Manly is filled with great places to eat, drink and shop. Here are our picks of the bunch.

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.

Restaurants

  • Just off The Corso, you’ll find a spot deftly melding Mexican and Peruvian classics. Enjoy ceviche, tacos, Margaritas and Pisco Sours in a buzzy whitewashed space with the air of a beachside hotel in Playa del Carmen.

  • At this epic Greek deli off the Corso, you can start the day with toast smothered in house-made taramasalata and return after a day at the beach for moussaka and a classic Greek lager. Plus, takeaway sourdough, cheese and charcuterie.

  • The sequel to the Darlinghurst favourite is bringing ceviches, tacos and woodfired plates made with NSW produce to the beaches.

  • Sake's northern beaches outpost takes advantage of its wharfside position with a huge terrace overlooking the bay. Eat your nigiri and robata-grilled snacks out here with Japanese spirits by the glass, carafe or tasting flight.

  • Order a single slice and eat it sitting on the sand while the sun sets.

  • Merivale’s waterside Cantonese joint, complete with live seafood tank, oyster bar and dim sum. The views across the water make for an ideal setting year-round.

  • This rustic little bolthole, hidden in a Manly back alley, is one of the seaside suburb's most popular and enduring eateries. We can see why. The laid-back atmosphere belies just how seriously this team take their food.

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  • Poke and momos all under one roof.

  • Plenty of seafood and a people-first approach make this a hit with locals.

  • Go for a 120-day dry-aged beef sirloin with Café de Paris butter, an apple tarte tatin and something from the whisky cart.

  • It’s all about giant drinks and water views.

  • Wild cocktails and unique Japanese flavours from the team at Chica Bonita.

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  • The Ivanhoe Hotel has been stripped back and spruced up by Sibella Court to feel like a nostalgic beach club with classic red and white lifebuoys and squash rackets.

  • A nostalgic sandwich and cocktail bar with 36-hour Reubens, fried chicken and cheddar-and-chive waffles, and groovy disco-era cocktails.

  • A Bowie inspired rock and roll bar serving up Japanese food with attitude.

  • A wine bar serving up the ultimate antipasto spread courtesy of some of Australia's best cheese makers and meat curers.

  • An all-day diner with Venice Beach vibes and killer fried chicken.

Cafes

  • This hole-in-the-wall is having fun in the sun – with iced-coffee slushies, premium matcha and Maccas-inspired brekkie rolls.

  • The first thing you’ll spy at this no-rules bakery is a pile of pastries in the front window. They're not an accessory to your coffee – they're the main event. Expect anything from charcoal dough to spanakopita filling in your croissant.

  • Enjoy Skittle Lane's full-bodied seasonal blend and pastries from Tuga, then sidle next door to shop Assembly’s casually luxe pieces.

  • This is one of the only bakeries in the state with an in-house stone mill, which means it can buy wheat direct from farmers. Its loaves contain no artificial additives and are left to naturally leaven, spending at least 18 hours cold fermenting.

  • Just as sunny as its seaside locale.

  • A health-conscious menu served with a rotating cast of coffee roasters.

  • A simple and relaxed menu offering homemade waffles and coffee to compliment.

Bars

  • This intimate wine bar nods to days gone by with an expansive list of drops, Basque-inspired pintxos, live pianists and a library stacked with antique books.

  • Fire-driven cooking is the specialty at this sultry backstreet bar. The menu is backed up by cocktails on tap, and around 300 natural wines to try.

  • A New York-style bar with exposed brick and copper piping throughout.

  • Look behind the old wood door at the back of the Cove deli and you'll find The Cumberland – one of Sydney's finest underground bars. The drinks list includes 250 whiskies, an impressive wine cellar and three distinct cocktail lists. Plus a hearty food offering that includes melty raclette.

  • Parts of the beer community were dismayed when the world’s largest brewing company, AB InBev, acquired 4 Pines at the end of 2017. But nothing much has changed since then. The team continues to produce a superb core range (we like the slightly malty pale ale) and genuinely interesting seasonals and one-offs. As the name implies, the brand’s wharfside HQ is better established than most, with a true pub feel.

  • Slide into a terrazzo-topped table at this stylish waterfront eatery for sharp Mediterranean-style cooking, fresh seafood and stellar cocktails. Manly Wharf has never looked so good.

  • A beachside attitude, cocktails and live music.

  • Late-night, American-inspired fare, with cosy booths and free pool.

  • A literary-themed cocktail bar complete with menus stapled into the pages of old children's storybooks. But that's as high-minded as the place gets: it also serves chicken nuggets and VB tinnies.

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  • Whisky and vegan burgers.

Shops

  • The fourth location for Australia’s first infrared sauna studio brings Mediterranean energy to a heritage building off The Corso. As well as four infrared saunas and a private ice bath, this spot offers services from massage therapists, acupuncturists and more.

  • A local gem off the Manly Corso. This bookseller, record shop and performance space has all the eclectic charm you’d expect from five creative owners (one of them a high-profile comedian).

  • This beachside creative hub is lined with skateboards and vintage clothes.

  • Minimalist furniture and homewares crafted on Sydney’s northern beaches.

  • A locals-first store stocking ethical fashion and lifestyle products.

  • Minimalist men's and women's clothing with a less is more ethos.

  • A classic barbershop with a surfing bent.

  • Bow + Arrow sources its unique selection of clothing and homewares from around the world.