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Where To Stay In Sydney – A Guide To The 6 Best Areas

Where To Stay in Sydney – Choosing the best-suited area

If you plan to visit Sydney, the first thing that comes to mind is choosing the best area to stay. Sydney isn’t easy to find accommodation, and you need to book well in advance to ensure you get the best deals and hotels. If you are visiting for the first time, staying at the Rocks area near the Sydney Bridge or the  Circular Quay will allow easy access to all main attractions within walking distance.

Spectacular Sydney Australia
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From Circular Quay, you can board all ferries to cruise the Sydney Harbour and all buses, trains and trams in all directions. If you have been to Sydney and would like a less touristy area, Bondi and Manly are the best neighbourhoods for relaxing on fun beach activities.

If you come to Sydney on repeat, I’d say Surry Hills and Paddington are inner suburbs of Sydney to immerse in the local vibes. Kings Cross is the best budget-friendly district if you prefer staying on a budget. Below is a complete and detailed guide on the best Sydney areas and suburbs for a great stay in Sydney.

The Rocks & Circular Quay: the best area for first-time visitors and solo travellers

The Rocks and Circular Quay are the two most iconic Sydney areas north of the Central Business District. To get to The Rocks from the city centre, take the Sydney train line (#T3 and T8) from the Wynyard Station. From there, you can reach Circular Quay on foot. Or you can walk in about 15 minutes.

Staying here means enjoying easy access to public transportation and being close to prominent landmarks like the Sydney Harbour and the Opera House while in Sydney’s tourist hotspot. This neighbourhood is also the best area for dining. Check out Pony Dining the Rocks, which serves the best Australian cuisine, and Quay Restaurant if you want a stunning view of the harbour.

The Rocks Sydney
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Sea View of the Sydney Bridge and the Pier One Hotel

Things to do at the Rocks and Circular Quay

  1. Climb the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge.
  2. Go on a guided tour of the Sydney Opera House.
  3. Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art: the MCA.
  4. Have a bite at the world’s famous Pancakes On The Rocks.
  5. Walk at the Circular Quay Promenade and end in the Royal Botanic Gardens.
  6. Shop local arts and crafts at the Rocks Market.

Best Places to Stay at The Rocks & Circular Quay

Budget Stay:

Kent Terrace TerraceFree Wifi, Laundry facilities, Close to Wynyard Station and Hyde Park Barracks Museum.

Sydney Harbour YHA * Private & Dormitory Rooms. Free Wi-Fi. 24/7 Reception Desk. Laundry. Communal Kitchen. Rooftop Terrace with views of Sydney Opera House + Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Mid-range Prices:

Hotel Palisade Terrace Sea view, on-site bar, close to Museum of Contemporary Art and Circular Quay Station.

Luxury Hotels:

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney Outdoor swimming pool, Spa and wellness centre, close to Mthe useum of Contemporary Art and Circular Quay Station.

Pier One Sydney Harbour Autograph Collection * Built on Water. Contemporary Décor. On-site Bar & Restaurants. Fitness. Balcony. Views of Sydney Waterfront’s. 5 Min Walk from the Hearth of The Rocks District.

Sydney CBD: where to stay centrally located for business

 Sydney’s CBD is the heart of the city. The easiest way to get around in the area is on foot or by bus (#333). For short trips, you can rent a bike, too! The city circle light rail line (#L2) also provides convenient access to many attractions. Staying in the central business district is ideal for solo travellers, especially those travelling for business.

It offers easy access to landmarks, shopping, dining and numerous corporate offices. In the Sydney CBD, you can find something for everyone: from parks for nature lovers (Hyde Park) to famous churches (Saint Mary’s Cathedral) and art galleries for culture lovers and plenty of opportunities for shoppers: Pitt Street Mall, Queen Victoria Building & Paddy’s Market. Check out the famous Restaurant Hubert to enjoy local French dishes with live Jazz music.

Sydney CBD
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A view of a busy CBD Street in Sydney

Things to do in Sydney CBD

  1. Admire the neo-gothic design of Saint Mary’s Cathedral.
  2. Buy souvenirs at Paddy’s Market.
  3. Dine at 360 Bar, a rooftop restaurant.
  4. Check out the Chinatown-Sydney.
  5. Visit Sydney Tower Eye for a breathtaking view of the city.

Best Places to Stay in Sydney CBD

Budget:

Megaboom City Hotel Drinks and snack vending machine. Shuttle service (additional charge). Minibar. Close to Town Hall Station and Sydney Tower Eye and Skywalk.

Mid-Range:

Meriton Suites Sussex Street Sydney 24-hour fitness centre. Indoor heated pool. Hot tub and sauna. Close to Australian National Maritime Museum and Town Hall Station.

