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Travel Guide of Paddington and Darlinghurst, Sydney for: Kirketon Hotel Sydney 4.0

Paddington and Darlinghurst, Sydney, Greater Sydney

Paddington and Darlinghurst Summary

Pros

  • Cosmopolitan and edgy suburbs popular with locals  
  • Paddington Markets for weekend artisan shopping and people watching
  • High-end shopping include glossy designer and indie boutiques 
  • On-trend speakeasy cocktail bars and tiny independent wine bars
  • Booming culinary scene featuring top boutique restaurants 
  • Fun nightlife ranging from cool hipster hangouts to a vibrant LGBTQ scene 
  • World-famous annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade
  • Gorgeous Georgian architecture 

Cons

  • Noisy and crowded on weekends 
  • Super urban and densely packed compared to other inner suburbs
  • Parking is limited

What It's Like

Sydney’s inner-eastern suburbs are enjoying something of a reformation. These once-shady parts of town are now at the forefront of the city’s hip shopping, drinking, and dining scenes, and locals love the super urban vibe here just as much as tourists. 

This is a fast-paced and youthful part of the city, densely packed with shops and eateries, though off along the side streets you'll find handsome architecture and quiet, leafy boulevards (particularly toward Surry Hills). The main road is Oxford Street, which cuts through the south of both Darlinghurst and Paddington. It’s a long strip of fashionable boutiques, designer stores, galleries, and coffee shops. Much of the area’s booming culinary scene can be found along here too, with pizzerias, tapas bars, and one of Sydney’s most popular ice-cream parlors among the highlights.

In party-hard Darlinghurst, American-style saloons sit secluded down dark lanes, and along the main streets there are tiny independent wine bars, beautifully restored pubs serving cheap(ish) beer, and lounge bars housed in Art Deco buildings. Oxford Street also has plenty of nightclubs. Weekends are noisy and busy, and it’s worth trying to arrange a taxi in advance if you’re not staying in the area. For something a little more highbrow, quality theater companies include the Darlinghurst Theatre Company at the heritage-listed Eternity Playhouse. Darlinghurst is also the center of Sydney’s LGBTQ community; there’s a vibrant gay nightlife scene and Darlinghurst’s stretch of Oxford Street is where the world-famous Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade takes place each year.

Neighboring "Paddo" -- as Paddington is sometimes called -- has a more upmarket vibe. Well-heeled locals shop in narrow William Street’s glam boutiques, and there’s serious kerb appeal, with million-dollar Georgian terraces fronting palm-lined avenues and hidden down chic little lanes. Most tourists come here for the Paddington Markets. Every Saturday, over 150 artisanal food and craft stalls take over the grounds of Paddington Uniting Church. It’s Sydney’s original arts and crafts market, showcasing the works of local businesses and designers. A percentage of the profits are donated to a local homeless center. Even if you’re not planning on buying anything, it’s worth a visit for the people watching. 

Paddington’s other must-see attractions include the Regency-style Victoria Barracks -- a convict-built military complex dating back to 1848 -- and the impressive Paddington Town Hall, with its 30-meter-high clock tower. Green spaces are non-existent in the neighborhoods themselves, but Hyde Park and large Centennial Park aren’t far away if it all feels a bit too hectic.

Where to Stay

Boutique is the key word when it comes to Darlinghurst and Paddington hotels. Choose from quirky, artsy, regal, industrial, and even rock ‘n’ roll themed -- in its heyday the Altamont Hotel Sydney was a nightclub frequented by the likes of Madonna and the Rolling Stones. Rooms in these neighborhoods tend to be on the small side, but most travelers seem happy to make the compromise for the intimacy and character.

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