5 Things: A Local’s Guide to Sydney, Australia


In “5 Things,” I’ll ask some of my favorite bloggers in cities all over the world to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, Naomi Chrisoulakis of Crème shows us the sights in Sydney, Australia.

5 Things: SYDNEY
Naomi Chrisoulakis of Crème

I’m just going to come right out with it: Sydney is the most beautiful city in the world. Sure, I’m biased—I was born and bred in Australia’s most populous area—but its breathtaking natural beauty, multicultural character, gorgeous weather and exuberant food scene makes visitors from all over fall in love, too. I’ve recently returned after almost three years in Los Angeles, and it’s been a joy to revisit old haunts and discover new favorites over the last few months. Because it’s a city of villages, I always encourage friends who come to town to get out of the ‘city’ bubble and make their way in and around the beautiful harbor and coastline, which is really the star of the Sydney show. These suggestions will have you doing exactly that.



sydney bakery


Two Chaps, 122 Chapel St, Marrickville
Marigold, 683-689 George St, Haymarket
Porteno, 358 Cleveland St, Surry Hills
Gelato Messina, various locations
Bourke Street Bakery, 633 Bourke St, Surry Hills

Sydneysiders are obsessed with two things above all: good coffee and even better breakfasts. There are top-notch cafes all over the city, and one of my favorites is Two Chaps, which is tucked down a quiet street in my old neighborhood, Marrickville. Don’t miss the sausage rolls at another great café—Bourke Street Bakery, a Sydney institution in hip Surry Hills (as well as outposts in other spots), and if you see a lamington anywhere, eat it: it’s a classic Aussie treat; a cube of sponge filled with cream and covered in chocolate and coconut. [Editor’s note: A discussion of the classic recipe.]

Porteno Restaurant. 15 June 2011. Photo by Andrew Quilty.

The city also knows how to roll out a feast and Porteno, an Argentinian hot spot with an exceptional bar upstairs, delivers. Weekend lunch often means yum cha (aka dim sum) and for me, that comes courtesy of Marigold, near Chinatown.


Finally, I can’t go past Gelato Messina (literally, I can’t). Their classic Italian flavors and crazy combos have made it a citywide hit (Fat Elvis with peanut butter, brioche and banana jam, anyone?).


Gould Street, Bondi Beach
Kirribilli Markets, Kirribilli
David Jones, CBD

I like to mix up my shopping: a bit of boutiques, a lot of market and a touch of department store. Gould Street, just back from Bondi Beach, is lined with boutiques stocking local designers, as is William Street in leafy Paddington. Kirribilli Markets, held on the fourth Saturday of the month, is right under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and a great place to find vintage fashion and treasures (or just refuel with homemade treats after walking across the bridge). To get a ‘best-of’ fashion mixtape, hit the lovely David Jones, Australia’s oldest and most chic department store (don’t miss the food hall).



Wylie’s Baths, Coogee
Balmoral Beach, Balmoral
Circular Quay to Manly Ferry
The Spit to Manly walk
The Secret Garden, Lavender Bay

Sydney’s outdoor pleasures can keep you busy for weeks—there’s always a new view to appreciate. My pick of the Eastern Suburbs is the jawdropping Wylie’s Baths. Over in the North, Balmoral Beach’s promenade makes for a lovely stroll, but if you’re feeling like something more energetic, the three hour walk along the coastline from the Spit to Manly will do the trick—with rest stops at view points and tiny sapphire-soaked beaches. Opt for the cheery yellow ferry from Circular Quay in the city to Manly if you’d prefer to view it from the harbor. Or just grab some picnic supplies and head to Lavender Bay’s sculpture-filled Secret Garden, tended to by Wendy Whiteley, an artist who was married to famous Australian painter Brett Whiteley.





The Langham Hotel, 89-113 Kent St, Millers Point

I’d definitely recommend AirBnB if you have a longer stay in Sydney and the time to explore a neighborhood (my pick? Balmain, Kirribilli or Bronte). But if you’d prefer to stay downtown (what locals refer to as the CBD), the Langham is a beautiful hotel in the historic Rocks.



The Australian sun is no joke, so some good SPF and a broad-brimmed panama hat—like this chic version from Sydney designer Sarah J. Curtis—are a must.

Thank you, Naomi! Aron spent a year studying abroad in Sydney just after we met—way back in 1999!—and I’ve always wanted to go. Locals and fans of the city: what would you add? 

P.S. See the entire 5 Things Series

[All photos by Naomi Chrisoulakis with exceptions: Bourke Street Bakery by Cassandra Faith / Porteño Restaurant via Porteño, photo by Andrew Quilty / Messina Gelato via Messina / Langham Hotel via the property site]


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