Traveling to Sydney, Australia with food allergies is absolutely possible! Sydney happens to be one of my absolute favorite cities, which is why I had to find time for a quick visit on my way home from New Zealand. It may be on the opposite side of the world in the Southern Hemisphere, but it is worth the trek. Flying in on my first visit many years ago, I was already completely enamored. It’s a bustling city with a smaller cosmopolitan New York vibe, and the combination of city and beach is my dream city realized.
Where to Stay:
I’ve stayed in a number of accommodations all over the city on past trips; a fairly sketchy hostel in Kings Cross on my first trip to Sydney when I was 20 with my best friend, a decent hotel in Darlinghurst with another friend and an adorable bed and breakfast in the Rocks with a boyfriend a few years later. On this solo trip, I chose a boutique hotel in Surry Hills.
Since I only had two nights before heading back to the U.S., I decided to stay in a different area of the city that I didn’t know as well. I also chose to spend a bit more for a new boutique hotel. Known as a hidden gem, this hotel was definitely a fun little stay. Granted, this was not exceptionally expensive, but it was more than I would usually spend. Something to note, it was a bit tricky to find since it is hidden behind a gate, but that is all part of the “hidden” charm. The hotel has nice personal touches that I appreciate. They even leave you a handwritten note in your room welcoming you and wishing you a wonderful stay.
Pro Tip: Something that is good to note is that because of the January New Year’s holiday, many restaurants and bars were closed through the first week or two of the new year. This was not just in Sydney, but everywhere I went, from Melbourne to Queenstown, NZ to Sydney. It reminded me of August in Italy. In the U.S. we don’t really have a period of time besides maybe the fourth of July where this happens and never for such an extensive period of time.
Where to eat & drink:
I did strike out a bit with restaurants on this trip due solely to timing. None of it had to do with food allergies and all of it had to do with restaurants being closed for the New Year. Surrey Hill actually has numerous Italian restaurants, many of which sound delicious. Of course the most highly recommended ones were closed, so I basically went to whichever restaurant looked decent and was open. None of the food was amazing, but they worked with my allergies safely.
Pasta Emilia– I wouldn’t rave about this place but I was hungry and they did feed me safely. At first I wasn’t sure if it would work. They were pretty busy but there weren’t a lot of options around that were open. It was an expensive and pretty mediocre meal, but they understood my allergies and made it safely. It was something hot and filling after traveling that day, so I was happy for that at the very least.
Eastbank– After I went to the Opera, I needed some dinner. Ideally I would have had time before, but I didn’t, so I figured I would find something after. I ended up getting a Margarita pizza here and it was fine. Nothing amazing but they understood my allergies and took it seriously. It was warm and tasted okay, so that worked for me that night.
The Winery– I went here after dinner before going back to my hotel my first night in Sydney. I stumbled upon this adorable spot because I saw the little white twinkle lights when I was walking on a street perpendicular and heard people outside. It is definitely a great place to go if you are on a date or with a few friends. There is not a bar scene really and no chairs at the bar, so it is not an ideal spot for the solo traveler.
What to do in Sydney:
The main “Must-sees” in Sydney are very walk-able. Here are some roaming around suggestions to get you started:
- Hyde Park– The trees grow to form almost a canopy over the main path in part of this park. It is one of my favorites.
- Royal Botanical Gardens– Stunning gardens right in the city that are definitely worth a stroll, especially if you enjoy seeing flowers out of Alice in Wonderland and native Australian species.
- Sydney Opera House– They have a tour which is a fun way to explore, especially if you are not going to see a show.
- The Rocks– One of the oldest areas of Sydney full of cobbled stone streets, art shops, restaurants, pubs and weekend markets.
- Sydney Harbour Bridge– There is a tour of the bridge that takes you on a walk all the way to the top. I did it on my first visit with one of my best friend’s and we thought it was worth the time and money back then. I did not do it on my most recent trip.
- Darling Harbour– This is a main destination but is probably easier to get to by ferry or bus if you are down in Circular Quay (where the ferry boats leave). The aquarium is over there as well as tons of bars and restaurants.
On this trip… I went to see an Opera!
I had already taken the Sydney Opera House Tour when I was there years before. I didn’t feel like I needed to repeat it. However, I had always dreamed of going to an opera there. It happened to be La Boheme that was playing. Although my vision had always included more of a Pretty Woman scenario (getting dressed up with my boyfriend or husband for a special night out), I decided I was going to take myself out and embrace the opportunity (and hopefully he would be with me for the next time in Sydney). I was excited that it was La Boheme because I realized I actually knew the story line because of Rent. The opera was excellent and I had such a fun time. Highly recommend it, solo or not!
Explore the Beaches
One reason I fell in love with Sydney the first time was because it’s a beach city. It is more than Bondi Beach (which is the one most are familiar with). There are many choices! I didn’t go to Bondi on this trip to Sydney. I wanted to try somewhere new. I decided to take a ferry to Watsons Bay, Sydney’s oldest fishing village. From Circular Quay is was about a 20 minute ferry ride. I loved having a different perspective of the city from the water. There are beautiful views of the CBD (Central Business District) of Sydney and passing the Sydney Opera House and other beaches from the water. It was a gorgeous but steamy summer day, so the breeze and occasional sea sprays from the boat felt refreshing!
Once I arrived at Watson’s Bay, I decided to find the path for the coastal walk to the Hornby Lighthouse. It was built in the late 1800s after two ship wrecks in 1857 proved even greater reason why a lighthouse was needed at the point on the southern entrance to Port Jackson (which encompasses Sydney Harbour and the others in this area).
I had such a lovely walk and then I went for a swim at Camp Cove Beach. Since it’s in the bay, the water is calm and although the beach was busy, there was still plenty of space to put down my stuff and go for a swim. It was the perfect little city/beach excursion!
Have you visited Sydney? If not, make sure to add it to your list!