Sydney is famous for its beaches and of course that hulk of a harbour (the largest in the world), but its also got inventive art galleries, a flourishing fashion scene and some of Australia’s best boutique hotels. That’s why we reached out to five local tastemakers, including the head of a contemporary dance company, a watch maker and a musician, and picked their brains for the best shops, restaurants, luxury inns and things to do while travelling Down Under.
Rafael Bonachela, artistic director of the Sydney Dance Company
Eat Cho Cho San is a slick restaurant that reminds me of a contemporary Japanese izakaya. The katsu pork bun or the scampi with ponzu dressing are light, clean and full of delicious flavours.
Shop I love Incu for its brilliant supply of men’s and women’s basics by labels such as Alexander Wang, A.P.C. and Rag & Bone. Bonus: the staff is especially friendly.
Stay Pier One Sydney Harbour has incredible water views and a clean, elegant interior. Also, it’s just down the road from the Sydney Dance Company, so you can easily drop by for a class during your stay.
Do Go for a dip at Camp Cove near Watson’s Bay – it’s less crowded than many of Sydney’s main beaches.
What the locals know For the best view of sunset at Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, head to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. Keep your cameras ready – the spectacle is breathtaking.
Elizabeth Rose, electronica DJ/producer and singer-songwriter
Eat After a recent trip to Tokyo, I’m obsessed with ramen. Sydney’s most authentic Japanese ramen spot is Chaco Bar in Surry Hills. I get the Fat Soy ramen – it’s to die for.
Shop Australian brand Alpha60 makes clothes that are edgy but also comfortable, thanks to fabrics made of natural fibres.
Stay Because of its art deco touches, QT Sydney is my pick for best local hotel. The location, on Market Street, is ideal.
Do I love the Bronte to Bondi walk along the coast. It’s such a beautiful hike and it really gets your heart rate up, too.
What the locals know The Carriageworks Farmers Market each Saturday has fantastically fresh produce and gorgeous flowers. While you’re there, try Kylie Kwong’s savoury pancakes with Australian saltbush leaves.
Leighton Clarke, founder of watch brand Mister Wolf
Eat Baccomatto Osteria can be as formal or as casual as you like. Simply stop by for a cocktail, enjoy a long lunch with friends, or watch the chef make pasta their marble bar.
Shop I like Fine Fellow, which supports local lifestyle products and artists, as well as Citizen Wolf, where you can create a custom tee.
Stay The Old Clare has brilliantly styled rooms, several restaurants and a killer rooftop pool. Plus, I like that the layouts vary from room to room.
Do Check out the White Rabbit Gallery in Chippendale for contemporary Chinese art and sculpture. Admission is free and there’s also a tea house in the building that serves wine and beer in addition to herbal infusions.
What the locals know Try to make it to Bondi Beach around 6am at least once to watch the sunrise.
Ash Quinn, makeup artist
Eat For authentic Italian with crisp produce and no-fuss dishes, I always recommend Fratelli Fresh.
Shop Head to Sardis Boutique, a small women’s shop in the Rocks, for wardrobe staples and accessories.
Stay Tucked into one of Sydney’s oldest laneways, Establishment Hotel has a sushi restaurant (Sushi E), a Cantonese eatery (Mr Wong) and a 1920s-style speakeasy (Palmer & Co), plus sleek suites with marble bathrooms all under one roof.
Do The walk from Taronga to Balmoral has stunning harbour views, including the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House.
What the locals know Travel 90 minutes out of Sydney in any direction and you’re immersed in pristine nature. There’s Palm Beach up north and the Royal National Park, with swimming holes and hiking trails, to the south. Go west for the gorgeous Blue Mountains.
Henry Ng, founder of lifestyle blog Street Style Poser
Eat Get the soft shell crab burger at Sticky Fingers, then hang around for some Instagram shots. The cafe’s modernist, concrete building is highly photogenic.
Shop Harrolds is my go-to for high-fashion labels like Thom Browne, Givenchy, Stella McCartney and Saint Laurent. Your credit card will suffer, but it’s worth it.
Stay I like Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour for its central location and industrial-meets-quirky styling.
Do If you don’t want to splurge on the BridgeClimb, the Skywalk at the Sydney Tower Eye gives you the best 360-degree view of the city for less. For the slightly less intrepid traveller, the Eye has an internal observation deck, too.
What the locals know Hire a car for a quick trip to the Sea Cliff Bridge. It’s only 60 minutes from the city and truly encapsulates Australia’s natural and architectural beauty. You may even spot a whale during migration season, which usually happens between April and December.
Featured image is Carriageworks