Finding holiday rentals in Sydney

Sydney city and suburbs

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Looking for the best areas for a holiday apartment in Sydney is a hard task for anyone planning a short visit to Sydney. Which suburbs are the best? What area will suit you? Is transport good? How easy is it to get around?

Holiday rentals come in so many shapes and size from serviced apartment blocks to Airbnb, Homeaway, VRBO and many more sites sharing vacation homes for rent. There are so many things to consider when looking for somewhere to stay in Sydney, but the biggest one is choosing the best location.

So, which is the best area to stay? To help you work this out, below we have given a rundown of the neighbourhoods or suburbs as we call them here that makes the most sense for short term visits to Sydney.

We have lived here all our lives, so we are well placed to help you make the right choice. Read on and learn more about our popular areas for vacation rentals in Sydney city and its suburbs. If you have questions once you are done, head over to our friendly Facebook group, and we will try to help you choose where to book a holiday rental in Sydney.

When we mention the city in this article, we are using the Sydney GPO (General Post Office) in Martin Place as the marker point.  You may like to refer to our Public Transport page for details of reaching these areas. 

City fringe suburbs

These suburbs are so close to the city that you can walk there in 30 minutes or less. They offer the benefit of fast transit to the city and a glimpse of the local lifestyle. All this while still being close enough to the key sites that you can walk or reach them by public transport in 15 minutes.

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Surry Hills

If you’re looking to enjoy some of the best of the local inner Sydney lifestyle, then Surry Hills is a great choice. The neighbourhood came from relatively humble beginnings as the home of Sydney’s textiles (clothing) industry and many of the now-converted warehouses in Surry Hills date to this time.

Surry Hills Sydney Cafe Culture
Surry Hills Cafe Culture

Employment in the fashion warehouses attracted many migrants to the suburb, who each left a mark on its character. This history is at least partly to thank for the fact that the Surry Hills of today is a foodie’s paradise. There’s an exceptional selection of restaurants serving multicultural and Australian cuisine, while after dark, there are plenty of cocktail and wine bars to keep you busy.

With so many restaurants, as well as theatres, parks, and shops it’s no wonder Surry Hills has rapidly become one of Sydney’s most loved inner-city suburbs. There’s no doubt that while staying in Surry Hills, you’ll have every chance to enjoy the great inner Sydney lifestyle!

Where is Surry Hills: Surry Hills is 3kms from the CBD and lies to the east of Central Station. Oxford St and Darlinghurst border it in the North and Redfern in the south.
Public transport: The nearest train station is Central in the south and Museum in the north. Buses run along Elizabeth and Crown Street.

A sample of holiday rentals in Surry Hills

  • Modern One bedroom apartment in a central location surrounded by great food.
  • Two-bedroom apartment in a converted church that sleeps up to six guests
  • Three bedroom house with a swimming pool that can sleep 8 in walking distance to transport and my favourite pastries!

We have also written about hotels in Surry Hills here.

 

Darlinghurst/Potts Point/Elizabeth Bay

Darlinghurst and Potts Point are always fond of a party, but things are particularly vivacious during Mardi Gras. The epicentre of Sydney’s LGBTQ+ community, Darlinghurst, in particular, comes alive with a fantastic festival and multi-day party. Even if you’re not in town for the spectacle of Mardi Gras, Potts Point and Darlinghurst is an excellent option if you’re looking to wine and dine in Sydney.

Sydney HOHO Bus in Kings Cross Australia
Kings Cross/Potts Point

Many of Sydney’s best restaurants and small bars are littered around this area, in particular around Macleay Street and along Darlinghurst Road. So whether your idea of a great night out is sipping a cocktail in a cozy bar, or fine dining on almost any cuisine, there’s sure to be an option.

Of course, the sun doesn’t need to be down to enjoy Potts Point and Darlinghurst. Both also offer great vibes by day, including an abundance of excellent cafes, boutiques, galleries and at least 15 yoga/pilates studios. Markets fill Fitzroy park each Saturday and Sunday, and another great option is to check out one of the shows at many independent theatres in the area.

Elizabeth Bay meets Potts Point and runs down to the harbour’s edge. The leafy streets and impressive architecture encourage exploration on foot. While the area has its share of hills and some killer stairs, this is a generally a walkable spot. Then there’s the fact that downtown, including the Sydney Harbour Bridge, is less than a half-hour stroll away.

