Where to stay in Sydney: The best areas

Planning a trip to Sydney? Great! Now you just need to figure out where to stay. Sydney is huge, and different areas cater to different types of visitors. In this post, we’ll show you the best neighborhoods to stay in Sydney and share some amazing hotel tips for each area.

Choosing a hotel in Sydney can be a real challenge. Each area in this vast city is unique and comes with its own features and quirks.

The decision where to stay in Sydney depends a lot on your plans, e.g. whether you prefer to go sightseeing, spend your days in cafés, or go surfing.

In this post, we’ll outline what to consider when searching for a hotel in Sydney, help you find the perfect neighborhood for your stay, and share some great hotel tips for your budget in each area.

General tips for staying in Sydney

Before we start with the different areas, first we’d like to share some general information about finding a hotel in Sydney.

Hotel prices in Sydney

Although Sydney is a relatively expensive destination, hotel prices are generally reasonable. You can expect to pay about A$160 per night for a decent double room in a central location.

There are plenty of good mid-range hotels for A$100 to A$200. And if you’re willing to spend more than A$250 per night, you should be able to find a great room in the five-star range.

Sydney has a number of other excellent accommodation options in the areas surrounding the center. If you’d prefer more a beach vibe, you’ll be very happy in the seaside suburbs of Bondi or Manly. However, prices there are about on par with central Sydney.

Breakfast

Hotels in Sydney usually offer a buffet breakfast with all the classic fare: bread, cheese, jam, cold cuts, eggs, yogurt, cereal, and often fruit.

Not all hotels provide breakfast. But that’s hardly a problem, since Sydney has a wonderful coffee house culture with literally thousands of cafés to choose from. Take a seat outside, order a coffee, and watch the world go by.

Where to stay in Sydney: The best areas on a map

Location is key when choosing a place to stay in Sydney. Hotels in the center tend to cost a bit more, but you’ll be right in the heart of the city, saving you a lot of time and hassle. That can make a huge difference, especially if you’re only going to be in Sydney for a few days.

There are a few other interesting areas in Sydney worth considering. If you’re planning to stay in Sydney for longer than five days, why not treat yourself to a hotel by the beach?

There’s always a bus stop nearby. But they’re spread a bit thinner outside the city center, so make sure the closest bus stop is within easy walking distance of your hotel before you book.

Our tip: Use Google Maps to check the connections between your hotel and a central point (e.g. Sydney Eye Tower).

The best neighborhoods to stay in Sydney:

  • CBD & Darling Harbour: Ideal for your first visit to Sydney or for short stays of one to three nights.
  • Surry Hills: A cool, easygoing neighborhood near the city center, great for families and longer stays.
  • Bondi Beach and Manly Beach: Beautiful seaside suburbs, perfect for beach-lovers who don’t mind longer transit times to and from the CBD.
  • Potts Point: The best neighborhood for nightlife and budget accommodation.

We’ve highlighted the best areas and the most important sights on a map to give you a general lay of the land.

In the following sections, we’ll help you figure out which of the these areas is the best for your stay.

Where to stay in Sydney - Map

For first-timers or short stays: CBD & Darling Harbour

The CBD, or Central Business District, is home to most of Sydney’s most famous sights and attractions.

Darling Harbour is the most touristy area in the CBD, while Martin Place is more commercial.

With most of Sydney’s best attractions within walking distance and great public transport connections to the rest of the city and the airport, the CBD is the most obvious choice for first-time visitors.

You can get pretty much anywhere in the city from both areas via public transport, with buses, trains, ferries, and the metro fanning out from the center to the suburbs.

Pros of staying in the CBD and Darling Harbour:

  • Very central
  • Many sights within walking distance
  • Lots of shopping opportunities
  • Excellent transport connections, including to the airport
  • Wide range of hotels

Cons of staying in the CBD and Darling Harbour:

  • Very touristy
  • No ‘real’ life, mostly just business, shopping, and tourism
  • Not many affordable restaurants (but some very good and cheap food courts!)

The best places to stay in the CBD and Darling Harbour:

Sydney Tower view
The view from the Sydney Tower in the center of the CBD
Darling Harbour
Darling Harbour is the most touristy area in the CBD

Laid-back and trendy: Surry Hills

Surry Hills is a hip alternative if you’re going to be Sydney for longer than three days and want to avoid the chaotic crowds in the CBD. The district is cool, casual, and creative. Everything is more easygoing here than in the center.

In the area around Harmony Park, you’ll find a wide range of affordable hotels, along with restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries, vintage boutiques, and many a great spot for a hearty brunch.

You can spend your days here strolling through the streets and shopping before hitting the bars and restaurants in the evening.

Located just off to the north of Surry Hills, Central Station is the perfect connection to Sydney’s main sights. Make sure your hotel isn’t too far from the train station or at least has good bus connections.

