Exploring Balmain, Australia: Things to Do

Just 10 minutes from Sydney, Balmain is well known for its numerous pubs and friendly village atmosphere.

Located just 10 minutes from the city, the once-working-class suburb of Balmain is well known for its numerous pubs and friendly village atmosphere. You can easily spend a whole day here shopping, eating and taking in the magnificent harbour views. Darling Street, running from Rozelle all the way to the water’s edge at Balmain East Ferry Wharf, is the main thoroughfare and definitely a great place to start your adventure. Follow our quick guide of things to do in Balmain, Australia. 

Things to Do in Balmain

Balmain East Ferry
Balmain is home to some extraordinary harbour views. From the Balmain East Ferry, relax in nearby Thornton Park and take in splendid views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Explore the shoreline along Illoura Reserve and enjoy the city skyline vista across to neighbouring Barangaroo and Darling Harbour.

Restaurants in Balmain


Kazbah (379 Darling St.) is a family-friendly Middle Eastern restaurant. Popular for weekend brunch, try its famous breakfast lamb tagine with sucuk, spinach, roast capsicum, roast tomato, caramelised onion, feta, eggs and Turkish toast. The Cottage Bar & Kitchen (342 Darling St.) has a funky, relaxed vibe and mismatched furniture to boot. Its small-bites menu and woodfired pizzas are perfect for sharing. The laid-back cool of Kafeine (260 Darling St.) is perfect for a mid-morning snack or light lunch. They serve a range of salads, wraps, burgers, juices and Campos coffee. The staff are friendly and the décor has a retro-industrial feel with exposed brickwork and brightly coloured stools. Blink and you might miss the intimate hole-in-the-wall patisserie that belongs to celebrity dessert chef Adriano Zumbo (296 Darling St.). This tiny treasure sells freshly baked breads, pastries, delightful desserts and the ever-famous, always-delicious, crazy colourful Zumbarons.

Bars in Balmain

The Balmain
With no shortage of watering holes, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to drinking in Balmain. The London Hotel (234 Darling St.) boasts beautiful views of Balmain and the Sydney Harbour Bridge from its balcony. Enjoy a beer with some locals, or head up to the restaurant, which is famous for its quality steaks. Cantina Bar (350 Darling St.) is a Latin-Mexican hotspot. Though intimate in size, it is big on flavour with a wide range of imported beers and tequilas. The Balmain (74 Mullens St.) is proving popular after its renovation a year ago. With its brightly coloured beer garden and South Pacific vibe, it is the perfect spot to while away the afternoon with a cocktail or two. The Riverview Hotel (29 Birchgrove Road) was established in 1880, and is one of Balmain’s classic pubs. It boasts a variety of craft beer and a delicious bar and pizza menu while upstairs the restaurant serves delicious modern Australian fare.

Balmain Shopping Destinations

Mecca Cosmetica
Darling Street is a shopper’s delight and you can browse the day away in its many boutiques. Stem (295 Darling St.) stocks designer gifts and homewares. They have an extensive range of Marimekko products, in addition to clothes, jewellery and kitchenware. Next door, you’ll find Australian beauty retailer Aesop (297 Darling St.). You can pamper yourself with their range of hair, skin and body products. Yoga mavens will be in heaven at Lululemon (272 Darling St.) with its designer fitness gear. Mecca Cosmetica (348 Darling St.) is your one-stop-shop for cutting-edge, quality beauty brands. The staff is on hand to help you choose the product that is right for you.

Getting There

Balmain is 10 minutes by taxi from Sydney's Central Business District. Take the 441 or 442 bus from the York Street terminal outside the Queen Victoria Building in the city, or catch a ferry from Circular Quay or Darling Harbour to the Balmain East Ferry Wharf.