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Meet the icon: Sydney

Discover the city life of New South Wales

Meet the icon: Sydney
Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, New South Wales. Image: Getty

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Picture a day spent frolicking on the beach, musing around hipster galleries, topped off with world-class ballet at the world’s famous opera house, and bookended with a stay in a design-conscious hotel. It’s unlikely anyone will be lingering long in their rooms, however. A beach city that’s lively and cool and cosmopolitan, Sydney will knock your socks off.

You come for the beaches and the high-brow culture. You stay for its irresistible laid-back lifestyle. It attracts the surfers, the artists, the culture vultures and the fashion crowd. And everyone’s got something in common — they’re all hell-bent on having a good time.

This is a city that’ll reel you in — an arty-meet-foodie-meet-design capital with a restaurant scene to rival any in the world, a rocking nightlife that’ll always be a hit with hedonists, and an exceptional cultural calendar. It’s an easy place to lose yourself in and you should partake in a bit of spontaneous wandering: seek out top-class pan-Asian food, chink glasses of craft beer at the latest hipster haunt and mooch around the cultural hub of Chippendale. Follow the lead of the trendy and health-conscious Sydneysiders and hop to a different beach each day — from the legendary Bondi to Manly, or the quieter harbour shores of Milk Beach or Camp Cove. But nothing says Sydney quite like the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. They’re classic icons that have to be visited — even if only from the sidelines over spritzers and seafood on nearby terraces.

A serious international player, Sydney isn’t a city that flirts with complacency: its neighbourhoods are constantly evolving — from quirky Newtown to food-centric Surry Hills — and now more than ever, you’ll always find something new: the city’s urban renewal project, part of the ‘Sydney 2030’ plans to ensure this supremely cool city is one of the world’s leaders in sustainability, culture and creativity. Watch this space.

Meet the person behind the icon: Sophia de Mestre from Culture Scouts

If I could use three adjectives to describe Sydney they’d be diverse, vibrant and fast-paced. Mix this with some of the best beaches in the world and a breathtaking harbour and you’re going to love it. It’s the unexpected things, too. Like penguins and dolphins in the harbour. I once saw a humpback whale by the Sydney Opera House. We have a really cool street art culture. Also a network of tunnels buried under the city centre — the original storm water system. The City of Sydney has a ballot system twice a year for one lucky tour group to explore these forgotten underground caves.

For those that want to head away from the main sights, try the northern peninsula for Palm Beach and Pittwater for water and nature adventures. For urban experiences and those who want to immerse themselves in culture and culinary experiences, I would take them to suburbs such as Paddington, Chippendale, Redfern and Newtown. I hardly see tourists in these areas and they each have their distinct flavours. To hide away, head to Shelly Beach in Manly, one of the best snorkelling spots and prettiest little beaches in Sydney. And finally, harbour foreshore bushwalking is stunning — look for Balmoral and Mosman to Kirribilli and Rose Bay to Watson’s Bay.

If you like this, visit these destinations…

Wollongong
This attractive little city is worthy of several days meandering: head to the beach for sunrise swims, order brunch in hip cafes, rendezvous with the board-carrying brigade, and lap up the views from the charming harbour. Here you can also join the Grand Pacific Drive and stay in Nan Tien Temple — one of the largest Buddhist temples in the Southern Hemisphere.

Newcastle
It may be a slither of the size of Sydney, but this mini-metropolis — Australia’s second-oldest city — is hardly lacking in ambition. Quality surf and a top-notch climate might lure you in, but it’s the well-seasoned pub culture, interesting arts scene and ever-changing music calendar that’ll leave you wanting more.

Port Macquarie
Life is sweet in this sun-blushed city. Despite its former guise as a convict settlement, Port Macquarie is all about the good life: from its buzzing beach culture — think yoga on the sands, enviable coastal scenery and pretty beach walks — to wine trails, farmers’ markets, and the iconic Koala Hospital.

How to do it

Fly to Sydney with Singapore Airlines from £765pp return. Singapore Airlines offers four daily flights from London Heathrow and five flights a week from Manchester with seamless connections via Singapore. singaporeair.com