Want to escape that depressing transition into icy winter months? Well, while London may be bidding a sad farewell to hot July days, summer sunlight is only just heating up in the Southern Hemisphere. As of 1 September, Spring is the word! And there’s no place for some quality sun-tanning, surfing, sightseeing and summer romance than the beautiful beaches of Sydney, Australia.
We’re assuming you all know the basics. You’ve climbed the Harbour Bridge. You’ve taken a ferry to Darling Harbour. You’ve lazed in the Royal Botanic Gardens, done a tour of the Opera House and checked out the cute (albeit ever-so-slightly ferocious) koalas at Taronga Zoo.
Now it’s time to book a Sydney hostel and live like the locals do! From beaches to bistros and the best bars in town, September is the perfect time to discover the hidden treasures of this sunny city…
A Dose of Caffeine
For those reliant on that morning caffeine hit, you couldn’t have chosen a better place to visit. While they may not have the reputation of Italians, Sydney-siders are engaged in a long-term love affair with quality coffee. Mention a preference for (or indeed even a vague partiality to) Starbucks and you’ve ousted yourself as a caffeine ingénue. Really, your only viable option on the franchise-café stakes is a Jamaica Blue outlet. Unlike its British equivalents (think Nero, Costa, Starbucks etc), this home-grown café brand offers up some of the best espressos, ristrettos, flat whites and lattes in the city. A hot tip: while the signature house mix is a treat in itself, ask your barista for a ‘Wallenford Estate Jamaica Blue Mountain’ coffee – it’s the rarest, most famous and (apparently) best coffee blend in the world!
Alternatively, if you’re looking for true quality in a boutique café, check out Campos Coffee in Newtown. A haven amongst connoisseurs of the bean-variety, this buzzy institution churns out 200 perfectly-brewed beverages an hour. The baristas don’t make bad eye-candy either…
A Day at the Beach
Having had your morning dose of caffeine, make the trip to one of Sydney’s beaches for a day of surfing, swimming and sun-baking. Being pleasantly warm in the midst of spring yet not so unbearably hot and crowded as the summer months, September is a great time to call on those sandy shores. Just remember, the atmosphere at Sydney’s beaches varies significantly, so make sure you work out what you want before making a choice about where to go!
For those seeking a tourist-centre complete with surf shops, seafood, outdoor cafes, bars and true-blue Aussie beach culture, you can’t go past the crowds and carnival of Manly Wharf. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a slightly more romantic (albeit still rather crowded!) day out, head to the beach rocks at Balmoral for a perfect picnic location. You’ll also find some of the best fish and chips in Sydney! Alternatively, for something a little quieter and less inundated with tourists, make the drive up to one of the beautiful Northern beaches – Avalon, Collaroy and Freshwater are great for some quality tanning, while the surfing waves at Harbord and Dee Why just can’t be beat.
A Trip to the Mall
While Melbourne may be the city of unique stalls, Sydney is renowned for its sprawling shopping malls. For a great mix of upmarket designers, department stores, boutique shops and eateries, check out Westfield Bondi Junction (affectionately known as WBJ), the second largest shopping centre in New South Wales and a flagship member of the Westfield community.
The Strand Arcade in Sydney’s Central Business District is another great choice for some quality not-quite-so-budget-friendly window shopping. Built in 1892, this Victorian building houses Australian designer labels including Alannah Hill, Alex Perry, Jayson Brunsdon and Fleur Wood. Being minutes walk from some of the larger malls and designer stalls of George, Pitt and Elizabeth Streets, it’s a great place to start out on a day-long City shopping spree (plus the cafes here serve a mean breakfast!)
A Budget Dinner Out
Cuisines to savour in Sydney are predominantly Asian-influenced, with Thai food and Japanese (particularly sushi!) topping the list. For a quality budget dose of the former, head to King St in Newtown, where you will find streets lined with Thai restaurants frequented by students, artists, musicians, friends and families alike. While you will be spoilt for choice by the range on offer, you simply cannot go past the deliciously flavoursome cuisine at Thai La-Ong. While it may not look like much from the outside, this place is a Sydney institution favoured by students and young people for its budget prices. BYO wine and expect to spend no more than €10 per person!
Want to go even cheaper? Check out the Flying Fajita Sistas in Glebe for €2.18 tacos and tequila shots on a Tuesday night. Whether your preference is for chicken, beef, pork, super-hot sauces or mouth-watering deserts, you’ll be sure to get one hefty meal for an incredibly bargain price. Just make sure to book in advance – this place fills up fast!
A Night on the Town
Depending what you want from a night out, Sydney has a range of bars and clubs scattered around the City, Bondi and Northern suburbs, in addition to local pubs in virtually every neighbourhood.
If you’re keen on an all-night rave (think dancing, drinking and serious electro beats), you can’t beat a party in Kings Cross. For some quality cocktails served in teapots, head direct to World Bar, which offers live music on Fridays and a dirty dance floor of DJs on Saturday nights. Or, if the chilled cocktail scene is more up your alley, Piano Room is a favoured (albeit slightly pretentious) hangout of the glitterati, while the iconic Hugos Lounge offers $5 cocktails and pizzas until 10pm on a Sunday night.
Then again, if you’re not keen on being mobbed by throngs of 2am Cross-goers, the bars around Newtown are a great choice for students and young travellers. Make sure you start the night at Kuletos for the best cocktails in town, all of which you can grab on a two-for-one deal between 6-7.30pm on Monday-Friday and 6-7pm on Saturday. Follow this up with a pit stop at the newly opened Corridor which, with its candles, fireplaces, chesterfield sofas and unique artworks has already made a name for itself as a uniquely chic bohemian hangout on the inner west circuit.
A Place to Sleep
When seeking out a budget hotel or hostel in Sydney, make sure you check out the various YHAs dotted throughout the city. A great place to meet new people, these budget accommodations combine a friendly atmosphere with a central location, clean rooms and a discount price. Our top pick is the Sydney Harbour YHA which, with its rooftop terrace views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, is the only backpacker hostel in Sydney’s historic harbourside Rocks precinct. Rooms start from €30.39 per night.