Sun, sand, and surf is likely what you picture when you imagine Australia, and Sydney is likely the spitting image. But, this city is more than just a surfer’s paradise: from the eucalyptus forests of the Blue Mountains to the more than 40 concerts, show, talks and tours held weekly at the landmark Opera House, Sydney is a visitor’s dream.
Looking to get “out there” a little more? Tough Mudder has you covered. The Sydney Tough Mudder Full and Half start and end in the middle of Glenworth Valley which just happens to be a mudder’s dream: think mud, mud, and more mud. You’ll be in the heart of Australia’s central coast, thick with deep valleys, rivers, and ravines. Here’s how to make the best of both world’s on and off the course:
The first thing to know about Sydney is that it isn’t cheap; the second is that the food is often worth the expense. That doesn’t mean you have to break the bank to dine here, however. Lentil As Anything, with locations throughout Australia, offers meals without a set price. Instead, diners are encouraged to dine together then contribute what they feel. Menus always include vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options, and usually feature lentils, curries, and a wide range of vegetables as side dishes or as salads.
If you’re craving something a bit heartier, head to Burger Project. This fast food chain prioritizes slow food values, using 100% grass-fed beef and hormone-free chicken for their burgers and sandwiches. Still hungry? Their fresh-made ice-creams satiate any sweet tooth. Not feeling like burgers? Via Napoli Pizzeria, an award-winning pizzeria, cooks a variety of authentic pizzas with a kick: they’re one meter (three feet) long. Grab some Tough Mudders and dig in.
Have any friends that clutter your Instagram feed with food pictures? Or maybe, that’s you. Head over to Back & Forth, a cafe serving hot coffee and delicious meals. Their deconstructed acas bowl comes with homemade RAWnola (that’s granola that’s raw), fresh fruit, and “nicecream” (which is made by blending frozen bananas with acai).
For those craving sophistication, head to Quay, a renowned restaurant with views of Sydney Harbor–which means every table has a clear view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge or the Sydney Opera House. While most meals have good reviews, the star of the show is the Snow Egg, a poached meringue egg filled with custard and nestled in guava granita. Pair this with a show at the Sydney Opera House and you have one unforgettable night.
Sydney has no shortage of things to do, and with nearly year-round perfect weather, it’s usually outside. For a classic Sydney activity, head to Bondi Beach, just six miles from downtown Sydney, and enjoy the array of people sunning, swimming, and striding along the half-mile section of white sand. For those wanting more action, try surfing. Let’s Go Surfing is just one of several companies that will have you hanging ten by the end of the lesson.
Still on an adrenaline rush? Take it one step further by climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge–that’s right, BridgeClimb will lead you to the top, 134 meters above sea level. You’ll be clipped in, so there’s no chance of falling, and the views will be well worth the effort.
For a nearby pre-race jog (or a more relaxed post-race hike), check out Sydney Harbour National Park, an oasis of green in the bustling city. Much of Sydney’s original flora and fauna can still be found here, so keep your eyes peeled for bandicoots, grey headed flying foxes, or water rats. You might hear a laughing kookabura, just one of the 150 possible bird species seen here.
Looking to get away? The nearby Blue Mountains offer a rugged escape best seen with a tour. Check out Blue Diamond Tours for an all-encompassing trip of the Blue Mountains. Tours, which start and end in Sydney, take you to Featherdale Wildlife Park, where you can cuddle with a koala and hang with wallabies and kangaroos, and to several farm stands along the way to pick up farm-fresh Australian produce.
Need solid gear that can cover you throughout Sydney, from the surf to the city to the mountains and back again? Check out Merrell’s new 2017 line for all your needs.
Known as Sydney’s best backpackers’ accommodation, Wake Up! is a convenient hostel located across from the central bus station, which is particularly helpful for those traveling on foot. Several guided beach walks, along with special events like wine & cheese night, or $2 taco nights, make this especially great for those looking to meet people and make friends.
For those who appreciate art and are looking for a boutique experience, QT Sydney can’t be beat. Described as a blend of “Gothic, Art Deco, and Italiante,” the hotel also features a great location and a popular bar downstairs.
Want to stay in the center of it all (and by that we mean, do you want to be a 10 minute walk from the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House)? Then book yourself at the Ovolo Woolloomooloo. The name’s hard to pronounce, but don’t let that stop you. Built in an old wharf building and featuring both historic and modern furniture, this decadent hotel offers guests extras like a pool room, an indoor pool and spa, and a pleasant location by the harbour.