Sydney, although it is not the capital of Australia, is the most populated and visited city in the country. It is a cosmopolitan city that never sleeps, and at the same time has incredible beaches, museums, green spaces, shopping malls, and much more. Each suburb has a different atmosphere with great cultural and gastronomic diversity, which makes it attractive to all types of visitors. We were lucky enough to live for a few months in Manly, a seaside suburb just 30 minutes from the city center. If you are planning a trip to Australia, here are the must-see places you can't miss in Sydney. We recommend you to dedicate at least 4 days to enjoy it to the fullest.
How to get from the airport to the city?
Sydney airport is located approximately 30 minutes from the city. The fastest and most convenient way to get there is by subway, with a cost of $AUS 17. To use public transport in NSW, it is necessary to have the OPAL card, which can be purchased at the airport. The OPAL card will allow you to travel by ferry, bus, train and subway throughout the city.
Not to be missed in Sydney
1. Be amazed by the Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House is the most representative symbol of the city and a must-see for any tourist. In addition to admiring its impressive architecture, you can enjoy a variety of shows, such as theater, ballet, opera and more. We recommend touring the Opera House from all angles, both day and night, to appreciate it in all its majesty. Around it, you will find several bars with not very cheap prices, but worth it for the view they offer.
2. The Royal Botanic Garden and Mrs Macquaire Point
Stroll through the huge gardens, paths, lakes and cafes of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Sydney, a 30-hectare green oasis located a few meters from the Opera House and the city center. It is also the ideal place to enjoy an Australian-style picnic. Don't miss the walk to Mrs. Macquarie Point for a breathtaking view of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
3. Walk across the Harbour Bridge
The Harbour Bridge is an impressive structure that spans Sydney Harbour and connects the CBD (Central Business District) with the northern part of the city. Walking across this iconic bridge is a must-do activity to enjoy unique panoramic views of Circular Quay (the harbor) and the city center. From here, you can admire the Sydney Opera House from a different perspective and enjoy the sea breeze.
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
Bondi Beach is one of the most iconic beaches in Australia and is located about 30-40 minutes by public transport from the center of Sydney. Here you will find one of the most famous pools in the world: the Bondi Icebergs Pool, which belongs to a swimming club. For only $7 AUD, you can swim in the pool or use the sauna. The beach is perfect for lounging and sunbathing, as well as for surfing or taking a lesson. The main street along the coast is lined with restaurants, bars and designer stores.
If you like to walk and enjoy the views of the sea and cliffs, we recommend setting aside a morning or afternoon to do the Cooge Coastal Walk, a 5.5 km walk from Bondi to Cooge.
5. Museum of Contemporary Art and Art Gallery of NSW
If you like art, don't miss these two places. Admission to the permanent collection is free and has more than 4,000 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
The Rocks is a historic neighborhood located almost under the bridge, and is a place full of pubs, street music and some more upscale restaurants. It is ideal to visit at night.
7. Walking through ChinaTown
The Chinese community in Australia is one of the largest in the world, so don't miss the opportunity to visit Chinatown. If you are traveling in February, be sure to attend the Chinese New Year celebrations.
8. Stroll through Hyde Park and visit St. Mary's Cathedral. Mary's Cathedral
Hyde Park is one of the oldest parks in the city. Walk for a while in the shade of the trees while you relax. In this same park, you will find 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.
It is a good place to have a picnic or just relax and enjoy the scenery. The park is also home to the Sydney Observatory, an interesting place to learn about astronomy and the history of the city.
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