Last Updated: 12/18/22 | December 18th, 2022
Sydney is one of the greatest cities in the world. It has amazing beaches, scenic shorelines, World Heritage sites, and top-notch dining. It’s a large city, and it’s very spread out.
And when you are thinking about visiting it can be hard to figure out where to stay. I’ve stayed in every area of the city over my many years of visiting here.
Each area of Sydney has its own vibe and highlights.
In this post, I’ll break each neighborhood down and give you suggested places to stay for each of them. But, first, some frequently asked questions I get about Sydney:
What is the best neighborhood budget travelers?
Kings Cross is home to most of the city’s cheapest hostels and is popular with backpackers and budget travelers.
What is the best neighborhood in Sydney for families?
Darling Harbour is the best neighborhood in Sydney for families since there are a lot of kid-friendly attractions nearby. Coogee also has a very family-friendly vibe. It’s home to a beach but without all the business and partying of Bondi.
What is the best neighborhood in Sydney for first-time visitors?
I suggest first-time visitors stay in Kings Cross if you’re a backpacker or Darling Harbour as it’s centrally located and near all the main tourist attractions.
What is the best neighborhood in Sydney for partying?
Kings Cross is where the action is if you’re looking for bars and nightclubs. It’s the city’s party area. You can also have a lot of fun staying near Bondi Beach as well.
What is the best neighborhood in Sydney overall?
There’s no wrong answer here since every neighborhood has something to offer. However, I personally like to stay in Paddington since it’s in a good location but doesn’t have a non-stop party vibe.
So, with that said, here’s a neighborhood by neighborhood breakdown for you:
- Best Neighborhood for Views: The Rocks
- Best Neighborhood for Local Life: Surry Hills
- Best Neighborhood for a Local Beach: Coogee
- Best Neighborhood for Touristy Stuff: Darling Harbour
- Best Neighborhood for Beach Fun: Bondi Beach
- Best Neighborhood for Being Central: CBD
- Best Non-Central Neighborhood: Manly
- Best Neighborhood for Backpackers: Kings Cross
Where to Stay for Views: The Rocks
Just north of Sydney’s Central Business District and on the harbor, this neighborhood offers great views along the waterfront. There are numerous historic buildings in the area, including several pubs. The Rocks Markets is open each weekend, selling all kinds of treasures, including arts and crafts, jewelry, and tasty treats. The area has tons of stellar restaurants, museums, and entertainment venues, which helps explain its popularity with tourists.
Best Places to Stay in The Rocks
- BUDGET: Sydney Harbour YHA – This hostel is in a great location, offering views of the harbor and the Opera House. The hostel is built in the old colonial area of the city but has all the modern comforts of a good hostel. This isn’t really a party hostel, though, but rather a great place for travelers looking for a quiet stay. It’s great for families too!
- MID-RANGE: Mercantile Hotel – Offering live music, free Wi-Fi, and all the standard amenities you’d expect from a mid-range hotel. The Mercantile is located right near the Opera House, the Rocks Markets, and the Harbour Bridge. To top it all off, it’s also home to Australia’s longest-running Irish pub!
- LUXURY: Four Seasons Sydney – Offering incredible views of the harbor and the city — as well as an incredible luxury — this is a great choice for anyone looking to visit Sydney in style. With a state-of-the-art fitness center and wellness center and spa, you’ll be able to get pampered while you enjoy all that Sydney has to offer.
Where to Stay for Local Life: Surry Hills
Southeast of the Central Business District, Surry Hills has traditionally been known as the best place in Sydney for fashion. The area is perfect for travelers who want to shop ‘til they drop, but its appeal is much broader than that. There are lots of unique, creative dining options, and many old warehouses have been transformed into classy art galleries and gorgeous homes. The area is perfect for young travelers, foodies, and those wanting to experience Oxford Street, the longtime Gay Capital of Sydney.
Best Places to Stay in Surry Hills
- BUDGET: Big Hostel – This hostel offers free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, free luggage storage, and late checkout — everything the budget traveler needs! They also have a fully equipped kitchen and promote eco-friendly practices (they have a service for donating old clothing and promote energy conservation and recycling).
- MID-RANGE: Manor Boutique Hotel – This charming boutique hotel is located in a heritage building with antique furnishings. It’s conveniently located just 5 minutes from Oxford Street where you’ll find plenty of bars and restaurants. Free breakfast is included too!
