Yes, CAPA global cities are bursting with people from around the globe and are inevitably full of social and networking opportunities. They're also home to some pretty amazing quieter places though, and are host to tons of activities that give the introverts among us a chance to recharge and perhaps discover another, more peaceful, side of a bustling metropolis. Here are 10 of our favorites in Sydney:
1. HIT THE BEACH. Grab a book and your towel, slap on some sunscreen and head off to Sydney’s Tamarama beach for a day of relaxing in the sun. If you’re worried about the big crowds that a hot summer’s day will attract, don’t stress! Tamarama is a stone’s throw from (the much busier) Bondi Beach but is far less used, so you can enjoy your book in peace. You can also go for a dip in the clear blue water or just enjoy the sand between your toes and the sun on your face.
Photo: Tamarama Beach by Jason Davison
2. EXPERIENCE THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE. You don’t have to be able to sing like Pavarotti to enjoy this iconic piece of Sydney’s skyline. Steeped in a long and controversial history, the Sydney Opera House is the centrepiece of this city’s artistic world and hosts the largest performances that come to town. Watching the Sydney Symphony Orchestra perform here is a great way to spend a night in the city, but you may also enjoy one of the many tours offered by the Opera House explaining the history and power of this great building. Or if you want none of that, it makes a great place to sit outside and unwind, with its view of the Harbour Bridge and the Circular Quay ferries!
3. RELAX IN THE BOTANIC GARDENS. It’s peaceful, serene and absolutely beautiful! Sydney’s Botanic Gardens are filled to the brim with Australia’s vibrant plant life, with a number of themed areas peppering the giant garden. See the human sundial, where YOU become the time, or take a walk through the Stolen Generations Memorial, which encourages visitors to sit and reflect on one of the more tragic aspects of Australian colonial history. With so much to see, and all the time in the world, you’ll find yourself coming back again and again to these gardens.
Photo: Sydney's Botanic Gardens by Dana Lawes
4. EXPLORE THE BLUE MOUNTAINS. The Blue Mountains offers sights you won’t be able to see anywhere in the world, from Echo Point to the valley floor it is beautiful from top to bottom. Start your journey at Echo Point which offers a gorgeous view of the Jamison Valley, where you can visit the cafes and pastry shops nearby, or make your way to the valley floor and get up close and personal with Australian plants and animals. Down on the valley floor it’s as peaceful as can be, with the only background noise being the local birds singing, or the sound of leaves rustling in the breeze. Set aside a whole day to become enthralled with the sheer magnificence of the Blue Mountains, because I can guarantee you’ll want to come back again and again.
Photo: The Blue Mountains by Scott Silberstein
5. SOAK UP THE CATMOSPHERE IN A CAT CAFE. Cats are to solitude like dogs are to a party, so for the purr-fect (see what I did there?) coffee experience, head on over to the Catmosphere Cat Café. It’s made its home on the bustling Foveaux street in Surry Hills and boasts a wide selection of both coffees and kitties! Catmosphere was set up as a way to find a home for Sydney’s vagrant cat population, and it has been very successful, working closely with the World League for the Protection of Animals. If you’re worried about your food being contaminated with cat fur, no need! The cats are kept separate from the food prep and food eating areas, in designated cat play area called the “Space Academy”. So for any cat lovers, head on over and have a pastry and a pet!
Video via Catmosphere Cat Cafe Sydney
6. BROWSE THE SHELVES AT GOULD'S BOOK ARCADE. Gould’s Book Arcade is a used book store sitting at the north end of Newtown, and it is a reader’s heaven like you’ve never seen before. Spanning four shop fronts, with two levels, Gould’s is any book lover’s paradise. It has a selection ranging from Bram Stoker to Tina Fey so Gould’s has you covered for any genre and the books are generally second hand so they go pretty cheap. Definitely worth checking out on an afternoon you have off; you can peruse around just enjoying the used book smell, or you can dig in and find you next favorite read!
Photo: Gould's Book Arcade via Google Maps
7. CATCH A FILM AT DENDY CINEMAS. Dendy Cinemas are inextricably tied to the surrounding Newtown, as the largest small business on the block. Showcasing the best of local and international talent, Dendy offers screenings of imported blockbusters, as well as winners of Sydney film festivals and a number of short film compilations that you just won’t find in the larger cinema chains. It also has some of the best meal/movie deals with the local restaurants and is proud to show them off. You can grab some Indian at Tamana’s, or some Italian at Whateley Lane, with a movie thrown in and then just walk to Dendy! Excellent plan for a Saturday night to help recharge the batteries.
Clip by Brendan Thorncraft
8. SOAK UP SOME CULTURE AT THE ART GALLERY OF NSW. Placed right in the Royal Botanic Gardens, next to the Domain, the Art Gallery of NSW is a beautiful building described as a “temple to art”. It houses the best of the best exhibits to come to Australian shores and has a slew of great local pieces that show all year round! It is $18 to see the featured exhibits, but you can spend hours browsing the free general admission wings and see all the best the museum has to offer. There is a café inside, of course, so you can grab a drink and something to eat between the European and Modernist galleries so you’re legs don’t run out of energy.
Photo: Art Gallery of NSW by Natasha Fernanda
9. SATISFY YOUR SWEET TOOTH AT MAX BRENNER. Sydney’s chocolatey cousin to Starbucks, Max Brenner styles themselves as a chocolate bar, and I can tell you that they do chocolate very well. The best of the menu includes Belgian waffles with melted chocolate served to the side, Italian hot chocolates (that don’t use milk; they are actually just melted chocolate), and the old favourite of strawberries and chocolate. They do dark, white and milk chocolate and will gladly serve it hot and cold. For anybody with a sweet tooth and a need to be alone with their cocoa-based confectionary, check out one of the dozens of Max Brenner locations around Sydney.
Video by elecity
10. CYCLE THROUGH CENTENNIAL PARK. A sunny day Centennial Park is one of the most beautiful sights in Sydney and it offers a perfect opportunity to get out and have a ride around. If you go, rent a bike for 6+ hours for about $50, which will let you cruise around Centennial Park or anywhere else that your feet peddle you to! The park offers a great selection of flora and fauna, including many great trees from the early 20th century. This park is free to enter and peruse at your leisure, truly earning its nickname, “the People’s Park”.
Video via TJVlogs