Sydney Essentials

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Living Room: Sydney's Best Neighborhoods

Mosmanites boast the highest median house prices in town; Woollahra-ians the highest per square meter. Palm Beach is a languorous R and R retreat, while for urban density, nothing tops Potts Point, with Macleay Street as its hub. But perhaps prettiest of all is Paddington, which has frangipani-fringed terrace houses and Sydney's most fashionable shops: Akira, Collette and Dinosaur Design. For mini-voyages to other worlds, there's Leichhardt's Little Italy, Brighton-Le-Sands' Little Greece, and Little Vietnam in Cabramatta.

Close Calls: Sydney's Best Day Trips

To visit the Blue Mountains, two hours west of Sydney by car, isn't so much a trip as a pilgrimage; its Three Sisters sometimes as blue as the harbor are the bush equivalent of Chartres. Similarly sublime are the limestone Jenolan Caves on the mountains' southwestern edge. South of the city is the Kiama Blow Hole and, for the more ambitious, Canberra, the nation's capital and the whale-watching wonders of Jervis Bay. To the north: the wine-lover's paradise of the Hunter Valley.

Essentials: Sydney's High Points

There are many ways to worship Sydney and its harbor: catch a ferry to Manly or a Watsons Bay bus to the towering Gap at South Head; don a gray jumpsuit and climb the Bridge or picnic on the grass in the Botanic Gardens or at Mrs Macquarie's Chair; sail out to one of the tiny islands that stud the harbor; do the 5-km Bondi-to-Coogee walk and rest by the clifftop grave of yarn-spinner Henry Lawson, then refresh yourself in the surf. Or mix your musings with culture: take a breather between bouts at the opera or ballet with drinks on the harborfront balcony of the Opera House; view Grace Cossington Smith's vibrant Bridge paintings or Brett Whiteley's dazzling vistas of Lavender Bay at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Wet Test: Sydney's Best Beaches

Bondi is the best known, but there are many more beaches to choose from. So many, in fact, that we'll stick to the ones with the best names: Tamarama and Clovelly to Bondi's south; Curl Curl and Dee Why on the northern Peninsula, Forty Baskets Beach on the 10-km Spit Bridge-to-Manly walk, and the nudist Lady Bay.

Feast Daze: Sydney's Best Eating

From the food halls of Chinatown and seafood stalls of Pyrmont's Fish Markets to the heights of Forty One and The Summit, Sydney has a democracy of fine food. Other rooms with views are The Bathers Pavilion at Balmoral Beach, Catalina on Rose Bay, and Sean's Panorama in Bondi. Neil Perry and Tetsuya Wakuda are the city's star chefs, but just as good can be a meat pie from Harry's Cafe de Wheels in Woolloomooloo or fish and chips at Doyles in Watsons Bay. Between meals, try Cafe Hernandez in Kings Cross for a 24-hour caffeine fix, linger with a novel at Avalon's Bookoccino, or chill out at Sejuiced in Bronte.

Top Glasses: Sydney's Best Drinking

Little beats a night on the tiles in Sydney's pubs, and the 1841 Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel in the Rocks is one of the oldest. Nearby, at the Australian Hotel, emu pizza can be washed down with a Burragorang Bock. A more exotic brew can be had at Paddington's Albury Hotel, whose nightly drag shows inspired the hit film Priscilla. Bars are booming, from the '70s retro International in Darlinghurst and the cigar-scented ambiance of the city's Wine Banc to the couches and open fires of East Sydney's Chicane.