1) Sydney is a Beach City
Brits who visit Sydney should wear sun cream like it’s going out of fashion. There are so many top beaches to enjoy so you’ll be spending a lot of time in the sun. My personal favourite is Palm Beach, an hour’s drive through the scenic Northern Suburbs along the A8 coast road. If I had to pick a beach that is family-friendly that would be an intimate strip of sand called Clovelly Beach. Next up, another cute location is Shark Beach in Nielsen Park equipped with its own shark net and jaw-dropping view of the Harbour Bridge.
2) Sydneysiders love their food
There are many similarities and differences in British and Australian culture. Take fish and chips for example. Sydneysiders love the dish much as we do, but they just don’t get the vinegar thing; balking at the suggestion that they should douse it on their John Dory or Blue Eye Cod. No, strictly squeezed lemon and mayonnaise in Sydney. The best example of this humble meal can be found at a fish restaurant called Fish Face in Double Bay.
In my humble opinion the current coffee revolution in the UK can be attributed to Brits returning from the Antipodes and asking for a better standard of latte than the lava-esque equivalent once prevalent in the UK. For a consistently excellent cup of coffee in Sydney I’d have to call Kawa Cafe in trendy Surry Hills. It’s a shady spot to read a newspaper or chinwag to gregarious locals.
One of the finest eating experiences in the city has to be the iconic Harry’s Cafe De Wheels, a simple hot dog and pie stand with views over Woolloomooloo Harbour (yes, that’s Woolloomooloo. Great name, great location). For a few bucks (dollars) you can feast on a well-made pie with mashed potato and mushy peas (absolute heaven). Don’t let Harry’s simple stature put you off – this cafe has legendary status in Sydney for good reason.
3) Sydney has some beautiful places to hang out
A lot has been said about the Australian lifestyle and for good reason too. I’ve been fortunate to live in some very beautiful places in Sydney, but the district that really stole my heart was leafy Paddington. If you want to get away from it all, yet still feel part of the city, drift over to this lovely suburb and have a meal at the Royal Hotel. A rooftop terrace will provide you with comprehensive views of the city skyline; a serene place to while away the twilight with a glass of Aussie chardonnay.
4) There is plenty of free stuff to do
In the centre of Sydney there is a wonderful park called the Botanical Gardens which links nicely to the leafy suburb of Paddington a few miles away. The reason: Fruit bats. The grey-headed flying-fox likes to hang out (literally) in both places. They roost all day in the trees at the Botanical Gardens and then fly out at twilight to feast on the fruit trees of Paddington.
Sydney is a city alive with wildlife. Twirling lorikeets, cacophonous cockatoos and all the bugs you could run from. If you want to experience this wondrous collection of wildlife at first hand the best place to go is the Botanical Gardens in the heart of the city. There are fabulous views of the city, the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. What’s more, this chilled experience is free.
5) Sydney has many hidden gems
I wouldn’t advise going to Sydney without visiting Bondi. It’s not the best beach-suburb in Sydney, not by a long chalk, but it’s no slouch either. Bondi has so many Brits living there it felt a real home from home and reminded me somewhat of Brighton in East Sussex. But there is a hidden gem of a reason to visit iconic Bondi and remarkably very few people bother with it. Iceberg’s RSL. It is a pub, with a glam restaurant attached to a beautiful swimming pool which is itself attached to the ocean in Bondi Bay. Have I sold this to you yet?
6) Visually Sydney is stunning
Like most people I’m a sucker for good surroundings. Sydney is an extremely handsome city with gorgeous residential properties on every street. A few years back, when the Sydney Olympics were broadcast to the British nation, the pundits confessed that they had received a record amount of emails asking whether the display behind them of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House was real, or was it a blue screen in the TV studio showing a tourist video on constant loop. No, they admitted, it was actually a window, and yes, that was Sydney – beautiful buildings, blue skies, bright sunshine all the way.
7) It’s not just for adults
Take a ferry from Circular Key and glide away from the Sydney opera House and gasp as you pass right underneath the Harbour Bridge and arrive at the permanent city fairground called Lunar Park. This way you combine three attractions for the price of one: harbour cruise, sight-seeing and theme park all in one go.
Perched on a cliff top overlooking the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House, Taronga Zoo is one of the most beguiling attractions in Sydney. But, did you also know that you and your family can camp in luxury safari-style tents right in the middle of the zoo, waking up in this idyllic setting to one of the most spectacular city skylines in the world? Well, you do now.
8) It’s not just for kids
Last is by no means least. This is an excursion that you may have to save up for – but if I were prone to romantic displays of affection I would definitely indulge the object of my desire. There is a sea planethat leaves the jetty in Rose Bay and whisks you off for a short flight with your loved one high over Sydney to the northern suburb of Palm Beach, depositing you at the jetty one of the best appointed restaurants in the city Cottage Point Inn, situated on the Hawkesbury river estuary surrounded by national parkland. This must rate as one of the most glamorous and romantic experiences available. It will cost you – but, seriously, what price is love?