Where is Potts Point/Woolloomooloo:  This area is 2km from the centre of the city and is boarded by Rushcutters Bay to the east, Paddington to the south and the Botanic Gardens and city to the west.  
Public transport:
The nearest train station is Kings Cross. Buses run along Oxford and Crown Streets and Darlinghurst Road. From Woolloomooloo, there are buses to the CBD.

Some great vacation rentals in the area

Read more on exploring Potts Point on one of our self-guided walks.

Glebe

Picturesque Glebe owes much of its character to the fact that it’s wedged between two of Sydney’s universities. As a result, Glebe is intellectual yet unpretentious, with bookstores, parks and cafes filled with lively conversation.

Glebe foreshore walkway
Glebe Foreshore Walk

As with many student areas, the neighbourhood of Glebe has a vibrant energy. The bookstores are not just places to pick up a much-loved paperback, but also to attend events ranging from political to new-age. Then there are the small bars and cafes, where students and university staff hunt down the perfectly-crafted cocktail or cappuccino.

It’s this unique character and some charming architecture that makes Glebe one of the best places to stay in a vacation rental. Think large Victorian-style terraces and wide leafy streets. There are lots of international eateries and an outstanding weekend market.

Glebe’s proximity and transport links to downtown Sydney also make it an excellent choice for where to stay. In just under half an hour you can walk from the beautiful waterfront parks of Glebe to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Not bad at all!

Where is Glebe: Glebe lies 3km to the south-west of the city. Rozelle and Blackwattle Bay site to the east, Ultimo to the north and Annandale to the west.
Public transport: The nearest train station is Central, but that is about a 20-minute walk. Buses are your best choice and run along Glebe Point Road, Broadway and Bridge Streets. There are also two light rail stops in the area.

Holiday rentals in Glebe

 

Pyrmont/Darling Harbour

If you want to be close to Sydney’s most iconic sights yet still experience the local lifestyle, then it doesn’t get much better than Pyrmont and Darling Harbour. Located on the fringe of the Sydney CBD, its excellent location makes it a hot pick for both locals and visitors.

View of Darling Harbour and Kings St Wharf Sydney Australia
Looking back towards the city from Pyrmont

Looking at all the sparkling office and apartment towers, it’s hard to believe that Pyrmont and Darling Harbour could ever have been described as ‘industrial’. However, the area’s association with the wharf meant it had a rough side historically. Those days are long gone, and today Pyrmont and Darling Harbour are some of Sydney’s most desirable neighbourhoods.

Sydney is synonymous with life on the water, and they certainly offer that; you can expect beautiful views from the accommodation and amenities in this area. There are also plenty of things to do. While Sydney’s most famous attractions are within walking distance, there are also things to explore locally, including five great old pubs.

There’s a bunch of great cafes and restaurants, as well as a theatre with regular shows at the Star and a lovely foreshore park with free BBQs.

Where is Pyrmont: Just 2km from the city Pyrmont has a waterfront position on the western side of Darling Harbour. Directly to the west, you will find Glebe.
Public transport: Light rail services both areas with stops on the western side of Darling Harbour, buses run along Haris Street and also near the Maritime Museum. There is a ferry wharf on both the Pyrmont side and the Kings Street Wharf side of Darling Harbour.

A Sample of holiday homes to rent in Pyrmont and Darling Harbour

Harbourfront suburbs

Kirribilli

Kirribilli, the dress circle of Sydney with harbour views fine enough to host the Prince and Princess of Wales and home to the Prime Minister and the Governor-General of Australia. This is a fantastic location for a holiday stay in Sydney.

Kirribilli Wharf is home to Celcius Coffee a local favourite.

While there are some grand designer houses over 80% of the dwellings are apartments with many 1920s and 1930s buildings with great period features. The area has so much charm that the short ferry or bus ride into the city will be with the trade-off for staying outside of the city centre.

Despite being so close to the rush of the CBD, Kirribilli feels much like a village. There are plenty of cafes and places to grab a quick meal nearby. If you are there on the weekend, check out if the fortnightly Kirribilli Market is on.

Where is Kirribilli: Kirribilli sits directly on the waterfront to the eastern side of the Harbour Bridge.
Public transport: Ferry is the most pleasant way to get into town, both the private Captain Cook ferry (Jeffrey St Wharf) and the public ferry (Kirribilli Wharf) service the suburb. You can also take the train from neighbouring Milsons Point.

Holiday homes in Kirribilli 

Milson’s and MacMahon’s Point

Milson’s Point is considered one of Sydney’s most liveable suburbs for its walkability and transport connections.  Add the premium views, and you have a gold star spot to stay.

