Sydney is a city made for summer. Visit the east coast capital of Australia's New South Wales in the warmer months and you'll find you can enjoy all the city's attractions out in the open air.
With ocean, harbour and beaches just a short hop from the CBD, big-city glamour mixes with urban beach culture to create Sydney's unique personality. Fine dining, chic bars, shopping heaven, art and entertainment all line the shoreline and can all be experienced outdoors.
Start your open-air adventure at Bondi Beach, Sydney's famous stretch of golden sand. This summer, Bondi is buzzing like never before, with a new wave of bars, cafes, restaurants and accommodation making the suburb a great place to shop and socialise, as well as enjoying Sydney's traditional beach pursuits such as surfing, swimming and sunbathing.
Some of Sydney's coolest new eateries are here; there's TruckStop, serving tasty Japanese-American dishes at Beach Road Hotel, and Paper Planes, where Tokyo pop meets Bondi Beach cool, with skateboards on the ceiling, hanging origami cranes and a delicious mod-Japanese menu including nine sakes. And make sure you enjoy a cocktail in one of Bondi's bars by the beach. The Anchor is a swashbuckling pirate's lair featuring drinks by star mixologists; Bucklers Canteen is a beachfront Mexican created by rock musicians and designers and at The Bucket List, Sydney's beautiful people feast on buckets of fresh prawns by the sand and sip cocktails in deckchairs.
Browsing in Bondi is favourite pastime of fashion-loving locals, and one of their first stops is Tuchuzy, a source for the hottest Australian and international labels. Bondi is also home to the flagship store of Camilla Franks, Sydney's kaftan queen. Her feminine, floaty pieces are perfect for slipping into for a cocktail by the beach.
Follow the harbour east towards the CBD to the glamorous enclaves of Rose Bay and Double Bay.
A Sydney trip isn't complete without some downtime in these neighbouring harbour villages fringed by beautiful bays and filled with sophisticated bars and restaurants, cafes, shops and waterside parks.
Double Bay is a luxury lover's paradise, with tree-lined boulevards, fabulous shoe stores and chic boutiques. Shop until you drop for to-die-for shoes at Edward Meller, Cosmopolitan Shoes and Belinda shoe store, or a designer frock at Belinda, Marni, Germajella, Leona Edmiston Vintage or Christensen Copenhagen.
You'll find the perfect lunch spot just around the headland in Rose Bay. On a harbour pier, The Sailors' Club, with a 1960s Palm Springs-inspired interior, has an all-day dining menu crammed with fresh seafood delights - and of course, harbour views from every seat. At the other end of the bay is Catalina, a fine-dining Sydney favourite, where you can watch sea planes or a sunset from a waterside balcony seat.
Sydney's most famous ferry ride from Circular Quay leads to Manly, a northern beachside suburb with both harbour and ocean views, a cosmopolitan buzz and lively nightlife.
Shopping in Manly is a treasure hunt for the fashion savvy, with 200-plus fashion and lifestyle stores to be discovered along the famous Corso and its surrounding streets and hidden laneways.
Manly locals enjoy socialising as much as they love the surf, and it's easy to combine both at gorgeous waterside bars such as Hugos Manly, right on the wharf, and Manly Wine facing the ocean. Or take a high perch at the New Brighton Hotel's new The Rooftop, a chilled-out oasis with daybeds and pod chairs with views out to the ocean horizon.
Don't forget to sample some of Manly's traditional beach pursuits: surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, snorkelling, kayaking. They're all suitable for all skill levels and are a great way to get really close to Sydney's ocean culture.
For another different flavour of Sydney harbour life, visit Balmain in the inner west. This picturesque peninsula really sparkles in summer, when you can stroll among heritage cottages and pubs, leafy parks and pretty streets with harbour views around every corner. There's a thriving cafe culture and abundant galleries, bookshops, homewares stores and chic boutiques. You'll even find an open-air pool, the Dawn Fraser Baths and a little beach – right in the heart of the city.
Balmain has one of the city's most popular outdoor markets, Balmain Markets, with more than 140 stalls of vintage, fashion, curios and craft. And Sydney's thriving wine bar scene is well represented here too, with The Lodge, which has a courtyard perfect for sampling their 200-plus wine list on a balmy summer night, and The Cottage, a wine bar in a lovely old sandstone house.
For more information on Sydney in Summer go to www.sydney.com