Luxury:

QT Sydney * Spa and wellness centre. Breakfast in the room. Gowings Bar and Grill restaurant. Close to St James Station and Australian Museum.

Darling Harbour: the best area for entertainment and tourist attractions

Darling Harbour is about 2 kilometres southwest of the CBD. You can reach the city centre on foot in about 13 minutes or by bus (line #252) in about 3 minutes. You can explore the area on foot within Darling Harbour or use local buses (#389). As a solo traveller looking for an ideal place to stay in Sydney close to Sydney’s tourist attractions with plenty of fun activities, dining venues and live entertainment, I recommend staying in Darling Harbour.

Live Entertainment at Darling Harbour Sydney
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Sydney Darling Harbour At Night.

Darling Harbour has many activities and attractions, including the Wild Life Sydney Zoo, the Madame Tussauds Museum, and SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium. The area also has many galleries, museums and cultural institutions, such as the Powerhouse Museum and the Australian National Maritime Museum. For eating out, we recommend the Adria Rybar & Grill, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant serving the best seafood dishes, grilled meats, and pasta. Best things to do:

  1. Spend time with nature at the Chinese Friendship Gardens.
  2. Stroll and enjoy the view from the Harbour.
  3. Watch a show at the Sydney Lyric Theatre.
  4. Enjoy movies at the IMAX Theatre.

    Darling Harbour Sydney
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    Darling Harbour Pier

Best Places to Stay in Darling Harbour

Budget:

YEHS Hotel Sydney Minibar. Tea & coffee maker. Chinese Speaking Staff. Close to Capitol Theatre: Chinese Friendship Garden and Town Hall Station.

Mid-Range:

Aiden by Best Western Darling Harbour À la carte breakfast. Balcony. Bar. Restaurant. Close to Powerhouse Museum and Pyrmont Bay.

Luxury:

Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour Free Wi-Fi. Outdoor infinity swimming pool. Fitness Center. Spa & wellness packages. Parking. City Views. Close to Cockle Bay and Convention Centre.

Kings Cross: where to stay on a budget (backpackers) and nightlife

Kings Cross is located in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, about 3,5 kilometres from the City Centre. You can walk there in 30-40 minutes, but taking a bus (#324 and 325; 10 minutes) or a train (#T4; 4 minutes) will be much quicker. Within Kings Cross, you can quickly get around on foot or by local bus. This is an excellent area for travellers on a budget because it’s centrally located and has many low-cost accommodation options, such as hostels, backpackers and Airbnb Guesthouses. Kings Cross is a popular neighbourhood if you’re looking for nightlife, but it also has some attractions, such as the El Alamein Fountain and the Wayside Chapel. For dining, shopping and entertainment venues, check out Darlinghurst Road. For eating out, dine at Bistro Rex Restaurant, a famous French bistro-style restaurant. Things to do in Kings Cross:

  1. See a show at the Hayes Theatre.
  2. Check out the Happy Endings Comedy Club for fun.
  3. Get amazed at the Australian Museum of Magical Arts.
  4. Visit Kings Cross Farmers Market & the Potts Market for fresh produce and artisanal goods.
  5. Retreat to the Fitzroy Gardens if you need some fresh air.
Kings Cross Sydney Australia Best Area to Stay on a Budget
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The Coca-Cola AD – Kings Cross Suburb Of Sydney

Best Places to Stay in Kings Cross

Budget:

No 9 Springfield Terrace Coffee house on-site. Laundry. Terrace. Close to Fitzroy Gardens & Park and Kings Cross station.

Mid-Range:

Medusa Hotel Sydney Minibar. Free Wi-Fi. Close to Kings Cross station and the Australian Museum.

Luxury:

Spicers Potts Point Bar Terrace Bar. Garden. Terrace. Airport Shuttle. Laundry. Cose to Woolloomooloo Wharf and Kings Cross.

Surry Hills & Paddington: the best residential areas for a local vibe

Surry Hills and Paddington are located in Sydney’s Inner Eastern suburbs. You can catch a bus (#333) or tram (#L2) to travel between the neighbourhoods and the city centre in about 10 minutes. At the same time, a bus (#333 and 440) from Surry Hills goes to Paddington, which takes about 3-4 minutes. Surry Hills and Paddington are residential areas with a unique local vibe, excellent amenities, and a convenient location. Therefore, it’s a great place to stay, especially for solo travellers to Sydney.

