Sydney is a wonderful, classy city full of stunning views, breathtaking beaches and world class dining. It’s such a vibrant and active city that even if you dislike jogging, like I do, you want to put on your running shoes and join the parade! Here are some of the things that I loved so much I think you should do too:
1. Get your Dose of Arts and Culture at the Opera House
The Opera House is probably the most iconic image of Sydney. It’s a beautiful piece of architecture that resembles the sails of ships in the harbour. Rather than just standing and admiring it or taking a tour through the building, actually go see a show! If Opera isn’t your cup of tea, the building also hosts the Australian Ballet, the Sydney Theatre Company and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Not only will you get to experience live Australian talent, but you will be moved by the beauty and power of the artistic quality, especially if you are not normally exposed to this type of entertainment.
2. Spend a Day at Bondi Beach
A trip to Sydney would not be complete with a visit to the famous Bondi Beach (Pronounced Bond-Eye!) With shores of golden sand , turquoise water and humongous waves, this beach is a paradise for tanners and surfers alike. Your first view of the beach will take your breath away! It’s very easy to get to if you are transiting – for the cheapest transit option, take Bus 333 right outside the Museum at Hyde Park. Be sure to take the stunning 6km Bondi to Coogee walk, which features beaches, rockpools, parks and fantastic coastal views. You can do the walk in 1-2 hours depending on how fast you walk and how many times you stop to take pictures.
3. Explore the Markets at the Rocks
Every Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 5pm, you can browse through booths of handcrafted jewelry, unique artwork (I bought a painting here!) souvenirs, fashion, homewares and more! Located at Jack Mundey Place, the markets are a great way to spend a relaxing afternoon. If you’re feeling hungry, there is also a Foodie Market every Friday. From sausages to sushi to gelatos and corn on the cob, there’s something for everyone, no matter your taste- the smells are enough to tempt anyone! You can devote a whole day to the Rocks, walking the cobble-stoned streets, exploring the historic pubs (I went to the oldest pub for a Kangaroo burger!), learning about the war history, visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art (free!) or people watching as you take in the view of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Plus musicians and performers frequently entertain in the area so you will NEVER be bored, I promise!
4. Free Walking Tours
There are tour companies that charge around $40 to walk around the city with you and point out important landmarks and share interesting facts BUT there is also a walking tour that does the exact same thing…for FREE. Sure, you can google the facts and important buildings yourself but it’s infinitely better to walk around with a local Sydneysider who can answer all your question and share his or her knowledge in a personal manner.
5. Sydney Tower Eye at Sunset
Whenever I plan my visit to a high viewing point, I always make sure to go in the evening close to sunset. That way, I get three views for the price of one – daytime, sunset and night! The view from the Skytower is nothing short of amazing! You get a 360 degree view of the city and as I went on my last night in Sydney, I was knowledgeable enough to be able to point out all the places I had visited. Alternatively, you can also go at start of your trip as the view might help you orientate yourself with the city. Or you can go in the middle of your trip…or whenever you want, really.
6. Take the Ferry to Manly Beach
Make a day trip out of it and take the ferry to Manly Beach – really, this is just an excuse to get you out on the famous Sydney Harbour! You can spend the whole day checking out the manly men surfing, tanning in the sun, biking, or browsing through the weekend markets. Try to plan your trip so that you’re on the ferry during sunset – stunning view of the harbour! Hint: If you go on a Sunday, the ferry trip will only cost you $2.50 for the whole day!
7. Watch the Sunset from Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair
I was in search of the perfect view of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House at sunset…and I’m happy to report that I found it at Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair. I was honestly at a loss for words, it was beautiful. It can be found near the Royal Botanic Garden.
8. Visit Darling Harbour
Darling Harbour is a waterside promenade with restaurants, live entertainment and the refreshing smell of the ocean. According to my guide on the free walking tour, the restaurants are a bit of a tourist trap, but I did enjoy a tasty tiramisu gelato for $4.90! You can check out their calendar of events for specific happenings during your stay in Sydney!
9. Walk Across the Harbour Bridge
Everyone always says climb the Sydney Bridge – I say go for it if you have $148 to spare. I’m sure it’s a very unique and thrilling experience. However, if you want the opportunity to enjoy and snap some pictures of the harbour view, why not just walk across it!? If you’re really eager to see the view from the top, a cheaper alternative is to climb to the Pylon Lookout which basically gives you the same view you would have from the top of the bridge – and it’s only $13!
10. Visit the Blue Mountains
Another must-do day trip is to the famous Blue Mountains and the Three Sisters. It’s about a 2 hour train ride from the CBD to get there but it’s worth it. The mountains span as far as the eye can see. Grab your hiking boots and explore some of the forests as you make your way to the Katoomba waterfalls – another breathtaking view and you can sit right at the edge of glory!