Sydney, even though not the capital of Australia, is the biggest city in the country (with a population of 5.2 million people). Sydney is a vivid and beautiful destination that has something to offer to all types of travelers out there, from culture to history, architecture, beaches, gastronomy and nightlife. Sydney is known for the world-famous Opera House, its harbor and many other interesting sights and activities and it’s a great starting point if you’re planning on exploring the best sights that Australia has to offer.
Are you planning a trip to Sydney soon? That’s great! Now, the next thing you’ll have to figure out is where to stay in Sydney – and here comes the hard part! Sydney has so many different areas and neighborhoods to choose from, each of them with its own charm and unique vibe – and I’m here to help you the perfect one for your stay!
NOTE: Sydney is not a cheap city, but it’s definitely a super popular destination, so my recommendation is to book your accommodation as far in advance as possible, in order to secure your ideal hotel with the best prices (remember: prices are not going to go down over there, they only rise!).
In this post I’ll talk about the 7 best areas to stay in Sydney, together with my hand-picked hotel recommendations for each of them!
Are you ready? Let’s go!
- If you’re in a hurry…
- 1. Sydney CBD (Central Business District) – Where to stay in Sydney for the first time
- 2. Darling Harbour – Where to stay in Sydney with a family
- 3. The Rocks & Circular Quay
- 4. Surry Hills & Paddington
- 5. Kings Cross – Where to stay in Sydney on a budget
- 6. Bondi Beach – Where to stay in Sydney for the beach
- 7. Manly
- Best apartments in Sydney, Australia (city center)
- Best hotels near Sydney Airport
If you’re in a hurry…
The best area to stay in Sydney for first-time visitors is Sydney CBD (Central Business District). This is literally the heart and soul of the city and the place where all the action happens; also the place where all the main attractions are located, so it’s a great spot for all types of travelers out there, from families to backpackers.
Best hotels in Sydney, Australia in a nutshell
Which area should you choose?
First of all, here is a Sydney map with all the 7 areas I’ll be talking about in this post, so you can easily visualize them:
Now, Sydney spreads out on a big area; this area is divided into many different areas, but only some of them are relevant to travelers, especially to those that are visiting the city for the first time – for example the famous harbour area or the Central Business District.
You might be wondering how you can choose the right neighbourhood for your ideal stay now, right? That’s where I come to the rescue! Below I have created a personalized list of recommendations for all travelers out there, depending on their itinerary and interest:
- Where to stay in Sydney for luxury: Circular Quay
- Where to stay in Sydney for budget travelers: Kings Cross
- Where to stay in Sydney for families: Darling Harbour or Bondi Beach
- Where to stay in Sydney for nightlife: Kings Cross
- Best areas in Sydney for the beach: Bondi Beach and Manly
Now that you understand a bit more about how this city is organized, let’s jump right into it and find out everything you need to know about the 7 best neighborhoods in Sydney:
1. Sydney CBD (Central Business District) – Where to stay in Sydney for the first time
The Central Business District is exactly the center of the city and definitely the best place to stay in Sydney for people who are visiting Sydney for the first time and for those that want to explore everything that the city for the first time!
If you choose to stay here you’ll be walking distance to plenty of awesome restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs and, of course, shops. The center of Sydney is also very well connected to the other areas in the city by public transportation (anything from trains to buses) – talking about convenience! But the best part is that you can actually walk to all the important attractions nearby such as the Circular Quay, for example!
Some of the highlights of this area include the famous Sydney Opera House, the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Sydney Tower Eye and the Harbour Bridge and more. I definitely recommend the Central Business District to all types of travelers out there, as you can find activities and accommodation for all tastes and budgets – from luxurious suites to budget hostels for backpackers! It’s also a great choice for those that only have one or two days in Sydney!
If you feel like this is the place for you, scroll down to find the best hotels in Sydney CBD that you can choose from:
Luxury (US$160 and up)
- Sheraton Grand Hyde Park Hotel Sydney – In case you’re looking for superb 5-star hotels in Sydney, this one might be the best place for you! This one awaits with free Wi-Fi, a swimming pool, an on-site fitness center, a restaurant and more!
- Swissotel Sydney – Here’s another amazing choice if you want to enjoy a spoiled stay in Sydney, while also being within walking distance to all the important attractions in the center. This is one of the best hotels out there if you want to enjoy an on-site bar, a restaurant, a pool and more!
Middle-priced (US$100 – US$160)
- Mercure Sydney – Here’s a great mid-range hotel located in the best area in the city centre, with easy access to all the most interesting attractions there! Some of the advantages of staying here include a delicious daily breakfast, a sauna and more!
