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.