Where to Stay in Sydney – Neighborhoods & Area Guide

Sydney is one of the most iconic cities on earth. Home to some of the most famous buildings in the world, and one of the most famous beaches too, Sydney is a must-visit destination – once in every lifetime at least.

As one of the largest cities in Australia, Sydney is a buzzing metropolis, home to over four million people. Around every corner, there is something exciting to discover. There is an incredibly diverse community in Sydney that is open and welcoming to all. With strong communities from Asia, Europe, and the Americas, Sydney is one of the most multicultural cities around.

From the Sydney Harbor Bridge to Bondi Beach; from Darling Harbor to The Rocks; a trip to Sydney is worth every penny. By no means the cheapest city in the world to explore, Sydney is a destination that requires a little financial planning before landing.

With such diversity to discover and vibrancy to experience, Sydney captures the hearts of all who visit. There is something captivating about the city and the Australian way of life that provides an incredible stay time after time.

Let’s explore where to stay in Sydney. There is plenty of choice.

Central Business District – Darling Harbor

Darling Harbor, Sydney

Source: Aleksandar Todorovic / shutterstock

Darling Harbor, Sydney

The buzzing and bustling center of Sydney can be found in the Central Business District, also known as Darling Harbor. Sitting right on the waterfront, the Central Business District is a 24-hour neighborhood where workers and night owls seamlessly co-exist.

Darling Harbor is named after Lieutenant-General Ralph Darling, who was the Governor of the New South Wales region between 1825 to 1831. Originally, it was known as Long Cove but locally referred to as Cockle Bay.

There is a lot of fun to be had in Darling Harbor, it has to be said. Travelers could spend their whole trip within this neighborhood alone and still only scratch the surface. It has been said that ‘he who tires of London is tired of life’ and the same could be said of Sydney.

The Chinese Garden of Friendship is a simply exquisite place to visit in the Darling Harbor district. It is the perfect place to seek a moment’s calm amidst the frenetic nature of Sydney.

Good For: Active Travelers, Art Lovers, Architecture Enthusiasts, Budding Historians, City Slickers, Couples, Culture Vultures, First Time Visitors, Families, Foodies, Luxury Travelers, Sightseers, Shopaholics, Whistle-Stop Travelers

Neighborhood Highlights: The Chinese Garden of Friendship, Darling Square, Australian Maritime Museum, Tumbalong Park, ICC Sydney, ICC Sydney Theatre, Powerhouse Museum, Reflection Park, Harborview Shopping Centre, Cockle Bay Wharf, WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, Pyrmont Bridge, Sydney Heritage Fleet, Chinatown Sydney, Australian Chinese Ex-Services Monument

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbor – Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbor is one of the best hotels in all of Sydney. Up on the rooftop, guests are welcome to indulge in the infinity swimming pool and enjoy an amazing view of the cityscape. The rooms are elegant yet simple in design and offer high levels of comfort.
  • Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbor – Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbor is a fantastic hotel in Sydney. Set a 5-minute walk from the harbor itself, Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbor is a top pick in the district. There is an urban feel to the hotel and plenty of art to enjoy throughout the property. There is a flexible check out service.
  • Novotel Sydney Darling Harbor – Novotel Sydney Darling Harbor is an excellent hotel in Sydney offering an impressive set of facilities. There is a fitness center, outdoor tennis courts, and an outdoor swimming pool. The Ternary Restaurant has a wonderful menu and is well worth ‘staying in’ for. There is only 30-minutes of free WiFi daily.

The Rocks

The Rocks, Sydney

Source: Maurizio De Mattei / shutterstock

The Rocks

The Rocks is an incredibly popular neighborhood in Sydney. Home to a vibrant and trendy community of locals and a never-ending flow of tourists, The Rocks is rightly one of the must-visit areas of Sydney.

Located overlooking the water and home to iconic landmarks like the Sydney Harbor Bridge, The Rocks is one of the best places to stay in Sydney.

