In this blog post, I will discuss about Where to stay in Sydney first time, the best areas to stay in Sydney for first-timers (with a map and video), and best hotels in Sydney for all budgets (including the hotel where I stayed).
Sydney is the capital city of the state of New South Wales in Australia. It is also the largest city in the country and is known for its iconic landmarks, beautiful beaches, and vibrant culture.
Sydney is famous for its architectural marvels, including the Sydney Opera House, which is recognized worldwide for its distinctive sail-like design. Another iconic landmark is the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which spans the Sydney Harbour and offers stunning views of the city.
Where to stay in Sydney first time?
The best areas to stay in Sydney for first-time tourists are Sydney CBD, Darling Harbour, The Rocks, Circular Quay, Kings Cross, and Bondi Beach. These are popular and safe locations, offering a wide variety of attractions and amenities.
Sydney CBD, without doubt, is the overall best area to stay in Sydney for first-timers. It has wide range of accommodations, so I’m sure you’ll find a hotel that suit your budgets. You’ll be located close major sights such as the Opera House, and many restaurants, bars, and shops.
To book hotel, I recommend spending at least 5 days in Sydney, which is enough to get the sense of the city, enjoy food and drink, and see the most famous attractions. If you have more days, you can see Sydney in a slower pace, and take a day trip to The Blue Mountains.
Where did I stay in Sydney?
When I first visited Sydney, I stayed for 3 nights in the CBD area, at the popular The Grace Hotel. It was a great hotel in the heart of the city, an easy distance from the iconic Harbor Bridge and Opera House. I had a pleasant stay in a spacious room and a great Breakfast.
|💖 Best Area for first time:||Sydney CBD/Central Business District|
|💎 Best luxury hotel:||The Fullerton Hotel Sydney|
|🏨 Best mid-range hotel:||The Grace Hotel|
|💰 Best budget hotel:||YEHS Hotel Sydney QVB|
|💰 Best backpacker hostel:||The Pod Sydney|
Map of areas and neighborhoods in Sydney for visitors:
Best areas to stay in Sydney for first-time tourists are:
1. Sydney CBD
The Central Business District is the best place to stay in Sydney for first-time travelers because it is the most central area of Sydney and it offers a wide range of accommodation options for all budget travelers.
In addition to being the business and finance centre of the city, the CBD is also a hub of nightlife, shopping, and tourist attractions, attracting thousands of workers and shoppers visit every day.
The center of CBD is the George Street, packed with practical business chic, government offices, as well as restaurants, bars, and shops. This area has a mix of both the glass, steel skyscrapers and lovely old colonial buildings.
The grand Town Hall is one such historic building. It is often possible to tour the inside of the building, but this depends on what is going on at the hall so make sure to book in advance.
The Queen Victoria Building offers both historic style and a wonderful shopping experience. The gorgeous Romanesque building includes mosaiced floors and numerous stores and stalls. You can browse to your heart’s content enjoying both the eclectic wares and the beautiful surroundings.
Sydney CBD offers plenty of shopping opportunities. The pedestrian Pitt Street Mall is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. It boasts a mix of both chain stores and boutiques.
You can also find find multiple floors of fashionable boutiques with an artsy flare at the Galeries Shopping Centre. There are plenty of lovely cafes to stop at when you need a rest, too.
There are numerous cultural attractions in the CBD. The Art Gallery of New South Wales is one of Australia’s leading art museums, attracting million visitors each year.
The Hyde Park Barracks Museum is a World Heritage Listed site in Sydney, a noble brick building, designed by the convict architect Francis Greenway to house prisoners arriving in the colony. There are also performance at Metro Theatre and The City Recital Hall.
If you get tired of the crush of high-rises and crowds, you can escape to Hyde Park. It is the nations’s oldest public park, home to the Anzac Memorial, Archibald Fountain, as well as many other monuments and fountains to enjoy as you relax on the manicured lawns.
If you want a really stunning view of the city, the Sydney Tower Eye is the place to go. The viewing platform at the top of the tower offers fantastic views across the Hyde park and the city centre.
You can find WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo at the west of the CBD, overlooking darling Harbour. The Sea Life Sydney Aquarium is just next door. Both the zoo and the aquarium highlight Australia’s unique wildlife, so it is a fascinating day out for the whole family.