View from Milsons Point to the City
Sunsets on this side of the harbour are very specials

Once you have finished your day of sightseeing you can explore the local attractions, Luna Park and Wendy’s Secret Garden are on your doorstep. It is also one of the prettiest spots for Sydney Harbour photos with a difference. Be sure to head to the old wharf for shots like this one.

North Sydney Harbour views
Lavender Bay pier is great for photos but is not serviced by public ferries.

Where is Milsons Point: Milson’s Point sits directly on the waterfront to the western side of the Harbour Bridge.
Public transport: The public ferry and the train station provide transportation to the city in a matter of minutes.

Some great vacation rentals in Milsons Properties

Get more of a feel for the area by checking out our Milson’s Point to Lavender Bay Walk.

Cremorne/Cremorne Point/Mosman

Cremorne and neighbouring suburb Mosman is home to my favourite walk in Sydney, and some of the best harbourfront bushland in Sydney. Strolling these tracks, you can easily forget you are in the middle of a city with 5 million people.

This view of the city from Cremorne
This view of the city from Cremorne was taken just left of the pools

This is a perfect choice for early morning exercise junkies and people who find being in the middle of a city suffocating. You are surrounded by greenery, but the city is less than 20 minutes away, and you can gaze across the water at the cities icons as they sparkle at night.

Where is Cremorne: Cremorne is 6km northeast of the city.
Public transport: Three wharves provide regular ferries across two routes to the city and in the opposite direction to Taronga Zoo

Vacation apartments to rent in Cremorne and Mosman

 

Balmain

For those willing to head a little bit further out of the city for their Sydney holiday rental, there’s much to love about Balmain. Of course, there are still excellent transport links across to the heart of Sydney, which is about six kilometres away.

Balmain Workers Cottage Sydney Australia
Original workers cottage in Balmain

While Balmain’s origins are distinctly working-class, today it’s a coveted residential hotspot. One look at it and it’s clear why; think leafy streets, casual cafes and beautiful heritage-listed buildings. Part of Balmain’s unique charm is its abundance of pubs, which serve up increasingly impressive menus along with your beverage of choice.

If shopping is your preferred indulgence, then you’ll love lively Darling Street with its many boutiques. As you explore Balmain, don’t forget to keep an eye out for impressive views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. There’s many on offer, and they’re always a delight!

Balmain Shops Sydney


Where is Balmain:
Balmain is 6km west of the city with harbour frontage at its eastern end. 
Public transport
: The best way to reach the city from Balmain is by ferry, there are two wharves servicing the area. However, if you are staying at the Rozelle end of Balmain buses will be much quicker. They run along Darling Street and Victoria Road.

Recommended Holiday Rentals in Balmain

Inner-city suburbs

These suburbs will require a quick bus or train ride into the city but will generally offer a more affordable property and also local prices on dining and shopping.

Newtown/Enmore

Every city has its little pocket that’s proudly “weird and alternative” — in Sydney, that’s Newtown. Now, we say that in the best possible way – and even locals are devoted to“keeping Newtown weird!”

Fintan Magee Mural Sydney The Hikers
Large scale murals can be spotted all over Newtown.

Located in Sydney’s inner west, Newtown and neighbouring Enmore are popular amongst students and bohemians, which gives it an alternative and lively character. Many writers and artists have called this area home, and to this day it remains a favourite of creatives. Unsurprisingly, the neighbourhood is particularly renowned for its live music and independent theatre scene.

Newtown is the epicentre of Sydney’s street art scene, which we have written about extensively.

There’s also a fabulous selection of cafes and multicultural restaurants, with an emphasis on organic and vegan produce. If you can draw yourself away from all that Newtown has to offer, then downtown Sydney is not far away.

Newtown Houses Sydney Australia
Offbeat meets tradition in Newtown

Newtown has excellent public transport links. It is also really, really pretty with historic terraced houses and Australia’s longest Victorian shopping street. So, if you like things a little on the quirky side, Newtown is the perfect location for your holiday rental in Sydney.

Where is: Newtown is 5.5km from the CBD. Erskineville borders it to the east, Leichhardt to the west and Enmore and Marrickville to the south. 
Public transport
: There are two train stations available depending on which end of Newtown you choose. St Peters Station sits at the south end of King Street. Newtown Station is in the middle of King Street near Australia St. Buses run along King Street to the city but can take a long time in peak hour traffic.

Find holiday rentals in Newtown and Enmore

Check out our Inner West walk that includes lots of dining tips along with more street art finds.

