Food, Art and Culture – How to Get the Most out of Sydney

St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney has one of the most beautiful mosaic floors in the world
St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney has one of the most beautiful mosaic floors in the world | © robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Lou Boyd
Commissioning Editor28 May 2020

Sydney is full of art and culture, much of which can be enjoyed outdoors. Explore and enjoy the city’s sub-tropical climate with these markets and tours.

Sydney, the capital of New South Wales and Australia’s largest city, has a vibrant and popular cultural scene. To experience the best of what it has to offer, you don’t need to stay inside galleries or museums. From open-air markets and street-art tours to sculpture parks, there is a plethora of culture to be found al fresco in the Emerald City. This curated selection of experiences will help you discover the best of outdoor Sydney.

Admire the Architecture of St Mary’s Cathedral

Cathedral, Church
Map View

One of the world’s finest English-style Gothic cathedrals, St Mary’s is well worth a visit on a free day in Sydney. Following a devastating fire in 1865, Archbishop Polding commissioned architect William Wilkinson Wardell to design a new cathedral. Constructed of dressed Sydney sandstone, Wardell’s building is grand in every way. The biggest place of worship for the Catholic faith in the city, St Mary’s stretches 107 metres (351 feet) in length and 75 metres (246 feet) in height, thanks to the spires built in 2000. It’s also home to a beautiful crypt with a stunning terrazzo floor. Even the most secular among us will feel an emotional reaction to this building, which will be of interest to anyone with a love of history or architecture. Following the 10.30am Mass on Sundays, St Mary’s Cathedral offers a free guided tour; for a small fee, guided group tours are available during the weekdays.

Browse the Stalls at Orange Grove Market

Farm Shop, Farmers' Market, Market, Vegetarian, Vegan, Healthy
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If good, sustainable and organic produce is your thing, then you’ll be in your element at Orange Grove Market. The weekly market takes place in the outdoor space of Orange Grove Public School in Lilyfield, Sydney, offering the area’s best meats, eggs and cheese, plus quality fruits and vegetables. As well as stocking up on all the best ingredients, you might leave this market with something new for your house or yourself, as the stallholders have recently started including independent jewellery brands and art prints. If you begin to feel a little peckish during your visit, the market also has vendors selling a range of street food and ready-to-eat items, including fresh oysters and vegan options.

Explore the street art in Newtown

Architectural Landmark
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Newtown, a suburb in Sydney’s Inner West, was once seen as a scruffy student area, but it has now become a vibrant hub for the city’s artists and designers, as well as many trendy cafes and bars. The street-art scene around Newtown is famous not only in Australia but all around the world. With pieces from artists such as Ox King and Alex Lehours on every corner, you can easily lose a few hours exploring the neighbourhood’s streets. Start on King Street, with A Rising Tide by Phibs and Ox King, before working your way around the area.

Look for Foley’s art playground in Redfern Park

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The sculptures in Redfern Park aren’t just for admiring – children can climb and play with them. Fiona Foley’s art playground took inspiration from the natural landscape around its location to create art that evokes the imagination and encourages play. Geared towards children under the age of seven, the park features stainless-steel-and-bronze lotus flowers that spray kids with water, playhouses and bouncers that are inspired by seed pods and a red climbing frame that spells out the Aboriginal word for “creator”.

These recommendations were updated on May 28, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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