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10 Great Things to do in Manly

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by Dora Bona (subscribe)
A freelance writer, and amateur photographer Dora also teaches creative writing classes. Check out her website at
Published July 31st 2011
Manly is one of Australia's most popular tourist destinations. Considered the gateway to Sydney's beautiful Northern Beaches, it offers a wide variety of unique attractions and activities for people of all ages.

'7 Miles from nowhere and 1000 miles from care' was the slogan used by the Port Jackson & Manly Steamship Company in 1940, and it's still the best way to describe this idyllic destination.

Every weekend, people from all over Sydney make the pilgrimage to Manly for a great day out. The Manly ferries from Circular Quay disgorge thousands of tourists at the Manly Wharf several times a day, and the roads leading to the Northern Beaches are noticeably clogged most weekend mornings with those eager to explore everything that Manly has to offer. And with good reason. It's just a fantastic spot. Unlike the cosmopolitan, slightly more socially upmarket Eastern suburbs beach venues, Manly has a laid back, casual, friendly atmosphere that welcomes everyone.

As a local, I'd like to help you plan your day with 10 things that I think you should do in Manly, based on arrival at about 9.00am.

1. Manly Markets
You'll see a unique range of Australian designed and made fashion, accessories, jewellery and homewares, most things with a uniquely 'beachy' flavour. The markets are set amongst a variety of vibey cafes and shops.
Markets with a 'beachy' feel

Allow half an hour to browse and then enjoy a coffee at
2. In Situ
In Situ is a restaurant but it's also a cafe by day, known for its awesome coffee and all day breakfast and lunch menu.
Open seven days a week, whatever your mood. Situated right alongside the markets, you can't go wrong.
Great place for coffee to start your day

3. Manly Oceanworld
After coffee, about a ten minute walk away you can visit a vast array of intriguing sea creatures at Oceanworld. However if you're a bit of an adrenalin junkie, and want to get up close and personal with the ocean's bad boys, you can even do an Extreme Shark Dive.
Open from 10am - 5.30pm every day except Christmas Day. Last admission is at 4:45pm. Allow 1-2 hours.
See the creatures of the deep

4. Lunch at Out of Africa
One of the most popular restaurants in Manly due to its unique, exotic & aromatic Moroccan dishes. The decor is really inviting and true to traditional Moroccan influences. A five minute walk from Ocean World, it's located across the road from the wharf at 43-45 East Esplanade.
Allow about an hour and a half.
Out of African, a Moroccan experience

5. Manly Kayak Centre
After lunch, you'll be wanting to work off all that rich Moroccan food, and do some sight seeing. There's no better way to explore the famous Sydney waterways than by paddling a kayak. Anyone can do it, and it's safe, fun and relatively inexpensive - and 'provides benefit to body, mind and soul'. What more could you want? Allow 1 - 2 hours.
Kayaking is fun, no really - it is.

Don't forget to bring a change of clothes, just in case.
6. Manly Bike Tours
If you have a morbid fear of being capsized by ferry backwash, and would rather see Manly from a different perspective you can hire a bike and discover secluded coves, deserted beaches and breathtaking coastal views. There are over 20kms of dedicated bike paths and off road trails, and bikes to suit everyone - even tandem 2-3 seaters. If you're not feeling that energetic, shotgun the back seat and let someone else do the work.
It's not as hard as it looks...

Allow as long as you like but two hours is probably enough.
7. A walk up the Corso
After all that physical exertion you'll be feeling like a cold beverage. Not yet though. Plenty of time for that later. Manly Corso is a lovely pedestrian-only thoroughfare that leads to Manly Beach. You can do a spot of shopping, stroll along the beach promenade north to Queenscliff, or South to Shelley Beach.
Manly Corso

Yes, there are pubs along the way and if you must, you can stop in at the famous Steyne Hotel for a quick one.
Manly's most famous pub

Or if you like a classier establishment, The Shore Club, right on the esplanade across the road from the beach is perfect.
The vibey Shore Club

No more than half an hour though. Wander down to the beach and dip your toe in the water, frolic in the sand and become one with the ocean.
8. Wharf Bar
Now you can have that drink you've been wanting all day. Settle in for a couple of cold beverages at one of the best locations in Manly. There's no better spot to watch the boats bobbing on the water, and the ferries coming and going as you sip a wine or beer and take it all in.
Wharf Bar

You're probably getting hungry again by now, so if you decide to make Wharf Bar your last stop before heading back on the ferry, there's a huge menu to choose from and the food is fantastic.
9. Hugos
For something a little more upmarket, and the best gourmet pizzas in Manly, you have to stop in at Hugos. They have a wonderful cocktail bar, comfy loungey seats and that sensational view that's available from just about any venue in Manly.
Hugos, a great place to relax

Also situated on the wharf, Hugos is another great spot to see out the day before jumping on the ferry.
10. Of course this is only a few of my favourite things to do in Manly. I couldn't decide on a number 10, so you should start planning your next trip back to Manly at the official 'everything you could want to see and do' website.

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Why? Because life's a beach
When: All day every day
Where: Manly
Cost: It's completely up to you
What a great, informative article! I've been to Manly many times but never been to Out of Africa, or bike riding.
By sherr22 - reader
Monday, 1st of August @ 10:26 pm
Fantastic! Great way to set out things to do in Manly.
By giovanni - reader
Monday, 1st of August @ 10:28 pm
Manly is my favourite location in Sydney. Been to all the restaurants you mentioned but never been kayaking. Will try that next time I visit.
By bowery - reader
Monday, 1st of August @ 10:38 pm
amazing article! Next time I visit Manly I won't need to decide on what to do, you have outlined some great attractions! :-)) woohoo!!
By Anonymous
Wednesday, 3rd of August @ 05:02 am
You forgot 4 pines brewery above the cinema... A great micro brewery with awesome food and staff as well.
By brook78 - reader
Wednesday, 3rd of August @ 08:38 am
There's so much to do in Manly...but I quite like Ribs and Rumps...always a great BIG feed!
By corinne - reader
Friday, 5th of August @ 04:18 am
Good article but a few big misses...
1) Walk to shelley beach and back - probably the most iconic and beautiful beachside watch in Australia.
2) Four Pines Brewery - someone above mentioned it and I couldn't recommend this more, specially if you do it instead of Hug's or Shore Club! Great meals, live music and brewed on premise beers for all tastes.
3) Fairlight pool - its just round the corner from Oceanworld (5min walk) and has snorkling, an ocean pool and harbour side beach with fantastic fish and other sea creatures like our local octopus.
By Anonymous
Tuesday, 11th of October @ 05:27 am
Recently stayed at The Outback Lodge at Manly - really recommend this place for his cleanliness, tranquil setting, heritage features and more for the mature person.
By Anonymous
Wednesday, 27th of March @ 08:02 am
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