Where to Stay in Sydney (2019 • COOLEST Areas!)

This neighborhood guide will help you decide where to stay in Sydney! We included our top hotel and hostel picks, & what to do in each area.

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Sydney, Australia has it all… from pristine beaches and epic surf to trendy brunch spots and world-famous attractions.

You could spend weeks exploring the city, or months living here – as many foreigners and Australians do.

That said, there is a price tag to match. Visiting Sydney can be expensive, and without proper guidance, you can end up blowing your budget on accommodation and food alone.

That’s why we created this guide for where to stay in Sydney.

There are endless things to do in Sydney, but what really makes Sydney unique, are the beaches so close to the city, like Manly Beach, Bondi Beach and the Bondi Icebergs Swimming Club, and plenty of smaller beaches like Tamarama.

Whether you’re on a budget, trying to organize a vacation for the family, or wondering where to base yourself for the best nightlife, we’ll cover Sydney’s best neighborhoods in this guide.

 

Quick Answers – Where to Stay in Sydney

 

Sydney Neighborhood Guide

Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Sydney

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CBD

  • Anyone visiting Sydney for the first time is going to want to base themselves in the Central Business District, or CBD. Home to high-rise buildings, high-end shopping, celebrity chefs, and major tourist attractions, the CBD is buzzing with excitement and energy.
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Kings Cross

  • Sydney’s Kings Cross neighbourhood has undergone a serious change in the last few years. Home to the city’s infamous red light district, recent years have seen a number of trendy cafes and boutique pop-ups move into the neighbourhood.
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Newtown

  • There’s no better place to enjoy Sydney’s nightlife scene than in Newtown. What was once one of the city’s grungiest neighbourhoods, Newtown today is home to Sydney’s trendiest clubs and bars.
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Surry Hills

  • Surry Hills is undoubtedly one of the coolest places to stay in the city. Once home to Sydney’s fashion district, Surry Hills is now a modern paradise for creatives, foodies and hipsters alike.
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Darling Harbour

  • Darling Harbour is an energetic and vibrant district. Located within Sydney’s Central Business District, this small seaside neighbourhood is full of attractions and activities for kids and adults of all ages. From the Sydney Aquarium to Wildlife World, Darling Harbour is a fun destination for the whole family.
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Sydney, Australia is one of the coolest, most liveable cities on the planet. Located on Australia’s east coast, Sydney is a modern and cosmopolitan city with a laid-back and relaxed attitude. Home to more than 5.1 million people, the city is overflowing with history, culture, fashion and cuisine.

Sydney is comprised of 38 government districts and covers an area of nearly 13,000 square kilometres. It’s where modern culture, lush nature, historical architecture and breathtaking beaches co-exist seamlessly.

To help you plan your trip to Sydney, we’ve highlighted the top five neighbourhoods by interest.

The Central Business District, or the CBD, is Sydney’s main tourist hub. Here you will find iconic attractions, including the Sydney Harbour, the Opera House, and the city’s main shopping district.

Situated within the CBD is the Darling Harbour neighbourhood. This area is teeming with activities and attractions for kids and adults of all ages and our top pick for where to stay in Sydney with family.

East of the CBD you’ll find Kings Cross. The city’s former red light district, Kings Cross is where you’ll find the best deals on accommodations. It’s one of the best places to stay in Sydney on a budget! Enjoy great restaurants, hip bars, and reasonably priced accommodations, all within walking distance of the city centre.

South of Kings Cross is Surry Hills, Sydney’s coolest neighbourhood. With a number of trendy bars and world-class restaurants, this neighbourhood is the place to stay if you like the finer things in life.

Continuing south is Newtown. This small neighbourhood is home to Sydney’s vibrant, energetic, and alternative nightlife scene. From the hottest clubs to the most popular bars, Newtown is at the heart of the action, and one of the best places to stay in Sydney fo rnightlife.

Still not sure where to stay in Sydney? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

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Sydney’s 5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in

Sydney is a city that offers so much to visitors. From amazing architecture to pristine beaches, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in the city. Depending on the nature of your visit, certain neighbourhoods will be better suited to your specific interest.

Do you want to see Sydney’s top sights? Or, maybe you’d rather spend your time experiencing the city like a local? Perhaps you’re keen to experience the city’s innovative and inventive food scene?

No matter what you’re after, there’s a neighbourhood in Sydney that’s ideal for you. Here are the best neighbourhoods in Sydney, broken down by interest.