- LUXURY: Crystalbrook Albion – This luxury hotel is actually located in a heritage building that was once a former convent. It’s right near Central Station and only a short drive from Chinatown and Paddy’s Market. The hotel also has a rooftop terrace, lounge, free WiFi, and a complimentary breakfast each morning.
Where to Stay for a Local Beach: Coogee
This little area with the funny name is perfect for travelers who want a beach vibe but not all the craziness of Bondi Beach. This neighborhood is an eastern suburb of Sydney, but you can get to town on public transit in less than half an hour. Coogee has a youthful and family-friendly feel. If your trip calls for a lot of beach time, this is a great option. There’s super snorkeling nearby at Gordons Bay, and be sure to check out the Wylie Baths — amazing rock pools perfect for swimming.
Best Places to Stay in Coogee
- BUDGET: Mad Monkey Coogee Beach – This is a great budget hostel located right on the beach. They have a cool co-working space and there are plenty of bars and restaurants around as well. It’s not fancy by any means, but it gets the job done! Just keep in mind that it can get a little noisy, so don’t stay here if you’re looking for some peace and quiet!
- MID-RANGE: Coogee Bay Hotel (Boutique) – This lovely boutique hotel is in a great location, located only 20 minutes from downtown and 20 minutes from the airport. It’s right beside the ocean, as well, and there is a restaurant and beer garden on-site.
- LUXURY: Crowne Plaza Coogee Beach – This incredible hotel boasts panoramic views of the ocean, a heated swimming pool, 2 bars, tennis courts, and a fully-equipped fitness center. It’s a spacious hotel with ultra-modern rooms, and there are lots of great seafood restaurants nearby as well.
Where to Stay for Tourism: Darling Harbour
This area of town is best for families. This lively neighborhood is a huge tourist draw, as there are tons of attractions along the waterfront. The Sydney Aquarium and IMAX are here, and there are all kinds of dining. The area’s clubs come alive at night and there’s lots of shopping. If you’re traveling with kids, consider this neighborhood. If not, I probably wouldn’t stay in this Disney-like environment.
Best Places to Stay in Darling Harbour
- BUDGET: Siesta Sydney – This budget-friendly hostel is clean, located in a great location, and has really friendly staff. They have free towels, free Wi-Fi, a fully-equipped kitchen, and laundry facilities.
- MID-RANGE: Glasgow Arms Hotel – This charming hotel is located above a beautiful old pub. Free breakfast is served all day long and the hotel is just a 5-minute walk from Darling Harbour.
- LUXURY: The Darling at The Star– This is a massive, luxurious hotel home to a spa, casino, and over 20 bars and restaurants. Pamper yourself in their Turkish bath or enjoy a swim in their scented outdoor swimming pool (which also has its own bar)!
Where to Stay for Beach Fun: Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach is world famous. Once you see the iconic beach, you’ll understand why: The amazing views of the Pacific, the seafood restaurants along Campbell Parade, and the happening nightlife! This is a great place for backpackers and those looking to party. Bondi is not right in the heart of the city, but public transit is a piece of cake. This area appeals to a younger crowd, and you’re sure to see surfers in the water, sun worshippers on the sand, and adventurous sorts hiking the scenic coastal trails.
Best Places to Stay in Bondi Beach
- BUDGET: Wake Up! Bondi Beach – If you love the beach, you can’t beat this place! There’s a great rooftop space overlooking Bondi Beach and the hostel offers free surfboards. There are also free yoga classes, walking tours, and other fitness activities. If you’re there on a Friday night, don’t miss the BBQ party on the rooftop!
- MID-RANGE: Ultimate Apartments (Bondi Beach) – Located just a 7-minute walk from the beach, Ultimate Apartments offers studio apartments with free parking. They have kitchenettes so you can cook some of your own food, as well as an outdoor pool onsite. The rooms are spacious and the beds are comfy!
- LUXURY: Hotel Bondi – With views overlooking the beach, this boutique-style hotel has both private and shared balconies, as well as some deluxe rooms with kitchen facilities if you want to cook your own meals. There is a restaurant onsite, the showers are great, and the staff is incredibly helpful.
Where to Stay for Being Central: Central Business District
Sydney’s CBD is the heart of it all. It’s a huge area filled with skyscrapers, business, banking, and commerce. But it’s not only for the suit and tie set. This area has tons of attractions, including the Opera House and Royal Botanic Garden. The neighborhood is generally pretty pricey, but the location may be worth it. The city’s best dining is here, as are the poshest hotels and chicest art galleries. You won’t find a lot of quirky shops, flea markets, or vintage treasures, but you will feel the excitement of big-city living!
