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SYDNEY: When pondering what to do in Sydney, you'll no doubt already be aware of iconic Bondi Beach, with its rich history and reputation as the hub of Sydney’s beach culture. But there’s more to Bondi than just the beach. This vibrant coastal suburb in Sydney’s east is rich with entrepreneurs, artists, and eccentric long-term residents. Once you’ve had your fill of sand and surf, do it like a local and discover some of the nooks and crannies of this ever-changing neighbourhood.
Arts and Entertainment
Tucked away on a side street behind the Bondi ‘strip’ (the stretch of shops located along Campbell Parade, opposite the beach) sits the charismatic bookstore Gertrude and Alice. This bohemian hideout sells a huge assortment of both new and second-hand books and is also a licensed café with eclectic antique furniture and loads of atmosphere.
Almost as cosy is the music venue Bar 34. Its basement lounge hosts live music most nights of the week and a DJ night on Thursdays. It’s a smaller, more intimate alternative to North Bondi RSL Club and The Royal Bondi, which has live music on Thursdays and local DJs spinning till late throughout the week. Another venue bringing live music to the backstreets is La Palma, a Prohibition/Cuban-style cocktail bar with cool vibes.
As far as visual arts go, Bondi is home to Australia’s longest continuously operating gallery for Aboriginal art. Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery hosts exhibitions that are beautiful and provocative in equal measure.
Food and Drink
Locals will tell you that the real heart of Bondi is to be found in Hall Street and the neighbouring laneways. Check out The Hub Hall Street, a gourmet food precinct that is home to fresh produce retailers such as Harris Farm Markets and Field to Fork, as well as celebrated cafés and restaurants such as A Tavola, Da Orazio, Gelato Messina, China Diner and bills.
Adina Apartment Hotel Bondi Beach Sydney lets you live like a local in the buzzing hub of Hall Street and you can even have Harris Farm groceries delivered to your door. All studios and apartments at Adina Bondi have balconies, perfect for morning coffee or an afternoon wine and some people watching.
One of Bondi’s most eccentric but popular eateries is the Stuffed Beaver, on Bondi Road. A Canadian-themed bar and restaurant with quirky décor and booths. On the menu is a huge selection of the potato-based dish, poutine, along with the Bloody Caesar – the Canadian version of a Bloody Mary.
Visit the Bondi Farmers Market, held every Saturday morning at Bondi Beach Public School, for organic, local produce and seasonal fruit and vegetables. You’ll also find cheese, just-picked flowers, artisan breads, homemade jams, seafood, olive oils, herbs and spices. Come back on Sunday and you’ll find the produce stalls replaced with jewellery, art, gifts and homewares.
Even if the beach isn’t your thing, sampling the fresh salty air of Bondi is among the most invigorating things to do in Sydney. Take a walk from Bondi to Bronte or Coogee, or head north along the cliffs on the Bondi to Watson’s Bay route. This walk features fantastic ocean views and the opportunity for a dip in the little coves and beaches along the way, ending up at Watson’s Bay, with its own historic and cultural charms.
Alternatively, try a session of Yoga by the Sea, particularly the early-morning classes that allow you to start your day on a high, right on the beach. Interestingly, your next session is free if you manage to spot a dolphin during class.
Insider Tip: On the day after a match, you may be able to spot the Sydney Roosters NRL team undertaking their recovery session down on the sand.