Sydney & Surrounds has got plenty of things that will refresh your tired soul — from indulging in instagrammable pancakes, to drinking fine wines and staying in a (literal) bubble. Plus, save on your flight to Sydney — details at the end of this post!
Whenever the Monday blues hit harder than usual, I often daydream about somewhere that’s laidback but happening, well-known but still has hidden gems to discover, and has tons of good food. Few places in the world make that cut, but I’ve found that Sydney and New South Wales (NSW) has them all.
Photo credit: Destination NSW
We’ve explored this region on multiple occasions, and the city and its surrounds never fails to impress us. Within Sydney, you’ll find hipster cafes, bustling markets, and a lively nightlife. Outside the city, there’re phenomenal coastal drives, surfing beaches, and gorgeous nature spots like the Blue Mountains.
Read also: The Alternative Sydney Guide
Sure, Sydney may be similar to Singapore. But you can’t deny it’s got more space, scenery, and opportunities for short getaways — perfect for family holidays.
That said, if you’re planning to come with your friends, we’ve sussed out 19 awesome things to do in Sydney and NSW that’ll give you the break y’all need from adulting!
Things to Do in Sydney
1) Relive your childhood at an old-school arcade
Photo credit: @ari_mond via Instagram
Remember the times when you and your friends would hang out at Timezone after school? At Archie Brothers Cirque Electric, you can relive the good ol’ days at this dazzling, carnival-like arcade!
You’ll find loads of exciting activities such as arcade games, bowling, and laser tag. If you get peckish, an onsite diner sells carnival classics like burgers and shakes. However, past 8PM, the real fun begins: You and your friends can grab cocktails that come with a playful twist. 🍸
Photo credit: @capturedbysophh via Instagram
Opening Hours: Generally 12PM – 11PM, closes at 12MN on Fri & Sat (Check website for full schedule)
Address: 75 O’Riordan St, Alexandria, New South Wales, 2015
2) Hunt for ghosts near Manly Beach
Photo credit: Qstation.com.au
This isn’t your usual holiday activity, but it sure will provide some hair-raising thrills! Q Station offers aspiring Ghostbusters the bizarre chance to be a Spirit Investigator. (We dare you to add that to your resume!)
Participants get to explore the historic Quarantine Station, which was used to isolate people with infectious diseases from 1832 to 1984 (that’s over 150 years!). Part of the tour includes learning more about its grisly history, as well as conducting experiments to communicate with spirits.
Photo credit: Q Station Facebook
If you’d like an added thrill, you can even sleepover at the Q Station! Tour guides will first bring you to investigate paranormal activities, before leaving you to rest in (supposedly) haunted quarters. Umm, goodnight?
Cost: From AU$125 (~S$115)
Tour Dates: Varies; Sleepovers every 3rd Fri of the month
Address: 1 N Head Scenic Dr, Manly NSW 2095, Australia
Drive time from Sydney: 40mins
3) Chill out at the sexy Bondi Icebergs Club
Photo credit: Popsugar.com
Dubbed as “an international landmark”, Bondi Icebergs Club is one of Sydney’s hottest spots. It’s best known for its iconic pool that’s right next to the cerulean ocean. Anyone can enjoy a dip for a fee (AU$9, ~S$8.30). However, you’ll first need to sign in with a valid photo ID.
Right above the pool, the Bondi Icebergs Bistro serves hearty breakfasts and fresh seafood platters. Diners also get to enjoy a panoramic view of the fabulous Bondi Beach.
Opening Hours: 11AM – late (Mon – Fri), opens 9:30AM on weekends
Address: 1 Notts Ave, Bondi NSW 2026, Australia
4) Shop at vintage markets
Photo credit: Destination NSW
This one is for the ~quirky~ folks who love shopping for hidden gems among piles of pre-loved goods! Work your thrifting prowess at popular weekend markets like Glebe Market, Surry Hills Market, and Paddington Market, which sell a mix of items like secondhand clothes and furniture.
For everyday shopaholics, check out stores like Dust, Fabrique Vintage, and C’s Flashback. You’ll find loads of stylish yesteryear trends that are slowly making their comeback to today’s fashion scene. 👀 (High-waisted mom jeans, anyone?)
5) Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge at sunset
Photo credit: @bridgeclimb via Instagram
There’s no doubt that Sydney has beautiful sunsets. And at 134m above ground, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of the best places to fully experience the magic.
BridgeClimb Sydney offers a Sunset Session for those who want their evening to be extra special. Climbers get to scale the bridge at twilight, soak in panoramic views of the city during the magic hour, and enjoy a live music performance at the summit. There’re plenty of things to marvel at, so much that you might even forget your fear of heights!
Cost: AU$374 (~S$348)
Tour Timings: Varies across seasons
Meeting Point: 3 Cumberland St, The Rocks NSW 2000
6) Indulge in Nutella everything at Tella Balls Dessert Bar
Photo credit: Broadsheet.com.au
Treat yo’self to one of Sydney’s most decadent desserts — Tella Balls, a.k.a. Nutella-filled brioche donuts! (Aussies love shortening words, if you didn’t know already. Check out this outsider’s guide to 59 Aussie Slangs.)
Photo credit: @Tellaballsdessertbar via Instagram
Tella Balls Dessert Bar is the only place that serves it. The cafe is like the Church of Nutella — everything is served with chocolatey hazelnut gold. They even have dessert versions of savoury meals, like the Tellafish and Chips (AU$18). It consists of doughnut fries, fried slabs of ice cream, and an array of sauces.
Cost: AU$5 – AU$22 (~S$4.60 – ~S$20.25)
Opening Hours: 11AM – 11PM
Address: 5/370 New Canterbury Rd, Dulwich Hill NSW 2203, Australia (and 8 other branches)
7) Enjoy vegan pancakes at Speedos Cafe
Photo credit: Speedos Cafe Facebook
IG enthusiasts, get ready to take your aesthetic game to the next level! Speedos Cafe was named the “World’s Most Instagrammable Cafe” in 2019, and it’s easy to see why. They serve a smorgasbord of healthy dishes that are as delicious as they are colourful.
The breakfast bestseller: Caramelised Banana+Chia Vegan Pancakes (AU$24.90). The huge stack of fluffy pancakes is adorned with ‘gram-worthy fruit and flowers. It’s almost too pretty to eat, and even has its own hashtag (#worldfamouspancakes)!
Cost: AU$14.90 – AU$25.90 (~S$13.85 – ~S$24)
Opening Hours: 6AM – 5PM (Last order 4:30PM)
Address: 126 Ramsgate Ave, North Bondi NSW 2026, Australia
8) Go green at the Sydney Vegan Market
Photo credit: Sydney Vegan Market
Veganism isn’t as big in Singapore (yet), but it’s quite a norm in Australia. Once a month, the Sydney Vegan Market sets up shop to educate the masses. From cruelty-free products to free yoga and mindfulness talks, you can expect a wholesome good time with the vegan community.
Some vegan Thai food for you? Photo credit: @SydneyVeganMarket via Instagram
The SVM also has plenty of delightful plant-based things to eat, such as vegan mac & cheese, sandwiches, and pastries. As part of their environmentally-friendly ethos, you’re encouraged to bring your own containers (otherwise, they provide biodegradable plates and bowls too!). You can even bring a mat and have a picnic with your pals.
Opening Hours: 9AM – 4PM, every third Sun of the month
Address: The Entertainment Quarter, 122 Lang Road, Moore Park NSW 2010 (directions)
9) Grab a drink at The Barbershop
Photo credit: Thisisthebarbershop.com
Nope, not a typo! 👆 Hidden behind an unassuming Barbershop in Sydney is a trendy speakeasy bar that goes by the same name. For good reason, it’s also Australia’s best gin bar. Alcohol enthusiasts will be pleased to know that the Barbershop carries over an impressive 700 gins from around the world!
Photo credit: Bosshunting.com.au
The barbershop at the front isn’t for show, though. Gents can actually get a professional cut for a reasonable price, then have a complimentary drink at the back afterwards.