The Rocks is home to some of Sydney’s oldest pubs and diners. Although a relatively young city, Sydney does have a lot of history to explore. The whole area has undergone a period of urban revival and gentrification and there are now dozens of harborside bistros and upmarket bars to explore.

The Museum of Contemporary Art is one of the highlights of The Rocks neighborhood. The Museum of Contemporary Art features both local and international artists and has a fantastic itinerary of exhibitions throughout the year.

The Rocks is famous, in part, for the buskers who line the harbor-front boardwalk.

Good For: Active Travelers, Art Lovers, Architecture Enthusiasts, Budding Historians, City Slickers, Couples, Culture Vultures, First Time Visitors, Families, Foodies, Luxury Travelers, Sightseers, Shopaholics, Whistle-Stop Travelers

Neighborhood Highlights: The Museum of Contemporary Art. Sydney Harbor Bridge, Pylon Lookout, BridgeClimb Sydney, First Fleet Park, Cadman’s Cottage, Harborview Room at the MCA, Spirit Gallery – Aboriginal Art & Didgeridoos, The Rocks Discovery Museum, The Rocks Walking Tours, Susannah Place Museum, Sirius Building, Dawes Point Battery

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Rendezvous Hotel Sydney The Rocks – Rendezvous Hotel Sydney The Rocks is a very good hotel in Sydney. The rooms are modern yet homely and many offer incredible views of the Sydney Opera House. There is an outdoor swimming pool and a hot tub too. Guests have free but limited WiFi access. The staff are wonderful and always happy to help.
  • Harbor Rocks Hotel Sydney – MGallery by Sofitel – Harbor Rocks Hotel Sydney is one of the most popular hotels in The Rocks. Super modern, with an urban and minimalist feel, Harbor Rocks Hotel Sydney is perfect for hipster travelers who appreciate interior design. There is an iPod docking station in every room in addition to a mini bar.
  • Holiday Inn Old Sydney – Holiday Inn Old Sydney is a more affordable option in The Rocks neighborhood. Featuring a rooftop swimming pool and views of the Sydney Opera House, Holiday Inn Old Sydney is a real winner. Guests have a choice of soft or firm pillows. The rooms are modern and spacious.

Surry Hills

Surry Hills, Sydney

Source: Catrin Haze / shutterstock

Surry Hills

For traveling hipsters, budget backpackers, and coffee-shop connoisseurs, Surry Hills is the perfect place to stay in Sydney. An area that is emerging onto the tourist scene, Surry Hills is still rather affordable by Sydney’s standards.

There are countless coffee shops in Surry Hills, many of which double as digital nomad hangouts and are popular with local freelancers. For the evening, there is a great selection of wine bars to be sampled, in addition to brewpubs.

There is a thriving arts scene in Surry Hills that encompasses the full spectrum of creativity. The aforementioned coffee bars and brewpubs often host live music nights with local musicians. There are a great selection of art galleries and creative community spaces to explore too. The Brett Whiteley Studio is one of the most established galleries in the neighborhood, as is the Australian Center for Photography.

The Surry Hills Markets are not to be missed. Held just once a month, be sure to time your visit right for bargain vintage goods aplenty.

Good For: Active Travelers, Art Lovers, Architecture Enthusiasts, Budding Historians, City Slickers, Couples, Coffee Lovers, Culture Vultures, Foodies, Like a Local Travelers, Off-The-Beaten Track Travelers, Sightseers, Shopaholics, Whistle-Stop Travelers

Neighborhood Highlights: Prince Alfred Park, Brett Whiteley Studio, Surry Hills Markets, Australian Centre for Photography, Michael Reid Gallery Sydney, Ward Park, Belvoir St Theatre, The Wanderer Bar, Li’l Darlin Surry Hills Restaurant, Catmosphere Cat Cafe, The Reformatory Caffeine Lab, Fatima’s Lebanese Restaurant, The Beresford Pub

