When you think of Sydney you imagine the Opera House, Bondi Beach and the Harbour Bridge, but what if you wanted to do something a little different? Skip the crowds and discover a whole new side to the city as you check out these secret places to discover in Sydney.
When people as well-travelled as Andrzej and Jolene Ejmont from Wanderlust Storytellers get excited about a restaurant, you know it must be good. The place in question is Munich Brauhaus, and the pair were kind enough to tell us a little more about it:
“Sydney is one of my favourite places to spend a fun-filled weekend away! There is one place that we always visit and one that you cannot miss out on when you find yourself in Sydney. It is “Munich”, a German restaurant located in The Rocks!
“Munich restaurant is the bomb! This is your traditional Bavarian bierhouse and it is right in the heart of Sydney. If you are after a delicious crackling, succulent pork knuckle and the freshest German bier available in Australia, then this is the place you cannot miss out on! Keep it a secret, right?!”
Munich Brauhaus brings Oktoberfest to Sydney, as the traditional Bavarian bierhaus allows you to dine and drink in a festive atmosphere all year round. This is a brilliant venue for a special event, or if you want to try something a little different for your dinner.
Paddington Reservoir Gardens
The Paddington Reservoir Gardens are a hidden oasis in the heart of the city that many locals don’t know about. Hidden just below street level, the gardens are completely free to visit and are the perfect place to relax and unwind if you are spending sometime in town. With the busy Oxford Street running above, this is a gem hidden in plain sight. Including water features, walkways, chambers and beautiful structures, this spot transports you from a bustling metropolis into your own relaxing retreat.
The gardens actually date back to 1866, which makes the fact that they are still so unknown really impressive. Sadly, the gardens’ popularity dropped and the site was turned into a garage. In 2006 work began to transform it into an urban park, which much of the original brick and iron still standing.
Need to relieve some stress? Then try your hand at axe throwing. It may not necessarily be the first thing that comes to mind as an activity on your world cruise holiday, but it can become a very competitive and enjoyable event.
Head down to Maniax where you, your friends or family can all try something a little different. They even host league nights, giving you a chance to show off your skills in front of a lively crowd. Created by two former airline pilots, inspired while living in Canada, axes and coaches are provided but you will need to book in advance to secure your place.
A Japanese staple, a great bowl of ramen is an art. So why settle for a cheap alternative at the supermarket? Avid customers of Ryo’s Noodles will tell you that their ramen is the best in Sydney. Coming from the main street you walk through Japanese noren curtains and just as the wardrobe transports you into Narnia, you emerge into a typically traditional noodle house taken straight from Tokyo.
The Silly Tart Kitchen
To find the best secret places in Sydney, you need to speak to the experts. Deb Carr is the editor of Sydney lifestyle blog, Sydney Chic, and offered her insights into the city for any hungry traveller:
“Take the train or a cab up to the infamous Kings Cross and just around the corner you will find, The Silly Tart Kitchen. This wonderful cafe/restaurant in Kellett Street is old world charm, with grapevines, wall garden, gin bar, homemade sauces and jams, and great food in a place known more for its nightclubs. While you are in the area, explore the shops and charm of Potts Point.”
Choose to dine inside or make the most of the sunshine outside. The Kitchen is a colourful and friendly place to grab a bite to eat, as you make your way through their fresh and homemade menu.
Luna Park is one of Sydney’s most extravagant attractions. With such an entrance, it is hard to imagine how this is a secret place. But in truth, it rarely features on top of the list of things to do in Sydney for tourists.
Locals and holidaymakers have been heading to the park since 1935, where they can soak up some of the finest views of the harbour and have bags of fun. But don’t be deceived, this isn’t just for children. The young at heart will love the rides, games and food, while those looking for a more refined experience can enjoy the fine-dining establishments. Similar to Coney Island, this attraction may not be for everyone, but for those who want to get their hearts racing with a giant smile across their face, a visit to Luna Park is a must.
Take a dip in Northbridge Baths
With the hot weather and sunshine beating down on you, you might want to cool off. Sydney is blessed with some brilliant beaches, but the city has plenty of other options. Seana Smith’s website, Hello Sydney Kids, is a brilliant resource for families looking to explore the area. Seana was quick to recommend Northbridge Baths as one of Sydney’s best secret places:
“One of Sydney’s great joys are its many harbour pools and ocean rock pools. These are open air swimming pools on the harbour and along the ocean beaches. Some are netted, some are actual swimming pools built into the rock.
