Manly lies on the North Head of the Sydney harbour entrance and there is a pleasant walk up to the head where the old Quarantine Station stands. For kids, Manly WaterWorks has three giant water slides and a great beach. The Manly Visitor Information Centre is located on Manly Wharf, and is a good spot to start exploring the area.
It is hard to not find things to do in and around Sydney, which is the most visited city in Australia. A short trip north along the coast, however, brings you to the suburb of Manly, which has quite a bit to offer for the tourist wanting to get out of the city and wanting to avoid the bustle of Bondi. So why should you visit Manly?
10. Walk the Corso: This promenade, in the centre of Manly, plays home to a number of shops and restaurants, as well as entertainers in the warmer months.
9. Have a pint at the Bavarian Bier Café overlooking Manly Cove: Relax on the furniture on the porch and sip on a Franziskaner while sitting back and looking out over Manly Cove. Good bier with a nice view, or, if you’re in more of a hurry to get a little fuzzy, try their Metre of Schnapps!
8. Food and wine: Manly is home to a number of great bars and restaurants that you can dine at every day, but once a year, in June, it all comes outside for the Food and Wine Festival. With an incredible range of food and drinks, there is something for every man, woman and child to enjoy. This event draws thousands, so be ready for the crowd.
7. Oceanworld Manly: Now a branch of the Sydney Aquarium, Oceanworld has been around since 1965. Home to the second longest aquarium tunnel in the world and only steps from Manly Wharf, it is a convenient stop right off the ferry. For the more daring, you can even dive with the sharks.
6. All hail the champions: The Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles have won a number of NRL (National Rugby League) championships, most recently in 2011, and have never finished last in the league. So a good chance you’ll see a very competitive game if you make the journey a little bit north of Manly to the Brookvale Oval.
5. Gunner’s Walk and Artillery School: Drive up to the old Artillery School (or walk, as it’s not all that far) and visit the nature centre housed in the buildings of the school. Then take a tour of the Gunner’s Walk, a walkway cut out through the swamps and scrub that takes you to see great and interesting sites, including old artillery pits and the abandoned North Fort headquarters, as well as the Quarantine Graveyard. Historic sites as well as rare flora and fauna, all in a short walk that is doable for almost anyone.
4. The trip is half the fun: Take a ferry from Sydney and enjoy the views from the river. Whether it be past the Sydney Opera House and Fort Dennison, to the open expanse of the Tasman Sea between North Head and South Head, the odd water-sport enthusiast out enjoying the waves or the view of the coastline along the cove, the ride is relaxing and entertaining, with plenty of great photo opportunities.
3. All that jazz: Manly is home to a jazz festival the likes of which is hard to find anywhere else in the world. Over 70 acts hit the beach in early October from noon until night, with indoor acts later in the evening. One of the largest jazz festivals in the world, the atmosphere is unique and energetic.
2. Enjoy the sand and surf: Bondi gets all the press, but Manly provides just as nice a beach experience. While not quite as wide, the beach is longer than Bondi and more accessible, the footpaths just merging into the sand. The surf has just as much potential to get wild, but the longer beach allows for a little more space to try to find the perfect break.
1. Hike from Manly to North Head and back: This is a haul, and not for the weak of heart, but it is rewarding, offering the most amazing views to be found in the Sydney area. Starting at the wharf, head through the Corso and south down the beach, along the path to Shelly Cove. After this, it gets a little dangerous; break off the path and follow the cliff-line through the scrub, through an old wall that was part of North Fort and up over rocky swampland. This will take you down past the water plant, the old barracks and all the way to Fairfax Point. Take time to enjoy the amazing view, then head west along the Point to the old Quarantine Station, then north along Spring Cove, up through town and back to the wharf. It’s about 13 or 14 kilometres of mixed terrain, uphill and downhill, and sometimes along dangerous ground, but it allows you to see the most incredible views of the Sydney area.
Manly Art Gallery & Museum
Australian paintings and changing exhibitions. West Esplanade, Manly (02 9949 1776)
Water park. West Esplanade.
North Head Scenic Drive, Manly (1300 886 875)
For Manly accommodation check Manly accommodation.