Sydney Symphony Orchestra Logo Menu Open Menu

29 JAN 2018

What to do with 24 hours in Sydney

You’ve only got one day in Sydney – not long enough, we know, but to make the most of it, and to see the place as an insider, we asked three locals for their recommendations.

Mitchell Butel, actor and director

I’d start with a cappuccino at Bru Coffee in North Bondi – it’s the best coffee in Sydney, and some of the nicest people work there. It’s just a stroll from there for a jog and swim at Bondi Beach. I’d spend a couple of hours in bookshops – Kinokuniya in town or Gleebooks at Glebe. I’m a big fan of autobiography, so I’d see what they had.

I’d have a cup of tea at one of the nanna cafes upstairs at the Queen Victoria Building, then catch a ferry to Taronga Zoo to say hello to the giraffes.

Queen Victoria Building
Director Mitchell Butel says tea at the Queen Victoria Building is a must-do in Sydney.

For lunch, I’d have some Portuguese chicken in Petersham or a salad at Tropicana – I love it that the menu hasn’t changed in 20 years and the décor’s exactly the same as it’s always been. In the afternoon I’d have a bike ride in Centennial Park – it’s so beautiful, providing oxygen to the city.

Dinner would be at Bistro Moncur, my favourite homey restaurant in Sydney. I’d finish it off with a performance by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Christine Manfield, chef, author and gastronomic traveller

I’d have breakfast at Room 10 – my focus is on small people doing something left of centre and a bit edgy. Then there’d be the obligatory pastry at Flour and Stone – I can’t go there too often, or I’d be waddling about. If it’s a weekend, Carriageworks market is full of producers who actually grow the stuff. It’s also good to explore the suburbs of Fairfield, Cabramatta, Liverpool or Merrylands – there’s a real mix of cultures there.

Carriageworks Farmers Markets
Chef Christine Manfield says the Carriageworks markets are perfect for a weekend in Sydney.

When Sculpture by the Sea is on, the Bondi to Bronte walk is mandatory, and I’d also recommend the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the MCA and White Rabbit Gallery.

For lunch, Morris has great healthy food with good strong flavours. Dinner is a toss-up – Joe’s Table, hands down the best Thai food in Sydney, is my first go-to. Fred’s has a really good aesthetic and I love the honesty of the food. Pheast in Waverley is another favourite; a tiny place with a North African-Mediterranean sensibility. And then there’s Ester – the food looks deceptively simple but you know the degree of effort and skill that’s gone into it.

Go to a show at the Sydney Opera House, and hit the Bennelong Bar afterwards for supper – it’s terrific. Or Bart Jr in Redfern, the sister to Morris, and a really cool hipster neighbourhood hangout that draws on a broader audience.

Catherine Hewgill, Sydney Symphony Orchestra Principal Cellist

Coffee at Fiveways in Paddington is good for people-watching. I love looking at independent art galleries around there, plus the shops, bars and restaurants in William Street, Paddington – 10 William St is a happening place, and feels very European. You’d have to have lunch at Icebergs in Bondi Beach – you can really feel the power of the sea from there. My favourite place to swim is Nielsen Park – you walk through the trees and come across this beautiful blue water. The fact that it’s so close to the city amazes me. The lighthouse walk from Camp Cove is very dramatic, especially the view from the lighthouse out to the wild sea.

Nielsen Park
Nielsen Park is SSO Principal Cellist Catherine Hewgill's favourite place to swim.

I grew up in Perth, and on my first day with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, someone recommended I hop on the Manly ferry – being on the harbour is the best way to get a feeling of Sydney’s geography. When you get to Manly, it’s like being on holiday.

You’d have to go to a concert at the Sydney Opera House – I’m always there for work, but never get sick of it. Stop at the Opera Bar before for a drink, or afterwards you’ll find musicians unwinding after the concert!

Buy tickets to watch Catherine Hewgill perform with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in the musical Funny Girl in concert directed by Mitchell Butel at the Sydney Opera House on July 12-14.

What to do with 24 hours in SydneyWhat to do with 24 hours in Sydney