Plotting how to spend a free day in Walsh Bay doesn’t have to be overwhelming. To help you figure out the most perfect day possible we’ve curated an itinerary of where to visit and when to go during your stay, from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, in the beautiful surrounds of Pier One Sydney Harbour. 

Without further ado… 

7:00 am: Wake up, say hello to your beautiful view from your Pier One hotel room and set off to breakfast downstairs. Our selection of delicious options including made-to-order omelettes, granola mixes and fresh local fruit are bound to get you motivated. Alternatively, stroll down to Devon Cafe in Barangaroo. Grab a sandwich to take away for lunch, we’ll enjoy it while relaxing under a tree in Hickson Road Reserve later. 

8:00 am: After breakfast a dose of physical activity may be in order. Take yourself on a 15-minute jog to 52 Martin Place and you’ll find yourself at Barry’s. Barry’s classes, named the best workouts in the world, can have participants burning 1,000 calories in one class! – they’re fast-paced HIIT workouts – bound to get the blood pumping and a great way to start your adventurous day! 

9:30 am: After your class jog back to Pier One and have a quick shower, then it’s time to check out the latest exhibition at Art Transfield. Here you’ll find one of the largest collections of privately owned contemporary art in Australia. Alternatively, perch yourself on a grassy knoll in Barangaroo Reserve, perfectly positioned with views of Walsh Bay and the Harbour Bridge. We think 10:30am is the perfect time for a coffee break, don’t you agree?

12:00 pm: To recover from your post-Barry’s-and-art-perusing buzz check out the timetable at Roslyn Packer Theatre and catch a matinee performance if you can – what a relaxing way to ease into the arvo! If nothing’s showing, make a note and catch a performance in the evening perhaps, then shimmy on down to the Argyle Gallery to peruse Australian and Aboriginal art and fine crafts, sourced directly from artists and indigenous communities. Don’t forget the sandwich you packed earlier, you clever thing!

2:00 pm: As dusk nears it’s high time for another snack. Stop in at Lotus Dumpling Bar for a mouth-watering snack of dumplings and a cocktail or two before high-tailing it to Sydney’s ground-zero for boundary-pushing art, the MCA. Make note if it’s a day when late-night opening hours are on offer, and come by later in the evening if you can, it’s so delightful visiting the museum at night time! 

3:30 pm: Journey over the hill and duck into one of the many art galleries in The Rocks area. Spirit Gallery is an excellent first option. This space is a beautiful store and gallery specialising in a very special Indigenous instrument, the didgeridoo. While you’re here, pop into the nearby branch of cult skincare brand,  Aesop and pick up a lovely, botanically-infused hand cream for your journey home, then quickly step into the beautiful MCA store for a stunning coffee table book or some MCA merch. 

6:00 pm: It’s time for dinner! Take a look at our article on the best places to eat in Sydney, depending on your mood, or drop into the Orient Hotel for a great pub meal. The best part? You can enjoy a leisurely walk back to the hotel from here! There’s no need to grab a cab when you can get there on foot in 10 minutes. If your night doesn’t feel quite ready to be over yet, it doesn’t have to be! Settle in for the end of the sunset and a pre-show drink on the pier at Pier One. After your relaxing waterside drink, head to the Roslyn Packer Theatre for that show you missed earlier. Alternatively, a nightcap at The Doss House may be a good option for you. This whisky bar in a former opium den and 170-year-old building is an excellent spot to sign off your evening!

While this itinerary is certainly a fool-proof starting point, some other options you could sub in or out of your day include: Seductive Art Gallery, ATTY Gallery, Gannon House Gallery, Billich Art Gallery or a walking tour of the Sydney Opera House.

There’s definitely no shortage of beautiful parks, walks and gardens in Sydney, that’s for sure. Whether you’re exploring our western suburbs, relaxing by the beach or set smack-bang in the middle of the city, escaping the concrete and finding a slice of nature is never a problem. To help you find your perfect fit we’ve pulled together a list of our favourites, organised by vibe of course! 

