Neighbourhood Guide: Darling Harbour

There is always a lot going on in Sydney and no better place than Harbourside to be close to the action. From fireworks to festivals and casinos to vantage points, this is one place where you’ll never be left twiddling your thumbs.

The first thing you’ll notice about the area is restaurants – lots of them. While most are decent there are a few stand outs we feel we should mention. Across the Darling Harbour footbridge, you’ll find The Star, Australia’s second largest casino complex. There are, of course, a number of bars and restaurants here, the best of which is Momofuku Seiobo. The proud owner of three hats, this establishment has world-wide appeal. The exceptional tasting menu is served from an open kitchen which, along with the sound track of old-school rock and power ballads, creates an atmosphere far more relaxed than what you’d expect for food of this calibre. Trust us, it’s a good thing.   A little further on from The Star you’ll find Flying Fish, perched at the end of one of the wharves. Given the name, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that this is a restaurant devoted to all things seafood, although there are a few exceptions on the menu for those who are otherwise inclined. The feel of this place is also charming, with a space that embraces its maritime history and makes the most of beautiful harbour views.

If you’re in the mood for ice-cream after dinner (or at any time during your stay – we’re not here to judge), make a beeline for Gelato Messina, once again housed in The Star. Sydney-siders go crazy for this stuff and with flavours like Lamington, Iced Vovo, and Panacotta with Fig Jam and Amaretti Biscuit we’re sure you can see why. If ice-cream isn’t your thing but you wouldn’t mind a sugar hit, macaron king Adriano Zumbo has a permanent kiosk just around the corner from Messina. Marvel at the croquembouche, discover a whole range of flavour combinations you never knew existed and take a mini V8 cake home for later.

Before we move on from the topic of food, the Sydney Fish Market also rates a special mention. Fresh catches arrive here early every morning, the pick of which is usually snapped up by Sydney’s top chefs. To simply walk around and watch the activity is entertaining in and of itself but, if you like to get more involved, the cooking school offers regular classes where you can learn recipes from the masters. You also get to eat the fruits of your labour, usually alongside a glass of wine. It’s probably clear by now that you can spend almost all your stay immersed in the world of food, however there is a lot more on offer here. Darling Harbour itself is home to numerous events throughout the year, including Vivid, New Years’ Eve celebrations and a number of school holiday activities for the kids. The harbour also puts on a fireworks display every Saturday night, ensuring the celebratory energy lasts year-round.

Back on the CBD side of Darling Harbour you’ll find the developing Barangaroo precinct. While the casino isn’t scheduled to open until 2020, many other stages are already complete including the newly landscaped reserve on the water’s edge, a number of cafes, restaurants and bars (including local favourite The Barber Shop, which offers barber services and cocktails), and a public art space. Bordering the eastern tip of Barangaroo, you’ll find Dawes Point, a great area for artistic pursuits and iconic views. The Sydney Dance Company lives here and throws its doors open to the general public for almost all of its classes. The instructors are both supportive and flamboyant, the facilities are first class as there’s almost always another first timer there with you, ensuring you won’t feel too alone if you find yourself a few steps behind. Because Dawes Point is a little out of the way, you’re treated to some of the best and least crowded views of the Opera House and Luna Park from here. You’ll also find yourself almost directly under the bridge, providing a whole new perspective to the famed icon, along with an appreciation of its sheer size and structure.

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