Discover Sydney and beyond with AVIS
Driven by better, Avis is a leader in continuous improvement, ensuring you have flexibility and convenience at your fingertips as you explore the diverse neighbourhoods of sydney and its surrounds.
Yes, Sydney is gorgeous. On a sunny day, it can feel as if you’ve stepped into an Instagram-perfect picture of yachts and Opera House sails, plump beaches and cafés serving skinny lattes. But if you’ve admired Sydney’s pretty superficiality before and want to connect with a less poised and more varied city, take a drive into its unexpected corners.
Pick up your Avis rental car from Sydney airport – Digital Check In on the Avis app allows for a speedy contactless experience.
And if you’re looking to travel in luxury, the Avis Signature Series offers a premium range of luxury European cars, including BMWs and Mercedes.
Sydney is filled with thriving multi-cultural communities that provide a welcome hit of overseas influences in this era of closed borders and smaller horizons. Foodies in particular will be rewarded: local restaurants, delis and corner stores are filled with a rich array of enticing tastes and aromas.
You’ll find underestimated sights too, from heritage buildings to great walks – even tranquil corners of Sydney Harbour.
Our driving tour takes three days, but we hope it inspires you to explore more - simply extend your rental car booking through the Avis app.
DAY 1: MULTICULTURAL MEANDER
Start early. Sydney Fish Market on the edge of the CBD has an energetic working vibe, salty smell and waterfront location, and opens at 7am. On a weekday you might even want to join a 6:40am tour of the auction floor, where 50 tons of seafood are sold by Dutch auction, followed by visits to some of the seafood retailers. Either way, a wander brings an eyeful of seafood from oysters and rock lobster to sea urchins and spanner crabs.
You could set aside another day for a lunchtime visit, when you can enjoy the freshest sushi and sashimi, or fish filleted and cooked to order on the spot. But for now, drive 20 minutes onwards to Petersham, Sydney’s ‘Little Portugal’, for breakfast and some stickybeaking.
Sweet Belem Cake Boutique has possibly the best Portuguese tarts in Australia – crispy pastry, rich filling, and a dusting of cinnamon – but you’ll also be tempted with another Portuguese favourite, jesuita, a triangle of pastry stuffed with almond cream.
You could do your own food tour in Petersham, hopping from Frango’s and its Portuguese chicken and bacalau (salt cod) to the Spanish Portuguese Butchery for chorizo and ham, and then to Petersham Liquor Mart for a few bottles of vinho verde for your cellar.
Don’t overdo it, because further west is Auburn, one of Sydney’s most multicultural suburbs. Anchored by Sydney’s largest mosque and filled with shops perfumed with rose water, this suburb feels like a journey overseas.
Shops are piled with plump dates, candied chestnuts, Turkish cheese and Lebanese spices. RT Turkish Delight is crammed with finger-licking treats flavoured with rosewater or coconut.
Auburn is especially known for Middle Eastern cuisines. You could lunch at Mado Café on skewers of lamb, or at Ali Baba on lahmajun, a pizza-like Turkish snack topped with minced beef and spices. Alternatively, delve into Afghan food at Khaybar, whose eggplant dip and pilau are sensational.
And so onwards for some afternoon sightseeing at Parramatta, which sits roughly at Sydney’s geographical centre and is one of Australia’s oldest European settlements. Convict and other early colonial buildings such as Old Government House sit in World Heritage-listed Parramatta Park.
Not far away at Rosehill you can visit Elizabeth Farm, built in 1793 and surrounded by a recreated 1830s garden.
Parramatta has emerged as one of Sydney’s hottest dining and nightlife destinations, particularly known for Southeast Asian, Taiwanese and Middle Eastern restaurants. Church Street is nicknamed Eat Street for its choices.
However, if you’re a fan of Indian cuisines, take the short drive to adjacent suburb Harris Park. Wigram Road has a string of Indian restaurants that include fragrant Hyderabad House for spicy biryanis and Chatkazz for share-worthy Mumbai street-food dishes such as samosas, dahl, kofta and curries.
