Beautiful sunny day on Sydney Harbour, with a view from the water of the  city skyline, Opera House and Circular Quay on a bright, warm day

Credit: Thomas Jastram from

From beaches to skyscrapers, each neighborhood of Sydney has so much to offer. Find out which area best suits you.

When planning to visit  Sydney – Australia's largest city – there's no shortage of suburbs to stay in. With a large population and plenty of sights to see across the whole city (and beyond), you can't go wrong when picking your accommodation in any of the most popular spots in Sydney. However, each location has its own advantages, and some may be more favourable to some groups than others. 

Because of the diversity of Sydney's suburbs, it's essential to consider the experience you aim to get. Are you travelling alone, or do you have a family? Do you want a more peaceful, relaxing experience, or are you looking for nightlife? Your answers will help dictate the best accommodation options for you. 


Main areas to stay in Sydney 

Below is a brief overview of the top places to stay in Sydney, as well as what makes them stand out from each other. Read our full guide below for a more detailed dive into each location, including specific hotel recommendations for each spot and circumstance. 

  • Circular Quay and The Rocks: A beautiful area filled with historic landmarks like the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, cultural attractions, museums, and scenic harbour views.
  • Darling Harbour and Pyrmont: The perfect mix of family-friendly entertainment, dining and vibrant nightlife, right on the waterfront.
  • Sydney CBD: A centrally located neighbourhood with plenty of shopping, dining opportunities, and sightseeing of iconic buildings, like Queen Victoria Building.
  • Bondi Beach: Iconic Sydney beach known for its beauitful ocean views surfing, sun, and laid-back atmosphere. Full of numerous beachside cafes, restaurants, and the starting point for the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk.
  • Bondi Junction: Major commercial and transport hub with extensive shopping options and is close to famous beaches and parks. 
  • Manly: Iconic beach destination for surf, sun, and a relaxed atmosphere. Manly also has a lively bar and restaurant scene.
  • Surry Hills and Darlinghurst: Trendy areas known for shopping boutiques, dining options, and charming terrace houses with rich cultural experiences in the form of art galleries and lively nightlife. 
  • Kings Cross, Potts Point and Woolloomooloo: Plenty of entertainment options ranging from nightclubs and bars to casual and fine dining and even historic architecture.
  • Paddington: Known for its boutique shops, cafes, art galleries, and Victorian-era terrace houses. 
  • Newtown: Lively art and music scene with plenty of unique dining options, vintage shops, bars, and street art. 
  • Central and Chippendale: A mix of urban and art with cultural venues and creative spaces, and an emerging restaurant scene.

1. Circular Quay and The Rocks

Best For: First-time visitors, history buffs, and sightseeing Sydney's iconic landmarks.

The Rocks at sunset, featuring historic buildings and Sydney Harbour Bridge

Credit: Taras Vyshnya from

Circular Quay and The Rocks are historic adjoining neighbourhoods in the centre of Sydney, just a 20-minute car ride from Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport. Circular Quay and The Rocks are famous for their historic landmark including the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, as well as extensive dining and entertainment options. Plus, being centrally located and close to several public transport options means you can quickly get to other surrounding areas for more sightseeing. Circular Quay and The Rocks are perfect for first-time visitors interested in Sydney's rich history, visiting iconic landmarks, and epic harbourside views. 

Things to do in  Circular Quay and The Rocks

 There are plenty of sights to see and activities to do in Circular Quay and The Rocks, and choosing between them can take time and effort. Some of the top-rated things to do in these suburbs include: 

  • Sydney Opera House: Considered one of the best things to do in Sydney! Take a guided tour to learn about this iconic building and even attend a classic opera show afterwards to experience a world-class performance. 
  • The Rocks Markets: Best for a weekend trip, the markets offer local art, gourmet food, and live music. Picture a farmer's market, but elevated. 
  • Harbour Bridge: As the largest steel-arched through bridge in the world, walk or bike across the bridge to enjoy amazing views of Sydney. You can also climb to the top peak of the bridge for panoramic views. 
  • The Museum of Contemporary Art: Perfect for any art enthusiast, the Museum of Contemporary Art offers some of the most unique exhibits of Australian and international artists. It's also located at the harbourside for great sunset views. 

