&noscript=1" /> Exploring New South Wales: The 16 Most Hipster Towns

15 Most Hipster Towns in NSW Like Byron Bay

14 mins read
Source: Destination NSW

Explore the coolest parts of New South Wales with our list of the 16 coolest, most unique towns that are all about being different and cool. From the creative streets of Newtown to the chill atmosphere of Byron Bay, each place has its own mix of food, art, and way of life. Prepare to find the special spots where creativity and community thrive. Whether you’re enjoying craft coffee in Marrickville or looking for old, cool stuff in Bangalow, these towns offer a memorable trip into the heart of NSW’s different culture.

Our editorial picks for the best hipster towns in New South Wales showcase the unique features that make these places special. Here’s where you should go for a true hipster vibe:

  • For a lively mix of arts, diverse food, and vintage shopping: Newtown, Sydney
  • For a relaxed beach vibe with a bit of luxury: Byron Bay
  • For modern arts and creative dining: Chippendale, Sydney
  • For a community-oriented way of life with a touch of history: Bangalow

Newtown, Sydney

Newtown, located in Sydney’s Inner West, is known for its mix of alternative cultures, indie music, and old-school fashion. Walking down King Street, you’ll see lots of street art, unique shops, and different kinds of food places offering everything from Vietnamese pho to Portuguese tarts. This area is always full of life, with the smell of coffee in the air and the sound of live music coming from the old pubs. The Enmore Theatre, an important place in Newtown, shows how much the people here love the arts, with events ranging from rock shows to comedy nights.

The sense of community in Newtown really stands out during the Newtown Festival, where people gather in Camperdown Memorial Rest Park to enjoy music, food, and support community causes. This suburb is very welcoming, with rainbow flags everywhere, showing support for the LGBTQIA+ community. Whether you’re looking for a unique vintage outfit, want to try some hand-made gelato, or are in the mood for a fun night out, Newtown is a great representation of Sydney’s hipster culture.

  • How far from CBD: Approximately 4 kilometres south-west of the Sydney central business district
  • Known for: Eclectic shopping, diverse dining, live music, and a strong LGBTQIA+ community
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/BgBtVYKopYEfP8PM9

Chippendale, Sydney

Chippendale might be small, but it’s full of culture. This part of the city has changed a lot, turning from an industrial area into a place known for contemporary arts. The Central Park area, known for its hanging gardens, shows how innovative Chippendale is. The streets here are filled with creativity, hosting galleries like the White Rabbit, which presents modern Asian art, and old warehouses that have been turned into places for artists to work.

The food in Chippendale is as varied as its art scene, with Spice Alley offering food from different countries in a street food style and famous restaurants like Ester creating new types of Australian dishes. The change in Chippendale can also be seen in its buildings, where old houses are mixed with new, modern designs. Even though Chippendale is hidden behind Sydney’s Central Station, it stands out because of its lively arts scene and active community.

  • How far from CBD: Approximately 1 kilometre south of the Sydney central business district
  • Known for: Contemporary arts scene, innovative dining, and urban regeneration
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/RXpS2dentFhWftW18

Surry Hills, Sydney

Surry Hills is a cool mix of old terrace houses and transformed warehouses, making it a top spot for young and creative people in the city center. This suburb is known for having some of the best places to eat and the most stylish shops in Sydney. Crown Street is the heart of Surry Hills, alive with a variety of places to eat, from the award-winning Porteño restaurant to the famous Bourke Street Bakery. If you love coffee, Surry Hills is like heaven, with so many specialty coffee shops that it can compete with the best coffee cities in the world.

When the sun goes down, Surry Hills becomes even more lively, with bars like The Wild Rover and Button Bar serving up unique cocktails in cozy spots. The suburb’s artistic side shines at the Brett Whiteley Studio, where you can see the art of one of Australia’s most famous artists. For those looking for a dose of culture, the Belvoir Street Theatre puts on modern shows that match Surry Hills’ artsy atmosphere.

  • How far from CBD: Just minutes southeast of the Sydney central business district
  • Known for: Gourmet dining, fashion boutiques, coffee culture, and nightlife
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/sRCQjZ5q62yYE8si7

Glebe, Sydney

Glebe’s bohemian spirit is as alive today as it was in its countercultural heyday. This leafy suburb, with its grand Victorian homes and bohemian cafes, invites a slower pace of life. Glebe Point Road, the main thoroughfare, is dotted with bookshops, galleries, and a diverse range of eateries that reflect the suburb’s inclusive ethos. The Glebe Markets, held every Saturday, are a treasure trove of vintage clothing, artisanal crafts, and gourmet street food, embodying the community’s love for the eclectic and sustainable.

