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Sydney comes alive in summer. It’s a time when sand trickles underfoot across the threshold of cafes and pubs; when beaches become primary meeting points and every night seems worthy of heading out on the town. For travellers that means there’s always something to investigate anew, whether it’s a fresh dining experience, pocket of city to explore or spot to shack up and sip a drink and people watch. Here’s our guide to getting out and around Sydney this summer.

Saturday

Eat: Saint Peter, Paddington
If there’s a definitive Sydney dining experience, this might be it. Chef Josh Niland has pioneered a new way of preparing seafood, best described as ‘fin-to-scale’ for its whole-fish philosophy. Nothing is wasted in Niland’s kitchen at Saint Peter. The result is an innovative menu that celebrates sustainability and pushes boundaries at every turn.

Dishes might include the coral trout sandwich served with crispy skin and tarragon mayonnaise, the smoked snapper quiche served with a seaweed salad, or the charcoal King George whiting, served half or whole with finger lime, roe and chives. After lunch, stop by the Fish Butchery, Saint Peter’s sister venue a few doors along Oxford Street, where you’ll find a selection of fish charcuterie as well as a tempting takeaway menu – definitely worth a visit of its own one day.

Dishes might include the coral trout sandwich served with crispy skin and tarragon mayonnaise, the smoked snapper quiche served with a seaweed salad, or the charcoal King George whiting, served half or whole with finger lime, roe and chives. After lunch, stop by the Fish Butchery, Saint Peter’s sister venue a few doors along Oxford Street, where you’ll find a selection of fish charcuterie as well as a tempting takeaway menu – definitely worth a visit of its own one day.

Do: Rum-Spicing Class at Brix Distillers, Surry Hills
Brix Distillers is a craft distillery in the heart of Surry Hills run by three rum aficionados seeking to rehabilitate the reputation of their beloved spirit. The Bourke Street venue is home to a bar, a retail space, a barrelling room and the working distillery. Brix runs regular tours and workshops for the rum-curious public, including a Rum-Spicing Class that walks students through the intricacies of blending rum and infusing it with flavours. The session includes a whip around the distillery, snacks in the form of charcuterie and cheese plates, and all blending rums required for the class, plus $10 off any Brix Rum purchase.

Drink: Maybe Sammy, Sydney CBD
A visit to Maybe Sammy, a fifties-inspired bar in The Rocks, quickly reveals why the venue has won a swag of awards and eleventh spot on a list of the world’s 50 best bars in 2020. The stunning interior lands precisely at the point where Palm Springs cool intersects Hollywood glamour, and references to the Rat Pack – Sammy, Frank, Dean and co – litter the cocktail menu, from the Vegas Collection, inspired by the Rat Pack’s favourite Las Vegas hotels, to the Sinatra Century Serve on the High Rollers list.

Arrive at 4.30pm for the daily Mini Martini Tour when Maybe Sammy’s Minis are half price at $5.50 a pop. But it’s not all about the drinks: snack on oysters – served with lemon and tabasco or raspberry mignonette – olives, anchovies, spicy sardines or a cheese plate as you sip a Martini prepared tableside, just the way you like it. More substantial offerings come in the way of sandwiches: the Il Vegano, the Truffle Cheese Toastie, the Mortadellina and the Pastrami Reuben. But among Maybe Sammy’s many drawcards, it’s the lack of pretension demonstrated by its playfulness and refusal to take itself too seriously – just like its namesake, Sammy Davis Jnr, that sets it apart from other bars.

Stay: Little National Hotel, Sydney CBD
It’s the new kid on the block in Sydney, but Little National is a familiar name to many in the design game. The award-winning outfit opened Sydney’s first Little National hotel on Clarence Street above Wynyard Walk in 2020. The hotel’s 230 rooms are compact but well-proportioned and infinitely comfortable; the rooftop houses an outdoor lounge and the Terrace Bar, and the library offers a quiet place to work for business travellers. Located between the Barangaroo precinct to the west and George St and Martin Place to the east with easily accessible rail links to the airport below at Wynyard Station, it’s as centrally located as you get in the CBD.

Sunday

Eat: Sean’s, Bondi
A pioneer of the farm-to-plate movement in Australia, Sean’s has been serving farm-fresh fare at its restaurant overlooking Bondi since 1993. The menu changes daily, according to what’s in season, but might include sublime free-range roast chicken, chestnut gnocchi or kingfish carpaccio. Much of the restaurant’s produce comes from Bilpin Springs Farm in the Blue Mountains, also run by chef Sean Moran and his partner Michael "Manoo" Robertson. The food – which is offered in the form of a set three-course menu, with a choice of two dishes in each course, for $100 a head – is authentic, unpretentious and, importantly, delicious, and the service warm. It’s a dining experience you’ll want to return to again and again.

Do: Balmoral Beach
It would be remiss to visit Sydney, a city blessed with a beautiful coastline stretching from Palm Beach in the north to Cronulla and the stunning Royal National Park beyond it in the south, and not spend a lazy morning at the beach. Among locals’ favourite swimming spots is Balmoral Beach in Middle Harbour. Its sheltered position and the tree-lined promenade behind it give Balmoral a relaxed vibe you won’t find at the more touristy beaches. The Balmoral Beach to Middle Head trail (a four-kilometre round trip) passes historic fortifications and finishes with a spectacular view of The Heads, where the harbour meets the ocean. Once refreshed, push on to the Northern Beaches and the likes of Manly, Mona Vale, Avalon and Palm Beach for more salt water exploring.

Drink: Bathers Pavilion, Balmoral
When it was built in the 1920s, the Bathers’ Pavilion did what it said on the tin, serving as a change room for Balmoral swimmers. In the 1960s, it became a restaurant, taken over in 1998 by chef Serge Dansereau who transformed the venue into a Sydney institution. One of the few surviving examples of Spanish Mission architecture in Sydney, the heritage-listed Bathers’ underwent a Med-luxe facelift in 2019 led by designer Rachel Luchetti. The refurbished upstairs Louis Terrace is a lovely spot to enjoy a drink, while downstairs, the Bathers Bistro offers all-day casual dining and sparkling waterside views to gaze upon as you sip your spritz.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Destination NSW. For more information go to Sydney.com. Stay up to date with the latest NSW Government health advice regarding COVID-19.