Wollongong Travel Guide
Wollongong accommodation: Where to Stay
Wollongong accommodation is varied and wild in its range but can be broken up into four main categories;
Hotels – The top three hotels in Wollongong are Quality Suite Pioneer Sands, The Novotel and The Sage. If you are looking for a just a bed with walking access to bars and restaurants, these are your best options. The Novotel has a fantastic bar Pepe’s and would be our pick of the lot.
Motels – There are a range of budget motels in Wollongong which offer comfortable accommodation
Serviced Apartments – The Quest, Wollongong Serviced Apartments, Adina and Salt have good offerings if you are wanting a kitchen and a lounge room to spread out in
Holiday homes – Within Wollongong itself these are rare as the city is mainly made up of apartments and most strata rules do not allow for holiday letting. Having said that you are well catered for in the surrounding suburbs.
Wollongong Accommodation: What to Bring
Sunglasses and sunblock: Always a must as you are likely to spend the whole day out and about in the sun.
Large brimmed hat: Don't end the day with a red face and painful sunburn.
Water bottle: Reduce plastic and be prepared for where ever the day takes you.
Beach Towels: You often can't take towels from hotels or holiday homes to the beach so it’s best to bring your own.
Camera: I know every ones uses their phones now. But the beach and coastline are breathtaking so take some shots you might actually want to frame. Otherwise Instagram the hell out of everything.
Comfortable shoes: Include a cool pair of sandals for wandering around, thongs for the beach, hiking boots and runners. A thigh busting run along the coast will earn you all the cake you want to eat.
Swimsuits galore: more than one pair so you can shake it up a bit and let them dry out between swims.
Beach toys: Wollongong beach has a wide expanse of sand for the kids to build a whole fort if they want to.
Little black dress: With a range of funky bars and restaurants on offer you will definitely need something a little glam for a night out
Opal card or spare change: Parking in Wollongong can be hectic with a lot of the city having timed parking. Either come in by train or bring lots of dollar and two dollar coins with you to feed the meters.
Wollongong Accommodation: Getting Around
By car from Sydney CBD it will take you about 1 hour and 58 minutes.
From Parramatta about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
On the train from Sydney Central you are looking about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Wollongong train station is on the outskirts of the town centre but will only take you 5-10 minutes to walk into the city centre. If you are driving around plan on having lots of gold coins or if you are parking within the shopping centres be prepared to pay.
Wollongong Accommodation: Where To Eat
There are so many places to eat in Wollongong that this could be a whole booklet of its own. So I will just take you on a tour of highlights;
Diggies is a Wollongong institution with spectacular views and a cool Bondi like atmosphere. It offers modern Australian breakfast, brunch, lunch, drinks and cakes. You can’t book a table but the turnover is pretty good so just wait for a bit and enjoy the views.
Lee + Me: Set within a 1890’s terrace house Lee and Me is an arty café downstairs offering good food and coffee and a shop upstairs run by the team at Huddle and Co – Quality Wood Goods and Floral Pines Design Co. It is the place to go if you need a bit of inspiration with your coffee.
Sandygoodwich is a local’s hangout it is an exceptional café offering fresh and interesting food and amazing coffee and cakes. Everything from the condiments, cured meat to the cakes is made on sight from scratch and is amazing. Away from the beach it is frequented by locals but is well worth seeking out.
Bread and Beast offers a simple choice of a protein and 3 salads. The salads changeover frequently and are interesting combinations you may not have tried before. The protein is slow roasted organic meat. Paired with a cold craft beer this is thie perfect spot for a satisfying lunch.
Lettuce B. Frank located away from the city centre but only a short 5 minute walk away it is worth seeking out this café for its excellent vegetarian and vegan food using local and organic ingredients where possible. Grab their highly rated coffees and green smoothies.
Mylan serves up the most amazing Pho. A fresh and fragrant noodle soup with freshest rice noodles. They also have a good range of Vietnamese dishes including vermicelli salads. The staff are friendly and attentive and it is always busy – be sure to book a table.
Lupa is a family run pizzeria with amazing pizzas, homemade cured meats and wine. The restaurant can get noisy but you will be so busy eating you may not get much of a chance to talk. For dessert be sure to try their Nutella pizza.