Where to stay in Circular Quay and The Rocks

Circular Quay and The Rocks have many places to stay, and reservations go fast due to their popularity. Some of the best places include: 

  • Best budget friendly accommodation: YHA Sydney Harbour – Modern rooms, a beautiful rooftop terrace, and located close access to public transportation. There's also a shared kitchen and lounge area. 
  • Best accommodation for families: The Sebel Quay West Suites Sydney – 1, 2, and 3-bedroom apartment-style suites with a kitchen and dining area and laundry facilities. Enjoy an indoor swimming pool and on-site restaurant. 
  • Best luxury accommodation: Park Hyatt Sydney – Stunning views of the iconic Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. The Park Hyatt Sydney features elegant rooms, a rooftop pool, a spa, and multiple dining options.
  • Best boutique accommodation: Harbour Rocks Hotel – Stylish rooms with contemporary dark and classy decor, an intimate ambiance, and personalised service. Guests can enjoy an on-site restaurant, bar, and easy access to Sydney’s iconic attractions.


2. Darling Harbour and Pyrmont

Best for: Families, entertainment, and waterfront activities.

Darling Harbour illuminated at nighttime

Credit: Taras Vyshnya from

Darling Harbour and Pyrmont are vibrant areas just west of the Sydney CBD. These neighbouring suburbs are about a 20-minute drive from Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport, making them centrally located. Darling Harbour is best known for its family-friendly attractions and expansive dining options, but there's also a rich nightlife here. This way, families can have an enjoyable day and parents can experience a more bustling nightlife later on, if desired. Both Pyrmont and Darling Harbour offer close proximity to many of Sydney’s top attractions and offer easy access to many public transport options, too.

Things to do in Darling Harbour and Pyrmont 

This area is great for active days in Sydney. There are plenty of wildlife areas, museums as well as shopping opportunities to satisfy everyone. 

  • SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium: Home to a vast array of marine life, walk-through glass tunnels surrounded by sharks, rays, and colourful fish. Get hands-on with interactive exhibits, too. 
  • Sydney Fish Market: One of the largest fish markets in the world! Explore the fresh seafood on offer, book into a cooking class, or simply sample the variety of delicious food on offer.
  • WiILD LIFE Sydney Zoo​: Located in the heart of Darling Harbour, this zoo is home to kangaroos, koalas, and even platypuses. Learn about all the animals from the daily keeper talks. 

Where to stay in Darling Harbour and Pyrmont 

Darling Harbour and Pyrmont are prime locations due to their proximity to Sydney's best activities and attractions, entertainment, food, and transport – especially for families. We recommend booking in advance to secure your spot at one of these great locations: 

  • Best budget friendly accommodation: PARKROYAL Darling Harbour – Offers beautiful skyline views, continental breakfast, and state-of-the-art fitness room. 
  • Best accommodation for families: Rydges Darling Square Apartment Hotel – Features free Wi-Fi, an indoor pool, and apartment-like amenities in each room. 
  • Best luxury accommodation: The Darling at the Star – 5-star services, stunning architecture, and an in-house nightclub and casino for those looking to enjoy some late-night activities. Also, enjoy shopping, award-winning restaurants and bars, and the luxury hotel spa. . 
  • Best boutique accommodation: Vulcan Hotel Sydney – Offers hotel coffee shop and on-site restaurant, waterfront views, and surrounding shopping choices. 


3. Sydney CBD

Best for: Business travellers, first-time visitors, shopping, cultural experiences, and convenient transport options  

Aerial view of Sydney CBD and Harbour. The Sydney CBD is the main commercial centre of Sydney, the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia

Credit: Taras Vyshnya from

The Sydney Central Business District (CBD) is the heart of Sydney, known for its skyscrapers, shopping districts, and cultural attractions. It is about 20 minutes by car from Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport and is an ideal area to stay for those who want to be at the centre of everything, including shopping, dining, public transport and sightseeing, without staying right on the waterfront. It's also a great spot for those who plan on taking a day trip from Sydney on public transport as it's close to Sydney's Central Station.

