Finding the best places to stay in Sydney Australia is key to a successful and enjoyable holiday in the harbourside city. Sydney is a huge sprawling city and knowing where to stay can be difficult, especially if you don’t know your way around or you’re trying to stick to a budget.
So how do you decide where to stay in Sydney? Well, this article is full of local advice and gives an overview of the different parts of the city. I’ve lived in Sydney most of my life and I’ve compiled this guide to help you find the best places to stay in Sydney.
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Where to stay in Sydney
It’s worth staying in the heart of the city to be at the centre of the action and close to the main sights like the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. For a short stay, The Rocks, Sydney CBD, or Darling Harbour are a good choice. A few kilometres away, the inner city suburbs such as the Glebe, Newtown or Surrey Hills are not far from the city by public transport.
Sydney’s beach suburbs Bondi, Manly and Cronulla are also a great choice to relax and enjoy the laidback surf lifestyle that Sydney is so famous for but they are further away from the city centre.
- Where to stay in Sydney for a short stay – The Rocks, Sydney CBD, Darling Harbour
- Where to stay in Sydney for Solo Travellers – The Rocks, Sydney CBD, Darling Harbour Bondi Beach
- Where to Stay in Sydney for couples – The Rocks, Watsons Bay, Manly Beach, Palm Beach
- Where to stay in Sydney for families – Darling Harbour, Bondi, Manly, Cronulla
- Where to stay in Sydney for LGBTI – Surrey Hills, Paddington, Kings Cross, Newtown
The Best Places to Stay in Sydney
1. The Rocks – Scenic, Central & Historic
Best for tourists, solo travellers & couples on a short stay in Sydney
**My top pick for the best place to stay in Sydney City for a few days is The Rocks. It’s the oldest part of town and is located on Sydney Cove near the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The Rocks has a stunning harbourside location close to the main attractions with a bustling atmosphere day and night.
The Rocks has a central location that is perfect if you have limited time and want to be in the city centre. It’s ideal for solo travellers and is one of the best places to stay in Sydney for young people but you’ll pay a premium to be in the heart of the city.
Here are some suggestions for where to stay in Sydney’s The Rocks:
Budget: Sydney Harbour YHA is in a fabulous location in The Rocks near Circular Quay with numerous public transport options and a rooftop terrace with a stunning harbour view. The hostel is built over The Big Dig, an archeological site and it’s just a short walk to Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and the Botanical Gardens.
Mid Range: The Rendezvous Hotel has an upmarket location at the Rocks. The rooms are clean and comfortable and there’s a gym and a pool.
Rydges Sydney Harbour is a Sydney hotel with a fabulous location near the cruise ship terminal at Circular Quay. It has rooftop views, and a pool and is close to public transport and cafes.
TIP: The Rocks is the perfect place to watch a glorious Sydney sunrise over the harbour from Dawes Point and it’s just a short walk from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair for the best sunset views in Sydney. And you can explore the area on a self-guided walking tour of The Rocks Sydney.
Luxury: The Four Seasons Hotel has one of the best locations in Sydney near Circular Quay. Guests love the service at this popular five-star hotel and the reviews are exceptional.
The five-star Shangri-la Hotel also has a superb location at Circular Quay. It’s near The Rocks and gets excellent reviews for its five-star service and wonderful harbour views. The nighttime views from the Blu Bar are amazing.
2. Best Places to stay in Sydney CBD – Business & Shopping
Best for Business travellers and tourists on a short stay
Further away from the harbour, there is a choice of Sydney hotels in the shopping and central Business District. Hotels in the CBD are a bit cheaper than in The Rocks, but you can expect to pay a premium for accommodation anywhere in the city. Hop on a bus or a train to get to Circular Quay, Sydney Cove and Sydney Harbour.
Budget: Sydney Central YHA is located around 4 kilometres away from Sydney Harbour near Central Station. It’s another good option for solo travellers, families and anyone on a budget. Central Station is a transport hub for trains and buses. It’s close to Chinatown where there’s a good selection of delicious Asian food.
**This is one of the least safe areas in Sydney so take care at night when you’re out. Catch a train, light rail or bus from Central Station to Circular Quay and the Opera House.
Mid Range: The Sydney Hotel QVB gets excellent reviews for its location near the historic Queen Victoria Building and the shopping arcade in the centre of Sydney next to Town Hall station. It’s a newer hotel and good value for money although the rooms are small.
The Sydney Hotel Harbour Suites get excellent reviews for the great location near Darling Harbour. They are just a short walk from Town Hall station and very central.
