Five Sydney Staycation Ideas You’ll Absolutely Love inner banner

Five Sydney Staycation Ideas You’ll Absolutely Love

Taking a holiday doesn't have to mean taking a flight, especially if you're lucky enough to live in the magnificent Harbour City. Here are five amazing ideas for a Sydney 'staycation'.
Sydney staycation ideas
Sydney staycation ideas: The Old Clare Hotel. Image: Destination NSW

When you live in one of the world’s most beautiful cities, the possibilities for a stay-at-home holiday are pretty awesome.

Whether you prefer to hang by the harbour or retreat to the bush, perch high above the city or plunge into its heart, there’s a Sydney staycation option for you. Here are five fabulous ways to enjoy nature, culture, history and amazing cuisine on a short break in Sydney.

Watch our video of ten top things to do in Sydney:

10 Top Things to Do in Sydney, Australia, 2022 | Sydney Travel Guide | Win a Tour Voucher

Are you planning a visit to the amazing New South Wales capital? In this episode of our online travel series, we bring you ten top things to do in Sydney.

1. Be at one with nature at Billabong Retreat

Sometimes you just need to come home to yourself, and for that you need peace, nurturing and an inspiring change of scene. Set in stunning bushland less than an hour’s drive from the Sydney CBD, Billabong Retreat is a wellness resort that provides all those things and more. There are hints of Bali in the high-ceilinged yoga hall and outdoor lounges, but Billabong’s natural environment is all-Australian and includes an iconic geographical feature we city-dwellers have heard of but rarely see.

Sydney staycation ideas
Sydney staycation ideas. Image: Billabong Retreat

There really is a billabong here, and it’s a beauty — large, deep, tree-fringed, whisper-quiet and completely magical. You’ll find your steps turn again and again towards this natural centerpiece of the retreat. It’s the perfect place to wander, muse and perhaps — accompanied by a friend for safety — to swim.

Less adventurous but deeply satisfying is a dip in the magnesium aquatherapy pool after a calming yoga or meditation session. Uplifting mindfulness and nutrition programs are included in retreat packages, while spa treatments are a luxurious add-on. The organic vegetarian meals are a delight, and cooking demonstrations let you take home new skills such as fermenting and pickling.

Sydney staycation ideas
Image: Billabong Retreat

Accommodation choices at Billabong Retreat range from dorm-style rooms or standard yurts with basic en-suite facilities, to deluxe cabins with queen-sized beds, spacious lounge areas, rainforest showers and decadent balcony baths. Go on. You’re worth it.

2. Go camping on Cockatoo Island

Camping in the heart of the city? Yes, it’s possible — legally, comfortably, and very scenically! Situated at the confluence of the Lane Cove and Parramatta Rivers, Cockatoo Island is the largest island in Sydney Harbour and is reached by an easy 15-minute ferry ride westward from Circular Quay. It’s hard to believe that such a short journey can bring so striking a change of environment. Although the high-rise city skyline is always visible, this UNESCO World Heritage-listed outpost seems to belong to another world, combining rugged natural beauty with a rich history.

Sydney staycation ideas
Sydney staycation ideas: Cockatoo Island. Image: Destination NSW

Once a fearsome prison, Cockatoo Island carries the evidence of its convict past in the sandstone buildings of the upper island. At sea level, its later industrial history is displayed in the iron remnants of shipyards, cranes and railways.

All this can be seen on a day visit, but an overnight stay with a Deluxe Camping Package takes the experience to a different level. Relax on a comfortable camp chair outside your fully prepared two-bedded safari tent and watch the ferries and water taxis go by. Dusk brings a slow drift of yachts heading out for an evening sail, followed by a spectacular sunset over the inner harbour. It’s a short walk to the camp kitchen to make your dinner (bring provisions!), before falling asleep in your tent, lulled by the rhythmic wash of passing boats.

Sydney staycation ideas
Camp on Cockatoo Island. Image: Harbour Trust

A night under canvas can be just what’s needed to interrupt routines and reset your thinking. Grab the family and make a weekend of it, or plan a sneaky midweek escape just for you.