“Visitors to Sydney might never find them, but let me show you our family’s favourite. It is called Northbridge Baths and it is just a 10 minute drive across Sydney Harbour Bridge. There’s a huge boardwalk all around these enclosed baths (no sharks can get in!) and you will find an area which has 50m lap swimming pool. Then there’s a beach, lots of beach space to play cricket at low tide, a grassy area too.
“There are changing rooms with hot and cold showers, plenty of space to lay out your picnic too. You might love to run and leap into the pool, you might enjoy snorkelling around looking at the fish. Serious swimmers will love Northbridge Baths for a swimming workout. This is a terrific secret Sydney spot for families, backpackers and older travellers too.”
St James Tunnels
More than 13,000 commuters use St James Station every day in Sydney and the vast majority of them walk straight past one of the best secret places in the city. Along one white arched wall between platform one and two sits a humble green door. Here you can start to conjure up thoughts of platform 9 ¾ from Harry Potter, as it unlocks an underground labyrinth of old tunnels.
In 1926, a number of tunnels were built to form part of a new underground metro, but many remained unused. During World War II they were even used as Air Defence Headquarters, before becoming a tourist attraction in 2015. You can buy tickets for tours around the tunnels, which also shed light on the history of this station and Sydney.
Visit the edge of the world
While we may mention a number of manmade or edible secrets around Sydney, there certainly is no shortage of natural gems. One of the best is certainly Wattamolla Beach in the Royal National Park, south Sydney. You can make a day of it by visiting the soft sand beach during the day, considered to be one of the best in the area, before taking a hike down the bush trail to the edge of the world.
Grab a bite at Casa do Benfica
Hidden gems is often an over-used term, but when it comes to Casa do Benfica, it is perfectly apt. Forget a website or any significant online presence, this Portuguese delight is on a need-to-know basis. Though even if you were fortunate enough to find out the address, you would probably think someone was playing a prank. In front is this pretty normal tennis club, but once inside you will find a restaurant serving delicious food. Traditional dishes are paired with fine wines from Portugal, with each serving even more delicious than the last.
Enjoy the Cremorne Point Walk
While you can enjoy the shops, bars and restaurants in the centre of Sydney, why not take a step out of the hustle and bustle and relax in some beautiful natural surroundings? Amanda Woods, from Adventures all Around recommended the Cremorne Point Walk, having featured it in her list of Sydney’s prettiest walks:
“While Sydney's Bondi to Bronte walk is famous and is a must when you're in town, there's another walk that isn't as well known and is so beautiful I always recommend it to friends and family. The Cremorne Point Walk mixes stunning harbour views with walks through bushland with huge trees and lush fern gullies. There are plaques along the way to teach you about the history of the area and if it's a warm day bring your swimsuit as there's also a free swimming pool with a timber deck where you can lay in the sun and look out at the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House.
“You can easily hop on a ferry from Circular Quay in the city to Cremorne, and it's a top spot to watch the sun go down with a picnic before heading back to the city in the evening too.”
Have a drink in the first dog-friendly café
Dog lovers rejoice! No longer will you have to sit outside with your pooch to have a coffee, at Café Bones, you can bring them into the first dog-friendly café. Claiming to be a world first, the establishment is a must visit for anyone with a dog, or those just wanting to admire some of Sydney’s finest four-legged residents. Established in 2000, the popularity of Bones has grown exponentially. High quality food and drink is on offer for both humans and dogs and you can even try the Pupaccino and gourmet dog biscuits, made in-house.
In the UK we aren’t blessed with the weather that warrants outdoor cinemas, but in Sydney, they come in abundance. In the summer, parks, beaches, sports grounds and even riversides transform into large cinemas for crowds to come together and enjoy a film. Pack yourself a comfortable blanket, pick up some snacks and settle down for a variety of movies that run mostly through the summer season.
One of the most popular is the Moonlight Cinema, which is held at the Belvedere Amphitheatre in Centennial Park. It has 21 advanced screenings, 25 recent releases and come classics on offer in 2018. Elsewhere you can try the Sunset Cinema in the North Sydney Oval, Flickerfest and Sydney Hills Outdoor Cinema.
Beat the crowds and experience a side to Sydney that few others do. With our list of secret places to discover in Sydney, you can really make the most of this beautiful city on your world cruise.