Whilst much of this district is inland, the western area runs along the water, so you can still enjoy waterfront views and hospitality whilst staying right in the city centre. There are plenty of bars and restaurants that take advantage of the scenic location.
King Street Wharf is a bustling area of shops, bars, restaurants, and cafes that line the banks. After a long day sightseeing, you will have plenty of choices to relax with dinner by the river.
Being so centrally located, Sydney CBD is the best area in Sydney for car-free travelers. It is the transport hub of the city, you can easily explore attractions by foot and public transport. Darling Harbour, China Town, and the Rocks and Circular Quay areas all border the CBD.
Sydney CBD offers a wide range of accommodation ranging from backpacker hostels, to 5-star hotels and apartments. There are also lots of options for budget travelers.
Stay In Sydney CBD If you are first-time travelers; you want to stay right in the city center; you want great nightlife; you want great public transportation; you travel without a car;
Best places to Stay in Sydney CBD for first-time visitors:
luxury ($$$): The Fullerton Hotel Sydney, 5-star luxury hotel, one of the best places to stay in the heart of Sydney for first-time visitors. Its location is short walk from The Martin Place Railway Station and Wynyard Railway station.
mid-range ($$): The Grace Hotel, 4.5-star family-friendly hotel, located in central Sydney, close to to the famous Harbour Bridge and Opera House, as well as Shopping at the QVB and Pitt Street Mall. It has a rooftop fitness centre with an indoor swimming pool and a sauna.
budget ($): YEHS Hotel Sydney QVB, 4-star children-friendly hotel, located in the CBD. A short Uber ride from Capitol Theatre, Star Event Centre, and International Convention Centre Sydney.
budget ($$): The Pod Sydney, great backpacker hostel, one of the best places to stay in Sydney on a budget for solo travelers, offering capsule bedding with personal lockers, air-conditioning, and free WiFi. It is within easy walking distance to the famous Capitol Theatre and Darling Harbour.🔍MORE HOTELS IN SYDNEY CBD
2. The Rocks/ Circular Quay
The Rocks is Sydney’s oldest historical area. It was the site of Australia’s first European settlement when the British sailor, Captain Arthur Phillip, landed with the First Fleet in 1788 and established a colony for British prisoners on the site.
The Rocks and Circular Quay area in North Sydney are some of the best areas to stay in Sydney for first-timers because they are great locations to see all the main attractions. Located right on Sydney Harbour, you will be perfectly positioned to enjoy Sydney’s most iconic views.
You can explore the area by joining 1.5hrs tour, The Rocks Walking Tours, to learn more about the history of colonial Sydney as you explore The Rocks. You will visit the Cadman’s Cottage, Campbell’s Cove, and Susannah Place, as well as the shady courtyards, pubs, historical buildings, and narrow laneways.
History buffs and art lovers can visit numerous museums including The Rocks Discovery Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art on George Street, and The Argyle Gallery, with a collection of Australian and Aboriginal art and fine crafts.
The Opera House is the most prominent attraction in this area. Probably the most well known and most photographed location in all of Australia, no visit to Sydney is complete without a glimpse of the opera house.
If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend a performance or show at the Sydney Opera House you should definitely take it. You will certainly be the envy of all your friends.
Of course, if you just want to view the iconic building, it is best viewed from across the harbour. You can enjoy some spectacular views from Pylon Lookout on Dawes Point, then visit the historic Dawes Point Battery right beside the lookout.
If you do want to get up close to the Sydney Opera House, you will have to walk right by the Royal Botanic Gardens where you can find numerous themed gardens and educational centres to a pool and open-air cinema.
For such a central district, staying in the Rocks and Circular Quay area will have you surrounded by open spaces and opportunities to enjoy nature. In addition to the sprawling Botanical Gardens, you can also enjoy the lovely Observatory Hill Park.
Aside from being a lovely little public park to relax in, Observatory Hill Park also offers wonderful views of the surrounding city. You can look out across Sydney Harbour and the sweeping arches of Sydney Harbour Bridge. It makes the perfect location for a picnic.
Meanwhile, nearby Barangaroo Reserve offers trails through a lovely waterside nature park. If you want a relaxing afternoon, head to Barangaroo Reserve and enjoy a walk or a picnic with lovely views over the bay.