Things to do in Sydney CBD 

From skyscrapers to beautiful gardens, the opportunities to experience unique attractions in Sydney CBD are endless. Some of the top spots to see include:

  • Sydney Tower Eye: As the tallest structure in Sydney, enjoy panoramic views of the city here. Try the Skywalk experience, which lets you step outside the tower for a one-of-a-kind experience.
  • Hyde Park: Relax in Sydney's oldest public park. Stroll through and admire the Archibald Fountain, enjoying the peaceful environment when you need a break from all the urban hustle.
  • Queen Victoria Building (QVB): This historic, five-level shopping mall features high-end boutiques and cafes, as well as gorgeous architecture. It's a must-visit for shopping enthusiasts and those who appreciate beautiful design.
  • Royal Botanic Garden: Located right near the Opera House, the Royal Botanic Garden offers a beautiful and tranquil escape from the city and is perfect for walks, picnics, and enjoying the stunning foliage.
  • The Art Gallery of New South Wales: One of the best free things to do in Sydney, the Art Gallery of NSW boasts a diverse collection of Australian, European and Asian art (and there’s even a secret bar for those looking for a tipple!)

Where to stay in Sydney CBD 

Because Sydney CBD is always active, accommodation here is best for people looking to be at the centre of all the hustle and bustle of Sydney. Some of the top-rated hotels include: 

  • Best budget friendly accommodation: Metro Hotel Marlow Sydney Central  – Modern and stylish rooms, on-site restaurant, an outdoor pool, and a beautiful lounge.
  • Best accommodation for families: Mantra on Kent Sydney – Offers 1 and 2-bedroom apartments, modern amenities, and friendly staff in close proximity to all of Sydney’s CBD attractions and public transport.
  • Best luxury accommodation: Capella Hotel – Features a historical yet contemporary feel. Rooms are simple and sleek, and the dining and wellness options like the heated indoor pools and Auriga Spa will leave you feeling refreshed.
  • Best boutique accommodation: Kimpton Margot Sydney – Boasts contemporary flair. Enjoy sports facilities, an outdoor pool with a poolside bar, laundry services, and a cocktail bar with live music performances.


3. Bondi Beach

Best for: Beach lovers, bustling nightlife, surfers, and outdoor activities. 

Aerial view of busy Bondi Beach on a blue sky day,

Credit: Anna Kucera for Destination NSW

Bondi Beach is an iconic suburb in Sydney due to its beach culture and vibrant atmosphere. It’s famous for its stunning coastline and surf scene and has all the amenities of a great beach suburb. It’s located about 25-30 minutes by car from Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport, depending on the traffic. Ideal for beach lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, Bondi offers golden sands, excellent surfing conditions, and numerous beachside cafes and restaurants. It also has a lively nightlife with the local bars coming to life each night. While it tends to attract a younger crowd due to its vibrant atmosphere, families, couples, solo travellers, and groups of friends flock to the famous destination as it has something for everyone!

Things to do in Bondi Beach 

Most activities in Bondi Beach revolve around its beautiful coastline, but there are also great shopping and dining options nearby. Here are some must-try experiences:

  • Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk: This 6km scenic route is considered one of the best walks in Sydney, taking you along the coastline for breathtaking views of beaches, parks, and rock pools. It’s perfect for those who love outdoor adventures and gorgeous scenery.
  • Bondi Icebergs: An iconic spot on Bondi’s southern end and one of Sydney’s best ocean pools. Visit for the stunning view of the beach and coastline, or head in to swim laps or relax poolside. Book a meal at Icebergs Dining Room and Bar for the ultimate Sydney experience. 
  • Markets: Visit on Saturdays for the local Farmer’s Market that offers fresh produce and gourmet food stalls, or on Sundays for arts, crafts and fashion. 
  • Bondi Beach: Whether you swim, surf, or simply walk, you can’t not hit the famous sand of Bondi Beach!