Kneading Ruby is a modern take on a traditional pizzeria set within a cavernous warehouse style building. It is very hipster in its styling and the menu and seating is ideally designed for large groups so food can be shared.
The North Beach Pavilion is located within the heritage listed North Beach Bathers Pavilion it has beautiful views out to the sea and its unique position and location can feel like you are dining a cruise ship. With a magnificent pizza oven imported from Naples and a traditional dough recipe and cooking style the food is vibrant yet authentic.
Kinn Thai is a modern Thai restaurant within the Wollongong Central Shopping centre. Their food features street style Thai food, old favourites and new flavours and dishes that make it distinctive. The quality of the food is excellent.
BabyFace Kitchen has a fantastic atmosphere and the service was exceptional – our hostess was perfection. She knew her stuff was friendly and funny and always scanning the room to see who needed something. The food was really good – fresh, tasty and very well put together.
Wollongong Accommodation: Where To Drink
Wollongong has developed a great bar scene in the last few years with place like Globe Lane taking on a Melbourne feel with alley way bars and cute interesting venues.
The Throsby has a hip Sydney feel, a collection of small edition boutique wines and gorgeous cheese platters this is the perfect place for a pre-dinner drink or to linger over a lovely glass of wine. It has a beautiful garden out the back and a chilled, relaxed feel.
The Howlin Wolf - Whiskey Bar offers a relaxed vibe (complete with Jenga and Connect Four), bright atmosphere, live music and a selection of Whiskey based cocktails The Howlin Wolf has a lot of offer. A unique little bar that promises a relaxed yet lively night out. Be prepared to fall for the cute and funny bar tenders!
The Little Prince is tucked away on Globe lane this retro styled bar is heaving most of the time, but you will inevitably find a little corner to perch in. Offering an interesting array of cocktails and impressive bar tapas and pizza. This was one of Wollongong original cool bars and still holds a soft spot in heart for its quirky, fun approach.
Dagwood is small bar that manages to be in the centre of Wollongong and yet be tucked away. Featuring a small but interesting selection of craft beers and cocktails. Be sure to try the Doctor Knicker-Bocker. The kitchen serves American style street food tacos, sliders and burgers.
PEPE’s on the Beach has Miami feel and terraced balconies Pepe offers a place to see and be seen. Within the Novotel hotel this large bar overlooking the ocean makes you want to order a bucket of Corona’s and spend the afternoon walking the urban coastal life of Wollongong.
Red Square – Vodka Bar is an intimate bar features an astounding range of Vodka infuses from Lychees Turkish Delight to Lime Jelly Beans if you have ever thought of mixing anything with Vodka they have already beaten you to it and done in style. Go prepared to try many, many Vodka infusions as curiosity will get the best of you.
Wollongong Accommodation: What To Do With Kids
Early Start Discovery Space
Is a fantastic interactive play space for kids aged 0-10 years it offers everything from a play building site to an old fashioned cargo ship. There are craft and art activities everyday as well as storytelling and special displays. The café onsite is good and not too expensive but there are tables in the garden outside if you want to bring your own lunch.
The Science Centre and Planetarium is located within the Innovation Campus and offers a hands on science experience for kids of all ages. Interesting and relaxed it encourages kids to play and explore.
Free fun can be found at Stuart Park with a great a kids playground complete with bike and scooter course. There are parklands to picnic, play ball games and watch the skydivers make it back to the ground. Ice cream can be found close by at the Lagoon Kiosk which is perfect enjoyed under the shade of the Norfolk pines.
Revolution Laser Arena
Laser Tag for the new age this immersive centre offers a exciting and unique twist on laser tag.
Wollongong Botanic Garden
With lots of different pockets and garden to explore this is a relaxing outdoor space for kids with a great network parks and an all abilities playground. You can feed the ducks, have a BBQ or pack a picnic.
If you are well organised, booking in a show or workshop for the kids at the Merrigong Theatre is well worth it. The theatre is modern and has a wonderful café attached to it.
With climbing walls for a variety of ages and abilities Hangdog offers a chance for everyone in the family to have some fun and get fit. There is even a maze in the climbing wall for younger kids which my daughter loved.