If you want to head out onto the water rather than just looking at it, then head to Circular Quay Ferry Terminal. From here you can take a pleasant ferry ride to numerous destinations around Sydney Harbour and along Parramatta River.
Just across Sydney Harbour Bridge are the lovely districts of North Sydney and Milsons Point. If you want to stay close enough to see the opera house from your hotel, but also a little further from the inner-city crowds, this area just across the river would be a fantastic location.
Between the river views, the lovely parks, and the iconic and historic attractions, this area is ideal if you are planning a romantic getaway. You will have plenty of opportunities for romantic dates. A honeymoon would even give you an excuse to splurge on a room with views of the opera house.
You can grab a drink and enjoy the views in of its pubs at the historic Lord Nelson, Hero of Waterloo, Fortune of War, the Observer, and the Orient. The Rocks also offers lively nightlife with lots of live music, rooftop bars, and restaurants.
There are hundred of locally-produced, hand-crafted stalls in Rocks Market every weekend, and the Rocks Foodies Market on every Firday between 9am – 3pm.
With such magnificent and iconic views, it is no surprise that hotels here are amongst the most expensive in the city. If money-no-object trip, then you have some fantastic options to choose from here. You could even score a room with views of Opera House.
Stay In The Rocks and Circular Quay If want to stay close to the major attractions; you are first-time travelers; you travel without a car; you want a central area with lots of open space, and you are planning a romantic city break or honeymoon.
Best Places to Stay in Sydney in The Rocks for first-timers:
luxury ($$): Sir Stamford Circular Quay, 5-star beautiful hotel, one of the best hotels in Sydney for couples and families with children of all ages. Featuring a sundeck with stunning views of Sydney Harbour and Circular Quay. short 5-minute stroll from the world-famous Opera House.
luxury ($$$): Park Hyatt Sydney, 5-star modern hotel set between Opera House and Harbour Bridge, 25 minutes’ drive by car from Sydney International Airport. It has a heated pool, a spa, and a wellness centre. Rooms are spacious, with luxury furnishing, fittings, plush carpets.
mid-range ($$): The Tank Stream Sydney, 4-star stylish accommodation in the heart of Sydney CBD, easy stroll from Wynyard Train Station, Pitt Street Mall, Circular Quay and Opera House. It has rooms for couples, singles, and families.
budget($): Sydney Harbour YHA, great budget-friendly hostel featuring a beautiful rooftop views of the Opera House, Harbour Bridge. You will be located within walking distance to heritage buildings, boutique shops, cafes, restaurants and bars.🔍MORE HOTELS IN ROCK & CIRCULAR QUAY
3. Darling Harbour
Darling harbour is located just west of the Central Business District, wrapping around Tumbalong Bay. Darling Harbour is particularly popular with families, with so many family dining spots and family friendly attractions within easy walking distance.
Sea Life Sydney Aquarium and Wild Life Sydney Zoo are both just a few minutes away along the water. Sydney’s Madame Tussauds Wax Museum is just a little further along too. You can enjoy all the top Sydney attractions whilst also keeping close to lovely waterfront views.
Meanwhile, Tumbalong Park offers a well equipped play area alongside its manicured Chinese garden. It’s a great place for kids to spend some time outdoors and run off some energy. You can also explore one of the tall ships at the Australian National Maritime Museum.
If you love a spot of shopping you will want to head to the Harbourside Shopping Centre. The multilevel complex of fashionable boutiques and trendy stores overlooks the water for a scenic shopping experience.The Harbourside Shopping Centre is also popular with diners. The mall is full of upscale restaurants with waterside dining terraces for a lovely al fresco experience.
There are plenty of cafes, restaurants, pubs, bistros, stylish cocktail bars along the waterfront. The Darling Harbour neighborhood offers great nightlife scene.
On Saturday evenings, you should head to the waterfront to witness the weekly firework show. Cockle Bay Wharf is a particularly popular location to view the fireworks from. It can get pretty crowded though, so you might need to get there early if you want to score a good spot.
Being close to the city centre, and quite a popular location, Darling Harbour is one of the best places to stay in Sydney for first-time visitors.
Darling Habour is well-connected public transportation. Staying here offers easy access to major attractions, as well as many choices of lodging, shopping, dining, and nightlife.