 

Redfern/Chippendale

What up-and-coming neighbourhoods Redfern and Chippendale lack in glitz and glamour, they make up for in unique heritage and character. Both of these neighbourhoods have been traditionally working class, and while they are indeed undergoing renewal – they’ve still maintained a bit of grit and plenty of heart.

Chippendale Sydney
This mural on the back of the Lord Gladstone Hotel changes frequently

Chippendale – or ‘Chippo’ to the locals – has long been a multicultural hub of Sydney and that can still be felt today. There are a bunch of different cuisines on offer, making it quite the foodie hotspot. As well as great restaurants, cafes and bars, there’s also an impressive collection of art – both the street kind and the gallery kind.

Nearby Redfern has a slightly different vibe. It’s long been the heart of Sydney’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, including many Gadigal people, Sydney’s traditional owners. This heritage is reflected in the general character of the neighbourhood – keep your eyes out for the Aboriginal flags painted around the streets. Both Chippendale and Redfern are suburbs changing, but many locals are devoted to preserving their character.

While they may be up-and-coming, they’re unique places to stay in Sydney where you’ll get a very different – and no less fantastic – side of the city.

Redfern Sydney Australia
Redfern offers a mix of old terrace houses and new highrise apartments

Where are Redfern and Chippendale: is bordered by Moore Park and Central to the east, Waterloo to the south, and Newtown to the west. 
Public transport
: Redfern station is at the south of the area and Central Station borders the northern end. Buses run along Regent Street in Redfern and Broadway in Chippendale.

Holiday rentals in Redfern and Chippendale we love 

  • This modern One bedroom apartment in Redfern is a minute walk from the train station and surrounded by exciting food and drink options. They also have baby items available.
  • Two bedroom house at the Moore Park end of Redfern sleeps seven people with a cot if required
  • Two bedrooms apartment in Chippendale that sleeps six just minutes from Central Plaza and the bars and restaurants of the area

Zetland/Green Square

The ever-increasing popularity of Sydney has seen massive investment in previously industrial areas. One neighbourhood that is right on the cusp of an enormous renewal is Green Square and nearby Zetland.

The area offers quirky history – Zetland was converted from a lagoon back in the early 20th century, before becoming a racecourse, car manufacturing plant and other industrial developments. Gentrification is now well underway with a considerable amount of investment already complete in Green Square and Zetland, opening up spaces and attracting investment to the area.

High rise development (and some say overdevelopment) has seen these once unknown suburbs now well on the way to providing home to 40,000 residents. Within Zetland and Green Square there’s a good selection of cafes, shops and other amenities. However, one of the best things about staying in a holiday rental here is the proximity to Sydney’s best attractions — without the price tag.

Be sure to check out the  $25 million library that recently opened across the road from the station.  Neighbouring Rosebery does not offer much in the way of accommodation, but it is a haven for foodies, so be sure to explore it while you are in the area.

Where is Green Square/Zetland: 3.5 kilometres away from the Sydney CBD, it is bordered
Public transport: There is a train station at Green Square with direct access to the airport stations. Buses run throughout the area with most travelling along Botany Road, Elizabeth Street and Bourke Street.

Holiday rentals in Green Square 

  • One-bedroom apartment near Danks Street shopping centre and fast buses that will have you in the city in 10 minutes.
  • Two-bedroom apartment near Green Square Station sleeps 4. Walking distance to foodie hotspot in Rosebery
  • Three-bedroom light-filled apartment in Zetland with buses to the CBD. Sleeps 6-7, good reviews

Beachside Suburbs

Manly

If you’re planning a visit to Sydney, chances are you’ve heard a thing or two about the city’s Northern Beaches. For many Sydneysiders, the beach is a way of life, and there are few better places to experience it than beautiful Manly. While Manly is just that little bit less hectic than some of its neighbours like Bondi, there is more than enough to keep you busy.

Shelly Beach Sydney
Shelly Beach and its ocean pool are the perfect spots for kids to enjoy the ocean.

First and foremost, there’s the beach – and a glorious beach it is. It’s great just for paddling or relaxing beside, but surfers, in particular, will love it. It was home to one of Australia’s first surfing competitions in 1964. Other watersports are also popular, including snorkelling and stand up paddleboarding.

Manly Pacific Apartments Sydney
Manly Paradise Apartments sit opposite Manly Beach and have fantastic views

If you’d prefer to keep your feet dry, there are several beautiful walks around — or there’s a great selection of restaurants, pubs and shops to visit. Although it feels a world away from bustling Sydney, Manly is only a short ferry ride away from the big smoke. Best of all, the views on the ferry are gorgeous… so it’s like an attraction in itself!

