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Top 10 Sydney Staycations: where to stay, eat & what to do

Linden Brown

Sydney: where the sun glinting off the water is only rivalled by the immersive flavour explosions as you bite down on lunch. 

Whether you enjoy history and culture, a world-class menu, breath-taking beaches or quality educational experiences, Sydney has it all.

We compiled this comprehensive guide to Sydney staycations to get you started. We’ll cover where to stay, eat, and what to do for some of the best experiences you can find in the southern hemisphere.

So grab a car rental and book a great hotel to remember why travellers flock from all corners of the globe to experience this city – your very own piece of paradise.

Jump to:

What is a staycation, and why choose Sydney?

Ah, the staycation. It's that perfect blend of vacation vibes without the hassle of leaving your city. Easier to organise, kinder on your wallet and usually kinder to the planet, too. Win-win-win.

But it's not just spending your holiday time at home. 

It's an invitation to explore your own city with the curiosity and enthusiasm usually reserved for far-off, exotic lands. The beauty of a staycation lies in its simplicity – the adventure into the heart of what makes your city tick. You might just fall in love all over again.

So, why take a staycation in Sydney? 

Imagine waking up without an alarm, knowing the only agenda for the day is pleasure. The iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House are just the start. This city is a treasure chest waiting to be rediscovered.

First, there's the food. From hidden laneway cafes to waterfront restaurants, Sydney takes you on a culinary journey around the world. 

Then, there's the art – world-class galleries, statement street art, installations, and exhibitions that constantly evolve. You're not just seeing art; you're experiencing the pulse of the city's creative heart.

And let's not forget the beaches. 

From the famous sands of Bondi to the serene stretches of the Northern Beaches, there’s a curve of golden sand for all manner of sandy toes. 

The beauty of a Sydney staycation is the mix of relaxation and adventure. One day, you're sunbathing; the next, you're discovering a new band in a hidden bar in Newtown or taking a cultural tour to deepen your understanding of Sydney's Aboriginal heritage.

A staycation in Sydney is your chance to turn the familiar into the extraordinary. It's an opportunity to indulge in the simple joys and fall in love with your city all over again. Who needs a long flight to feel like you're worlds away?

Best hotels for a Sydney staycation

Let's dive into some of Sydney's finest stays. Whether you’re looking to spend a few days in the CBD or prefer the view from the Eastern Suburbs, we’ve picked a few of our favourite places to stay. And there’s something for every budget.

Five luxury stays you don’t want to miss

buildings beside sea during nighttime
Photo by Eriksson Luo / Unsplash

Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour

Imagine waking up to breath-taking views of the Sydney skyline and Darling Harbour – right from your bed. Sofitel offers that and more with its luxe rooms, rooftop infinity pool, and multiple bars. It's a hop, skip and jump away from the vibrant Darling Harbour area, offering endless entertainment, dining, and shopping options.

Nearby: SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, Wild Life Sydney Zoo, and the Chinese Garden of Friendship.

Why you'll love it: Wake up to the iconic Sydney skyline. The Sofitel combines French elegance with warm Australian hospitality. The rooftop infinity pool? It's like floating over the city. The location means you're amidst of Sydney's vibrant culture, with top attractions just steps away.

Hyatt Regency Sydney

Boasting gorgeous views of the city, this luxurious hotel is a royal treat with its spacious rooms, rooftop bar, and a location that's hard to beat. Enjoy easy access to the historic Rocks district and the bustling Barangaroo.

Nearby: Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge climbs, and Barangaroo Reserve.

Why you'll love it: It's all about the views and the vibes here. The Hyatt Regency immerses you in luxury, with modern rooms overlooking the water and a rooftop bar that's perfect for sunset cocktails. It's an urban retreat where the city's energy meets the tranquillity of the harbour.

InterContinental Sydney Double Bay

Nestled in the chic Double Bay area, this hotel offers luxury with a rooftop pool and a selection of bars and restaurants. It’s a truly stylish retreat.

Nearby: Redleaf Beach, shopping in Double Bay, and ferry trips to Circular Quay.

Why you'll love it: For a touch of seaside sophistication, the InterContinental in Double Bay offers secluded luxury. Its rooftop pool and European-inspired decor create a haven of elegance. Plus, you're in one of Sydney's most upscale neighbourhoods, where boutique shopping and dining are unparalleled.

Park Hyatt Sydney

For those seeking an intimate luxury experience, Park Hyatt provides unrivalled views of the Opera House, bespoke service, and fine dining right on the water's edge. 

Nearby: The Rocks, Sydney Opera House, and Circular Quay.

Why you'll love it: There’s something special about the Park Hyatt's understated luxury. Rooms with floor-to-ceiling glass doors offer personal views of the Opera House. It's like having a front-row seat to Sydney's soul, all from the comfort of your room.

The Langham, Sydney

Hidden in the quaint streets of Millers Point, The Langham charms with its opulent rooms, day spa, and an indoor pool that feels like a Roman bathhouse.

