If you only have a weekend in Sydney, 48 hours might not be nearly enough to see all this Australian city has to offer. However, 48 hours will provide you just enough time to see all the best spots, taste as much good food as you can, as well as indulging in a few cocktails, and leave knowing you’ve seen some of the best this amazing city has to offer.
It’s the sort of city where incredible new bars and restaurants are cropping up every weekend – it can be hard to keep up. If you’ve only got two days it’s vital you pack in Sydney’s best. Our Editor-at-Large Julianne Liebeck shows us how to do that in 48 hours:
Where to Stay
Stretched along the longest timber-piled wharf in the world, the Ovolo Woolloomooloo hotel is situated over the picturesque Sydney Harbour. A boutique hotel, and bar this stunning hotel bridges between history and modern luxury. Contemporary design elements and furnishings complement original fixtures of the property, with seamless integration of the ‘Ovolo touch’ – all the little things that make effortless living a reality for the modern, tech-savvy traveller.
A short stroll will get you to iconic attractions like the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, also popular restaurants and waterholes. But really, who needs to go anywhere when your room rate already includes everything? YES. EVERYTHING. Your Wi-Fi, mini bar, happy hour, continental breakfast, 24-hour pool and gym, and self-service laundry is all included in your room-rate. Yes, all free.
Another option for those looking to be close to all of the best shopping is QT Sydney. QT boasts cosmopolitan Sydney accommodation with an edge – a boutique hotel brimming with art, entertainment and style. Featuring seductive rooms, a barber’s, day spa and glam dining will all beckon. It’s location means that it’s truly in the heart of everything, close to the best shopping, sightseeing, restaurants and bars.
Uber is an easy, affordable and effortless way to get around Sydney. For those who aren’t familiar with the service, the Uber app connects you with a reliable ride — from low-cost to premium — in minutes. Paying for your ride is even easier, with your credit-card details saved to your account you do not have to carry any cash with you. Instead you’ll simply get a charge added to your card once the ride is complete. One handy tip, make sure your driver “finishes” your ride before you exit your vehicle. Otherwise, if their mind is elsewhere, you may be charged as they drive off until they realise the ride is complete.
Now that you’ve arrived in Sydney, checked into your hotel, it’s time to hit the streets and start exploring!
Morning Coffee Stop:
Parlour Lane Roasters is a bustling street side Sydney cafe located right next to the entry of QT Sydney on Market Street (the busiest street-corner in Australia).
Once you are sufficiently caffeinated, it is time to hit Sydney’s shopping district in MidCity. Home to international retailers like H&M, Zara and UNIQLO. MidCity is an inner-city shopping oasis. The UNIQLO MidCity store is a must-visit, covering nearly 1,485 square meters, spanning the entire first floor of the shopping precinct, offering its full range of men’s and women’s fashion, plus kids’ and babies’ clothing and accessories.
The products are all made in the Far East, and a large proportion in China. The company doesn’t own any factories but by working closely with the same manufacturers there for many years, and giving them a large volume of clothes to produce, they have builty up a loyalty which ensures high quality. UNIQLO embraces a uniquely Japanese attention to detail into their product. The ultimate in minimalism, the brand is careful not to let production overseas and a global reach irrevocably dilute its image as a quintessentially Japanese label.
Gowings Bar and Grill is situated inside the very trendy and quirky hotel (QT Sydney) where the elevator sings lonely songs to you if you are alone, or party anthems if you are in a group. As you walk into Gowings from the QT reception floor, you can’t stop but feel excited as the room itself also has similar quirks and trendiness like the rest of the hotel with its decorations and smart-casual DJ. Gowings Bar and Grill features European brasserie food and wine in a hip, contemporary space with a wood-fired rotisserie and bar. Trust us, you’ll love it!
The Rocks Market is a great place to people watch, and seek out some unique items at the same time. Wander down to the Rocks on any weekend day and you’ll find 200 stalls stretching from George Street to Playfair Street and Jack Mundey Place selling arts and crafts, locally manufactured clothing, handmade jewellery and many gifts and trinkets. This is a great place to shop off-the-beaten track. Look out for eco-dyed fabrics from Nubijin, silk scarves from Bee Bowen, Australian bean-to-bar chocolate maker Ciada Chocolate and soaps from Cleanse with Benefits.
After an action-packed first day it’s time to make your way back to Ovolo Woolloomooloo Hotel to freshen up and enjoy a few pre-dinner drinks. The décor is gorgeous, service is faultless and the drinks selection is impressive. Better yet, everything is complimentary for hotel guests from the canapés to the mini-bar drinks!
