Whether you’re studying in Sydney or just visiting for a weekend, the city offers a vast assortment of entertainment and hidden gems waiting to be discovered – but it helps to know where to start. Once you’ve sampled your way through our list of must-visits and must-dos, you’ll be well on your way to knowing Sydney inside and out. And, before you know it, you’ll be the one dishing out recommendations to friends.

Friday

To get a deeper understanding of the city, you might like to download the Sydney Culture Walks app, which will take you on your own personal walking tour of Sydney. The app provides pockets of information and facts so you can get to know this beautiful city a little better.

Then, wind down your afternoon with a fun activity. There’s such a great variety of things to do in Sydney, from Chinese square dancing classes to ukulele workshops to jewellery-making courses.

Friday evening

The eve of the weekend is all about good food. On Friday night, Sydneysiders flock to their favourite spots to enjoy a bite to eat and a well-earned beer to mark another week’s end. This is a great time to head out and enjoy the city’s buzzing nightlife.

One of the many brilliant things about Sydney is the variety of food on offer – you can literally eat your way around the world in just one city. If it’s a cheap and cheerful meal you’re after, try Abdul’s Lebanese Restaurant on Elizabeth Street in Surry Hills. This place is a very low-fuss, low-cost restaurant with simple yet delicious food. If you go on a Friday or Saturday night, you might even catch one of the belly dancing performances.

For a good feed on a student budget, head to the King Street strip in Newtown. There are so many restaurants and cafes from a variety of cultures there, and you might even stumble upon some live music at one of the street’s many great pubs.

If you’re feeling brave, why not go on Sydney’s True Crime Tour and discover the historical underbelly of Australia’s most populated city? Or, you could even head to the Capitol Theatre and catch a live show (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is showing at the moment).

A great way to acquaint yourself with Sydney’s beautiful harbour is to take the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly (and back again). This one-hour round trip is a truly fabulous way to take in the skyline. Locals suggest doing the ferry trip at night – this way you can avoid the morning commuters. Plus, there’s nothing more beautiful than seeing the lights of the city bouncing off the famous arches of the Sydney Opera House.

weekend in sydney

Saturday

Saturday morning means exploring the outdoors and experiencing the incredible Sydney weather. Tie up your sneaker laces and pack a bag with all the essentials: water, sunscreen, a towel and your swimming costume – it’s time to go exploring.

Start the day off with a stroll around one of Sydney’s beautiful parks – the Glebe Foreshore offers a particularly nice walk by the waterside. Or, head to the well-manicured Royal Botanic Garden next to the Sydney CBD, a tranquil green oasis in the centre of a concrete jungle. All the plants here are paired with information about their species, so you can learn along the way. You can even turn up for a free class on carnivorous plants.

Once you’ve made your way through the Botanic Garden, you’ll reach the Andrew (Boy) Charlton heated saltwater pool. There are several stunning swimming spots in Sydney, but this one is a local favourite (bonus: students get discounted entry!). Nestled into the side of Woolloomooloo, it’s the perfect spot for a refreshing dip or a lie by the pool – just remember to slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen, and slap on a hat. Australia’s heat might be a little more intense than you’re used to.

Saturday evening

At night, head to Sydney’s own slice of New York: Potts Point. This fancier area surrounds the famous Kings Cross (you might have seen the giant Coca-Cola sign reminiscent of New York City’s Times Square) and offers a variety of fantastic eateries.

On Victoria Street, you’ll find Ms. G’s (modern Asian fusion food with a side of fun) and The Butler, which does stunning Ibero-American cuisine and mouthwatering cocktails. MacLeay Street, the main strip in Potts Point, houses plenty of well-known Sydney establishments such as Fratelli Paradiso, Monopole and The Apollo. Each of these restaurants offers a dining experience you’ll never forget – just keep in mind they come with a slightly higher price tag.

Sunday

There’s nothing like a slow, relaxed Sunday in Sydney. After you’ve had a nice sleep-in to recover from Saturday’s activity-packed day, it’s brunch time! Head to Two Sis in Pyrmont – this cafe is an Instagrammer’s heaven and won’t cost you an arm and a leg (that’s Australian slang for “it’s cheap”). The food is colourful, delicious and aesthetically pleasing. The coffee is really good, too.

After you’ve fuelled up, head down to The Rocks, a historic sandstone area right near the CBD. On a Sunday morning, you can browse the markets displaying beautifully handcrafted wares and tasty treats. Or, indulge in a Sunday lunch with all the trimmings at The Paddington on Oxford Street.

To finish up your stellar weekend in Sydney, you could check out some of the exhibitions at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

What’s next? Well, you’re probably ready to collapse into bed by now – it’s been a big few days. Rest up and get ready to do it all again next weekend. There’s so much to explore in Sydney, so take your time and have fun.

If you’re after more ways to live in Sydney like a local, make sure to check out some of the best spots in the city recommended by locals themselves. For great suggestions on everything from restaurants and cafes to shopping arcades and boutiques, head to the #SydneyLocal website to find out more.