Where to stay in Bondi Beach 

Accommodations in Bondi Beach tend to fill quickly due to its popularity, so booking early is recommended:

  • Best budget-friendly accommodation: The Blue Hotel Bondi – Offering stylish, affordable rooms, modern amenities, and just a short walk from the beach.
  • Best accommodation for families: Adina Apartment Hotel Bondi Beach  – Spacious apartments with kitchens, a pool, and easy access to the beach. Kids (and parents!) will also love that the famous Gelato Messina is right downstairs.
  • Best luxury accommodation: QT Bondi – Overlooking the north end of Bondi Beach, with a quirky-cool atmosphere and rooms that have light, bright and modern fit outs.   
  • Best boutique accommodation: The Bungalows at Bondi – An apartment-style stay right on the coastline. These bungalows are best for people looking for a homey but lavish vacation.


4. Bondi Junction

Best for: Shopping, convenient transport links, proximity to beach and city attractions, and suburban comforts. 

Cars and buses driving through Bondi Junction interchange at sunset in Sydney

Credit: Francesca from

If you want to stay near both the city and beach with the benefit of a major shopping centre and a transport hub, you can't go wrong with choosing to stay in Bondi Junction. Due to its proximity to Bondi Beach and home to one of Sydney’s most popular shopping centres (Westfield Bondi Junction), it offers the ideal mix of indoor and outdoor activities. Driving from Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport to Bondi Junction typically takes 20-25 minutes depending on the traffic.

Things to do in Bondi Junction 

Bondi Junction offers a range of activities and attractions, including:

  • Westfield Bondi Junction: This shopping centre features a wide variety of retail stores, from high-end fashion brands to everyday essentials. There are many dining options, including casual eateries and upscale restaurants, and entertainment facilities, including cinemas.
  • Bondi Junction Markets: Held on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, these markets offer fresh produce, gourmet foods, and unique crafts. It's a great place to experience local flavours and pick up unique souvenirs. 
  • Entertainment Quarter: Located just outside Bondi Junction, the Entertainment Quarter in Moore Park has cinemas, restaurants, weekend markets, and live performances year-round. It's an excellent spot for family fun and evening entertainment. 

Where to stay in Bondi Junction 

It’s worth noting that Bondi Junction is a convenient area to stay, but accommodation can be limited. We recommend:

  • Best budget friendly accommodation: Muse Living – Housed in a restored heritage building, Muse Living offers a co-living space ideal for budget travellers. On-site facilities include a communal kitchen, breakout area, fully equipped laundry, and 24-hour management support.
  • Best accommodation for families: Holiday Inn & Suites Sydney Bondi Junction, an IHG Hotel – Located in the heart of Bondi Junction, this hotel offers apartment-style accommodation with kitchenettes and WiFi. The hotel provides daily housekeeping services, and kids eat for free, making it suitable for families.
  • Best luxury accommodation: Meriton Suites Bondi Junction – Situated near Bondi Junction train station, Meriton Suites offers 5-star accommodation with fully-equipped, spacious suites accommodating up to six people. The hotel features a fitness centre, indoor pool, spa, sauna, and 24-hour guest services, catering to guests seeking luxury, comfort and convenience.
  • Best boutique accommodation: The Baxley Bondi – This boutique hotel is within walking distance to Bondi Junction’s Oxford Street and Bondi Beach. Rooms are styled with a coastal flair, featuring premium amenities and bright decor, offering a unique and stylish stay experience.


5. Manly 

Best for: Relaxed coastal atmosphere, ferry rides, and vibrant restaurant and bar scene. 

Stand-up paddleboarders, swimmers and beachgoers at Shelly Beach and Manly Beach, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Credit: Afonso Farias from

For a true beachside vacation, Manly can't be beaten. It's a small, picturesque suburb on Sydney’s Northern beaches renowned for its coastline and lively community. Located farther away from the Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport, the 30 to 45 minute drive will be worth it when you take in the ocean views. This area is ideal for those who love to relax on the beach and partake in outdoor activities. It has golden sands, excellent surfing conditions, and numerous beach cafes and restaurants. It’s also easy to get into Sydney city via the ferry – which is one of the best things to do in Sydney, especially to experience the glittering harbour!