There are loads of waterfront bars, pubs and restaurants with plenty of spots to enjoy once the sun goes down.

Wharf Bar Manly Sydney Australia
Wharf Bar at Manly is one of several spots along the wharf to watch the sunset

Where is Manly: “7 miles from Sydney and a thousand miles from care” the slogan used to promote Manly as a getaway destination in the 1930s. The suburbs sits to the North of the harbour entry. 
Public transport
: Ferries will get you to and from Circular Quay. Both private and public ferries service Manly. The public ferry takes 30 minutes and costs about $2 less than the private one, which is about 10 minutes faster. Both accept Opal cards, but the private one does not count towards your daily or weekly cap.

Great vacation rentals near Manly 

  • Studio Apartment with beach views located in the central area between the harbour and the beach
  • The two-bedroom apartment sleeps five and is light-filled with water views
  • 3 bedroom house that sleeps 6 – great for families with parking for three cars

 

Bondi Beach / Bondi Junction

Ask anyone around the world to name a beach in Australia, and we bet that Bondi would come pretty near the top. It’s Australia’s most famous shoreline – for a good reason. Not only is it absolutely beautiful, but it’s arguably the pinnacle of the Sydney beach lifestyle as well.

Bondi Beach from a helicopter shows is the distance from the city. 

Imagine waking up in the morning, enjoying a delicious coffee (and avocado toast) at a waterfront cafe, before settling into one of the most beautiful beaches on earth. That’s pretty much your typical Saturday in Bondi, so it’s no surprise people from all over the country flock to live and visit the neighbourhood.

Campbell Parade Bondi

Located about eight kilometres from Sydney, the only downside to Bondi is getting in and out can be time-consuming and frustrating due to the traffic.  A bonus is a gorgeous beach, swimming pools, an endless selection of amazing restaurants, cafes and shops plus beautiful walking trails. What more could you want? We can certainly see why Bondi is one of the most popular places for a holiday rental in Sydney.

An alternative is Bondi Junction just a couple of kilometres away. The Junction is one of the transport hubs of the eastern suburbs, and there are some excellent holiday apartments here.  It’s a good option with the 10 minute trip to the city and a similar time to get to Bondi or Bronte beaches.

Where is Bondi: Bondi is 8km east of the CBD. It is bordered by Bronte to the south and the Woollahra and Paddington to the west. 
Public transport
: There is a train station at Bondi Junction. From here there are several buses to the beach. Buses also leave from the city.

Good holiday apartment options in Bondi 

  • Bright and sunny budget Studio apartment at North Bondi
  • One Bedroom with fantastic views over South Bondi at a good price.  Can sleep 4 if you use the sofa bed
  • Penthouse apartment in North Bondi with spectacular views from the large terrace – sleeps 4 in 2 double bedrooms

The best agencies and booking services for apartments in Sydney

Tripadvisor

Lots of people don’t realise that Tripadvisor also lists vacation rentals. They also offer buyer protection, which I find makes me feel more comfortable than booking directly. Many of the properties listed on other sites also appear here, including many Airbnb’s. So if you are not comfortable using that platform then double-check if the property is also listed on this site. There are a few rentals on Tripadvisor with no reviews, so the buyer protection makes me feel more comfortable.

Airbnb

Airbnb is very popular in Sydney and is generally fine to use. However, be extra careful around New Year’s Eve and holiday periods as having a host cancel your booking at this time of year can be devastating.  Make sure you use a super host or someone with excellent reviews. We have seen several cases of Airbnb hosts pulling out weeks from Christmas leaving the guests scrambling for a hotel room. Most bookings are fine but perhaps do not book a first time listing.  If you have not used Airbnb before you can use our code for a discount on your first booking.

HomeAway/Stayz

The best-known apartment rental supplier in Australia, I have used Stayz many times, I have also used HomeAway, and now they have merged their inventory is even larger. I believe you can book these properties with confidence.

 

So there you go, our take on the different parts of Sydney you can choose for your holiday rentals.  If you are here for more than three days and don’t mind a short commute to the city centre, then you will be well rewarded for staying in one of these areas.  Not only will you save some money but you also have lots more space, can self cater and get more of a feel of local life, warts and all!

If you still have questions head over to our Facebook group and ask a local what they think.

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Vacation and holiday rentals in Sydney

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