- Meriton Suites Sussex Street – This is another great great place for all those of you looking for beautiful middle-priced CBD hotels in Sydney! This 5-star accommodation awaits with impeccable service and the best facilities!
Budget (up to US$100)
- Oaks on Castlereagh, Sydney Central – Here’s one of the coolest cheap hotels in CBD Sydney out there! This is actually a very nice aparthotel that has an awesome pool, a fitness center, free Wi-Fi and more!
- Railway Square YHA – For all those of you that want to be within walking distance to all the most important attractions in the center and still enjoy a really good service, you should check this one out! It’s one of the best budget hotels in Sydney I can recommend!
2. Darling Harbour – Where to stay in Sydney with a family
If you feel like the Central Business District is a bit too much for you (it’s one of the most popular areas in the center, after all), then I surely recommend Darling Harbour for a more laid-back atmosphere, with plenty of interesting sights as well.
Darling Harbour is my recommendation for families traveling to Sydney that want to be extremely close to the city center, but enjoy a quieter area. There are many interesting things to do and visit here, including green spaces, the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, Madame Tussauds Museum, the Pyrmont Bridge, Wild Life Sydney Zoo, the Star Casino – and many restaurants and cute cafes.
Plus, Darling Harbour is one of the best places to base yourself if you want to do some shopping during your stay in the city, as there are two malls here and all types of shops you might think of! Another cool perk about staying here is that you’ll be able to enjoy wonderful views of the harbour, of course.
Convinced? Here are the best hotels in this area to choose from:
Luxury (US$170 and up)
- The Star Grand Hotel and Residences Sydney – In case you want to feel spoiled just like a queen or king during your vacation, this is totally one of the best places to stay in Sydney, Australia that you could think of! This one has not one, but plenty of bars and dining options!
- Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour – Here’s another excellent choice if you want to be in one of the coolest hotels near Sydney Harbour! This one has superb, spacious rooms with a modern decor and the best facilities out there!
Middle-priced (US$110 – US$170)
- ibis Sydney Darling Harbour – If you’re on the search for great mid-range hotels located right in the heart of the city and close to Sydney Harbour, I think this one’s for you! The rooms here are bright, clean and very nicely decorated and the property awaits with free Wi-Fi, a breakfast buffet and many other cool perks.
- Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour – Here’s another one on my list of best places to stay for a mid-range budget! This amazing 5-star hotel has modern decor and a flawless location, close to all the most interesting attractions in the city!
Budget (up to US$110)
- MetroResidences Darling Harbour – Are you on a very tight budget but still want to be in one of the best locations out there, super close to Sydney Harbour? No worries, I have a solution! Check out this 3-star hotel, I’m sure you’ll like the pictures and the amenities!
- APX Darling Harbour – Here’s another excellent budget choice near Sydney Harbour that will help you save a couple of bucks on accommodation, while still offering a very good service! This 4-star aparthotel is just like a dream!
3. The Rocks & Circular Quay
In case you want to be in one of the most walkable areas in the city and if you’re interested in witnessing Sydney’s interesting architecture, then The Rocks and the Circular Quay are the best areas for you!
I have decided to combine the two areas together because they’re right next to each other and they’re very similar, catering for the same traveler needs. Both of them are full of amazing food places (including some pretty great world-class restaurants), cafes, bars and everything in-between. By the way, The Rocks is actually the Old Town of Sydney and the first area that was developed in the city.
If you choose to stay in any of these areas, you’ll be within walking distance to the most important attractions in the city such as the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge as well.
One of the best things about The Rocks and the Circular Quay (which is an important attraction of the city by itself) is that you’ll be well-connected to the other areas of the city via public transportation – for example trains and boats as well.
That being said, here are the best hotels in The Rocks and the Circular Quay for you to choose from:
Luxury (US$160 and up)
- Pier One Sydney Harbour, Autograph Collection – If you’re looking for one of the most luxurious places to stay, Sydney surely has some amazing options! This superb 5-star hotel offers unforgettable views, beautiful decor with a nautical theme, and a great location as well.
- Four Seasons Hotel Sydney – Do you want to enjoy the ultimate splurge while also being super close to Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge? Then you should check out this one! It has great views and I totally vouch for it as being one of the best luxury hotels in Sydney!
Middle-priced (US$110 – US$160)
- Sir Stamford Circular Quay – Are you on the search for the best places to stay for which you’ll only need to pay a middle-priced rate? Check out this one, it’s one of the most valuable hotels in The Rocks, Sydney that has a great view and a flawless 5-star service!
