Sydney Opera House.
More than just a pretty face.
Sydney knows it looks good on a postcard – that sparkling harbor, the endless beaches, the soaring Sydney Harbour Bridge. But travelers who look beneath its surface beauty will find it bristling with creativity, now more than ever, thanks to a rush of new arts projects injecting fresh life into the city center. In December 2022, the Art Gallery of New South Wales revealed its Sydney Modern Project, home to a collection of more than 900 works from around the world and the city’s most significant new public arts space since the Sydney Opera House. The tech-and-culture crowd will turn up in October 2023 for SXSW Sydney, the festival’s first installment outside the U.S., and at the stylish new Capella Sydney, “culturists” connect guests with Indigenous-led arts tours and experiences.
Favorite meals at Long Chim.
Inside a restored 1930s glazed terracotta building, Shell House’s four venues take diners on a Sydney culinary tour. Start at the ground-floor Menzies Bar & Bistro before heading to the ninth-floor Dining Room & Terrace for modern Australian dishes such as grilled southern rock lobster or Tasmanian lamb with a sunflower, smoked tomato, and basil dressing. Finish with a whiskey in the timber-clad Clocktower Bar or a spicy Sicilian margarita at the rooftop Sky Bar.
Thai food is so beloved by Sydneysiders, it’s practically the city’s official cuisine. Find some of its most creative expressions at Long Chim, which serves generous plates starring fresh Australian produce – the salad of spicy barramundi and green mango showcases everything that’s great about the marriage of these two food-loving cultures.
No trip to Sydney is complete without a visit to Bondi Beach. Go where the locals go: Promenade, a breezy oceanfront restaurant that exudes laid-back, 1970s Bondi culture, with a sharp, seafood-centric menu that’s entirely of the moment.
A Maravilla (zero-proof Seedlip Grove 42, marigold, and lemon) at Gildas.
Chef Lennox Hastie’s Firedoor is one of the city’s hardest-to-book restaurants, but its Spanish-style sibling, Gildas, is walk-in friendly. Stop by for a Matilda – a spin on the classic Gilda pintxo made with seared red kangaroo instead of anchovies – and a glass of fino sherry.
There’s nothing more “Sydney” than having a drink inside the Opera House. Elegant Bennelong – underneath the famous white sails – delivers special-occasion dining with superlative harbor views, but guests can grab a spot at the bar for Champagne and oysters, an ideal pre-performance snack.
The team at Utopia Goods in the upscale, arts-packed Paddington neighborhood prints the country’s colorful botanicals onto textiles, furnishings, and housewares. Pop in to browse tablecloths and cushion covers decorated with the bright-red waratahs or golden wattles of the Australian bush.
Also in Paddington, Dinosaur Designs has been making resin housewares and jewelry since the 1980s. Its sculptural bowls, bangle bracelets, and other pieces evoke the Australian desert, oceans, and rain forests.
The 192-room Capella Sydney’s entryway and lounge feel more like a forest than a hotel, with a green wall and flower lanterns with petals that gently open and close, examples of some of the hotel’s more than 1,400 artworks. Rooms have king-size beds, stand-alone tubs, and distinctive art and curios, while cultural highlights such as the Sydney Opera House are short walks away. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 hotel credit.
The energetic Kimpton Margot Sydney blends contemporary Australian style, heritage modern architecture, and a dash of European art deco and Bauhaus flair across its 172 rooms. Art catches the eye everywhere here too, including the lobby’s marquee sculpture, created by Sydney artist Tony Twigg. Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily and a $100 dining credit.