This week Hack Your City went down—and also under—to Sydney, Australia. We asked for tips on visiting Sydney, and what sets it apart from other popular Australian cities. “Melbourne is more like San Francisco, while Sydney is more like L.A.,” says reader Outtacontext. Here’s some of the best advice we got about the town that Britain’s convicts built.

Each Monday on Hack Your City, we ask readers for your best tips on a city: driving tips, restaurant recs, things to do, and any other advice for visitors and locals. Then on Thursday, we present the best comments. We’re working our way around the U.S. and around the globe.

Tips are lightly edited. Links with a * denote more tips in the original comment.

Getting There and Getting Around

  • “Fly Qantas to/from. Worth (nearly) any difference in price.”—DWFMBA*
  • “Qantas: nice meal service in coach, virtually unlimited booze.”—KinjaNinja1492
  • “For a local SIM, get Optus Prepaid. $2 for the sim, $2 per day for 500mb data, unlimited texts and calls. Some people will try to tell you that Telstra has better coverage. Ignore them: Optus is the better value for money.”—smash17
  • “If you’re going out to bars at night, pay attention to the time. Sydney has ‘lockout’ laws which basically means if you step out of a bar after a certain point in the night, you’re done; no entering any other bars after lockout time.”—Ya Flamin’ Galah!*


Inside the Queen Victoria Building
Photo: PxHere

Eat and Drink

  • “There is a small cafe right across from Bondai Beach called Bondai Massive. Best avocado toast with poached egg in Sydney.”—tril0byte
  • “In Camperdown, there’s a great restaurant/motorcycle shop called Deus ex Machina.”—Rif’s Dad
  • “Doyles fish restaurants are great but the one at Watson’s Bay is the best.”—Tarquin Shrapnel-Carruthers
  • “Golden Century Seafood downtown.”—jodrohnson
  • “I love high tea at the Queen Victoria Building. Time it so you see the royal clock go off (on the hour), it’s quite cute. Right now I’m into the Park Hyatt Restaurant. Get the four course chef’s special.”—LadyxBec*
  • “Yulli’s (Surry Hills): Great vegetarian/vegan fare.”—Keith Brooks*
  • “The Pan-Asian food is terrific and ubiquitous, but don’t turn down a meat pie from a street vendor.”—Rif’s Dad
  • “Papa Gede’s bar is awesome, and a little tricky to find (which makes it that much more fun). I stayed on in Sydney for business for a few days and spent my nights there, and the bartenders/owners took great care of me.”—tril0byte
  • “If a bar has levels, the exclusivity rises (as do prices) the higher up the floor.”—jodrohnson
  • “Check out the restaurants in Darling Harbor. They have some of the best kangaroo, local fish, and crocodile there. Every block has a conveyor belt sushi place.”—sonofagl1tch
  • “You can get kangaroo jerky online, but you can get it in tartare form at the the Sydney Tower restaurant, and my favorite kangaroo is at the Australian Heritage pub and restaurant in the The Rocks where they serve it on pizza, along with emu and crocodile.”—Carin*
  • “Cairo Takeaway (Newtown): Delicious Egyptian-inspired street food.”—Keith Brooks*
  • “Go to Hungry Jack, the Burger King in Australia, and get an Aussie burger. Like a Whopper with beets and a fried egg. Amazing tasting.”—Monkeyshines


Roof tiles on the Sydney Opera House
Photo: Johnny Jet


  • “On the day you arrive, you’ll likely be wildly jetlagged. Take an afternoon nap then head out on the town. Exploit the jetlag to stay up all night making bad decisions. After the bars in The Rocks close, walk over to the Opera House, hike up the stairs and grab a seat. Appreciate how much more detailed and beautiful the Opera House’s tiles are up close. Return home exhausted and sleep until noon. You’ll wake up feeling mostly adjusted to the time change, and ready to go out and explore one of the best cities on earth.”—FryCookOnVenus
  • “The zoo is amazing. Great folk working there, and the elephant paddock has a view of the harbor that will make you jealous.”—Monkeyshines
  • “If you’re looking to do a bit of street art yourself, there’s a legal graffiti wall at Sydney University, and even if you’re not the artistic type, it’s so fun to look at what people have made.”—Carin*
  • “Depending on when you go check out the Open Air Movie theater next to the Opera House. Fill an Esky with a Slab and watch a movie outside.”—DWFMBA*
  • “The Opera House has smaller venues inside with cheaper shows. While you’re there have a drink and a bite at the Bennelong bar, no booking required.”—LadyxBec*
  • “Sydney’s greatest asset is its water. Go over to Manly at least once by ferry, ideally outbound during the day and returning at night when the city is lit up.”—kaitainjones
  • “Explore the world’s oldest living culture. The art gallery of NSWs’ Yiribana Gallery has indigenous art from around the country, the Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Cooperative is an Aboriginal owned and operated gallery.”—LadyxBec*
  • “For bucket list items, it does not get any better than scuba diving with sharks at the Manly Sea Life Aquarium. You’re in there cageless with a pair of experienced divers who guide your group around, take expert pictures, and point out the fun stuff. The sharks don’t attack humans, but they’re really big, so they look very legit.”—Carin*
  • “The Sydney Bridge Climb is expensive but worth it. Great views, once in a lifetime experience. The guides are very good, you walk out on to the bridge. It’s not as scary as you would think, the walkways are 4 feet wide or more. Book in advance.”—TCPohlman
  • “If you’re traveling with kids, Darling Harbor has an amazing splash playground. My niece is nuts for it!”—LadyxBec*
  • “If heights are not your thing then you can get great views at a fraction of the price if you go up the Pylon Lookout. Grab drinks at the Glenmore Hotel, it has a rooftop bar that overlooks the harbor and the Opera house.”—LDec
  • “If you’re a fan of dance, the Bangarra Dance Company consists of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander performers, and their shows are a can’t-miss.”—Carin*
  • “The Sculpture by the Sea festival in October is really cool for walking along the coast between Bondi Beach & Tamarama, but it can get crowded. The walking trail above Shelly Beach, near Manly, is one of the best nature views I found on my trips. The Sydney Eye or a helicopter tour are great ways to take in the sights of the entire city. Hanging out at ‘Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair’ is also a great place to be lazy and enjoy the view.”—splooge742


Get Out of Town

  • “Let’s not leave Brisbane out of the mix! The vibe there is more laid back than Melbourne or Sydney. There’s a massive, free, natural outdoor climbing wall along the water on the south bank of the river. And there’s a massive, free outdoor swimming pool/water park good for families, along the boardwalk on the west/south bank of the river.”—Ya Flamin’ Galah!
  • “If you have time, do a trip to the Blue Mountains.”—Tarquin Shrapnel-Carruthers
  • “If you have some extra time to explore the area around Sydney, take a day trip out to Greenhills Beach for surfing lessons. The beach at Bondi is way too crowded for someone just learning for the first time.”—splooge742


That’s it! Leave your own Sydney tips below, and come back next week when we move east to Hawaii.

About the author

Nick Douglas

Staff Writer, Lifehacker | Nick has been writing online for 11 years at sites like Urlesque, Gawker, the Daily Dot, and Slacktory. He lives in Park Slope with his wife and their books.

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