14 Best Things To Do In Manly, Australia - Updated 2023

things to do in manly australia
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No trip to Sydney would be complete without visiting its northern beaches, and Manly is arguably the best of these. The story goes that Manly got its unusual name because Captain Auther Phillip was so impressed by the strength of character and manly behavior of the native aboriginal people, he felt compelled to name the place “Manly Cove”. Nowadays, the long sandy beach at Manly is a popular place for surfing and swimming and makes a perfect destination for both family vacations, as well as solo explorers.

Make the most of your visit to Manly and explore the history of this beachside suburb by visiting the local museum, then wander through the pedestrianized shopping streets and discover the many amazing restaurants that specialize in local seafood. When you are done, don’t forget to take a walk along the famous beach which has sand so fine that it squeaks underfoot! Whether or not you’ve found Stayz accommodations in Sydney or in the Darling Harbour area and you still wish to check out what’s up north, read on to discover the best things to do in Manly, Australia!

1. Get pampered at Sawatdee Thai Massage & Day Spa

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Sawatdee Thai Massage & Day Spa on Friday, January 3, 2020

There may not be a better way to pamper yourself than a good ol’ massage. When in Manly, treat yourself to an hour (or more!) of rejuvenation at Sawatdee Thai Massage & Day Spa. Besides traditional Thai massages, the spa offers beauty treatments like facial masks and body scrubs. You’re welcome to take advantage of their special packages like the Thai hot herbal massage or the hot stone massage. Going to the spa after a day of exploring Manly? We highly recommend a foot reflexology massage!

Sawatdee Thai Massage & Day Spa

Address: 17 Belgrave St, Manly NSW 2095, Australia

Website: Sawatdee Thai Massage & Day Spa

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 9:30am - 8:30pm; Sun: 9:30am - 8pm

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2. Shop at Manly Fresh Produce Market

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Seeking only the freshest produce there is in Manly? There’s no better place to get your fix than the weekly farmers’ market! Manly Fresh Produce Market operates on Sundays along Sydney Road and Short Street Plaza and offers organic products and gourmet food from growers and makers all over New South Wales. You’re guaranteed fresh fruit and vegetables from Rita’s Farm, a delicious Irish soda bread from Paddy the Baker, artisan cheese and olive oil, fresh flowers, and so much more!

Manly Fresh Produce Market

Address: Sydney Rd, Manly NSW 2095, Australia

Website: Manly Fresh Produce Market

Opening hours: Sun: 8am - 2pm (closed on Mon - Sat)

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3. Slip and splash at Manly Surf n Slide

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Don’t know where to take the kids for the day? Make it a big, fun family affair at Manly Surf n Slide! This adventure park is the ultimate location for non-stop entertainment, offering slides with varying lengths and slopes. The water is heated too! It’s not just the kids who can enjoy it, the adults are more than welcome to join the fun too. Should you prefer not to, there’s a view deck where you can watch over the little ones and a cafe to spend some quiet time.

Manly Surf n Slide

Address: Commonwealth Parade, Manly NSW 2095, Australia

Website: Manly Surf n Slide

Opening hours: Sat - Sun: 10am - 3pm (closed on Mon - Fri)

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4. Take a ride on the iconic Manly Ferry

Source: Photo by user https://www.flick... used under CC BY 2.0

The first item on this Manly travel guide is Manly Ferry. The ferry runs from Manly Wharf to Circular Quay and takes about 30 minutes. The locals call it “the most beautiful commute in the world” and it would be hard to argue with them, as the short trip takes in the impressively huge Sydney headlands, the world-famous Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Bennelong Point and Taronga Zoo.

The ferry service has been running since the 1850’s and is still going strong, with both traditional ferries and “Fast Ferries” being used. The traditional ferry is the longer ride of the two, but if you are not rushed for time, it is the far nicer option, allowing you the opportunity to sit outside and take in the extraordinary scenery - it also has the added bonus of being cheaper! You do not need to book in advance and during the summer months, additional services run, so you will have plenty of times to choose from.