Best Places to Stay in the Central Business District
- BUDGET: Nomads Sydney – There aren’t many budget options in this part of the city when it comes to accommodation, so Nomads will likely be your best choice. They have free Wi-Fi and an on-site bar, making it a great place to have fun and meet people.
- MID-RANGE: Park Regis City Centre – With a rooftop pool and views overlooking the city, this is a great mid-range hotel offering value above and beyond the price tag. The location is perfect and allows you easy access to all of the main attractions in the city, and they also offer a free airport shuttle as well.
- LUXURY: Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park – This hotel overlooks Hyde Park and boasts an indoor swimming pool, rooftop fitness center, a great breakfast buffet, as well as amazing restaurants and room service. It’s the perfect place to pamper yourself in the heart of the city.
Best Non-Central Neighborhood: Manly
Manly is a suburb of Sydney located just north of the city. It is famous for its amazing beach, giant waves, surfing, and wild nightlife. The area has a completely different vibe to it than the central city; it’s a part of town that knows how to have a good time. A lot of tourists actually miss that part of the city as it is a bit out of the way. But don’t let that stop you — it’s worth the short ride to get here. In fact, it’s one of my favorite areas of the city! You’ll also find some gorgeous coastal walking trails on this side of the harbor too.
Best Places to Stay in Manly
- BUDGET: Manly Bunkhouse – This is a great hostel located just a five-minute walk from the beach. There are dorm rooms, private rooms, and family suites. There’s a garden and BBQ area out back and a shared kitchen for guests to use. The staff are also super helpful and can help you make the most out of your trip.
- MID-RANGE: Novotel Sydney Manly Pacific – Located right across from Manly Beach, this hotel is in the perfect location for those looking to balance soaking up the rays on the beach with Manly’s wild nightlife. The hotel has a fitness center and rooftop pool, as well as a nice bar and free breakfast (including certain rooms). You’ll get some great views here too!
- LUXURY: Quest Manly – This condo hotel has full apartments, each with a kitchen and most with beachside views (it’s right along the waterfront). There’s a fitness center and sauna, and it’s right across from the ferry with easy access to central Sydney.
Where to Stay for Backpackers: Kings Cross
Located North of Paddington and east of the downtown core, Kings Cross is another party district for any night owls looking to have some wild and cheap fun. There are a ton of cheap restuarants and hostels here, so you’ll find a good mix of both backpackers and locals. It’s one of the cheaper areas of the city. If you’re not a backpacker or not looking to party, I wouldn’t stay here.
Best Places to Stay in Kings Cross
- BUDGET: Hump Backpackers – This is a social hostel where the staff host plenty of fun daily activities to help you meet people (like BBQs, beer pong, and pancake breakfasts). There’s free breakfast included, all-day coffee and tea, and different activities each and every night. The beds here are quite comfortable, the bathrooms and showers are kept clean, and the lockers in each room are huge. The hostel is surrounded by lots of restaurants and shops, as well as a few bars, so there are a bunch of things to do in the area. Note: you have to be 18-35 years old to stay here.
- MID-RANGE: Sydney Potts Point – Boasting a rooftop terrace with views over the city, and located only a 5 minute walk from the rambunctious nightlife of Kings Cross, Sydney Potts Point is the perfect choice for travelers wanting privacy and comfort while still looking to be right next to the action. Most of the rooms have kitchenettes, the beds are quite comfy, and the staff can help you organize all sorts of fun tours and day trips!
- LUXURY: Larmont Sydney – The Larmont Sydney by Lancemore is located just 2 minutes from Kings Cross station. The hotel offers all the luxury you need for a very reasonable price. With all the standards like free Wi-Fi, incredibly comfy beds, and amazing staff (the staff here really go above and beyond), this hotel is a great choice for anyone looking for a luxurious stay in a lively area of the city.
While Sydney is a big place, it’s not overwhelming. You should be able to hit all the highlights in one trip. Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list of places to stay – these are just my favorites!
But no matter where you stay, I’m confident you’ll enjoy the city and have an amazing time in Australia!
Book Your Trip to Australia: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
If you’re looking for some more hostels to stay in, here are all my favorites in Sydney.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- Safety Wing (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want More Information on Australia?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Australia for even more planning tips!