A Sydney adventure: discover art and architecture, design and dance

See the best Sydney architecture, design, craft, cuisine and more. Ahead of World Pride 2023, Wallpaper* Australia editor Elias Redstone offers an insider’s view to help you plan your trip

view of sydney skyline over gallery of NSW,
A view of Sydney's skyline over the Art Gallery of New South Wales, during building in 2022
(Image credit: Rory Gardiner, courtesy of Art Gallery of New South Wales)

During the 50th anniversary year of its most famous building, Sydney is truly having a moment. Sydney Opera House has undergone a decade-long refurbishment, and is now joined by a new architectural icon: Sydney Modern. Lockout law restrictions that for so long stifled Sydney’s nightlife have come to an end, and the city is busy rediscovering its late-night offerings. Indeed, hosting World Pride (17 February-5 March 2023) is sealing Sydney’s reputation both as an LGBTQIA+ destination and as a city that takes culture, hospitality, and partying seriously. Discover the city’s highlights, as selected by Elias Redstone, artistic director of Photo 2024 in Melbourne and Wallpaper’s Australia editor. 

Sydney: what to see and do

Sydney Modern

Aerial view of the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ new SANAA-designed building, 2022

Aerial view of the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ new SANAA-designed building

(Image credit: © Iwan Baan)

The stunning new Sydney Modern extension to the Art Gallery of New South Wales is the most significant new cultural project in Sydney since the Opera House opened in 1973. The standalone building by SANAA includes a 1,100 sq m column-free gallery and the Tank, a 2,200 sq m former Second World War naval fuel bunker. New site-specific works have been commissioned by artists including Yayoi Kusama, Lisa Reihana and Francis Upritchard, while the landscape design by McGregor Coxall with Kathryn Gustafson includes over 8,000 sq m of green roof and landscaped areas planted with Australian native species.



view of sydney skyline from bar

(Image credit: Photography: Anson Smart)

To create the new Ace Hotel Sydney – the first in the southern hemisphere – the chain tapped up some of Melbourne’s hottest design talent. Flack Studio designed the hotel, while Fiona Lynch Office was tasked with the new rooftop restaurant Kiln. A trip to the roof is recommended for Lynch’s evocative design palette inspired by the Australian landscape, the menu by head chef Mitch Orr, and stunning views of downtown Sydney. ‘From the outset, Ace wanted it to be an Australian take on what an Ace Hotel could be – one that would reflect Australia’s culture, colours, and design language,’ says Lynch.


The National 4: New Australian Art

Shivanjani Lal, ‘Aise Aise Hai’, install shot, Goldsmiths, University of London, London

Work from the show by Shivanjani Lal, Aise Aise Hai, 2021, shown at Goldsmiths, University of London

(Image credit: Courtesy the artist)

The National is an ambitious biennial celebration of contemporary Australian art, launched as a collaboration across the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Carriageworks and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in 2017. The 2023 edition, which opens at the end of March, welcomes Campbelltown Arts Centre to the party and features new work and commissions by 53 artists and collectives including Abdul Abdullah, Hoda Afshar, Brook Andrew, Brenda L Croft and Reko Rennie.


The Commercial

three chairs in grey room, images on opposite wall

The Commercial gallery in Sydney 

(Image credit: Courtesy Sydney Opera House)

Since opening ten years ago in Redfern, The Commercial has built a strong reputation as a commercial gallery representing early and mid-career artists such Archie Moore, Lillian O’Neil and Amanda Williams. In 2018, the gallery moved to a large industrial space in Marrickville and has established itself as a destination in its own right. Stop by for shows such as new paintings by Archibald Prize-winner Nigel Milsom (until 8 April 2023), inspired by the artworks he would spend time looking at when he worked as a security guard at Art Gallery of New South Wales.


Oxford House

pool and sun loungers in sydney, australia

The outdoor pool space at Oxford House in Sydney 

(Image credit: Courtesy Oxford House)

Conceived as the first lifestyle hotel in the Paddington neighbourhood, Oxford House (or OH! to its friends) takes its design cues from the muted tones of Palm Springs, but with local design elements such as Double Rainbouu custom-made bathrobes and Marc Newson crockery. The artwork has been curated by designer and Ksubi co-founder George Gorrow, featuring work by local and international artists including Lena Gustafson, Adam Turnbull and Niah McLeod, and the experience is rounded off with the vibey outdoor pool and bar.

Pellegrino 2000

food view, olives, capreses salad, cured ham and cheese and beans with wine glasses on orange table cloth

A selection of starters at Pellegrino 2000

(Image credit: Courtesy Pellegrino)

In just over a year, the team behind Potts Point’s Bistrot 916 has established Pellegrino 2000 as a go-to neighbourhood trattoria in Surry Hills with an eclectic following. To complement the modern Italian food, the joyful brand identity was conceived by Sydney’s SCCO Studio as an homage to the imagery of restaurants in Italy, with a colour scheme inspired by AS Roma. Downstairs, a wine cellar doubles as an intimate candlelit dining room.


The Porter House Hotel

view from the street of sydney architecture, concrete building with arched windows

A street side view of The Porter House Hotel in Sydney

(Image credit: Photography: Rory Gardiner)

Sydney’s skyline has reached new heights with the addition of a new 37-storey mixed-use tower by Angelo Candalepas and Associates, the practice recently appointed to design NGV Contemporary in Melbourne. The building is composed of a geometric grid of arches and apses, and features a 335 sq m abstract mural on one façade designed by Candalepas in collaboration with Colombian-born artist Maria Fernanda Cardoso. The Porter House Hotel, part of the MGallery group, spreads across the first ten floors of the new building and the adjacent heritage-listed Porter House building.


Dance at Sydney Opera House

people dancing at sydney opera house

(Image credit: Photography: Simon Eeles. Courtesy the Australian Ballet)

The dance sector is having a renaissance in Australia with a new generation in charge, and it’s coming to the Sydney Opera House this autumn. Yuldea is the first work choreographed by Bangarra Dance Theatre’s new artistic director Frances Rings, with music by Indigenous electronic music duo Electric Fields. Showing as part of double bill called ‘Identity’, THE HUM is a new dance-theatre work created by Daniel Riley of Australian Dance Theatre (and notably the first Indigenous artistic director to lead a non-Indigenous dance company in Australia) in collaboration with the Australian Ballet, now under the direction of ballet superstar David Hallberg.


Elias Redstone is Wallpaper’s Australia editor and an acclaimed arts leader. He is the founder and artistic director of Photo Australia / PHOTO International Festival of Photography, Melbourne. Previously, Elias was senior curator of The Architecture Foundation, London. He has curated exhibitions for museums and galleries internationally including Barbican Art Gallery, London; Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York; and Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne. His book Shooting Space: Architecture in Contemporary Photography is published by Phaidon.