The Ultimate Guide On How To Spend 5 Days In Sydney
If you’re travelling from overseas, chances are you’d like to see Sydney for more than a weekend! And it’s no wonder why! Firstly, that long-haul flight is always a killer. But, mainly, Sydney has almost everything you could want within city limits- the beach, mountains, city culture, friendly locals and a laid-back vibe.
After living in Sydney for the last 6 months, I have done my fair share of exploring. So I’ve put together a comprehensive, local guide to spending 5 days in Sydney, with a mix of top attractions and hidden gems. (With plenty of gluten-free and vegan restaurant options, so you can eat your way through Sydney too!)
Before we jump into this detailed 5 days in Sydney intinerary, I’d highly recommend checking out my How To Move To Australia post. Even if you’re not moving to this corner of the world, it’s a good introduction to visiting Australia. There are a few misconceptions about the country and some surprises that I wish I knew before visiting, which are all rounded up over there. (Cough, cough $30 FOR A MEAL?!)
Anyways, let’s jump right in!
The Ultimate Local’s Guide On How To Spend 5 Days In Sydney
Earth To Table
Hours: Wednesday – Friday 8 am – 4 pm; Saturday & Sunday 8 am – 5 pm; Closed Monday & Tuesday
After a long flight, the first thing you’ll need is a delicious breakfast to start your 5 days in Sydney off right! So start your day the Aussie way with an Acai bowl! This organic, raw vegan, gluten-free cafe has literally anything your heart desires for breakfast (and their prices are surprisingly on-par with most Sydney restaurants)!
For Earth To Table’s full menu, click here.
Directions: From Earth To Table to Bondi Beach
Let’s be real. The biggest draw to Sydney is Bondi Beach. This iconic landmark is well worth the hype! With 1 kilometre of beach, there’s plenty of room to stretch out a towel and lounge on the beach! The surf can sometimes get a bit rough at Bondi, so be sure to swim between the flags so you don’t get stuck in a riptide!
For more tips on swimming in Australia, check out my Everything You Need To Know Before Moving To Australia post.
Directions: From Bondi Beach to Funky Pies
Hours: Monday – Friday 8:30 am – 8:30 pm; Saturday & Sunday 10 am – 8:30 pm
After spending the morning at the beach, take a little walk up to Funky Pies for an Australian classic. Aussie Pies are very similar to ones you might find in the UK, and come topped with mashed potato and mushy peas. This particular pie shop is 100% vegan and has gluten-free pies, both frozen and fresh, at the ready!
The gluten-free pie changes daily, but if you and gluten and friends, there’s about 8 different types of pie you can choose from! I’ve had the Rustic Bolognese Pie and G’Day Satay, and both were delicious!
For Funky Pies’ full menu, click here.
Bondi to Coogee Walk
Directions: From Funky Pies to the Bondi to Coogee Walk
After a filling lunch, make your way toward the Bondi Icebergs for the iconic Bondi to Coogee walk. With plenty of beaches along the way, this 5km walk is a great way to see some of Sydney’s most iconic beaches– Bondi, Bronte and Coogee! (And what better way to start your 5 days in Sydney than hitting up all the beaches?!)
I recommend stopping at my two favourites, Bronte and Gordon’s Bay. Bronte tends to be much less busy compared to Bondi, and it has a great bath so you can enjoy the ocean water for free without worrying about rips or sea critters.
If you like sea critters, be sure to pack your goggles for Gordon’s Bay! The Gordon’s Bay Underwater Nature Trail is one of the best snorkelling spots in Sydney. It’s basically like taking a hike underwater, as you follow a chain to get between concrete filled drums to read information on steel plaques. The trail itself is 600 metres, and should take about 45 minutes to complete.
Drinks at Coogee Pavilion
Hours: Sunday – Thursday 7:30 am – 12 am; Friday & Saturday 7:30 am – 3 am
Cool off with a drink at one of Sydney’s most popular pubs, the Coogee Pavilion. There’s always a mix of beach-goers and locals dressed to the nines for a night out. So grab a local cider or a classic cocktail and head to the second-floor patio for an incredible view over Coogee Beach!