The suburb’s connection to academia is palpable, with the University of Sydney just a stone’s throw away, infusing Glebe with a youthful energy. The foreshore walk along Blackwattle Bay offers stunning views of the Anzac Bridge and the city skyline, providing a serene escape from the urban bustle. For a unique dining experience, the bohemian-chic Different Drummer offers tapas with a twist, while the Sappho Books, Cafe & Wine Bar combines literary indulgence with a fine selection of wines.

  • How far from CBD: Roughly 3 kilometres southwest of the Sydney central business district
  • Known for: Vintage markets, academic atmosphere, waterfront parks, and a vibrant local community
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/fPaZR21DAM9JbG3T6

Katoomba, Blue Mountains

Katoomba, the main town in the Blue Mountains, mixes natural beauty with a creative vibe. It’s famous for the Three Sisters rock formation, providing amazing views and lots of walking paths for both easy-going walkers and serious hikers. The town is full of life, with art galleries, small shops, and cafes everywhere. Events like the Blue Mountains Music Festival and Yulefest happen every year, bringing people from all around to enjoy Katoomba’s special atmosphere through music and festivities.

For those who love adventure, Scenic World and the cliff-top walking paths offer some of the most beautiful sights in Australia. If you like taking things easy, the Katoomba Street Art Walk shows off colorful murals that share the town’s rich cultural story. At night, the town is still lively, with music and theater, especially at the historic Carrington Hotel, where various performances are held all year long.

  • How far from CBD: Roughly 102 kilometres west of the Sydney central business district
  • Known for: Scenic views, arts and culture, and outdoor activities
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/4egcKYXg5BCwFsox6


Mullumbimby, often called “The Biggest Little Town in Australia,” is a small town with a lot of love and personality. It’s located in the Byron Shire, close to the busy Byron Bay, but it has a much more relaxed feeling. The town is known for its alternative ways of living, focusing a lot on being eco-friendly and organic farming. Every week, the Mullumbimby Farmers Market shows off the town’s dedication to local food and handmade items.

When it comes to culture, Mullumbimby is full of creative energy. The Mullum Music Festival is a yearly event that turns the town into a lively place filled with music. You can find vintage stores, organic cafes, and bookshops all over town, showing off its unique and welcoming community vibe. For those looking for a place to improve their mental or physical health, there are many yoga studios and places for holistic healing in this lovely town.

  • How far from CBD: Roughly 630 kilometres north of the Sydney central business district
  • Known for: Alternative culture, community-oriented lifestyle, and music festivals
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/Ngqa9EumWxNpqryZA

Potts Point, Sydney

Potts Point is a neighborhood close to the heart of Sydney that combines modern style with a unique, artsy feel. It’s a short walk from the city center and is a blend of different cultures, foods, and history. You’ll find streets filled with old art deco buildings and new shops, showing off the area’s cool yet classic vibe. Potts Point is especially famous for its exciting food scene, with lots of cafes and restaurants serving everything from fancy dishes to simple snacks.

The recent opening of Hotel Indigo in Potts Point shows how the area has changed, with its design celebrating the neighborhood’s colorful history and its polished look today. The hotel is in a great spot with beautiful views of the city and the harbor, making it a perfect place for both people from the area and visitors to enjoy what Sydney’s city life has to offer.

  • How far from CBD: Just 2 kilometres east of the Sydney central business district
  • Known for: Art deco architecture, gourmet dining, and vibrant nightlife
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/vRzz4d2bFjj9at8r5


Cabarita Beach, affectionately known as ‘Caba’ to locals, is a coastal enclave that epitomizes laid-back beach culture with a stylish edge. This small town has gained recognition for its stunning beaches, notably Norries Head, which offers panoramic views of the vast Pacific Ocean. Cabarita Beach is a favorite among surfers for its excellent waves and less crowded conditions compared to more well-known surf spots. The town itself is a blend of modern chic and rustic charm, with boutique accommodations like Halcyon House providing a luxurious retreat.

Dining in Cabarita is a delightful experience, with options ranging from upscale restaurants to casual beachside cafes, all offering dishes that highlight local ingredients. The town’s relaxed pace and beautiful natural surroundings make it an ideal destination for those seeking both rejuvenation and adventure in a hip coastal setting.