Pros of staying in Surry Hills:

  • Easygoing atmosphere
  • Many restaurants and bars
  • Affordable hotels

Cons of staying in Surry Hills:

  • Hardly any major sights within walking distance

The best places to stay in Surry Hills:

Surry Hills restaurant
Restaurant in Surry Hills

Seaside suburbs: Bondi Beach and Manly Beach

Staying at the beach is always super-tempting, but we’d only recommend it for longer stays of a week or more, or if you don’t really care for sightseeing.

The beaches in Sydney are beautiful, but getting to the sights in the center can be a hassle. Plus, most of the hotels near the beach only accept bookings for several nights anyway.

But if you have enough time on your hands, Bondi and Manly are both fantastic spots to upgrade your city trip to a sun-soaked beach vacation in Sydney.

Bondi and Manly are both classic city beaches. So what sets them apart?

Bondi Beach is Australia’s most famous beach by far, and a veritable mecca for surfers. Everything here is about seeing and being seen.

Manly Beach is more laid-back, especially popular with families, and not quite as touristy as Bondi Beach.

Staying at Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach only has a tiny selection of hotels, but there are plenty of vacation apartments and aparthotels to choose from. Prices for a double room with a private bathroom start at about A$200 per night.

You can relax on the beach or browse the stores on Hall Street during the day and then enjoy a few cocktails and an ocean view as you wander from bar to bar in the evening.

Our tip: Since Bondi has limited accommodation options, make sure to book early, especially if you plan to visit during the peak season from December to February.

It takes about 30 minutes by bus or train to get to Circular Quay in Sydney, very close to the Opera House.

Pros of staying at Bondi Beach:

  • One of the most famous beaches in the world
  • There’s always something going on
  • Plenty of restaurants and cafes
  • The highest cool factor

Cons of staying at Bondi Beach:

  • Accommodation options are limited
  • It takes about 30 minutes to get to the city and the sights
  • Bondi is very hilly, so take that into consideration when scouting hotel locations

The best places to stay at Bondi Beach:

Bondi Beach
This is it: The most famous beach in Sydney

Staying at Manly Beach

Manly Beach is the most popular getaway spot for stressed-out Sydneysiders (that’s what Sydney residents are called).

The great thing about Manly is that it’s a peninsula, so it’s surrounded by water on three sides. The eastern oceanfront is the perfect place to practice your surfing skills, while the westward-facing beaches are great for kids because there are hardly any currents.

However, there are hardly any lower-end hotels in Manly, and a double room will set you back at least A$160 per night.

The ferry takes about 30 minutes from Manly to central Sydney, and costs about A$10 each way.

Tip for some real peace and quiet: If you’re looking for a great place to relax and recharge your batteries, we highly recommend Hotel Q-Station in Sydney Harbour National Park. It’s located just outside of Manly and has its own beach with a view of Sydney.

Pros of staying in Manly:

  • Right by the beach
  • Many restaurants and cafes
  • Very nice hotels
  • Good connections to Sydney by ferry

Cons of staying in Manly:

  • The ferry to Sydney costs A$10 each way
  • Longer transit times to and from the main attractions in Sydney

The best places to stay in Manly:

Good and cheap
Better
Luxury

Quest Manly (aparthotel)

Manly Beach
Accommodation in Manly offers beaches for surfers as well as for families

A hip hot spot with great nightlife: Potts Point

If you want to combine sightseeing with nightlife in Sydney, then you should check out the Potts Point.

Potts Point is hip, colorful, and multicultural. There are quirky fashion stores, countless restaurants and cafés, a slew of nightclubs, and on Saturdays you can feast your way through Kings Cross Organic Food Market.

Potts Point also includes Kings Cross, Sydney’s notorious red light district. Nowadays, the area is a far cry from the disreputable and sleazy cesspool it used to be back when sailors were let loose here on shore leave. The world’s oldest profession is still very much open for business, but it’s mostly eclipsed by the party scene.

With a wide range of great hotels available in the neighborhood, we absolutely recommend staying in Potts Point.

It takes just 15 minutes to walk from here to Hyde Park, and half an hour to the Sydney Opera House. Bondi Junction is just two stops from Kings Cross station, so you’ll be at Bondi Beach in no time.

Pros of staying in Potts Point

  • Plenty of great hotels
  • Very central location
  • Many sights within walking distance
  • Many cheap restaurants and bars in the neighborhood
  • Vibrant nightlife scene

Cons of staying in Potts Point

  • The streets can get noisy at night, especially in Kings Cross. Check the reviews for any noise complaints before booking a hotel.

The best places to stay in Potts Point:

22places in Sydney
Mrs. Macquarie’s Point in the north of Potts Point is the perfect place for a selfie with Sydney’s two iconic landmarks

Do you have more recommendation on where to stay in Sydney?

That about wraps up our hotel tips for Sydney! Have you stayed in other parts of the city or do you have a great hotel you’d like to recommend? Then we’d love to hear from you in the comments!