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Valentines Day is such a non-event in my books. I don’t see the point of it. There, I said it! Each year I see people around me looking to buy the most beautiful thing (that no one really needs) all because of some made up event and I refuse to play along with the hype and BS.
Hands up who’s with me!
In fact, Tom and I have pretty much stopped gifts altogether, especially since travelling full time. Simply put, buying more stuff means having to carry more stuff, and trust me, the last thing we need is more stuff! So this year, as I’m living in Sydney (i,e, one of the most epic cities in the world) I’ve put together a list of the more quirky things to do in Sydney instead of buying your partner/bestie/yourself (because there’s nothing wrong with being solo) stuff that’s just not needed. After all, doing something different is going to be something you’ll remember way more than a gift!
1. Go on a spooky tour of the Rocks
The Rocks is the oldest part of Sydney and in my opinion, one of the best! Way back when, this area was super sketchy so it has quite a brilliantly dark past. The best way to find out more and really dig deeper into it all is to jump on a walking tour like this one and learn from a local expert.
2. Have a round of mini golf in the dark
Who doesn’t love mini golf, right? If you’re a competitive kinda couple, or perhaps just golf fans of the miniature kind, then this is the perfect place to head to. Head to Holey Moley where you can choose between either 9 or 18 holes and be sure to check out their weekday offers to get a game for a bargain price. I recommend going to the one in Newtown as there are loads of places to eat and drink at around it so you can make a night of it if you want to. Check out their website here.
3. Have a meal out where you give back to the community
Why not share the love this Valentines and help support an awesome community project? Lentil As Anything is an awesome vegetarian, not-for-profit restaurant that has been created to provide food and work for everyone. It’s run by volunteers in exchange for a free meal or experience in a work environment and customers can pay what they like for the food. All the money goes back into the business that in turn goes towards supporting more people who need it in the community. The menu changes regularly and it’s always full of flavour and goodness.
4. Learn to cook your own delicious Italian food
If you’re a big fan of Italian food then Salt Meats Cheese is the place you gotta check out. Not only do they do all you can eat pizza on Mondays for an awesome price, but they also hold cooking classes too! Trust me, if you can learn to make Italian food like they make, you’re going to be on to a winner! Take a look at their Italian cooking classes in Sydney here to choose your favourite and get 10% off here if you sign up!
5. Or tuck into Italian food in Sydney’s Little Italy
I don’t feel like many people know this but Sydney has it’s very own Little Italy, and it’s awesome. Leichhardt is where it’s at if you want to explore the best in all things Italian and it can easily be reached on the Light Rail from Central Station. Head to Norton Street first and explore this street full of delicious bites. Exploring Sydney’s inner west suburbs is a great way to escape the crowds too.
6. Take a surf lesson at Bondi
Have you even been to Australia if you haven’t had a go at surfing? I spent most of my time out of breath and swallowing sea water so I’ve set a pretty low bar for us all! Bondi is one of the most iconic beaches in Australia so if you’re going to try out catching some waves, this is the place to do it. You can book a 2-hour beginner lesson at Bondi here to get started!
7. Test your balance on a stand-up paddleboard
Manly is a beautiful spot to spend a day away from Sydney’s CBD and while you’re there, why not get out on the water on a stand-up paddleboard? Make your way to Manly Kayak Centre where you can either hire a SUP or even get lessons.
8. Escape to the hidden bars in Sydney
Sydney is full of nooks and crannies and all things brilliantly underground, and trust me, if you don’t know, you won’t know. From rooftops to old water pipes to saloon themed bars, there are some awesome speakeasy style, hidden bars in Sydney. Take a look here to find out more.