Things to do in and around Manly 

Because Manly is predominantly a beach area, most of the activities and sites to see are related to the ocean. However, there are still great coastal shopping and dining options. Try experiencing: 

  • Manly to Spit Bridge Scenic Walkway: This 10km coastal walk takes you through beaches, bushland, and scenic viewpoints. This is the perfect active adventure for outdoor lovers. 
  • Shelly Beach: While Manly Beach is the main beach in this suburb, Shelly Beach is a sheltered beach ideal for snorkelling and scuba diving. It has calm waters and an abundant marine life. 
  • The Corso: Manly's main shopping and dining precinct, The Corso, offers many shops, cafes, and restaurants to choose from. 
  • Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary: This is a popular family attraction with interactive exhibits and marine life displays. The sanctuary offers educational programs and close-up encounters with sea creatures, too. 

Where to stay in Manly 

Accommodations in Manly tend to fill quickly due to its prime location on the waterfront of Sydney. It's 

  • Best budget friendly accommodation: Hotel Steyne – Cosy rooms sit above a lively venue that offers bottomless lunch on Saturdays, a delicious beach bar and bistro, and a rotating schedule of events. It gets loud, so best for families to avoid this one!
  • Best accommodation for families: The Sebel Sydney Manly Beach –  Offering options for spacious family rooms, and infant beds and travel cribs available at your disposal. 
  • Best luxury accommodation: Peppers Manly Beach – Guest rooms and serviced apartments with sleek style, modern finishings and furnished balconies with unparalleled views of the beach.
  • Best boutique accommodation: Manly Pacific Sydney MGallery Collection – Clean, modern rooms with views of the ocean, an outdoor pool, and on-site beach club and restaurants.


6. Surry Hills and Darlinghurst

Best for: Younger travellers,  groups of friends, foodies, nightlife, and trendy cafes.

People walking around and weekend markets at The Clock Hotel on Crown Street, Surry Hills

Credit: James Horan for Destination NSW

Two of the trendiest suburbs in Sydney are Surry Hills and Darlinghurst. They are known for fine dining, trendy restaurants and cafes, boutique shopping, and their active nightlife. However, there are also historical influences to enjoy throughout your visit. These areas are just over a 20-minute drive from Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport and are great for visitors interested in having fun during the day and at night when visiting Sydney and who want a more local experience rather than typical tourist attractions.

Things to do in Surry Hills and Darlinghurst 

Surry Hills and Darlinghurst have a good mix of historical, cultural, and entertainment opportunities. Some of the places to go while you're there include: 

  • Crown Street: Crown Street is Surry Hills’ main hub and the heart of the suburb. It's lined with cafes, gourmet restaurants, and boutique shops, making it perfect for a stroll. 
  • Australian Museum: The oldest museum in Australia, the Australian Museum has many exhibits on natural history, including fossils, minerals, and Aboriginal artefacts. It's a great place for families and anyone interested in learning about Australia's heritage.
  • Taylor Square: Known for its vibrant nightlife, Taylor Square and Oxford Street are full of popular bars, clubs, and cafes, perfect for those looking to enjoy Sydney’s nightlife scene.
  • Brett Whiteley Studio: Hidden in the streets of Surry Hills and a must-visit for art lovers. Brett Whiteley’s studio was both his home and workplace, and now runs as a free museum.

Where to stay in Surry Hills and Darlinghurst 

Finding a place to stay in Surry Hills and Darlinghurst can be challenging because there’s so much choice. There are many options, and it's a popular location for many group types. Consider staying at one of the following accommodations: 

  • Best budget friendly accommodation: Gaslight Inn – Affordable room rates and comfortable rooms in a convenient location within walking distance of Oxford Street and Hyde Park.
  • Best accommodation for families: Adina Apartment Hotel – Offers one and two-bedroom apartment-style rooms with kitchens and amenities for all ages, including a swimming pool and garden area in the heart of Surry Hills.
  • Best luxury accommodation: Crystalbrook Albion – Combines a historic environment with modern luxury. Experience various room options, each with a different style to meet your travel desires and unwind on the rooftop deck after your day out.
  • Best boutique accommodation: ADGE Hotel & Residence – Features a colourful and vibrant lobby, balcony and terrace rooms, and a rooftop pool with a view of the Sydney skyline.
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7. Kings Cross, Potts Point and Woolloomooloo  

Best for: Budget travellers, vibrant nightlife, and boutique hotels. 