If you’re after something a little enchanting: 

Wendy Whiteley Gardens: The most magical garden in Sydney is arguably Wendy Whiteley’s. Jump on a train at Circular Quay, hop off at Milsons Point Station, take a few left and right turns and you’re there. Wendy created the garden while she was grieving the loss of her late husband, famous Australian painter Brett Whiteley. The garden is heavenly. Pack a picnic basket and explore the curving pathways and hidden sculptures. If you’ve got a book, settle in at one of the benches under a leafy canopy and forget you’re in the city at all. 

Chinese Garden of Friendship: You’ll find the Chinese Garden of Friendship nestled near Darling Harbour. After a quick bus ride or a leisurely 35-minute stroll from Pier One Sydney Harbour you’ll find yourself surrounded by huge leafy trees, lagoons, lotus plants, water features, pavilions and ponds with gorgeous koi fish. This is the perfect place to escape the chaos to meditate under a swaying willow … then duck to Chinatown for an excellent feast – don’t forget to order a bag of hot cream puffs from Emperor’s Garden Bakery. They’re a must try!

If you’re after a taste of colonial heritage Sydney: 

Customs House to Millers Point: Honestly, the best way to have a taste of colonial Sydney is to walk among our neighbours! Duck out of Pier One Sydney Harbour, head left, right or over the hill and you’re bound to run into a colonial treasure. Some highlights of the area include: Customs House, Susanah Place, Cumberland Place, Garrison Church and the Walsh Bay Wharves, obviously!

Balmain: Hints of colonial Australia can be found all throughout Balmain – the sandstone cottages and stucco terraces of the 1840s are a sight to be seen! Meander down Darling, Waterview and Ewenton Streets before heading back up to Darling via Ewenton Park. When you’re finished your walk pull up a stump at the East Village Hotel for a beer or two at this cosy, waterside pub. We’d recommend starting your day in Balmain with a ferry trip from Circular Quay. 

If it’s a classic Sydney experience you’re after: 

Royal Botanic Gardens: Sydney’s beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens are a must visit for anyone dropping into Sydney! The heritage-listed gardens take up 74 acres of the CBD and offer plenty of lush nooks and crannies to explore. Take a free walk with one of the volunteer guides, go on an Aboriginal Heritage tour, enjoy high tea at The Calyx (the Gardens’ futuristic event space and cafe) or simply spend time learning about and walking among over 1000 native and exotic plants, collected over centuries. The Gardens are only 1.5 kilometres from the Pier One Sydney Harbour, so making your journey via foot is what we’d suggest. 

Sydney Park: Sydney Park clings to the south of the city and takes up about 99 acres starting near St Peters. This former major landfill site is a lush, hilly oasis that, now this is the best part, welcomes dogs off-leash (like us!). Head here to walk, run or ride among verdant grass, landscaped gardens, rolling hills with views of the CBD and stunning wetlands. Get here via train from Circular Quay (jump off at St Peters) – it’s the perfect spot for a quick city escape… with doggo in tow!

Centennial Parklands: A trip to Sydney’s Centennial Parklands may take a bit more time but it’s well worth it, spend the day there if you can. Catch the 333 bus from Circular Quay, take in the sights and shops of Oxford Street while you’re at it, then disembark at the Parklands for a day of picnicking, relaxing and exercise. The Parklands are mostly flat, making it an excellent spot to cycle or go for a run. It’s also dog-friendly, so don’t forget your best mate.

If you’re after something close by: 

Barangaroo Reserve: At just a 10-minute walk from Pier One, Barangaroo Reserve makes for the perfect spot for a quick dip into nature. The reserve is a beautiful foreshore park, with a unique view of the Harbour, transformed from an old industrial site to a rocky, grassy place for people to picnic among native landscaping. 

Observatory Hill Park: This patch of greenery in the midst of the city is another interesting option if you’re looking for something close by – it’s just a 13-minute walk from the hotel. We’d recommend pulling up to a patch of grass under the beautiful, massive Moreton Bay fig tree. Within the park there’s a tennis court, gym stations and lots of spots to unwind with a book and takeaway coffee.  

If you’re after a physical (and mental!) challenge: 

Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb: It may be the tourist attraction of all tourist attractions but climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a feat even Sydneysiders enjoying attempting. Enjoy an unparalleled panoramic view of the city, where sights of the Sydney Opera House, Blue Mountains and Sydney’s many national parks can be observed with ease and excitement. A degree of fitness is needed for the climb as a little over 1,300 steps will be defeated on your journey. Getting to the start of the climb is no trouble at all, it’s just a six-minute walk from Pier One Sydney Harbour. To avoid disappointment we’d recommend booking your climb in advance – we can certainly assist with this, just let us know.