For Coogee Pavilion’s full menu, click here.
Soul Burger in Randwick
Directions: From Coogee Pavilion to Soul Burger
Hours: Monday – Sunday 11 am – 10 pm
Once you’ve had your fill of the beach for the day, make your way into Randwick for one of Sydney’s favourite vegan burger joints, Soul Burger! With plenty of gluten-free options, you can get a burger, fries and a shake without worry!
I went for The Aussie, which has beetroot relish, grilled pineapple, lettuce, tomato and vegan aioli. It’s quite possibly one of the best vegan burgers I’ve had. I also had the kumara fries and a classic vanilla shake. So filling, but it’s nice to treat yourself and have a little vegan junk food after a long beach day!
For Soul Burger’s full menu, click here.
DARE at The Rocks
Hours: Monday – Thursday 7:30 am – 2:45 pm; Friday – Sunday 7:30 am – 3:30 pm
By far some of the best pancakes I’ve had in Sydney were the ones at DARE. This cafe specialises in ethical and allergy-friendly foods, so finding something to eat was a breeze! The pancakes came with a side of fruit salad that was very fresh and came topped with passionfruit. I had never had passionfruit before, but it has easily climbed its way up to being my favourite fruit now! I’ve also had a Middle Eastern-inspired breakfast there that was also quite filling.
DARE’s website is currently unavailable.
Directions: From DARE to the Rocks
After a delicious breakfast, take a little walk through The Rocks. This is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Sydney, with one of the oldest remaining European structure having been built in 1791. If you’re visiting on the weekend, there’s a great market there!
Directions: From The Rocks to Observatory Hill
Once you’re done moseying around The Rocks, be sure to make your way up to Observatory Hill for one of the most beautiful views of the Harbour Bridge! There’s also an Observatory museum, where you can go to learn more about the stars, charting stars, and Australia’s Indigenous people and its colonialists.
It’s a fairly small space, but it has telescopes and a beautiful garden surrounding it! It’s definitely worth a stop!
Museum hours are 10 am – 5 pm daily.
Sydney Opera House
Directions: From Observatory Hill to Sydney Opera House
A short walk away is Australia’s best known landmark, the Sydney Opera House! When I first moved to Sydney, I didn’t see the Opera House until about a week in and it didn’t feel like I was in Sydney quite yet! It’s quite incredible seeing it up close, so be sure to take a little walk around. You can also go inside the Opera House, if you’re willing to brave the never ending stairs!
To see where you can get the best shots of the Sydney Opera House, check out the Instagrammable Places In Sydney post by Greta’s Travels.
Directions: From Sydney Opera House to Lal Qila
Hours: 12 pm – 3 pm; 5 – 10:30 pm daily
Before making your way across the bridge, make your way over to Darling Harbour for some of the best Indian and Pakistani food in Sydney. I discovered this restaurant when I was living in Surry Hills, as it was literally just around the corner from my old apartment. I was literally so full, but it was so delicious I couldn’t not eat it!
My personal favourites are the pappadums, Phaldari Masala (potato & cauliflower), Manpasand Baingan (eggplant & potato), Masala-e-Anarkli (okra), and Dilkhush Dall Palak (lentil dal). I’ve had both the Zafrani Mattar Pulao (saffron, peas & onion rice) and Khumb Pulao (saffron, mushrooms & onion rice), which were also delicious!
For Lal Qila’s full menu, click here.
Directions: From Lal Qila to Kirribilli
Catch the train at Town Hall over the Harbour Bridge to Milson’s Point to catch a great view of the Sydney Opera House! While you’re in Kirribilli, make your way over to McDougall Street for a Jacaranda-lined street! These purple trees are incredibly beautiful when they’re in full bloom, so if you’re visiting Sydney during Australian spring, it’s worth a visit!
Directions: From Kirribilli to Luna Park
After checking out the Jacarandas and the view of the Sydney Opera House, make your way over to Luna Park for one of Sydney’s wackiest theme parks. The park was built in 1935 and opened its doors year-round in 1972.It’s a unique place to walk around, and there’s lots of strange photo opportunities!