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Shakespeare Hotel – Shakespeare Hotel is a superb hotel in terms of location in Surry Hills. Just a few steps away from some of the most popular coffee houses in the neighborhood, there is a quirky and eclectic decor to the Shakespeare Hotel and each room is a little bit different. There is an 1850’s theme throughout.
  • 57Hotel – 57Hotel is a very good hotel in Surry Hills. There is a luxurious and modern feel to the hotel and guests get great value for money. Each room offers an iPad, a rain shower, and eco-friendly toiletries. There is a minibar in every room and a mini fridge. There is a 24-hour front desk for guest’s convenience.
  • Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney Surry Hills – For longer-term travelers keen to feel at home in Sydney, Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney Surry Hills is the best place to stay. Each apartment comes fully equipped with a living room space and a kitchen. There is free and unlimited WiFi available. The complex offer guests a swimming pool and parking facilities.

Bondi

Bondi, Sydney

Source: GagliardiImages / shutterstock

Bondi

Bondi Beach is possibly the most famous beach in the world. Sitting adjacent to Sydney city center, no trip to Sydney would be complete without a visit to iconic Bondi Beach.

The vast expanse of soft white sand is one of the most popular hangout spots for both tourists and locals. The surf is also some of the most reliable in all Australia, and as such, Bondi Beach is not only popular with sun worshippers, but surfers too. Any budding surfer dudes or dudettes should be sure to hire a board during their stay in Bondi.

Bondi Beach is almost always busy, and if visitors want to secure a spacious spot in the sand, they better arrive early in the day and stake their claim.

Bondi Beach is upmarket and gentrified. There are dozens of cool cafes and glitzy bars to explore. Popular with backpackers too, there is a venue to cater to every budget and travel style in the Bondi area.

Good For: Active Travelers, Art Lovers, Architecture Enthusiasts, Beach Bums, City Slickers, Couples, Coffee Lovers, Culture Vultures, Foodies, Like a Local Travelers, Sightseers, Shopaholics, Surfers, Sun Worshippers, Whistle-Stop Travelers,

Neighborhood Highlights: Bondi Beach, Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk, Monument to Black Sunday, Hunter Sculpture Park, Bondi Skate Park, Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, The Bucket List – Australian Restaurant, Biddigal Reserve, Ray O’Keefe Reserve, Ben Buckler Point, Bronte Beach, Bondi Golf & Diggers Club, Aboriginal Rock Engravings on Military Road

Hotel Recommendations:

  • The Chee Bondi – The Chee Bondi is a superb hotel in the Bondi neighborhood just a 2-minute walk from the beach. The hotel offers both free WiFi and free parking. The rooms are simple yet homely and all offer an ensuite bathroom. All rooms have air conditioning and there is hot water available.
  • QT Bondi – QT Bondi is one of the most popular hotels in the Bondi area. Modern and whitewashed, the hotel feels fresh and welcoming. Guests have access to free WiFi and movies in their room. All apartments have air conditioning and plenty of space to unpack and relax. Some of the apartments have a balcony.
  • Bondi Beach House – Bondi Beach House is a favorite for return visitors to Bondi Beach. The bed and breakfast style is homely and welcoming and guests are all greeted like old friends. The patio area is a lovely spot to enjoy a glass of wine of an evening. The rooms are spacious and offer high levels of comfort.

North Sydney

North Sydney

Source: Henryk Sadura / shutterstock

North Sydney

North Sydney sits across the harbor from the Central Business District and is a buzzing and bustling suburb. For long-term travelers seeking a temporary home-from-home in Sydney, the neighborhood of North Sydney may be just the ticket.

Be warned, however, moving through North Sydney during rush hour is as slow as can be. Be sure to rise early and beat the rush or hang around until after 9 am.

Gourmet produce markets in North Sydney are on the rise. Twice-a-month, the Northside Produce Market opens its gates. It is the highlight of local’s weeks and they don’t hold back on shopping ’til they drop on artisan foods.

