When you’re planning a trip, deciding where to stay is arguably the most important decision you’ll need to make. That’s especially true when you’re short on time and going to a city with as many things to do as Sydney. Whether you’re having a staycation or visiting from interstate, we’ve put together a culture-focused itinerary for a whirlwind weekend in the heart of the city to ensure you make the most of your time.

Stay: West Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton

Start your day by dropping your bags off at West Hotel Sydney. With its sleek and striking geometric facade, this beauty in the heart of the city centre is hard to miss. West Hotel is ideally situated within walking distance of both Sydney Harbour and Darling Harbour, as well as the Barangaroo, Martin Place and Wynyard precincts. It’s part of Hilton’s Curio Collection, a worldwide series of boutique-style hotels, each with their own independent feel. The rooms are modern and well-appointed , and there’s an open-air garden atrium that makes for an ideal pre-dinner drink spot or place to start your day with brekkie in the morning sun.

Do: Art Gallery of New South Wales

Walk from the West Hotel towards the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The best path to take is up through Martin Place, Sydney’s grand old financial hub. The Art Gallery of New South Wales opened in 1872, but it’s arguably never been as popular as it is today. Following a seven-year wait, the gallery’s highly anticipated new extension Sydney Modern opened at the end of last year. The new wing doubles the exhibition space with a sprawling subterranean hall in a former WWII-era oil tank and new rooftop art terraces. Be sure to check that out, as well as the gallery’s current Kandinsky exhibition (until March 10, 2024) and award-winning Australian artist Hoda Afshar’s first major solo exhibition (until January 21, 2024).

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Lunch: Above Par

You’ll be ready to eat after roaming AGNSW and its extensive grounds. On your way back to the West Hotel, stop by Above Par for a leisurely lunch. The menu at this 60-seat bistro expertly marries New South Wales produce with classic Middle Eastern and Levantine dishes. We suggest the share-style set menu, which will ensure there’s plenty of lamb kofta, haloumi with honey and walnuts, and pide to go around.

Do: Museum of Contemporary Art

Now that you’re properly checked into your room at the West Hotel (if you have the Hilton Honors app, you can unlock your digital key and just head straight to your room on arrival), it’s time to venture back out for your second gallery of the day. It’s worth going to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) for the walk alone. It takes you via Sydney’s iconic Circular Quay, where you’ll see distinctive yellow ferries zipping by landmarks such as the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, which celebrated its 50th birthday this year. The MCA itself is well-regarded for its local focus and curatorial daring – you’ll see plenty of excellent works by prominent Australian artists and exciting up-and-comers alike, including Primavera 2023, MCA’s annual exhibition of early-career artists aged 35 years and under. Plus, visit artist and composer Tarek Atoui’s installation Waters’ Witness, a sonic landscape based on the hidden sounds of port cities.

Dinner: Glass Brasserie

Be sure to take a detour through the historic precinct of The Rocks on your way back to the West Hotel. Once you’ve had a rest, it’s time for dinner. Take a walk down George Street, Sydney’s newly pedestrianised main artery, until you hit the Hilton Sydney. You’ll be having dinner at Glass Brasserie, helmed by renowned chef Luke Mangan. The menu is packed with French and European classics such as steak tartare, pan-seared gnocchi and roast spatchcock, alongside a range of steaks and sides. Be sure to get a table by the window, which has views of the historic Queen Victoria Building.

Nightcap: Marble Bar

It’s time for a drink. And there’s no better place for it than at the Marble Bar, a heritage-listed underground cocktail bar below the Hilton Sydney. This historic 19th century bar was once located in the prestigious Adams Hotel, one of Australia’s finest grand saloons. In the '70s, Hilton meticulously restored and rebuilt it. With its mahogany bar and ornate marble archways, the venue makes it easy to get swept up in the luxe grandeur of it all. The lively atmosphere, extensive spirits list and phenomenal cocktails also mean you’re virtually guaranteed to lose track of time here. When you manage to pry yourself away, it’s just a short walk back to the West Hotel where a long – and deep – night’s sleep awaits you.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Hilton. When a great location is a must for your weekend getaway, it matters where you stay.