A partnership between global airlines Emirates and Qantas is due to be rubberstamped in the coming weeks, making the southern hemisphere far more accessible for travellers from Dubai. Make the most of your long-haul trip with our pick of the must-dos in Australia’s largest city.
Sydneysiders are known to base their plans around where they’ll be taking a dip. Eating, drinking, shopping and cultural pursuits come second to access to the big blue. We suggest you do the same. The city’s beachside café culture is killer, so swim, refuel and then plan your afternoon.
Other than the obligatory beachside suburbs, districts worthy of special attention are Surry Hills and Chippendale. The latter has boomed since the 2009 opening of the White Rabbit gallery, which showcases an impressive private collection of contemporary Chinese art in a four- storey former knitting factory.
Shopping & style
Locals revel in colour, and do so not in malls but in small boutiques where local rag traders are beginning to get noticed on the world stage. For the best taste of this, head straight for Paddington’s Oxford Street – a few hundred metres’ strolling along this shopping strip will serve as your very own version of Sydney Fashion Week.
A few blocks away on William Street you’ll find The Corner Shop, the perfect introduction to great Aussie brands such as Christopher Esber and Magdalena Velevska. Sydney loves vintage glamour too. Newtown’s King Street and Crown Street in Surry Hills are the most densely packed with pre-loved gems. Rozelle Markets is the place to go for bargain-basement finds and Surry Hills is the ticket for second-hand records and books.
For fine art, head straight to the Art Gallery of NSW. The expansive building sits astride glorious inner-city oasis the Royal Botanic Gardens and displays modern and contemporary works alongside spectacular harbour views. Sydney’s other key gallery, MCA, is a must-see: it has recently undergone a multi-million dollar redevelopment.
Sydney Theatre Company, the powerhouse culture collective that boasts Cate Blanchett and husband Andrew Upton as its creative directors, delivers an acclaimed programme every year, and Blanchett often treads the boards here herself.
Music & nightlife
The famous white sails on Sydney Harbour aren’t just there for looks – Sydney Opera House is home to the city’s leading classical musicians and the country’s principal opera company.
If you want to catch a great local band for about AUS$10 (Dhs37), try your luck at FBi Social, where you’ll find up-and-coming bands of just about every genre. And if you’re a fan of four to the floor, check out the bill at the Civic Underground, which houses the city’s best sound system.
Food & drink
If you’re in town to taste the best that Sydney restaurateurs have to offer, make a reservation at a big gun: try Quay, Rockpool Bar & Grill, or slightly out-of-towner Berowra Waters Inn. Chinatown is the place to get bang for your buck, and Menya Mappen is a good, cheap option.
A few streets over, Haymarket is our tip for a pre-dancefloor stomach-liner. Dig into diner classics at The Dip, located in the front bar of super cool nightspot Goodgod Small Club. The Glenmore Hotel in the historic Rocks precinct is a great no-frills local pub, and if you climb to the rooftop, you’ll find an uninterrupted view of that wondrous Utzon-designed structure, the Sydney Opera House.
You’ll no doubt want to see a few beaches while spending time in Sydney – there are about 70 of them dotted across the metropolitan area, so it’s fairly easy to find one that suits you. If you want to do the busy, bronzed, party thing, head for classic choices Manly or Bondi. But if you’re after a break from the urban heave-ho and want to, say, read a book or talk to a friend rather than surf and sashay, well-hidden Milk Beach boasts incredible views of the city, Harbour Bridge and Rose Bay.
Alternatively, Shelly Beach is not far from the crowded sands of Manly, has a protected marine reserve and is home to a scuba school that operates from the beach.
Need to know
Where to stay
Park Hyatt Sydney
Offering high-end hotel accommodation with fantastic Opera House views.
www.sydney.park.hyatt.com (+61 2 9241 1234).
A good-value hostel located right in the middle of the city.
www.mazebackpackers.com (+61 2 9211 5115).
Dubai to Sydney
Flight time: Approximately 14 hours.
Time difference: Seven hours ahead of the UAE.
Dhs1 = 0.26 Australian dollars.