Sydney, although it is not the capital of Australia, is the most populated and visited city in the country. A cosmopolitan city that never sleeps, and at the same time has incredible beaches, museums, green spaces, shopping centres, etc. Each suburb has a different atmosphere with great cultural and gastronomic diversity to suit all tastes. We had the pleasure of living for a few months in Manly, a beach suburb only 30 minutes away from the city. If you are planning a trip to Australia, here are the MUST-dos for your visit! We recommend you dedicate at least 4 days to enjoy it to the fullest.
How to get from the airport to the city?
The airport is approximately 30 minutes from the city. The quickest way to get there is by underground. It costs $AUS17 and requires an OPAL (the public transport card for NSW) which is available at the airport.
This will help you get around by ferry, bus, train and underground.
Not to be missed in Sydney
1. Be amazed by the Sydney Opera House
It is the logo of Sydney and a must on your visit to the city. It is the venue for theatre, ballet, opera and other performances. Take the opportunity to see it from all angles - both day and night - and even from the front. In the surrounding area there are several bars (not very cheap) where you can have a drink and enjoy such a great view!
2. The Royal Botanic Garden and Mrs Macquaire Point
Walk through its huge gardens, paths, lakes and cafés. A green space of 30 hectares that coexists just metres from the Opera and the city. It is also the ideal place for an Aussie-style picnic.
Tip: Walk to Mrs. Macquaire Point for this unmissable view of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
3. Walk across the Harbour Bridge
It is a huge bridge that crosses Sydney Harbour and connects the CBD (Central Business District) with the northern part of the city.
It offers unique panoramic views of Circular Quay (the harbour) and the city centre! You'll be able to admire the opera from a little higher up.
And, for those who are not afraid of heights, for about $170 AUD you can climb and walk over the bridge.
4. Spend the morning at Bondi Beach
It is one of Australia's iconic beaches and is located 30-40 minutes by public transport from Sydney CBD.
Here you will find one of the most famous swimming pools in the world: Bondi Icebergs Pool. It belongs to a swimming club. TIP: For $7 AUD you can go for a swim in the pool or use the sauna.
The beach itself is ideal for lounging and surfing (or taking a surfing lesson). The main street along the coast is lined with restaurants/bars and many designer shops.
If you enjoy walking, sea views and cliffs, we recommend saving a morning or afternoon for the Cooge Coastal Walk. A 5.5km walk from Bondi to Cooge.
5. Museum of Contemporary Art and Art Gallery of NSW
If you like art, don't miss it! There is free admission to the permanent collection with more than 4000 works.
TIP: At the Museum of Contemporary Art, don't forget to go up to the rooftop café, order a drink and marvel at the view of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.
6. Have a drink at The Rocks
It's a historic neighbourhood almost under the bridge that is very cool. It's full of pubs, street music and some more upmarket restaurants. Ideal to visit at night.
7. Walking through ChinaTown
The Chinese community in Australia is one of the largest in the world. So we recommend you pay it a visit! If you are travelling in February, don't miss the Chinese New Year celebrations.
8. Stroll through Hyde Park and visit St. Mary's Cathedral. Mary's Cathedral
It is one of the oldest parks in the city. Take a walk in the shade of the trees while you relax your mind.
Right there is St Mary's Cathedral, one of the most beautiful churches in the city with a gothic style and the largest in Australia!
9. Take a ferry to Manly
Manly is a surfing suburb 30 minutes by ferry from the city centre. The trip across Sydney Harbour itself is incredible. The view of the Opera House from the water is priceless.
Walk along the Corso - the main pedestrianised street - from Manly Wharf (where the ferries arrive) to the main beach. It's full of bars, restaurants and cool locals. Manly is surrounded by beautiful beaches: Manly Beach, Little Manly Beach, Collins Beach, Shelly Beach, etc.
Manly is surrounded by beaches and makes up the well-known Northern Beaches (Freshwaters, Avalon, Palm Beach, among others). Most of them have free rock pools. We lived here for 2 months and it is impossible to get bored!
10. Explore some of the many Coastal Walks Sydney has to offer.
There are a number of stunning coastal walks that allow you to enjoy Sydney's breathtaking natural beauty. While most people follow the two-hour walk from Coogee to Bondi, there are several that are also very good:
- Split to Manly
- Rose Bay to Watson's Bay
- Watson's Bay to Dover Heights
- Chowder Bay to Balmoral Beach
- Jibbon Beach Loop Track
11. Visit the University of Sydney
It is the oldest university in Australia (1850) and is ranked among the 10 most beautiful universities in the world. There are 6 imposing buildings in English style. If you have time it is really worth a visit.
12. Enjoying the view from Observatory Hill
It is a park with a lookout point from where you have a panoramic view of The Rocks, the bridge and Sydney Harbour. Many people go there to watch the fireworks on New Year's Eve.
13. Palm Beach and the Northen Beaches
Palm Beach is the crowning jewel of Sydney's northern beaches. It is two kilometres of sand with a hill with a lighthouse and one of the most photographed views in Sydney.
It is located 40km from the centre of Sydney and can be reached by public transport.
14. Diamond Bay CliffWalk
Another great walk is Diamond Bay, with great cliffs and the sea is an incredible blue colour. It's a great place for whale watching in season.
15. Have some fun in Luna Park
It is a small amusement park across the bridge. It is very nice to go for a walk and has a spectacular view of the bay and the bridge.
Admission is free and you pay individually for the attractions you want.
On the outskirts of Sydney:
16. The figure 8 pools
They are natural pools and some of them are in the shape of 8, something spectacular. They are located in the Royal National Park, 60-90 minutes from Sydney. It is best to hire a car to get there. From the car park you have to walk about 3 km to get to the pools, it takes about 1 hour.
Tip for visiting The figure 8 pools:
- The most important thing is to visit at low tide. With the tide always changing and the waves breaking, it can be a dangerous place. Several people have been injured. At high tide, all the natural pools are under water. Go at low tide and when the swell is less than 1 metre.
- The nearest car park to the figure 8 pools is Garawarra Farm, on Garie Road. You can look it up on Google Maps. Parking costs 12 AUD which includes the entrance fee to the national park.
- Wear comfortable shoes. The path is quite steep with many rocks.
- On the way there are no places to buy water or anything to eat so we advise you to bring your water bottle and some snacks.
17. Blue Mountains
It is a mountainous region located only 50km from Sydney. Since 2000 the Blue Mountains region has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is an ideal excursion to get away from the city and enjoy nature. You can go for a day trip or camping.
You can go by car or train is also a good option. The train leaves from Sydney Central Station and goes to Katoomba approximately every hour and the journey takes exactly two hours. The fare is 17 AUD return. From Katoomba train station you can walk the 3km to the Blue Mountains or take the 686 bus.
What to see in the Blue Mountains?
- Hanging Rock
- Lincoln's Rock
- Zig Zag Railway
- Three Sisters
- Katoomba Scenic Skyway
- Giant Staircase
- Jenolan Caves