Must Do's During Vivid Sydney: Sightseeing, Restaurants, Bars & Accommodation
Must Do's During Vivid Sydney: Sightseeing, Restaurants, Bars & Accommodation26 Apr 2021
As Vivid Sydney illuminates the city by night, colour your Sydney explorations by day with the harbour city’s stellar line-up of events and a wish list of wonders. From unexpected flavours at Sydney’s newest dining stars to scoring front-row seats at globally acclaimed shows — here’s our guide to soaking up the best that Sydney has to offer during Vivid.
Wander from the outdoor playground of Vivid Sydney into some of the world’s most iconic theatres and galleries for an extra culture shot. Be a part of Australia’s first performances of the record-breaking musical Hamilton at the Sydney Lyric Theatre. Art lovers, don’t miss Hilma af Klint: The Secret Paintings at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), and stand in awe admiring the Swedish artist’s unearthed collection of vibrant, mystical paintings. There’s also The National 2021: New Australian Art – a major survey of contemporary Australian art showing at three of Sydney’s leading cultural institutions, the AGNSW, Carriageworks and Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA).
Soak up soaring vistas from atop the city’s most famous landmark. Scale the Sydney Harbour Bridge from a new perspective with BridgeClimb’s The Burrawa Climb, combining mesmerising views of the world’s most iconic harbour with an Indigenous storyteller as your guide. Watch the sun set and even get the chance to catch the Vivid lights flicker on as you scale to the top of the harbour during one of BridgeClimb’s night climbs.
Be mesmerised by Vivid lights reflecting across the water with an evening cruise of the harbour with Captain Cook Cruises. As the sun climbs above the city, keep things serene with a kayak tour with Sunrise OzPaddle, then pop ashore to unearth the magic beneath the sails with a Sydney Opera House behind-the-scenes tour.
Watch the city’s buildings come alive and gain some insight into its history on an architectural night tour with Splendour Tailored Tours, or capture Vivid Sydney’s most iconic shots with a photography tour with Picture Me Sydney.
For a daytrip with a bit of decadence, embark on a bird’s-eye view of the city on a flight with Sydney Seaplanes, with a wide range of scenic flights, gourmet lunch packages and more.
The city’s dining scene is as vibrant as the festival’s lights, and you won’t have to roam far to find world-class culinary experiences, hatted restaurants and New South Wales’ best local produce.
Brand new to the CBD is Esteban – a two-level modern eatery that reflects the spirit and life of Central and Latin America, plus a cheeky drinks list that boasts the largest tequila and mezcal selection in Australia.
From Mexico to the Middle East, find Israeli fare with contemporary flair in at Ezra, in Potts Point. Down the road discover Bistrot 916 – a classic French restaurant with an impressive menu to match its Parisian décor.
Japan’s finest comes to Barangaroo with Sydney’s very own outpost of Nobu, by Japanese celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa, at newly opened five-star hotel Crown Sydney.
Sydney has no shortage of Italian restaurants, but Surry Hills newcomer Bastardo puts the buon in buon apetito — linger over antipasti, handmade pasta and a thoughtful Italian-forward drinks list from the chefs behind beloved Sydney eateries Porteño and Bodega.
Seafood by the waterfront is as Sydney-esque as it gets — find contemporary coastal vibes at Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel, a stylish haven to enjoy Sydney’s winter sunshine.
SEEK & SIP
Sydney’s bars are some of the world’s best, and with many commanding panoramic views of the city, they make unique festival vantage points, too. In Barangaroo, slip upstairs to sleek rooftop bar Smoke and look out over Darling Harbour across the bustling crowds and light installations.
Over at Crown, step inside the hotel’s luxurious terrace bar, Cirq. Towering at 26 floors, Cirq’s million-dollar views have you feeling as though you’re suspended right above sparkling Sydney Harbour.
You’ll find cocktail heaven at Sydney’s highest cocktail lounge, Bar 83, which soars high above the city CBD on the 83rd floor in Sydney Tower. With 70s décor and floor-to-ceiling windows, this is the grooviest drinking den to see Vivid Sydney’s lights from up high.
Before you start roaming Vivid’s lights at The Rocks, join a colourful introduction into Sydney’s oldest neighbourhood on Dave’s Travel pub tour and learn the laneway’s secrets over a pint. You’ll also find some of the top cocktails in the globe at Maybe Sammy, an opulent 50s-inspired bar ranked number 11 on the list of the World’s 50 Best Bars 2020.
Beer-lovers will love the The Inner West Ale Trail, celebrating 11 independent craft breweries who have made Sydney’s Inner West neighbourhoods the craft beer capital of Australia. But if you’re more of a cocktail-sipper, Sydney’s only craft rum house, Brix Distillers, run cocktail-making classes in their Surry Hills digs.
Newtown’s favourite indie bottle shop P&V Wine + Liquor Merchants have opened up an expansive second hub in Paddington, where you can drink your bottle directly in their intimate courtyard or head upstairs to French bistro Porcine.
A comfortable place to put up your feet after a night exploring is essential during Vivid Sydney, and the city has a room for everyone. Luxury comes with ultimate views at Barangaroo’s brand new Crown Sydney, or skip over the water to one of 590 stylish guestrooms at Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour.
In the heart of the city, A by Adina puts a modern spin on apartment hotels, adding tailored amenities, complimentary movies, pillow menus and more, or find an intimate boutique aesthetic at Surry Hills’ Little Albion (which will also happily welcome your pup, too).
Over the bridge, Wild Retreat at Taronga lets you have a night at the zoo, with designer accommodation in a secluded bushland setting overlooking the harbour.
Families need space to spread out and take a break. Newcomer to the CBD is Skye Suites, an architectural wonder with two-bedroom suites and kitchen facilities, or check in to Veriu Broadway, just a short stroll to Chinatown and Darling Harbour. Vibe Hotel Darling Harbour is walking distance from the festival’s top sites, while Meriton Suites on Kent Street has three-bedroom apartments with separate living areas.