The area has its share of pricier accommodation. However, whilst many of the hotels here demand higher prices, there are still also plenty of mid-range and affordable hotel options too.
Stay In Darling Harbour If you want to be surrounded by family friendly attractions; you are first-time visitors; you want to stay close to the city centre, you love fireworks and want to witness the weekly fireworks show over cockle bay; you travel without a car;
Best places to stay in Sydney in Darling Harbour for first-time tourists:
luxury ($$$): The Star Grand Hotel and Residences Sydney, 5-star hotel, located in The Star Entertainment Complex, short walk from CBD. Most rooms offer panoramic views of the city skyline. Easy access to Chinatown, Town Hall Railway Station, and Central Station.
luxury ($$$): Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour, 5-star hotel, one of the best hotels in Sydney, located in a great location, great base for travelers without a car, easy walk to the International Convention Centre. Featuring a rooftop infinity pool and state-of-the-art fitness centre.
mid-range ($$): Aiden by Best Western @ Darling Harbour, 4-star hotel offers a 24-hour front desk and a tour desk. Close to Australian National Maritime Museum, The Star Event Centre and International Convention Centre Sydney.🔍MORE HOTELS IN DARLING HARBOUR
4. Surry Hills/ Newtown
Surry Hills is one of the trendiest neighborhoods in the city, located just 1km from CBD. Popular with Sydney’s younger crowd, Surry Hills is a large suburb full of hip eateries and fashionable shopping.
Less of a tourist trap, this is a great place to escape the crowds whilst keeping close to the attractions of the city centre. Accommodations here are cheaper the CBD.
There is a distinctly hipster vibe to Surry Hills. The area boasts an abundance of fancy cafes offering the best of Sydney’s coffee scene. Australia is known for valuing great coffee, so you know any area of Sydney that makes coffee a highlight is going to be serving the good stuff.
In addition to the coffeeshops, there are also numerous quirky boutiques and art galleries to browse around. When you need a break or an organic brunches, Surry Hills has a great collection of chic restaurants, lively pubs, bars, and fashionable cafes to choose from, especially along Crown Street.
Despite the hipster vibe, there is an authenticity to Surry Hills that keeps it from feeling too pretentious. There’s a genuine creativity to the community here that seeps into the general atmosphere.
One particularly notable perk to staying in Surry Hills is its proximity to Sydney’s largest train station. Sydney Central Station offers links throughout the city. If you are travelling to Sydney by train, it is likely you will be coming into central station.
Staying close by to Central Station will help to minimise time spent travelling between your hotel and the train station. Both when coming in and out of Sydney, as well as when travelling around the city during your stay.
If you want to stay closer to the airport, you might want to consider Newtown, which has a similar hipster vibe and is a hub of thrift stores and secondhand bookshops.
Stay In Surry Hills and Newtown If you want to stay in an area with a trendy but laid back vibe, you love vintage stuff and hunting for second hand bargains, you want to keep close to the city centre but away from the crowds of tourists, you want to stay close to transport links.
Best Places to Stay in Surry Hills for first-timers:
- luxury ($$$): Crystalbrook Albion, 5-star hotel, in the heart of Surry Hills in Sydney, home to a range of food and beverage such as Chin Chin, Firedoor and Nomad.
- mid-range ($$): Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney Surry Hills, family-friendly apartment, offers a selection of fully-furnished modern accommodations, 10 mins walk from Central Station.
- luxury ($$$): Adge Hotel and Residences, 5-star children-friendly accommodation, 10 minutes’ walk from Hyde Park and Sydney city centre, short drive by car from popular Chinatown and Darling Harbour.
5. Kings Cross
The former red light district, Kings Cross is one of the most popular suburb in Inner East. It is only around a 20-minute walk from the Central Business District, so you won’t be too far from the popular tourist attractions of the city centre.
Kings Cross offers great nightlife with plenty of specialty bars, lounge bars, old school pubs and underground nightclub. The King Cross Hotel offers music, food, drink and entertainment every night.
The intersection of William Street, Darlinghurst Road and Victoria Street was known as Queens Cross in 1890s in honour of the Jubilee Queen Victoria. The name was changed to Kings Cross in 1905 to avoid confusion with Queens Place.