Sofitel Darling Harbour This 5-star hotel offers breathtaking views and excellent service in a fabulous location in Darling Harbour.
3. Sydney’s Inner City Suburbs – Trendy & Bohemian
Best for young people, LGBTI
A little bit further out are Sydney’s inner-city suburbs. Darlinghurst, Glebe, Surry Hills and Newtown are older, inner-city areas that have been renovated in recent years. In these areas, there are tree-lined streets and rows of pretty terrace houses. These suburbs are one of the best places to stay in Sydney for young people who are looking for nightlife just a few kilometres away from the city.
There’s a more bohemian, trendy vibe and they tend to be “Gay friendly”. Sydney’s Rainbow Ribbon is the western section of Oxford Street, Darlinghurst, Surry Hills, Newtown, Potts Point and Elizabeth Bay. And the seedy red-light district is right next door at Kings Cross.
Take care if you’re out alone at night in these areas.
Where to stay in Sydney’s Inner City Suburbs
Budget: The Sydney Glebe Point YHA is a well-run hostel in a quiet part of Sydney. It has well-kept facilities, a fantastic rooftop view and a good location near cafes and restaurants. The YHA is a short bus ride from Central Station.
Upper Mid Range: The ADGE Apartments in Surrey Hills get outstanding reviews for the central location. It’s a trendy part of town near Oxford Street, with cafes and nightlife.
4. Sydney Airport
Best for travellers, or layovers or a short stay
A hotel near Sydney Airport is one of the best places to stay in Sydney as a tourist if you are arriving late at night or leaving early in the morning. The airport is only 8 kilometres from the CBD and there are good transport links. Here are some of the best hotel options:
Where to Stay near Sydney Airport
Lower Mid Range: The Travelodge Sydney Airport is great value for money and perfect for a short stay. This Sydney hotel is very popular with guests and has an airport shuttle service.
Upper Mid Range: Novotel at Brighton-le-Sands This hotel has a great location just across the road from the beach on Botany Bay and is only a 10-minute drive from the airport. It’s a pretty spot and the bayside location is perfect for families with young children. Stroll around Botany Bay and watch planes taking off at Sydney Airport or walk in the opposite direction and watch kiteboarders in action on the bay.
There’s a wide selection of restaurants and cafes on the doorstep. Try “Thai on the Beach” for a delicious Asian meal or choose from a selection of excellent Greek restaurants.
Luxury: Branksome Hotel & Residences get exceptional reviews for its luxury rooms, service and location right near the airport.
5. Sydney Beaches
Best for tourists, young people, couples and families
Sydney Eastern Suburbs
Visiting Bondi Beach is one of the most popular things to do in Sydney and the Eastern Suburbs are a good choice if you’re looking for a beach holiday and a relaxed vibe away from the city centre. Tourists love Bondi Beach and the Eastern Suburbs area is one of the best places to stay in Sydney for families with activities like swimming, surfing, sunbathing and walking at the top of the list of things to do.
Some of Sydney’s most exclusive suburbs are near Bondi Beach. Rose Bay, Watson’s Bay and Vaucluse have some of the city’s best harbour views and are perfect for a romantic getaway for couples and for watching the sunset in Sydney. They are only a few kilometres from the city and are easy to access by public transport.
The fastest way to get from Bondi to the city is to catch the 380 bus to Bondi Junction and a train to Martin Place or Town Hall station. Alternatively, you can take the bus to Watson’s Bay and catch a ferry to Circular Quay. It’s a longer more scenic route via Watsons Bay.
Best for Backpackers, young people and a family beach holiday
East of Sydney is the famous Bondi Beach, a crescent of golden sand and surf. It’s one of the best places to stay in Sydney for young adults and backpackers. Bondi Beach is perfect for a Sydney day trip from the city. There’s a vibrant atmosphere and the beach is often packed full of beautiful young bodies in bikinis and board shorts.
You can swim in the surf, relax on the sand, play volleyball on the beach or wander around the point to the Bondi Icebergs Club. The pools here fill up with fresh ocean water at high tide. Behind the beach is a selection of cafés, ice cream shops and pubs where you’ll find a hip, young, traveller and surf scene.
Locals prefer the relaxed cafes around Hall Street and love to exercise on the cliff tops on the beautiful Bondi to Coogee coastal path. This popular walking track follows the cliff tops all the way to Coogee Beach. It takes 2 -3 hours to walk to Coogee and there are lots of rest points, parks and cafes along the way where you can relax and enjoy the view.
