Sydney, with its intoxicating mix of grit and glam, old and new, urban lifestyle and beach-side chills, is a city you’ll want to return to time and time again. There is always something new to discover and experience. The frequent and easy-to-use public transport, exciting food and drink scene, the vast array of day-time entertainments, and vibrant night-life any day of the week make it the ideal location for a get-away that combines culture, adventure, and parties.
Where to Stay
Sydney is absolutely packed with hostels and backpacker lodges – head to hostelworld.com to find your perfect stay! Otherwise, you’ll find plenty of AirBnBs to suit any budget. If you’re looking to stay in a hotel or apart-hotel, you’ll be spoilt for choice, and the options range from budget accommodation to luxury deals.
To help you narrow down your accommodation options, look into which areas of Sydney you would prefer to stay in. You’ll have the choice between bohemian glam in Newtown, urban chic in Potts Point and Elizabeth Bay, modern sleek in the CBD, antique character in The Rocks, beach buzz at Bondi, or beach chill at Manly, and many others!
The Rocks, near the beautiful harbour and the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, is at the heart of the old city. You’ll be surrounded by an intriguing mix of heritage buildings and sleek modern architecture in this vibrant and characterful district, as well as a slew of buzzing restaurants, bars, and cafes. All accompanied, of course, with stunning views of the harbour!
Newtown is known for its eclectic and unconventional thrift shops and eateries, colourful streets, and thriving creative and artsy scene. Its rows of restored 19th-century houses are home to cafes, micro-breweries, cocktails bars, and highly regarded restaurants. Newtown is an enticing and charming neighbourhood!
Potts Point and Elizabeth Bay are more modern, but they are equally exciting areas to stay. Centrally located, surrounded by various and hip bars, restaurants, and cafes, and well-connected to public transport, this is a young and vibrant area.
What can I say about Bondi? Three beaches, Bondi, Bronte, and Tamarama, provide stunning views and perfect places to relax (responsibly) in the sun, cool down in the water, or people watch. The beach is lined with bars, cafes, and shops, gyms, beauty salons – anything your heart could desire!
If you prefer to be a little removed from all the action, Manly is a good option for you. Well-connected to the city via frequent buses, trains, and ferries, Manly is a more relaxed part of town, with its quirky cafes, markets, and trendy beachfront outfitters and surf shops. The beach here is much less hectic than Bondi, and its the ideal place to pick up some surfing basics!
There are of course plenty of other districts and suburbs to choose from; these are merely some of my personal highlights. Enjoy exploring them all!
Things To Do
Sydney will not leave you the opportunity to get bored. You’ll have things to do and see coming out of your ears!
As always, I recommend starting with a free walking tour. You can find the timetable here: https://www.imfree.com.au/sydney/. These tours are an excellent way to get a taste of the city, see the highlights, and learn about a place from a local’s point of view.
If you prefer organising your own trip, here are some suggestions of sights and areas to aim for. Public transport is the perfect way of getting around if it’s too hot or too far to walk: purchase and load up your Opal card at metro and train stations. You can use this to travel on trains, buses, metros, and ferries, and get back in cash any credit you don’t use.
Sydney Harbour and Harbour Bridge
Made famous in postcards and tourist brochures, the harbour and bridge do not disappoint. Stroll around the harbour, admiring the boats and boutiques, dip into a cafe or restaurant to sample the diverse cuisines available, and meander across the bridge for some stunning views!
Sydney Opera House
With its unique silhouette, the Sydney Opera House has become a symbol of Sydney’s arts scene. Admire it from the outside, or enjoy a meal in the fabulous restaurant, where you’ll have beautiful views over the water and city.
Sydney Tower Eye (9am-last entry 8 pm)
The full price of a ticket to view the observation deck is 29$, but if you check out https://www.sydneytowereye.com.au/tickets/, you’ll find great deals and savings on the tower and other attractions, such as SeaLife Sydney Aquarium, Mme Tussauds, and WildLife Sydney Zoo.
The Tower Eye is the tallest building in Sydney and the perfect place to enjoy unadulterated 360 views of the city and water!
The Rocks is one of the older areas of Sydney and is known for its beautiful and diverse architecture, lovely and quaint restaurants and cafes that offer a wide range of cuisines, all lined up along charming cobbled streets. The weekend markets are fabulous!
Botanical Gardens (9am-5.30pm)
Sydney’s gardens offer a haven of peace and tranquillity just on the outskirts of the CBD, through which you can stroll, jog, sit and read, go to the garden cafe, or learn about the different plants, ecosystems, and how they interact. The gardens are also hosts to outdoor theatres, concerts, and fairs!
Set in the heart of central Sydney, Australia’s oldest park is home to the Anzac memorial and Pool of Reflection, as well as some stunning fountains and monuments. A great place to take a break, enjoy a picnic, sit in the cafe and let the hustle and bustle of the city flow around you.
Bondi, Bronte, and Tamarama beaches
These beaches line the coast of Sydney, and each has a different character and flair. Bondi is famous and busy, a place where people come to be seen, and an excellent location for people watching, while Bronte and Tamarama are more low-key.
Manly beach is a bit of a trek from central Sydney, but the ferry ride offers some beautiful views of the suburbs and greenery surrounding the city. The general atmosphere there is more chilled and low-key, but there is plenty of life and fun to be had!
If you’re a more active and adventurous type, there is plenty on offer to satisfy your needs:
Climb the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, if you dare!
Surfing: rent a surfboard from one of the myriads of surf shops along the beaches
Bondi-Coogee Coastal Walk: admire the views along this 6km coastal walk from Bondi beach to Coogee beach, and either walk back or take the ferry for a different perspective.
Rent a kayak: rent a kayak from one of the many beaches at your disposal, and enjoy a different view of Sydney’s coastline.