In earlier 19th century, it was known as Woolloomooloo Hill, and is the most prestigious residential area in Sydney with many mansions was built here. After World War II, the area was influenced by the returning troops from the Garden Island naval base nearby.
Once one of the grittier areas of Sydney, Kings Cross still maintains some of its edgy vibe but has been noticeably uplifted over recent years. Now the streets are lined with trendy cafes and quirky boutiques taking advantage of the lower rents in the area.
One of the things the Kings Cross area is known for is its preserved historic buildings. Many of the streets are lined with pretty, Victorian era houses. It is nice to spend an afternoon wandering the streets, appreciating the aesthetic, and popping into small shops and cafes along the way.
Elizabeth Bay House is a prominent historical building in the area. The 19th century home features columned entrances and balconies overlooking the nearby bay. Guests can enjoy tours of the opulent house and grounds, still furnished in the period style.
Kings Cross is one of Sydney’s top nightlife districts. The bars and clubs here are a little edgier than what you might find in the Central Business District. If you prefer your parties less polished and with more of a bite, this would be a great place to go for a night out.
Sex work has been legal, although heavily regulated, in Australia since the early 90s. Kings Cross has been known as Sydney’s Red-Light District since well before then. If you are interested in seeing how that impacts a city’s nightlife, then Kings Cross is a fascinating place to visit after dark.
Although it has been rejuvenated and uplifted in recent years, Kings Cross still maintains some of its seedier reputation and atmosphere. If you are content staying somewhere with a bit of an edgier vibe, then you can take advantage of the much more affordable accommodation available here.
Some points of interest in King Cross are El Alamein Fountain, The Fire Station, Old Fitzroy Hotel, Piccolo Bar, King Cross Hotel, and Coca Cola billboard sign.
Kings Cross is well known for being one of the cheapest areas to stay within Sydney. You will find plenty of budget accommodation to choose from. There are even hostels that cater specifically to backpackers that charge incredibly low rates if you are happy to accept the very basic facilities.
If you are concerned about staying in a grittier district, but still want to benefit from the affordable accommodation, try looking for hotels in the northwest section of Kings Cross. Bordering nearby Potts Point, you can still find plenty of budget options whilst staying on the edge of a more upscale district.
Stay In Kings Cross you are looking for budget-friendly accommodation; you want a gritty, urban vibe; you are curious to visit Sydney’s red light district; you are working with a smaller budget;
Best Places to stay in Sydney In Kings Cross for first-time visitors:
mid-range ($$): Springfield Lodge, family-friendly boutique hotel has Deluxe Double and Springfield Suite with fridge, air-conditioning and free wifi. Sydney Airport and Bondi Beach are both around 15 minutes drive by car.
mid-range ($$): Sydney Potts Point Central Apartment Hotel Located only 3 minutes’ walk from Kings Cross Train Station, this apartment provides a rooftop terrace with harbour and city views and BBQ facilities. All rooms have air-conditioning, refrigerator, tea and coffee maker.
mid-range ($$): Annam Serviced Apartments Convenienly located conveniently within a short walking distance from Kings Cross Railway Station, restaurants, bars and shops, this lodging offers modern studios with full kitchen facilities and free WiFi.🔍MORE HOTELS IN KINGS CROSS
🎬 Check out my virtual tour about the best places to stay in Sydney in this video:
Located just 3km east of the CBD, Paddington, or Paddo by locals, is the heritage village and is a trendy and cosmopolitan inner Sydney suburb. Home to lovely historic buildings, Paddington is a vibrant neighbourhood that keeps its fashionable atmosphere without falling into pretentiousness.
Once a blue collar or workers suburb, Paddo has been gentrified and become home of many stunning restored Victorian era terraces. The neighborhood will give you a strong sense of Sydney in the 19th-century.
If you enjoy shopping, Paddington offers an alternative to the more mainstream fare of central Sydney. The streets of Paddington are lined with chic, independent boutiques and charming cafes.
Oxford Street is a popular road for tourists to visit. One of the main roads in the city, Oxford Street is lined with beautiful Victorian era houses. Dotted with trendy cafes, it is lovely to take a stroll along Oxford Street and appreciate the pretty facades.
