Things to do in summer in Sydney

It’s what Australia is known for after all – our summers. At times scorching, at times wild and stormy. But most of the time? Absolutely stunning. As summer is in full swing, its time to plan at least a few little adventures and a city as vast as Sydney is the perfect place for it.  I have to confess though that I am all about the water and outdoors so am leaving out all the fantastic museums and galleries for now.

  1. Start with a trip to the beach. And I’m not talking Bronte or Manly or Palmie (and I do love these) – I mean one of Sydney’s secret beaches, those tiny hidden gems that only locals and the most intrepid of travellers know about. Try a couple of the Sydney Harbour National Park beaches. Our favourite is Shark Beach in Nielsen Park. Don’t be put off by the name, this gorgeous area has rocks to climb, great snorkelling, a netted swimming area and a beautiful heritage listed café. The view of Sydney’s skyline is breathtaking and there is usually only a small group of locals at this one. Feel like feeling like you are miles away then try the The Basin. Just a short drive and ferry ride away – this is an absolute stunner especially if you are happy to share the beach with odd wallaby.
  2. Walk from Bondi to Coogee. Sure everyone knows this walk and has probably done it already - but there is a reason – it’s fantastic and you should do it again. Sunday is perfect because you can start with breakfast at the Trattoria, wander the Bondi markets and the stroll the beach, the cliffs and all the way along the coastline. This walk isn’t strenuous, just beautiful, taking in Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly and finally Coogee. Any of these are perfect for a swim (though we love the Bronte Bogie Hole on a hot day) and the Coogee Bay Hotel is the perfect place to end your walk with a jug of their Sunset Sangria.
  3. Australian food has undergone a renaissance in the last decade and its time to try something new. It could be something special like Bennelong at The Opera House, a restaurant that must have the most exquisite view in the world. The a la carte menu is $130 with options like the Holmbrae duck, Angus beef or Tasmanian squid, all cooked with native Australian ingredients and spices and under the guidance of chef Peter Gilmore, formally of Quay. It could also just be something very, very cool like Al Aseel in Newtown for cheap, but unparalleled Middle Eastern cuisine. Think authentic shakshuka and spicy hommus or slow cooked chickpeas in lemon and garlic oil. And it ends with home-made pistachio and fig ice-cream – what’s not to love?
  4. Summer and markets – they just work together and Sydney has some of the most diverse and wonderful markets to fill your weekend with shopping bliss. Paddington Markets (obviously on Oxford St in Paddington) are open on Saturday mornings and sell original and unique handmade products – everything from leather goods to original fashion. For a more vintage feel, Glebe Markets are on at the same time closer to the CBD and sell salvaged, eclectic and antique goods. Further in towards the water and you’ll find The Rocks Markets which cater more for the tourist market but which are still fun for the local Sydneysider every now and then. With two markets a month Kirribilli Markets offer something for everyone from food to fashion to art and one of my favourites. And if you want an incredible food market, head in to the Carriageworks for the Eveleigh Farmer’s Markets which sell not only fresh produce but freshly made juices, bacon and egg rolls and dumplings for while you wander.
  5. Just want some peace and quiet? Take a picnic blanket and packed lunch and head for one of our national parks. Lane Cove National Park has many a quiet nook and you can hire a canoe or boat if you want a little adventure and is not far from most parts of the city. The Royal Botanic Gardens also has views of the harbour and dozens of quiet, shady spaces with the sort of grass you just want to kick off your shoes and walk barefoot in. McKell Park is also a favourite – quiet and with views to die for. A bottle of wine, a book and a little sunscreen (oh, and possibly some insect repellent – it is Australia after all) and you can wile away a day under a gum tree.
  6. Sydneysiders love being outside, love their food, love their mates and a chance to catch up. Nowhere does beer gardens like we do and an afternoon in a beer garden is sooooooo Sydney. My favourites are The Newport for it’s stunning views, relaxed vibe and all inclusive attitude; The Courthouse because as they say on their website it feels like a country pub in the city; Watson's Bay Hotel unmatched views and food – perfect for a lazy afternoon or overseas visitors too; The Sheaf has always been a favourite of mine and it just get’s better every year.
  7. Not to be overlooked is your own backyard – either jump in the pool or run under the sprinkler. Don’t have a pool but know someone who does? Give them a call and pretend it’s the 80s – ask if you can come over for a swim – just don’t forget the wine.



November 11, 2019 — Judith Bruce