Where I stayed:
We found an Airbnb in the business district, which was super convenient for getting around. We walked a lot and took the public transport (get an Opal card) when needed.
- The Harrison* (central) – decent happy hour
- Playfield Cafe* (central) – located in the Rocks, great stop for an epic sandwich if you’re there for the market
- Grill’d* (Surry Hills) – it’s a healthy fast food chain with amazing zucchini fries, paleo buns, vegetarian/vegan options. highly recommend enjoying with a glass of rosé!
- Fishbowl* (Bondi) – poké chain. so fresh and their fish are sustainably sourced!
- Berri Patch* (Bondi) – great smoothies and smoothie bowls!
- Lil Darlin’* (Darlinghurst) – the best meal I had in Sydney! their salmon is AMAZING. fun drinks, fun vibes! you get $10 off your drink for posting on your IG about them
- Gelato Messina* (Darlinghurst) – there was a constant line out the door for obvious reasons. it was soooo good! they have vegan options too
- Verd* (Manly) – think plant based Sweetgreen, they have vegan bulletproof coffee too!
- Manly Wine* (Manly) – such a cute spot for brunch!
- Fish Market – highly recommended by multiple people
- Mug Life – colorful burgers
- Flower Child Cafe
- Orchard Street Cafe – shop and cafe with adaptogens, wish I had gone!
- The Grounds – whimsical vibes
- Son of a Baker
- V Lounge
- Two Sis
- Henry Lee’s
- Morning Owl
- Little Turtle – Thai food
- Treetop Cafe
- The Mews Mosman
- Bondi Health Market (Surry Hills)
- Al Taglio (Surry Hills) – pizza owned by two young men, highly recommended by a friend
- Green Dream (Bondi)
- Icebergs Club (Bondi) – such a great spot for a view and a drink. there’s a dress code!
- Trio (Bondi) – highly recommended to me, wish I had gone!
- Paris (Bondi)
- Preach (Bondi)
- Bare Naked Bowls – açaí bowl chain
- Market Street Cafe (Manly) – best coffee
- Manly Skiff Club (Manly) – food with a great view of the water and boats
- Four Points (Manly) – local brewery
Activities & Tips:
- The Rocks Farmers Market on Fridays and Saturdays*
- Ferry to Manly* – such a cute little beach town
- Explore Darlinghurst and Surry Hills* – these were my favorite parts of the city
- North head looking out Manly* – trails and caves
- Hike Blue Mountains* – gorgeous park, plan to make it a day trip. pack lots of snacks and water!
- Bus to Bondi Beach* – super busy and touristy but really fun!
- Eco hopper ferry – like a free tour of Manly to the Quay
- The Rocks Walking Tour – free
- If you’re dying to hold koalas, know that you can’t in the city of Sydney. They have a law against it to protect the animals. Plan around this if that’s important to you!
- If you’re not a huge city person, I wouldn’t recommend staying in central. It’s really busy! If I were to go back, I would stay in Manly (still lots to do, eat, and see) and stay close to the beaches, then ferry into the city.
Where I stayed:
I stayed at an Airbnb south of the city, around Southbank. I loved the area! I just took public transport (get a go card) to get around, north of the city, as well as to and from Lone Pine. I loved walking to West End too! Such a fun area and about 2 miles away from where I stayed. Message me if you want details on where I stayed! I had the best host – super kind and welcoming.
- Miss Bliss Whole Foods* (West End) – so good, went here twice! the bliss bowl without grains and peas, add salmon was my go to order! they also have amazing raw vegan treats, as do many of these places!
- Paw Paw Cafe* (South) – Asian fusion healthy food. the curry was amazing. vegan/gluten free options available!
- NoDo Donuts* (Newstead) – awesome brunch spot with the best gluten free donuts. AMAZING. their gluten free and vegan sourdough hot cake was really tasty too
- Brew Wine Cafe* (central) – speakeasy vibes, vegan/vegetarian options, great spot for a drink
- The Pantry* (Southbank) – tiny little health food store with fresh produce/deli/juice
- Whole Health* (West End) – HIGHLY RECOMMEND! I made a stop here a few times to pick up some fun health food items. they have an amazing bulk section with loving earth chocolate bars you can buy for baking too!
- The Cruelty Free Shop* (West End) – such a cute little vegan/cruelty free shop. mostly food, some clothing, books, etc.
- Marcia’s* (West End) – sustainably friendly shop with some food in the back. they have really amazing ice cream sandwiches that are vegan, gluten free, and refined sugar free!
- The Green Grocer* (West End) – little health food shop
- Cardamom Pod* (Gold Coast) – HIGHLY RECOMMEND. plant based. the most beautiful smoothie bowls ever and they taste amazing
- Vegerama – vegan
- Pando Cafe
- Miss Jones
- Bare Naked Bowls
- Mylk + Co – great brekky
- Sacred Taste Organic Cacao Bar (Gold Coast) – organic, plant based, gluten free, refined sugar free desserts
- The Nude Sisters (Gold Coast)
- Bskt Cafe (Gold Coast)
Activities & Tips:
- West End Markets on the weekends* – search for Davies Park on google maps
- Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary******* – HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!! Funny story, I originally had just a 7 hour layover in Brisbane, just enough time to travel to Lone Pine to cuddle the koalas, right? Wrong. We got there and were told that they were no longer doing koala cuddles and photos and to come back in the morning. I decided to cancel my flight to Cairns and stay so I could hold the koalas. Worth it. These animals are really taken care of here and I felt really happy supporting an organization that’s so passionate about animals.
