2 Day Coffee & Art Itinerary in Sydney
Yes, there is a very cool house for opera. Yes, there is a spectacular if not pretty ugly bridge. But I just wanted to keep it simple Sam, a 2 Day Coffee & Art Itinerary in Sydney was the some total of my Sydney ambitions for this trip. I’m not a native to this area, I still get goose bumps when I go to Sydney, it is a very cool town. The geography lends to a small town feel perhaps more so than Melbourne. It may not have the coffee culture of Melbourne but there still are some gems and if you combine your caffeine with some art, a selection of outdoor cinemas and a ride sharing app of your choice then you’re in for a very good time… that is so easy.
A Different City Experience, Ride-Sharing
This is the first time that we’ve committed to a “ride-sharing” getaway. Which is a little confusing if you’re out of the loop. No, it’s not all piling into a car and squeezing down the “car pool” lane. You download an app onto your phone (Uber, Taxify); dial in a destination, the app quotes you on the ride and will send a driver to your location if you accept. So easy. The idea of a few days in a big city minus a car, with all its ensuing hassles, seemed very appealing. We went with Uber, cos we were too ignorant or lazy to look for an alternative. Oh my god it was good! So easy. We based ourselves in Darlinghurst, in a nice and central Airbnb apartment.
We got an Uber to the apartment. We got an Uber to Breakfast. We got an Uber to the outdoor cinema.
The average cost per ride was running at around $9/10, our total Uber bill for the two days was just over $150 which included $60 for airport transfers at either end. There was a little self-imposed walking in that but whenever we felt the need, Uber was the “go to” option and no, I’m not getting paid by Uber. I’m just so pleased that I’ve weened Perry off the “it’s not far let’s just walk” attitude, which has seen us fill entire days wandering back streets. Not all bad if you’re 22 and in Paris, not as appealing at 50, arthritic and four blocks from LAX.
The coffee scene in Sydney cops a fair amount of flack from it’s Melbourne rival. To be fair they’re not really rivals, Melbourne is a long way out in front when it comes to espresso based coffee… probably of anywhere outside of Italy for that matter. But Sydney does have some people doing their own thing and doing it very well. Our 2 Day Coffee & Art Crawl in Sydney was more of a “walk come Uber” but added dramatic effect was what I was going for. We were easily able to walk or Uber our way within 10 minutes of each location across the inner eastern suburbs and, short of the coffee we had outside of our apartment, they were all very worthy.
Our mornings started in Darlinghurst. First at Frankies Beans with an easy and tasty toastie then Posto No.19 for probably the best breakfast we’ve had since memories serve (which isn’t that good so perhaps that’s not much of a compliment). According to Perry his standout brew was from the Factory Grind at the top of Crowne Street in Surry Hills. I’m guessing his obsession with Turkish food may have been a factor, it was equally as good – according to Perry.
I reckon Brudo’s Coffee cart, right next door to the Museum of Contemporary Art, is your spot for a quality brew down on Circular Quay. It’s in a beautiful setting, you can sit at the park bench and marvel at the Opera House if a cruise ship doesn’t block your view.
Crowne St. v Darlinghurst Rd
You could fill an afternoon just doing coffee in the few blocks of Crowne Street between Oxford and Albion Street. If it was a “coffee-off” between Darlinghurst Road and Crowne Street we’d have to give it to Crowne, we prefer the mellow, leafy feel of Surry Hills to the edge of Kings Cross. I’ve listed all of the cafes that we managed to visit in the map at the end of this post as they all deserve a mention.
Art Gallery Walk
For me it’s about the art. I’ll tell myself it’s not, then go looking for it at every turn. Probably the standout day was a walk down the steps from Victoria Street, Darlinghurst and across to Artspace Visual Arts Centre in Woolloomooloo, where we saw some fantastic large scale work by Helen Johnson in her “Warm Ties” exhibit.
From Woolloomooloo it’s just a short walk across the pedestrian bridge to the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Two of my favourite Australian Artists are hanging in the Art Gallery of NSW, John Henry Olsen and Brett Whiteley. I visited Brett Whiteley’s studio may years ago in Surry Hills, I’ve since only ever managed to be in Sydney when it is closed so I get to claw a little back by seeing “The balcony 2” among others, there’s quite a few in the collection. You’ll walk past his sculpture, “Almost Once” (constructed by Matt Dillon), just after crossing the bridge – on your way up the hill.