  • How far from CBD: Roughly 660 kilometres north of the Sydney central business district
  • Known for: Surf culture, boutique accommodations, and stunning coastal views
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/F7Lp6R1ud8Nz63976


Bellingen, a calm town in the lush Bellinger Valley, is perfect for creative people and those who love being part of a community. This beautiful town, with its tree-lined streets and old buildings, is more than just good-looking. It’s a cultural center that draws in musicians, artists, and writers because of its lively music festivals and the famous monthly Bellingen Growers Market. The town’s cafes, like the Hearthfire Bakery, are places where locals meet to share stories and eat organic food that comes from the area.

The true spirit of Bellingen shines during its yearly events like the Bellingen Music Festival and the Reader’s and Writer’s Festival, which turn the town into a place full of artistic and smart activities. For those who love nature, the nearby rainforests have many trails that offer peace and a chance to get back in touch with nature. Bellingen mixes its artsy feel with a strong sense of caring for the environment, making it an ideal place for those who want to live in a way that’s good for the planet.

  • How far from CBD: Approximately 522 kilometres north of the Sydney central business district
  • Known for: Artistic community, eco-consciousness, and music festivals
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/U1JuBAjeXSACTDB77

Redfern, Sydney

Redfern is a suburb where the past and the present fuse in an eclectic mix of culture and revitalization. Once a place to pass through with caution, it’s now a destination with a cool edge, where the streets hum with the energy of its Aboriginal heritage, street art, and the sounds of indie bands. The area’s transformation is evident in its thriving café culture and the rise of hip bars and eateries like The Bearded Tit, a local favorite that doubles as a quirky bar and creative space. Redfern’s community-centric spirit is celebrated at annual events like the Yabun Festival, which honors Indigenous culture.

The suburb’s creative pulse is best felt by wandering through its backstreets, discovering hidden gems like the Redfern Continental, offering European fare with a side of vinyl tunes. Redfern Park provides a green oasis amidst the urban landscape, reflecting the suburb’s balance of grit and greenery. For those seeking a taste of Redfern’s burgeoning food scene, a visit to the Carriageworks Farmers Market is a must, showcasing the best of local produce every Saturday.

  • How far from CBD: Approximately 3 kilometres south of the Sydney central business district
  • Known for: Aboriginal culture, street art, indie music scene, and a vibrant community
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/ei8sAg1SikYUbLAK8

Thirroul, Wollongong

Thirroul is a beachside town that really shows off a relaxed lifestyle with a creative flair. Located in the suburb of Wollongong, it’s surrounded by beautiful beaches and the Illawarra escarpment, creating stunning views that inspire both the people who live there and those who visit. The town attracts surfers, artists, and writers, like the famous D.H. Lawrence who finished his book “Kangaroo” while staying here. Thirroul has a lively arts scene, with lots of galleries and the Thirroul Seaside and Arts Festival every year, celebrating the town’s artistic skills and sense of community.

The main street in Thirroul mixes the old with the new, where you can find classic fish and chip shops next to cool cafes and shops. For those interested in local culture, Anita’s Theatre is the place to go for different kinds of shows, including plays and concerts from around the world. With its combination of beach relaxation and cultural activities, Thirroul stands out as a special place on the coast of New South Wales.

  • How far from CBD: Approximately 69 kilometres south of the Sydney central business district
  • Known for: Beach lifestyle, arts and literary history, and community festivals
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/fEDgqP9Lwc6QvZiJ8

Lennox Head

Lennox Head is a cool surf town with a relaxing vibe, located just south of Byron Bay. This easy-going village is famous for its excellent surfing spot at Seven Mile Beach, attracting surfers worldwide. The town’s chilled atmosphere goes hand in hand with its beautiful surroundings, from the clean beaches to the peaceful Lake Ainsworth, a freshwater lake that’s great for swimming, kayaking, and having picnics. But Lennox Head isn’t all about surfing; it’s a place with a strong sense of local culture and community.

The town has many places to eat, with seafood and fresh local food being the main attractions. Lennox Head also serves as an entry point to the wider Northern Rivers area, which is known for its exciting food scene and fun festivals. For anyone looking for a mix of adventure, natural beauty, and a welcoming community, Lennox Head is a top place to visit.

  • How far from CBD: Approximately 750 kilometres north of the Sydney central business district
  • Known for: Surfing, community spirit, and natural beauty
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/izX8EBDMugbL9oAW7


Bangalow is a cozy country town that has become cool and trendy while keeping its historical charm. It’s located in the countryside near Byron Bay and is a great spot for food lovers, artists, and anyone wanting to get away from the busy coast. The main street is full of old-fashioned buildings and is home to stylish shops, stores selling home goods, and places to eat that focus on using local ingredients. The Bangalow Dining Rooms, found in the famous Bangalow Hotel, serve a modern Australian menu that matches the town’s relaxed atmosphere.