Located along Oxford Street are the popular Paddington Markets, opened in 1973. The market features numerous stalls selling the wares of local craftspeople, designers, and artists. You can find everything from fashion and homewares to art pieces. It is a great place to pick up some unique, local souvenirs.
Also along Oxford Street are the Paddington Reservoir Gardens. Far from your typical city park, the Paddington Reservoir Gardens are located in the recess of a defunct reservoir. Featuring the remains of old brick buildings against the newer metal bridges and walkways, it’s a pretty unique space.
There are also quite a few art galleries scattered about Paddington. From contemporary to classic, canvas to sculpture, whatever art style is your preference there is sure to be a gallery that caters to your tastes. Down practically every street you will stumble across another gallery displaying local artists’ works.
Whilst you will be staying close enough to the city centre to easily visit all the major tourist attractions, Paddington is also reasonably close to Bondi Beach. Whilst it’s probably a bit too far to comfortably walk, you can get there fairly quickly by train, bus, or car if you fancy a day at the beach.
Alternatively, if you want to spend some time outdoors but don’t want to schlep all the way to Bondi Beach, nearby Centennial Park offers a convenient escape from the press of the urban jungle. The park covers almost 470 acres and boasts duck ponds, cafes, and barbeque areas.
Best places to stay in Sydney in Paddington for first-time travelers:
- mid-range ($$) Mrs Banks Hotel
- mid-range ($$) The Hughenden Boutique Hotel
- budget ($) Manor Boutique Hotel Sydney
Located in Haymarket, Australia’s largest Chinatown is a tiny little neighbourhood at the south end of the city centre. The entrance to Chinatown is marked by ornate gateways called Paifang, guarded by Chinese lion-dog statues. It really helps set the aesthetic for the area, welcoming you into a hub of Chinese culture and cuisine.
Sydney’s Chinese Center was located in The Rocks and Darling Harbour in the past, but it began to establish itself in its current location of Haymarket at CBD’s southern around 1920.
Dixon Street is a the pedestrian only and the main street of Chinatown. Hay Street is home to the City Amusement, Market City, Paddy’s Markets, and many yum cha restaurants. Paddy’s Markets is a great place to find Australian souvenirs for family and friends.
The Friday Chinatown Night Market offers great live entertainment and shopping. You will find tons of quality Chinese restaurants here, so if you get a craving for Chinese food, you know where to go. It’s not just Chinese food either. You can also enjoy great Japanese and Korean food here too.
There are also numerous shops selling Chinese trinkets and craft goods. If you are looking for a bargain, the markets around this area are full of them. From clothes and accessories to traditional Chinese wares, you can spend hours browsing the varied stalls.
If you want to take in the Chinese culture whilst enjoying the fresh air, there is a Chinese Friendship Garden in nearby Tumbalong Park. The garden features pagodas and koi ponds as well as a charming tea house.
Despite being within easy walking distance of many of Sydney’s major attractions, Chinatown offers some incredibly affordable accommodation options. If you want to stay close to the city centre without breaking the bank, this is a perfect location.
Chinatown is also right next to Sydney Central Station. If you are travelling into Sydney by train, then staying in or near Chinatown will mean less time shuffling between the station and your hotel.
Stay In Chinatown If you are looking for budget accommodation super close to the city centre, you want to stay close to Sydney Central Train Station, you really love Chinese culture and food; this is your first-time visiting Sydney;
Best Places to stay in Syndey in Chinatown:
- mid-range ($$): Novotel Sydney Darling Square
- mid-range ($$): The Ultimo
- mid-range ($$): Great Southern Hotel Sydney
8. Darlinghurst/ Potts Point
Darlinghurst is a vibrant suburb separated from the city centre by Hyde Park. If you are looking for where to stay in Sydney that will provide an authentic, artsy vibe, with affordable accommodation, within walking distance of the city centre, Darlinghurst is a fantastic neighbourhood to consider.
Darlinghurst is home to the National Art School which explains why there are so many galleries in the area. In amongst all the contemporary galleries showcasing typical modern art, there is also The Artery.
The Artery Contemporary Aboriginal Art Gallery features various works by local aboriginal artists, perfect for getting to grips with Australia’s cultural heritage. Many of the pieces are available for sale. They would make for fantastic, culturally significant souvenirs.
