The Ultimate Travel Guide to Sydney

Travel Guide Australia Sydney Opera House

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

Ultimate Travel Guide Sydney Australia Bondi BeachUltimate Travel Guide Sydney Australia Bondi BeachLet’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

Ultimate Travel Guide Sydney Australia Andrew Boy Charlton Pool CafeUltimate Travel Guide Sydney Australia Andrew Boy Charlton Pool CafeSydney 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.

Stay

Ultimate Travel Guide Sydney Australia Pier One Sydney Harbour HotelUltimate Travel Guide Sydney Australia Pier One Sydney Harbour HotelWhether 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.

Ultimate Travel Guide Sydney Australia Sydney Harbour Bridge Wendy's Secret Garden

Sneaking a peak of the harbor from Wendy’s Secret Garden

Ultimate Travel Guide Sydney Australia Coastal Walk

Just some of the views on the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk

Ultimate Travel Guide Sydney Australia Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House – up close and personal

Ultimate Travel Guide Sydney Australia Sydney Opera House

Sunrise over Sydney

33 Comments

  1. April 9, 2017 / 4:22 pm

    We have a friend who have always invited us to visit theSydney and now thank to your post we know why. With your photos you inspired us and we’d love to try your same experience especially the tour around Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk!!

  2. April 9, 2017 / 9:49 pm

    How expensive Sydney is has deterred me from traveling there, but these ideas are making me rethink it. Thanks!

  3. April 10, 2017 / 5:24 am

    I would love to visit Sydney. The iconic buildings and outdoor activities really appeal to me! Thanks for including some budget ideas too as it’s all too easy to splurge all your cash here!

  4. April 10, 2017 / 8:07 am

    Ahhhhh Sydney – I love this place! I love the Bondi to Coogee walk and I’ll be doing Many to Spit this weekend. it’s just so beautiful 🙂

    • April 10, 2017 / 9:54 pm

      Ah, lucky you! Hope you enjoy the coastal walk.

  5. April 10, 2017 / 8:14 am

    Sydney looks great (though expensive). For some reason in Ireland we’ve an obsession with Australia (thanks to Home and Away and other Aussie TV shows) and it’s easy to see why! The sea and the climate look so inviting.

    • April 10, 2017 / 9:53 pm

      Summer in Sydney can be brutal but you can’t beat the sea views!

  6. April 10, 2017 / 10:40 am

    Thanks for sharing this amazing guide! We’ve heard it a lot that Sydney is expensive and it’s always great to seek out free and cheap things to do, especially when like us you are on a tight budget! We will be visiting Australia soon so we will keep all of these in mind!

    • April 10, 2017 / 9:52 pm

      Great! Hope you have an amazing time when you do make it to Australia!

  7. Carol Colborn
    April 10, 2017 / 1:07 pm

    Will be in Melbourne for 4 months starting May. I hope to get to Sydney for all these fabulous finds!

    • April 10, 2017 / 9:53 pm

      I would love to visit Melbourne! Hope you have an amazing four months exploring the city!

  8. April 10, 2017 / 2:22 pm

    The Bondi to Coogee walk and the Sydney Bridge climb are on our wishlist for when we get to Australia someday! I’ve heard it is an expensive city, but I think any city is budget friendly with helpful tips like those you’ve given. I love that you’ve given budget friendly hotel options too!

    • April 10, 2017 / 9:51 pm

      Traveling can be expensive, so I’m always hunting for deals. Hope you make it to Australia someday soon!

  9. April 10, 2017 / 3:37 pm

    So Australia is definitely on my Bucket list, especially seeing Sidney. But I definitely have to make my way to explore that coastline of Bondi to Coogee! Those were amazing pics.
    Did you pay that cost to walk the Bridge? Was curious if you did since you made it sound expensive. If so, what did you personally think?

    • April 10, 2017 / 9:50 pm

      I didn’t do the Sydney BridgeClimb (since the cost is so steep), but it does look like an awesome experience! They have different options if you wanted to climb at sunrise, sunset, etc. If you make it to Sydney, consider doing the Pylon lookout which is a cheaper alternative.

  10. April 10, 2017 / 7:01 pm

    This post is definitely going to my “save for later” bucket list as I’m planning to visit Sidney soon. Beautiful pictures btw!

    • April 10, 2017 / 9:50 pm

      Thanks! Hope you make it to Sydney someday soon.

  11. Helena
    April 11, 2017 / 4:38 am

    This is a pretty good and solid description of Sydney. I have been to Sydney a lot (I am also not a very big fan of it) and I am glad you have listed Wendy’s Secret Garden!

    • April 12, 2017 / 5:15 pm

      Oh no! Sorry to hear you’re not a big fan of the city. There are some gems in Sydney, but you definitely have to hunt for them!

  12. April 12, 2017 / 7:13 am

    Sydney is a really nice travel destination. I would love to go there someday. I want to visit the Taronga Zoo and Bondi beach.

    • April 12, 2017 / 5:16 pm

      Really wish I had more time to explore Taronga Zoo!

  13. April 13, 2017 / 6:56 pm

    I would love to visit Sidney someday! The food looks delicious and you can’t beat those views of the beauty harbor. Pinned this!

    • April 13, 2017 / 10:20 pm

      I hope you’re able to visit someday soon!

  14. April 14, 2017 / 12:15 pm

    Good tips. Love how the main attractions are outdoors, can’t beat that! 🙂 And those walking tours sound like a thing to do, being free or not. Thanks for sharing!

  15. April 14, 2017 / 4:18 pm

    Thanks for this overview of Sydney. It really took me back to my visit there, and made me long to return! Such a lovely city

    • April 15, 2017 / 10:18 am

      Agreed! Definitely a lovely city.

  16. Riely
    April 15, 2017 / 12:37 am

    These photos are stunning of Sydney. I would love to visit one day and embark on some of these outdoor adventures. The Bondi to Coogee coastal walk is high on my list. As well the well kept Wendy’s secret garden seems like a place I would enjoy. Those views alone on the beach would make the trip worth it from Canada.

    • April 15, 2017 / 10:18 am

      Thanks! It was a long flight to Australia but definitely worth it.

  17. April 15, 2017 / 12:59 am

    I love Sydney! I did most of the activities you talk about when I was there back in September. In about three months I will go back and I can’t wait to explore more.

    • April 15, 2017 / 10:19 am

      Lucky you…I wouldn’t mind heading back to explore some more!

  18. April 17, 2017 / 3:04 am

    LOVED, LOVED, LOVED every bit of this piece. The writing and the photos, superbly done. I’ve already book marked your blog 🙂

    • April 18, 2017 / 12:26 pm

      Thanks for such a sweet and encouraging comment! Glad you liked the post.

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