Chowder Bay to Balmoral: If crossing the Bridge and escaping the city a little bit sounds like just the right sort of balm, the short but challenging hike from Chowder Bay to Balmoral is a perfect idea. Pack a bag and take the whole day to enjoy the Northern Beaches, with views of Sydney’s military and settlement history to take in along the way. You can start the hike from either end, though we’d recommend starting at Chowder Bay, that way you can finish your walk with a dip in at Balmoral Beach.

Just like a Champagne tower at a Pier One wedding, Sydney’s food scene is overflowing with possibilities. Whether your evening calls for oysters under the Sydney Opera House sails or playful snacks at a Japanese izakaya, there’s a venue for every dining occasion in our special city. To help you decide what’s for dinner, here’s a list of our favourites, organised by whatever mood happens to strike. Happy dining!

When You’re Feeling a Little Bit Fancy:

Hubert: The smell of sizzling beurre blanc, a dining room adorned with a grand piano and plush ruby booths mark this gorgeous Parisian bistro in the heart of Sydney CBD. Expect renewed French classics; duck terrine, clams Normande and a 300g Rangers Valley bavette steak.

Sokyo: One of Sydney’s best Japanese restaurants, Sokyo transcends the traditional with its imaginative take on sashimi, tempura and melt-in-the-mouth meats cooked over a robata grill. Don’t miss the wagyu flank steak served with shio koji marinade, fresh Tasmanian wasabi and garlic ponzu. 

Fred’s: Led by Chez Panisse-alumnus Danielle Alvarez, Fred’s exudes warmth, charm and old-school hospitality. Dishes are seasonal, thoughtful and celebrate hyper-local produce with a wood-fired hearth doing much of the hot work.

Firedoor: Good Food’s Chef of the Year for 2019, Lennox Hastie harnesses fire to intensify his produce’s flavour and texture at Firedoor, using a variety of different woods to enhance each dish. Choose from the inventive á la carte menu or the hand-picked chef’s menu, featuring bite-sized smoked burrata and a wicked woodfired rum baba.

Bennelong: Oysters and Champagne under the Sydney Opera House sails? Count us in. Enjoy panoramic views of Circular Quay and the Harbour Bridge accompanied by a modern Australian three-course menu, designed by executive chef Peter Gilmore and head chef Rob Cockerill.

 

When You’re After Something a Little More Casual:

10 William St: This hole-in-the-wall Sydney institution serves Italian food with a contemporary Australian twist. Famous for their soft seeded pretzel and whipped bottarga (an umami-rich salted cod dip) and seasonal menu that changes weekly, it’s the perfect spot to pull up bar stool and settle in for the night.

The Apollo: Modern Greek food served with maximum flavour and minimum fuss on Macleay Street in Potts Point. Start with sizzling saganaki (a stretchy fried cheese serve table-side with honey and oregano) and slow-cooked Riverina lamb then top it off with zingy, flame-licked meringue in their avgolemono pie. Opa!

Boon Café: Thai café and grocer by day, north-Eastern Thai cuisine by night, Boon Café serves curries, soups and warm salads for dinner in its buzzing Haymarket space. Don’t miss an entire menu dedicated to som dtum (green papaya salad) and buns filled with banana gelato for dessert.

Lankan Filling Station: Heat-packing Sri Lankan curries are the name of the game at Lankan Filling Station. Arrive early to score a seat at the bar and watch chefs fire up fish, goat and potato curries to be served in hoppers (a fermented rice pancake) with sambols, the traditional Sri Lankan accompaniment.

 

When You’re Planning A Fun Night Out:

Cho Cho San: A bright and playful space in the heart of Potts Point, Cho Cho San offers contemporary Japanese izakaya food and a spirited drinks list. Come for the crisp pork katsu served in steamed buns with spicy mayo, stay for the black sesame and matcha mochi ice-cream. 

Don Peppino’s: A winning combination of contemporary Italian food, party vibes and spot-on service. Don’t miss their garlic bread, served warm piped with thick garlic butter, marjoram and clove.

