We were keen as kangaroos to hop over to Sydney to explore the capital of New South Wales. As the biggest city in OZ (nickname for Australia), there is a lot to see, with fantastic beaches, a diverse cultural scene, and a modern city always buzzing with activity. Our ultimate travel guide to seeing Sydney, Australia will make you wish you were already there.
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The neighborhoods in Sydney, Australia are diverse as the nationalities living there. Each place has a unique vibe and sights, so plan your trip carefully and take advantage of all the highlights. Here are some not-to-be-missed areas.
This trendy part of the city is always busy with people enjoying the entertainment and sights like the aquarium, zoo, casino, Chinese Garden of Friendship, and the National Maritime Museum. Take a scenic stroll during the day. Then go back at night to ride the giant Ferris wheel, see the city lights, and go bar hopping along the hip Cockle Bay Wharf area.
The iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge is at The Rocks, with plenty of hotels, shopping, restaurants, and nightlife. There are also many nice parks to connect with nature with spectacular water views.
The central business district includes the Royal Botanical Gardens, shopping, museums, cafes, and art galleries. In addition, UNESCO designated the Hyde Park Barracks Museum, a jail back in the 1800s, a world heritage site. Experience panoramic views of the city from the Sydney Tower Eye’s viewing platform with powerful binoculars to spy on the world below, then have a 4D cinema experience that will blow your mind with its special effects.
The red light district is best seen late at night with bars, pubs, cabaret shows, and clubs overflowing with cocktails and colorful characters. The eye-catching El Alamein Memorial Fountain and the massive neon Coca-Cola billboard are iconic sights of the area.
Paddington Markets on Saturday are worth getting up early for, and you can continue shopping with many shops, boutiques, and stores where you can find unique bargains and special items for your home.
Sun seekers can find the perfect sandy beach in Sydney with plenty to choose from. One of the most popular is Bondi Beach, near the city center. Usually busy with tourists and locals enjoying the chic beach bars, restaurants, and impressive surf conditions, it is great if you like a party vibe as you soak up the sun. There is a walk from Bondi to Coogee that bypasses many of the best beaches in Sydney, many of which are a little quieter than buzzing Bondi.
Where To Stay In Sydney, Australia
Choosing accommodation might be one of the hardest parts of planning a trip to Sydney. That is because there is an overwhelming array of excellent options, from hotels to hostels to Airbnbs to resorts in all budget ranges. There are jaw-dropping places if you want to splurge for a night or longer and some unusual digs to lay your head, too. Here are some we would love to check into and stay a while.
SKYE Suites Sydney has ultra-modern digs that are very Instagram-worthy. Contemporary decor bordering on futuristic goes hand in hand with the five-star service and stunning city views.
Ovolo Woolloomooloo is a fun one to tell your taxi driver. This decor is as distinct as the name because this waterfront hotel was formerly a warehouse. Industrial vibes, funky furniture, and a cool atmosphere are what you can expect, especially if you book the INXS suite with a complimentary bar and vintage record player.
Bring your sunglasses when you check into the ADGE Hotel because the decor, including the psychedelic artwork in the lobby, is bright. The fully serviced apartments in Surry Hills mean you can feel at home and even do your laundry or cook meals. But who would want to with all the outstanding restaurants nearby, including Japanese and Italian restaurants in the same building?
Where To Eat In Sydney
Expect a gastronomic experience every day in Sydney. With fancy waterfront dining, cuisine from every country and culture imaginable, cool cafes, innovative restaurants, and food trucks serving mouthwatering dishes, you sure won’t go hungry, whatever your dining style.
Here are some places to put on your list if you are serious foodies or coffee fanatics. Cornersmith is heaven for vegetarians who appreciate great food and coffee. Grab one of their picnic boxes and head to the park. After a long day at the beach in Bondi, try Shuk, an Israeli restaurant with a reputation for irresistible hummus and lamb. They also sell pastries and sandwiches if you want a quick bite.
Sean’s is another Bondi delight for seafood lovers. Perched on a hill, you can enjoy scallops and seafood linguini with a glass of Australian wine while gazing at the blue ocean. The owner grows his vegetables and always tries to source fresh local ingredients. It’s food with surf and soul.
Sights To See In Sydney
A free walking tour is a great way to kick off your explorations of Sydney. Friendly volunteers will take you on an informative journey through some of the most interesting streets, doing their best to answer your questions along the way.
Sydney by Water
A boat trip or cruise is always fun, and with so much water surrounding the city, you have plenty of can climb aboard whenever the mood strikes. Breezy harbor cruises, exhilarating jet boat rides, romantic boat trips in the evening, and luxury yacht excursions are some options. A half-day discovery cruise on a historic tall ship passes by all the best landmarks, and the crew even lets passengers take a turn at steering the boat or hoisting the sails.
Shopping in Sydney
The shopping in Sydney, Australia is so tempting with malls, boutique shops, department stores, and markets. Sydney locals dress so stylishly, and it’s largely thanks to the great shopping they have access to. It’s easy to get around with an excellent public transportation system. Grab an Opal Card to easily ride on buses, trains, and ferries in and around Sydney. As we did, you can also use Apple Pay on your phone and skip getting the card. Of course, going on foot is always fun, and there are so many walks to discover, including Shelly Headland Upper Lookout, Malabar Headland National Park, and, let’s not forget, the Sydney Harbour bridge walk. The tallest steel arch bridge on the planet looks fantastic from afar and is exciting to walk over if you don’t mind the dizzying heights.
Best Park in Sydney
The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney is a peaceful haven in the city with 30 hectares of picturesque gardens where people gather to exercise, relax and enjoy events. With views of Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Opera House, it dates back to 1816 and is free to visit. So pack a picnic and a good book, and you have the perfect afternoon set.
Best Cathedral in Sydney
St Mary’s Cathedral is a Catholic church that is well worth a visit to see the colorful stained glass and maybe hear the world-renowned choir. Book a cathedral tour or quietly slip in to admire the architecture between services. The Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Darlinghurst and St Columbkille’s Catholic Church in Wooloomooloo are also stunning.
More city highlights:
- Visit the animals at Taronga Zoo Sydney
- Get a culture fix at the Art Gallery of New South Wales
- Admire the works at the Museum of Contemporary Art
- Roam around Port Jackson Bay
- Go swimming at Manly Beach
- Hike through the scenic Garigal National Park
- Take a spooky ghost tour
The Most Iconic Landmark in Sydney
Of course, you didn’t visit Sydney if you didn’t see the Sydney Opera House. A fine example of innovative architecture, it is easily recognizable and seen in many areas of the city. Step inside, and you can find your kind of show, be it comedy, magic, drama, symphony, dance, or of course, opera. World-class acts and Australia’s best are invited to perform, and you can also dine, drink or take a tour of the famous building that floats on the water with a backdrop of blue skies and skyscrapers.
Book a tandem skydive to see it from the air, which will surely be one of the most exciting times of your Sydney stay. If you use our link, we make a small commission and you don’t pay anything more, so thanks!
Luna Park Sydney is another place to get your adrenalin pumping. The amusement park has a retro old-school vibe. It’s not Disneyland, but it’s almost as much fun.
Sydney, Australia is one fantastic corner of the globe, glamorous, exciting, and laid back in that Aussie way that draws you into staying a few days longer. We hope to return because there were places we didn’t get time to visit. However, a month might not be enough because one discovery leads to another, as the locals and tourists love to share their favorite places with anyone who will listen. So research, plan, travel and enjoy and you will surely fall in love with Sydney as we did.
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