When you think of Australia, most tourists conjure images of the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and Bondi Beach – luckily these Aussie icons are found in Sydney.
Surrounded by bays and coves, 14 million Sydney siders commute to and from work each year on the Sydney Ferries service that has been in operation since 1875.
Ever the fabulous ‘show-off’ city, there is always a festival, concert, exhibition on in the city or a packed city beach to spend your sunny days.
Three days is the minimum amount of time I would suggest, though this wouldn’t give you much time to get out of the city to the beaches or mountains.
Spend one week in Sydney with an entire day lazily walking along the coast, sun bake at Bondi on another, spend two days in the city and another few days taking the ferries to inlets and coves or overnight in the Blue Mountains.
How should you get there?
Fly in and out! The nearest capital cities are a long drive away – Melbourne is a nine hours drive, Brisbane a 10.5 hours drive, Adelaide a 15 hours drive but Canberra is just three hours away, however, no Aussie goes there by choice (sorry Canberra!).
WHERE TO STAY?
Sydney is well connected with trains, buses and ferries but the roads are a nightmare, I wouldn’t suggest hiring a car to get around the city or beaches. Public transport is cheap and frequent.
The city is buzzing with after work drinking holes, and the hustle and bustle of city life. If you choose to stay in the city I would suggest staying a walk away from Circular Quay for the easiest access to the ferry service as well as trains and buses.
Another hub to put in your search is nearby Darling Harbour and Pitt or George Street.
Nearby Attractions: Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, Sydney Tower Eye, The Rocks, Queen Victoria Building, Museum of Sydney, Royal Botanical Gardens
The most popular and therefore the most expensive beach to stay by is Bondi Beach. Personally I find it so overcrowded that I prefer to do a Bondi day trip when in Sydney and spend the rest of my time at the beaches further south towards Coogee.
The famous Bondi to Bronte (or Coogee) coastal walk is worth doing, this take a few hours but I suggest taking your time, plus you can find plenty of places to stay along this route. A few favourite towns along this coast are Bronte and Tamarama Beach.
TIP: My favourite place to eat in Bronte is a cute cafe called The Bogey Hole Cafe.
Nearby Attractions: Bondi to Coggee walk, Icebergs Club, Sculpture by the Sea exhibition, Manly Sea Life Sanctuary (further north than Bondi)
There are so many sights and museums to visit in Sydney but don’t miss the day trips up and down the coast.
MY TOP FIVE SIGHTS IN SYDNEY
The ‘sails’ of the Opera House complete Sydney’s skyline but more importantly this performing art-centre is home to four resident companies; Opera Australia, The Australian Ballet, The Sydney Dance Company and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
More than eight million people visit or take a guided tour through the Opera House annually to experience the incredible acoustics and architecture. I highly recommend getting to a performance whilst you are in Sydney to experience the concert halls in use.
Nicknamed ‘The Coathanger’ this bridge is the world’s “tallest steel arch bridge”, if you climb to the very top on the popular ‘BridgeClimb experience’ you will at a whopping 134m above the Sydney Harbour waterline.
Not only does this bridge connect the wealthy North Shore suburbs to the city, the bridge is also featured in light shows, events and the famous New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Always popular, always packed and always a lot of fun.
Iconic Bondi Beach is 8km, or an easy bus ride, from Sydney’s CBD and is one of the most visited beaches in Australia.
The Bondi Icebergs was a winter swimming pool for the local lifesavers built in 1929. Today this beach club and baths has expanded into a trendy bar and restaurant and is ‘the place to be seen’.
Australia is one big island surrounded by tough oceans and strong currents, all Australians grow up knowing they MUST swim between the red and yellow lifesaving flags. You can find yourself in trouble in a matter of minutes and at the southern end of Bondi beach there is a resident rip known as the ‘backpackers rip’. Always, always, always, swim between the flags!
Australia is certainly not an old country with ancient history to boast of, there are however, some ‘older’ buildings that are beautifully designed and meticulously repaired in Sydney’s CBD.
The Queen Victoria Building was built in the Romanesque Revival style between 1893 and 1898 by a Scottish architect who adorned the building with stained glass windows, sandstone columns and copper-sheathed domes.
Wander through the designer shops and overpriced coffee shops in the QVB.
If you have no fear of heights or walking on a glass platform at 268 meters (that’s twice the height of the harbour bridge), then the Sydney Tower Skywalk experience is for you!
MY BEST ADVICE…
When travelling on public transport (ferries, bus, trains and light rail) through the city, you need a Opal Card. This works as a top-up-as-you-go pass that covers you from Sydney to the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Hunter, Illawarra and Southern Highlands.
Opal Cards are available at train stations, Newsagents, Milk Bars (aussie version of a Tabac/corner store/dairy), 7-eleven and online. Your spending is capped at $15 a day for adults, $2.50 on Sunday and no more than $60 a week.
Ever vibrant and bustling, there is always something on in Sydney and this hikes the accommodation prices sky high!
A dates few to be aware of:
Feb/Mar – Mardi Gras parade and Chinese New Year
March – Sydney to Hobart Sailing Race
June – Vivid Sydney city light show
Aug/Sept – City2Surf race from Hyde Park to Bondi
Nov/Dec – Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, Sculptures by the Sea, Carols in the Domain and the Harbour Bridge Firework Show
The best way to get from Sydney airport to the city is the Airport Link train which whizzes you to the city in just 13 minutes. An opal card will cover this journey or paper tickets can be issued.
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So who am I…? Hi! My name is India.
I am a nomadic Australian who has wandered the world full time exploring over 60 countries and 5/7 continents.
After ten years on the road, I have launched my own website – Travelling Notebook – to share the knowledge I have gained on the road and the images I have collected over the years with fellow adventurers. Keep reading…
I am a freelance travel writer, photography and videographer, based in London. If you need specific travel advice or would like to collaborate please send an email my way!
Always say yes to adventure!