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A Northern Beaches Escape

Mona Vale Rockpool, Mona ValeCREDIT: Destination NSW

Sydney’s Northern Beaches set the scene for the ultimate seaside holiday.

#ilovesydney #lovensw

A Northern
Beaches Escape

Mona Vale Rockpool, Mona Vale CREDIT: Destination NSW

Sydney’s Northern Beaches set the scene for the ultimate seaside holiday.

#ilovesydney #lovensw

Hashtags #ilovesydney #lovensw

Hop on a ferry from Circular Quay to Manly and discover a different side of Sydney. Famous for its laid-back lifestyle, the Northern Beaches encompass a 40km stretch of coastline with some of Sydney’s most beautiful beaches. Beyond the sand, there are also of plenty of great cafés, bars, shops, wilderness areas and more to discover. Here are a few highlights to help you plan a memorable visit.

Where to eat 

Step off the ferry in Manly and into one of the Northern Beaches’ hottest dining precincts, Manly Wharf. Beyond its ever-popular Wharf Bar, newer openings include Queen Chow for neighbourhood Cantonese, Saké Restaurant and Bar for contemporary Japanese, and El Camino Cantina for Tex-Mex favourites.  

Across the road, Sydney Italian dining empire Fratelli Fresh opened a restaurant and bar in 2020. And over on Manly’s surf beach side, the three-level Manly Greenhouse has an Italian restaurant on the ground floor, a grill on the middle level and an open-air rooftop cocktail bar.

In Freshwater to the north, visit the Harbord Diggers, which has been transformed into a huge dining and entertainment precinct. Top chef Giovanni Pilu, of renowned local Sardinian-inspired restaurant Pilu, is behind its Italian trattoria, AquaFresca. There’s also a café from the chef behind Darlinghurst’s Buffalo Dining Club here, and a sleek bar managed by the team at Manly Wharf Hotel.

Up the peninsula, the old Mona Vale Hotel in Mona Vale was reborn as The Park House in 2017. It’s a one-stop shop with a cocktail lounge, craft beer bar, restaurant, pizza kitchen, market stalls, live music, and games for kids. At the region’s northern tip, Palm Beach foodie favourite Barrenjoey House has also had a recent revamp. The new design preserves the character of the century-old building, but makes it a little lighter and brighter, while the menu retains its seafood focus.

Where to drink 

Sample a brew from one of Sydney’s original craft beer brands at 4 Pines choose from a rotating selection of beers on the taps. Grab one of the seats along the verandah for views out over the wharf. Or you can try a bloody Mary at Hemingway’s and a crisp white wine at Manly Wine

Moving up the peninsula, there are plenty of options for a drink along The Strand in Dee Why, but Deck 23 Dee Why is a perennial favourite. Formerly known as Deck Bar, the venue reopened as a Japanese restaurant and bar in late 2020. Further north, on the Pittwater side of Newport, you can find a seat under an umbrella in the sprawling beer garden of The Newport, perhaps after a long lunch at the venue’s high-end brasserie, Bert’s. Another Northern Beaches pub reimagined by the Merivale Group is The Collaroy, an all-day eatery at Collaroy Beach, with sweeping water views from the outdoor terrace. 

Where to shop 

In Manly, shop for the laid-back beach vibe at one of the many surf stores in The Corso and beyond. Or explore the backstreets and find vintage designs at Sammy and Sid and quirky accessories at Bow + Arrow. The Manly Marketplace pops up on Sydney Road (just off The Corso) every weekend selling local arts and crafts. 

The sleepy suburb of Freshwater is one of Sydney’s hidden fashion enclaves. Pick up bohemian pieces at Kivari, high-end kids clothes at Lila and Huxley and international labels at 23 Albert. The Northern Beaches is also a great place to stock up on stylish homewares. Alfresco Emporium in Collaroy is all about Hamptons beachside style, plus there’s a café, kid’s play area and lounge space for grown-ups. If you prefer Scandinavian chic, head to Nordic Fusion in Manly. 