Nearby: Barangaroo Reserve, Observatory Hill, and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Why you'll love it: The Langham treats you to old-world charm with a side of Sydney cool. Its tranquil day spa and indoor pool are perfect for unwinding after a day of exploration. Nestled in a quieter part of the city, it promises both relaxation and adventure.

Five budget hotels to consider for a Sydney staycation

APX Darling Harbour

Perfect for those who want to be in the heart of the action without breaking the bank. Comfortable, convenient, and just minutes from Darling Harbour's attractions.

Nearby: Darling Harbour, Chinatown, and the Powerhouse Museum.

Why you'll love it: APX offers that sweet spot of value, comfort, and location. Ideal for the urban explorer who wants a cosy place to return to after a day of adventures in Sydney. It's straightforward, no-fuss accommodation that leaves you wanting for nothing.

Ibis Sydney Darling Harbour

Enjoy stunning harbour views on a budget. Ibis offers all the essentials for a comfortable stay in the bustling Darling Harbour area.

Nearby: SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, Sydney Wildlife World, and the Star Casino.

Why you'll love it: Budget-friendly without feeling cheap, the Ibis lands you right where the action is at Darling Harbour without the hefty price tag. You're paying for the essentials but still getting those priceless harbour views.

Vibe Hotel Sydney

A cool and contemporary spot that doesn’t skimp on style or location. Dive into the rooftop pool and enjoy the city panoramas.

Nearby: Hyde Park, Australian Museum, and Surry Hills dining scene.

Why you'll love it: The Vibe Hotel perfectly balances affordability and a hip atmosphere. It's for the traveller who appreciates design and convenience, plus the rooftop pool is a city oasis.

YHA Sydney Harbour

aerial photography of concrete buildings and bridge beside ocean under cloudy sky
Photo by Road Trip with Raj / Unsplash

Situated in The Rocks, this isn't your average hostel. It offers budget-friendly shared and private rooms with a view to die for.

Nearby: Circular Quay, Sydney Opera House, Sydney Tower and Harbour Bridge.

Why you'll love it: YHA is not just a place to stay – it's an experience. With a prime location in The Rocks and a rooftop with stunning Harbour views, it's budget accommodation that doesn’t feel like you’re compromising on the Sydney experience.

Song Hotel Sydney

Vibrant and centrally located, the Song Hotel is an excellent base for exploring Sydney, providing comfort and convenience at a great price.

Nearby: Hyde Park, Oxford Street, and the Australian Museum.

Why you'll love it: The Song Hotel is a vibrant and central starting point for diving into Sydney's cultural scene. It's a great pick for travellers prioritising location and value, with easy access to the city's best.

So, that covers where to stay in Sydney. But are you also thinking of a staycation near Sydney? Try the Blue Mountains, the South Coast, Newcastle or the Hunter Valley. You can find boutique hotels, luxury at its finest and guest rooms to suit all budgets. Read more about the best day trips from Sydney.

Now, let’s look at where to eat during your stay. This one was hard – Sydney is spoilt for choice when it comes to memorable meals. 

Where to eat on your Sydney staycation

cooked food on white ceramic plate
Photo by Fernando Santos / Unsplash

In no particular order, here are five of our faves. Each restaurant offers something unique – the ambience, the culinary approach, or the dedication to quality ingredients. 

They highlight why Sydney's food scene is celebrated: it's diverse, innovative, and caters to every palate and occasion.

1. a'Mare at Crown Sydney, Barangaroo

a’Mare offers a refined Italian dining experience by pasta master Alessandro Pavoni. With fresh fish, rock lobster, and house-made focaccia that's famous for a reason, a'Mare caters to luxury sensibilities with a side of theatrical tableside service. Perfect for those seeking an elegant meal with impeccable service.

2. Longshore in Chippendale

Longshore shines with its Australian seafood, emphasising minimal waste and seasonal changes. Expect innovative dishes like glazed green lip abalone crumpet and steamed sand whiting in XO pipi butter. It's a place to experience the best of Australian seafood in a setting that blends casual dining with culinary excellence.

3. Porcine in Paddington

Porcine marries farmhouse vibes with fine dining, offering a technically impressive menu in a warm atmosphere. While the name suggests pork, duck, rabbit, and seafood also feature prominently. With its wood elements and homely feel, the dining room makes Porcine a cosy yet sophisticated choice.

4. Bar Vincent in Darlinghurst

Bar Vincent is your go-to for a laid-back yet memorable dining experience. With a menu that leans Italian, this neighbourhood bistro is perfect for everything from quick lunches to shared dinners, emphasising house-made pasta and classic cocktails. The welcoming atmosphere and daily dessert specials make it a darling of the local dining scene.

5. Ester in Chippendale

Ester excels with its woodfired cuisine, from house-made potato bread with trout roe to woodfired leek. The minimalist space puts the focus squarely on the food, offering an innovative and comforting menu. It embodies Sydney's dining ethos: excellent food in unpretentious settings.

Okay, now let’s look at what you can do during your stay. We’ve crafted experiences that turn the everyday into a shared adventure, building connections at every turn.

