We won’t be the first ones to tell you that Christmas will look a little different in 2020 – but Sydney is still pulling out all the stops for the festive season. With restrictions easing and plenty to do and see, there’s never been a better time to experience Sydney at its best.

A summer Christmas spent at the beach, with Santa at the BBQ with his boardies and thongs might still be a foreign sight for most of the Northern Hemisphere. But for Australians, there’s nothing better. And with its beautiful beaches, Christmas traditions and decorations around the city and fun for the whole family, this will be a Sydney Christmas for all of us to enjoy.

Here is Guest Realty’s guide to a sunny and safe Christmas in Sydney.

Can we visit?

As of December 1, visitors from Victoria, ACT, South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and Northern Territory will be allowed to enter Sydney without a mandatory quarantine.

But keep an eye on changing restrictions and do not travel if you’re sick. Some states may also require you to register your travels when you leave or return, so it’s best to check your state government’s website before you travel. NSW Health will have the latest guidance and hotspots.

What should I do?

Any trip to Sydney is not complete with a tour around the key sights. The beaches along the Eastern Suburbs remain open and welcoming for visitors and locals alike. Settle down on the soft beaches of Bondi or enjoy a coastal walk between the beaches for some incredible views.

UPDATE: Stay-at-home orders are now in place in the Northern Beaches. With a growing hotspot there, only residents from the area will be able to enter the region.

Take a walk around the harbour coastline to see the iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House from every, photogenic angle. And make sure you make a pit stop around the Royal Botanic Gardens and its picture-perfect inBLOOM Exhibit found in the new Calyx exhibition space.

For a cinema experience that’s not only socially distant but something a bit different, Mov’in Boat is a cinema like no other. Relax in your private boat or floating bed as you watch some of the latest releases and family favourites projected on a huge outdoor screen in the middle of the bustling Darling Harbour.

For the art-enthusiasts, the newly opened Chau Chak Wing Museum is unmissable. The museum is home to four stories of art, culture and history, curated in collaboration with the Indigenous community and accessible for free (though bookings are essential).

Or for something more immersive, don’t miss the final few days of the Van Gogh Alive exhibition – a world-renowned, multi-sensory experience taking you into the world of Van Gogh’s most famous images. Tickets are available until December 20.

For the foodies, Sydney is home to a culturally diverse plethora of great restaurants and bars – including some of the World’s Best – many of which will remain open through Christmas.

Our picks? Ormeggio at the Spit or Quay Restaurant (pictured below) offer award-winning food with incredible water views.

For something a bit different, you can enjoy Private Dining under the sea in the SEA Life Sydney Aquarium, complete with a private tour of the aquarium.

For drinks, take to the skies at the newly-opened Bar 83 at the top of Sydney tower for panoramic views of the city and seasonal cocktails. Or enjoy creative cocktails and a fun 1950s-inspired decor at Maybe Sammy Sydney that was just named Number 11 in the World’s Best Bars.

Get into the Christmas spirit

The city has taken on its full festive transformation for December, with Christmas lights and decorations filling up the CBD. A festive walk from QVB, past the David Jones shop windows, down George and ending up at the iconic Martin Place Christmas tree will surely get you in the Christmas spirit.

Darling Harbour has also lit up with joy for the festive season, with gorgeous Christmas light displays dotted all along the waterfront. Topped with fun stalls, craft workshops and activities for the whole family, it’s a Christmas destination for everyone.

European Christmas markets might be off the cards this year but Sydney’s version is just as good. The weekly markets at the Rocks, Entertainment Quarter and Carriageworks will be transformed by the Christmas theme for festive treats and great handcrafted gifts to fill the stockings. And in the spirit of community and giving back, don’t miss the fair-trade market in Chatswood on December 5 or the Blak markets to support Indigenous artisans and makers on December 6.

No Christmas is quite the same without some carols and Carols in the Domain is the spectacular show that lights up Sydney every year. This year, there will be limited availability to attend in person but you won’t want to miss the live broadcast on Wednesday 23rd December. (And that’s why it’s always a good idea to make sure your accommodation has a great TV to see the show)

Where should I stay?

1. Bondi

Bondi beach is as synonymous with Sydney as the sails of the Opera House. And so, where better to spend your stay in Sydney. Access to one of the best beaches in Sydney and not far from the CBD, Bondi is a great place for a holiday getaway. That’s why our Bondi properties are some of the most popular ones any time of the year.

This 2-bedroom, fully-furnished apartment with unbeatable views of the beach is one of our favourites. The open balcony and funky living area is perfect for entertaining or relaxing after a long day at the beach, only 500m away.

2. Bronte

Bronte is the quieter sister beach to the bustling Bondi and just a 2 short 25-minute coastal walk from the bustling main beach. Cool down in their two man-made rock pools – the Bronte Rock Pool, or Bogey Hole – or learn to surf away from the crowds of Bondi.

Bronte is also home to this spectacular home with ocean views. The huge outdoor entertaining area that overlooks Bronte beach is perfect for the summer nights.

3. Marrickville

Recently named the tenth coolest neighbourhood in the world, Marrickville is an inner-city hub of great food, drinks and culture. Just a walk through the colourful streets will be a journey of smells, interesting architecture and street art.

Here you’ll find charming townhouses – many renovated with modern finishings but keeping the facade of its history. It’s perfect for a family getaway that’s right in the middle of the action in Sydney.

4. Darlinghurst

On the edge of the CBD is the funky, vibrant suburb of Darlinghurst. With multicultural restaurants, cozy cafes and intimate cocktail bars, it’s a destination within itself. Its colourful history brings a certain edge to the suburb, seeping into the offbeat fashion and vintage shops dotting along Crown Street. And you can’t miss a night out on Oxford Street renowned for being the centre of the city’s LGBTQIA scene and fun nightclubs and live music venues.

Our Darlinghurst cottage puts you close to the action while maintaining your comfort and privacy with its private outdoor area. For all of December, you’ll also enjoy free parking.

5. North Sydney

Across the Harbour Bridge, you’ll find North Sydney – a bustling commercial city by day and a relaxed, scenic area on the weekends. Locals flock out to the outdoor cafes or down by the water for amazing views of the Harbour and the city.

Our apartments here are perfect for a longer-term stay for those who want to relax into the local lifestyle. Many also house some of the best views of the city, right in time for the New Years fireworks.

To plan your Sydney stay over the festive break, Guest Realty is here to help. We share some of our favourite local tips and spots daily on our Instagram.

Or get in touch with our team now and we’ll find the right property so you can have the best experience.

Header photo by Caleb Semeri on Unsplash