Manly Ferry

Address: Manly Wharf, Belgrave Street and W. Esplanade, Manly NSW 2095, Australia

Website: Manly Ferry

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5. Explore the fantastic food at Manly Wharf

Manly Wharf 2006
Source: Photo by user AnonymousUnknown ... used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Historically, Manly has always been a place of leisure for the people of Sydney, with the impressive Pier Hotel for fine dining and the Corso for shopping, but in more recent times, even the wharf itself has been transformed into a destination in its own right, with cafes, bars, bistros, and restaurants all vying for your attention. Ranging from fine waterfront dining, specializing in local seafood to fast and simple “grab and go” style food, whatever you are in the mood for and whatever your budget, this is a taste destination not to be missed!

Manly Wharf

Address: Belgrave Street and W. Esplanade, Manly NSW 2095, Australia

Website: Manly Wharf

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6. Manly Quarantine Station

Q Station+whales
Source: Photo by user me used under CC BY 3.0

From the 1830’s until 1984, the North Head Quarantine Station was an operational quarantine facility. Now, perfectly preserved and restored, it is a beautiful hotel, complete with restaurants, cafe, and a visitor’s center. You do not have to be a guest at the hotel to enjoy everything this unique place has to offer and visitors are encouraged to learn about the history of the building with the free quarantine exhibition in the visitor’s center.

You can also take part in a “Quarantine Wanderer” guided history tour, which departs every day at 11 am. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, there is a lantern-lit ghost tour. If you would like to stay here, there are a variety of different accommodations available, all of which were originally either quarantine rooms or staff cottages. It is worth pointing out that there is a lot of walking involved in getting around this place, but it is not strenuous. Set on a slight headland, with the harbor on one side and the native bushland on the other, a visit to Q Station, as it is now called, is a uniquely Australian experience.

Q Station

Address: 1 North Head Scenic Drive, Manly NSW

Website: Q Station

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7. Visit Manly Art Gallery and Museum

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

MAG&M reopens from Tuesday 2 June! The gallery reopens with the exhibition Treasures from the Vault to celebrate MAG&...

Posted by Manly Art Gallery and Museum Society on Thursday, May 28, 2020

Established in 1930, the Manly Art Gallery and Museum is a celebration of beach culture and the history of the Northern Beaches, with over six thousand artifacts on display including artworks, ceramics, and photographs.

The gallery section has regularly changing exhibits as well as the permanent collection and every September hosts the Manly Arts Festival, a showcase of local artists and musicians, which is well worth your time if you are visiting at this time of the year. Entrance is free, and all ages are welcome.

Manly Art Gallery and Museum

Address: 1 West Esplanade & Commonwealth Parade, Manly NSW 2095, Australia

Website: Manly Art Gallery and Museum

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8. Explore the Manly Corso

The Corso Manly 2011
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Terrazzo used under CC BY 2.0

Named after the Via Del Corso in Rome, the Manly Corso is a pedestrianized street that connects the Manly Wharf with the Pacific Ocean. Built as a boardwalk in 1855, by the 1920’s, it grew to become the most popular shopping district in Manly. Today it is still one of Manly’s best shopping destinations and with boutique stores, designer shops, pubs, galleries, and restaurants, it is an easy spot to spend a few hours in!

If shopping is not your thing, the Corso is also home to street performers, buskers, and dancing fountains that are designed as play areas for children.

Manly Corso

Address: Main street in New South Wales, Australia

Website: Manly Corso

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9. Snorkel, walk and talk tour (from USD 52.0)

Still thinking of what to add to your Manly beach activities? Get ready for an ocean deep adventure! If you’re a nature lover and love the waters, this Snorkel, Walk, and Talk tour is perfectly designed for you. Begin by meeting your guide at Shelly Beach, then you will begin by enjoying diverse marine and even endangered species at the Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve. After the snorkeling, you will then travel the surrounding land and search for local wildlife while taking in all the beauty that Manly has to offer. The tour lasts approximately 2 hours but is packed with adventure, knowledge, and also gives you a chance to make new friends. The fee already includes snorkel hire, wetsuit or vest, flippers, and foam floating noodles for safety reasons so all you need to bring is your swimming attires and you’re off to begin an experience of a lifetime!

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Manly Snorkelling Tour

Duration: 2 hours

10. Challenge yourself at Room Eight Escape Rooms

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

If you’re already done with the more popular Manly attractions and would like to try something new, then spend an hour at Room Eight. Pick from various themed rooms that can accommodate two to six players. Each escape room presents a combination of puzzles, clues, and brainteasers that you must carefully analyze in order to get out of your chosen predicament. The gruesome details—in both the physical design of the rooms and the plot of the mystery stories—further enhance the realism of your experience. For those looking to be outside, they also offer outdoor scavenger hunts which make a great day out with the whole family.