Darlinghurst is the centre for Sydney’s LGBTQ community. If you are looking for LGBTQ friendly nightlife, head to the stretch of Oxford Street between Hyde Park and the University of Notre Dame. This area is lined with gay bars and clubs, ensuring you will enjoy a fabulous night out.
Nearby Potts Point is one of Sydney’s oldest neighbourhoods, and a little more upmarket than its surrounding areas. Just north of Kings Cross, it carries on the artsy atmosphere of the surrounding neighbourhoods whilst adding a little extra chic.
Foodies will love the variety available in the Potts Point area. The streets are lined with fashionable cafes and bistros offering a range of cuisines from around the world. If you aren’t feeling up to a fancy sit down dinner, there are some excellent local takeout restaurants here.
If you want to keep things really casual, head to Kings Cross Market. Here you can find dozens of food trucks and street food stalls to enjoy an al fresco lunch. Alternatively, head to one of many farmers’ markets to sample some incredible local produce and even more street food.
Other places of interest nearby are the Woolloomooloo Finger Wharf, Artspace, El Alamein War Memorial Fountain, The McElhone Stairs, Potts Point Galleries, Coca Cola Sign, The Metro (Minerva) Theatre, and Tusculum.
The northern end of Potts Point is less developed, stretching out into a narrow peninsula. If you head out to the end of the peninsula you can enjoy stunning panoramic ocean views. You can see straight across the water to a wonderful view of Sydney Opera House.
This part of the peninsula is known as Garden Island. It is home to a navy base and the Royal Australian Navy Heritage Centre museum. The walk up to Garden Island is lovely, with the east side offering ocean views and the west side looking across the water to the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Being just outside of the city centre and quite close to Kings Cross, there is plenty of affordable accommodation to be found in the Darlinghurst area. There are a lot of good quality hostels for those who are really trying to keep costs down.
Potts Point can be a little more expensive, with a few more luxury options, particularly overlooking the ocean. However, there are still many mid-range to budget hotels and apartments to choose from. You can get the best of both an upscale neighbourhood and affordable accommodation.
Stay In Darlinghurst and Potts Point If you want to stay in a trendy inner city suburb, you want to stay relatively close to the city centre without breaking the bank, LGBTQ friendly nightlife is a priority for you, you are trying to keep accommodation costs down
Best places to stay in Darlinghurst and Potts Point for first-time tourists:
- Luxury ($$$): Medusa Hotel Sydney
- Mid-range ($$): Best Western Plus Hotel Stellar
- Budget ($): Darlo Bar Darlinghurst
9. Bondi Beach
Probably the most famous beach in Sydney, Bondi Beach and the surrounding neighbourhood is hugely popular with tourists. If you are planning to stay in Sydney for a relaxing beach vacation, Bondi Beach is probably high on your list of possibilities.
Located in East Sydney, Bondi Beach itself is covered in things to do. Obviously, you can spend your time relaxing on the soft, golden sand. Alternatively, head into the water and take advantage of the various water sports on offer.
Surfing is a very popular pastime in Bondi. The conditions in the area mean there are plenty of perfect waves to ride. If you have never surfed before, but would love to try, there are surf shops and schools along the length of the beach to get you started.
Being so incredibly popular, Bondi Beach can get super crowded. If you want to relax on a quieter beach, there are plenty of smaller beaches nearby to choose from. Generally, the further out from the main city, the quieter the beach.
It might sound like an unpleasant trek to have to walk out of town to find a more relaxing beach. However, the Bondi Beach area is actually well known for having some of the best coastal walks in the region.
A particularly popular walk is the route that leads from Bondi Beach, through Bronte Park, all the way to Coogee Beach. It is a pleasant 3 kilometre long walk along the clifftops and shoreline, offering stunning ocean views the whole way. There are plenty of cafes to stop at along the way, so you won’t get too tired.
Coogee Beach is another super popular location. Being relatively close to Bondi Beach, but away from the more fashionable, and pricy, main town, Coogee is particularly popular with backpackers. Coogee Beach is slightly more sheltered than Bondi, so it is better if you prefer calmer waters.
The Coogee Coastal Walk continues along the shoreline, following it round through nature reserves and numerous smaller beaches. There are even some saltwater pools set into the rocks dotted along the stretch. Ideal if you want to go for a dip but are nervous about Australia’s notorious sharks.