The Art Gallery of NSW has some special personal memories for us; a dear friend recently passed and was given a memorial service in the space where Michael Parekowhai’s “The English Channel” sculpture is currently showing – it’s a wonderful work. The gallery is free (except for some special exhibits) and you can wander the spaces and view modern and contemporary works whilst getting some lovely glimpses of Sydney harbour. If colonial and 19th-century Australian works or the old European masters is your thing, your covered and to quote from their website “…There are also dedicated galleries celebrating the arts of Asia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art”, so a little for everyone I guess.
I did have a strange encounter in the Rocks. I was wandering the streets and spotted Ken Done’s gallery. Like most, I’m familiar with the man and his work but have never really given it much thought. So… I thought I might wander in and have look. As I was standing there – giving it some thought – Ken Done stuck his head out and started chatting. It was a lovely experience. He seems a genuine person and what that guy hasn’t done to market his work is not worth mentioning. We had a very enlightening conversation about monetising your work, what he does and why he does it. I’m now a Ken Done fan. I must admit I wandered down the road and into the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and noticed very little, I was preoccupied with squiggly opera houses and the colour yellow.
Open Air Cinema Experience
We love the cinema. The smaller and quirkier the better, it’s probably a throw back to childhood but seeking out and discovering a venue outside of the multiplex environment is as much fun as the films themselves. We reeeally love outdoor cinema and Sydney has got the mother of all outdoor cinemas, a better backdrop would be hard to come by. Only the Minack in Cornwall springs to mind, which is a theatre venue but if you follow the link you’ll understand why I mention it. The St.George OpenAir Cinema, on Mrs Macquarie’s Point, (part of The Domain, near the Royal Botanic Gardens) runs a summer programme of films through January and Feb. It’s one of the best cinema experiences we’ve ever had and if you stay away from the top 4 or 5 rows you may even avoid the bat shit (according to a very helpful usher).
Our final evening was spent at the Moonlight Cinema in Paddington at the Belvedere Amphitheatre, Centennial Park. We
have had a Moonlight Cinema in Port Douglas so we’re pretty familiar with the routine although we did upgrade to the Connoisseur Lounge which translates to a barely decipherable bean bag bed in prime location, so there’ll be no going back. I did take a photo but it’s not worth posting, click here to see it in its full marketing glory.
So there you have it, a 2 Day Coffee & Art Crawl in Sydney. If you are easily persuaded to a destination just for the kicking and sipping back, click here for some Far North Queensland caffeine.
We use Airbnb whenever the opportunity pops up. We run our own place in Port Douglas so know the system pretty well and for us it’s the most user-friendly private holiday rental apps. It’s a bit tricky to find places under 3 nights but click here to set up an Airbnb account, you’ll likely get more bang for your buck.
If hotel livin’ is your thing I’ve preset a search engine below for Sydney, just pop in your dates and you’re away. Also added some Agoda options as well.
Getting Around Sydney
Uber & Ride-Sharing
This time around Uber was our preferred option, we’ll try Taxify next time. We took a total of 11 trips in 2 days which came in at just over $150. All the drivers were great. The airport transfer to Darlinghurst/Kings Cross was only $35 & $30, which was cheaper and more convenient for 2 people than a shuttle or catching the train.
Taxify – This has just started in Sydney but is proving popular.
Goget – GoGet could be another option. It’s a car sharing service that lets you book cars near you by the hour or by the day. While not a ride-sharing service like Uber, it enables users to drive themselves by booking and ride with its fleet of cars, which can be picked up and dropped off around the city. You can get a $25 booking promo when you first sign-up to GoGet.
Bus – We did grab an Opal Card whilst we were there and did a couple of quick rides on the buses. You can get them for $10, a short ride will cost you $2/3. You can use the cards on the rail system also and are purchased at most convenience stores.
Train – Sydney has basic inner city loop which fans out extensively to the suburbs. personally we’d rather cruise the buses and take in the city. Click here for the Sydney Trains Network pdf.
Airport Transfers – Train will cost $14.30 into the city. Shuttles around $15 hence our preference of ride-sharing to the door for $30/40
Sydney Art Gallery Information
All the galleries mentioned have free entry except for special exhibits. See them listed on the map below.
Sydney Open Air Cinema Information
There are quite a few open air cinemas in the greater Sydney area, the ones we visited were the most handy for where a lot of the action is in the inner eastern suburbs.
Jan to Feb, only general admission @ $39 – you can’t reserve seats but they open up nearly 2 hours prior to screening and will give you a sticker that you can whack on a seat so you’re free to wine and dine.
1 Dec to 1 April | Adult $19, Fancy Bean Bed Bag $30
Map of 2 Day Coffee & Art Itinerary in Sydney
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