- Rendezvous Hotel Sydney The Rocks – Do you want to stay in one of the most fabulous hotels out there that offers great views and some great amenities and facilities? This one has a swimming pool, a hot tub and it’s only 5 minutes away from Circular Quay.
Budget (up to US$110)
- Russell Hotel In The Rocks – If you’re traveling to the city on a super tight budget and don’t want to spend all your money on accommodation, this is one of the best places to stay in Sydney Australia! Some of the best things about this place are the rooftop garden, free Wi-Fi and amazing location, only 2 minutes away from Sydney Harbour.
- Australian Heritage Hotel – Here’s another one on my list of great budget hotels in this area! The rooms are simple but very comfortable and the location is pretty good if you want to head over to the most exciting attractions in the center!
4. Surry Hills & Paddington
Surry Hills and its neighbor, Paddington, are definitely two of the coolest places to stay in Sydney if you’re interested in pleasant walks and awesome restaurants!
I, again, combined the two areas together because they’re close to each other and they’re very similar. Do you want to be a bit off the beaten path and choose something that not all tourists will choose? Then these two areas are great for you. By the way, Sydney Central Station is located in Surry Hills, so it will be SO easy to get around the city!
I can also definitely recommend them to all foodies that want to try everything that the Sydney food scene has to offer, as well as to those of you that want to explore hidden vintage shops, designer shops and art galleries as well.
Some of the highlights here include the Paddington Reservoir Gardens (a superb heritage-listed public park, Victoria Barracks, Surry Hills Market (a super cool flea market) and more. By the way, if you want to reach the Central Business District from here, please know that you’ll only be only 2 kilometers away from it (more or less)!
If you feel like you belong here, scroll down to find the best hotels I am recommending in these two areas:
Luxury (US$150 and up)
- Little Albion – Are you looking for the best places to stay in Surry Hills that are close to Crown Street? This one’s for you! It awaits with a very good breakfast, spacious and bright rooms, a 24-hour front desk and many other cool facilities!
- Rydges Sydney Central – This awesome boutique hotel offers a 5-star service and it’s located to very close many important spots in this neighborhood including Sydney Central Station (300m away) and Belmore Park (200m away).
Middle-priced (US$100 – US$150)
- Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney Surry Hills – I present to you one of the best places to stay in Sydney, Surry Hills, if you’re searching for middle-priced hotels! This cool aparthotel has a cool swimming pool in the garden, a barbecue area, spa pool, sauna and more.
- Crown Hotel Surry Hills – Here’s a great choice if you want to be close to Oxford Street, Taylor Square, the Central Station and more. It’s definitely one of my top recommendations for mid-range hotels in the entire city!
Budget (up to US$100)
- Big Hostel – In case you’re only interested in cheap hotels in Sydney, I can definitely recommend this one! It offers a 4-star service, free Wi-Fi, air-conditioned rooms and it’s only 5 minutes away from the Central Station.
- Shakespeare Hotel – Here’s another great choice located very close to Oxford Street, Belmore Park and other interesting sights in this cool neighborhood. Some of the best advantages of staying here include access to the on-site bar and bistro restaurant!
5. Kings Cross – Where to stay in Sydney on a budget
Are you traveling to Sydney on a tight budget? Don’t you worry, as Kings Cross is the perfect choice for you!
Kings Cross is also known as the old “Red Light District” of the city, but we’re way past that period and this up-and-coming neighborhood is actually safe and there are tons of awesome shops, cafes and food places scattered all around the area.
Kings Cross is surrounded by Elizabeth Bay, Darlinghurst and Potts Point, two smaller but equally great areas to search for budget accommodation.
While you’re around the area, make sure to admire the beautiful Victorian architecture that’s so well preserved you won’t believe it! By the way, this is also a great choice for all party animals out there that want to dance the night away and enjoy the best nightlife that Sydney has to offer!
In case you decided to stay in Kings Cross, below I have hand-picked a great selection of hotels for you to choose from:
Luxury (US$110 and up)
- Holiday Inn Potts Point – Sydney – This cool 4-star property is one of the best hotels in this cool neighborhood! It has spacious rooms, great views of the harbour, an on-site Moroccan restaurant and more!
- Quest Potts Point – Here’s another one on my list of best places to stay in Kings Cross if you’re interested in benefiting from free Wi-Fi, air-conditioned rooms and a great location, only 3 minutes away from Kings Cross train station.
Middle-priced (US$70 – US$110)
- Annam Serviced Apartments – This awesome 4-star aparthotel has one of the best locations out there, only 2 minutes from countless restaurants, bars and shops as well. Plus, it also offers laundry and ironing facilities!
