Inner East Sydney

Take a step back in time on the leafy streets of Paddington and Darlinghurst, or go cafe-hopping in neighbouring Surry Hills.


This part of Sydney is a little more upscale than the rest. What was once a working-class area is now a thriving hub full of boutique stores and big, gorgeous houses.

You can spend a whole day roaming the streets of Paddington and Darlinghurst, popping in and out of the many stores scattered along Oxford Street and winding your way through the back lanes. Paddington’s Five Ways is a small area in the suburb’s heart brimming with cafes, craft bottle shops and boutique fashion labels.

Springtime is a real treat around Oxford Street and its surrounds; the Jacaranda trees drop their flowers onto the streets, creating what looks like purple snow (it’s great for a photo opportunity). This part of town is also home to University of New South Wales (UNSW) Art & Design Faculty. Students can often be found working on assignments at the cafe across the road, Ampersand, or amongst the colourful novels at funky cafe/ bookstore, Berkelouw Books. Here you’ll also find the classic pub The Unicorn, which hosts regular live music nights and offers a variety of fantastic pub food and drinks. For a cheaper alternative, just up the road is trendy hotspot Darlo Bar.

Surry Hills is Sydney’s cafe hub. You could spend a whole day hopping from cafe to cafe here and still not have time to try them all. Reuben Hills is a big, airy cafe on Albion Street with hip decor and a delicious South Americaninspired menu. Devon Cafe is an Instagram-favourite, with lots of unique and beautiful dishes on the menu. Haven Specialty Coffee is a fantastic spot for Asian-inspired dishes and wonderfully made coffee.

One of Sydney’s best Lebanese restaurants, Abdul’s, is located in Surry Hills. It’s on the corner of Elizabeth and Cleveland Streets, just a 10-minute walk from Central Station. The food is cheap and no fuss, and every Friday and Saturday night you can enjoy your meal while watching a belly dancing performance. Also make sure to check out The Dolphin Hotel and The Clock on Crown Street. Both are great venues for an afternoon drink.

Community facilities

Surry Hills Library offers free wi-fi and peaceful study areas. And if you don’t have your own laptop, the library has computers and printers that you can use. There’s also a great selection of Russian books, DVDs and newspapers on offer, as well as Chinese and Spanish newspapers. What’s more, it has won awards for being an environmentally friendly and sustainable community building.

Darlinghurst is also where St Vincent’s Hospital is located, which was first built in 1857 and is one of Australia’s top hospitals. As well as offering general hospital services and emergency care, St Vincent’s operates the Anxiety Disorders Clinic. This service offers face-to-face appointments as well as low cost online treatments supervised by experts.

Darlinghurst is home to St John’s Anglican Church and Sacred Heart Catholic Church. In Surry Hills you’ll find King Faisal Mosque on Commonwealth Street. Paddington has several churches, including Paddington Uniting Church, Paddington Church of Christ and St. Francis of Assisi’s Catholic Church.

Unique experiences

Some of the best Indian food in Sydney can be found in Darlinghurst. Malabar on Victoria Road is famous for its dosas, and Brick Lane on Stanley Street serves up fantastic ‘new-age’ Indian food. For something a little different, Govindas on Darlinghurst Road is a cosy vegan Indian restaurant with an in-house cinema. It’s been running for nearly 40 years and is thought to be one of the city’s first plant-based restaurants. For $24.80 you have access to the all-you-can-eat buffet, and for $38.80 you can enjoy the buffet and a film. If you have a concession card, you can watch a film for just $16.90, but the meal/film deal doesn’t apply to concession cards. Govindas is open from 5.45pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

For a fun night out, head to the Standard Bowl in Darlinghurst. This student-friendly bar has free entry and an in-house bowling alley which is free to use, retro arcade games and Johnny Wong’s dumpling bar. Many students flock to this bar for a dance and a drink, with DJs playing every Friday and Saturday night from 9pm to 3.30am.