As a born and bred Sydney-sider, people often ask me: "What should I do there?" As I think about it from a tourist's perspective, Sydney really is a location that has it all: It's one of the few cities in the world that offers the buzz and convenience of a metropolis combined with the relaxed and bohemian vibe of white sandy beaches — just a short 20 minute drive from the CBD.
The café culture is also its best down under: Baristas are held in high esteem (sub-standard coffee guarantees a quick café death) and the food (made from the freshest Australian produce) reflects the melting pot of nationalities that live in Sydney; from Greek and Italian to Vietnamese and Chinese. In short: foodies, eat your heart out.
And the fashion? Effortlessly chic with the North Bondi grassy knoll home to the fit and fabulous casually sipping on their green juices while soaking up the warm sunshine.
To live like a local, here are my top five things to try the next time you're in old Sydney town.
The Butler, Potts Point
Get a drink at this latest hotspot frequented by trendsetters. The views of the cityscape are breath-taking, especially in the late afternoon when the sun sets, and the cocktail list is vast and inventive — try the 'Air France'. As it's the place to be seen, make sure you book ahead.
Arguably the most Instagram-worthy pool in the world, a swim at this Syndey institution will only set you back AUD$6.50 for an adult entry. The baths have been drawing swimming enthusiasts for a 100 years, and even if you're not in the mood for a dip, the views of Bondi beach are second to none.
Oxford Street, Paddington
If you're sick of the whole mall scenario, head to Sydney's East to shop the most iconic Aussie fashion labels on Oxford Street, Paddington: Bianca Spender, Bassike, Tony Bianco, Scanlan & Theodore and Manning Cartel are just some of the brands to be found there. Kim Kardashian has also been papped along this famous shopping strip more than once.
Messina, Surry Hills
This is hands down the best gelato in the world. With over 40 unique flavours on offer — personal favourites include Salted Caramel, White Chocolate, Pannacotta with Fig Jam and Amaretti Biscuit — it's little wonder that there are snaking queues down the street for this creamy goodness.
Catalina Restaurant, Rose Bay
Found on the shores of Sydney Harbour, there's no better place for lunch on a perfect, sunny day. The cuisine is modern Mediterranean — fresh oysters, scallops, lobster and prawns are served up in the most elegant yet relaxed of settings — and the staff are attentive with an eye for detail. You'll be back for seconds.