- Regents Court Sydney – Here’s another great 4-star aparthotel for your stay! A very convenient location, free Wi-Fi, on-site laundry facilities, a fully equipped kitchenette – these are just some of the advantages of staying in this cool accommodation!
Budget (up to US$70)
- Springfield Lodge – Do you want to stay in one of the coolest places in the best neighborhood for people that are on a tight budget? Then I assure you that this one’s for you! It’s a very nice 4-star hotel that has some unbeatable prices – check it out!
- The Bayswater Sydney – Here’s another great one on my list of budget hotels in this area! It awaits with a very good 4-star service, a 24-hour on-site fitness center, a work desk in each room, free Wi-Fi and everything in-between!
6. Bondi Beach – Where to stay in Sydney for the beach
One thing’s for sure: you cannot visit Sydney without spending at least a couple of hours on the beach, am I right? Yep, it’s true: in case you didn’t know, other than a cool harbour, Sydney is also home to some great beaches!
Bondi Beach is a famous, superb white sand beach worldwide and it’s one of the most important attractions in the city, apart from the Sydney Opera House, of course! Naturally, the main activity here implies full relaxation and sun soaking all day long. When you get bored, you can always check out the numerous shops around or serve some delicious food in one of the restaurants.
I definitely recommend Bondi as a great area to stay if you’re not that interested in the city attractions located in the center, but you prefer being closer to the ocean instead. Bondi is equally fit for families with kids and for backpackers as well, which I think is a great thing!
By the way, you also do surfing at Bondi Beach! But if you’re not a water sports fan, then admiring the amazing views of the Pacific Ocean would be an equally awesome activity!
NOTE: One downside of staying here is that you won’t be that close to the center and the popular attractions and getting to and from the beach might be a bit of a hassle to some travelers. If you don’t have a car, there are buses that take the route from the city to the beach very frequently, but the traffic is pretty bad at times. So I’d recommend staying here to those of you that want to completely splurge at the beach during their entire stay.
If you think this is the dream place for your Sydney holiday, here are the best hotels I can recommend around:
Luxury (US$150 and up)
- QT Sydney Bondi – For those of you looking for a beautiful boutique hotel for the best stay in Bondi, I recommend checking out this one and booking a room here! It’s a very nicely decorated aparthotel that has bright rooms, kitchen facilities and many other cool perks.
- Bondi 38 Serviced Apartments – Do you want to enjoy the ultimate luxurious treatment in the best area for a vacation on the beach? No worries, I got you! This beautiful beachfront aparthotel has unforgettable ocean views, on-site parking, private bathrooms and more.
Middle-priced (US$100 – US$150)
- Adina Apartment Hotel Bondi Beach Sydney – In case you want to enjoy a superb swimming pool, free Wi-Fi, beautiful self-contained apartments, then I recommend checking out this 4-star aparthotel, it looks simply great! Plus, some of the apartments here offer a fully equipped kitchen!
- The Chee Bondi – This one’s another great place if you want to be close to countless bars and restaurants, as well as shops and other interesting attractions. Needless to say, you’ll only be 2 minutes from the beach if you choose to stay here!
Budget (up to US$100)
- Wake Up! Bondi Beach – This awesome beachfront hostel is one of the best budget options in Bondi Beach and it offers an on-site bar where you can enjoy a drink or two, free Wi-Fi, laundry facilities and many other cool facilities that will help you have a pleasant stay!
- The Baxley Bondi – Here’s another great beach hotel that has simple and comfy rooms, perfect for a good night’s sleep after a full day spent on the beach! Just take a look at the pictures, I’m sure you’ll like it; then, check out the prices – so good!
This is a great area for a secluded, relaxed vacation on the beach and it’s ideal for those of you that have visited Sydney before and they’ve seen all the best sights that the city has to offer!
I left Manly as my last recommendation because it’s located a bit more far away from the center than all of my recommendations above. Getting there isn’t that quick either – it requires a 20-minute ferry ride. So if you don’t mind being in a secluded location, then you should definitely go for it.
Apart from the convenience subject, Manly is a great and fun choice for all those of you that want a relaxed getaway and to admire some incredible views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. There is not one, but two equally beautiful beaches here – and plenty of accommodation choices, especially budget-friendly ones!
Apart from sunbathing, you can also do some good ol’ surfing on the waves in Manly, check out the malls in the area or sip a coffee in one of the cozy cafes near the beach. In short, you can never get bored around here!
If the suburb of Manly is your choice for your Sydney vacation, scroll down to find my best hotel recommendations for this area:
Luxury (US$120 and up)
- Manly Beach Retreat – This awesome 5-star apartment is one of the top choices in the entire area! Some of the best things here include the garden views and free Wi-Fi, however I’m sure you’d also enjoy the barbecue facilities and the free private parking as well!
