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Explore Sydney Like a Local

Home > Sydney > Bars | Beaches | Cafes | Lists | Shopping
by Brooke. A. R (subscribe)
Freelance writer from Sydney. Images are my own unless specified otherwise.
Published December 11th 2016
Don't fall down the tourist trap
Explore Sydney Like a Local

Sydney Harbour City Skyline
Sydney Harbour


There are countless hidden gems all over Sydney, from secret bars down cobble stone alley ways to the best milkshakes you've ever had. Oftentimes the touristy cafes, bars and beaches are super busy and serving poor quality, overpriced goods. Luckily, you no longer have to suffer through the noisy crowds and uninspired outings. Whether you are new to Sydney, just visiting or a long-time resident, this article will reveal all you need to know about how the locals live and the number one spots to be.

Shopping:

Haigh's chocolates
Haigh's chocolates


Shopping in Sydney is more than just purchasing goods. It's an experience. Hopefully a good one. If you are sick of malls and want to cruise through some of Sydney's most elegant bookstores and clothing labels then Oxford Street in Paddington is a great place to start. Check out the epic Paddington markets, held every Saturday from 10am-4pm at 395 Oxford Street. Whilst you are wandering around Paddo it's a good idea to check out the UNSW Art College gallery, open Tuesday-Saturday from 10am-5pm. It is very elegant and entry is free.
For those who still appreciate a good mall, you have to check out the QVB (Queen Victoria Building) in Sydney's CBD. Start downstairs at Haigh's Chocolates (pictured above). They'll tease you with free samples. The QVB set up a dazzling Swarovski Christmas tree every year too (pictured below). Another more modern mall is Sydney's Pitt Street Mall. To the ladies who enjoy a bit of glam, this is the best spot for makeup. They have a multi-level Sephora (pictured below).

QVB Swarovski Tree
QVB Swarovski Christmas Tree


Sephora Pitt Street Mall Sydney
Sephora Pitt Street Mall Sydney


Cafes:

Abdul's Surry Hills
Veggie plate at Abdul's


Keeping in Paddington, head over to Mickey's café on Oxford Street. They're open 7 days 8am to midnight and offer good value meals. The menu is huge, making it difficult to decide, there is something for everyone. They have specials each day of the week too, but the star of the show has to be their thickshakes. The Mars bar cheesecake thickshake is fully loaded. Their shakes really are THICK, the straws are double the width of a regular straw. You'll be left in a blissful sugar coma. Other awesome flavours include the cookies and cream and the classic strawberry. They do delivery if you aren't in the mood to go out.
China Town near Central station is the perfect spot to binge after a night of drinking. Old Town is open daily till 2am and serve up the biggest deep fried oysters you'll ever see (pictured). The menu is massive so it's easy to over order. Portions are huge and the service is always friendly.

Old town oysters
Old town deep fried oysters


Staying close to Central is the trendy suburb of Surry Hills. It is packed to the brim with hipster bars and ice creameries. But the true locals know that it is also home to some of the best Lebanese Cuisine in Sydney. Head over to Abdul's for a cheap, fresh feast (pictured above).

Last, but certainly not least is a quaint little street known as 'The Spot' in Randwick. Here you will find a classic old school cinema, The Randwick Ritz. You will also discover the best margarita's you've ever had for $6.90 at Poco's Cantina, top notch authentic French Crepes at Four Frogs. But there's more, they have The Traditional Hot Chip Shop, serving up deep fried Mars bars and finally, the best Japanese food in town at Kinjo. Whilst you are in the area, check out Randwick's top 5 Coffees.

Traditional hot chip shop deep friend mars bar
The Hot Chip Shop deep fried mars bar


Beaches:

Queens Beach Vaulcuse
Queens Beach Vaulcuse


When it comes to beaches most people head straight to the famous Bondi beach. Bondi is certainly a must see, however there are some other lesser known beaches which will surprise and impress you. Queens Beach in Vaucluse (pictured) is pristine. Adventure through the Hermitage Foreshore track to find it.
For the ladies who wish to sunbathe topless, McIver's Baths in Coogee are for women and children only, and the view is stunning. You'll feel like a mermaid lazing about on the sunny rocks, take a dip in the ocean pool with breathtaking views.

Coogee Beach View
Coogee Beach


Bars:

Corridor Bar cocktails
Corridor Bar cocktails


Newtown is the best place for bars, especially if you want something trendy but low-key. Check out The Corridor on bustling King Street. They make a pretty plum pisco sour (pictured). For a cheaper night out, head to The Bank Hotel, they've got an epic beer garden and are just up from Newtown train station.
Not in the mood to roam far from the city? Then Papa Gedes Bar off Kent Street will sort you out. This place is super trendy. The servers are bearded and the cocktails are pricey (around $18).They are definitely worth the price though. You can't go wrong with the Sherry Springer if you want something different. They also host hilarious comedy nights.
Another bar in the city serving up phenomenal cocktails is Assembly Bar. The Voodoo Skull comes out smoking (dry ice) and will set you back $40 but serves 4. They even create flaming cocktail concoctions. They bartenders are more like mad scientists at this place. Its all very theatrical at Assembly.
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Events:
Skipping back to Newtown for its funky live music scene. The Newtown Social Club have always got great gigs going. Just check out the website on the day. You can grab tickets at the door.
Still not in the mood to leave the city? The Metro Theatre on George Street is another great concert venue and is much bigger than The Newtown Social Club. They host loads of international and local gigs. You'll probably need to book in advance.
On to the art lovers now. Sydney is full of popular galleries, however the MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) is a real standout (pictured below). Currently exhibiting there until the 5th of March, 2017 is international artist Tatsuo Miyajima. This is truly a must see exhibition.

MCA Contemprary Art Museum The Rocks
The MCA entrance


For the ladies looking for a night of women only partying then GiRLTHING at the Imperial Hotel is the event for you. It is held every second Friday of the month and really goes off. So get your dancing shoes on and head down for a drink or 10.
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Why? Don't fall for the tourist traps
Where: Sydney
Your Comment
Excellent article, Brooke - well done with the Gold Award, you definitely deserved it!
by Elaine (score: 3|6678) 1037 days ago
Great places, been to many!
by Lucinda (score: 2|342) 1035 days ago
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