While Sydney can be an exciting city to visit, some romantic getaways call for an escape from the hustle and bustle. Leave the big lights behind and treat your loved one to a weekend brimming with romance. Try kayaking to secluded beaches, exploring underground hidden bars, or waterview dining at sunset – there’s a special kind of magic in Manly.
Day one – Explore above and below the water
Immerse yourself in the relaxed beachside lifestyle of Manly where you’ll find yourself “seven miles from Sydney and a thousand miles from care”.
A mere 40-minute drive from Sydney Airport or a 30-minute ride on the iconic Manly Ferry from Circular Quay will have you arriving in Manly to begin your romantic escape.
Your first stop should be our Hello Manly Visitor Information Centre. If you’re coming by ferry, it’s located right on Manly Wharf. Our friendly staff can give you all the local tips and advice you need to make your trip extra special. Whether you want to know the best secret beach for an intimate picnic or the best bar with sweeping water views, our staff have got you covered.
The best way to explore Manly is on two wheels so head on over to Manly Bikes and explore the town centre with their self-guided tour. Ride along the two kilometres of golden beachfront framed with the iconic Norfolk Pines that make Manly so well known around the globe.
Keep heading north along the beachfront and once you make it to Queenscliff Beach, look out for a love heart painted on the cliff walls. Make your way over the rocks to find a 40-metre manmade tunnel that connects Queenscliff and Freshwater Beach. This is one insta-worth spot you cannot miss.
Worked up an appetite? Enjoying fish and chips on the beach is a must-do when visiting Manly. Grab yourself a takeaway then head back to the beach and watch the local surfers take on the waves.
Famous for its sunsets, there is no better way to end your first day than an evening on Sydney Harbour with Manly Sailing. Choose from a private lesson, or spoil yourselves with a romantic Laurent-Perrier chartered champagne sail complete with local delicacies. You’ll explore secluded beaches and sheltered inlets before arriving at the Harbour Bridge in time to witness an incredible sunset over Sydney Harbour.
Your accommodation can make or break your romantic weekend so choose from two highly recommended oceanfront hotels. Both The Novotel or The Sebel are great home away from home options where you’ll wake up listening to the serene sounds of the ocean.
Day 2 – Explore the Northern Beaches
Rise and shine! Manly locals love to start their day with a swim, jog or walk as the sun rises over the ocean. Now you’ve got your day off to the right start, grab yourself a healthy bite with breaky at Market Lane Café. Choose from the popular spanner crab omelette or truffle scented chilli masala scrambled eggs.
Once you’ve fuelled up, jump in your car and hit the road to Palm Beach, a cruisy coastal drive 30 kilometres north of Manly. If you don’t have wheels, you can jump on the 199 bus from Stand B in Manly- easy!
There are so many villages to explore on the way, so don’t be afraid to hop off the main drag and discover some long stretches of sand, incredible ocean rockpools and vibrant shopping strips.
Once you’ve arrived in Palm Beach, home to the famous Australian television series Home and Away, head to the beach and wander past “Summer Bay Surf Club”. You might be lucky and spot a celebrity!
On foot, make your way to Barrenjoey Lighthouse. Only a one kilometre, 30-minute moderate walk to the top where high above sea level, you’ll enjoy panoramic views over the Northern Beaches, the Central Coast and Ku-ring-gai National Park. On your return, make sure you stop to take a photo of the magnificent views back across Palm Beach, capturing the tranquil waters of Pittwater on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. Keep your eyes peeled between May and November, you might spot a Humpback whale or some friendly dolphins playing in the ocean.
Heading back down towards Manly, arrive at your hotel and relax by the roof top pool with a refreshing cocktail. Get prepared for a night of frights at the history-steeped Quarantine Station, operational from the 1830s to 1984 and widely known as one of Australia’s most haunted sites. Join a chilling ghost tour and cuddle up to your loved one as you prepare to see paranormal activity with stories of times gone by.
Day 3 – Get active
Leave your car at the hotel and prepare to work up a sweat. Manly is home to many breathtaking nature walks and none more inspiring than the North Head trail. A nine kilometre, easy-moderate walk, grab your map and head to the harbour side to start your trek.
Experience native wildlife, spectacular lookouts, remains of old military forts and the Quarantine Cemetery overlooking Sydney’s city skyline, truly a memorable experience of Sydney’s heritage. You’ll finish your walk at the magnificent Shelly Beach, where you’d be excused for thinking you had arrived at the Mediterranean. Pull up a seat at The Boathouse, a trendy beachside café where you can enjoy a well-earned brunch feasting on some of the freshest produce on the Beaches.
After a lazy meal, spend the afternoon with Ecotreasures on their snorkel and reef tour of Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve. Just mere steps from The Boathouse, this guided tour takes you into the calm waters of Shelly Beach and the protected aquatic reserve. Home to over 150 species of fish, keep your eyes peeled for Blue Gropers and Wobbegong sharks resting on the bottom.
If you have any energy left to burn, explore your creativity and head to The Manly Art Gallery & Museum located at Manly Cove. Established in 1930, Manly Art Gallery & Museum is the oldest regional gallery in NSW and hub for the visual arts on the Northern Beaches. With an ever changing program of visual arts, live events, workshops and more from local and international artists, it’s not too be missed!
Secure a table at Garfish, one of Manly’s most popular seafood restaurants. A great place for couples to enjoy the freshest of fish straight out of Sydney Harbour. With a well-earned cocktail, there is no better place to cuddle up to your loved one and watch the sun set.
Day 4 – More to explore
There’s just so much more to explore in Manly, so start your day with breakfast at Pure Wholefoods where you can nourish your body and soul in readiness for a surf lesson! Pure Wholefoods cater to vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, raw and paleo diets but don’t be fooled you can still order mouth-watering dishes like the coco nutty pancakes, waffles with berries and banana, or the vegan big breaky with scrambled tofu.
No trip to Manly would be complete without catching some waves, it is a World Surfing Reserve afterall, Open to all ages and abilities, Manly Surf School have you covered.
Wander back to your hotel to freshen up. Gather your hat, towel and swimmers and head to the Artisan Cheese Room to collect your gourmet picnic hamper, be strong and wait until you hit your final destination to enjoy it!
Jump in a double kayak from Manly Kayak Centre and paddle off into the calm waters of the harbour. A leisurely 20 minute paddle will see you pull up onto the pristine sands of Store Beach, a secluded, sheltered beach only accessible by water and known only to the locals!
Throw down your towels and settle in for an afternoon of delicious produce, a crisp bottle of wine and reminisce about the magic you experienced in Manly and start planning your return visit!
As the sun sets over the harbour, stroll over to Hugo’s for an unforgettable dining experience. With the sun setting over the water, cocktail in hand and incredible homemade pizzas, this is the perfect end to your romantic weekend in Manly.