- Quest Manly Beach – Here’s another great choice for a luxurious, spoiled stay in Manly! This accommodation is right on the beachfront and you can choose from different types of serviced apartments here, including apartments with a harbour view!
Middle-priced (US$50 – US$120)
- Manly Paradise Motel & Apartments – This awesome 4-star hotel is my recommendation for all those of you looking for great mid-range accommodations in Manly. The staff here is super friendly and willing to help you with whatever you might need! The top advantage of staying here is definitely the rooftop pool!
- Namely Manly – Here’s another nice place where you can enjoy a super good experience for some great prices! It’s an awesome beach apartment that has a bedroom, a living room, a fully equipped kitchenette and everything in-between!
Budget (up to US$50)
- Stoke Beach House – This superb beachfront hostel has some of the best rates out there, trust me! The rooms here are small but extremely clean and comfortable, just perfect for a pleasant sleep after a full day of having fun on the beach!
- Manly Bunkhouse – Here’s another great and affordable hostel located only 5 minutes away from Manly Beach – such a cool advantage! Each room has a private bathroom, nice decor and free Wi-Fi, of course!
Best apartments in Sydney, Australia (city center)
Apartments are a great choice for those of you that want to enjoy a cozy, homey feeling during their travels instead of booking a room in a hotel. They’re also a great choice for those that want to save some money (as they tend to be cheaper) or for big groups that want to stay together, for example families with kids of groups of friends.
The good news is that there are plenty of Airbnb options in Sydney that you can choose from! Below I have selected the best ones in the city center, all sorted by budget and with very good reviews:
Luxury (US$120 and up)
- Soak up Sleek, Industrial Vibes in Cosmopolitan Surry Hills – In case you want to enjoy some luxury during your vacation in Sydney, then I can definitely recommend this superb apartment! It has a great location, superb decor and it’s ideal for up to 3 guests.
- Darling Harbour Apartment in Sought-After Heart of CBD – This one’s another great apartment located right in the heart of Sydney’s CBD, close to all the important attractions and activities in this part of the city – just take a look at the pictures, I’m sure you’ll love it!
Middle-priced (US$60 – US$120)
- #35418 City Center Spacious 1 Bedroom Apartment – This 1-bedroom apartment is a great mid-range apartment located right in the center of the city and it’s recommended to up to 4 guests. It’s simple, but very clean and it has some very good reviews!
- SYD/City/CBD KingSt DarlingHarbour – If you’d prefer a private room in an apartment instead, then I recommend checking out this one! It’s clean and it has a very easy check-in system.
Budget (up to US$60)
- Private Floor Ensuite Balcony Darling Harbour ICC – If you’re on a tight budget but still want to enjoy a very good stay in Darling Harbour, you might love this place! It’s a private room in an apartment ideal for 2 guests and it has a very beautiful decor!
- Great Sydney City Studio in CBD – Here’s another cool studio for two people in Surry Hills that has some unbeatable prices, especially considering the very good location and the access to the rooftop sundeck and pool!
Best hotels near Sydney Airport
Sydney Airport (SYD), also known as Kingsford Smith, is the place where you’ll most probably land if you arrive to the city by place and it’s located only almost 9 km from the city center (which is around 20 minutes by car with no traffic) in a suburb called Mascot.
In case you have a very early or a very late flight, staying as close to the airport as possible can and will save you quite some precious time and sleep. If you decided to do so, here are the best airport hotels in Sydney I have selected for you (one for each type of budget):
- (Luxury) Rydges Sydney Airport Hotel – This is my recommendation for all those of you that want to enjoy some luxury as close as possible to the airport. It’s an awesome 5-star hotel located only 700 m from the airport!
- (Middle-priced) Stamford Plaza Sydney Airport Hotel – Here’s another awesome 5-star airport hotel, this time with some more accessible prices. This accommodation has different types of rooms that you can choose from and it’s only 1.2 km from the airport!
- (Budget) CJ Home – Do you only have a modest budget but still want to be as close to the airport as possible? No worries! This awesome homestay offers a very good service and it’s only 1.7 km from the airport.
Yay, you have reached the end of my complete guide on Sydney accommodation! I hope you found this article useful in planning your vacation and I hope you already found the ideal place for your stay in one of my lists above.
In this post I have talked about the 7 best Sydney neighborhoods, together with my hand-picked hotel recommendations for each of them. As usual, I have also picked some fabulous apartments in the city center and airport hotels as well – so you basically have anything your heart desires here!
Are you traveling to Sydney, Australia soon? Do you have any other questions or concerns? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer!
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