As you may have seen in my first Australia post, we arrived in Sydney on a Monday morning and were settled into our stunning Airbnb in the Darlinghurst neighborhood by noon, giving us the whole day to explore and walk the city.
One thing I didn’t realize about Sydney is that has a ton of hills, so our 15k+ steps ended up feeling extra hard because of the ups and downs. I mentioned it on Instagram, but the city itself feels like a mix of San Francisco (lots of hills, charming neighborhoods, similar architecture), London (cosmopolitan, cultured, international), Vancouver (people wear a lot of neutrals, very fit and active, coffee culture), and Southern California (laid back vibes and easy access to the beach). As I’m sure you can imagine, this is a pretty epic combination and within the first few hours of exploring I knew I would end up falling in love with Sydney.
We knew that there was a chance of rain that night and so we wanted to get a move on as quickly as possible, so we had a quick lunch at Bill’s (we ended up going here every day for coffee) to load up on caffeine and a big brunch.
Once we were no longer ravenous, we decided to venture down to the infamous Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. From the neighborhood we were staying in, the downtown area (called the Circular Quay — pronounced “key”) was about 30 minutes away, though we took a bit longer to take the back roads and check our the neighborhoods. We also passed through the Royal Botanic Gardens on the way down which looked incredibly beautiful (we meant to come back, but every time we made plans later in the week it started pouring rain).
If I’m being honest, I didn’t have too many expectations prior to our trip to Australia about the Opera House or “touristy” spots, but I have to say I was completely blown away by the scale of the building and just how breathtaking the area was in-person. Because we were there on a Monday it wasn’t too crowded and we got to really soak up the views of the bay from where we were.
After about 15 minutes of wandering the area, we looked up to see a massive black cloud heading in our direction, so we made a bee-line towards the city in hopes that we would escape getting trapped in the downpour.
At this point, I was getting pretty exhausted and fighting off major jet lag, so we decided it was probably best that we start heading back to our neighborhood for the rest of the day. I had bookmarked a photo of Petal Met Sugar cake shop on Instagram and it just so happened to be on our way back. I ordered a passionfruit + yuzu tart alongside a matcha latte and we swooned over their beautiful flower shop/cake shop interior combo.
There were so many places in Sydney I had written down and added to my “must-see” list, but out of all of the restaurants I wrote down there was only one I was adamant about getting to: The Butler. My instagram friend Emily (who I eventually met later in the week!) had posted about it on her feed a few weeks prior to our trip and I decided right then and there it was my dream restaurant interior and we had to go. Luckily my sister and I agree on pretty much everything and she also wanted to check it out, so we decided to walk by on our way home to take a few photos of the interior/exterior with plans of going back another night (when we were less exhausted & sweaty). The moment we walked in, though, we looked at each other and said “how about a drink?!” so we sat there in the middle of a Monday afternoon with the place almost entirely to ourselves. Alongside some of the cutest cocktails I’ve ever seen (mine said OUI! on it), The Butler also has a panoramic view of Sydney not to be missed.
I wish I could say that we ended the afternoon and evening doing something more exciting, but in reality we ordered some pad thai + curry from UberEats (Australians are much more obsessed with Uber Eats than we are by a longshot!) and went to bed around 8pm that evening. This ended up being great because I adjusted to the 16-hour time change right away and woke up the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to take on more of the city!
When we woke up the next morning, we were craving a long walk and a major coffee fix (this ended up being the theme of the trip, in case you couldn’t tell), and I had bookmarked a spot called Paramount Coffee that was on our way to Surry Hills, a neighborhood we wanted to explore that day. I didn’t realize that it was actually the coffee shop underneath Paramount Pictures’ Sydney office which ended up making it even cooler than I anticipated. It was the most stunning space filled with natural light, hanging plants, and really good people watching aka my favorite hobby.
We ordered lattes with macadamia mik (another theme) and split a small piece of sourdough toast with “scram” i.e. scrambled eggs because I don’t like the shakes I get after drinking coffee on an empty stomach.
Aside from coffee, Australia is known for some of the best acai bowls around, so we obviously had to make our way to Cali Press, a Sydney-based small chain known for their amazing acai bowls. Two California girls + Cali Press = love at first bite.
After we stuffed ourselves full, we wanted to explore more of the area by just wandering through the back streets. We ended up stumbling upon a small chalkboard sign that said “home decor, live plants! this way!” and obviously headed down the alley towards the most beautiful store that I honestly don’t even know the name to. They had swinging rattan chairs (my current obsession), handmade ceramics, succulents, and so many more things that I was drooling over.
It ended up starting to sprinkle after making our way through a few back-alleyways and streets so we made a bee-line home to change and regroup before heading out again.
So far at this point in the trip, we were both completely enamored by two primary things about Australia (or at least, Sydney) :: 1) the abundance of coffee shops, restaurants, and grocery stores that had patios, windows wide open and really encouraged outdoor living & 2) the walkability of the city. Every neighborhood we walked through had it’s own “main street” filled with good shops, restaurants, etc. and were less than a mile apart so we could easily hop from one neighborhood to the other with a lot of ease.
Up next in this Australia Travel Series: our afternoon in Bondi Beach & accidentally running into my idol, Rich Roll at dinner!
hope you enjoyed the plethora of photos…isn’t Sydney beautiful?!