Vibey laneway with brunch cafes in Potts Point

Credit: Andre & Dominique for Destination NSW

Kings Cross, Potts Point, and Woolloomooloo are great places to visit if you're in Sydney and looking for a dose of fun on the town. While all in close proximity to each other (and only 20 minutes from the airport), each area offers something a bit different.

Kings Cross is renowned for its nightlife, offering a range of bars, clubs, and entertainment venues. It's also a popuar location for budget and hostel accommodation, appealing to young travellers and backpackers.

Potts Point boasts beautiful architecture, trendy bars, quaint cafes and upscale dining experiences and is a bit more suitable for those looking for boutique hotels.

Woolloomooloo, situated on the water at Finger Wharf, features upscale restaurants, delicious cafes and offers beautiful accommodation options right on the wharf.

There's always something fun and exciting to do in Kings Cross, Potts Point, and Woolloomooloo and due to their lively atmosphere, these neighbourhoods are less suited for families seeking a quieter stay.

Things to do in Kings Cross, Potts Point and Woolloomooloo 

Whether you're looking for a bite to eat, a place to shop, or an exciting night out, there's something for everyone in Kings Cross, Potts Point, and Woollomooloo. Try these activities below: 

  • Kings Cross nightlife: You'll know you're in the right spot when you see a giant Coca-Cola billboard that marks the entrance to the nightlife centre of Kings Cross. Enjoy bars, clubs, and entertainment after a long day of exploring Sydney. 
  • Harry's Cafe de Wheels: Opening in the 1930s, Harry's Cafe de Wheels in Woolloomooloo is a Sydney institution and is famous for its delicious meat pies and hot dogs. It's the perfect quick but delicious meal while enjoying the waterfront. Don't miss the signature "Tiger Pie," topped with mashed potatoes, mushy peas, and gravy.
  • Victoria Street and Macleay Street: If  wandering arouns and shopping are more your style, Victoria and Macleay Streets are full of cafes and boutique shops in Potts Point. They are perfect for a leisurely day of shopping, dining, and people-watching. There are also weekend markets on Macleay Street, which offer fresh produce and delicious hot meals.

Where to stay in Kings Cross, Potts Point and Woolloomooloo 

The options of places to stay in these neighbourhoods are endless. Some of the best accommodation options for all groups or singles include: 

  • Best budget friendly accommodation: Devere Hotel – Features a range of room options right in the heart of Potts Points,  and offers free WiFi and self-service laundry laundry services.
  • Best luxury accommodation: Ovolo with Woolloomooloo – Known for its contemporary and spacious rooms or lofts, with amenities including poolside cabanas, fine dining options, and a luxurious atmosphere. 
  • Best boutique accommodation: Spicers Potts Point – Offers stunning rooms with modern flair, French doors leading to balconies, marble fireplaces, and amenities such as a guest bar for cocktails and a garden courtyard for breakfast.


8. Paddington

Best for: Boutique shopping, lively pubs, trendy cafes and charming terrace-lined streets 

Picturesque boutique shops in Paddington, Sydney

Credit: Anna Kucera for Destination NSW

Located between Darlinghurst and Bondi Junction, Paddington is a quaint suburb known for its boutique shopping, pub and cafe culture, and Victorian-era style architecture terrace houses. It's also home to many cultural attractions and art galleries, so if a local experience, historical arts and window shopping are up your alley, Paddington is a great spot to stay in Sydney. Situated 15-20 minutes from Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport, Paddington is also close to other popular Sydney areas, including the Eastern Suburbs beaches, Surry Hills, Darlinghurst and Sydney city.

