There's a reason Sydneysiders love their city so much. Beneath the reputation that our lovely lockout laws have un-wilfully bestowed on us, there's an unbeatable combination of food, drink, beaches and atmosphere that you won't find anywhere else in Australia. The trick is that you just have to know where to look for it. That's why we're here.
If you're in the mood to treat yourself, book yourself a flight, then book yourself a room at Pullman Hyde Park (try and get the suite that's designed by Matt Blatt) then indulge in the luxury that Sydney has to offer. In partnership with Pullman Hotels and Resorts, we've created a guide so you can make sure you're getting the best of the best in a limited time frame. When you're in the mood for some sunshine — what's better than a spontaneous weekend trip?
On a quiet, leafy corner in Redfern, you'll find a laid back cafe serving some of the best brunches in town. It goes by the name of Kepos Street Kitchen, and it's the perfect place to start your weekend in Sydney. Israeli-born chef Michael Rantissi has earned a Good Food hat for his creative Middle Eastern dishes. Try the warm hummus with burnt butter, poached egg and taboon bread, or granola with berries and halva yoghurt. Whatever you order, the plates are designed for sharing, so get into sampling as many flavours as possible.
From there, it's a half-hour stroll westwards through Redfern's park-dotted streets to Carriageworks. This left-of-field arts centre is housed inside the huge spaces of a former rail yard. At any given hour, you'll see art installations, dance experiments and live gigs. Saturday, though, is always farmer's market day, an event overseen by chef Mike McEnearney. More than 70 growers and producers congregate to peddle their organic and biodynamic wares. Try handmade sweet treats from The Dessert Makers, truffles from Hartley, the latest bakes from the Bread and Butter Project, goat's cheese from Willowbrae and loads more. You can coffee and dine on the spot, as there's plenty of freshly-cooked fare available, or stock up on picnic supplies.
Chowder Bay walking track.
Speaking of which, your next stop takes you to the harbour, where a good portion of any Sydney weekend should be spent. Jump on a ferry at Circular Quay bound for Taronga Zoo. Walk east and you'll soon find yourself on a track surrounded by bush, and weaving in and out of secret harbour beaches and lookouts. Keep an eye out for water dragons and kookaburras, as you continue for four kilometres, eventually landing in Chowder Bay. If the weather's nice (which it will be, it's Sydney), pack your swimmers because there's a harbour pool. A fine glass of red is on offer afterwards in the East Coast Lounge, alongside hand-stuffed olives with almond, lemon and chilli.
Come evening, make your way to Potts Point, where a string of small bars and eateries have popped up over the past few months. A favourite with the locals for pre- (and post-) dinner cocktails is Jangling Jacks, opened in January this year by artist Orlan Erin Raleigh and her partner Jon Ruttan, founder and former owner of Mojo Record Bar. The walls are covered in classic rock 'n' roll posters — from Tom Waits to David Bowie — and the signature cocktail list features classics with a creative twist, like the Tiki's Hummingbird, which is margarita, with the addition of a homemade sherbet rim and a dash of orange blossom.
The Powder Keg.
Just a stumble down the road, you'll arrive at The Powder Keg. This 17th century inspired hideaway owns the biggest collection of gin in the Southern Hemisphere. Take your pick with your tonic of choice or go for a cocktail, like the Honeymead Sour (vodka, apple liqueur, honeymead and organic cider). The quirky menu includes quail scotch egg with smoked potato, crispy pancetta and mushrooms, as well as oysters with gin and tonic sorbet.
There's no brighter way to start a Sydney Sunday than with a trip to Bondi Beach for brunch overlooking the ocean at Jo and Willys Depot Cafe. You can expect high standards — it's owned by a former Olympic sprinter by the name of Heather Turland and her son Guy, who's CV includes Icebergs. Tuck into the ultimate hippie breakfast: poached eggs on red rice and organic quinoa, piled with toasted seeds, hummus and kale chips. For the least interrupted views, grab a seat on the pavement.
Once you're fuelled up, you'll be ready for a paddling adventure. Pop over to Rose Bay and hire a kayak from Rose Bay Aquatic Hire or Point Piper Kayak Centre. If you feel like playing it safe, keep to the shore, following it towards Point Piper or Vaucluse. Otherwise, get brave and paddle out to Shark Island, which lies about a kilometre from the shore. With its sandy beaches and grassy slopes, it's one of the prettiest islands in the harbour. Before landing, call (02) 9253 0888 to buy a national park entry ticket or, should you have a spare $3300 on you, hire the entire place for your own private use for the day.
10 William St.
Next up, you're heading into town for a spot of lunch. In Paddington, swing by 10 William Street. Owned by the team behind Fratelli Paradiso, this pocket-sized bar is a simple, stripped-back and has excellent food and wine. On the international drinks list, you'll find drops from Italy, Portugal, France and Switzerland, while the tapas-style menu features dishes like citrus with white radicchio and black olives, and quail with sesame and daikon.
Post boozy lunch, leave time for a casual stroll around Paddington. William Street is home to a handful of super-cute boutiques, selling everything from antiques to hair cuts to fancy clothes. Wander to Oxford Street, heading towards the city, to visit Parlour X, an extraordinary collection of designer fashion handpicked by Eva Galambos and occupying St Johns Church. Just down the hill, you'll come across Paddington Reservoir. Once Paddington's main water supply, it's now a sunken garden, inspired by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
For the grand finale, you're heading to Circular Quay to visit the Pullman's newly opened Hacienda. This Cuban-inspired bar calls itself a 'botanical oasis'. Garden trestles and luxe pastel furniture are surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows, looking over Sydney Harbour and the city. The folks behind the design — Applejack Hospitality - have also taken care of Bondi Hardware, The Butler and Della Hyde. As you might've guessed, you'll be sipping on Cuban-influenced cocktails, like the Old Smoked Presidente (aged rum, orange curacao, dry vermouth, house-spiced raspberry syrup and Angostura bitter). Meanwhile, the menu represents a Cuban-American reunion, with fusions like yuka fries, buttermilk fried chicken and pork neck mojo. You also have the option to finish off your weekend with a drink at Mobius Bar and Grill — it's a convenient 500 metres away from the terminal at Sydney airport.