Don't get stuck in Sydney's traditional tourist traps when you head there this year. Instead, check out these hidden gems that you won't find anywhere else.
Sydney is one of Australia's most popular tourist destinations, attracting more than 8.3 million domestic overnight visitors last year. This is an increase of over 7 per cent on 2012 figures, suggesting the glittering city will continue to be a favourite of Australians looking for a holiday destination.
While the Opera House and Harbour Bridge will always be appealing tourist hotspots, there are plenty of other unique attractions that stay out of the spotlight. Take a look at the following things to do and see that are slightly off the beaten track.
Halfway between Vaucluse and Kings Cross lies Redleaf Beach, hidden from the road and located through a vibrant garden and down a path of stairs. It's well worth the time to hunt out though, as it has its very own pontoon and enclosed harbour pool, perfect for intimate swims with your loved ones. It's one of the city's closest natural swimming destinations but is usually exempt from the crowds that plague more popular beaches.
For something more remote, try Store Beach at Manly's North Beach. It's exceptionally private as it can only be reached by water. Hire a kayak and take a picnic lunch with you to enjoy your very own slice of paradise.
As an extra for experts, try Resolute Beach. It's accessible by boat or through a downhill walk through Ku-ring-gai National Park. If you do walk down to the beach, you'll be treated to spectacular views of Pittwater, Palm Beach and Barrenjoey Head. It's enclosed by cliffs and bush, giving it a real sense of privacy and serenity.
Sydney has recently been inundated with speakeasy-style bars, harking back to an age where you had to be in the know to find these establishments. One such bar is The Baxter Inn, located down an alleyway opposite the Redoak Boutique Beer Cafe on Clarence Street. Walk down the alleyway, turn right, head down a spooky-looking staircase and push open the plain-looking door to be greeted by over 300 different whiskies in an environment unlike any other.
The friendly bartenders can direct you toward a wine, beer or classic cocktail if whisky isn't your thing, and the dark, cosy ambiance provides for the kind of setting where you could quite easily (and happily) lose a few hours.
For another hidden bar with a twist, head to 16 Wentworth Ave in Surry Hills. Here you'll find a hot dog store that appears to have no one working there, with a Coca Cola fridge to the right. Open the fridge door and you'll find yourself in The Soda Factory, an Americana-themed bar and eatery with bartenders dressed like classic Hollywood film stars and musicians dishing out classic treats like macaroni and cheese - and, of course, hot dogs.
For a quirky weekend activity, head to Clovelly Bowling Club. The relaxed atmosphere is perfect for an afternoon of beer, bowls and barbecues with your friends and family.
Bring your own sausages, a sunhat and some flat shoes for a game on the green. First-time players will receive basic coaching and rules of the game before they are let loose on the turf, and at only $12 per person, it's an extremely affordable afternoon activity.
Cool off with a dip at nearby Clovelly Beach, then return to the clubhouse for an affordable Tooheys, Coopers Pale Ale, draft cider, wine or spirit.