9. Rent a bike and cycle around the city
if you’ve walked around Sydney you will have probably come across the bright green Lime Bikes. Anyone can use these bikes and all you need is the Limebike App to unlock them and get going. They are also electrically assisted, making them really easy to ride on the hills which is a huge relief for someone like me! You use the app to located a Lime bike nearby, scan the code so it unlocks and away you go. There are loads of cycle routes all over Sydney and it’s a great way to see a lot in a day. Here’s a map with all the cycling routes in the CBD so you can plan your trip!
10. Go snorkelling at Gordons Bay
Shelly Beach over on Manly is a well-known snorkelling spot, but I would highly recommend checking out the much quieter Gordons Bay. This is, in my opinion, the most beautiful spot on the Coogee to Bondi coastal walk (you can read more about that here) and for some reason, is never too busy. The bay is really sheltered making it really easy to swim in and search for some of the incredible sea life.
11. Watch a film under the stars
Every summer in Sydney the Open Air Cinemas pop up around the city so it’s a great chance to enjoy the summer sun and watch a film out in the summer air. They have a huge range of films on and a number of cinemas all over the city. You can either get a general admission ticket or a Star Lounge ticket where you get a seat, blanket and a glass of wine. Lush! Check out what films are showing, the locations and to buy tickets here.
12. Do a scavenger hunt around the city
If you love exploring new parts of a city then you’ll want to check out Urban Hunt. You simply pick a trail and you’ll get taken on a self-guided scavenger hunt where you’ll have to solve a clue to move onto the next one via your phone. You’ll get taken to some lesser known parts of Sydney, learn about its past and the present and definitely discover something new! Take a look at the trail they have here.
13. Go for some day drinking on a Hunter Valley Wine Tour
The beautiful wine region of the Hunter Valley is easily reachable from Sydney so it’s a really fun and easy day trip to take from the city. Of course, if you’re tasting the wine you can’t be driving so why not jump onto a day tour? There are loads to choose from ranging from a rather extravagant Huner Valley helicopter flight with a wine tour and picnic to the varied tour including wine, cheese and chocolate (yum) or one which includes a delicious lunch, too.
14. Sleep under the stars on Cockatoo Island
If you love being in the outdoors and are looking for quirky places to stay in Sydney then it doesn’t come much more unusual than staying on Sydney’s largest harbour island which has a dark convict history and some spooky ghost tours to go on. They have a range of accommodation such as apartments and heritage houses, but I think the best way to enjoy Cockatoo island is in one of their waterfront tents. You can take a look at the options and check availability here.
15. Search for street art in Newtown
Newtown is one of Sydney’s inner west suburbs and it’s an awesome area to visit. It’s a really liberal area and you’ll find loads of bars, restaurants, cafes and boutiques to explore. As well as this, there are some awesome pieces of street art dotted around the area that you have to check out. Be sure to walk down King Street, the main street in Newtown and wander off down the side streets to unearth some gems.
16. Watch the city come to life from Observatory Hill
This is one of my favourite spots in the whole of the city and it’s a fantastic spot to go for sunset. As the sun goes down the city lights come on and the whole thing looks completely different. From Observatory Hill you get a great view of the Harbour Bridge, Luna Park and the harbour. I love it!
17. Take an evening beer tour of Sydney
If burgers and beers are more you’re thing (I know it is mine!) then why not jump on an evening tour to explore some local breweries and food? I had no idea how big the craft beer industry was in Australia until I arrived but it’s massive! This evening beer tour takes you to 2 breweries and finishes off with a delicious burger.
18. Do a bit of bat watching
Each evening at dusk, hundreds of bats fly out over the city from the Botanic Gardens and it’s an awesome sight to see. So grab a picnic, take a blanket and find a spot in the gardens to watch them all start their night.
19. Get your catch of the day at the Sydney Fish Markets
If fresh seafood is your idea of a delicious meal, then you won’t get any fresher than the Sydney Fish Markets. This market is huge (the largest in the Southern Hemisphere in actual fact) and has everything you can imagine. There are loads of restaurants to choose from, or if you’re looking to have a go yourself, pick your fish and cook it up at home!