Another perk to staying near Bondi Beach is the proximity to Sydney Airport. You can also avoid the often terrible city centre traffic.
If you do want to stay closer to the waterfront without breaking the bank, you may want to try nearby Coogee Beach. There are a few more mid-range options overlooking the beach here and even more affordable hotels, apartments, and hostels just a little further inland.
Stay In Bondi Beach If staying close to some of the best beaches in Sydney is a priority, you love surfing or are interested in learning, you prefer not to be right in the city centre.
Best Places to Stay in Bondi Beach for first-timers:
luxury ($$$): QT Bondi , 5-star family-friendly accommodation, located only 5 minutes’ walk from Bondi Beach, a short drive by car from Westfield Bondi Junction and Sydney Airport. It has spacious apartments with modern bathroom, coffee machine, microwave, toaster, and a minibar.
mid-range ($$): Adina Apartment Hotel Bondi Beach Sydney, 4-star property located within easy walking from Bondi Beach, bars and restaurants along Campbell Parade. You can choose to stay in fully self-contained apartments or studio rooms.
budget ($): Wake Up! Bondi Beach, budget-friendly hostel has s a rooftop terrace with umbrellas and deck chairs and views of Bondi Beach. You can choose to stay in private twin and double rooms to 4 and 6 share mixed dormitories.🔍MORE HOTELS IN BONDI
Manly is a charming beach resort a short ways north of central Sydney. Well outside of the main city, Manly is more for those planning a relaxing beach vacation rather than a busy city adventure.
The main attraction of Manly is, of course, the proximity to multiple beautiful beaches. The eponymous Manly Beach is the best known, but far from the only option. You will have your pick of both bustling family beaches and quieter, more secluded beaches.
Manly beach is the longest beach in the area. Lined with beach bars, shops, and water sports companies, Manly Beach is one of the most popular beaches for families to spend the day. It is backed by trees which lends it a scenic quality despite usually being very busy.
If you want a more relaxed beach day, away from the bustling crowds, there are plenty of smaller beaches nearby. Collins Beach and Store Beach are both more secluded. Store Beach in particular requires a bit of a walk to reach, but it is worth it for the peaceful atmosphere.
A lot of the southern end of manly is largely undeveloped and left to the natural landscape of trees. As such, there is plenty of opportunity to escape into nature and enjoy some lovely walking trails. There is a particularly lovely walk that leads from Shelly Beach past some old military ruins.
Just a few minutes away on the other side of the bay is another popular hiking area. Here you can enjoy one of the best coastal walks in the area. The trails will lead you through the trees and past landmarks including lighthouses and Aboriginal rock carvings.
Despite being outside of the city, Manly town is well equipped with everything visitors could want during their stay. There are plenty of bars and restaurants to enjoy at the end of a long day relaxing on the beaches.
If you are put off by being so far from the city centre, don’t worry. You can easily get straight into Central Sydney via a pleasant ferry ride. You can relax and take in the river breeze as you coast right into the heart of Sydney at Circular Quay.
Sydney is a overall a safe city and Manly is one of the safest locations. Quiet, suburban Manly is one of the safest neighbourhoods in Sydney, so you and your family can completely relax.
Although it’s far from the main city, being a popular resort area means that prices for accommodation may not be as low as you expect. There are some great mid-range options here though. You will have plenty of opportunities to score a room with sea views.
Stay In Manly if you want a beach holiday; You don’t mind being a bit further out from the main city center; Sightseeing in Sydney is not your primary plan.
Best places to stay in Sydney in Manly:
- luxury ($$$): Quest Manly
- mid-range ($$): Manly Paradise Motel & Apartments
- budget ($): Manly Bunkhouse
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In conclusion, The best places to stay in Sydney for first-timers are Sydney CBD, Darling Harbour, The Rocks/Circular Quay, Surry Hills, Kings Cross, Paddington, Chinatown, Bondi Beach, and Manly. These areas offer a wide range of hotel options for all budgets.
Personally, I recommend Sydney CBD is the overall best area for first-time visitors. It has central location, easy access to major sights, and a wide variety of accommodations. It is not as expensive as the The Rocks/Circular Quay area.