sydney harbour

20 Best Suburbs in Sydney to Live

Sydney is renowned worldwide for its stunning natural harbour, iconic Opera House and beaches like Bondi. But beyond the famous tourist attractions, Australia’s biggest city offers a diverse array of suburbs that make it one of the most livable cities in the world. 

From trendy inner-city villages to laid-back oceanside communities, Sydney’s suburbs run the gamut – providing something for every lifestyle. Whether you’re a young professional seeking a happening cultural scene, a family prioritising great schools and outdoor spaces, or a retiree looking for a peaceful bayside retreat, Sydney has a neighbourhood to match.

This varied tapestry of suburbs is what gives the city its unique character and appeal as a place to live and work, not just visit. Strolling the streets, you’ll encounter historic worker’s cottages in tree lined enclaves, surf about to hit the waves at one of the many breathtaking beaches, or stumble upon buzzing restaurant strips and funky local markets.

In this guide, we explore 20 of Sydney’s standout suburbs that encompass the very best of what makes this metropolis so remarkably livable. From the sophisticated harborside precincts to up-and-coming hotspots, cosmopolitan melting pots to family-friendly havens, these are the neighbourhoods that should be on your radar when choosing where to put down roots in the Harbor City.


This iconic northern beaches suburb is situated on a peninsula, surrounded by incredible beaches like Manly Beach, Shelly Beach, and quiet coves. Known for its relaxed coastal lifestyle, Manly has a vibrant cafe culture along the Corso pedestrian mall, excellent surf breaks, and the scenic Manly to Spit Bridge coastal walk. Ferry services provide an easy 30-minute commute to the CBD. Family-friendly with top private and public schools.


One of Sydney’s most desirable and trendy inner-city suburbs, Paddington is renowned for its beautiful Victorian terrace houses, boutique fashion stores along Oxford Street, and buzzing cafe/restaurant scene. Tree-lined streets with ornate cast-iron lacework offer a village atmosphere despite being just 3km from the CBD. The Saturday Paddington Markets are a local institution. Attracts many young professionals and creatives.

Bondi Beach

World-famous for its spectacular sandy beach and surf breaks, Bondi is the heart of beach culture in Sydney. Campbell Parade is lined with trendy cafes, bars, shops, and the iconic Bondi Icebergs pool. The coastal walk from Bondi to Bronte is a must-do. Despite the touristy vibe, it’s a highly desirable residential area with a lively atmosphere and great amenities. Excellent transport links to the city.


An affluent harborside suburb on the lower North Shore known for its grand Federation homes, waterfront parks, and bushwalks. With several private schools, boutique shopping villages, and easy CBD access via ferry or bus, Mosman offers an enviable lifestyle for families. The Taronga Zoo is a major attraction. Balmoral Beach is a sheltered harbour beach popular with locals.


This sophisticated lower North Shore suburb hugs the harbour’s edge directly across from the Opera House and CBD skyline. Upscale Kirribilli is renowned for its multi-million dollar waterfront homes, elegant dining, and the iconic Kirribilli Markets held under the Harbour Bridge. With spectacular harbour views, easy city access, and a village-like feel, it’s one of Sydney’s most exclusive suburbs.


Tucked between the iconic suburbs of Bondi and Tamarama, Bronte is a little beachside gem that often gets overshadowed but offers a lovely village atmosphere. The jewel is undoubtedly Bronte Beach itself – a picture-perfect sandy bay with great surf, an ocean pool, and grassy areas perfect for picnicking.


A prestigious inner-west suburb with a maritime industrial past and rich colonial heritage. Balmain is famous for its beautifully preserved Victorian workers’ cottages, lively village atmosphere, harbourside parks, and thriving cafe/dining scene along Darling Street. With easy city access via ferry or bus, it offers a lovely laid-back lifestyle but limited housing stock drives high property prices.

Neutral Bay

An affluent lower North Shore suburb on the harbour known for its pretty tree-lined streets, cafes, village atmosphere and views of the city skyline. With harbourside parks and reserves plus popular weekend markets, Neutral Bay is very family-friendly but also offers good proximity to the CBD via bus or ferry. Real estate consists mainly of grand Federation homes on generous blocks.


A vital commercial centre on the Upper North Shore, Chatswood attracts visitors and residents with its massive Westfield shopping centre, dining options, entertainment district, and good transport links into the city. It’s a multicultural family suburb with quality public/private schools and parks, making it popular with Asian professionals and families. Housing ranges from apartments to Federation cottages.  


The heart of Sydney’s alternative, creative, and LGBTQI+ scene, quirky Newtown is an eclectic mix of vintage shops, street art, live music venues, bars, and restaurants lining King Street. University students are drawn to its edgy, bohemian vibe and relatively affordable housing. Despite being very urban, Newtown retains a strong community spirit with iconic pubs and neighbourhood hangouts.

Double Bay

One of Sydney’s most affluent and stylish suburbs, Double Bay is the home of haute couture shopping, waterfront fine dining, and designer boutiques along tree-lined Bay Street. This small but prestigious harborside enclave features elegant apartment buildings and some of Sydney’s most expensive real estate overlooking Sydney Harbour. It offers a cosmopolitan, indulgent lifestyle.


