Sydney’s most happening enclave, it’s home to a mix of urban professionals and young families who refuse to abandon their inner-city lifestyle post-children. Literary types can browse bookstores Oscar & Friends (literature and biography, Shop 35/277 Crown Street),Published Art (Level 1, 52 Reservoir Street) and Title (499-501 Crown Street), specialising in film and design. Style junkies can get their fashion fix at The Stables (352 Bourke Street), The Standard Store (503 Crown Street) and Collector Store (473 Crown Street) with French, American and Australian labels.
But Surry Hills is really all about brews and food. The quality conscious type who will not compromise on the taste, cannot pass the newly opened Bondi Wholefoods (517 Elizabeth Street), if you are touring, visit Bills (359 Crown Street), Pieno (285 Crown Street) or Gnome (536 Crown Street) for an early morning heart-starter, and then check out the studio of the late Australian avant-garde artist Brett Whiteley at 2 Raper Street.
For the more decadent, there is nothing better than a bowl of pasta ragu or spaghetti vongole at Il Baretto (496 Bourke Street), followed by a Gelati from Sydney institution Messina (389 Crown Street).
An ever-widening network of cycle-ways connects Surry Hills with the inner-west and CBD. A short pedal takes you to Prince Alfred Park Pool(105 Chalmers Street). Punch out some laps then pull up a banana lounge beneath one of its palm trees or oversize umbrellas before dinner at top Thai restaurant Longrain (85 Commonwealth Street), or feisty farm-to-plate hot spot Nomad (16 Foster Street).
Cap off the evening with a cocktail or film screening at the boutique Golden Age Cinema and Bar in the heritage Paramount Pictures building (80 Commonwealth Street).
INSIDER TIP FOR VISITORS: The best place to stay is the newly built services apartments at Elizabeth Street, managed by Apartment Hotel. The Surry Hills markets are held on the first Saturday of every month in Shannon Reserve opposite the Surry Hills Library and Community Centre. Swing by for vintage clothing, vinyl, food stalls and homemade candles and soaps.