After moving to Sydney a few years ago, digital creator Isobel Larkin crept closer and closer towards the coast with each new lease. Eventually, she found herself in Bondi and can’t see herself leaving here anytime soon. Although she might live here, something about the combination of being by the beach but also being a stone’s throw from countless world-class bars, restaurants shopping strips has her feeling like she’s on a permanent holiday.
A guide to Bondi
Image Credit: Fika Australia
Brunch at Fika Café
The day we inspected the apartment we now live in, we stumbled upon this gorgeous Swedish cafe in North Bondi and we’ve been eating here ever since. Stop by to sample a mouth-watering range of Swedish treats including my favourite ‘Salmon Bite’ which is a house-baked cheese bun topped with gravlax and horseradish cream. Fika also does a dazzling array of Scandinavian baked goods and the best hot chocolates in Bondi. I’m not a coffee drinker but my friends tell me the coffee is good here, too.
Image Credit: Funky Pies Bondi Cafe
A casual bite to eat Funky Pies
Looking for a yummy lunch that’s as easy on your tastebuds as your wallet? I can’t go past Funky Pies on Glenayr Avenue. For any plant-based pals reading this, you’ll be excited to know the full lineup is vegan-friendly. Plus, they have lots of gluten-free, too. My go-to is the Eezy Chic’n Cheezy Pie which has hearty chunks of ‘chic’n’ chunks, mushrooms and broccoli smothered in a creamy sauce. And, don’t get me started on the deliciously flaky pastry that melts in your mouth. Perfection. If you’re extra peckish, add a side of mushy peas and mashed potato.
Date night at Chloe’s
Bondi newcomer Chloe’s is an intimate venue with a delectable modern Australian menu featuring plenty of seafood (my favourite) and quite possibly some of the best bread you’ll ever taste. The expertly-curated wine list boasts an intriguing selection including Italian chilled reds as well as indie-produced pét-nats. Plus, the staff are incredibly friendly and will go out of their way to help you choose something you’ll love. Positioned on Gould Street, Chloe’s also makes the perfect spot for people-watching passersby on the pavement out front.
Margaritas and sashimi at RND
As of late 2022, come late afternoon, the long-running Harry’s café transforms into its evening alter ego: RND. RND is owned by the same restauranteurs as the neighbouring Japanese venue, Raw and as such, the name is an acronym for ‘Raw Next Door.’ Pull up a chair in the early evening to enjoy a few sun-soaked cocktails (hot tip: there’s a daily happy hour with Margarita specials) and reflect on your day’s adventures. If you’re hungry, I can’t go past the oysters with housemade vinaigrette and the ‘sushi cubes.’
Sundowners at Grassy Knoll or North Bondi rocks
Watching the sunset from North Bondi rocks or Grassy Knoll is always a good idea but especially on Sundays when people come together to dance and play music via Bondi Sunset Music. I couldn’t tell you the origins of this weekly event but it’s been happening the entire time I’ve lived here and I always look forward to sitting nearby and enjoying the music or strolling past if I’m out on a walk. Come with friends to enjoy the vibes or go alone to meet some new pals – everyone is super friendly and welcoming. <br>
Who doesn’t love a little holiday shopping? Meander down Gould Street and you’ll be spoilt for choice. Head to Tuchuzy for a smorgasbord of Australian and international designers like Miaou, Manning Cartell and Cult Gaia plus their own house label, Chosen by Tuchuzy. Along the way, check out Sir the Label for easy-breezy linen staples and chic swimwear in seasonal prints or stop into Playa by Lucy Folk for unique jewellery and woven beach separates.
Image Credit: Anna Kucera via TimeOut Sydney
On Saturdays and Sundays, Bondi Beach Public School plays host to the Bondi Markets. Saturday is the farmers’ market and features predominantly fresh produce and food stalls whereas Sunday (my favourite day) has more variety. At the Sunday markets, you’ll find a bit of everything from clothing to homewares and food. My favourites? Stopping by to inhale the sweet smells of the flower stall, nibbling on a spinach-and-fetta gozleme and picking up smoky jalapeno margarita mix to take home.
Yoga at Power Living
Stretch out with a yin yoga session or get a sweat on in a Bikram class at Power Living. The gorgeous studio is spacious with high ceilings and plenty of natural light. Plus, it’s conveniently located a short walk from the beach so you can cool off with a swim afterwards. The classes are really popular so I’d recommend booking as much in advance as possible.
Trek along the coastal trail
No Bondi travel guide would be complete without a mention of what is undoubtedly one of Australia’s most iconic coastal walks. The Bondi to Coogee coastal walk is one path I never get sick of, no matter how many times I take it. Start your journey at Icebergs and follow the path as it snakes around the cliffs towards Tamarama, Bronte and beyond. If you’re going on the weekend, go early to avoid the crowds or better yet, stick to weekdays (if you can). If you need refuelling, there are a couple of coffee shops along the way – I love the one in front of the beach at Tamarama.
Image credit: Slow House
For a bit of holiday R&R, book yourself in for some chill time at Slow House. At Slow House, you’ll find both infrared and traditional coal saunas along with ice baths. You can also get massages, facials and other beauty treatments via Remedi Room which is a separate business housed in the same building. I had long covid last year so this year I’ve been trying to commit to regular saunas and ice baths here to boost my immune system. This routine always helps my skin look glowy and refreshed as well.
Whether you’re up for swimming laps or lazing around, you can take the day at whatever speed you like at Bondi Icebergs Pool. If you’re planning to lie by the pool, go early to secure a good spot on the deck. There’s also a sauna with ocean views up on the deck near the gym which is included in your entry fee. Just make sure to shut the door quickly when entering and exiting or face a torrent of “shut the door!” calls by dedicated local sauna goers. When you’ve had enough sun and salt water, head back up the stairs and around the corner to enter the surf club for yummy tacos, burgers and drinks.
If you’re in the mood for a facial, head up to Bondi Junction (you can catch the 333 bus from Campbelle Parade) to Fayshell. Owned and operated by two very talented local women, Fayshell offers bespoke facials that are tailored to deliver whatever your skin is needing. If you’re in need of a skincare top-up, the clinic also carries a range of premium cosmeceutical brands including Image Skincare and Synergie Skin.
Isobel Larkin is a skincare-obsessed, Bondi-based writer and content creator. During her career, she’s penned stories for Marie Claire, InStyle, Vogue and Women’s Health and when she’s not writing, you’ll find her in the ocean or hanging out at home with her cats, Esmerelda and Spooky. You can connect with her at @isobel_larkin and @the_glowfiles.
Laidback beach-to-bar looks
Considering you’ll be doing quite a lot of walking to get around when staying in Bondi, I suggest leaving the high heels at home and instead opting for sandals and sneakers that can be dressed up or down. During the daytime, you’ll see many people walking around in swimwear with a sarong thrown over the top or activewear… so don’t worry about getting overly dressed up when you’re out exploring.
If you’re visiting Bondi in Summer, be warned – it can get pretty warm. If you’re heading to a more upmarket lunch venue or for an evening outing, try relaxed linen separates with some jewellery to dress things up. For winter, a warm coat is a must for when the sun drops behind the ocean – those sea breezes can get surprisingly chilly!
If you haven’t already, immerse yourself in a well-rounded Bondi lifestyle with our Bondi retreat.