If you want to sway to Sydney’s song, visit its free outdoor markets where the local rhythm is relaxed and lingers all afternoon. Sure, you might grab a bargain, but the markets are also an excuse to slip out for some sunshine, catch up on the gossip, eat too much and show off a summer outfit!
The Rocks Weekend Market
Why here: The Rocks Markets are nestled among some of Sydney’s most recognisable postcard monuments: the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House. The Rocks are where modern Sydney first settled and the market spreads between cobblestone streets and elegant warehouses, conveniently blending into adjacent bars, pubs, restaurants, boutique wool stores, the Museum of Contemporary Art and that stunning harbour.
Best buys: Designer clothes, home-wares and hats are more common here than a bargain. Look for crafty souvenirs such as hanging ornaments made from bits of Australian trees, and hand-carved chopping blocks that still smell of eucalyptus. Cool down with traditional lemonade.
When: 10am-5pm, Saturday & Sunday. The Rocks Foodie Market is on 9am-3pm, Fridays, yum.
Why here: Bondi beach is just across the road, so you can smell the surf and sunscreen while perusing Bondi Markets. The dress code is beachcomber casual and the stalls are placed within Bondi Beach Public School with a functioning canteen for food and drink, giving you the chance to relive your school heydays.
Best buys: Objects to take you back to a slower era such as retro home-wares, antiques, vintage clothes and essential oils. The Farmer’s Market has organic and vegetarian food, eco products and boutique food trucks.
When: 10am-4pm, Sunday. Farmer’s Market 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
Why here: Newton Market is both cool and tiny, and although there isn’t much to grab you for longer than half an hour, it’s worth visiting to get the full hit of the town’s alternative chic all in one spot. Barefoot locals in shorts and young designer-label-clad couples alike browse the market on their way to the park or airy cafes. Buskers and street poets add to Newtown’s artsy, activist reputation. There are no food stalls but it’s on the same street as ample Thai restaurants and places to grab a gourmet pie, taco or gelato.
Best buys: Old vinyl, and well-polished, if gimmicky, crafts by local artisans. Think wine bottles made into plant holders that you might actually want.
When: 10am-4pm, Saturday.
Why here: Where Sydneysiders go to browse, sit, relax and people-watch. The Glebe Markets are set in a large school playground, where big kids can lounge about with satay sticks, macaroons and other food truck treats. There’s typically some live music on the go (nothing too rowdy) for a hint of that festival vibe. With Sydney University and cheap hostels around the corner, come here to mix with students and travellers in a chilled-out vibe.
Best buys: Trash and treasure. Vintage clothing bargains, second-hand books, vinyl, handcrafted designs and antiques.
When: 10am-4pm, Saturday. Come early for the good stuff or late for bargains from tired first-time sellers who don’t want to have to take anything home.
Rozelle Collectors Markets
Why here: Hardly a tourist in sight and nobody is in a rush at the varied outdoor Rozelle Collectors Market. Many stalls are run by groups of young friends who live locally and are doing it more for the experience than making a living. There are plenty of bargains, especially for vintage clothes and bric-a-brac.
Best buys: Preloved designer and brand clothing from the 90s onwards. There are stalls brandishing collectibles from Barbie dolls and crockery to ornate vintage kimonos.
When: 9am-3pm, Saturday & Sunday.
Marrickville Organic Food and Farmers' Markets
Why here: Marrickville is the go-to suburb now that Newtown’s surging rents have pushed out some of the locals. The Organic Food and Farmers Market is bursting with colour – with fresh fruit and veg, crystals, teas and plants spilling out of the stalls. Pay a visit to Reverse Garbage while you’re here – a fascinating store of industrial offcuts for those who know their way around a sewing machine.
Best buys: Great food without pesticides or chemicals sold by salt-of-the-earth people. You could also visit a fortune teller and sample Uruguayan meat delicacies, why not!
When: 8am-3pm, Sunday – the 428 bus stops right outside.
Carriageworks Farmers Market
Why here: The bustling Carraigeworks Farmers Market invades the open, attractive grounds of the Carriageworks theatre. The whole area pulses to an inner-city vibe. Over 70 farmers from NSW and the ACT set up shop here to show off their vibrant, fresh pickings.
Best buys: Artisan farmers produce such as cheeses, olive oils and salts.
When: 8am-1pm, Saturday.
Chinatown Night Market
Why here: Pop over to Asia, without leaving Sydney! The plumes of charcoal smoke coming from the roasting octopus skewers transports you to a night market in Southeast Asia. The huge variety of quality food on offer at Chinatown’s Markets has a reputation for rivalling the markets of Bangkok and Hanoi.
Best buys: Tap into what’s all-the-rage in Asia right now: new phone gadgets, toys and original wares from students and designers. But really, the food has to be eaten to be believed – make sure you arrive hungry.
When: 4-11pm, Friday.
Why here: The Harbour Bridge looming above you in a posh area where the Australian Prime Minister lives – come get fancy. Kirribilli Markets is one of Sydney’s oldest and most popular markets with more than 220 stalls. If you’ve had a clear out, bring along your unwanted clothes to recycle here as the market is decked out with bins promoting responsible fashion.
Best buys: Seek out some vintage swanky label clothing or head to the Burton Street Tunnel section for top notch antiques with a price tag to match.
When: 8.30am-3pm every fourth Saturday and second Sunday of the month (be sure to double check their dates when planning a visit).
Why here: Looking for an edgy, statement piece? Local artisans, jewellery, clothes and chocolate designers test their products here to a fashion-forward crowd. Paddington Markets hasn’t missed a Saturday since it started in 1973. Wear your Saturday best and bring your credit card.
Best buys: Up-and-coming unique clothing labels. Some big Australian brands started in these markets, such as Dinosaur Designs and Sass & Bide.
When: 10am-4pm, Saturday.