Oxford Street in Paddington Sydney
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A view of colourful buildings in Oxford Street Paddington Sydney

Both neighbourhoods are known for their vibrant markets: Surry Hills and the Paddington Markets. You can find anything here, from vintage clothing to handmade crafts and food products. Try Il Baretto on Oxford Street for unpretentious, delicious Italian cuisine. Best things to do:

  1. Enjoy your nightlife experience at the Clock Hotel.
  2. Watch a movie at the Golden Age Cinema.
  3. Relax at Paddington Reservoir Gardens.
  4. Buy tasty bread and pastries at Bourke Street Bakery.
  5. Check out Oxford Street, known as the most vibrant street in Paddington.

Best Places to Stay in Surry Hills & Paddington

Budget:

57 Hotel Fitness Centre (additional cost). Modern rooms. Free Wi-Fi. Airport Shuttle. Single + Family Rooms. Close to Central Station Sydney and Reservoir Street Reserve. 30 min walk to Circular Quay.

Mid-range:

Crystalbrook Albion * The unique heritage building. Rooftop garden. Terrace. Eco-friendly. Close to the Australian Museum and Central Station Sydney.

Luxury:

202 Elizabeth Snack Bar. Sun Terrace. Balcony. Parking (additional cost). 24/7 Front Desk. Laundry. Close to Capitol Square station and Belmore.

Bondi: best place for a relaxing beach stay in Sydney

Bondi is located in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, about 10km from the centre. To get here from the city centre, you can take the train (#T4) to Bondi Junction; from there, you can take the bus (#379) to Bondi Beach. The total travel time is about 30 minutes. If you’re a beach lover missing the waves and looking for relaxation, swimming and sunbathing, Bondi is the best place I can recommend.

Bondi Sydney
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The Walk from Bondi to Bronte in Sydney

One of the highlights of Bondi is Bondi Beach, with its golden sand and crystal-clear waters. It’s an excellent place for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing. Just a short distance from Bondi, you’ll find Bondi Junction, which is perfect for shopping and dining. Check out the famous Da Orazio Pizza and Porchetta for dinner! Best Things to do

  1. Attend Yoga Classes by the Ocean.
  2. Try Scuba Diving and Snorkelling at Bondi Beach.
  3. Check the outdoor swimming pool at the Bondi Icebergs.
  4. Visit the Bondi Farmers Market for local fresh produce and gourmet food.
  5. Walk the Bondi to Bronte coastal path to get energised in the morning.

Best Places To Stay In Bondi

Budget:

The Baxley Bondi Garden. Lounge. Snack Bar. Free Parking. Free Wi-Fi. Rooms with private and shared bathrooms. Tour Desk. Close to Waverley Park and Bondi Junction Station.

Mid-Range:

Bondi 38 Serviced Apartments Balcony with ocean views. Terrace. Kitchen. Private Parking. Room Service. Free Wi-Fi. Close to Bondi Beach and Bondi Junction Station.

Luxury:

Hotel Ravesis Beachfront Beachfront. Fridge. Parking. Free Wi-Fi. Terrace. Restaurant. Close to Bondi Beach, Tamarama Beach and Bronte Beach.

Manly: a non-central area for long-term stay and surfers

Manly is located in the northern beaches area of Sydney. To get here from the city centre, you can take the Manly Fast Ferry, which departs from Circular Quay directly to Manly in about 20 minutes. Manly is an excellent area for long-term stays, particularly for surfers. It is also a great option if you are looking for a non-central place to stay, as it offers a laid-back beach lifestyle while still being well-connected to the city.

Manly Sydney
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An Aerial View of Manly Sydney

Manly is famous for its beaches, including Manly Beach, Freshwater Beach, and Shelly Beach. These beaches offer excellent surfing, swimming, and sunbathing opportunities. Check out Manly Corso, too; it’s a pedestrian mall with shops, restaurants and bars. Don’t forget to dine at Pantry Manly Beach, which offers panoramic views of Manly Beach. Best things to do:

  1. Visit the Manly Art Gallery and Museum.
  2. Take a Surfing lesson at Manly Surfing School.
  3. Go kayaking or paddleboarding at Manly.
  4. Explore the Manly Markets for local fresh produce foods.

Best Places To Stay In Manly

Budget:

Stoke Beach House Private Rooms. Shared Dorm. Complimentary breakfast. Complimentary Yoga Classes. In-House Bar. Laundry. Free Wi-Fi. Surf & dive packages. Close to Delwood Beach and North Sydney Station.

Mid-Range:

Manly Paradise Apartment Entire Apartments. Garden. Terrace. BBQ Facility. Close to Brimebecon Park and North Sydney Station. Free Parking. Free Wi-Fi.

Luxury:

Manly Pacific Sydney MGallery Collection * Beachfront. Sea View. Swimming Pool. Fitness Centre. 24/7 Front Desk. Currency exchange for guests. Restaurant. Close to Manly Beach and North Sydney Station.

