This seaside town gives off a thousand-miles-from-care vibe, despite being only seven from the CBD.  

Although it welcomes day-trippers and tourists in their hoards, Manly has managed to retain the relaxed coastal vibe that made it so popular in the first place. Put aside any ideas you may have about the northern beaches and let us show you just what it is about the tranquil town that has travellers flocking and locals sticking around. We know you’ll be clearing 48 hours in your diary after reading our weekenders guide curated by a born-and-bred local!

Friday Night

Dinner at Sunset Sabi

Sunset Sabi boasts its ability to do traditional izakaya style Japanese, with a modern twist. And we know, you’ve heard that phrase a million times before, but with options like the ‘Sabimame’ – a modern take on edamame incorporating truffle, chilli and orange, or the salmon sashimi which trades soy sauce for a jalapeno cream, you better believe them. For anyone still not convinced, let me introduce you to their dessert menu. Choose between the Sweet Burger – two sweet potato doughnuts with Japanese whisky cream, matcha white chocolate and fresh strawberries, or the Apple Crumble Gyoza – apple compote, vanilla custard, blackberry puree and crumble. That’s right, eat your words.


Breakfast at Fika Swedish Kitchen

When three Swedes living in Sydney set up shop in an attempt to bring some of the much missed comforts of their homeland to Manly, magic happened. From the traditional Nordic delights lining the shelves, to the definitely-not-from-IKEA Swedish meatballs and the house-made sticky cinnamon buns, the airy cafe is so sweetly Scandinavian. As for the name, the Swedish concept Fika is all about making time for friends and colleagues to share a cup of coffee and a little something to eat. And here in Manly, we think they’ve got just the right idea.

Manly to Shelly Beach Walk & Swim

Head to the south end of the main beach and follow the walking track until you reach the tranquil cove that is Shelly Beach. The sheltered beach is perfect for spending a day in the water – swimming, paddle boarding, or as the locals do, snorkelling. Sip a coffee from The Boathouse under a palm tree, or head up to the North Head walking track for those seeking a little more adventure.

Picnic Lunch

Take a packed lunch with goodies picked up at Infinity Bakery in the morning, and enjoy a picnic lunch at Shelly Beach or one of the many coves around North Head. Or head to The Boathouse for a more formal lunch setting.

Shop ’til You Drop

Image via Sam Riles

Bypass the big name stores and shop the many independent local stores to find some of the best in one-off antiques, second-hand books and artfully sourced fashion. Indulge your #innernerd and browse the shelves at Desire Books & Records. Bonus: second-hand book smell. Then head up the street to Assembly Label for simplified clothing and lifestyle pieces for those who appreciate purposeful, well made products and relaxed coastal living.

Dinner at Chica Bonita


You’ve experienced Japanese delights from the team behind Sunset Sabi, now try out their first venture, Chica Bonita. This hole-in-the-wall taco joint and margarita bar came about off the idea of creating a space where people could forget where they are and enjoy a moment that could be anywhere – Mexico, California, New York City, or Manly. With a philosophy of flavour first, it also happens to serve up some of the best Mexican food in all of Sydney. But this local-loved spot, operating across both sides of a classic Manly arcade, is known to get busy so get down early, or pop your number down and await a text over a drink across the street at The Hold.


Breakfast at Bare Naked Bowls

It wouldn’t be a trip to Manly without indulging in some #raw #organic #glutenfree produce. And the guys at Bare Naked Bowls do it best with their wide range of acai bowls, smoothies, and even a healthy take on the humble porridge. Whilst it is known to fill up with an active-wear inclined crowd on a Sunday morning, don’t let this put you off. As the old saying goes: good things come to those who queue up for breakfast.

Meander Through the Manly Markets

Step outside the popular breakfast spot straight into the open-air weekend markets. Stroll down the market-lined laneway and discover the best in emerging design, fashion and gifts from local creators.

Lunch & Drinks at The 4 Pines Brewery


The love child of a post-surf beer and a casual conversation between a father and son, this wharf-side venue began what is now one of Australia’s most successful breweries, 4 Pines. Enjoy the results of their quality craftsmanship, natural ingredients and traditional-time honoured techniques, with the entire core range on tap, alongside superb pub grub and stunning views of Manly’s harbour side.

Catch the Ferry Home


Just 30 minutes from the CBD on the Manly Ferry, or 18 on the Fast Ferry, getting home from your weekender has never been easier, or as pretty! Sit on the deck or next to a window and soak in the breathtaking scenery on the ride home.


We recommend booking yourself an Airbnb for all the comforts of home, but if you’re after something a little more luxurious,  The Novotel overlooking Manly Beach is your best option.


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