Open literally any guidebook on Sydney and you’ll find a section on Manly. It’ll say something like “Get the ferry, look at the beach, maybe go to a bar or jump in the surf”. And it’s been like that since the early 1900s.
The historic suburb was one of Australia’s first seaside holiday destinations. The lifesaving club is one of the oldest in the world and it was one of the first places Australians protested the early laws restricting what one could or couldn’t wear on the sand.
Now that means the sparkling-clear seas are framed by both heritage buildings and gaudy hotels. While the ferry building, the main drag and all its venues are packed with tourists, that's only half the story. There’s also a rich and proud community with restaurants, bars, cafes and boutique shops enhancing the relaxed local culture.
Luckily, the peninsula hasn’t been overdeveloped like many of Sydney’s prettier coastal tracks, so just behind the strip of hotel towers is a bare headland with historic sites (First Nations and wartime) and spectacular walks with views over the old sandstone cliffs.