North Sydney offers views of the iconic Sydney Harbor Bridge and the twinkling skyline of the city.

St Leonard’s Park is a popular hangout spot in North Sydney. The vast inner-city park features sports facilities and adventure playgrounds for the children. There are plenty of spots ideal for a picnic and the gardens are always immaculate.

Good For: Active Travelers, City Slickers, Couples, Coffee Lovers, Culture Vultures, Foodies, Like a Local Travelers, Off-The-Beaten Track Travelers, Sightseers, Shopaholics, Urban Photographers

Neighborhood Highlights: St Leonard’s Park, Sydney Harbor Bridge, Wendy’s Secret Garden, Luna Park Sydney, Bradfield Park, Copes Lookout, North Sydney Community Centre, St Thomas’ Anglican Church, Billy Barry’s Pub, Five Points Burgers, Watt Park, Quibaree Park, The Royal Art Society Of New South Wales

Hotel Recommendations:

  • North Sydney Harborview Hotel – North Sydney Harborview Hotel is a gorgeous hotel that overlooks Sydney Harbor Bridge. Guests of the North Sydney Harborview Hotel have access to the North Sydney Olympic Pool for free. The majority of the rooms offer views of the harbor and bridge. All rooms have air-conditioning and access to WiFi.
  • Meriton Suites North Sydney – Meriton Suites North Sydney has a fantastic set of facilities. Guests have unlimited access to the 24-hour fitness center that also features a spa and sauna complex. There is a work desk in every room and free WiFi access too. The suites are generous and can sleep up to four people.
  • Vibe Hotel North Sydney – Vibe Hotel North Sydney is a modern and stylish hotel on Pacific Highway. The hotel lobby feels like a swanky uptown bar and the views from the rooftop swimming pool are breathtaking. It is a big hotel with 187 rooms, all of which offer air conditioning and access to WiFi.

Darlinghurst

Darlinghurst, Sydney

Source: Francesca Pianzola / shutterstock

Darlinghurst

Big, bright, bold, and beautiful, Darlinghurst is one of the most exciting places to stay in Sydney. For open-minded and easily excitable travelers keen to embrace the multicultural nature of Sydney, Darlinghurst is the best place to stay.

There are always opportunities to find new friends in Darlinghurst. Whether it be at a cozy cocktail bar or in a newly-revived pub.

When it comes to experiencing the multicultural nature of Sydney, travelers need not try very hard in Darlinghurst – the world will come to them. Travelers can sample food from all around the world. Malabar South Indian Restaurant is a popular choice, as is Phamish Vietnamese Cafe.

The Australian Museum of Magical Arts is a great way to spend an afternoon, as is the Sydney Jewish Museum. The Australian Museum sits just above Darlinghurst and is the oldest museum in Australia. Housing both anthropological and zoological exhibits, the Australian Museum is not to be missed.

Good For: Active Travelers, Art Lovers, Architecture Enthusiasts, Budding Historians, City Slickers, Couples, Coffee Lovers, Culture Vultures, Foodies, LQBG Travelers, Like a Local Travelers, Off-The-Beaten Track Travelers, Sightseers, Shopaholics, Whistle-Stop Travelers

Neighborhood Highlights: Australian Museum of Magical Arts, Australian Museum, Sydney Jewish Museum, T2 Building, Coca-Cola Billboard, Oxford Art Factory, Hyde Park, Anzac Memorial, Liverpool Street Gallery, Darlinghurst Theatre Company, Phamish Vietnamese Cafe, Malabar South Indian Restaurant

