Sydney is one of those great, vast cities, with literally something new to discover every day of a lifetime, therefore it can be difficult to decide on an itinerary. To narrow the options, as it was my girlfriends and I travelling together, we opted for a 'girls weekend' type approach to our short stay (centred around Potts Point and the city). This meant several priorities outside of sightseeing: shopping, relaxing and cocktails. Here's a rundown on our discoveries...
Rushcutters Bay Park
is a sprawling oasis in the middle of an otherwise large and chaotic metropolis. Located between the prestigious Darling Point and Elizabeth Bay postcodes, here you can lay about under the sun, wander along the waterfront and go hunting for celebrity homes, train utilising the convenient outdoor gym equipment, spot cute dogs... and cute guys! Yep, according to my sources, if you're seeking Aussie eye candy of the fit, jogging, sexy variety, this is the place to be. Thank me later.
If you're in need of food or a caffeine hit after such strenuous activity, try the delightful Bay 88
on Bayswater Road (bay88.com.au
) for allegedly the best coffee in the area.
Keen for cocktails with a little culture on the side? LL Wine
& Dine is a sexy heritage venue situated in the middle of Llankelly Place, Potts Point (llwineanddine.com.au
), directly off the Kings Cross strip. A former illegal casino in the 1960s, it has also served as an adult bookshop; its present menu and decor is inspired by the bustling Hong Kong bar scene. Delicious Asian-inspired tapas and drinks at great prices are on the menu, and the extra cool thing about this place is you can request a unique behind-the-scenes tour, where you'll be guided around the old building's secret underground tunnels and told of its interesting Sydney-town history.
At The Cuban Place
(125 York Street, thecubanplace.com.au
) you will discover a fabulous little den of music and dancing that will not only take you back in time, but to another continent as well. This place is pumping with the seductive, rhythmic sounds of Cuba, and a lively community of dancers who very obviously know how to have a great time! Well worth a peek if you're a little over the usual trance and techno scene.
Few places on the planet boast truly iconic landmarks − I'm talking the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, Christ the Redeemer − big, beautiful, legendary. Sydney boasts not one but two such landmarks, and there's no better way to achieve those excited little tummy butterflies than viewing something so beautiful from above. If you're seeking an extravagant (yet, once-in-a-lifetime) adventure, consider Sydney by seaplane (sydneybyseaplane.com
), costing around AU$360 per person. You'll depart Rose Bay, soar across Bondi, the Harbour and all of Sydney's scenic glory, and 20-minutes later land at beautiful Palm Beach (aka Home & Away's
'Summer Bay'), for lunch in your choice of one of the region's finest establishments.
Sydney is a shopper's paradise Down Under-style, that includes everything from suburban streets lined with luxe boutiques, to super centres like Westfield, and traditional markets such as 150-year-old Paddy's
(paddysmarkets.com.au). As the city was within easy reach of our accommodation (Mercure Potts Point
), we ventured into vast favourite, David Jones
(opposite Hyde Park), to explore all five levels, and stop for lunch and wine tasting at the aptly named The Wine Bar
(within the complex's expansive basement Food Hall). The relatively new Westfield Sydney
is next door too, and offers all the usual high street favourites like Zara, Hugo Boss, Swarovski, Armani Exchange and Guess.
Just a block up the road is the Queen Victoria Building
(qvb.com.au) which is worthwhile seeking out, not only for its hundreds of gorgeous stores, but because the building itself is glorious, first opened in 1898, and featuring elaborate Romanesque architecture. If you're interested in historical structures, a guided tour is on offer here for AU$15. Or, if you're in need of respite, perhaps a Champagne Afternoon Tea is more your style? If so, drop into The Tea Room
(thetearoom.com.au); prices start at AU$44 per person.
Rest + Relaxation
We chose to stay at Mercure Potts Point
) because of its central location to the city and vibrant nightlife. It's easy to get in and out of the city on the 311 bus route; alternatively everything on our wish-list was under a AU$15 cab fare away. The hotel is situated one-minute walk from Kings Cross station, so accessible by train from the airport (simply change at Central). A variety of rooms are available at the Mercure, so perfect for a girls group, solo visit or travel with that someone special. We were lucky enough to score a Harbour-side position and were ecstatic to discover a magnificent view from our spacious room across the city to the Bridge and Opera House. The hotel is chic and comfortable, with bar, restaurant, internet and numerous other convenience amenities. Staff are friendly and room-service menu delicious! I particularly liked the large, comfortable lobby just off street level − a perfect meeting spot for greeting friends prior to a night out. Outside − within walking distance or a short taxi ride − you're not only spoilt for choice with a variety of cafes, clubs, bars and restaurants, but supermarkets, pharmacies and boutiques too, meaning everything you may need is on hand. There's even a fascinating walking tour of 'The Golden Mile' you can sign-up for from here, that takes you through the Cross' colourful history brimming with mobsters, murders and mysteries.
When to go...
If possible, time your visit to Sydney with the International Fleet Review and 100th anniversary of the Royal Australian Navy Fleet's first entry into the city, 3 to 11 October 2013. Sydney's waterways will play host to a wide variety of wonderful, important and historical Tall Ships, warships, Navy vessels and much more from around the world, and is sure to provide a dazzling spectacle for anyone lucky enough to be within viewing distance during the week.