Things to do in Paddington 

If you're staying in Paddington, you're sure to find something that you truly enjoy. It's a very diverse neighbourhood with many offerings, such as: 

  • Oxford Street: Shop ‘till you drop by Oxford Street, Paddington's main shopping area. It's full of cafes and restaurants, too, for when you get hunger strikes while shopping.
  • Paddington Markets: If you're into farmers markets, you can't miss the Paddington Markets. Held every Saturday, these markets are known for their handmade crafts, fashion, and gourmet food stalls. It's a great place to find unique souvenirs and experience the local community in Sydney.
  • Paddington Reservoir Gardens: Visit this beautifully restored public garden to enjoy beautiful greenery and historic architecture. These gardens are popular among picnic lovers. 
  • ​Victoria Barracks: Take a guided tour of this historic military site to learn about Australia's military history. This is ideal for those who want to sprinkle some of the past into their vacation. 
  • Centennial Parklands: Located on the edge of Paddington, Centennial Parklands offers a peaceful escape for walking, picnicing and cycling.

Where to stay in Paddington 

Paddington is a popular suburb in Sydney, but it's a reasonably small area with limited accommodation options. You may have to look at something in the surrounding suburbs like Darlinghurst or Bondi Junction, but if you want to stay in the heart of Paddington, we recommend: 

  • Best accommodation for families: Hughenden Hotel – A charming family and pet-friendlyhotel on the Paddington/Woollahra border, offering unique and premium rooms, with a delicious bar and café on the ground  floor. Each room has a different design, adding to the allure.  
  • Best luxury accommodation: Oxford House – Offering modern rooms, a chic pool area and poolside bar, and a rejuvenating ambiance, all within walking distance of bars, restaurants and markets.
  • Best boutique accommodation: Mrs Banks Hotel – Considered a hidden gem with modern and cosy rooms featuring luxury bathroom amenities and stylish decor. 


9.  Newtown

Best for: Bohemian atmosphere, live music, and diverse dining options. 

Women walking in Newtown, Sydney alongside street art

Credit: Anna Kucera for Destination NSW

Newtown is one of the more unique suburbs in Sydney. It is known for its eclectic and artistic atmosphere, emerging nightlight, boutiques, street art, live music, and local markets. There are delicious food options here, too, with many different cultural influences. This neighbourhood is located approximately 15 minutes by car from Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport, is close to Sydney CBD and is close to public transport options. With its vibrant atmosphere, it tends to not have as many family-friendly accommodation options and is better for younger travellers, backpackers and groups of friends who want to be in the thick of Sydney's social scene.

Things to do in and around Newtown 

Because of its artsy community, Newtown has many fun and upbeat things to do that often centre around performance, food and cultural immersion. Some things to do in Newtown include: 

  • Enmore Theatre: This historic live music venue hosts many performances, including concerts, comedy shows, and theatre productions. It's a great spot to catch an evening show after a day of exploring. It's also surrounded by good restaurants and bars, so you're guaranteed a good meal and drink pre- or post-show.
  • Street art: Wherever you turn in Newtown, you're bound to see some form of street art somewhere. There are intricate murals and graffiti art that represent what residents of Newtown value - expression.  
  • Newtown Market: Held every Saturday, visit the Newtown Market to purchase handmade crafts, vintage goods, and fresh produce. It's a great place to support local artisans and go home with one-of-a-kind souvenirs. 

Where to stay in Newtown 

Newtown is a popular suburb, but as the area is small. there are  few accommodations. Top-rated options include:

  • Best budget friendly accommodation: The Erko Hotel -  With bold and colourful rooms, complementary coffee and tea, premium amenities, and a billiards table for fun.
  • Best upmarket accommodation: The Urban Newtown  - Spacious and stylish accommodations in an upscale setting, ideal for guests looking to enjoy Newtown's artistic vibe with a touch of luxury.
  • Best boutique accommodation: Sydney Park Hotel - Offers a charming stay with its in-hotel cafe and bar, rooms adorned with beautiful brick detailing, and a convenient location near popular shopping precincts and Newtown's cultural hotspots.


10. Central and Chippendale

Best for: Art and culture enthusiasts, food foodies, eclectic atmosphere, convenient location

People walking through Central Park in Chippendale on a sunny day

Credit: Andre & Dominique for Destination NSW

Central and Chippendale are nieghbouring suburbs right near Sydney city, known for their creative energy, diverse dining options, and historical relevance. Located approximately 20 minutes from Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport, these neighbourhoods offer a blend of cultural richness and urban vitality, making them ideal for travellers keen on exploring Sydney's dynamic city life.

