If your family and friends are anything like mine, then when you go on any sort of trip or vacation at least one souvenir is expected by everyone. Siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, friends- even the women in my grandmother’s weekly poker group are expecting something small from the land down under. For me, the pressure was on the minute I touched down on Australian soil to find the ideal gifts for all my friends and family, and then some.
Finding good souvenirs in Sydney and the areas surrounding it has proved a lot harder of a task than I originally expected, and it took a lot of mapping out for me to find the ideal souvenir destinations. Lucky for you, I have located the best (and the worst) locations to buy souvenirs from. Consider this your all-inclusive guide to finding the best souvenirs for your friends and family during your time in Sydney.
When I first began my hunt, I assumed that I would be able to get all of my loot from the souvenir shops at Bondi and Manly. I was wrong. Bondi was actually pretty disappointing when it came to souvenirs. It’s got a few shops along the main strip, but the goods sold in the stores at Bondi fell pretty short of my expectations, and the few things I did find were borderline overpriced. Don’t get me wrong- if you’re in a crunch and need some basic souvenirs, you can probably find what you need at Bondi, but I wouldn’t spend too much time in their stores. If you’re looking for something that says ‘Bondi’ on it somewhere, you can find that pretty much anywhere, not just at Bondi. So, I would give Bondi souvenir shops an overall rating of 6/10 because you can get what you need, but you can definitely do better than the stores at Bondi.
Manly, however, met my expectations for souvenirs. The prices were much better for t-shirts, sweatshirts, and all other classic souvenir items. There was also a much bigger selection of items in Manly than there was in Bondi. They have more souvenir shops than Bondi does, and if you’re going to Manly, I’m certain that you can find what you need without questioning whether or not you’re spending too much money. One of my favorite places that I bought shirts from was Manly Longboard Co. They had some really awesome shirts that weren’t too tacky or cheesy, but still boasted that the person wearing it had some sort of connection to Manly Beach, Australia. I give the Manly shops an 8/10 for their souvenirs.
Another place I looked for souvenirs was in Darling Harbour. When I went to Darling Harbour, I was looking for some nicer things besides t-shirts and hoodies- things to give to my grandparents and parents. The Darling Harbour souvenir shops were such a huge let down, and honestly, they were a scam. Since Darling Harbour is such a massive tourist attraction, everything was way overpriced. Not only that, but there wasn’t much selection, and the merch wasn’t nice enough to go match their high price tags. I left Darling Harbour empty handed because there was absolutely nothing there worth buying, and even the things that had some merit weren’t unique or quality enough to buy. Definitely go to Darling Harbour for the views, but steer clear of their souvenirs- it’s a tourist trap. I’m going to give Darling Harbour a 1/10, and that’s me being generous.
The last place that I’m going to tell you about is the Mecca of all souvenir destinations. It is a place that is worth going to even if you’re not interested in souvenirs. It’s called Paddy’s Market in Market City, just a short walk from Central Station. It was suggested to me by my uber driver when I asked about the best place to buy souvenirs. I know it sounds sketchy, but Paddy’s Market is located in the basement of Market City shopping mall. There are hundreds of stalls that sell every kind of Australia-themed t-shirt, socks, sweatpants, hats, shoes, etc. Anything that you could want as a souvenir, Paddy’s Market sells. The prices are significantly lower than they were at any of the souvenir shops I visited, but the best part is that the salespeople are willing to haggle with you if you don’t agree with their prices. It’s great. Like I said, even if you aren’t buying any souvenirs, it’s still worth going to just for the sheer amazement that comes with visiting Paddy’s Market. Without a doubt, this is the best place to buy all of your souvenirs from, and you can probably knock all of your shopping out in a day here without breaking the bank. 10/10 and two thumbs up from me.
Hopefully this guide will help you on your own souvenir search, but it all depends on what type of gifts you’re looking for. If you can’t find gifts that are quite right from any of the places I’ve mentioned, don’t be shy to ask a cab driver or someone who might know the touristy parts of the city well enough to offer some suggestions. However, I hope that my reviews will help you on your way to finding the best gifts that will make your friends and family even more happy to have you home.