The vibrant heart of the Sutherland Shire, this laidback beachside suburb is renowned for its long stretch of sand at Cronulla Beach, excellent surf breaks, coastal esplanade lined with cafes/bars, and chilled-out vibe. A popular weekend getaway destination, Cronulla draws beach lovers, families, and active types with its ocean pools, coastal walks, and dining scene along the waterfront ‘The Shallows’.


One of Sydney’s most dynamic inner-city villages, Glebe was one of the first suburbs settled in the early colonial days. It features beautiful 19th century heritage terraces along tree-lined streets, excellent proximity to the CBD, and a lively strip of cafes, bookstores, and small bars on Glebe Point Road. Glebe is popular with students and creatives who enjoy its bohemian yet community-minded character.


Just 6km from Sydney’s CBD, the inner-west suburb of Leichhardt is renowned for its strong Italian influence – from the trattorias and cafes lining Norton Street to the annual Italian festival. Its diverse housing includes Victorian workers’ cottages and contemporary townhouses. Family-friendly amenities include excellent schools, green spaces like Pioneers Memorial Park, and good transport.

Avalon Beach

A relaxed beachside suburb at the northern end of the Northern Beaches peninsula, Avalon is beloved for its laidback village atmosphere, surfing beaches like Avalon Beach, coastal bushwalks, and thriving cafe/dining scene in the village centre. Families are drawn to the quiet streets, quality public schools, and kid-friendly amenities away from the more hectic tourist hubs.


This pretty inner-west suburb has retained much of its village charm and sense of community despite gentrification. Leafy streets lined with workers’ cottages and terraces, harbourside parks, and a vibrant cafe culture on Darling Street give Rozelle an old-world appeal. It’s family-friendly, has top schools, and efficient public transport links to the CBD.  


The smaller, more intimate neighbour to Bondi, Coogee Beach is a hugely popular stretch of sand offering great surf, coastal walks, beachfront parks and playgrounds. The surrounding residential area boasts ocean views, a lively cafe strip on Coogee Bay Road, family-friendly attractions like the Coogee Pavilion, and convenient bus services to the CBD.


What was once a run-down harbourside industrial area is now one of Sydney’s most scenic and trendy urban neighbourhoods. Pyrmont’s historic wharves, workers’ cottages, and sandstone cliffs have been revitalised into hip cafes, waterfront bars, restaurants, and million-dollar homes. Its proximity to the CBD and waterfront location make it a desirable place to live.

Dulwich Hill

A family-friendly haven in Sydney’s Inner West, Dulwich Hill offers a variety of architectural styles from workers’ cottages to modern townhouses. Its village-like hub along Marrickville Road has a feel-good community vibe with cafes, parks, and great schools. Transport is excellent with a train station and buses to the CBD. A popular choice for affordable living without compromising amenities.

Dee Why

The civic hub of the Northern Beaches, Dee Why seamlessly combines a laidback beachside lifestyle with urban conveniences like Westfield Warringah Mall. Highlights include Dee Why Beach, coastal trails, quality schools, and a bustling culinary scene along ‘The Strand’. With oceanfront apartment towers and family homes, it offers the quintessential Australian beach community.

Living in Sydney

Exploring Australia’s Great North Road and Convict TrailĀ 

Old Great North Road World Heritage Walk, Dharug National Park

The rugged Australian bush north of Sydney holds an intriguing blend of natural beauty and historical significance along the Great North Road and Convict Trail. This 240km corridor carved through the sandstone landscape connects Sydney to the Hunter Valley, providing a wealth of opportunities for hiking, heritage tourism, and reconnecting with Australia’s colonial origins.

For outdoor enthusiasts, sections of the Convict Trail within Dharug National Park northwest of Sydney offer excellent hiking and bushwalking opportunities. Unusually straight stretches of the trail reveal the original, gruelling route of the Great North Road blasted through solid rock by convict labour gangs in the early 19th century. The trail passes evocative historic sites like Dolly’s Creek where over 1,000 haunting convict rock carvings remain etched into the sandstone. 

Along the way, hikers can follow the path of these early forced labourers as it traverses eucalyptus forests, rocky outcrops, and steep gullies. Rewarding views overlook the Hawkesbury River Valley below. Well-maintained walking tracks range from easy 1-2 hour circuits to strenuous multi-day treks allowing visitors to experience the Trail’s isolation and ruggedness much as the convicts once did.

For history buffs, guided tours along the Convict Trail provide a window into Australia’s brutal convict era when thousands of British criminals were transported to the penal colony and employed in harsh conscripted labour to construct critical infrastructure like the Great North Road. Stop at historic sites like the Bucketty Hill Reserve to examine pristine examples of convict-built culverts, retaining walls, and road cuttings which remain impressive feats of civil engineering given the primitive tools of the time.

Beyond the trail itself, the nearby Dharug National Park offers lush bushland, picnic areas along the Hawkesbury River, and opportunities to learn about the area’s indigenous cultural heritage. For those wanting additional colonial history, the town of Wisemans Ferry has several heritage buildings dating to the 1800s as well as the Convict Trail Project’s excellent visitor centre with interpretive exhibits.

Whether hiking through the remote Australian bush or exploring haunting heritage sites of forced labour, the Great North Road and Convict Trail provide an immersive journey into both Australia’s harsh convict foundations and its ancient natural landscapes. Pack your hiking boots and sense of history for an unforgettable experience.

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