Note: Check out our Sydney City Guide too!

where to stay in Sydney

 

1. CBD Neighborhood – Where to Stay in Sydney for your First Time

Anyone visiting Sydney for the first time is going to want to base themselves in the Central Business District, or CBD. Home to high-rise buildings, high-end shopping, celebrity chefs, and major tourist attractions, the CBD is buzzing with excitement and energy.

Centrally located and well connected to other parts of the city, the CBD is an excellent choice for anyone looking to see the big sights and explore the city on foot.

Bustling during the day, this area of the city can be a bit quieter at night; however, that doesn’t mean it’s completely shut down. Head to the northern part of the neighbourhood and explore Wynyard Station, where a number of small bars make the nightlife more interesting.

CBD, Sydney

 

Top Things to See and Do in the CBD

– See the Sydney Opera House, one of the most iconic 20th-century buildings in the world.

– Wander through the impressive (and free!) Royal Botanic Garden and its outstanding collection of plants from Australia and around the world.

– Enjoy one of Australia’s foremost cultural institutions, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, home to an impressive collection of Australian art.

– Climb Sydney Tower and take in spectacular panoramic views from the 250-meter high viewing level.

– Browse the outstanding collections at the Australian Museum, showcasing historical exhibitions of natural science and indigenous cultures.

– Go shopping at Queen Victoria Building, a 19th-century marketplace with five floors of designer shops and boutiques to explore.

– Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art, which showcases great works of modern and contemporary art across various media.

– Relax in Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, a green space that offers magnificent views of the Sydney Harbour.

 

Best Hostel in the CBD: The Downing Hostel

Enjoy all the perks of staying downtown without the price tag at the Downing Hostel. Located within walking distance of Sydney’s main attractions, this hostel is also surrounded by a number of great cafes, bars, restaurants and clubs.

With comfortable rooms, free laundry, and unlimited wifi, this hostel has everything you need for your stay in Sydney and more.

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Best Hotel in the CBD: Park Regis City Centre

Centrally located, the Park Regis City Centre situated is at the heart of the city. Surrounded by Sydney’s premier tourist, shopping, and entertainment district, this hotel is within walking distance of the city’s hottest attractions.

Enjoy relaxing accommodations and some of the best views of the city from the 45th-floor rooftop pool and observation deck.

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2. Kings Cross Neighborhood – Where to Stay in Sydney on a Budget

Sydney’s Kings Cross neighbourhood has undergone a serious change in the last few years. Home to the city’s infamous red light district, recent years have seen a number of trendy cafes and boutique pop-ups move into the neighbourhood.

Although it still retains much of its original grit and attitude, Kings Cross is one of the city’s up and coming districts.

Kings Cross is also the best place to stay in Sydney for travellers on a budget. Here you’ll find a number of budget hostels and hotels. Easily accessed by bus or train, this area of the city is within a short distance to all of Sydney’s top attractions.

Kings Cross, Sydney

source: Angus Fraser (flickr)

Top Things to See and Do in Kings Cross

– Share a plate of tapas with friends old and new at Aperitif, one of the few restaurants in the city open until 2 AM.

– Grab a drink and see a show at El Rocco/Bar Me, a friendly bar that’s housed in the former home of Sydney’s oldest jazz cellar.

– Relax in nearby Fitzroy Garden, taking a peek at the dandelion designed El Alamein Fountain on the way in.

– Dance the week out at The Tender Trap’s much-loved Sunday night club.

– Located at the intersection of Darlinghurst Road and Victoria Street is the impressively designed Fire Station, dating back to 1920.

– Browse the stalls at the popular Saturday morning market.

– Enjoy a night in one of Kings Cross’ many pubs.

– Take a walking tour of Kings Cross exploring the many crimes and passions of this small Sydney neighbourhood.

– Enjoy a cocktail or two at Eau de Vie.

 

Best Hostel in Kings Cross: Asylum Sydney Backpackers Hostel

This small art hostel can be found at the heart of Kings Cross. A few minutes from the station and most of the area’s key attractions, this hostel is just a 30-minute walk from the Opera House and all of Sydney’s main sights. Enjoy comfortable accommodations and a friendly atmosphere at this cosy hostel in Kings Cross.

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Best Hotel in Kings Cross: Lido Suites Kings Cross

Lido Suites is a boutique hotel at the centre of Kings Cross. Just a short walk from the neighbourhood’s most famous clubs, bars, and cafes, this hotel is ideal for travellers looking to enjoy Sydney without breaking the bank. Just 300 meters from the railway station, this hotel is well situated to explore all parts of the city.