Bert's Bar & Brasserie, Newport CREDIT: Destination NSW

Couple enjoying drinks at Bert's Bar & Brasserie restaurant within The Newport, Newport.

#ilovesydney

Bert's Bar & Brasserie, Newport CREDIT: Destination NSW

Couple enjoying drinks at Bert's Bar & Brasserie restaurant within The Newport, Newport.

#ilovesydney

4 Pines Truck Bar, Brookvale CREDIT: Destination NSW

Interior of the 4 Pines Brewing Co. Truck Bar, Brookvale.

#lovensw #ilovesydney

4 Pines Truck Bar, Brookvale CREDIT: Destination NSW

Interior of the 4 Pines Brewing Co. Truck Bar, Brookvale.

#lovensw #ilovesydney

Where to play 

The hardest choice you’ll make on the Northern Beaches is which beach to swim at first. Join families at protected Freshwater, surfers at Curl Curl or the rich and famous at Palm Beach. At the southern end of Manly, Shelly Beach is a quiet cove and one of Sydney’s best snorkelling spots. It’s perfect for beginners (as well as beginner scuba divers), with calm waters and almost no ocean swell. Spot schools of fish, harmless wobbegong sharks and — if you’re lucky — turtles.  

The Northern Beaches is also threaded with scenic walking and hiking trails. Among the most spectacular is the track to the heritage Barrenjoey Lighthouse (built in 1881) perched atop Barrenjoey Head at the northern tip of Palm Beach. There are two routes to the top, the 3km-return Smugglers Track and the shorter Access Trail. Other popular coastal walks include the Dee Why Headland Walk, which traces the cliffs between Dee Why and North Curl Curl beaches for 1.6km, and the 10km Manly Scenic Walkway (also known as the Manly to Spit Bridge Walk). 

Mountain biking is a rapidly growing sport on the Northern Beaches, with plenty of off-road trails to satisfy all skill levels. One of the most popular rides in the area is the 19km circuit around Manly Dam, which is suitable for all skill levels. To learn the ropes or discover some of the region’s more hidden trails, sign up for a tour with Joe’s Mountain Bike Tours, which runs tours at top mountain biking spots across the region.  

Where to stay 

Spending the night in Manly can feel like being on holiday from the city, even though it’s just a 30-minute ferry ride away. The Novotel Sydney Manly Pacific has well-priced rooms and apartments overlooking the ocean and is just steps away from cafés, restaurants, shops and activities. 

Jonah’s at Whale Beach has been a Northern Beaches institution for more than 90 years. The boutique hotel had a complete refurbishment in 2017 and the 11 rooms now feature parquet flooring, textured wallpaper, a neutral colour scheme and rich gold accents. Don’t miss a meal at the award-winning restaurant, washed down with a selection from the 1,600-strong wine list. 

Be surrounded by water at The Sands, sitting in between ocean and lagoon on the narrow Narrabeen peninsula. The property has 47 studios, suites and one-bedroom apartments, many with ocean views, as well as a restaurant and bar. You can hire one of the hotel’s bicycles to explore the local area. 

Palm Beach, Sydney CREDIT: Destination NSW

Dolphins swimming off Palm Beach on Sydney's Northern Beaches.

#lovensw #ilovesydney

Palm Beach, Sydney CREDIT: Destination NSW

Dolphins swimming off Palm Beach on Sydney's Northern Beaches.

#lovensw #ilovesydney

Summer in Sydney CREDIT: Destination NSW

Scenic views from Jonah's Restaurant and Boutique Hotelpool, Whale Beach, Sydney.

#ilovesydney

Summer in Sydney CREDIT: Destination NSW

Scenic views from Jonah's Restaurant and Boutique Hotelpool, Whale Beach, Sydney.

#ilovesydney

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