As Australia’s largest city and the capital of New South Wales, Sydney is an impressively cosmopolitan city. The city is best known for the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, but Sydney is so much more than these iconic landmarks. Visitors who venture beyond the hub of the city will find the true gems of all that Sydney has to offer. Stunning cliff top coastal walks, lush gardens and parks and top-notch international cuisine in Sydney’s hippest neighborhoods. Here are the highlights of what to do, where to stay and what to eat in this bustling city down under.
See + Do
Let’s keep it real. Sydney is a very expensive city. It is possible however, to enjoy the city on a budget. Tip: Sydney’s best attractions are located outdoors, most of which are free to enjoy!
Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk: the nearly four mile long Bondi to Coogee walk winds its way along Sydney’s eastern suburbs and offers spectacular coastal views, beaches, rock pools and parks. Start the walk from the southern end at Coogee Beach and head north past Tamarama, Bronte and finish with spectacular views of Bondi Beach and the iconic Bondi Icebergs pool.
Free Walking Tours: learn more about Sydney with a guided walking tour. I’m Free Tours and Free Tours Sydney both offer free daily tours of downtown Sydney and the Rocks district, Sydney’s original settlement. Free Tours Sydney also has a cheap sightseeing bus tour of King’s Cross, Watsons Bay and Bondi Beach.
Royal Botanic Garden: the Royal Botanic Garden is a 74-acre oasis located in the heart of Sydney. The Garden opens daily at 7am and is within walking distance from the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
Wendy’s Secret Garden: true to its name, Wendy’s Secret Garden is one of Sydney’s best-kept secrets. The Garden is tucked away on Lavender Bay across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Winding pathways lead to a treasure trove of plants and quiet corners of the Garden. Go for the stunning views of Sydney Harbour and stay for a peaceful retreat from the hustle of the city.
Sydney Bridge Climb: the Sydney Harbour BridgeClimb isn’t cheap with ticket prices starting at AU$158. However, you can still enjoy fantastic views of the city and harbor by visiting the Pylon Lookout. Tickets cost AU$15.
Eat + Drink
Sydney truly shines with cutting-edge restaurants and cafés showcasing stellar cuisine with breakfast playing a starring role. Head to Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Bondi and Bronte for a vast selection of great restaurants, bars, cafés and everything in-between. Tip: dining out in Sydney can be expensive with casual meals often starting at AU$20, so be sure to budget for meal expenses.
Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool Café: located on the edge of the Royal Botanic Garden, the Poolside Café is the perfect place to grab lunch while soaking up the rays and enjoying views of the club’s pool and Woolloomooloo Bay.
Bills: head to Bills in Darlinghurst, Surry Hills or Bondi Beach for the impressive breakfast menu selection. Be sure to try the ricotta hotcakes with banana and honeycomb butter or the sweet corn fritters with roast tomato, spinach and bacon.
Three Blue Ducks: take a break from the Bondi to Coogee walk and head to Three Blue Ducks in Bronte for breakfast or lunch.
Toko: dinner at this Surry Hills restaurant might be expensive, but the contemporary Japanese dinner menu along with the seamless and impeccable service is worth it.
Whether you’re on a budget or looking to splurge, Sydney has accommodations to suit every taste. Tip: stay in the Rocks or downtown to be close to the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and cruise port terminal. Bondi or Bronte is the place to be for beach lovers. For those looking to get a better feel for hip Sydney neighborhood living, an Airbnb in Surry Hills or Darlinghurst is the way to go.
Park Hyatt Hotel ($$$$): located on the harbor, the Park Hyatt Hotel offers five star luxury and hands-down, the best views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
Pier One Sydney Harbour Autograph Collection ($$$): a boutique Marriott property located in The Rocks district, Pier One is within walking distance to Sydney’s iconic landmarks.
Sydney YHA ($): budget travelers will want to check out Sydney YHA for its dorm and private room accommodations. There are locations in the city center, the Rocks and Bondi Beach.
Know Before You Go
Airport: Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport (SYD)
Currency: Australian Dollar (AUD)
Climate: Sydney enjoys a temperate climate with a mild winter. The summer season is from December through February.
Transportation: Sydney has a great public transportation system with buses, trains, light rails and ferries that can take you from the city to the coast and everywhere in between. Pick up a free Opal card and top it up with money to pay for travel on public transport. White taxis and Uber can also be found throughout the city.