While we don’t like to pick favourites, when it comes to cool coastal gems, they don’t get much greater than Byron Bay.
Nestled amongst rolling green hinterland and endless beaches, it’s just a two-hour roadie south of Brisbane and an easy hour and a half flight from Sydney.
As well as boasting uber-cool boutiques, restaurants serving up some of the freshest produce and a slew of excellent watering holes, it’s also home to legendary festivals like Splendour In The Grass and Bluesfest.
If you plan on paying this sweet spot a visit (and we highly recommend you do), we’ve got you covered with all the best things to see, eat and do in Byron Bay.
Eat & Drink
Restaurants & Bars
The Farm Byron Bay
If paddock to plate-style eating had a mother figure she would be skipping around the grassy fields of The Farm Byron Bay. Here you'll find Sydney export, Three Blue Ducks restaurant nestled inside the barn doors of a steel and timber mega shed that also holds a bar, bakery and local produce store, opening out onto rolling views of farmland. Three Blue Ducks adapts and changes its menu with the seasonal goodies provided from its surroundings.
Loft is an upstairs chic venue that has been fitted out to perfection, offering cocktails and shared plates to suit the ocean vibes. They’ve just launched their new menu with eats like BBQ squid with puffed buckwheat, coal smoked octopus with sweet and sour caponata, and slow roasted lamb shoulder with red capsicum, cashews and pita breads. Or if you’re coming with a crew, we recommend ordering a bunch of snacks from the deli bar, like the cheese board featuring local and international bites or a plate of Coffin Bay pacific oysters.
The Mez Club
Right in the centre of town, this fresh Mediterranean-style cantina is just what you need after a lazy day at the beach. Slip on a white cotton shirt and don’t bother brushing off the sand, because The Mez Club is what Byron afternoon dreams are made of. Sip on cocktails as you graze on tapas-style dishes inspired by Morocco, Greece and Turkey. No bookings needed just cruise on in, Byron style.
Beach Byron Bay
Holidays are for hours in the ocean followed by lazy lunch dates. At Beach Byron Bay you can literally walk over the sand dunes into this iconic location that boasts uninterrupted water views all the way out to Julian Rocks. Think Burrata with locally-sourced tomatoes and garlic crumbs and you’re getting the gist of things. Open for all your breakfast, lunch and dinner needs, you can also visit their handy kiosk for a takeaway coffee and then…you guessed it…back to the beach.
The Balcony Bar & Oyster Co.
So much more than oysters, this Hamptons-inspired restaurant has one of the best people watching views in the Bay. Perch yourself on a high stool and look down from this lofty balcony and devour chilli crab linguine, chicken lollipops and fresh fish ceviche. Wash it all down with a couple of passionfruit margaritas and you've got yourself the perfect afternoon.
Barrio sits amongst swanky shopping and dining precinct Habitat (more on that later). Simplicity and quality is what Barrio is all about. Under the helm of Argentinian born chef Francisco Smoje, think open-fire grilled octopus, blackened eggplant and smoky plates of chicken and beef ribs designed for sharing.
This old-school watering hole is the best place to see live music whilst having a chin wag with a local. In the winter time you can warm yourself by a fire drum, Shiraz in hand and listen to the sweet musical tunes provided seven days a week. Pay close attention to the painted mural behind the band area which changes every couple of years and is sure to bring a smile to your face.
The Beach Hotel
Head to The Beach Hotel for the most popular Sunday sesh in the Bay. Check the local gig guide to watch some epic bands play, all just a stone’s throw away from the sand and surf of the main beach break.
Byron Bay knows how to do coffee, like seriously good, smooth brews. Our tip? Don’t limit yourself to one place, tramp your way around town and taste what Byron’s cafe scene has to offer.
The Byron General Store
Established in 1947, The Byron Bay General Store is among Byron Shire’s oldest commercial buildings still standing. Bringing you a choice of organic and healthy treats (try the vegan burger), The General Store is a sweet little oasis if you want to get out of the centre of town.
Affectionally known as ‘The Roady’, here is a place highlighting Byron’s embrace of all things pickled/fermented/organic/tinctured and cold-press brewed through the cloth of 1,000 monk robes-style of eating and drinking. Come for the roast organic beetroot salad and stay for the saltbush and finger lime margarita.
When the sun is out, the pavement hot and the carparks rare, stop in at Combi to cool your jets and reinvigorate. The smoothies here—adorned with roasted coconut and edible flowers—are almost too pretty to slurp and the acai bowls some of the biggest and best value in the whole of Byron.
Treehouse On Belongil
There are few dog-friendly beaches in Byron, but Belongil Beach still remains faithful to our four-legged friends. After a dip with your doggo, pop across the road to Treehouse and take a moment to relax away from the centre of town.
Keep your eyes peeled newbies or you may miss the turn off to FOLK. Perched at the entrance of a roadside caravan park, FOLK is a sweet brunch stop on your way out to visiting The Arts and Industrial Estate. Slinging organic, ethical, plant-based eats, you can't go past the buckwheat banana hotcakes and nourish bowls.
After your stay in Byron, you really want a memento to take home that you can casually drop into conversations with your friends. One-off designs, locally-made crafts or homewares that you can only buy in the Bay are worth hitting the pavement for. Consider this your hit list.
Spell & The Gypsy Collective
This Byron born and bred label is synonymous with the town’s chilled out vibe. Adored by celebs like Miley Cyrus, you’ll fall in love with Spell’s ethereal designs and dreamy store.
Hope & May
This homewares and clothing boutique with its whitewash walls, handwoven baskets and vintage 501 cut off Levi’s is Byron Bay-style wrapped up in one location. Pick up a piece from Hope and May's stunning range of Baby Anything jewellery, a woven straw hat or a soft Turkish towel and float on down to the closest beach.
