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24 hrs: Sydney

Australia's buzziest beach-front city delivers unbeatable cultural and coastal pleasures and, with October's Crave Food Festival, culinary too

Published 5 Oct 2011, 12:54 BST, Updated 28 Jun 2021, 16:55 BST

01 Head over the Harbour
Star the morning with a view that's sure to wake you up: from the pedestrian walkway of the iconic Harbour Bridge. Much cheaper than the costly BridgeClimb and still skyscraping at 87m.Then head underneath to the bridge's south pylon for less well-known but equally impressive views along Dawes Point.

02 Newtown
Sydney's alternative area is packed with bohemian-style shops, gay-friendly restaurants, vegetarian cafes and quirky bars. Mooch along and marvel at its diversity or pull up a chair in a cafe for an afternoon of people-watching over an organic beer or a 'flat white' (an Australian variation of a latte that many claim is Sydney's home-grown beverage).

03 Beach time
Not content with being a lively, arty, cultural hub, Sydney does sand with style too. Bondi is the best-known beach where you can enjoy a gelato at the 1920s-style beachside pavilion, shop for local surfwear brands and watch a scrum of young things pose on their boards. Manly Beach is equally busy due to its proximity to the harbour, but Coogie Beach is a more peaceful expanse of yellow sand, in Sydney's eastern suburbs.

04 Art Attack
The Oxford Art Factory, inspired by Warhol's '60s New York club, is a three-storey industrial space east of the city in Darlinghurst. Art house, photography gallery and radio station all-in-one, its also a vanguard venue for live music an DJ-sessions

05 The Rocks
Behind the harbour, The Rocks is the default district for a sundowner — a maze of sandstone streets lined with 19th century dockhouses, the city's oldest pubs and newest bars and bistros. During the month-long Crave International Food Festival in October, it's also home to everything from BBQ parties to specialist cheese markets and chef showcases.

06 The Basement
A jazz venue with a fierce reputation to uphold, The Basement has attracted some of the world's best acts in its 30-year history. With a consistently good line up, two-course dinners and bar snacks, a reasonably priced and memorable night out is pretty much guaranteed.


£££  Aria: In full view of Sydney Bridge and the Opera House, Aria is best for fish, fine wines and Champagne. 1 MacQuarie Street.

££  Icebergs Dining Room & Bar: Overlooking Bondi Beach, Iceberg's Italian menu features a large selection of pastas, risottos and seasonal fish. One Notts Avenue, Bondi Beach.

£  Harry's Cafe de Wheels: Harry's pies are a local institution. Try fillings such as curry, cheese and bacon, seafood, or beef. Corner Cowper Wharf Roadway & Brougham Road, Woolloomooloo.

Rock 'n' bowl: Billed as 'the best fun you can have on two feet', the latest summer craze to hit the city combines lawn bowling with socialising. Go head-to-head with pals or a team of strangers and end the day in the pub with new friends.

Market value: Shun the supermarket in favour of fresh produce. Eveleigh Farmers Market opens every Saturday from 8am to 1pm and welcomes more than 70 stallholders, selling a range of seasonal fruit and vegetables, meats, poultry, dairy, artisan breads, smoked fish, olive oils and wines. You can also tuck into a breakfast cooked by local chefs and sample gourmet fare from dips and chutneys to sweet and savoury snacks.

Published in the Jan/Feb 2011 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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