How to Spend 48 Hours in Sydney When You're Treating Yourself to an Autumn Staycation
Start with award-winning cocktail bars and late-night live music — finish with art-filled walking tours and a yum cha feast.
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International travel is still a long way off, but there is one trip you can indulge in without going anywhere at all: a staycation. Sydney's ever-changing metropolis always has something new to offer, and a string of old favourites too, whether you're a Monday-to-Friday commuter or a once-a-year visitor to the CBD. In the past few months alone, our city has opened new bars, restaurants and cafes, unveiled new art exhibitions and even launched a live music festival by St Mary's Cathedral. Plus, some of our beloved venues are still going strong. So, when you're treating yourself to a night in a hotel in the city, here's how we think you should pack-out your weekend.
First things, first. Clock off early and heading straight to award-winning cocktail bar Maybe Sammy. The Rocks bar currently sits at number 11 on The World's 50 Best Bars list. Time your arrival for its daily aperitivo when mini martinis are just $5.50 a pop from 4.30–5.30pm. Choose from shaken and stirred numbers like the Mini Sammy (Ketel One, St Germain Elderflower liqueur and cranberry shrub) or the Mini Frank (Tanqueray, vermouth, blue curaçao and cacao), plus mini negronis and Irish coffees.
Once happy hour wraps up, head around the corner to the Museum of Contemporary Art, which is open late every Friday until the end of March. MCA Late allows visitors to kick on after dark and peruse the stunning gallery from 5–9pm — be sure not to miss its latest exhibition MCA Collection: Perspectives on place.
For more live music, head to Sydney's favourite late-night haunt Frankie's, where DJs take the stage every Friday night. Chair-dance into the night with a slice of the bar's famous pizza in hand before checking into Darling Harbour's Crowne Plaza Sydney. The modern, well-appointed rooms include marble finishes and incredibly comfy king-sized beds — and it has a heated rooftop pool, all for $236.55 a night.
Start your Saturday morning getting to know one of Sydney's most impressive sites like never before. The Sydney Opera House runs one-hour architecture tours every Saturday and Sunday morning from 10am. Tickets are $42 and you'll get to discover more about the history and construction of our city's most iconic building from its mid-1950s beginnings to today. Book ahead to secure a spot.
For lunch, make tracks to the CBD's newest pasta shop Fabbrica. Its outdoor high tables are a hot commodity come lunchtime, when the joint serves up an ever-rotating menu of baked pastas and sandwiches from midday until sold out (Mon–Sat). Previous faves have included an eggplant parmigiana with basil pesto and stracciatella. Pair it with a glass of natural wine, or take home one of the shop's ready-made pasta packs for Monday night's dinner.
After taking full advantage of that heated rooftop pool back at your hotel, head out for an early feed at Vini Divini Wine Lab. It's offering an extensive range of wines by the glass or bottle, with a focus on European drops — not just from France and Italy but also from Turkey, Armenia and Georgia. The food menu focuses on Mediterranean-style small plates; expect beetroot-marinated artichokes, beef carpaccio and pickled herring, along with cheese and salumi plates.
To see out Saturday night with a show, we suggest snapping up tickets to the new concert series, Sunset Piazza. The pop-up stage has turned Cathedral Square into an outdoor cultural hub, with regular shows spanning cabaret, hip hop, comedy and opera. Saturday shows start at 8pm and all gigs are ticketed, but only $25 a pop. See the full lineup over here.
Make your first port of call Sydney's new bakery Picco Leo, a sister venue to the also-new Restaurant Leo. Headed by Karl Firla (of Oscillate Wildly fame) and Federico Zanellato (Lumi Bar and Dining), the Angel Place cafe is turning out top-notch cuppas using The Little Marionette beans alongside next-level pastries. Pick up a freshly baked truffle croissant, anchovy and sage scroll or boysenberry daAnynish for brunch.
Next, walk off those buns on a tour of the city's art-filled laneways. Start with Ever Sun, created by artist Rochelle Haley, which was originally displayed at Carriageworks in October 2020. You'll find the colourful artwork suspended over Wilmot Street near Event Cinemas George Street. To explore further, join one of City of Sydney's free art-filled walking tours.
Before heading home, it's time for one last feast. Haymarket yum cha institution Marigold has exactly what you need: trolleys of barbecued pork buns, steamed rice rolls and siu mai. This well-oiled machine is open for yum cha until 3pm on Sundays. Order the classic mango pancakes to finish and enjoy endless pours of oolong tea to wash it all down.
Top image: Maybe Sammy; Trent van der Jagt
Published on March 01, 2021 by Marissa Ciampi