Things to do in and around Central and Chippendale

These suburbs are closely connected to one another, as well as to surrounding areas in Sydney. However, there's still plenty of things to do and see while in Central and Chippendale, including: 

  • White Rabbit Gallery: Located in Chippendale, his gallery showcases contemporary Chinese art with a collection spanning from the 21st century. Visitors can explore changing exhibitions and relax at the tea house, savouring authentic Chinese tea.
  • Central Park Mall: This modern shopping centre has a striking vertical garden and a wide range of retail stores, dining options, and entertainment facilities. It's a great place to shop and dine if you're looking to purchase new clothes or souvenirs. 
  • The Goods Line: This pedestrian pathway connects Central Station to Darling Harbour, and passes right through Chippendale. Adorned with art installations and green spaces, this walk is a great way to catch a breather after a long day in Sydney and appreciate one of the coolest things to do in Sydney.

Where to stay in Central and Chippendale

There are plenty of accommodations located in Central and Chippendale, typically better suited to yonger travellers or visitors looking for a more eclectic area to stay in Sydney. Top-rated options include: 

  • Best budget friendly accommodation: Hotel Hacienda – Offers terrace accommodation, minimalistic designs, and various concierge services. 
  • Best accommodation for families: Adina Apartment Hotel Chippendale –  Features family-friendly amenities, including an outdoor plunge pool, unlimited Wi-Fi, and various room size options to accommodate families of all sizes.
  • Best upmarket accommodation: Four Points by Sheraton Sydney – A simple yet sleek aesthetic, with on-site restaurants for all meals, and large and spacious rooms. 
  • Best boutique accommodation: The Old Clare Hotel – Combines modern conveniences with historic charm, featuring a popular poolside pub, plenty of culinary experiences, and unique decor.


What's the best area to stay in Sydney? 

While narrowing down the absolute best place to stay in Sydney can be difficult, Bondi Junction is a great choice for many travellers. It offers a lively atmosphere, is close to popular beaches as well as Sydney's CBD, and has the benefit of offering a public transport hub to explore Sydney. Also, the wide range of cuisine and dining options will keep you satisfied throughout the duration of your trip. Staying in Bondi Junction will give you access to a diverse range of activities and environments from which to choose and can be a convenient base for making your way through your Sydney itinerary. The only downside would the limited range of accommodation options, however the options available are suitable for all kinds of travellers, from hotels to serviced apartments.

Staying in the CBD, Circular Quay, The Rocks, Darling Harbour or Pyrmont is another great option for those travelling to Sydney for the first time or only visiting for a weekend and want easy access to the most touristy things to do in Sydney.


What's the best area to stay in Sydney without a car?  

When visiting Sydney without a car, the best area to stay is the Central Business District (CBD). The CBD offers reliable access to public transportation, including trains, buses, light rail, and ferries. Many top-rated sights like Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge are within walking distance of most hotels and serviced apartments in the CBD, so you might not even need public transportation! The CBD is also filled with delicious local dining options, shopping centres like Westfield and the Queen Victoria Building, and vibrant city life. Everything you could ever need is accessible without a car when visiting Sydney CBD. 


What's the best area to stay in Sydney with family?   

Darling Harbour is the best area to stay in Sydney when travelling with your family. There are many family-friendly activities and attractions, including the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, Wildlife Sydney Zoo, and the Australian National Maritime Museum. Darling Harbour also features kid-friendly dining options, playgrounds, and entertainment venues. However, there are also options for adults to enjoy, too - especially if you choose a hotel with in-house entertainment facilities and bars. 


What's the best area to stay in Sydney for a weekend?  

For a weekend stay in Sydney, The Rocks is hard to beat—especially because it has both modern and historic charm. It's centrally located and close to attractions like the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House, so you can enjoy plenty of activities right at your hotel doorstep. The area is also pedestrian-friendly, perfect for exploring boutique shops and enjoying harborside views. 


Flights to Sydney

It's time to explore all that Sydney has to offer! Virgin Australia offers direct flights to Sydney from major Australian cities, including:

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