Sydney like a local!
Course of Study: Sports & Exercise Science
Home University: University of Leipzig
Ah, Sydney! I missed you.
When I left Australia in 2017 after 8 months of work & travel, I knew I had to come back.
There is just something special about this city, something truly magical.
As a self-proclaimed health nut, this is my place to be. Beaches, bays, walks, parks, numerous swimming pools, plenty of outdoor gym, really cool indoor gyms and a variety of healthy cafés and restaurants that makes your mouth water. (Have you ever tried avo toast with feta and poached eggs? You should!)
However, when studying in Sydney, you can get easily caught up in the main campus life at UTS, which essentially is a good thing as an international student, but..
..always staying around the city centre might leave you feeling stressed out and anxious in the long run. (Literally, it’s SO busy and people are ALWAYS on the run!)
..only ever doing the touristy sightseeing stuff is not just gonna test your nerves even more (crowds everywhere!), but might impact your view on Sydney in a negative way. Nope!
The city has much more to offer!
And I’m here to share some gems with you. So get ready.
(Don’t worry, it’s not just super healthy stuff).
Also: I included links for more information in every section, make sure to click through!
1. Walks other than Bondi-Coogee
Don't get me wrong, the coastal walk is a must-see during your stay. But you might want to avoid it on the weekends. Sydney has a ton of scenic walks spread all around the city. Some of them are:
Take the Ferry from Circular Quay to Taronga Zoo ($2.80 on a Sunday) and enjoy an easy 2-3 hour bay walk (6km) along the harbour bay.
10 km, 3-5 hours, beautiful views! Get the bus to the spit bridge (get off ON the bridge).
..find more walks here
2. Stand Up Paddle at Rose Bay
Got this tip from a fellow student and friend of mine. Make sure you check the whether before and bring some cash. Paddle board hire starts from $25, but the views will be worth it!
3. O’Bar Dining
This one is definitely worth it. Ever heard of Sydney Tower? Well, student entry is $22 and you'll share views with a bunch of other people taking photos. O'Bar on the other hand is a 360° bar and restaurant on the 47th floor, where you can just rock up on a weekday evening (leave the joggers at home - dress codes apply) and have a glass of a non-alcoholic beverage ;) and some sweet potato fries if you fancy. Prices are pretty high, but entry is free. No crowds! Make sure to get there about 40 min before sunset. Been there twice and absolutely love it.
4. Sydney Vegan Markets
Every 3rd Sunday of the month in Moore Park! Even if you're not vegan (I'm not, my boyfriend isn't either), you'll definitely have the best time here. Lots of food, dessert, clothing and good vibes. Friendly locals and their doggos (lot's of good boys). Literally a 10-min walk from UTS's Moore Park facility.
5. Donuts in Surry Hills
Naughty but with wholesome ingredients. The @wearenutie café is just a short walk from Central Station and will leave you mouth-watering! I mean, who doesn't love donuts right? Bring friends!!
6. Swimming Pools & Outdoor Gyms in the City
Check out Sydney's best swimming pools (outdoors!). Maccallum Pool is my favourite btw - hidden gem! Bring food and friends for a picnic afterwards. Get a sweat in for free! Sydney has a ton of outdoor gyms to play at. No overpriced gym-fee needed!
7. Blue Mountains
Visiting the Blue Mountains is a popular thing to do among tourists on a Sunday (it will only cost you $2.80). But: the 2 hour train ride can be quite daunting if there's no more seats left for you. Also, most people will go straight to Katoomba and from there visit the Three Sisters (famous rock formation). Let me tell you: there is a lot more to see in this beautiful area!
C'mon, let's take this to the next level: First of all, if you can afford it, go during the week (StuVac!). It will cost you about $12 in total to go back and forth by train. Worth it, if you ask me! Then, make sure you inform yourself about some of the hiking tracks around and choose a route. Bring snacks (important!).
What we did (I brought my housemates and the boyfriend): We got off the train in Wentworth Falls and walked all the way to the carpark near the waterfalls (where all the tracks start). Unfortunately a few passes were closed due to rock falls, but we decided to take the Wentworth Pass which took roughly about 3-4 hours to complete.
Just letting you know: this was not a piece of cake! A lot of stairs, actual steep staircases, slippery rocks and narrow paths through the forest. Down into the valley and back up.
But: it was definitely worth it! Barely any people around, scenic fews and 3 beautiful waterfalls along the way (with some very instagrammable photo spots).
At the end of the track, there was a café where we got lunch and had a (well-deserved) break, before we headed to Katoomba via bus.
There are a few more tracks around this area. Make sure to grab a free map, they literally have them everywhere!
And psst: there is also a Chocolate Café (handmade Blue Mountain chocolate) on the way from Katoomba to the Three Sisters.
8. Port Stephens (instead of Palm Beach)
Get together with your friends and rent a car for the day (divided by 5 it's gonna be around $15 per person + gasoline). You do not wanna miss this one! Ever heard of Palm Beach? Well, Port Stephens is cooler! After about 2.5 hours on the road, you'll come to see why.
We decided to start our day trip by walking up Tomaree Head (about 20 min from the car park). The beautiful thing about Port Stephens (similar to Palm Beach) is that you'll have a bay to one side and a beach on the other side of the main land - in walking distance! (We're talking 5 min). After the short hike, we went down to the beach (first photo) and had a quick dip in the water. No one around. Just a crow apparently, that opened my backpack and ate all my snacks while we were in the waves (I am not kidding, I wish I was).
Lunch break. There are a lot of cafés and restaurants around town to check out. Afterwards we headed to Shark Island (about a 1h walk along the beach, 4th photo). Make sure to check the tides before you go!
Now, there is one more thing about Port Stephens: it's famous for whale and dolphin watching (we saw them from the shore as well) AND camel tours. Wait.. what? Yes, there are sand dunes. And they are incredibly beautiful, especially around sunset.
Picture perfect, isn't it?
I hope this blog post inspired you to see Sydney though the eyes of a local. You're not a tourist. This is your home for now!