A Design Lover's Guide to Sydney

Apartment Therapy's Design Destination Guide

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Although many outside of Australia think Sydney is the country's capitol, it isn't, although it contains several iconic sights that spring to mind when one thinks of Australia. This city rife with natural beauty is a delight to visit and has something for practically everyone even, if you aren't the beach and surf type.

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See:

  • Sydney Opera House: No visit to Sydney would be complete without a visit to the Sydney Opera House. Even if you're not in the mood for a production, the visit is worth it for a close-up of the iconic sail architecture. 

  • Sydney Harbour Bridge: Alongside the Sydney Opera House, this is one of Sydney's most well known and photographed landmarks. If you're feeling adventurous you can climb it

  • Museum of Contemporary Art Australia: Located in The Rocks, this museum houses contemporary art from Australian and international artists. 

  • Museum of Sydney: This museum sits on the site of Australia's first Government House, built in 1788, and is home to exhibits on the history of the city. 

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Tour:

  • The Rocks Walking Tour: A great way to learn more about the history of a city is through a walking tour, and this historical tour of The Rocks is no exception. 

  • Sydney Seaplanes: Seeing the city by air is quite the treat, and it makes a great and memorable vacation splurge. 

  • The Sydney Opera House Backstage Tour: When I asked Sydney natives about the best tour in the city, every single one answered the Backstage Tour of the Sydney Opera House. The access on this tour is fantastic, and it really does give you an enchanting behind the scenes look.

  • Sydney by Sail: Since Sydney is a city that's pretty well surrounded by water, a tour by sail is an excellent way to soak in the beauty — as long as you're visiting during the right seasons for it, of course.

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Shop:

  • The Modern: The best source for Scandinavian designed furniture and accessories, it's a must-shop for any modern furniture lover. 

  • Shack: This furniture and housewares store is known locally for its affordable pricing and selection of country-provincial style furniture.

  • Attic: Located on Queen street, this boutique sells designer clothing for men and women as well as home accessories. 

  • Victorious: This shop in Paddington contains clothing from Australian designers as well as vintage pieces. 

  • Hatmaker: Home to milliner Jonathan Howard's wares, this boutique contains pieces that can only be described as completely lust worthy. 

  • The Strand Arcade: This landmark shopping center has been around since 1891 and is located in the CBD.

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Eat:

  • Catalina: This excellent restaurant boasts beautiful harbor views, which makes sense considering its location in the former home of Sydney's first international airport (ah the seaplanes). Every time I'm in Sydney, I make it a point to dine here, as it's a wonderful dining experience.

  • Kingsley's Steak & Crabhouse: Omnivore Sydney natives delight in this local establishment and claim it's the best place to get a steak.

  • ARIA: Planning a night at the opera? Dine here for wonderful Modern Australian cuisine, located near the Sydney Opera House.

  • Harry's Cafe de Wheels: A local quick bite mainstay beloved by Sydney natives, Harry's is home to the famous Pies 'n' Peas, which they've been serving up since 1945.

  • Pie Face: This fast food chain serves up inexpensive and delightful little flaky-crusted hand pies, including a tasty vegetarian option which I love. I've also yet to meet a kid visiting Sydney who isn't obsessed with the smiley faced little pies. 

  • Tiger Mottle: This coffee shop makes a fantastic flat white and is a great spot to grab a cup of coffee while strolling around Paddington.

  • Flat White: Located in Woollahra Flat White one of my favourite places to grab, you guessed it, a flat white. 

  • Blu Bar on 36: For one of the best views of Sydney at night, grab a drink at Blu Bar on 36, located inside of the Shangri-La Hotel. 

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Stay:

  • QT Sydney: A quirky boutique hotel in the Central Business District with a fun modern vibe. 

  • Medusa Boutique Hotel: With modern furnishings and a bold color palette, this boutique hotel is a great place to stay while visiting Sydney. 

  • Blue Sydney: This 5 star luxury boutique hotel has amazing views, thanks to its location on the wharf at Woolloomooloo.

  • Establishment Hotel: This luxury boutique hotel in the Central Business District is walking distance from the Sydney Opera House. 

  • Kathryn's: If you prefer a bed and breakfast, check out the well loved Kathryn's, located in a Victorian terrace house in Woollahra. 


Please help us out and add to the guide in the comments - what are your recommendations for Sydney?

(Image 1-3, 5: Joelle Alcaidinho, all others as linked above)

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Joelle loves technology and making things and is in an almost perpetual state of problem solving. She's quite fond of airplanes and coffee and is pretty sure she will eventually read all of the books in her library.