20 Things Sydney Locals Do In Summer

3 January 2017
Read Time: 4.7 mins

Sydneysiders are fiercely patriotic about their beautiful harbourside city. With turquoise waters, pristine beaches, excellent surf, galleries to explore and some of the best food in the country, why wouldn’t they be? While the rest of the city heads out of town to the Central and South coasts, here’s what the local’s who stay put do in Sydney when the mercury rises. 

Bondi To Bronte Walk At Sunrise


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This walk is like a Sydney institution. Every day of the week you’ll find joggers, dog walkers, friends and families traipsing along this spectacular stretch of coastline.  In the summer, go early, you won’t necessarily get away from the crowds, but you’ll be greeted with a sunrise over the ocean and much more pleasant temperatures.

Cool Off In An Ocean Pool

After your Bondi to Bronte walk, cool off in the Bronte Ocean Bath. Sydney has ocean pools carved into the sandstone right along its coastline from Avalon in the north down to Malabar in the south. You’ll also find a few more along the edges of the harbour, including the Maccallum Seawater Pool at Cremorne Point, Andrew Boy Charlton Pool near Mrs Macquarie’s Chair and Redleaf Pool in Double Bay.

Visit Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden


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Artist and wife to the late, great Brett Whiteley, Wendy Whiteley has transformed a derelict plot of land on Sydney’s lower North Shore into a flourishing secret garden over the last 20 years. Now leased to the NSW State Government, the garden is open to the public to enjoy. In Lavender Bay, the garden is a peaceful haven with spectacular views across the harbour – ideal for a summer afternoon stroll.

Sundowners On North Bondi Grassy Knoll


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The little patch of grass to the north of Bondi Beach, known as the Grassy Knoll, offers a perfectly elevated vantage point for views of the sunset. After a day of sun and surf, find a patch of grass and watch the colours spread across the sky, reflecting on the ocean below and sun starts to disappear.

Take The Ferry To Manly For The Day


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The ferry to Manly is another Sydney rite of passage. Pack your togs and towel and jump on a morning ride across for a day at the beach. Manly feels more like a coastal town than Bondi, so Sydneysiders tend to head here for a day-long holiday. Walk around to Shelly Beach at the south end of Manly for excellent snorkelling and diving, or try your hand at surfing with board hire and lessons.   

Eat Fish And Chips At Watson’s Bay Hotel

No summer in Sydney would be complete without fish and chips at Watson’s Bay. The iconic pub is perched right on the water, with views across to the harbour bridge and city in the distance. If you’re coming with a big group it’s worth booking, as it’s a popular drinking hole with Sydneysiders.

Party On The Island

This is a bar on a boat with awesome live music in the middle of Sydney harbour. We needn’t say any more.

Swim With Blue Gropers At Gordons Bay


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Bring your snorkel and mask, as there is actually an abundance of fish to see here. Depending on the day, you might find snorkelling conditions better at Clovelly, just around the corner – and the groupers often hang around there too.

Escape To The Royal National Park


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Under an hour’s drive from the CBD, the Royal National Park has surf beaches, bush walking, camping and cycling, ideal for a few hours or a whole weekend away.

After Work Drinks At Opera Bar


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What could be better than a cocktail in hand, overlooking the harbour bridge at sunset? Watch the ferries come in and out of Circular Quay before catching a show at the Opera House.

Beach Burgers At Out Of The Blue In Clovelly

There’s a tiny little takeaway shop in Clovelly, just up the hill from the beach, where you can get a killer burger, grilled fish and chips for the beast beachside lunch of summer.

Cinema Under The Stars

Perched on the hill at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, overlooking the city, Sydney Opera House and harbour bridge, the St George OpenAir cinema has one of the best views in the world. Partnering with leading Sydney food outlets and caterers, it’s also one of the most delicious.

Experience Art At The Sydney Festival

Bringing a host of events, shows and exhibitions to light from January 7 to 9, the 2017 Sydney Festival is set to be one of the best yet. See the Sydney Dance Company’s take on the masters’ nude sculptures, get lost in the House of Mirrors, or enjoy Opera in the Domain, just to name a few.

Play Lawn Bowls Overlooking The Ocean At Clovelly Bowls


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Lawn bowls is in no way a retirees sport anymore. Head to the Clovelly Bowls, perched on a cliff top overlooking the ocean, for beers and bowling done right.

Paddle Boarding At Camp Cove

Take the ferry to Watson’s Bay or drive north from Bondi to reach this tiny beach at the tip of South Head. Protected thanks to its westerly orientation it’s a perfect place for stand up paddle boarding, snorkelling and sunbathing – all with views to the city of course.

Night Swimming At North Sydney Olympic Pool


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With some of the best views in the city, head here for a twilight or after dark swim on Wednesday to Friday, when the pool is open until 9pm and the city lights are all lit up.

Lunch Overlooking Pittwater At The Newport

A Northern Beaches favourite, this pub has a huge outdoor area overlooking the water. Get wood fired pizza, seafood, salads and burgers and watch a killer line up of live music with a beer in hand.

Kayaking On Pittwater


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Hire a kayak at Palm Beach and explore a wonderland of hidden bays, bushland and beaches. Walk to waterfalls, swim in secluded gorges or even camp in designated areas.

The Grand Canyon Hike In The Blue Mountains


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This stunning hiking trail offers a refreshing day trip into the mountains from Sydney. Setting off from Blackheath deep in the Blue Mountains, the hike takes approximately three to four hours and is a 6.3 kilometre loop. You’ll pass through waterfalls, over creeks, and along ridges with spectacular views.

Chink Glasses At Rooftop Bars

Sydney is the king of rooftop bars, so when it’s hot and you’ve had enough of the beach (unlikely but possible), head to some of the city’s finest open-air drinking holes. Cafe Sydney is a stunner, but you usually need to book; the Glenmore has views over The Rocks to Circular Quay; Coogee Pavillion is spacious and plant-filled with ocean breezes; the Local Taphouse is where to get a beer tasting platter with clear skies overhead; and The Royal Hotel in Paddington is a must-mention on any rooftop bar list. 

Feature image by Vicki Fletcher.

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Vicki Fletcher

Experience Vicki's experience

Head of Content and Social for Flight Centre, Vicki loves road trips down unknown tracks, hiking into mountain ranges, following locals to the best food in town, and spending long afternoons people watching in city squares. She's written for publications across Australia and Europe. Top travel tip: always look up. Follow Vicki on Instagram @vickijanefletcher.