Over the years, I have travelled to Sydney more times than I can count. Between visiting my boyfriend's family, work trips, and girls' weekends, Sydney has become like a second home to me. While I will never, ever, EVER turn my back on Melbourne (after all, Melbourne IS better than Sydney – yes Sydneysiders, sharpen your pitchforks), I can attest to the fact that the harbour city has some damn fine restaurants, bars, shopping, and events in general.
Now I'm all for a weekend away, and if your idea of going on one means leaving the state instead of travelling down our fabulous coast or visiting a regional town, then where better to go than Sydney? From Friday to Sunday, here's our jam-packed itinerary for a brilliant weekend getaway.
Once work is over for the week, get your skates on and head to the aeropuerto. Personally, I'm a fan of Virgin Australia – friendly staff and great service. Oh, and no-one judges me when they spot me stuffing my face with the hotdogs in the lounge (hey, I've gotta get the stomach muscles warmed up for dinner).
Once you land, head to your hotel and drop off your bags. If you want something in the heart of all the action (and don't mind a few 'eclectic' figures here and there), book yourself into the Diamant, located underneath the Coke sign in Kings Cross. Yes, the Cross is crazy but the Diamant is the complete opposite – surpisingly calm and quiet, with dark wood panelling and chic, sleek styling. Plus their beds are ridiculously comfy. After something a little more boutique? Then the Medusa Hotel is a must. What looks like a stunning terrace home from the outside is actually an 18 room boutique hotel complete with Aveda toiletries (the devil's in the details, right?). There are a variety of rooms, from big to small, yet all feel incredibly spacious and tranquil. The Darlinghurst location is also super convenient and within walking distance of everything you need to see and do!
After checking in, take your rumbling stomach to a nearby restaurant and get your fill of food. My fave Friday haunts? Either Ms. G's or Barrio Chino. With their unique take on modern Asian, Ms. G's offers diners dishes that are full of flavour and perfect for sharing. They also have a bangin' cocktail menu which includes packaged 'Lucky Cup' style drinks. Barrio Chino, on the other hand, hits the Mexican nail on the head with their mouth-watering quesadillas, tacos, and tostadas, and a list of margaritas that are quite possibly some of the best I've ever tried!
Rise and shine, we've got a big day planned for you! It's no secret that Sydney has some amazing ocean views and the best place to catch them is via famous the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk.
The easiest way to get there is via train – jump on at Kings Cross station and get off at Bondi Junction. From there, walk down Bondi Road, stopping at The Health Emporium for one of their amazing breakfast smoothies, before ending up at the famous blue waves.
If you're a fan of packing in as much physical activity as you can then make a pitstop at Icebergs for a swim or a yoga class. If not, the walk still promises a great workout with numerous hills and staircases to test your fitness. The trail, which takes you from Bondi, through Tamarama, before ending up at Bronte, has amazing views from every angle as well as fitness buffs and beautiful people aplenty. Once you've arrived at Bronte, make your way to Three Blue Ducks, a bustling local café focused on using fresh local produce, for a killer coffee to takeaway as you head back to the hotel.
After freshening up, make your way to Hyde Park, centrally located on Elizabeth Street in the CBD. The park, which is Australia's oldest, is a hive of activity with plenty of people picnicking, sunbathing, exercising, or just generally having a good time under the beautiful, leafy trees. Hyde Park is also home to 'Festival Village', the main hub of the Sydney Festival, which will be running up until Australia Day on January 26th. Here you can sit back and listen to a variety of musicians and DJs, participate in the quirky Folk In A Box performance, or just eat to your heart's content at the Jafe Jaffles, Woofy's Hot Dogs, and Gelato Messina stands.
For those who like to indulge in a spot of shopping (ahem, guilty), you're only a step away from some of Sydney's best shopping. Pitt Street, Strand Arcade and the Queen Victoria Building are all a short walking distance from Hyde Park and offer everything from quirky boutiques, Australia's best designers, and the hottest international labels, to gourmet food, homewares, and unique gifts. Feel like continuing on the cultured train? The Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Royal Botanic Gardens are also close by, showcasing the best local and international art and flora, fauna and parklands respectively.
Come night time, there are no shortage of excellent dinner options. It was far too hard to pick just the one option – I had to give you a few! If you feel like venue hopping and sampling a variety of dishes, head to Potts Point. Start off with a charcuterie platter and a bottle of red at Chester White, then move to Bootleg Bar for Italian share plates and more wine (or one of their excellent whiskey sours), before ending up at The Roosevelt for some epic cocktails. Did this morning's walk whet your Bondi appetite? Then you'll love Matt Moran's latest and greatest venture, North Bondi Fish. A huge range of seafood dishes are available, from small to large, plus some charcoal grill goodness. Their wine list is also pretty stellar and you're sure to find a drop that'll compliment your meal perfectly.
Start off your morning with brekkie at Elizabeth Bay Café (their corn fritters with avocado, tomato salsa, and bacon are THE BOMB) or the newly opened Rushcutters on Neild Avenue. Once you've fuelled up and caffeinated yourself, it's time for some serious shopping! Paddington is where it's at – it's seriously shopping nirvana – with The Intersection at the corner of Glenmore Road and Oxford Street boasting the likes of Josh Goot, Bassike, Scanlan Theodore, Ellery, Zimmermann, Jac + Jack, and plenty more.
You could easily spend the day in Paddington, but if you want to fit in more shopping then make a beeline for Crown Street in Surry Hills. It's a little more eclectic around here and that vibe is reflected in the fab shops – highlights include Collector Store, Flight 001, Mushu, NIQUE, and Urban Bandit. That said, my two favourite things about Surry Hills are still food/beverage related (hey, I'm from Melbourne, what do you expect?) – The Winery and Sparkle Cupcakery. The former is a standout wine bar with a seriously huuuuge list of grape juice to choose from. It's a little bit rock & roll, and a little bit boho, but totally rockin' any day of the week and the perfect place for a refreshing white wine after all that shopping. Sparkle Cupcakery on the other hand, is THE place for sweet treats in Sydney. Take your pick from 15 drool-worthy flavours including White Chocolate & Strawberry, Banana Toffee, and my personal favourite, Salted Caramel. Seriously, these cupcakes are like little parcels of heaven.
A top-notch Sunday lunch is the ideal way to finish off your Sydney weekend, and the place to nosh is definitely Farmhouse in Kings Cross. Recently winning Best Restaurant Design at the prestigious Eat-Drink-Design awards (don't worry Melbourne, we pretty much won everything else), Farmhouse is now open for Sunday lunch with sittings at 2pm – can I get a hell yeah?! The intimate venue has a simple, rustic feel but is still totally innovative, and the food is much the same. With a concise menu that constantly changes to accommodate what's fresh, seasonal, and produced locally, Farmhouse will leave you with no doubt that good things come in small packages.
Alas, the plates have been cleared and it's time to bid adieu to Sydney – sob. We hope you've enjoyed eating so much that your buttons are close to bursting, shopping until you start dropping, and gawking at the incredible sites. Until next time Sydney…