theoretically it’s possible to go a day trip, but it really is worth staying overnight (at least). I wasn’t able to go there this time, but the last time I was in Sydney I spent three amazing days in and around Katoomba



More ideas for short (three hours or less) trips from Sydney have a look at these posts from Australian based travel bloggers here and here.

What are your favourite things to do in Sydney? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
Missed my post on dancing tango in Sydney? You can read it here


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