Romantic Getaways: Balmain, NSW

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Sydney is blessed with a wide variety of diverse suburbs, many with plenty of activities on offer for savvy couples seeking a romantic getaway. From history and walking, to fine dining and enjoying the famous Sydney Harbour foreshore it's all there. Here's our top five essentials in the fifth of our series of Ultimate Romantic Getaways, with a focus on he historic suburb of Balmain, NSW. 

1. Stay In A Luxury Pad…..With A View 

Perched on Sydney Harbour, and fusing panoramic views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, North Sydney and Darling Harbour with luxury accommodation, Balmain Wharf Apartments is a hidden Balmain gem. It's a property with four boutique apartments with an ideal location within easy reach of the heart of Balmain itself, and Sydney's major attractions and sights. Formerly the historic Shipwright Arms Hotel, the gorgeous 200 year old sandstone building has been completely renovated in a modern contemporary style, and is across the street from the Balmain East ferry terminal, which means you’re just an eight-minute ride into Circular Quay and a 10 minute walk into Balmain village. These four lovely luxury apartments are fully serviced and managed by the same company which runs the iconic luxury boutique resort Bannisters on the NSW south coast, so you know the experience will be a good one. 

2. Explore On Foot 

If you enjoy history, architecture, harbour vistas and a village atmosphere with a touch of romance, get out on foot and embark on one of the Balmain Association's walks. A particular favourite is the Humble to Handsome Walk, which has a focus on Balmain architecture from 1840-1960. From Balmain East wharf, right opposite Balmain Wharf Apartments, is a quintessential introduction to the area, with a jumble of architectural styles from every decade since the 1840s including austere Post-Regency stone buildings, ornate late Victorian stucco terraces, 1960s brick walk-up apartment blocks, and 21st century concrete and glass boxes. This diversity of architectural styles reflects the essence of Balmain's diverse population, from bikers and barristers, to movie stars and public housing tenants. Many of the buildings you will see on this walk reflect the simple styles favoured by the earlier Georgian and Regency architects, and you'll also see the transition from the plain styles of the 1840s to the ornate grandeur of the 1860s, reflecting the growing prosperity of the colony. To download a copy of the walking map visit

3. Eat Out, And Have A Drink In An Historic Pub 

Although you can self-cater at Balmain Wharf Apartments you'd be mad not to go out for dinner at least once. Balmain has an impressive lineup of places to eat, from casual cafes to cozy and romantic fine dining venues, and specialty shops including an Adriano Zumbo for delectable pastries and sweet treats. Options for dinner include the Turkish inspired Efendy on Elliot Street, and for a casual lunch try Little Ethel's on Mullen's Street. Just for the hell of it, make time to enjoy a tipple in one of Balmain's historic watering holes. The London Hotel is one, in the heart of the area on Darling Street with a famous street-front balcony and beers on tap including Redback, James Squire American Pale and Copper Ale, or a Coopers. There's also a high end dining room upstairs if you enjoy it so much you don't want to move on. Other options include The Riverview on Birchgrove Road, or the funky Wilhelmina's also on Darling Street. 

4. Go Shopping 

Darling Street is lined with funky boutiques and fun places to shop but a local favourite is undoubtedly Balmain Market. Held every Saturday on the corner of Darling Street and Curtis Road, and Sydney's third oldest market, it's a great place to browse for second hand books, contemporary jewellery, and sample some home made vegetarian snacks from the multicultural food hall. The market has 140 stalls offering everything from high quality original arts and crafts, jewellery, bric-a-brac, books, clothing, footwear, antiques and collectables, organic fruit and vegetables, nursery, unique hand-made items and more. 

5. Go For A Swim 

If you're visiting Balmain during the warmer months between daylight savings in October and the end of daylight savings in April, you can cool off with a swim at the famous Dawn Fraser Baths. Built in the early 1880s, it is the oldest pool in Australia as well as home to both the Balmain Water Polo and Swimming clubs. The baths is a tidal flow salt water harbour pool; if you're travelling with kids, at low tide there is a beach for children to build sandcastles, and there's a kiosk serving hot food, snacks and ice creams. When it comes to water quality, like other swimming locations around the harbour, after heavy rain the pool may be closed if the water quality is not to standard. There are several nice parks to enjoy in the area too, including Birchgrove Park, Elkington Park, Mort Bay Park and Ballast Park.

Joanna Hall