The summer season has officially begun in Sydney and my oh my I am excited! There is still a bit of a chill in the air some evenings (and crazy scary storms the last couple of days), but there has already been a couple of scorching days when the thermostat reached a sweat inducing 30 degrees.
The end of last summer kind of sneaked up on me. Oh the plans I had: beaches to swim at, hikes to do, markets to visit. You know, all those activities that are best done in the warmer months. But before I knew it, the cold and rain sneaked in and my remaining summer plans were shelved.
So this summer I plan to do everything I didn’t get a chance to do last summer. To help get my ass into gear, I decided to make a list. A bucket list, with all of the new places I hope to visit in the Sydney area before it gets cold again.
This summer I am going to be a tourist in my own city and it is going to be wonderful. Here is my itinerary.
Bucket List for a Summer in Sydney
Visit all the Accessible Islands in Sydney Harbor
I love me an island and I have been intrigued by the small ones dotted through the inner harbour since I moved back to Sydney in January. There are eight islands proper (there were more but they are now connected to the mainland) and of those eight there are six that are possible to visit.
So, six islands it is then! I think I am most excited about visiting Cockatoo Island, which has a cocktail bar and camping ground on it, and Goat Island, which you can only catch a ferry to on the 2nd and 3rd Sundays of the month.
Swim at Balmain Beach
I had always heard of this beach in Sydney from the first time I lived here back in 2004/2005, but I never visited. I think it is about time I do as I have heard it is beautiful. If it looks anything like my beloved Balmoral, another beautiful harbour beach, then I am sure I will love it. Now if only the water would hurry and warm up already.
Visit Little Bay
I first heard about Little Bay, south of Maroubra, from the checkout guy at our local supermarket during our two months living in Coogee last summer. He said it was his favourite beach, and if you have seen the beaches in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs – that is saying something.
It was a bit tricky to get to though, with a journey involving not one, but two rides on my most hated form of transport: the dreaded bus. We had some of Sydney’s most beautiful beaches within walking distance so we just didn’t take the time to visit this little Bay. Now it will take even longer to get to but damn it, I am going to make the effort to visit this year.
Hike to South Head Lighthouse from Watson’s Bay
I see this beautiful striped beacon, at the foot of the entrance to Sydney Harbour, on a daily basis on my ferry to and from work. I love lighthouses and this one, with its red and white vertical stripes, is the prettiest I have seen in Sydney. I want to get a closer look. Then eat Fish and Chips at Doyle’s, because that is what you do in Watsons Bay.
Snorkel at Shelly Beach
One of my favourite Sydney beaches, the beautiful sheltered cove of Shelly Beach is said to be one of the top spots in Sydney for snorkelling. It is just down the road from our apartment so this one should definitely be easy to do.
There are even the seahorse’s cool cousins, sea dragons, that live in the calm waters. I would love to see one of them.
Attend the Kirribilli Markets
I have visited pretty much all of the big Sydney markets now – except for Kirribilli. Unlike most of the other markets, which are held every week, Kirribilli’s market is only held a couple of times during the month and I just haven’t been able to get the timing right.
It is meant to be one of the better markets so I am looking forward to finally getting there. Maybe I should go and mark the next market date on my calendar right now…
See a Movie Outdoors
There are many open air cinemas during Sydney’s summer months but the one I really want to go to is the St George Open Air Cinema in the Botanical Gardens. The screen is erected above the water and the seats face out towards the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.
Such a stunning location. I don’t even care what movie I see because the experience of watching a movie out in the open with two of Sydney’s World famous sights in the background will be a pretty damn special experience in itself.
Step Foot on Scotland Island
Another Sydney island, Scotland Island is located in the Northern Beaches. It is in the Pittwater estuary near Mona Vale, where we were staying with friends when we first arrived in Sydney.
It sounds like a beautiful little island where there is a strong local community, no shops or cafes and only partially paved roads. Pretty blissful. It only takes 30 minutes to walk around the island but I would like to spend the day there, exploring the nature reserves, looking for native animals and just generally chilling out.
Hike the Two Day Coast Track in Royal National Park
I had originally intended to do this hike last month but the weather just wasn’t cooperating. I’m not a huge fan of the cold and I didn’t like the idea of camping in the current chilly night temperatures when I could wait a couple of months for the warm summer nights Sydney is known for.
I haven’t done any multi day hikes since last summer in New Zealand so I am looking forward to getting out into the wilderness and camping.
Cycling from Manly to Narrabeen
Now that we have moved in to our lovely new home in the beachside suburb of Fairlight, we have finally got ourselves some bikes. We’ve been a bit slack and have only taken them on one spin so far but now the weather is getting warmer we will definitely be using them a lot more.
Narrabeen is further north from us on the Northern Beaches and has a beautiful lake that you can bike partially around so we would love to get up there on our bikes soon to explore.
So that’s my list. Now that it is out in the world I think it will give me the push I need to make sure I don’t let this summer slip through my fingers.
I am looking forward to a summer full of fun, sun and exploring my new home.
What would your Sydney Bucket List look like? Is there anything on my list you would like to do yourself?
Plan Your Trip to Sydney
Where to Stay in Sydney
Although it is so nice to stay by the beach, I would recommend you stay close to downtown – particularly The Rocks and Circular Quay – as it is the best base to get around from.
If you really want to splurge, I highly recommend the Four Seasons in Circular Quay or the Park Hyatt in the Rocks – they both have pools and are handy to trains, buses and ferries.
There are a number of hostels around Sydney but I have heard really good things about one in particular – the Sydney Harbour YHA Hostel in The Rocks. The location is perfection and there is even a harbor-view rooftop.
Alternatively, look for Airbnb rooms in Paddington, Darlinghurst, Pyrmont, CBD, Surry Hills areas – as these are all pretty central. If you haven’t signed up to Airbnb yet – use my link to sign up and get $50 off your first stay! Here is an excellent list of luxury Airbnbs in Sydney if you want to treat yourself.
A great way to get awesome accommodation practically for free is by housesitting, sign up to Trusted Housesitters through my link to get 25% off your membership fee.
If you really want to be by the beach, go for Bondi – this has the best transport links of the beaches, with a train line near by at Bondi Junction, as well as lots of buses. Stay at Bondi Backpackers which has great reviews and is right on the beach.
The Best Insurance for Your Sydney Trip
Make sure you get travel and health insurance before your trip. Safety Wing is my go-to and they are cheap and easy to claim with – it auto renews every month unless you turn it off so you don’t have to think about it for longer trips
Safety Wing also allows you to sign up when you are already traveling, unlike a lot of other travel insurance providers.
Check out my other Sydney posts for more Sydney inspiration!