The beaches between Bondi and Coogee are easy to access by bus from Bondi or the city.
Where to stay at Bondi Beach
Budget: Wake Up! Bondi Beach Is a small hostel in a perfect location right on Bondi Beach with a stunning rooftop view.
Mid Range: Hotel Bondi In a fabulous location directly across the road from famous Bondi Beach this 3-star hotel is a great choice for beach lovers. The rooms are comfortable and the service gets excellent reviews.
Luxury: Just 200 metres from the beach, the rooms at QT Bondi are spacious and beautifully decorated. Guests love this 5-star Sydney hotel.
Best for couples
Upper Mid Range: Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel. A perfect getaway located near the ferry wharf at Watsons Bay close to the city but far enough away to truly relax in a beautiful part of the harbour.
Sydney’s Northern Beaches
On the north side of Sydney Harbour, there are more enticing beaches along the Pacific coastline from Manly to Palm Beach. Sydney’s Northern Beaches are well served by buses from the city centre and from Manly. They are one of the best places to stay in Sydney outside the CBD. Families will enjoy a beach holiday and couples can chill out and enjoy the Sydney beach vibe.
Best for tourists, couples & families looking for a beach holiday
Half an hour on a ferry will take you from Circular Quay to Manly and one of Sydney’s most famous surf beaches on the north side of Sydney Harbour. Stroll through Manly Corso from the wharf to the surf beach and treat yourself to a coffee or an ice cream. You’ll be spoilt for choice with cafes, restaurants and bars around the beautiful bay and beach area.
Enjoy the distant city views from the park near the wharf or from the North Head lookout at the entrance to Sydney Harbour. Manly is a good choice if you’re after a beach holiday with easy access to the city. It’s the perfect location for families, and there are some cheaper accommodation options for solo travellers and those on a budget.
Where to Stay in Manly
Budget: Manly Lodge Boutique Hotel If you’re looking for a super-value place to stay in Manly – this is your place. Great location, with nice people and a good cafe downstairs. Just a stone’s throw to the ferry and the beach.
Board Rider Backpackers and Budget Motel Cheap, basic accommodation overlooking Manly Corso. Just a short walk to shops, the beach and the ferry but can be noisy on weekends.
Collaroy Beach House YHA is a good budget option located near Collaroy Beach about 6 kilometres from Manly.
Mid Range: Manly Paradise Motel and Apartments Guests choose this hotel for a beach escape as it’s located across the road from Manly Beach. The rooftop pool is a hit and so are the lovely views.
Upper Mid Range: Quest Manly is an exceptional choice located near the ferry wharf for handy access to the city. Just a short walk to beaches, shops, pubs and restaurants.
Many other beaches around Sydney are less crowded than Bondi or Manly and are just as beautiful. For a taste of life in the outer suburbs here are some suggestions for where to stay in Sydney:
Barrenjoey & Palm Beach
Best for couples and families
Palm Beach is one of the best places to stay in Sydney for couples who fancy a relaxing beach holiday on a movie set. If you’re on a budget perhaps Manly is a better place to stay but couples will love the seclusion and families will enjoy hiking, beach and water activities.
Palm Beach is 30 kilometres from the city and takes about an hour and a half by bus from the CBD. For a faster trip, fly in by seaplane. Sydney’s Northern Beaches are simply stunning and have been made famous by the long-running TV drama “Home and Away”. You may recognise the lighthouse, the beach and the Summer Bay Surf Club.
TIP: Take the Home and Away location tour for a full immersion.
Relax on beautiful Palm Beach and climb to the top of Barrenjoey Headland for sweeping views of Pittwater, Broken Bay and Palm Beach. You could easily spend a few days exploring the many stunning beaches and enjoying the serene, leafy water views of Pittwater at the mouth of the Hawkesbury River.
Where to Stay at Palm Beach
Upper Mid Range: Barrenjoey Beach house Located near the ferry wharf, Barrenjoey House is the perfect place to base yourself on Sydney’s far Northern Beaches with some great day trips right on your doorstep.
Budget: Escape the city and relax on the Northern Beaches at the Collaroy Beach House YHA. This well-equipped hostel is opposite Collaroy Beach and is a bus ride from Barrenjoey and gorgeous Palm Beach.
Sydney’s Southern Suburbs
Best for families and couples
If you’re wondering where to stay in Sydney to relax at the beach, some of Sydney’s best surf beaches are south of the city. Cronulla is one of the best places to stay in Sydney for a beach holiday.