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3. Newtown Neighborhood – Where to Stay in Sydney for Nightlife

There’s no better place to enjoy Sydney’s nightlife scene than in Newtown. What was once one of the city’s grungiest neighbourhoods, Newtown today is home to Sydney’s trendiest clubs and bars.

From rooftop terraces to underground clubs, if you’re interested in exploring Sydney’s alternative scene, look no further than Newtown: our pick for where to stay in Sydney for the bet nightlife.

But Newtown isn’t just about clubs and pubs. This neighbourhood is also where you can find some of Sydney’s most innovative and inventive restaurants. From Australian to Scandinavian, enjoy world-class cuisine from all corners of the globe in this trendy and vibrant district.

Newtown, Sydney

source: Eva Rinaldi (flickr)

Top Things to See and Do in Newtown

– Discover a new band or see a show at the iconic Enmore Theatre.

– Enjoy a drink at Bank Hotel, a large establishment known for their interesting and intriguing drinks and deals.

– Eat some of the best Thai food in Sydney at Thai Pothong.

– Get your day-drink on at famous brewery Young Henry’s.

– Take a break in Camperdown Memorial Park, a large urban green space decorated with street art and graffiti.

– Get in a round of 18 in the middle of the city at Holey Moley, a fun and exciting mini golf bar.

– Marvel at the architecture along King Street, the most well-preserved Victorian high street in Sydney.

– Check out Sydney’s indie band scene at Platform 8, located within the iconic Town Hall Hotel.

– Take in a show at New Theatre, one of the oldest continuously producing theatre companies in Australia.

 

Best Hostel in Newtown: Cambridge Lodge Budget Hostel

Make this hostel your home away from home while you enjoy Sydney’s thriving party scene. Close to trendy bars, clubs, cafes and restaurants, this hostel is well situated to explore Newtown, Sydney and beyond. Enjoy a friendly atmosphere and clean accommodations at this hostel in Newtown.

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Best Hotel in Newtown: The Urban Newtown

Industrial and rustic, The Urban Newtown is the best hotel in this neighbourhood. Located less than a five-minute walk from Newtown’s major attractions, this hotel is perfectly situated for couples looking to explore the city. Enjoy in-room espresso machines and modern amenities at this four-star hotel.

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4. Surry Hills Neighborhood – Coolest Place to Stay in Sydney

Surry Hills is undoubtedly one of the coolest places to stay in the city. Once home to Sydney’s fashion district, Surry Hills is now a modern paradise for creatives, foodies and hipsters alike.

With a myriad of cafes, art galleries and shops, Surry Hills is a neighbourhood where bohemian flair and modern style seamless co-exist. Surry Hills is also a top destination for famous and up-and-coming chefs.

Home to numerous unique and celebrated restaurants, Surry Hills is where to go if you want to try Sydney’s most exciting and interesting fares. Enjoy delicious and Instagram-worthy meals in this trendy neighbourhood.

Surry Hills, Sydney

source: pixculture (flickr)

Top Things to See and Do in Surry Hills

– Indulge in an unforgettable brunch at Bill’s, a restaurant renowned for its scrambled eggs, sweet corn fritters and ricotta hotcakes.

– Sample inventive, seasonal and mostly organic Chinese food at Billy Kwong, the restaurant headed by celebrated TV personality and chef, Kylie Kwong.

– Browse Badger & Fox Gallery and the Brett Whiteley Studio, two small but prestigious art galleries in the neighbourhood.

– Take a self-guided pub tour of Newtown, enjoying a few of the 23 pubs that line its leafy streets.

– Add a unique piece of clothing or jewellery to your closet by shopping one of the area’s trendy boutiques.

– Enjoy cuisines a myriad of cuisines of Crown Street where you’ll find food from around the world.

– See the Sculpture by the Sea, an outdoor art exhibit featuring pieces from local and international artists.

– Line up at Bourke Street Bakery and get ready to sample some of the most mouthwatering treats available in Sydney.

 

Best Hostel in Surry Hills: Secret Garden Backpackers Sydney

Clean and affordable, this hostel is a calm oasis in the middle of Sydney’s trendiest district. Located opposite Prince Alfred Park, this hostel is close to both transit and the city’s main attractions.

Enjoy free wifi, free breakfast, and a myriad of free fun and social events at this comfortable and welcoming backpackers inn.

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Best Hotel in Surry Hills: Cambridge Hotel Sydney

Enjoy comfortable accommodations and an unbeatable location at this boutique hotel in Surry Hills. Just a three minute from trendy Crown Street, this hotel is a short walk to Sydney’s hottest restaurants, shops, and bars. Enjoy modern amenities and city views in the heart of Surry Hills.

