We discover the best-known beach in Sydney, Australia

In a city famous for its beaches, the most famous beach of all is Bondi, which has become synonymous with Sydney’s laid-back beach lifestyle. Just seven km from downtown, Bondi is always packed with tourists, backpackers, surfers and locals.

The beach reportedly takes its name from an Aboriginal word meaning “noise of water breaking over rocks”. After early property developers tried to stop public access to Bondi, the government declared it a public beach in 1882. While the northern end tends to be safe for swimming, the southern end can be dangerous due to a rip current and is more popular with surfers. Underwater shark nets help to reduce the risk of shark attacks. Swimmers should listen to the lifeguards and stay between the red and yellow flags.

Bondi is said to have the world’s oldest surf lifesaving club. The Bondi Surf Bathers’ Life Saving Club and the North Bondi Surf Life Saving Club were both founded in 1907. The Bondi Icebergs Swimming Club dates back to 1929, allowing lifesavers to stay fit during the winter months. There is also an outdoor skate park popular with skateboarders and rollerbladers.

For most of the 20th century the area around Bondi Beach was working class, attracting many new immigrants. After World War II many Jewish migrants from Germany and Eastern Europe settled here. While the area remains multicultural today, it has gone very upscale, drawing many wealthy Asians. Nowadays, the houses around Bondi are among the most expensive in Australia.

A favorite spot to swim, sunbathe, surf and people-watch, Bondi is also a popular shopping and dining venue. Many busy cafes, restaurants and hotels line Campbell Parade and offer stunning views of the beach. The Bondi Pavilion is a cultural center featuring a theatre, gallery, art studios and function rooms. On Saturdays, the Bondi Farmer’s Market takes over the grounds of the Bondi Beach Public School, offering everything from fresh produce and free-range eggs to homemade cakes. On Sundays, the same venue hosts the Bondi Market, where stalls display clothes, jewelry, trinkets, home decorations and handicrafts made by local designers, artists and artisans. This is the place to come and discover Sydney’s up-and-coming design talent.

Bondi is also the venue for regular concerts, public shows and festivals, with the most famous being the Sculpture by the Sea art show, which transforms the 2km-long walk from Bondi to Tamarama Beach into a giant outdoor art gallery. This year, the event runs from 20 October to 6 November and marks the show’s 20th year of operation. Book your plane tickets and hotel room now as it is sure to be a spectacular show, featuring 100 large-scale sculptures by artists from all over the world. Last year, the event drew 500 submissions from 41 countries and six territories. Each year, the chosen sculptures grow more diverse and thought-provoking.

On September 11, 2016, Bondi will host Australia’s largest kite-flying festival, The Festival of Winds, a free event that’s fun for the whole family. November brings the Bondi Short Film Festival, while December heralds Carols by the Sea. Then it’s time for another Sydney tradition – Christmas Day on the beach.

Whatever season you visit, no trip to Sydney is complete without a stop at this iconic beach. You won’t be alone! According to the local tourism bureau, over 40 percent of international visitors to Sydney came to Bondi, which draws about 2.2 million visitors each year. While the beach’s clean and smooth white sand and turquoise water are the main draws, the crowds add to the colorful show.