Imagine white sand, surf and deep blue ocean stretching out in front of you for 5 kilometres. Cronulla has some of Sydney’s most beautiful beaches and it’s one of the best places to stay in Sydney for families who want to enjoy a beach holiday.
Swim in the saltwater rock pools that fill up at high tide, enjoy a walk around the point swim in the baths, and sail & kayak in the calm waters of Gunnamatta Bay on the other side of the shops.
Trains run regularly to the city and you can catch a ferry across the water to Bundeena in Royal National Park where there are more beautiful beaches, Aboriginal rock carvings, bushwalking and a stunning coastline to discover. You could happily spend a day or two exploring the area.
Sunrise is spectacular at Cronulla Beach and it’s the perfect place to stay for a beach holiday in Sydney.
Where to stay in Cronulla
Budget: The Cronulla Motor Inn is a good, budget option with clean, tidy rooms and an easy walk to the beach, shops, restaurants and train. Guests say it’s great value.
The Cronulla Beach Backpackers gets mixed reviews but I’ve heard it’s a cool place to stay with surf memorabilia and a central location, not far from the mall.
Mid Range: Rydges Cronulla Beachside Guests love the clean spacious rooms, helpful staff, the variety of places to eat and the morning walk along the esplanade to South Cronulla.
Quest Cronulla Beach has a nice hotel pool and a great location near the beach.
How to get around Sydney
Sydney is well-connected with trains, buses, ferries and light rail services. So if you choose a hotel in the suburbs you can easily get to the city for sightseeing. But you’ll need to factor in the travel time and be willing to navigate the public transport system.
If you don’t have a car, try to find accommodation with easy access to the places you want to visit. Look for public transport links nearby and you’ll save money getting around. Taxis and Uber are plentiful but can be expensive.
So it’s worth considering a short stay in the city centre, even if it is a bit more expensive. Check out my Perfect 4 days in Sydney Itinerary.
Catching a Ferry around Sydney
Catching Sydney ferries is a scenic and fun way to get around. So consider staying in a suburb on a ferry route like The Rocks, Darling Harbour, Manly or Watsons Bay.
There are so many choices it can be hard to decide where to stay in Sydney. Below you’ll find an outline of the best places to stay with some great options for all budgets.
Is Bondi or Manly Beach better for a beach holiday in Sydney? This comparison looks at the good and the bad of visiting Sydney’s most famous beaches.
Why is Sydney’s accommodation so expensive?
Sydney is the most expensive city in Australia to visit and live in. The prime locations with harbour views come with a hefty price tag. You’ll pay a premium for accommodation in the city centre, especially if you’re near Sydney Harbour. Outside the city, water views and proximity to the beach are sought after and you’ll pay more for accommodation in Sydney’s exclusive suburbs like Bondi, Manly and Palm Beach.
What part of Sydney should I stay?
For a short stay in Sydney, it’s best to be in the heart of the city and close to the main attractions such as the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Stay at The Rocks, CBD, or Darling Harbour or plan to catch public transport from the suburbs a few kilometres away such as the Glebe, Newtown, Bondi, Watson’s Bay or Manly.
What is the best suburb to stay in Sydney?
The best suburb to stay in Sydney is The Rocks. It has a perfect harbourside location and is in the heart of the city within walking distance of the main attractions like the Sydney Opera House, and the Harbour Bridge and its close to the public transport hub of Circular Quay.
How many days in Sydney is enough?
Spend a minimum of 3 days in Sydney to see the main attractions like the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge and stay longer if you can. With a week in Sydney, you can see the main attractions in the city and enjoy day trips outside the CBD to Bondi Beach, Watson’s Bay, Manly and the Blue Mountains where you can enjoy the stunning scenery and bushwalking in a UNESCO world heritage wilderness area.
What is the best month to go to Sydney?
The Autumn months of March and April are the best months to go to Sydney. The weather is warm and sunny but it’s cooling down. Nights are cooler and there’s less rain than at other times of the year. It’s the shoulder season for tourists so the city is less crowded, and prices are more reasonable for accommodation.
Is it worth visiting Bondi Beach?
Yes, it’s definitely worth visiting Bondi Beach, Sydney’s most famous stretch of sand and surf. The laid-back surf vibe at Bondi Beach is very popular with tourists and it’s one of the best places to stay in Sydney for young people.
But there are other beaches in Sydney that are less crowded than Bondi and just as beautiful. Watson’s Bay, Maroubra, Cronulla, Manly and Palm Beach all have stunning beaches that are worth visiting.
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