- Train to Gold Coast* – go south if you want quieter beaches, but I wanted to see the madness since I was making a day trip out of it. I went to Surfer’s Paradise and it was beautiful. Be careful though! I got stung by a jellyfish here!
- I regret not making time to make it to Byron Bay. Next time, I would definitely rent a car and drive there to see the beaches and amazing healthy foods!
Where I stayed:
I stayed in a beautiful apartment I found on Airbnb in the Docklands, where the marina is. 10/10 would recommend! It was so nice getting to walk over to the marina to read my book and watch the sunset. There’s also a free trolley that runs in that area into the city! It’s not a bad walk either! Uber pool is available for really cheap too.
- Cocobei* (Docklands) – amazing cafe next door to my Airbnb. I literally pulled up a photo they had on their IG and said, “I’d like to order this!” it was something off their menu with modifications. super bright and calming atmosphere. they also offer barista and latte art classes!
- Aunt Maggie’s* (Fitzroy) – like a little Whole Foods. the best part is all of their raw vegan treats and loco love chocolates at the checkout! AMAZING.
- Matcha Mylkbar* (St Kilda) – highly recommend!!! plant based brunch spot. the most beautiful food and super tasty too!
- Combi* (Elwood) – got a coffee here but their smoothies looked amazing
- Leaf* (Elwood) – little health food store. amazing finds!
- Manchester Press* (central) – amazing open face bagel toast
- Laneway Greens* (central) – similar to Sweetgreen
- Ronnie and the Fabulous Juice* (central) – located at the Queen Victoria market. I got the Charlie Brown smoothie without agave and it was delicious!
- Little Green – vegan
- Serotonin Dealer
- Tall Timber
- Weirdoughs – plant based baked goods
- Barry – coffee and food
- Lune Croissanterie – best croissants in the world
- Green Cup
- This Is Life
- Little Sunflower
- Elwood Bathers (Elwood)
- The Turtle (Elwood)
- Who is Bunker Spreckles (Elwood) – cool surf vibes cafe
- Foxes Den (Elwood) – healthy take out
- Plain Sailing (Elwood) – highly recommended by a friend
- Penta Elsternwick
- Top Paddock
- Coin Laundry
- Left Field
- Mr. Patterson
- Gin Palace (central) – a must if you enjoy gin
- Heartbreaker (central) – cool spot for a drink
- Madame Brussels (central) – rooftop bar
- Toff in Town (central) – rooftop bar
Activities & Tips:
- Queen Victoria Market* – such a fun market with lots to see! great place to get souvenirs
- Sucker Love Tattoo* – Bobbie is amazing especially if you’re into fine line tattoos!
- Hosier Lane* – famous spot for legal graffiti
- Walk Fitzroy* – lots of quirky shops and restaurants
- Explore Elwood* – tons of cute little shops and cafes
- Free trolley in and around the city
- City Gallery – free art museum
- NGV Australia – free art museum, abstract art
- Robert Gordon Ceramics – local to Melbourne and he has an outlet shop an hour away from the city
- Botanical Gardens
- Flinders Lane – lots of shops
- Brunswick Street – shops
- Walk around Crown Casino
- Crown Fire Show
- Drive the Great Ocean Road – if I could go back, I’d make time for this!
* = places I’ve been. no * & no note = instagrammable spot I found via word of mouth or on @bestfood IG accounts
Quick tips for solo travel:
- bring a good book, or two! I finally found and made time to read and it felt amazing
- download offline mode maps. T-Mobile is my service provider and they offer unlimited international roaming but it’s SLOW
- bring a little cash. most places accept card but some market vendors only take cash
- don’t be afraid to ask locals for help! your Airbnb hosts are great resources too. locals love sharing info about their favorite spots and little tips with getting around the city
- be comfortable with making friends everywhere you go. solo travel can get lonely! I made friends with my servers, random people out and about at pubs, shops, and restaurants, the cabin crews, etc. your confidence will build too!
- make a list of your priorities and make them happen! make note of their location, how long it would get there from where you’re staying, and when they close. don’t leave without any regrets!
- bring some American goodies for cabin crew, Airbnb hosts, random people you meet! I packed a ton of chocolate, protein bars, thank you cards, and Seattle pins from home to share!
- be cautious, mindful, and smart! be aware of your surroundings and say “no” when your gut tells you to in any situation
- I used tinder as a way to meet locals and have someone to grab coffee with. didn’t have the best experience but I don’t regret doing it either
- made friends by having a power bank on me. just an idea!
I know this is heaps of information but it was seriously one of the best places I have ever visited. The people are so kind, warm, and welcoming! I never really felt alone even whilst traveling solo. Have fun, be safe, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!