The Best Places to Stay in Sydney Australia
A trip to Sydney is an essential part of a visit to Australia and deciding where to stay in Sydney is key to an enjoyable trip. If it’s your first time this can be daunting as Sydney is a huge, sprawling city. Finding the best places to stay in Sydney can be hard if you don’t know your way around or you’re trying to stick to a budget.
Most visitors have limited time and want to be at the centre of the action near some of the main sights like the Opera House or the Harbour Bridge. Sun, sand and surf may also be a priority if you want to relax on one of Sydney’s many stunning beaches. But how do you decide where to stay in Sydney?
This guide will show you some of the best places to stay in Sydney and of course, you can choose more than one if you have trouble deciding.
**Covid-19 travel restrictions may apply in Sydney. Check with your local government for the latest travel advice before you leave home.
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Is Sydney’s accommodation expensive?
Sydney is the most expensive city in Australia to visit and live in. There are beautiful water views on offer in many parts of the city and the prime locations often 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 probably pay more for accommodation in Sydney’s exclusive suburbs.
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. Sydney is well connected with trains, buses, ferries and the new 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 to the city and be willing to navigate the public transport system. So it’s worth considering a short stay in the city centre, even if it is a bit more expensive.
Catch 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 options it can be hard to decide where to stay in Sydney. Below you’ll find an outline of the best places to stay in Sydney with some great options for all budgets.
The Best places to stay in Sydney
The Rocks – Scenic, Central & Historic
**My top pick for a few days in Sydney is The Rocks right on Sydney Harbour next to Sydney Cove. The Rocks is the oldest part of the city located near the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge and it’s one of the best places to stay in Sydney. There are stunning harbour views and it’s close to the main attractions with a bustling atmosphere day and night.
Budget: Sydney Harbour YHA is in a fabulous location on a hill in The Rocks near Circular Quay with numerous public transport options and a rooftop terrace with a stunning view. From the hostel, 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 has 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.
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.
Sydney CBD – Business & Shopping
Further away from the harbour there is a choice of hotels in the shopping & Central Business District. Hotels in the CBD may be 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 travellers 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, tram 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.
Luxury: The Meriton Suites in Sussex Street get exceptional reviews and the Hilton Sydney is another popular luxury option in a great location near Town Hall and Darling Harbour
Sofitel Darling Harbour This 5-star hotel offers breathtaking views and excellent service in a fabulous location in Darling Harbour.
Sydney’s Inner City Suburbs – Trendy & Bohemian
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 a great choice 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. But take care if you’re out 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.
Where to stay near Sydney Airport
If you’re arriving at late night or leaving early in the morning, a hotel near Sydney airport is one of the best places to stay. The airport is only 8 kilometres from the CBD and there are good transport links. Here are some great 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 with a great selection of restaurants and cafes on the doorstep. Try “Thai on the Beach” for a delicious Asian meal. Stroll around Botany Bay and watch planes taking off at Sydney International Airport from the beach. If you walk in the opposite direction you can watch kiteboarders in action on the bay.
Luxury: Branksome Hotel & Residences get exceptional reviews for its luxury rooms, service and location right near the airport.
Sydney Beach Holiday Destinations
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. There’s a vibrant atmosphere at Bondi 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 track. 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 are well serviced by buses for your return to Bondi or the city.
Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs
Some of Sydney’s most exclusive suburbs are near Bondi. Rose Bay, Watson’s Bay and Vaucluse have some of the best harbour views in Sydney. They are only a few kilometres from the city and are easy to access by public transport. The Eastern Suburbs are a good choice if you’re looking for a beach holiday and a more relaxed vibe away from the city centre.
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 longer more scenic route via Watsons Bay and catch a ferry back to Circular Quay.
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The Best Places to Stay in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs
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.
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.
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 a pretty sunset and 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.
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.
There are many other beaches around Sydney even more beautiful and less crowded than Bondi or Manly. For a taste of life in the outer suburbs here are some suggestions for where to stay in Sydney:
Barrenjoey & Palm Beach
Palm Beach is one of the best places to stay in Sydney if you fancy a relaxing beach holiday on a movie set. It’s 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. Take the Home and Away tour for 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
If you would like to spend some time relaxing on the beach and you’re wondering where to stay in Sydney, to the south of the city are some of Sydney’s best surf beaches. 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. You can 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.
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 morning walks along the esplanade to South Cronulla.
Quest Cronulla Beach has a nice hotel pool and a great location near the beach.
A Travel Guide for Sydney or Australia will help you to plan your trip and to decide where to stay in Sydney. I rarely travel without my trusted Lonely Planet Guide.
Travel Insurance is another travel essential. I always use Travel Insurance for overseas trips so I can concentrate on enjoying my trip without worrying about something going wrong.
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I actually had no idea what the different areas of Sydney were, so this is really helpful! I like that you mentioned a range of hotels too at different price points.
Thanks Krista! I’m glad you found it helpful!
What a comprehensive post. I’ve always wanted to visit Sydney and I love how you’ve broken down the various areas, as it gives me a much better idea of what I can expect!
Thank you for this super informational post! I’ve visited Sydney a few years ago, and I would love to go back once it’s possible. Now I know where to stay!
We stayed in CBD last year, but because we only had 5 days missed out on so much! I would have loved to make it to Manly, but count is luck we did get to see Bondi, even is the weather was bad 😉
Such a great guide. I like the suggestion on different areas to stay. Pinned for when I visit Australia!
I visited Sydney once a few years ago and I had no idea where to stay. I wish I had your guide then! It is very comprehensive and helpful. I’m hanging onto this for when I return!
It’s been a while since I was in Sydney, and back then I was backpacking on a major budget so it would be nice to stay in some the nicer areas of Sydney if I went back and in some options other than the cheapest backpacker hostel. I loved Sydney so I hope to return one day
That’s such a comprehensive post. Loved it. I had planned to visit Sydney in early 2020, but Covid-19 spoiled all my plans. Anyway, have learned a lot more about Sydney in this post. Thanks for sharing.
I’ve been to Sydney a few times but only stayed in the city – looks like staying in the suburbs should be next on my list!
Sydney is a great place. Having grown up there near Cronulla can I suggest including the Cronulla YHA – it has surf memorabilia and is a cool place to stay not far from the Mall. Plenty of other options on offer – great post.
A good suggestion! Thanks so much for your feedback!
I absolutely dream to visit Sydney so I am really happy to have read your article! Thanks to you I will be all set for the day I can finally go there! Thank you!
That’s an amazing guide. Very interesting places to visit. Thanks for sharing
Visiting Sydney is a dream of mine, so I’m definitely saving this for later!
What a great resource for places to stay in Sydney! I will definitely keep these in mind for my next trip.
Used to live in Sydney but moved to Adelaide. It is indeed such a beautiful place! Would love to come back and would probably stay in one of your hotel recommendations! thank you!
Shangri-la Hotel in Sydney looks stunning, certainly worth the splurge! Oh and I want to visit all these beaches. Great article!
Thank you for this really helpful post! I’m hoping to go to Sydney soon and this post will be really useful.
Gorgeous photos! More travel inspiration!
It all looks gorgeous, but I think Watsons Bay looks very romantic!
This really makes me want to go to Sydney. Its one of my bucketlist destinations. There is so much to do
I’d love to go back to Sydney – I only visited for a week a few years ago when I backpacked for the first time. I stayed in a hostel and was sick so I’d love to revisit and stay somewhere nice… despite it being the most expensive city in Australia, eek!