When you come all the way to Sydney for work and then discover its magnificent landscape and climate, it would be criminal not to add a weekend (preferably a long weekend) to get at least an initial taste of what makes this city one of the most desired destinations on the planet. Here are 5 ways to enjoy your free hours in Sydney while on a solo business trip.
The secret to understanding and appreciating Sydney is by putting on walking shoes and getting out and exploring the city. Small group walking tours are ideal for solo travellers because you not only get a deeper insight into your destination, you also get to meet fellow travellers and lots of locals, and who knows where that can lead.
To understand a little of Sydney’s evolution and heritage, take the Follow the Stream: Tank Stream & Hidden Laneways Walking Tour, a small-group tour of central Sydney that follows the course of the Tank Stream, which was the reason for Sydney’s location. The freshwater stream is now underground, but the city developed around its course. Tour leader John Pastor tailors the two hour tour to the participants and even local Sydneysiders on my tour seemed to be discovering aspects of their city that they didn’t previously know. The tour is conducted at a leisurely pace and took in the main pedestrian plazas, heritage properties, the Rocks area and Sydney Harbour. John Pastor also offers pub tours of Sydney in the evening, which sounds like a fun way of discovering the city’s legendary bar culture.
Walk around the harbour front to one of the hidden gems of the city: The ‘Secret Garden’ of Wendy Whiteley, wife of the famed but troubled late artist, Brett Whiteley. This exquisite and lush garden was reclaimed from old railway land and makes the perfect venue for relaxing with a picnic lunch or turn off your phone and take time out to read a book or a local newspaper.
Sydney’s harbour is so intoxicating that it is tempting to never lose sight of the water, but if you want to get beyond the veneer and see how the real city ticks (well, at least part of it) a trip to the inner western suburb of Newtown should be a priority. This precinct could be called ‘bohemian’, ‘grungy’, ‘alternative’…pick your own label…but it will provide a very different perspective of the city. Forget the spit and polish, this is all about urban expression, and the best way to get a taste for it is by taking a guided street walk through the suburb’s remarkable collection of street art (as opposed to graffiti). You will also find an equally eclectic range of cafes and restaurants, as well as art, clothing and antique stores.
No one back home will believe you’ve been to Sydney if you haven’t been to the beach. World-class surfing beaches are just thirty minutes away by ferry from the centre of the city. The local pick of the impressive bunch is Manly Beach.
The ferry ride across to Manly is an experience in itself (and on Sundays you can travel all day on an Opal Card for just A$2.50), as you get to see the inner harbour before arriving at the manly ferry wharf, which is just a few minutes’ walk from either a surf beach or a calmer harbour beach. At Manly Beach rent a suit and board to catch the waves or get to know the neighbourhood with a walk around the headland before watching the sunset at one of the area’s many restaurants along the waterfront.
Where to Dine Solo in Sydney
Sydney’s climate lends itself to outside dining for most of the year, which also makes it popular for solo diners who can enjoy fine foods, outstanding beers and wine, while having the opportunity to take in an exceptional view or just street watch and enjoy the vibe. For close to half the year from Spring to Autumn, the city has daylight saving, which means there is sun and warmth till about 8:00 p.m, so a good idea is to plan early dinners in the vast range of restaurants that are located around the waterfront (Barangaroo, King Street Wharf, Cockle Bay, The Rocks). Click Here for Six of Our Favourite Places to Dine Alone in Sydney.
Just bring a good pair of shoes, your appetite for discovery and the rest is easy.
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.