This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through an affiliate link, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support.

Ultimate Summer in Sydney BucketlistWant some more ideas to add to your summer in Sydney Bucketlist? Then read on to find some offbeat things to do during summer in Sydney.

The summer season is my absolute favorite time to be in Sydney, with beach swims, gorgeous coastal bush hikes, outdoor markets, harbor cruising and drinking beers in the sun. And now we are into mid September – it is just around the corner!

While every man and his dog has written about all the fun and exciting things to do in Sydney (and there are so many), I felt the need to also throw my hat in the ring – but I’m going to narrow it down a bit.

This Sydney Bucket List is going to be mostly geared towards the summer months – although many of the activities can be done year round, and I also wanted to focus on some of the less obvious Sydney attractions – so you won’t see the Harbour Bridge Climb or the Bondi to Coogee Walk on this list #sorrynotsorry

For a more detailed Sydney itinerary with all the top spots in Sydney included, check out my detailed 5 days in Sydney Itinerary. And if you are a keen hiker, then check out my guide to all the best Sydney Walks.

But to find out some of the lesser known activities to do in Sydney this summer, read on for my offbeat summer in Sydney Bucket List!

Offbeat Summer in Sydney Bucket List

Visit all the Accessible Islands in Sydney Harbor

I love me an island and I have always been intrigued by the small ones dotted through the inner harbor. There are eight Sydney Harbour Islands (there were more but they are now connected to the mainland) and of those eight there are six that are possible to visit.

Visit Cockatoo Island for cocktails, camping, and penal colony history, Fort Denison for Sydney history (currently closed for maintenance), Shark Island for a picnic with a view, and Goat Island for a Heritage tour of this former convict settlement and quarry.

Add a visit to one of Sydney's Harbour islands to your Sydney Bucket List

Swim at Balmoral Beach

I was lucky enough to live right by quiet Balmoral Beach for two months and it is now one of my favorite beaches in Sydney. This beautiful harbor beach has some of the whitest sand of any Sydney beach and super clear water, perfect for swimming. There is also an ocean pool.

Stroll over the bridge to small Rocky Point Island, enjoy brunch with sea views at The Boathouse, and walk around Middle Head for awesome coastal views and a historic fort and sandstone gun pits to check out.

Balmoral Beach is a must add to any Sydney BucketlistCheck out the Surfers in Maroubra

While Bondi Beach is an Australian icon known throughout the world, not a lot of people outside of Sydney know about Maroubra – another popular surfing beach south of Bondi.

Maroubra is a bit rougher around the edges than upmarket Bondi, but I think that is part of its charm – especially in glamorous Sydney. The beach is a great place to spend a day swimming, taking a surfing lesson, watching the impressive local surfers, and if the waves are too rough, there is even a fantastic ocean pool to swim in.

If you are feeling energetic, walk one hour north along the coast to Coogee – another gorgeous but more well-known beach.

Maroubra Beach should be on any offbeat Sydney Bucketlist

Hike to Hornby Lighthouse from Watsons Bay 

I used to see the beautiful candy cane striped Hornby Lighthouse, at the foot of the entrance to Sydney Harbour, on a daily basis on my ferry from Manly to work in Circular Quay. I love lighthouses and this one is the prettiest in Sydney in my opinion.

It is a 2.8km/1.7 mile return walk to get to the lighthouse from the Watsons Bay ferry pier, and you will pass beautiful Camp Cove beach along the way. Make sure to stop for fish and chips at iconic Doyle’s afterwards, because that is what you do in Watsons Bay.

Add a visit to Hornby Lighthouse to your Sydney Bucket List

Snorkel at Shelly Beach 

One of my favourite Sydney beaches, the beautiful sheltered cove of Shelly Beach is one of the top spots in Sydney for snorkeling. It was just down the road from my apartment in Manly so I was able to snorkel there a few times and saw a number of different types of fish including the resident giant blue groper, Harry.

And, if you are lucky you might get to see seadragons and dolphins, both of which have been spotted here.

If you visit in winter, climb up to Shelly Headland to look for whales migrating offshore, or to just admire the sea views.

Add Snorkelling at Shelly Beach to your Sydney Bucketlist

Unique Shopping at Rozelle Collector’s Market 

I have visited pretty much all of the big Sydney markets, and the Rozelle Collector’s Market is one of my favorites. Held on Saturday mornings, this market is focused on second hand, antiques, and bric-a-brac, and is a treasure trove of stuff you never knew you needed but now just have to have.

Once you are finished browsing the market, wander around the lovely seaside suburb of Balmain and grab lunch somewhere by the water.

You have to add a market to your Sydney Bucketlist, and you won’t regret visiting Rozelle Market.