3. Quarantine your cares at Q Station

In our grandparents’ time, city-dwellers would pack up for their annual seaside holiday ‘seven miles from Sydney, a thousand miles from care’. Downtown Manly might have outgrown its old marketing slogan, but there’s a place nearby that fits it to a tee.

Like Cockatoo Island, Q Station is an urban heritage site that has been reconceived as holiday accommodation. The secluded natural setting and charming vintage buildings of Sydney’s old quarantine station make this a staycation experience that’s both idyllic and quirky.

Sydney staycation ideas
Sydney staycation ideas: Get away from it all at Q Station. Image: Roslyn Jolly

Surrounded by 30 hectares of national park, Q Station is the ideal place to get away from everything without going far at all. The repurposed quarantine quarters with their long verandahs (perfect for enjoying a glass of wine before dinner) overlook green lawns and the sapphire-blue waters of the North Harbour. Stroll around the site to discover the best vantage points, or venture further afield to embark on renowned Sydney bush walks like the Fairfax Walk.

The surrounding sandy coves are lovely and you can hire snorkels to explore the marine reserve. The daytime history tours and nighttime ghost tours bring the stories and characters of the old quarantine station to life (so to speak!). Book a ‘Ghostly Getaway’ and combine a ghost tour with deluxe accommodation and a late checkout.

Sydney staycation ideas
Image: Q Station

The onsite meal options are exceptional. Enjoy fine dining at the Boilerhouse Restaurant or choose the more casual ambience of the adjoining Engine Room Bar — which serves some of the same outstanding dishes, plus a selection of pub favourites.

4. Enjoy some cutting edge urban cool at The Old Clare Hotel

Why should out-of-town visitors have all the fun when it comes to city hotels? The Old Clare Hotel in Chippendale is one of a new generation of hip, design-based boutique hotels springing up in the inner city, and it’s one that locals will love. Full of colour and character, The Old Clare offers doorstep access to the best of Sydney’s modern urban lifestyle.

Sydney staycation ideas
Sydney staycation ideas. Image: The Old Clare Hotel

Two Chippendale landmarks — the former Carlton United Brewery and the County Clare Inn — were combined to form the physical structure of the hotel, which opened in 2015. Inside, The Old Clare Bar pays tribute to its student-pub heritage, with original tiled walls, band posters from gigs in the 1970s and 80s, and even a specially designed carpet printed with ‘spilled beer’ splodges. Upstairs, the old Carlton United Boardroom has been transformed into a unique luxury bedroom suite with super-high ceilings and original wood panelling and parquetry.

Sydney staycation ideas
Image: The Old Clare Hotel

Mid 20th century design reigns throughout the hotel, as do the random vintage touches. Watch out for the dentist’s chair in the front lobby and the unusual bedroom lamps and light fittings made from upcycled industrial apparatus.

Foodies are in for a treat here, as the hotel opens straight onto Chippendale’s pedestrianised Kensington Street restaurant precinct. Breakfasts are served in the A1 Canteen, while Automata combines fine dining with an edgy steampunk aesthetic. There’s also a charming rooftop bar (open to the public) and pool (reserved for hotel guests) with city views.

5. Live it up at the Intercontinental Sydney

With its stunning harbourside location and classic five-star amenities, the Intercontinental Sydney is the perfect venue for a sophisticated city staycation.

There are two ways you can play this. Book an accommodation package with Club Intercontinental access and you may decide never to leave the hotel, spending all your time in the award-winning Club Lounge instead. A sumptuous breakfast, all-day snacks, elegant afternoon tea and generous twilight drinks and canapés are provided here, all with 270° harbour views. Chat with your companion, browse the newspapers, pick out city landmarks from the wrap-around balcony or simply watch the changing colours of the harbour and landscape, before retreating to your luxury room for a sweet night’s sleep.

Sydney staycation ideas
Sydney staycation ideas. Image: Intercontinental Sydney

Otherwise, take the opportunity to be a hometown tourist — it will never be easier than this. The Intercontinental is perfectly positioned for the city’s main heritage and cultural attractions. It’s five minutes’ walk to the Botanic Gardens, ten to the Sydney Opera House, and fifteen to the Art Gallery of New South Wales. The Museum of Sydney and acclaimed Justice and Police Museum are close by in Macquarie Street, while just down the hill are the ferries, restaurants, and festive atmosphere of Circular Quay.