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Darlo Bar Sydney – Darlo Bar Sydney is a good hotel in Darlinghurst. Offering budget prices and shared bathrooms, Darlo Bar Sydney is perfect for budget backpackers. There is a bar on-site, as the name suggests, that is a popular evening hangout spot for guests. There is free WiFi available and air conditioning throughout.
  • Kirketon Hotel Sydney – Kirketon Hotel Sydney is a good option in Darlinghurst for travelers seeking a boutique style hotel. There is an award-winning Asian food restaurant within the Kirketon Hotel Sydney called Fu Manchu. There is a Parisian theme throughout the hotel, making it perfect for lovers of the quirky and eclectic.
  • Larmont Sydney by Lancemore – Larmont Sydney by Lancemore is minimalist in style and right on trend. The wide windows allow plenty of natural light to flood the rooms and many offer wonderful city views. Guests have free access to the fitness center. Larmont Sydney by Lancemore is pet-friendly.

Woolloomooloo

Woolloomooloo, Sydney

Source: Olga Kashubin / shutterstock

Woolloomooloo

Best known for Finger Wharf and it’s trendy bars and bistros, Woolloomooloo is an off the beaten track place to stay in central Sydney. Just a stone’s throw from Darlinghurst and The Rocks, Woolloomooloo is often unfairly overlooked in favor of more well-known neighborhoods.

Set away from the frenetic Darling Harbor and Central Business District, Woolloomooloo offers the traveler a slightly slower pace of life during the day and a heap of fun and games at night.

Woolloomooloo is just steps away from Sydney’s beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens that feature wildlife and a Jurassic Jungle for the children. Woolloomooloo, too, is just a few minutes’ walk from Hyde Park and the towering Anzac Day Memorial.

For lovers of the arts, Woolloomooloo is a great place to stay. The neighborhood is famously a haunt for up and coming playwrights and artists of every variety. Artspace on The Gunnery is a fantastic place to visit for art lovers keen to learn more about Sydney’s thriving art scene.

Good For: Active Travelers, Art Lovers, Architecture Enthusiasts, Budding Historians, City Slickers, Couples, Coffee Lovers, Culture Vultures, Foodies, LQBG Travelers, Like a Local Travelers, Off-The-Beaten Track Travelers, Sightseers, Shopaholics, Whistle-Stop Travelers

Neighborhood Highlights: Artspace, Finger Wharf, Royal Botanic Gardens, Hyde Park, Anzac Day Memorial, Hyde Park Barracks Museum, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Chard Stairs, Elizabeth Bay House, Hayes Theatre Co, Arthur McElhone Reserve

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Ovolo Woolloomooloo – Ovolo Woolloomooloo is a perfectly placed hotel that boasts the full 5-stars. There is an urban revival theme to Ovolo Woolloomooloo that makes for an inspiring stay for interior design buffs. There is an iPad in every room and guests have access to the indoor swimming pool.
  • Simpsons Of Potts Point – Simpsons Of Potts Point is a heritage hotel built in the 19th-Century. There is free WiFi throughout the hotel, in addition to free parking. The team at Simpsons Of Potts Point serve an exceptional breakfast each morning in the Conservatory. The team are happy to arrange tours and day trips.
  • Spicers Potts Point – Spicers Potts Point is an exceptionally good hotel in Woolloomooloo. There are just 20 rooms and the staff affords a personal service to each and every guest. The ensuite bathrooms at Spicers Potts Point are a real treat. The massive walk-in showers and deep soaking bathtubs are dreamy.
Where to stay: Best Hotels in Sydney, Australia
Lowest Price Guarantee

List of Image Sources

Where to Stay in Sydney – Neighborhoods & Area Guide:

The Rocks, Sydney

  • Darling Harbor, Sydney: Aleksandar Todorovic / shutterstock
  • The Rocks: Maurizio De Mattei / shutterstock
  • Surry Hills: Catrin Haze / shutterstock
  • Bondi: GagliardiImages / shutterstock
  • North Sydney: Henryk Sadura / shutterstock
  • Darlinghurst: Francesca Pianzola / shutterstock
  • Woolloomooloo: Olga Kashubin / shutterstock