Habitat is a community of stores comprising of homewares, clothing and designer wares that really highlight the local brands and craftmanship from around the Byron shire. Nestled inside The Arts and Industrial Estate, this sleek precinct is your one-stop-shop for all things lust-worthy so be prepared to empty your wallet.
We Are Pampa
Bring an extra bag because you’re going to want to shove most of We Are Pampa’s collection into your carry on. This stunning concept store and design studio brings to life handmade Argentinian homewares and stunning photography pieces. A must buy is one of their cute ‘Monte’ cushions or a hand-loomed Llama wool poncho.
A scenic 20-minute drive into the hinterland, this adorable converted homestead houses a collection of curated brands from Byron and beyond. You can stroll through the divided rooms of this house, each holding a different designer, artist or concept. While you’re there, pop across the road to Harvest for lunch and soak in those country hinterland vibes that Newrybar is loved for.
Stone & Wood Brewery
A brewery tour and tasting at Stone & Wood is a must do on your trip to Byron. Their new brewery is the perfect spot to grab a tasting paddle with mates, learn about the brewing process and snack on beer-inspired eats from 100 Mile Table's on-site kitchen.
Byron Bay Train + The Arts & Industrial Estate
The once abandoned train tracks of Byron have been brought back to life. In true Byron fashion, no less, with a world-first vintage solar train that runs a return circuit from the northern beaches into the town’s centre. Our tip? Take a bike onboard with you out to The Arts & Industrial Estate, for a leisurely ride around the many shops and cafes in the northern district of the Bay. Make sure you pop in to McTavish surfboards to check out the works of one of the best longboard shapers in the world while sipping a coffee from their attached cafe.
Time for some relaxation—you’ve worked hard eating all those eats, drinking all those drinks! Book yourself in at Comma and bliss out with one of their signature treatments, like Sticks and Stone which uses thermodynamic basalt stones to give you a deeply relaxing massage that will get rid of muscle tension in just 60 minutes.
A trip with Zephyr Horses is a great way to appreciate Byron’s natural surrounds both on the beach and through the rainforest. Our pick? Try the horseback pub tour, it's a one of a kind experience.
Cape Byron Distillery
Perched up in the hinterland with stunning views out to the ocean is The Cape Byron Distillery. Book a tour on Friday, Saturday or Sunday and take home a bottle of their famous Brookie’s dry gin inspired by the native Australian bushland that surrounds the Brook Farm on which the distillery sits.
Okay, so the guilt of all that dining out has finally hit and you’re ready for a sweat session? Take the beautiful lighthouse walk that starts at The Pass carpark, winds along Wategos Beach and leads all the way up to the most easterly point of Australia.
Picnic At Wategos Beach
Finding a car park at Wategos is a sacred mystical event that is not to be sniffed at. There is an unspoken rule that, if you acquire a magical unicorn park you must then have a long picnic to celebrate! Pack some gourmet goodies and a blanket and spend a few hours on the grass watching longboarders dance across the waves. There are also BBQ facilities here and often a coffee van on the weekend.
Byron Bay Markets
Held on the first Sunday of every month, consider yourself one of the lucky ones if your stay coincides with this famous market. Come early to beat the heat and fill your basket with new threads, unique jewellery and a whole bunch of baked goods and international eats.
Where To Stay
The best Byron accommodation does away with the uptight hotel lobby vibe. That’s not, after all, what a Byron escape is about. A ‘concierge’ in the right places can offer up a surf report and point you to the best margarita with ocean views. This is Byron, it's time to bliss out.
A boutique residence whose location is unbeatable; a simple stroll into town yet tucked privately behind sky-high palms. Make The Atlantic what you want it to be, a couple’s retreat or a big group gathering getaway, with its four beach-style cottages and stunning landscape, it will provide for all your needs. Sit by the open fire pit on the grassy lawn, ride a free bike into a local cafe or dip into the pool before cutting up a fruit platter in one of the beautifully appointed communal kitchens. If your Instagram feed isn’t full in the first hour, then book your stay in their vintage airstream caravan and be the envy of all your city-side followers.
Byron At Byron
Think: lush tropical surrounds, rainforest board walks, luxury spa amenities and self-contained suites. A five-minute free shuttle bus ride from town lies this 45-acre, recently refurbished property, all ready for you to truly bliss out in. Free yoga class in the morning? Check. Infinity pool surrounded by flowering native gingers? Check. Waking up to the call of a waterbird as your alarm clock? Check. Never wanting to leave? Also check. Yes, we're madly in love with Byron at Byron.
Elements Of Byron
If something a little more upscale is more your style then you'll want to check in at the architecturally designed masterpiece that is Elements. Four words: swinging lagoon pool lounges. Get in them, swing in them and drink in them. Wander the dreamy designed grounds of this beachside resort and you will truly appreciate the time and consideration that has been taken to create such a paradise.
This boutique bed and breakfast, set on 28 acres, is the ultimate relaxing retreat. The sprawling property, beautifully framed in acres of lush rainforest, comprises of three private pavilions. Each is thoughtfully fitted out with the latest environmentally sustainable energy saving 20kW solar system as well as modern luxuries, designed to ensure you unwind and zen out. Added features include a sauna, 10-metre mineral magnesium infinity pool and the option for a dreamy massage.
If you prefer having a place all to yourself, Byron provides an abundance of private guesthouses that can also offer a relaxing self-contained stay. Byron Beach Abodes, The Bower Room or 28 Degrees Guesthouse are but a few. Think: stunning whitewash timber walls, soft cotton sheets, reclaimed wooden ceiling beams. Okay, stop thinking, start booking!
Image credit: Destination NSW, Prescott Horn, The Mez, The Roadhouse, Kaitlin Maree Photography and Hayley Williamson for Urban List