Barbershop (Cocktail bar)
Cost: From AU$18 (~S$16.60)
Opening Hours: 4PM – 12AM
Address: 89 York St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia (and 1 other branch)
10) Stay at Sydney’s most luxurious suites
Photo credit: CheapTickets.sg
Modern and chic, Veriu Broadway provides guests with a cosy home away from home. Each self-contained apartment comes with the works: Air-conditioning, a fully-equipped kitchen, and free Netflix for you to catch up on all your favourite shows.
Nearby attractions such as Victoria Park, Broadway Shopping Centre, and Chinatown are just a 10-minute walk away. Alternatively, you can rent the accommodation’s bicycles (for free!) to get there.
Address: 35 Mountain St, Sydney NSW 2007, Australia
11) Stay at a futuristic Capsule Hotel
Photo credit: @jangchanel via Instagram
You won’t just find fancy capsule hotels in Japan; Sydney’s got its own too, and it’s equally stunning!
Located in the heart of the CBD, the Capsule Hotel is a futuristic-themed accommodation that’s perfect for adventurous budget travellers. Each spacious pod is well-equipped with a comfy bed, safety deposit box, and charging ports.
Address: Level 3/640 George St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Things to Do Out of Sydney
12) Skydive over Wollongong beach
Skydiving is always an epic thrill, no matter how many times you’ve done it. But skydiving over Wollongong is a step up from the rest!
While there are several drop zones in NSW, Wollongong is the only one where you can skydive over a spectacular beach. The heart-racing experience includes an insane 60 seconds of freefall. Afterwards, you get to enjoy sensational views of the Wollongong coast, Royal National Park, and Sydney city.
If you’re not driving, we recommend opting for the free transfer service from Sydney CBD. It’s highly convenient, and you can take a nap before you take the plunge!
Cost: From ~AU$304 (~S$283)
Address: George Hanley Dr &, Cliff Rd, North Wollongong NSW 2500, Australia
Drive time from Sydney: 1.5hrs
13) Explore the mighty Blue Mountains
When you want a break from the bustling city, the Blue Mountains is the next best place to get a good recharge. Nature-lovers would love exploring the numerous hiking trails around the park, which range from easy to moderately difficult.
We highly recommend the Grand Canyon Walk. It’s a 3–4hr round-trip hike, where you’ll cross creeks, beautiful waterfalls, and lush greenery. For more things to do, check out our 3D2N Blue Mountains itinerary.
Drive time from Sydney: 1.5hrs
14) Go Quad Biking on the Port Stephens sand dunes
For those unaware, it’s the largest sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s continually shifting, so the conditions of the sand can vary daily — an added challenge as you drive across the vast “desert”. We recommend the 1.5hr tour, where you get added experiences like digging for fresh water, as well as sandboarding!
Cost: AU$135/pax (~S$125.60)
Meeting Point: 2163 Nelson Bay Rd, Williamtown NSW 2318, Australia
Drive time from Sydney: 2hrs
15) Savour world-famous wines in the Hunter Valley
An Aussie once told us, “Life is too short for bad wine.” That’s why you only have to have the best in the Hunter Valley! There are 150 wineries in the region, specialising in varieties like Shiraz and Semillon. Some of the best wineries include the Audrey Wilkinson Winery, Scarborough Wines, and the Hunter Valley Resort.
If you’d like a unique adventure, why not try an offroad Segway Tour? While rolling through the vineyards, you’ll learn more about the wine-making process and perhaps spot some wild kangaroos. An hour-long tour costs AU$75/pax.
Drive time from Sydney: 2hrs
16) Road trip from Sydney to Byron Bay
If you and your equally-adventurous friends are itching for a long and therapeutic drive, we recommend renting a car and checking out what the rest of NSW has to offer!
We’ve done week-long road trips down south to Eden and north to Port Stephens. However, the road trip up to Byron Bay easily trumps the rest! For one, you’re driving along NSW’s marvellous Legendary Pacific Coast, so fantastic views are guaranteed. Then, there’re many exciting things to do, like treetop ziplining and camel rides.
