From the Pacific Ocean to the harbour and its estuaries, Sydney is surrounded by water and boasts an amazing number of venues overlooking glittering expanses of the harbour, sandy beaches and calm bays. Your outlook is not the only thing that’s easy on the eye – chefs dish up pretty plates of everything from fresh local seafood, mod-Aus cuisine to fish’n’chips you’ll rave about.
The floor-to-ceiling windows at Quay frame Sydney Harbour in all its breathtaking beauty. The only reason to look away is to appreciate the culinary creations of applauded chef Peter Gilmore. Cafe Sydney offers another perspective of the water from its perch high up on the roof of Customs House.
You don’t have to break the bank to take in Sydney’s landmarks. Backdropped by the Opera House, the buzzy Opera Bar enjoys a panorama over to the Harbour Bridge. Order a drink and a dozen oysters and watch ferries and yachts in the harbour. From your table at Aqua Dining, across the harbour in Milsons Point, you can almost reach out and touch the Harbour Bridge. You’re that close. Also in the Northern Beaches, Ripples Chowder Bay is a modern Australian restaurant housed in a historic building overlooking Chowder Bay.
You won’t miss the Barangaroo precinct – it’s home to the city’s tallest building, the brand-new Crown Towers Sydney. A rapid rollcall of restaurants like Nobu (Peruvian-Japanese), a’Mare (Italian), Woodcut (wood-fired deliciousness) and Oncore by Clare Smyth, where degustations are prepared by a three-Michelin-starred British chef, are all on the menu here. Step outside and you’ll discover a row of stylish restaurants lining the Barangaroo waterfront including seafood at Cirrus, tapas at Born by Tapavino and Turkish at Anason. Nearby, Pyrmont is home to LuMi, an inspired Japanese/Italian fine diner with glass walls for views of bobbing yachts and twinkling harbour lights.
When the Woolloomooloo Finger Wharf was built in 1915, it was the largest wooden structure in the world. It’s now lined with alfresco restaurants, the kind of places you dress up for and plan to spend the best part of the day enjoying. Highlights include Otto, China Doll, Manta, Il Pontile and Kingsleys.
OTTO Sydney, Woolloomooloo - Credit: Nikki To - Fink Group
Watch the seaplanes land from the expansive patio jutting out over the water at Catalina in Rose Bay. There’s a reason why this sexy establishment has been a local favourite for close to three decades.
Another longstanding hangout, Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel is all sun umbrellas and high-top tables, with live music and flocks of beautiful people lounging beside the water. Arrive via ferry. A few steps away is Doyles on the Beach, serving up ocean-fresh seafood since 1885.
Many people visit Bondi for a swim or a surf; many more come to while away an afternoon in dreamy dining rooms with a view over the sand. Grab a table across from Sydney’s most famous beach at North Bondi Fish, or head to the other curve of the cove and sit by the windows at Icebergs Dining Roomfor views out over the iconic pool.
People who live in the Northern Beaches tend not to leave. Visit establishments like Ormeggio at The Spit, and you’ll begin to understand why. The seafood is perfectly prepared, and the view is like a painting: a palette of blues and yachts gliding around the marina. Savour Sardinian specialties at Pilu at Freshwater, or enjoy pizza while overlooking Pittwater at The Newport.
Make a day of it with lunch or dinner at one of the city’s more remote waterside restaurants, which you can reach by car, boat or seaplane. Jonah’s looks over the golden sands of Whale Beach way up in the north, while Cottage Point Innand Berowra Waters Inn are tucked in the gentle, oyster-packed waterways of the Hawkesbury River.
Destination NSW acknowledges and respects Aboriginal people as the state’s first people and nations and recognises Aboriginal people as the Traditional Owners and occupants of New South Wales land and water.