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Manly, Sydney Guia de Viagem

Manly Resumo

Prós

  • Tree-lined Manly Beach for some of Australia’s best surfing 
  • Shelley Beach for snorkeling and secret Store Beach, only accessible by water 
  • Family-friendly attractions like the SEA LIFE Sanctuary
  • Upscale harborfront dining at Manly Wharf 
  • Pedestrianized Manly Corso lined with colorful surf shops and cute cafes
  • North Beach for sunset views over Sydney’s harbor and skyline
  • Cabbage Tree Bay Eco-Sculpture Walk and Manly Lagoon Reserve
  • Scenic ferry ride to reach the main sights at Circular Quay

Contras

  • 30-minute drive (an hour in peak traffic) to Sydney’s CBD
  • Traveling back and forth on the ferry can get expensive 
  • Nightlife scene is sedate and cabs nighttime cabs home from downtown are pricey

What It's Like

Manly is the most popular of Sydney’s northern beaches, reached by a scenic 20-minute ferry ride across the harbor from Circular Quay (there’s even a bar on board serving beer to set the laid-back vibe). While this suburb sprawls across hills, it's the harbor- and oceanside areas that draw visitors in droves. It’s not as famous or counter-cultural as Bondi Beach -- the scene here is more casual and upmarket -- but the backdrop of pine trees along Manly Beach, which serve to block out the city, makes it feel world's away from the bustle elsewhere in town.

Manly’s hub is the Manly Corso, which connects Manly Beach and Manly Wharf. This partially pedestrianized promenade was built in 1855 as a boardwalk for early tourists. It remains the focal point of Manly, lined with popular bars, cafes, and colorful shops selling flip flops and surfboards. Cafes have fairy light-strewn courtyards and there are some classic sports bars for pub enthusiasts. Out on the Corso, children splash about in the fountains and street performers entertain the masses. For more upscale international restaurants, wander along the Corso to Manly Wharf. This is where the locals go, and it hosts some of Sydney’s hottest new restaurants with a side of stunning harbor views.

If you find Manly Beach too busy, there are a number of smaller beaches on the same peninsula. These include some great family-friendly stretches of sand like Little Manly and Shelley Beach, which also has good snorkeling. At the end of the day, the best sunset views can be found at North Head -- part of the Sydney Harbour National Park -- where vistas are of Sydney Harbour and the city skyline. Little Store Beach on the North Head is accessible only by water and it’s worth renting a kayak or paddleboard to enjoy its secluded sands.

Manly also has some easy-access natural attractions. South of Manly Corso, the Cabbage Tree Bay Eco-Sculpture Walk is a short, flat walkway with sculptures that provide insight into the region’s marine life, plants, and animals. In the opposite direction, Manly Lagoon is a habitat for fish and birds. One of the most popular attractions for families is the SEA LIFE Sanctuary, home to penguins, rare sharks, and rescued sea turtles. Manly certainly has a lot going for it; however, travelers planning on doing a lot of sightseeing will need to weigh the distance -- and transportation costs -- for reaching Sydney’s city center.

Where to Stay

Manly has a good range of accommodations, although there are few luxury options. Some of Sydney’s best family-friendly hotels can be found in Manly and many are close to the beach, like the boutique Sebel Manly Beach. There are also some serviced apartments for longer stays, simple bed-and-breakfasts, and no-frills hotels housed in Victorian terrace buildings, as well as budget motel-style properties. Keep in mind that aside from the area connecting the wharf and beach, the neighborhood is hilly, but the main tourist areas are entirely walkable.

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