Parramatta has a terrific bar scene too, so sashay on to beer gardens or cocktail lounges such as the suave Heritage Lounge or 1920s New York-style Nick and Nora’s, which has light-twinkled views from its 26th floor location.
DAY 2: MOUNTAIN HIGHS
Consider spending the night in one of Parramatta’s stylish luxury hotels. You’ll be well-placed next day to head to the Blue Mountains, where lush rainforest and spiralling waterfalls compete with plunging escarpment views.
The food scene here, once confined to chintzy high teas, has become very sophisticated, allowing you to combine good eating with magnificent landscapes as you browse your way from farm door to deli, café to fine-dining restaurant.
As the highway snakes into the Blue Mountains, make a first stop at Wentworth Falls to tackle the National Pass walk, down the side of a waterfall and mid-cliff along the Jamieson Valley.
Reward your hike with lunch at charming Silk’s Brasserie: lamb backstrap with babaganoush or salmon fillet with eggplant and laksa, perhaps.
The wine list has a good focus on the NSW Central West, with particularly fine Cabernets and an interesting Viognier dessert wine from Orange. Leave room for dessert: the date shortcrust tart with fig syrup and pistachio ice cream is delicious.
Alternatively, it isn’t far to upmarket Leura, whose pretty cottages nestle among azaleas and pine trees. Leura Garage’s industrial décor recalls its original business, and is the place for upmarket café-style dishes such as bruschetta, steak sandwiches or lobster-tail pasta.
Afterwards, call at Josophan’s Fine Chocolates for superb truffles filled with honey, lavender or basil cream.
Avoid the main highway and take the cliff-hugging drive from Leura to Katoomba past fern-filled gullies, gushing waterfalls and lookout points that culminate at Echo Point, which gazes over the famous three-pronged rock formation the Three Sisters.
For a leg-stretcher, walks lead along the escarpment and down into the Jamison Valley; or take the Scenic Railway or Skyway.
Stay the night. Lilianfels is the ultimate romantic hotel, but views are better at Echoes Boutique Hotel a cockatoo’s cackle from Echo Point.
Guestrooms have staggering panoramas over the Jamieson Valley, and the restaurant too has dizzying sunset vistas to accompany pan-seared snapper and stuffed zucchini flower, or confit duck infused with honey and ginger.
DAY 3: WATER WORLD
After an early morning Blue Mountains ramble, head back towards the city, aiming for lunch at Blacktown, which provides another cornucopia of multicultural eating choices. You may well find a cuisine new to your palate, such as Burmese or Filipino.
At Gursha Ethiopian Restaurant you’ll discover a delicious array of Ethiopian meat and vegetable stews, best concluded with a traditional pot of coffee.
Shake it down afterwards in vast Western Sydney Parklands, which brings together bushland, wetlands, urban farms, a Chinese garden and distant city views.
From here, rather than aiming towards the predictable city centre, keep east for 40 minutes across northern Sydney in order to explore Middle Harbour. Its more open southern end features plump beaches at Clontarf and Balmoral, while its northern end retains almost-original landscapes of sandstone headlands and damp gullies.
Here you’ll find Garigal National Park, which preserved dozens of indigenous sites including rock art and middens. The three-kilometre Cascades Trail winds along a gushing creek shaded by scribbly gums and bloodwoods, and you’ll pass only a few in-the-know locals.
Options for dinner? A row of local-haunted restaurants at Spit Bridge includes buzzy Ormeggio for cocktails and Italian seafood. Meanwhile Afous is a temptation of Spanish tapas and flavoursome Moroccan tajines filled with meatballs or lemon-preserved chicken with a side of sunset harbour views.
Alternatively, drive into Manly for a wider range of options. True, this suburb wedged between harbour and ocean is firmly on the tourist trail, but once day-trippers depart, it takes on an entirely different evening vibe as residents come out to dine.
Popular eateries include French bistro Hemingway’s and wharf-side Hugo’s for contemporary Italian.
Once your Sydney and surrounds getaway is over, return your Avis car, using the return vehicle button in the app if you’re a Preferred member for a contactless drop off.
To start your trip, hire a car with AVIS now!
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