Walk over the Harbour Bridge
Directions: From Luna Park to Harbour Bridge
Head back toward the city by walking over the Harbour Bridge. The walk has lots of great views of the Central Business District (CBD) and even more of the Sydney Opera House! (Because she’s the star of the show today, let’s be honest!)
Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily; open until 9 pm on Wednesday & Saturday
Make your way over to the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia after your jaunt into North Sydney. The museum has a great exhibit on the First Peoples of Australia, which includes art and culture from Australia’s Indigenous and the Torres Strait Islander communities. As Australia is a colonized country, it’s important to learn about its Indigenous people and learn about their history.
Currently, they have a great exhibition on by Emily Floyd, which is essentially giant wooden block toys. The museum hosts a number of exhibitions throughout the year, and it’s definitely worth checking out!
Hours: Monday 11 am – 3 pm; Tuesday – Friday 11 am – 3 pm & 5 – 10 pm; Saturday & Sunday 11 am – 4 pm & 5 – 10 pm
It’s been a full day of exploring, so why not treat yourself at one of the top vegan restaurants in Sydney? This is definitely the most expensive restaurant in this ‘5 days in Sydney’ guide, but it’s also the most worth it.
With plenty of gluten-free and vegan pan-Asian food, it’s a great way to experience Australia’s love of Asian cuisine. My personal favourite is the spicy malay laksa with golden tofu, tofu-yaki, bok choy, fresh bean sprouts, Asian herbs and rice noodles. They also have gluten-free dumplings, which – in my opinion- makes the entire experience that much better.
For Bodhi’s full menu, click here.
Directions: 475 Crown St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
Hours: Monday – Saturday 7 am – 3 pm; Sunday 7:30 am – 3 pm
Not going to lie, I’m a sucker for the three As: an acai bowl, almond flat white and avo on toast. So start your day at the Cali Press in Surry Hills before stopping at the local Woolworth’s to pick up some snacky things for lunch. Their acai bowls are some of the best in the city!
For Cali Press’ full menu, click here.
Directions: From Cali Press to Balmoral Beach
Hop the bus from Central and make your way over to one of my all-time favourite beaches in Sydney, Balmoral Beach! Generally, the beach is very quiet and is incredibly picturesque. Take a walk along the waterfront and enjoy the warm water before making your way over to the Spit!
Directions: From Balmoral Beach to Spit
Although the Bondi to Coogee walk is the most well-known to visitors, this local gem offers far more spectacular views and, if you’re lucky, some local wildlife! (Hello, lizard friends!)
The Spit-to-Manly Walk takes you along the coastline, where you’ll see multi-million dollar mansions, over 1,000 year-old Aboriginal rock engravings, and stop-offs at plenty of local beaches along the way. Be sure to bring food for lunch, as the walk itself is 11 km long or an estimate 4 hours.
I promise you though, the views are spectacular, and you can eat whenever you want along the way!
Directions: Spit to Manly (** not on Google Maps)
After a day of hiking through North Sydney, finish the day at the iconic Manly Beach. When I was there, it was a bit too wavy for my liking, so I didn’t go in. But you can go on the wharf-side of Manly for a more gentle swim.
Catch the ferry to Circular Quay
Directions: From Manly Beach to Circular Quay via the ferry
From the Manly Wharf, take the ferry back into the CBD. This has definitely been a highlight of my Sydney adventures, as the ferry takes you right past the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House!
Directions: From Circular Quay to Vina Vegan
Hours: 4 – 10 pm daily
After a long day of hiking and beach hopping, hop the train to Newtown for some delicious and filling vegan Vietnamese food. I really enjoyed their Autumn fresh rolls, vegan pho, and beetroot fried rice! Their portion sizes are fairly large and prices are inexpensive for Sydney standards, so it makes for a great place to eat your heart out!
To see Vina Vegan’s full menu, click here.
Address: 33 Ocean St, Woollahra NSW 2025
Hours: Monday – Saturday 10 am – 5:30 pm; Sunday 10 am – 4 pm
Start your day at my all-time favourite cafe in Sydney, Cafe Parterre. This local greenhouse and antique shop also runs a cafe, which has some serious French vibes circa the early 1900s.