FAQs: Questions About Where To Stay In Sydney

Where to stay in Sydney Solo without a car?

I have no doubt, stay in the Rocks area, close to the Sydney Bridge. Within walking distance to everything, you will love this vibrant area by day and night. It is also best connected with all public transportation nearby, including the ferries. You don’t need a car to visit Sydney unless you want to go on day trips from Sydney to nearby towns and places.

Where to stay in Sydney for a weekend?

If you plan to spend a weekend in Sydney, stay in Bondi or Manly if you want to have some fun and relax at the same time. Over the weekend, Bondi and Manly have local markets and events, and they get weekend visitors. If you want to stay in the city, stay in Darling Harbour or the Rocks, where there is a buzzing atmosphere. The city centre tends to be quiet over the weekend.

Best Areas To Stay in Sydney Australia
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Relaxing in the gardens of the MCA in Sydney with an iconic background: The Sydney Opera House

Which are the best areas to stay for nightlife in Sydney?

Stay in Kings Cross for the pub, music, and dancing scene. This is the best area in Sydney for all concerts and theatre events. Where shall I stay for business in Sydney?

If you come to Sydney for work on a business trip and want to extend it for a private visit too, I’d pick the CBD, as you are close to both the business districts and companies headquarters as well as the main attractions and entertainment.

Conclusions on which area to choose for staying in Sydney

For a first-time visit to Sydney, plan 2 or 3 nights. If you are on a repeat visit, one night will do, depending on the purpose of your visit. Here below, I give you extra tips for choosing the right area for your depending on more purposes:

  1. If you travel solo to Sydney and want to stay centrally located, stay at the Rocks or the CBD.
  2. Stay at Darling Harbour for entertainment and a top dining area.
  3. If you want to visit for one week or longer, stay in Surry Hills or Paddington.
  4. If you are a beach lover, choose Bondi for a relaxing time.
  5. For surfing, water sports and outdoor activities, stay in Manly.

Our recommendations about where to stay in Sydney

Of all the above places we hand-picked for you, we have short-listed five hotels that we feel are a great choice if you are in a hurry and want to get quick ideas about the best place to stay in Sydney.
Here are 5 top hotels I recommend where to stay in Sydney:

  1. Sydney Harbour YHA is a great place if you travel solo to Sydney or with friends and are looking for a budget-friendly stay with great comfort and facilities close to the Rocks + Circular Quay.
  2. Pier One Sydney Harbour Autograph Collection If you travel with your partner and want to stay in a friendly and romantic place (sea views), I recommend Pier One Sydney Harbour.
  3. QT Sydney, if you want to stay in the city’s heart, 2 min walk from Hyde Park, with designer furnishings and a truly funky vibe, this place is for you.
  4. Crystalbrook Albion, if you love to stay in a vibrant inner-Sydney suburb (Surry Hills), this is the place we recommend—a mix of heritage and contemporary style.
  5. Manly Pacific Sydney MGallery Collection For a luxury stay for outdoorsy people (water activities + hiking and biking) in Manly Sydney, we recommend the Manly Pacific Sydney MGallery Collection as a top choice.

A Mini Guide To Visiting Sydney

How to get to Sydney

The fastest way is to fly into Sydney from all international airports, Australian towns, and cities. You can take the metropolitan train (25 min) or a shuttle bus from the airport. Taxis are also an option but avoid peak hours traffic congestion. You can also catch a train from Melbourne or Brisbane or a bus from any location along the East Coast of Australia. If you decide to travel by car, make sure you have free parking close to your accommodation in Sydney since parking fees are costly in Sydney.

How to get around Sydney and nearby places

If you visit Sydney for the first time and plan at least three days, get the popular public transport card: The Opal. It will save money on all public transportation, including the ferries to cruise the Sydney Harbour.

Check the weekend savings: the cap price is the lowest on Sundays. To get around between Circular Quay and Railway Square via George Street, you can use the #555 green bus, a free shuttle bus that rides the in a loop all day long and a night service on Thursdays. To get to all other Sydney suburbs and neighbourhoods or to visit the nearby  Wollongong, the Royal National Park and the Northern Beaches, you can go on day trips by public transport.

If you plan further exploration of Australia, you can go on these fun Sydney day trips by car. If you plan to visit Sydney, check out these guides:

Fun outdoor activities to do in Sydney

A Guide to Exploring Sydney Solo

See Sydney From An Helicopter Tour

See Vivid Sydney in Photos

The Best Sydney Eateries.

Where to Stay In Sydney Australia - The Best Areas and Suburbs
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All Destinations In Australia

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© Content Published On rockytravel.net in April 2023

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