Room Eight Escape Rooms

Address: 2B The Corso, Manly, Sydney NSW 2095 Australia

Website: Room Eight Escape Rooms

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11. Learn to sail with a crew (from USD 374.0)

For some of us, sailing is one of the things we said we’d try in our lifetimes, but we never really get the chance to. If you do find yourself spending some time in Manly, take it up a notch and learn how to sail with a licensed expert! In just a few short hours, you’ll be introduced to sailing theories and boat handling, and you’ll feel like a dignified sailing crew in no time. This 12-hour sailing course begins at Manly Beach and will have a stop at Sydney Harbour, so you’ll get to experience Australia’s finest. No experience is needed for this course, so come through and sail away!

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Learn to Sail on Sydney Harbour: Australian Sailing Start Crewing

Duration: 2 days

7 reviews

12. Go kayaking at Manly Cove (from USD 51.0)

Can’t get enough of the water yet? Let’s bring you closer to it! Kayaking is a great way to traverse calm waters. This clear view kayak tour is hosted by water sports aficionado Finn and begins at Manly Cove and will have a quick stop at Sports Beach, where you’ll be able to rest and get snacks. Being able to see through your kayak surely must be a one-of-a-kind experience. Kids are welcome to join as well, so this is a great opportunity to get your loved ones together and build memories!

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Clearview Kayak Sydney Tour

Duration: 2.5 hours

34 reviews

13. Try out paddleboard yoga (from USD 130.0)

Yes, you heard that right. Who knew you could actually do yoga right on the water? Paddleboard yoga is truly one of the most unique activities that you can do. You will get to do the one thing that seems so unattainable when on vacation: exercise! Now, that’s hitting two birds with one stone. This standup paddleboard(SUP) yoga practice is hosted by Donna, who is not only a graceful yogini but also a local of Manly! This goes on the list of things that you must not miss out on. Slowing down on calm waters and getting in touch with your body will be an enlightening experience for sure.

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SUP Yoga in Paradise with a local Yogini

Duration: 1.5 hours

5 reviews

14. Take a cycling tour of Manly (from USD 104.0)

Manly has over 20 km (12.5 miles) of specially built cycle paths, making a bike one of the best ways to take in this delightful beach town. Hire a bike and explore the area at your leisure or, if you prefer, take a guided tour. Manly Bike Tours offer a range of tours with varying degrees of difficulty, but you can’t go wrong with the two hour long guided cycling tour of all the best parts of the Manly Peninsula.

Your guide will tell you all about the history of the area, point out attractions and give you access to landmarks that you would otherwise not be allowed to visit. Included in the tour price are your bike rental and helmet, as well as refreshments.

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Best of Manly Beach Electric Bike Tour

Duration: 3 to 4 hours

Plenty to see in Manly

There is something about Sydney’s Northern Beaches that exudes the laidback, easy-going lifestyle that Australia is so famous for. No matter what your mood or interest, planning and knowing what to do in Manly will have you relaxed and rejuvenated in no time.

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Frequently asked questions about things to do in Manly, Australia

1. What are the best attractions to visit in Manly?

Manly is filled with some of the best attractions in Australia. When you find yourself in town, head to the iconic Manly Wharf for some good food and a whole lot else. A stroll at Manly Corso will help you feel like a local and be part of Manly’s community.

2. What are the best outdoor activities in Manly?

Almost everything that you can do in Manly is outdoors, so it wouldn’t be difficult to find something to do. For some outdoor fun, go snorkeling at Manly Cove, learn to sail with a crew, or try out paddleboard yoga.

3. What are the most popular things to do in Manly with kids and family?

Plenty of activities in Manly are enjoyed by families. Taking a ride on the famous Manly Ferry is a unique way to tour the city with your family. A crystal kayak tour provides an interactive experience and is a great opportunity for your kids to get acquainted with the beautiful waters of Manly.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Genevieve is a self-confessed adventure and travel junkie who tends to end up living for a while in the places she visits! Having lived all over the world she loves sharing her travel stories and...Read more

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