While there isn’t a lot of options to eat (in general) here, it’s a great place to grab a cuppa and enjoy the beautiful greenery. My go-to breakfast here is the Avocado, Feta & Heirloom Tomato on Toast (sans feta). The activated charcoal & buckwheat toast is gluten-free, and comes topped with with avocado, heirloom tomato and in-house sumac dukkah. Deelish!
To see Cafe Parterre’s full menu, click here.
Royal Botanic Gardens
Directions: From Cafe Parterre to the Royal Botanic Gardens
Hours: 9 am – 5:30 pm daily
The Royal Botanic Gardens are another must-see destination during your 5 days in Sydney. You can see and learn about all the beautiful flowers that are unique to Australia!
If you’re able to make it to the information centre by 10 am on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, you’re able to take a tour to learn how Australia’s Indigenous people used these plants! Plus, depending on the season, you may even be able to do a taster for yourself!
Mrs Macquarie’s Chair
While you’re in the Royal Botanic Gardens, make a little pit stop at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair for some incredible views of the Sydney harbour!
Directions: From Mrs Macquarie’s Chair to Shift Eatery
Hours: 8 am – 3 pm daily
Stop for lunch at my go-to Sydney ‘deli’, Shift Eatery. This vegan gem is always busy, so be sure to snag a table as soon as you see it! They have delicious coffee and their toasties are legendary! I’m a bit obsessed with their My Shroom Toastie, which has roasted mushrooms, cheddar ‘cheese,’ kale pesto and a house-made creamy herb sauce. It’s honestly so delicious.
For desert, they also have gluten-free & vegan donuts and caramel slices. Yes, you read that correctly. Go get some! They’re insanley delicious!
For Shift Eatery’s full menu, click here.
Explore Surry Hills
Directions: From Shift Eatery to Crown Street
Don’t venture too far after lunch, as you’re in one of the most beautiful neighbourhoods in Sydney – Surry Hills! Walk up the hill along Foveaux to reach Crown and Bourke streets. If you head toward Oxford Street, you’ll come across plenty of vintage clothing shops. If you head the opposite way, you’ll pass Sydney’s restaurant district!
Brett Whiteley Studio
Directions: From Crown Street to Brett Whiteley Studio
Continue your Surry Hills tour with a little pit stop at the Brett Whiteley Studio. Whiteley is a famous Australian artist, who had transformed this former warehouse into his home and studio. When he passed away, the New South Wales government maintained his studio. Visitors can now pass through to see some of his finished and unfinished artwork, and see where the artist lived!
Directions: From Brett Whiteley Studio to Yulli’s
Hours: Monday 5 pm – late; Tuesay – Sunday 11:30 am – late
One of my all-time favourite restaurants, Yulli’s, is located right in the heart of Surry Hills. While they are a vegetarian restaurant, they do have plenty of gluten-free and vegan options. As their fusion menu changes regularly, ask your server for their recommendations and about any modifications you may need. They’re always very accommodating and the food is always very tasty!
To see Yulli’s full menu, click here.
Directions: From Yulli’s to Dead Ringer
Hours: Monday – Wednesday 5 pm – 11 pm; Thursday & Friday 5 pm – 12 am; Saturday 10 am – 11 pm; Sunday 11 am – 11 pm
If there’s anything more enticing than immersing yourself for 5 days in Sydney’s food and coffee culture, it’s Sydney’s cocktail scene. Dead Ringer is one of Sydney’s top cocktail bars located at the heart of Surry Hills. Their cocktails change regularly, so be sure to ask the bartender what their favourite is! I promise, it will not disappoint!
For Dead Ringer’s full cocktail menu, click here.
Address: 99 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe NSW 2037
Hours: Monday – Friday 9 am – 5 pm; Saturday 8 am – 5 pm; Sunday 8 am – 4 pm
My all-time favourite gluten-free and vegan brunch spot in Sydney has to be Gathered Kitchen, a small cafe tucked away in Glebe. It’s always a popular spot, so be sure to get there early! I’ve had most of their menu at this stage (I told you it’s my favourite!) and my go-tos are either the pancake stack, which comes topped with berries and coconut yoghurt, or the Turkish-inspired eggplant shakshuka.
