Discover Sydney’s glistening waterways and charming inner-city precincts before indulging yourself in the Hunter Valley wine region.
By Ellie Schneider
What to expect
- See dawn break from the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
- Soak up sea air on the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk.
- Take your pick from more than 120 wineries in the Hunter Valley.
- Time: 3 days
- Distance: 170 kilometres (105 miles)
- Transport: car
- Price: $$$
Visit the glistening harbour, kick back on sun-kissed beaches and dine at city hotspots, enjoying the best that Sydney has to offer. Then, on your final day, take a leisurely drive to the Hunter Valley, where you’ll sample some of the country’s finest wines.
Day 1: Get your culture fix around Sydney Harbour
Wake up early to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge and watch the sun rise above the horizon as you ascend to its summit, 134 metres (440 feet) above sea level. Once Sydney awakens, wander through the nearby cobblestone laneways of The Rocks. This is one of modern Sydney's oldest neighbourhoods, but its history stretches back generations before the arrival of British settlers in the late 1700s. Take a strikingly intimate guided walk with Dreamtime Southern X to discover the area's Aboriginal heritage and learn about the enduring connection Aboriginal people have with Sydney's land, waterways and foreshores. If you're visiting over the weekend, The Rocks Markets showcase original artworks and handmade jewellery. Keep strolling and you will arrive at Circular Quay, where you can visit the inspiring Museum of Contemporary Art, or take an Aboriginal Heritage Tour through Sydney's picturesque Royal Botanic Gardens.
Also try: After you climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, catch a ferry from Circular Quay to Taronga Zoo Sydney to spend the morning with the elephants.
Catch a taxi from Circular Quay to the restaurant hub of Potts Point. Sit down to a leisurely lunch at The Butler, enjoying share plates such as charred prawns and tuna tartare. From The Butler it’s an easy 15-minute stroll to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, which is home to Australian masters and renowned Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. The Australian Museum, located in the inner-city suburb of Darlinghurst, holds one of the finest and most fascinating collections of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artifacts. In the evening, catch a performance at the Sydney Theatre Company at Walsh Bay. But before hand, drop by the Theatre Bar at the End of the Wharf for a pre-show drink; its terrace boasts some of the best views in the city. Get a good night's sleep at one of Sydney’s countless city hotels – in fact, you’ll find the elegant Pier One Sydney Harbour right next door.
Day 2: See world-famous Bondi Beach
Head to Bondi Beach where you can swim or sign up for a surf lesson with Let's Go Surfing. Afterwards browse the boutique shops along Gould Street – including cult fashion store Tuchuzy – and sit down for one of Sydney's most famous breakfasts, Bills' ricotta hotcakes with banana and honeycomb butter. Walk off the indulgent meal on the winding three-kilometre (1.9-miles) cliff top walk from Bondi to Bronte.
Insider tip: If you're visiting Bondi on a Sunday, pick up vintage clothing and pieces by local designers at the Bondi Markets on Campbell Parade.
Explore the hip inner-city suburbs of Paddington and Surry Hills. Wander down Oxford Street to Sydney's fashion strip known as 'The Intersection', where you'll discover premium Australian labels including Bassike and Camilla and Marc. The leafy suburb of Surry Hills is a 15-minute walk from here and home to some of the city's hottest tables. Book well in advance for Nomad and Firedoor. Otherwise, you can enjoy a casual pub meal at Trinity Bar or the Clock Hotel on Crown Street.
Also try: Enjoy sunset drinks and fresh oysters at Opera Bar before catching a performance at the Sydney Opera House. The Sydney Opera House presents more than 450 performances each year, spanning classical music, comedy, theatre, dance and more.
Day 3: Enjoy luxury among the vineyards in the Hunter Valley
One of Australia’s most prominent wine regions, the Hunter Valley, is located just a two-hour drive north of Sydney. Hire a car from the city or join a tour to visit some of its 120 wineries. Sample fine Semillon in Lovedale or team Shiraz with handmade rind and white mould cheeses in Pokolbin. If you are looking for an activity that takes you beyond the bottle, book a hands-on cooking class at Estate Tuscany, where you'll learn to prepare a delicious three-course meal, making the most of the region's fabulous local produce.
If you'd rather discover close by country or coastal towns, take your pick from one of many other destinations around Sydney.
The Hunter Valley offers countless activities to keep you busy. Tee off in one of the region’s three championship golf courses, horse ride across the rolling countryside or float above the vineyards in a hot air balloon. Bushwalk through the rugged Yengo National Park to visit Aboriginal cultural heritage sites, or browse the galleries and antiques at historic villages of Morpeth, Wollombi and Broke. Afterwards be pampered at one of the Hunter’s many day spas before spending the night at five-star luxury resort, Château Élan at The Vintage.
From the Hunter Valley, you can drive two hours back to Sydney or explore other incredible wine regions in New South Wales, like Orange and Mudgee. Alternatively, continue your journey up the east coast of Australia to indulge in a bit of coastal bliss.
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