Celebrated Australian chef Peter Gilmore steers the diner through the diversity of the nation’s home-grown flavours introducing what he envisages as the essence of Australian cuisine. Taking a cue from the Opera House’s textural offerings, Bennelong engages a multi-layered restaurant space to present a variety of considered dining options. Performing in front of an undeniably Australian backdrop, their aim is to celebrate the incomparable produce of Australia’s land and provide the diner with a truly memorable experience on all levels.
There is no where more iconic to spend an evening in Sydney other than watch the latest performance than at the Sydney Opera House. To see what events are on, and for information on how to book tickets visit the Sydney Opera House website. There is nothing quite as incredible than stepping into the the Sydney Opera House’s magnificent Concert Hall to watch world class performances.
Once your performance ends, take in the stunning Sydney Harbour at the Opera Bar! It’s a favourite for many, and a must-visit spot on any trip to Sydney. Beauty and convenience don’t always go hand in hand, but Opera Bar is a glam exception to the rule. It manages to be both one of the most enviably located bars in the city as well as its most advantageous spot for a post-show drink.
After a successful first day full of shopping, followed by an incredible dinner and show- today is all about relaxing back into holiday mode.
Begin your day in Surry Hills at the ultra-famous and beloved Bills. Though not just a breakfast restaurant this is a Sydney favourite. Bill Granger is often regarded as Sydney’s ‘Breakfast King’. No bookings. Put your name down for a table and take a stroll while you’re waiting.
To work off your delicious brunch shop off the beaten track by spending your morning in Manly taking in the local’s favourite stores. Bypass the main thoroughfare in Manly and go straight to these independent stores for an antiques shop filled with Americana, second-hand books and records and artfully sourced fashion, such as Aussie labels Romance Was Born and Camilla & Marc. You’ll pass as a local in no time.
One of our favourite independent stores Bow & Arrow contains a curated collection of fashionable pieces. Scarves by artist Natalie Martin are displayed on the walls like masterpieces, and dresses from Romance Was Born are hanging from the racks with all the majesty of a red carpet dressing-room.
There are lip paints from brand Fat and the Moon and leather wallets from Spanish label Steve Mono, plus we’re pretty sure this is the only beachside shop where you can pick up Valiance jewellery, Chronicles of Never footwear and Rachel Comey slacks – all in the same room. Not to mention homewares from In Bed and Le Feu De L’Eau.
For those looking to purchase a new piece of artwork a quick uber ride will take you to CarriageWorks, a unique cultural centre set in the old Eveleigh Rail Yards. This large and distinct architecture allows the venue to house incredible artistic presentations, including theatre, music, dance and an inspiring range of visual art exhibitions. One of the centre’s major focuses is helping artists develop their work through showings, residencies and funded programmes, and the diverse spectrum of spaces available allows this to be a truly unique experience. CarriageWorks’ list of events and exhibitions is always full of surprises and new discoveries.
There’s no reason why you shouldn’t indulge in a little day-drinking while on vacation. Sydney has the most picturesque spots just made for a boozy lunch while you take in the view with your travel partner. Our pick for a mid-day lunch with few delicious cocktails is in Bondi, at the IceBergs.
Icebergs is everything you love about Sydney, a top-shelf Bondi restaurant of being a little private beach club at times. There’s no denying the completely beautiful setting of Icebergs. Jutting over the ocean pool below and looking straight out to Bondi Beach, it’s a room of chilled oceanic colours – turquoise, teal, sea glass. It’s best enjoyed with your favourite cocktail in hand!
After your long leisurely lunch, enjoy some time browsing the streets of Bondi. No trip to Sydney is complete without visiting Bondi Beach — one of the most popular beaches in Australia, and it’s little neighbourhood is full of personality.
After your stroll around Bondi we highly recommend you visit this new bar hidden in a nautical cocktail den in South Bondi. These guys take cocktails seriously, so make sure you indulge in something a little different like their gin and fresh watermelon juice combo.
For your last dinner in Sydney, there’s no better than Otto. At the forefront of Modern Italian cuisine, Otto Ristorante reinvents the flavours of Italy in a sensational harbourside location on Cowper Wharf, Woolloomooloo.
If you want to venture out for one last nightcap, J&M is a new Sydney whisky-bar making the nightcap cool again. Expect a throwback to the 60s complete with personalized trolley service and a jazz sound track to sit back and relax with. It’s the perfect moment to stop and take in all that you’ve experienced in Sydney.
How do you spend your time in Sydney? Share with us your favourite places to visit below!