Sydney is ideal for the solo traveller, especially if you have a love for the great outdoors. If you’re lucky to arrive with a fly over of the city before landing at Sydney Airport you will be greeted by a picture-perfect scene outside your plane window: a harbour that just gleams (it’s nicknamed the ‘Emerald City’), a coastline that offers resort-style beaches less than thirty minutes from the city centre, and a modern, bustling skyline that yells “energy.” But unlike London, Paris and New York, Sydney’s attractions aren’t concentrated in a central core, so good planning is really necessary to make the most of all the city has to offer.
Photo Credit: Destination NSW
Where to Stay as in Sydney As A Solo Traveller
Because of Sydney’s spread out geography, being centrally located in the city, close to rail, bus and ferry transport is an absolute ‘must.’ That makes one of the city’s newest hotels—The Tank Stream – A St Giles Hotel—a great base for both business and exploring the city. Wynyard train station is next door and is connected to train lines that can take you just everywhere, including to the airport.
The Tank Stream Hotel is contemporary, stylish, has a great solo-friendly bistro, and is remarkably well priced for such a prestigious location.
Where to Play in Sydney As A Solo Traveller
Learn the ‘Art’ of Alternative Sydney on a Newtown Street Art Walking Tour: While it is attractive to stay close to the water in Sydney and savour the intoxicating mix of picture-perfect scenery, dazzling cocktails and super-fresh seafood, it’s worth discovering the inner suburbs, especially through the Culture Scouts group. I have never been sure where graffiti stops and street art begins but after a tour of the eclectic suburb of Newtown (about 5km from the city centre) I think I now know. It doesn’t really matter if art isn’t your passion, this is more about the culture, history and people of ‘real’ Sydney. I once ended up at a local brewery where a group of us—from three continents, with two ‘locals’—spent a wonderful lunch digging beneath the very pretty veneer of the ‘Emerald City’ (as Sydney is called).
Street Art, Newtown (Photo Credit: Destination NSW)
Explore Sydney’s Great Beach Culture at Bondi Beach: Australia’s most famous beach can get very crowded and seems to attract visitors from just about every country in the world. The surf can be powerful, but the beach is patrolled by lifeguards. If you want the ultimate Aussie experience, book a surf lesson with Let’s Go Surfing or just watch the surfers in action from the many restaurants or cafes overlooking the beach. Another great ‘local’ option is to walk along the coastline from Bondi to Coogee, and get a better feel for Sydney’s landscape and lifestyle.
Take a Ferry Ride: Must do’ journeys invariably include a ferry ride. A trip to Manly (to the north of the city) allows you the opportunity to see what a lot of tourists pay ten times more for —think million-dollar views of the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and the harbour itself—and then when you arrive at Manly there is a world-class surfing beach and a huge array of casual restaurants within a few minutes of the ferry terminal. Manly is also an attractive place to walk, with beautiful headland trails, during which you can get a feel for Sydney’s bush and coastal landscape.
Walk Across the Sydney Harbour Bridge: While you will see groups of tourists looking like ants as they climb over the metal arch that spans the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a far more casual and inclusive way of gaining a similar view without all the formality or cost is by simply walking across the Bridge. First, take the opportunity of exploring the Rocks or Sydney’s newest waterside park, Barangaroo, from where you can access the pedestrian walkway across the Bridge, and on many weekends you will find a vibrant community market on the northern side of the Bridge at Kirribilli.
Where to Eat + Drink as A Solo Traveller in Sydney
Le Petit Flot
This warm, easy going light-filled bistro is part of the Tank Stream Hotel and features large communal dining tables, ideal for solo travellers. The menu is a very attractive combination of French influences, local Australian produce and an Asian twist—which in many ways is the best way to describe ‘modern Australian cuisine.’ The dishes are well priced and the service team clearly knew their wines.
97 Pitt St, Sydney; lepetitflot.com
The Opera Bar
If you come to Sydney, you have to visit the Sydney Opera House. This building is deserving of the word ‘iconic.’ Performances often need to be booked well in advance, but if you just want to sit and marvel at the architecture, gawk at the incredible harbour vista and take in what makes Sydney such an energetic destination, grab a seat the Opera Bar and you’ll be singing from the hymn sheet.
Photo Credit: Destination NSW
This bar is understandably popular and you’ll find plenty of other visitors to the city wanting to combine a drink, maybe some fresh Sydney oysters and the Opera House/Harbour bridge combination. With such an epic backdrop, it’s not surprising that the cocktails are designed to be photographed for Instagram and Facebook feeds. The beer list is extensive with the house organic pale ale matching the sparkling setting.
Lower Concourse, Bennelong Point (Sydney Opera House)
Peter Hook is a journalist and travel industry professional who has lived in Sydney for a number of decades, exploring every part of the city and discovering its best restaurants, entertainment, attractions and activities.