The town’s artistic side is on full display at the monthly Bangalow Market, where local craftspeople and farmers sell their work and products under the camphor laurel trees. Bangalow also shows its love for being green and supporting local businesses at the Bangalow Cookout, where local chefs cook together using open fires. If you’re thinking of spending the night, the Bangalow Guesthouse offers unique and stylish rooms that really show what this trendy spot is all about.

  • How far from CBD: Approximately 765 kilometres north of the Sydney central business district
  • Known for: Historical charm, gourmet food scene, and a strong sense of community
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/e9VKTkBaUBM98BkY6

Brunswick Heads

Brunswick Heads, located just north of Byron Bay, is a quieter and more laid-back option compared to its lively neighbor. This small town is famous for its old-school charm and focus on community. Its streets are filled with vintage shops and unique places to eat that highlight local produce and seafood. The Brunswick River makes a beautiful setting for activities like kayaking and paddleboarding, and the monthly markets are a fun way for people to come together to enjoy local art, crafts, and music.

This town has a relaxed vibe that’s great for anyone wanting to get away from crowded tourist spots and experience a true coastal way of life. Brunswick Heads is also known for hosting various cultural events all year round, such as the Old & Gold Festival, which attracts fans of antiques and vintage items. Whether you’re chilling at the peaceful Torakina Beach or taking in the views from the scenic headland, Brunswick Heads offers a peaceful beach experience with a cool twist.

  • How far from CBD: Approximately 772 kilometres north of the Sydney central business district
  • Known for: Community-focused lifestyle, vintage charm, and scenic river activities
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/jZyKPeAmDv96PzaY6

Byron Bay

Byron Bay, the coastal town where the spirit of the 70s still lingers in the salty sea breeze, is a haven for surfers, yogis, and those seeking a connection with nature. The town’s streets are lined with boutiques selling bohemian wares, organic cafes offering nourishing eats, and wellness centers promising spiritual enlightenment. Byron’s beaches are its crowning glory, with the iconic lighthouse standing sentinel over the crystal-clear waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Despite its evolution into a chic tourist hotspot, Byron Bay retains an undercurrent of its countercultural roots. Drum circles and fire dancers still congregate on the beach at sunset, and the town’s numerous festivals celebrate everything from music and literature to the environment. It’s a place where you can start your day with a sunrise surf session, indulge in a locally sourced feast, and end with a night of dancing under the stars.

  • How far from CBD: Approximately 765 kilometres north of the Sydney central business district
  • Known for: Surf culture, alternative lifestyles, and stunning beaches
  • Google Map Link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/hmmekcy5MFdawEum8

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some must-visit hipster towns in New South Wales?

Newtown and Marrickville in Sydney are must-visits for their vibrant arts scene, multicultural food, and vintage shopping. Byron Bay is essential for its laid-back beach culture and alternative lifestyle, while Chippendale is known for its contemporary arts and innovative dining.

How far are these hipster towns from Sydney CBD?

Newtown is approximately 4 kilometres southwest, Marrickville is about 7 kilometres southwest, Chippendale is roughly 1 kilometre south, and Byron Bay is around 765 kilometres north of Sydney CBD.

Can I find good coffee and craft beer in these towns?

Absolutely, Newtown and Marrickville are renowned for their specialty coffee shops and craft breweries. Byron Bay and Chippendale also offer a variety of places for excellent coffee and locally brewed beer.

Are there any LGBTQIA+ friendly hipster towns in New South Wales?

Newtown is particularly LGBTQIA+ friendly, with a welcoming atmosphere and numerous bars, cafes, and businesses sporting rainbow flags. It’s a neighborhood known for its inclusivity and diversity.

What kind of cultural activities can I expect in these towns?

You can expect a range of activities including live music, street art tours, indie film screenings, and local markets. Each town has its own unique cultural offerings, from the music festivals of Byron Bay to the art galleries of Chippendale.

Lachlan Taylor

Lachlan aka Lockie is a contributing writer at Humble Trail, known for his down-to-earth style and passion for the great outdoors. Born and raised in the small town of Deloriane, Tasmania, Lockie developed a deep love for nature and adventure from a young age.

His articles are a blend of his personal adventures and insightful explorations, often focused on sustainable travel, wilderness treks, and the serene beauty of untouched landscapes.

Always with his own reusable coffee cup in hand, Lockie loves a good caffeine fix as much as everyone else on the Humbletrail team.

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