The Dolphin: Choose your own adventure at The Dolphin and pick between the Wine Room, a cosy space offering drops by the glass, the Dining Room, a more formal dinner set-up with a seasonal menu or the Public Bar, with pizzas and a chicken ‘Cotsu’ burger worth travelling town for.  

Alberto’s Lounge: Sydney’s buzzing Italian darling, Alberto’s Lounge is tucked away in Surry Hills, quietly serving some of the best pasta in the city. Don’t miss the lemony polpo e ceci (octopus and chickpeas), house-churned gelato – and, if you’re game, the richly spiced trippa alla romana.

When You’re Hungry But Want a Killer Drink:

Continental Bar & Bistro CBD: Newtown’s favourite bar has opened up in the CBD, offering a unique take on Australian cuisine and signature canned cocktails. Try the quintessential Mar-tinny with a Gilda, a skewered salty delight of olive, anchovy and guindilla peppers. 

Little Felix: A French-style cocktail bar in the heart of the city with a moody interior, polished service and elevated wine offering. Order from a selection of charcuterie, cheese and tartines – a toasted open sandwich served with steak tartare, smoked salmon or truffled raclette.

Love, Tilly Devine: The small lane-way bar with a big reputation. And rightly so. Love, Tilly Devine serves some of the city’s best bar snacks. Order a glass from their extensive wine list, a pasta or cheese plate to share and watch the world go by from the window seat.

Poly: Expect inventive bar snacks and a wine list of organic and biodynamic drops from this Surry Hills establishment. The menu changes weekly and with the season. Winter might mean a slow-braised short-rib to share and with Spring, tangy radish crudité and whipped tahini.

Ragazzi: A hole-in-the-wall must-visit with a concise menu of five or six daily-changing dishes. Think Jerusalem artichoke and pecorino ravioli or tajarin (that yolk-enriched noodle of Piemonte) cacio e pepe, served with a glass from their 250-bottle strong wine list.

When You Want an Element of the Outdoors:

China Doll: Since 2004, China Doll has served regional Chinese cuisine from its waterside haven on Woolloomoolloo Wharf. The fine-diner is famed for its crisp pork belly with chilli caramel, Asian-inspired seasonal cocktails and stellar views of Sydney’s twinkling skyline.

The Gantry: A Hickson Road hero, The Gantry offers relaxed fine dining within Pier One walls. Request a table by the water and choose from a refined menu of modern Australian classics, say, Spencer Gulf kingfish with cucumber, wasabi and white soy or roasted beetroot with black rice, purple mustard and dill.

Smoke at Barangaroo House: The jewel in the Barangaroo House crown, Smoke has a brilliant view of Sydney’s impressive waterside development, while offering a range of cocktails featuring native ingredients and spirits from all corners of the globe.

Café Sydney: Sweeping views of Circular Quay are just one of the perks of a Café Sydney experience. Choose from an approachable menu favouring local seafood and watch the sunset over Sydney Harbour, saving room for their signature salted caramel and chocolate peanut tart.

Icebergs Dining Room and Bar: A sleek dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows showing off Bondi’s best asset. Dishes celebrate Italian regionality with a contemporary edge such as lightly dusted local gamberetti shrimp or hand-cut spaghetti with Moreton Bay bug, tomato and verbena butter.

 

When you want to stay near the Pier:

Ventuno: Would you like a side of marina with your pizza marinara? Set on Walsh Bay’s waterfront, Ventuno is part pizzeria, part Italian bistro. Pop in for dopo lavoro (meaning ‘after work’ in Italian) snacks or share a buffalo mozzarella margherita at one of our favourite neighbourhood eats.

The Harbourview: Our lively local pub with views of the Harbour Bridge, a rooftop cocktail bar and all-star pub menu. It’s our go-to for chicken parmigiana or a Sunday roast with all the trimmings.

The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel: Sydney’s oldest continually licensed hotel still knows how to put on a show. Located in the historic Rocks precinct just nearby, it serves its own brews behind the bar (we love the malty Victory’s Bitter) and a sharp pub menu with steaks accompanied by cafe dé Paris butter and kingfish served in a Himalayan-spiced curry.