The best part, though, is ending your road trip in Byron Bay. The laidback coastal town is also a surfing hotspot. Its glorious beaches are filled with water activities (and clothing-optional areas, if you’re into that). Plus, there are several farms you can visit to learn more about farming, and chow down on the freshest foods.
Check out the full two-week Sydney to Byron Bay road trip itinerary!
17) Make your own cheese in Coffs Harbour
Photo credit: The Cheesemaking Workshop Facebook
There’s no better way to show our love for cheese than to learn how to make it!
If you’re on the way to Byron Bay, make a stop by the Cheese Making Workshop & Deli in Coffs Harbour. The homely shop runs small-group workshops almost every day. There, experts will guide you through the wonderful art of making gourmet soft cheeses like ricotta and camembert. Of course, you get to eat your handmade cheese at the end too!
Cost: AU$45 – AU$195 (~S$42 – ~S$182.50)
Opening Hours: 9AM – 6PM
Address: 2A/351 Pacific Hwy, Coffs Harbour NSW 2450, Australia
Drive time from Sydney: 6hrs
18) Hike around Bouddi National Park
Photo credit: @paigemilne via Instagram
Bouddi National Park is a great, underrated place to explore for travellers who love to discover something new. The park has several bushwalking tracks, where you’ll find Aboriginal engraving sites.
You can even embark on an 8km-long coastal walk (one-way) that’s surrounded by stunning sandstone cliffs. If you have a friend who can’t sit still, challenge them to take this hike!
Entrance Fee: AU$8/vehicle
Drive time from Sydney: 1.5hrs
19) Live in your own bubble (tent)
Photo credit: Trekbible.com
Sometimes you just want to get off the grid and live in your own bubble for a bit. The funny thing is NSW actually has a place for you to do that, and it’s aptly called the Bubble Tent!
Located in the breathtaking Capertee Valley (the world’s second-largest canyon), you get the ultimate experience of glamping under the stars in clear, inflatable tents. Each comes with a stargazing telescope, fire pit, and outdoor shower. You also get loads of privacy, so you can finally toss your phone aside and embrace your time in nature. 😌
Photo credit: Lonelyplanet.com
Cost: From AU$370/night (~S$346)
Address: Capertee NSW 2846, Australia
Drive time from Sydney: 3hrs
Cheap Flights to Sydney
Several studies have found that millennials value experiences over material things, and there’s a pretty good reason for that! According to experts, experiences like travelling create memories that can boost happiness in the long-run.
It’s probably why having fun adventures with friends also puts a smile on our faces — it’s a simple pleasure in life that can’t be bought.
If you’re the type who puts experiences first, we recommend keeping an eye out for promos that give more bang for your buck. To source for the best deals, use CheapTickets.sg to check for the lowest airfare and splurge more on adventures that actually matter! To help you out, here’s some good news:
From now till 31st March 2020, use the promo code <QANTAS20> to get a S$20* discount when you book Singapore to Sydney flights on Qantas through CheapTickets.sg! Both daily flights arrive in the morning so you and your friends can enjoy a comfortable flight to Sydney, then hit the ground running after touching down 😉 More on what you can expect from Qantas later!
For greater convenience, you can also search for accommodation through CheapTickets.sg. Depending on your itinerary, you can easily find a wide range of places to stay in Sydney and surrounds. Plus, if you book both flights and accommodation, you stand to earn a S$100*^ flight discount on your next booking! Trips must be booked on or before 31st March 2020 to qualify.
*Discount is applicable only to the first 1,000 bookings
*Discount not valid with any other promotional offers or discounts
*Not valid on budget/low-cost airlines
*Other restrictions may apply
*^This promotion may not be used in conjunction with any other promotions, including flight discount codes.
Photo credit: Qantas
And even better news: You don’t need to stress over what to pack when you’re heading to Sydney! With Qantas, you have a checked baggage allowance of 30kg that’s included with every fare (based on Economy fare class).
The wine-and-dine starts early too. Qantas serves tasty inflight meals alongside beverages like award-winning wines. You can also pair your meal with a wide range of inflight entertainment. There are loads of blockbuster movies, TV shows, and comedies to choose from — something the airplane insomniacs can look forward to!