For more inspiration, visit www.sydney.com.

Popular Sydney tours and experiences

Use promo code and save 10%
Gift Voucher
36 months
From $50.00
5.0 rating
Top selling tour
Walking Tour of The Rocks, Sydney
90 minutes (approx.)
From $35.00
5.0 rating
Top selling tour
From $119.00
rating
Top selling tour
From $190.00
4.8 rating
Lunch included
From $239.00
4.4 rating
Top selling tour
From $135.00
4.4 rating
Top selling tour
From $135.00
4.5 rating
Top selling tour
Sydney True Crime Tour
1.5 hours (approx.)
From $34.00
5.0 rating

Browse our full range of Sydney tours and experiences here. We offer a Best Price Guarantee and COVID-19 Cancellation Guarantee.

Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of top Sydney staycation ideas? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.

Cover image: Destination NSW

Roslyn Jolly

About the writer

Roslyn Jolly is a freelance travel writer whose work has appeared in Escape (News Limited), Mindful Puzzles, Vacations and Travel, and Mindfood. In her former career as an English Literature academic, she studied and taught the work of great travel writers, such as Henry James, Herman Melville and Robert Louis Stevenson, and became fascinated by the history of travel and tourism. Two years at school in Wales and three years at university in England allowed Roslyn to travel extensively in Europe and North America, which she continues to do.

 

1


Travel essentials

You can book many aspects of your holiday on the Top Oz Tours & Travel Ideas website, including flights, hotels, car hire, travel insurance, and more. When you purchase a product or service using the following links from our partners, we receive a small commission. It does not affect the price you pay, and it enables us to continue to provide readers with amazing travel inspiration.




Flights

Compare airlines, flights, and fares in one place with Booking.com. They don't charge any credit card fees and you can always see exactly what you’re paying for in the price breakdown. You can book one-way, round-trip, and multi-city flights, and change your travel dates with ease when you opt for a flexible ticket option (an additional cost applies). It all adds up to a great flight! Search for flights with Booking.com


Hotels

If you're looking for a great deal on your next hotel or homestay, look no further than Booking.com. Their mission is to make travel affordable and accessible to more people, and to deliver seamless accommodation experiences that complement your holiday. Search for hotels and homestays with Booking.com



Car hire

Discover Cars is an award-winning (World Travel Awards) car rental comparison website, which helps customers find, compare, and hire cars at the most competitive prices globally. You’ll get access to meticulously maintained cars, 4WDs, and minibuses from the world’s leading brands, and at the best possible price. Search for car hire with Discover Cars



Campervans & motorhomes

Make Jucy your first choice for campervan and motorhome hire. Since 2001, this progressive company has had a vision to be world-famous for enabling experience seekers to discover happiness on the road. The Jucy crew live and breathe their core values of passion, pride, family, and fun, and these values influence every one of their interactions with customers. They’re ready to help you find 'your happy'. Search for campervans and motorhomes with Jucy



Day tours & experiences worldwide

Search and book day tours, guided experiences, and attraction tickets and passes worldwide with Top Oz Tours and Viator. There are no booking or credit card fees when you book through us, and you’ll have access to the widest choice of activities and most competitive prices. Search for tours and experiences



Multi-day tours & trips worldwide

Travelling on an extended tour with a local guide is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the destination of your choice. Top Oz Tours has joined forced with Tour Radar to bring you a fabulous range of multi-day tours and trips from the world's leading operators. Travel with like minded people and get the best possible price on the holiday of your dreams. Search for multi-day tours and trips



Travel insurance

World Nomads aims to be a part of every traveller’s journey by providing a reassuring range of travel insurance services. Travellers can buy insurance, extend their policy, and claim online, 24/7, on the road or from home. Travel insurance benefits include coverage for emergency medical and evacuation or repatriation, lost baggage, trip cancellation, and more than 150 adventure activities. Get an insurance costing from World Nomads


Subscribe to our newsletter for the chance to win a $100 voucher

keyboard_arrow_leftPrevious
Nextkeyboard_arrow_right

 

Share

Please leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.

Your Cart
Your Cart Is Empty
error: This content is protected.