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Wonder what to do in Sydney for 3 days? Head over to our insider’s Weekend in Sydney guide!

 

5. Darling Harbour Neighborhood – Where to Stay in Sydney for Families

Darling Harbour is an energetic and vibrant district. Located within Sydney’s Central Business District, this small seaside neighbourhood is full of attractions and activities for kids and adults of all ages. From the Sydney Aquarium to Wildlife World, Darling Harbour is a fun destination for the whole family.

A designated walking district, Darling Harbour is well situated within Sydney’s downtown core. Close to the city’s major attractions and public transit routes, Darling Harbour is a great base for families looking to explore Sydney.

Darling Harbour, Sydney

 

Top Things to See and Do in Darling Harbour

– See your favourite animals, like penguins and platypuses, up close at the Sydney Aquarium. Walk through the underwater corridors for a unique and exciting view of sharks, rays and underwater fish.

– Walk across Pyrmont Bridge, an old swing bridge in the heart of the city.

– Hop aboard and see the harbour from a different angle by taking a harbour cruise.

– See Australia’s most famous wildlife without leaving the city at Sydney Wildlife World.

– Explore Australia’s maritime history at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

– Rest and relax, or run around at Tumbalong Park, a large green space in the centre of Sydney.

– Cool off by running through the swirling fountains outside the Sydney convention centre.

– See the amazing Darling Harbour Fireworks, an incredible 15-minute show that takes place each Saturday night at 8:30 PM.

– Visit the Chinese Garden of Friendship, a traditional private garden from the Ming Dynasty that offers insight into Chinese heritage and culture.

 

Best Hostel in Darling Harbour: Lord Wolseley

Lord Wolseley is the best hostel in Darling Harbour. At the edge of the neighbourhood, this hostel is a short walk to the harbour as well as Sydney’s major tourist attractions. Located above a historic public bar and restaurants, this hostel is perfectly situated for enjoying the best of Sydney and Darling Harbour.

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Best Hotel in Darling Harbour: Sydney Hotel CBD

Centrally located and oozing with charm, you won’t find a better hotel close to Darling Harbour than Sydney Hotel CBD. A short walk to the city’s most famous attractions, this classic hotel offers guests comfortable beds, air-conditioned rooms, and a myriad of amenities. Enjoy a relaxing stay in the heart of the city at this downtown Sydney hotel.

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Review of Where to Stay in Sydney

Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our best recommendations for places to stay in Sydney, Australia.

 

Best Hostel in Sydney: Lord Wolseley

The Lord Wolseley in Darling Harbour is the best hostel in Sydney. Near the borders of both the Central Business District and Darling Harbour, this hostel is a short walk from many of Sydney’s major tourist attractions.

Located above a historic public bar and restaurants, this hostel is perfectly situated for enjoying the best of Sydney and Darling Harbour.

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Best Hotel in Sydney: Park Regis City Centre

Centrally located, the Park Regis City Centre is situated in the heart of Sydney’s Central Business District. Surrounded by Sydney’s premier tourist, shopping and entertainment district, this hotel is within walking distance of the city’s hottest attractions.

Enjoy relaxing accommodations and some of the best views of the city from the 45th-floor rooftop pool and observation deck.

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Best Airbnb in Sydney: The Barn on Prince Alfred Park – Central Station

There is no cooler place to stay in Sydney than this 19th century converted barn in Surry Hills. Enjoy high ceilings, spacious rooms, and modern amenities all in Sydney’s coolest neighbourhood.

Just a short walk to Surry Hills’ trendy bars, restaurants and clubs, you won’t find a more ideally located flat in the city. Also, make sure to check out our Airbnb post for a 35% discount!

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Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Sydney

Australia can be expensive, and it might prove difficult finding the perfect area to stay for your interests.

We created this guide to help you decide where to stay in Sydney – an awesome city with plenty of awesome things to do – 50 awesome ones at that – and close proximity to some of the world’s best beaches.

Still not sure which is the best neighborhood for you? Lord Wolseley is our top pick for the best hostel in Sydney, due to its location near the Central Business District and Darling Harbourl and many major tourist attractions. Park Regis City Centre is our top pick for Sydney’s best hotel!

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments! Happy Travels!

Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.

 

Do you own or run a kick ass hostel? Want to be featured in this list? Get in touch at hostels@thebrokebackpacker.com

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This neighborhood guide will help you decide where to stay in Sydney! We included our top hotel and hostel picks, & what to do in each area.

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