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The 5 best places in Sydney to escape from stress

Sydney Botanical Gardens

Sydney is unique. But what it makes it such a vibrant, buzzing city can be a double-edged sword. Sometimes you just need to get away from the daily grind and find that perfect spot to melt your stress away. Check out the top 5 places to escape stress in Sydney next time you need to unwind.

Waverley Cemetery

Waverley Cemetery

Heading to a cemetery may seem an odd way to find tranquillity. But among the headstones, honouring such luminary Australian’s like Henry Lawson and Jules Archibald, there is a peace befitting this stunning spot.

Opened in 1877, the multitude of gravestones exude history from Australia’s early colonisation through to the present day. Each large Victorian and Edwardian monument a portal into a time gone by. As ironic as it seems, a reminder of the finite nature of life can help drain away the lingering stresses of the day to day. After all, are your problems really so significant in the insignificance of eternity?

Leaving philosophical musings aside, it is the location more than anything that creates the perfect escape to Sydney’s stress. Just a short train/bus/Uber ride to Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, this cemetery sits high on the cliffs at Bronte. Expect classic ocean brewed breezes. The lingering scent of salt drifting from the nearby sea. And amongst the picturesque scenery, surrounded by the imposing gravestones, there is a silence that will slowly wash away your stress like waves on the beach far below.

Chinese garden of friendship sydney

Chinese Garden of Friendship

On a scale of 1 to painfully busy, heading to Darling Harbour in your spare time might nudge the needle off the scale. But among the endless roadworks and tourists there is an oasis. Walled off, but accessible for just $6, the Chinese Garden of Friendship is a one-way ticket to the Ming Dynasty, without ever leaving the city at all.

Designed by Sydney’s Chinese sister city, Guangzhou, and opened in 1988 to celebrate Australia’s bicentennial, it is a small but irresistibly peaceful spot. The enigmatic bamboo shoots compliment the waterfalls which gently cascade in perennial relaxation. Best of all, the entire garden cannot be seen from any one vantage point. Which means more corners, nooks and crannies to sit and unwind. It’s only a matter of time before the most useful of traditional Chinese philosophies – harmony, washes away your stress.

It might be in the heart of Sydney’s CBD, but here in the Chinese inspired surrounds, you’ll feel the sun on your face, the space to draw air deeply into your lungs and that stress you entered with? Well it’ll stay behind when you’re finally ready to leave.

Centennial Park

Centennial Parklands

Centennial Parklands offers the ultimate escape from the urban jungle by surrounding you with the real thing. Comprised of three parklands – Centennial Park, Moore Park and Queens Park, these 360 hectares include 15,000 trees as well as formal gardens, ponds, historic buildings, sporting fields and even a stone labyrinth, added in 2014.

Take a book, listen to your favourite songs or just find a spot and soak up the natural beauty around you as the city skyline is replaced with pine and native forests, home to 124 species of native land and water birds. Their whistles and chirps the perfect tonic to the rat race that surrounds you in Sydney’s densely populated Eastern Suburbs. Not that you’ll notice that here. A playground for adults as much as children, there’s nothing quite like a lazy afternoon in the sun and getting home to find grass still in your hair to remind you that it’s the little things in life that really make you smile.

St Mary's Cathedral Sydney

St Marys Cathedral

This Gothic revival styled icon of Sydney has been standing, in one form or another, since 1821, although the most recent variation began construction in 1868. And whether you’re religious or not, it has the power to draw the stress from your body and leave you feeling refreshed.

Inside the cavernous interior, officially the longest church in Australia, the aesthetic is striking. Ornate carvings decorate the numerous columns. Forty stain glass windows allow a soft, relaxing light to filter through. And above all, the towering ceiling, it’s red cedar construction stretching in every direction, imbues the most calming serenity. You’ll enter feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders and sit in one of the many wooden pews. Whether you want to ask the big guy upstairs for a little stress relief, or use your time silently contemplating your weekly footy tips, everything feels so much calmer in the confines of this commanding cathedral.

Plus, once you’re done inside you can head over the road to Hyde Park and watch a flock of Ibis eat out of bins which is always great for a laugh.

Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney

The Royal Botanic Garden

This jewel in Sydney’s crown was opened in 1816, making it one of the most historic botanic gardens in the world. More than that though, it is the perfect escape from the stresses of everyday Sydney life. Comprised of four major precincts – the Lower Gardens, Middle Gardens, Palace Gardens and the Bennelong Precinct, its stunning visual surrounds, within a stone’s throw of Sydney Harbour, offer relaxation to suit all needs.

Walking the well-trodden path by the hand-sewn sandstone sea wall that stretches from the Opera House round to Mr’s Macquarie’s Point is the perfect way to unwind, getting the blood pumping with a cool harbour breeze in your hair. Numerous gardens and pavilions, sculptures, statues and fountains dot the lush green landscape offering endless spots to sit and think. Or to not think at all. Learn about Australia’s indigenous heritage, get lost in one of many floral gardens or just pick a direction and start exploring. No matter what you do, time spent in the Botanic Garden is more than just relaxing. It’s good for the soul.

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