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Bondi Beach, Sydney Travel Guide

Bondi Beach Summary

Pros

  • Front page-worthy sweep of dazzling golden sand and picture-perfect waves 
  • Equally front page-worthy lifeguards
  • Great surfing for all levels, from novices to experts
  • Bondi to Coogee clifftop coastal walk with glorious sea views 
  • Iconic Bondi Baths pool and Bondi Icebergs Club overlooking the ocean
  • Lazy alfresco drinking and dining along the beachfront road
  • Weekend farmers market showcasing local produce
  • Annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibition

Cons

  • Thousands of sunbathers on weekends and all summer long
  • Borderline unbearable weekend traffic and tricky parking  
  • Half-hour bus journey from Sydney’s main attractions
  • Some blocks can be hyper-touristy

What It's Like

Beautiful Bondi is the Australian beach cliche -- a wide sweep of golden sands, great surf (and surfers), toned lifeguards, games of beach volleyball, and a care-free cafe culture. For many, it’s the ultimate urban beach destination (though it's getting a run for its money by other Sydney beach areas in recent years).

Bondi is around a 15-minute drive (or half-hour bus journey) east of Sydney’s CBD and it’s one of the city’s busiest beach suburbs. The beach itself is a wide crescent of soft sands backed by an iconic graffiti-covered wall and a grassy knoll. The shore is packed with body-happy locals and scantily-clad tourists basking in the sun -- often topless. But sunbathers aren't the only eye-candy here, and the lifeguards are so easy on the eyes that they star in their own Aussie TV show. The waters are suitable for surfers of all levels and there are lots of nearby surf schools offering lessons. At the southern end of the beach, Bondi Baths is the world-famous over-the-ocean pool that regularly makes the rounds on social media photos. A Sydney landmark for over a century, the pool is open to the public year-round (except Thursdays) and swimmers regularly feel the crash of the Tasman Sea while doing their laps.

There’s a serious fitness scene in Bondi, even on land. You’ll spot lots of joggers, games of beach volleyball, and sunrise yoga sessions. For visitors, the most rewarding exercise comes in the form of the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk, which winds along the coastline past Bronte and Clovelly. This six-kilometer walk (approximately four miles) takes in rock pools, sandstone cliffs, and parklands, and provides postcard-perfect views of the beaches and headlands. From May to November, there’s even the possibility of spotting whales. During October, the stretch of coastal path from Bondi to Tamarama is transformed into a temporary sculpture park featuring over 100 sculptures during the annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibition.

Bondi’s main street, Campbell Parade, is lined with cafes, surf shops, ice-cream parlors, and bars with outdoor seating that spills out onto the sidewalk. Sea views come at a price, even for drinks. If that’s not a problem, head to Bondi’s landmark restaurant, Sean’s Panorama or -- at the other end of the beach -- Icebergs Bistro, above the Bondi Baths. Just off Campbell Parade, the recently revamped Hall Street has a more upscale vibe, with some great wine bars, coffee shops, and swish dinner joints. For cheaper dining, Bondi Junction has a few backpacker-style haunts, or there’s always the option of take-out fish-and-chips on the beach.

Shopaholics can get a fix in Bondi, too. Saturdays see the arrival of the Bondi Farmers Market, showcasing local produce, while on Sundays, the lively Bondi Markets at the north end of Campbell Parade specialize in vintage clothes and on-trend accessories. For everyday shopping, there’s a large Westfield at Bondi Junction, though plenty of boutiques are packed into the streets all around the area near the beach. 

Where to Stay

There are a lot of apartment-hotels and serviced apartments within walking distance of Bondi Beach, many centered on hip Hall Street. Sea views naturally come at a premium and some of the best spots are reserved for a couple of light-and-airy boutique hotels -- like the historic Hotel Bondi -- but there are also hostels (some of which have ocean views). Bondi Junction has cheaper alternatives and better transport links thanks to its train station.

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