Five things to do on a couple’s staycation in Sydney

people sitting and standing at shore watching the sunset near the Sydney Opera House in panorama photography
Photo by Alex wong / Unsplash

1. Take a sunset Cruise on Sydney Harbour

There's nothing quite like watching the sun dip below the horizon from the deck of a boat, with the Opera House and Harbour Bridge as your backdrop. It’s romantic, memorable, and uniquely Sydney.

2. Enjoy dinner at The Rocks

The Rocks is steeped in history and ambience. It offers a variety of dining experiences, from cosy cafes to upscale restaurants. Stroll the cobblestone streets before dinner, then enjoy a meal with a view.

3. Share cocktails at a Rooftop Bar

Sydney’s skyline is spectacular, and what better way to enjoy it than with a cocktail in hand from one of the city’s chic rooftop bars? It’s a great way to start or cap off your evening. If alcohol isn’t your thing, consider a decadent high tea.

4. Stroll through the Royal Botanic Garden

Explore lush and tranquil gardens to find stunning views of the harbour. It's the perfect place for a leisurely walk or a picnic, surrounded by nature and beauty.

5. Visit Wendy’s Secret Garden

Hidden away in Lavender Bay, this enchanting garden is a labour of love and a peaceful retreat. It’s a wonderful spot for quiet contemplation and enjoying each other's company away from the city buzz.

Five things to do on a family staycation in Sydney

photo of giraffe
Photo by Briana Graham / Unsplash

Uncover Taronga Zoo

Home to over 4,000 animals, Taronga Zoo offers an unforgettable experience with breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour. It’s educational, fun, and engaging for all ages.

Visit SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

Dive into the underwater world and meet over 700 species, including sharks, dugongs, and tropical reef fish. It’s a magical experience that educates and entertains.

Marvel at the Sydney Observatory 

Explore the stars and the universe with guided tours and telescope viewings. It’s a fascinating way to spark curiosity about space and science in young minds.

Explore the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk

This scenic walk offers stunning ocean views, beaches, parks, and cafes along the way. It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors and exercise as a family.

Go wild at Luna Park

With its iconic entrance and range of rides and games, Luna Park is a fun-filled destination for a family day out. It combines nostalgia with thrilling entertainment right on the harbour’s edge.

How to get around during your staycation

photo of vehicle side mirror
Photo by ZACHARY STAINES / Unsplash

Consider your Sydney staycation with a fresh twist. It’s simple – grab the perfect car when and where you need it.

With Uber Carshare, thousands of cars are parked close to Sydney's best spots. Fancy a sporty ride for a day out at Palm Beach or a compact car for easy city parking? Pick up a car rental in Sydney close to where you’re staying. No queues, no paperwork. Just you, your favourite people, and endless possibilities.

Final word: create the best Sydney staycation

Travel lets you try new food, delight your senses, and discover new things and new ways of being – maybe even change your life. But you don't have to go far to find such adventures. 

Just imagine the freedom to explore Sydney at its best on a whim, without booking flights, navigating unfamiliar language or changing time zones. Grab a fun new car rental in Sydney, and it’s your adventure – on your terms.

For even more inspiration, discover our one-day Sydney itinerary and the best Sydney hikes.


Where can I go for a staycation in Sydney?

Luxury options include the Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour, offering breathtaking views and a rooftop infinity pool, and the Park Hyatt Sydney, with its unrivalled Opera House views. For budget-conscious travellers, the APX Darling Harbour and the YHA Sydney Harbour in The Rocks present comfortable and central accommodations without compromising the Sydney experience.

What is the best staycation?

The best staycation in Sydney might include a sunrise walk on the beach, breakfast at a local favourite, taking in some quality art, exploring the harbour over lunch, and then heading to the tranquil Wendy Whitely garden for a stroll away from the city buzz. If you're still keen, Sydney has dinner options and nightlife galore.

Where is good for a staycation?

Sydney has everything you need for a great staycation in NSW. Enjoy breathtaking beaches, soak in some history, or explore quality street art and world-famous galleries. Choose between world-class menus and unforgettable Sydney experiences. You’re spoilt for choice.

Where can I relax in Sydney?

Relax in Sydney at the Royal Botanic Garden and Wendy’s Secret Garden in Lavender Bay. The Royal Botanic Garden offers tranquil walks amidst lush greenery and stunning views of the harbour. Wendy’s Secret Garden provides a peaceful retreat from the city buzz, with its enchanting garden spaces and lovely harbour views, ideal for quiet contemplation or enjoying nature's beauty.

What are some good luxury hotels for a Sydney staycation?

  • Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour: Offers breathtaking skyline and water views. 
  • Hyatt Regency Sydney: Enjoys a rooftop bar and easy access to the Rocks and Barangaroo.
  • InterContinental Double Bay: Steeped in luxury near upscale shopping.
  • Park Hyatt Sydney: Known for intimate luxury and unparalleled Opera House views.
  • The Langham, Sydney: Charms with its opulent rooms. 

Did you like our Sydney Staycation article?

Checkout our Melbourne Staycation article for more great tips.