Visiting Rozelle Market should be on your Sydney Bucket ListSee a Movie Outdoors

There are many open air cinemas during Sydney’s summer months but the most scenic is the Westpac 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.

It’s such a stunning location, it doesn’t even matter what movie you 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.

Planned to open in January 2021, although it may not be opened this year due to COVID so check their website.

Go to the Westpac Open Air cinema in the Botanical Gardens

Explore Scotland Island

Another Sydney island, Scotland Island is located in the Northern Beaches, in the Pittwater estuary near Mona Vale.

It is a beautiful little island where there is a strong local community, no shops or cafes and only partially paved roads. Pretty blissful if you ask me. It only takes 30 minutes to walk around the island but it’s worth taking the ferry over there to soak up the calm atmosphere.

Add Scotland Island to your summer in Sydney Bucketlist

Cycling from Manly to Narrabeen 

This is a fun day out starting in buzzy Manly and ending in chilled Narrabeen. Take the ferry to Manly and rent bikes from there, then it is around 15km/9.5 miles up to the beach suburb of Narrabeen, following the coast.

Make sure to stop at North Curl Curl beach for a swim and bike around the beautiful lake in Narrabeen too before biking back to Manly. 

Cycle to Narrabeen beach from Manly

Go Brewery Hopping in the Inner West or Northern Beaches

If you are a craft beer lover like me, then you should definitely add a little self-guided brewery tour to your Sydney Bucket List!

The Inner West has the highest concentration of excellent craft breweries and I highly recommend The Grifter Brewing Co., Wildflower Brewing and Blending, and Batch Brewing Company in Marrickville; Young Henrys in Newtown; Wayward Brewing Co. in Camperdown; and Hopsters Co-op Brewery in Enmore.

If you are more of a beach babe then there are a few great breweries on the Northern Beaches as well, try 7th Day Brewery, Nomad Brewing Co. and 4 Pine Truck Bar in Brookvale; Modus Operandi in Mona Vale; and 4 Pines Brew Pub in Manly.

Add a Brewery hopping tour in the Inner West to your Sydney Bucketlist

Explore the Hidden Village at Crater Cove

If you do the Manly to Spit Bridge walk, there is an unassuming side trail that goes off the main trail down to Crater Cove. And there you will find a small forgotten village with old cobbled together fishermen’s huts.

This tiny community was built between 1923 and 1963 and the huts were mostly used as vacation homes, but from the Great Depression onwards they became permanent homes for a few people facing economic hardship.

The remaining residents were evicted when Crater Cove became part of the National Park in 1984 and the huts have sat largely untouched for over 30 years since then. 

This was my favorite secret place to visit in Sydney and I have never shared it on this website until now as locals wanted to keep it a secret and I didn’t want to be the asshole who shared it online.

The reason I have decided to share it now is because it is so easy to find now as the trail is on Google Maps and there have been so many articles about it over the past few years – so I guess it ain’t a secret anymore, but it is still an offbeat attraction.

If you do decide to visit, please be respectful of this fragile historic site. You can also see the huts from the top of Dobroyd Head on the Manly to Spit Bridge walk.

View from Dobroyd Head in Manly

So that’s my slightly offbeat Summer in Sydney Bucket List. I hope it helps you plan some summer fun in Sydney this summer.

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.

Ultimate Sydney Bucketlist

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!

PIN IT!

Ultimate Offbeat Summer in Sydney BucketlistUltimate Offbeat Sydney Bucket ListUltimate Offbeat Summer in Sydney Bucketlist

10 Comments on Ultimate Offbeat Summer in Sydney Bucketlist

  1. Great list, I will be adding these to my must do list. I can’t wait to get my snorkel and fins out at Shelley Beach.
    A la perchoine, Jodie

  2. Sydney is my favorite city in the world. There’s just sooo much to do. When I was there, I was constantly finding new attractions and restaurants every day! Your bucket list looks great and should definitely keep you pretty busy this Summer. 🙂

  3. Sounds like a great summer! I’m not usually much of a movie person but I love the idea of the movies outdoors with the Opera House in the backdrop. Although I’d probably be so distracted by the background I’d miss chunks of the movie!

  4. I love this list. That definitely sounds like some good plans, I love being active and being outside too. I think bikes are one of the best ways to explore a place. I’ve been super lazy about going out on my bike lately. I hope you post about these places, I would love to make it to Australia soon

    • Thansk Rebekah. I will definitely do updates on facebook as well as a couple of blog posts when I make it to these places. I am planning on going to the South Head Lighthouse this weekend – well, as long as the weather is good 🙂

      • I love light houses and i have been to one called Greencape light hose in Benboyd National park Eden ,in nsw it was so tall.I never been to South head light house I hope you enjoyed it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.