A solo traveller's guide to Sydney

Visiting Sydney alone? There's plenty to keep you busy on land and in the water, plus great views to keep you company.

This magical city is home to vast green spaces such as the Royal Botanic Gardens.​
  • Tracey Withers
  • May 2019

You’ll never be lonely in Sydney opens in new window with so much to do, from dining out to people-watching, water sports and shopping. Creative strategist and Sydneysider Jenni Dawes shares here local knowledge on the best places to keep yourself entertained when travelling solo.

Wander Sydney’s green spaces

You don’t have to go far to find big sky, lush green space and eucalyptus-scented air to fill your lungs. Got an hour to spare? Wander from the CBD, through The Royal Botanic Garden opens in new window to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair – convicts carved out the sandstone rock by the harbour for the governor’s wife in 1810. You can see why she clocked time here: it’s still a shady, hushed peephole through which to count the sails on the water.

Get active on a paddleboard

Stand-up paddleboarding is as Sydney as the harbour. In almost any cove along the shoreline, you’ll see everyone from keen solo SUP-ers to parents sharing boards with kids and dogs gliding together with their owners. Push out from Tingira Memorial Park, a tiny nook of Rose Bay in the eastern harbour to the right of the sailing club. There’s no better way to explore the water in the morning, when the harbour is usually smoothest and there’s little wind. Hit Rose Bay Aquatic Hire opens in new window for rental boards and quick lessons.

Stand-Up-Paddleboarding is a great way to experience Sydney's many bays
Stand-Up-Paddleboarding is a great way to experience Sydney's many bays.

Sip coffee while you people-watch

Come to Suzie Q Coffee and Records opens in new window, in the hipster enclave of Surry Hills, for the batch filter made with Dukes beans and stay for a cracking playlist. Watch the flow of creative types and coffee groupies drop in to flip the vinyls at this café-meets-record shop or settle into a window seat with a book – it’s licensed and open until wine o’clock (3.30pm).

Don’t be afraid to dine alone

Eating alone is a treat in this food-obsessed city, where waiters and sommeliers get a kick out of giving you a personal experience of the menu. At the end of a day poking around The Rocks, you can perch at the alfresco counter at Tayim opens in new window to feast on a modern Middle Eastern spread. Or book a terrace table at Aqua Dining opens in new window in Milson’s Point, where the food tastes of Australia – think sea-salty oysters – and you’ll have exceptional views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge for company.

Aqua Dining boasts up-close harbour views and gourmet food.
Aqua Dining boasts up-close harbour views and gourmet food.

Shop up a storm in Paddington

The pretty ‘hood of Paddington opens in new window is an epicentre for Australian fashion and indie art spaces – but only shop with serious coin. Start at The Intersection opens in new window – a hub of boutiques where Glenmore Road splits off from Oxford Street – for luxurious knits from Viktoria and Woods and Ginger and Smart dresses. Swing by Maunsell Wickes, a nine-room gallery set in three converted 1840s terrace houses, then stroll up Glenmore to the coffee shops at Five Ways (an intersection of five streets). End up at chocolatier Just William and designer consignment store Di Nuovo on William Street.