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6 Things to Love About Sydney

Let's Go Surfing, Bondi Beach
Let’s Go Surfing, Bondi Beach


By Ann Abel

Sunny, laid-back and welcoming, with glorious beaches and gregarious people, Sydney is one of the world’s most appealing cities. But there’s more to it than touring the Opera House and climbing the SydneyHarbourBridge. Here are highlights from a recent visit, plus a few reasons I can’t wait to go back.

 1. BondiBeach with Let’s Go Surfing

Sure, this sandy crescent is on most tourists’ itineraries—but for very good reason. The people-watching is at least as captivating as the crashing waves, with the area frequented by everyone from the old-timers swimming year-round in the Icebergs pool to the Baywatch-worthy bikini babes. Let’s Go Surfing offers, as one would expect, group and private surf lessons with excellent instructors, but also much more than that: full- and half-day itineraries guided by Bondi natives that can include beach yoga, tours of the historic Bondi Surf Club, headland walks, flat whites at the Iceberg’s scruffy café and an outstanding seafood lunch at Bondi’s Best.


Sydney Seaplanes
Sydney Seaplanes

2. Sydney Seaplanes

Perhaps more than anyplace else, Sydney, with its multiple harbors, seems to have been tailor-made for this retro-chic mode of travel. Sydney Seaplanes offers up-close views of the city’s sights, scenic tours over the Blue Mountains and azure coast and charter flights, but the best way to indulge is with a Fly & Dine package. A 20-minute flight over a national park lands you in a river gorge in front of the Berowra Waters Inn. The seven-course degustation lunch is just about as delicious as the feeling of glamour you get as you deplane.


QT Sydney Hotel
QT Sydney Hotel

3. QT Sydney Hotel

Sydney’s top hotels, great as they are, have traditionally been on the rather staid side. That changed with the recent-ish opening of the QT Sydney Hotel, in a former department store in the heart of the central business district. The place is unabashedly quirky, sassy and downright sexy—my room had a red faux-fur through draped saucily across the bed, and the elevator plays group-size-appropriate music when guests step on (e.g., “I Feel Good” or “Me, Myself and I” when it’s just one person, “Let’s Get It On” when it’s two).


The Intersection
The Intersection

4. Shopping in Paddington

The leafy neighborhood is home to the city’s best indie designers. They’re centered at The Intersection, a branded shopping destination with more than 20 boutiques around Oxford Street and Glenmore road. Standouts include Sass & Bide, Camilla and Marc, and Alannah Hill. Bonus: The exchange rate is finally back in American’s favor, with the Aussie dollar worth just 88 cents (as of January 30).


Museum of Contemporary Art
Museum of Contemporary Art


5. Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Reopened in 2012 after a major renovation, the museum, in the uptown Rocks district has a new five-story wing that’s been housing buzz-worthy exhibitions. Last year it was an Anish Kapoor retrospective; for a few more weeks now, it’s Yoko Ono’s thought-provoking War Is Over! (If You Want It).


Australian Open of Surfing
Australian Open of Surfing

6. Creative and Quirky Events

There’s lots going on this (Antipodean) summer and fall, including the Australian Open of Surfing, Feb 11-19, at Manly Beach; the Opening Series of (American!) Major League Baseball, with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks playing two games March 22 and 23; Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour presents Madame Butterfly on giant barges in the water March 21–April 12; and the Vivid festival of light, music and ideas May 23–June 9.


For more information visit Sydney.com.



Abel-headshot-150x150 Ann Abel has written about travel for more than a decade. She was a senior editor at ForbesLife and the executive editor of Luxury SpaFinder. She has also written for Robb Report, Modern Bride, Girlfriend Getaways, Tablet Hotels,and Equinox’s Q blog. When not traveling, she is learning to fly at Trapeze School New York.




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  1. February 17, 2014 at 4:35 pm — Reply

    I really hope I am able to visit Sydney one day. I would love to see the Museum of Contemporary Art.

  2. February 18, 2014 at 12:53 am — Reply

    Wow, surfing in Sydney is one of a kind! I would love to go back there this summer.

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