Sydney is one of those exotic destinations that anyone around the world wants to visit. Doesn’t matter which side of the world you’re based on, you must have heard about Sydney, the Opera House, the harbour, the bridge, the beautiful and famous beaches. Water, sand, coastal walkways, parks, restaurants, it’s the perfect combination of breathtaking landscape and classic metropolis man-made structure.
On my bucket list since my first geography lessons in primary school, I was planning my first trip to Sydney for a long time. I got it all sorted last winter, found reasonable tickets, an awesome friend to see it with and plenty of enthusiasm.
Darling Harbour is a must, wandering around to tick off all the main landmarks of Sydney. The Opera House is amazing and any angle makes a beautiful photo shot. You can visit for $42 for one hour, or add dinner to this tour for $82.80, you could take a backstage tour for $175 or four hours wine and dine your way around the Sydney Opera House’s restaurants and bars for $295. Or you can just wander around for free.
You can climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge for $250 or going up Pylon Lookout for $15 instead, the view is basically the same. Or just take the T1 train to cross from one side to another, or simply walk.
A Sydney Harbour cruise is a must for your first visit to Sydney. There are several companies in the harbour who offer different deals, just wander there and see what’s the best deal on the day. We went for a flexible Hop On Hop Off 2 Day pass, with stops at Circular Quay, Barangaroo, Manly, Taronga Zoo, Luna Park to name a few. For approximately $50 we had 2 days of wonderful trips and views of the harbour. Even though winter, the sun was friendly and we enjoyed being on the water surrounded by such amazing scenery, bay after bay, different neighbourhoods, parks, boats, dynamic and relaxing in the same time.
With spectacular views of the beautiful Sydney Harbour, Taronga Zoo offered two hours of laughter, bringing out the inner child. Over 100 years old and set up on the side of the hill, the zoo is fun for adults and kids alike. Doesn’t matter where you look, you feel envious for the daily view that the animals get.
Our next stop was Manly Beach. Half hour ferry ride from Circular Quay, Manly Beach is one of the best in Sydney. Kayaking, surfing, swimming, bird watching, walks, Manly is a mini holiday village within the city. The wharf is linked to the golden beach by the Manly Corso, a pedestrian mall, which is buzzing with shops, bars, eateries, buskers, street market. Shaded by towering Norfolk Island pine trees, Manly Beach is a mega-popular place to laze around.
A visit to Sydney is not complete without a stop to the world’s famous Bondi Beach. 30 minutes from Town Hall station by train and bus, Bondi Beach is the best insight into the Australian easy-going beach culture. You can choose from picnics, fish and chips on the beach, or good restaurants and café overlooking the beach on Campbell Parade. The views along the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk are worthwhile, and you can spot whales if you are there at the right time.
Our last Hop On Hop Off water taxi was at Barangaroo, the newest waterfront precinct on the edge of Sydney’s CBD. Transformed from a disused container terminal, Barangaroo is a big urban renewal project. It bursts with delicious restaurants, shopping, parks, hotels, walkways, innovative architecture and indigenous tours. By 2021, a walkway with cycle lanes will connect Barangaroo with Diamond Harbour.
The suburb of Newtown was also on our list, due to its diverse, bohemian atmosphere that bustles with activity day and night. Indie bookshops and thrift stores on King Street, rooftop bars, avant-garde cinema and eateries with multicultural fare that cater to locals and University of Sydney students. This is the place for gluten-free and other diets, they cater to all your gastronomic needs.
The food is delicious in Sydney. Fancy restaurants, small eateries or food courts in malls, it is all healthy, fresh and delicious. Endless supply of places to eat, Sydney is a foodie’s paradise. The only issue is that you will need much more than a few days to try it all.
I can’t say the same thing about shopping in Sydney. If you want to change your wardrobe, go to Melbourne or other countries. In saying that, the malls in Sydney are fun to explore for their architecture and location. Try Central Park Mall, Westfield Bondi Junction, Queen Victoria building, the Intersection Paddington or the Birkenhead Point Brand Outlet.
Plenty of accommodation to choose from, we wanted to be in the city centre, walking distance from the Opera House and handy to public transport. We did walk for kilometres to and from our hotel, the CBD is easy to navigate, grid-like streets that take you to Diamond Harbour.
Public transport is convenient, reliable and super easy to figure out in Sydney, so I highly recommend it. You can taxi from the airport to CBD for about $45 (Australian Dollars), take the train for $18.70 or the bus for $5.80. Trains and buses from the airport start around 5 a.m. daily and end at midnight. Catching a train into the city is easy and takes about 10 minutes. Grab the T8 Airport and South Line towards City Circle, which stops at Central Station or few other stops, depending on your accommodation location. If you want to catch the bus, you need to get outside T1 International and T3 Domestic terminals. While it doesn’t head into the CBD, Route 400 operates between Bondi Junction in the city’s east and Burwood in the west.
A little bit of shopping, lots of walking and eating, water taxing to and from, and the Diamond Harbour, few days in Sydney are just giving you a taste of this magnificent city.