And for my non-gluten-free foodies, they have vegan croissants, pain-au-chocolat and cruffins that look absolutely heavenly. Please eat all of them for me.
For Gathered Kitchen’s full menu, click here.
Explore Glebe Point Road
Directions: From Gathered Kitchen to Glebe Point Road
Glebe is easily one of the cutest neighbourhoods in all of Sydney. So after breakfast, take a jaunt down Glebe Point Road to see what all the fuss is about! My personal favourite is the Sappho Books, Cafe & Bar, and Gleebooks. They’re located right next to one another and are definitely worth a browse!
If you’re there on a Saturday, the Glebe Market has great vintage and local finds!
University of Sydney
After exploring Glebe, make your way over to the University of Sydney for some Hogwarts feels. The campus itself is beautiful, and the main building is home to the Nicholson Museum. It’s the largest collection of antiquities in the Southern Hemisphere, and free to enter!
For museum hours and information, click here.
The Grounds of Alexandria
Hours: Monday – Thursday 7 am – 9 pm; Friday 7 am – 10 pm; Saturday 7:30 am – 1o pm; Sunday 7:30 am – 9 pm
One of Sydney’s favourite restaurants happens to be one of the most beautiful in the whole of the city! Located in a former industrial area, The Grounds of Alexandria is home to a restaurant & bar, garden, bakery & patisserie, cafe, florist, markets and much more! Take some time to walk around before or after breakfast.
They have plenty of gluten-free and vegan options, all from local produce vendors. During the week, the Grounds are pretty quiet. But on the weekend, be sure to get there early to get a spot!
For food menus at the Grounds of Alexandria, click here.
White Rabbit Gallery
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday 10 am – 5 pm; Closed Monday & Tuesday
I know what you’re thinking- two museums in one day?! I promise, they’re both small, and must-sees.
The White Rabbit Gallery is possibly one of the most unique galleries in Sydney, as it is one of the largest collections of Chinese and Taiwanese contemporary art. The founder of the museum was inspired on her trip to China in 2001 by the creative and technically advanced art she saw, and wanted to bring that energy to Sydney.
My personal favourites were the 3D printed cruise ship on the main floor, the self-painting Sydney harbour installation, and the video game exhibition.
Directions: From White Rabbit Gallery to Newtown
Once you’ve had your fill of the beautiful Grounds, make your way over to the weirdest part of the Inner West, Newtown. Although Newtown isn’t as weird as it once was – hence the ever-popular campaign of ‘Keep Newtown Weird’ – it’s still one of the most fun and eccentric parts of Sydney. (Which is why you need to visit it during your 5 days in Sydney!)
Take a little walk up and down King Street and Enmore Road and check out all of the vintage shops and second-hand book stores. My personal favourites are Elizabeth’s Books and Better Read Than Dead. The neighbourhood itself is quite big, so take your time exploring!
Directions: From Newtown to Manmaru
Hours: Thursday – Monday 6 pm – 9 pm; Closed Tuesday & Wednesday
You can’t spend 5 days in Sydney and not experience one of Sydneysider’s favourite food groups – Japanese food! This Japanese tapas restaurant is owned and run by a mother-daughter duo, who were tired of not being able to find vegan versions of their home country’s cuisine. Most of their menu is also gluten-free, which makes ordering very easy!
As it’s a tapas bar, you can try as many unique flavours as you want! I’d also highly recommend their cocktail selection, as their Yuzu was by far one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had, period.
To see Manmaru’s full menu, click here.
Directions: From Manmaru to the Courthouse
Hours: Monday – Saturday 10 am – 12 am; Sunday 10 am – 10 pm
After having your fill of delicious Japanese food, head back over to Newtown to the local’s favourite watering hole, the Courthouse. The Courty is about as close to a dive bar as Sydney gets. With cheap drinks, a pool table, a patio and an upstairs, this pub is always a good time.
If you’re in town on a Wednesday, they generally have free comedy shows as well, which are always a laugh!
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