Sydney is the biggest city in Australia. Blessed with a mild to warm climate it is the ideal travel destination 365 days a year. Sydney is a great gateway to explore other destinations within Australia but has so much to offer that it can be seen a stand-alone destination as well.
From white sandy ocean beaches to nature reserves to fantastic food to exciting attraction, there is something for everyone in this city.
Sydney airport as main entrance port is located around 9km south of the city centre (CBD). The Overseas Cruise Ship Terminal is situated right in the middle of the city near the Harbour Bridge in Sydney’s CBD, Central Station to the south of the CBD.
The CBD is a relatively small space within the greater Sydney Metropolitan region; luckily is it also the main location for all major tourist attractions such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay, the Rocks, the Royal Botanic Garden, Chinatown, Darling Harbour, Barangaroo and the Queen Victoria Building.
The north of the CBD is the financial hub of the city, whereas the south is still a bit cheaper when it comes to shopping and dining. For main street fashion shopping, try Pitt Street Mall, the QVB, and World Square; for cheap souvenirs head to Paddy’s Market. Paddington Market is a great alternative for homewares, jewellery, designer clothes and bric-a-brac.
Currently the CBD is undergoing major transport changes with the construction of a new tramline which will be connecting Circular Quay in the north with Central Station in the south. During the development process (and probably even after completion of the tram line) most buses terminate on the fringe of the CBD and other lines have been discontinued or diverted. Check Google Maps before using public transport for the best connection and buy an electronic Opal card at a newsagent of your choice.
The closest ocean beach to the CBD is Bondi Beach which you can reach by bus from the city or from Bondi Junction (the closest railway station). Manly Beach is just a ferry ride away (from Circular Quay), and countless other beaches can be found towards the opening of the harbour and up and down the coast.
The nightlife is dimmed in the city due to harsh lockout laws for the CBD, however Friday nights are still popular with the after-work crowd. Smaller, more intimate bars can be found in the suburbs surrounding the CBD (the Inner West) and in the seaside suburbs. The red light district can be found in Kings Cross, the LGTB scene is concentrated around the Oxford Street strip.
Recommendable day trips from Sydney include trips up the Central Coast, into the wine producing region of the Hunter Valley, to the Blue Mountains and the Southern Highlands, and the South Coast. The snow fields are around 4 hours away in the Snowy Mountains.
If you are looking to stay in the city but haven’t found a suitable hotel yet, look no further with these 10 Sydney hotel suggestions.
Facts at a glance:
What I like most about Sydney:
Sydney is the city of blue skies and fresh air, best enjoyed on a boat on Sydney’s stunning harbour.
What I don’t like about Sydney:
The public transport can be a pain, and traffic jams are common during the typical rush-hour.
The Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk. A ride on the Manly Ferry. Finding a good look-out such as North Head or Watson’s Bay. A day-trip to the Blue Mountains.
What to pack:
In summer make sure you pack your 30+ sunscreen, a hat, shades and tops that cover your shoulders. In winter you will need to have a jacket with you – despite what everyone says, Sydney can have really cold days in winter.
When to go:
January and December are the main travel season for Australians, so avoid where possible. It is also the hottest time of the year. I suggest you travel here in March or April when days are still warm and long and the ocean has warmed up over the summer season.
Backpackers and surfers based in the city and in the Eastern Suburbs will favour Bondi Beach, but also give the other ocean beaches a go. Manly is a great alternative in the north. Many beaches also have rockpools. Harbour beaches are more sheltered and great for kids.
Good to know:
The hippest and best restaurant and bar scene can be found in the suburbs surrounding the CBD: Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Redfern, Chippendale, to name a few.
What to eat:
Sydney has some great Asian food thanks to the multicultural influx of new immigrants. Also, try the Sydney rock oysters, vegemite, tim tams and a burger with beet root. I am not saying that you will like it, I am just saying that you should try it.
What to buy:
Many visitors like to take home Ugg boots – do your research first if you don’t want to end up with a Chinese low-quality version (the price will give it away!). Aboriginal artwork, didgeridoos and boomerangs are quite pretty to look at but make sure you support the artist and don’t buy imported counterfeit. Jerky made from native animals is available at the airport and make for a quirky gift for a friend back home.