Sydney has got to be one of the most diverse cities in the world. It has everything – cosmopolitan city life, gorgeous beaches, a harbour home to two of the world’s most famous buildings and structures, and a backdrop of mountainous national park.
My week here has been non-stop – I wanted to fit in as much as I possibly could, but this also included sampling the beaches dotted around the city, so it wasn’t all hardcore touristing…As in most cities, the list of things to do in and around Sydney is pretty much never-ending, but here is my top 5 activities, which can adapt to fit into your time schedule whether you have a few days or a few weeks:
City Days //
A day or two (or three or four) will never suffice in seeing everything the city has to offer, but you can definitely give it a good go! Circular Quay should be your first stop, to get your first glimpse of the amazing Harbour Bridge and Opera house, and to get your bearings of it in relation to everything else. Have a drink at the Opera Bar just along the main promenade, which, for having literally the best views in both directions, is very reasonably priced.
If you carry along the promenade just around the Opera house bend, you will find yourself in Sydney’s Botanical Gardens, which after a 10/15 minute walk leads you to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, a sandstone bench offering arguably the best and most famous view of the city: the Opera House sitting just under the Bridge.
Other areas to see are The Rocks just past Darling Harbour, and in the city, wander through the shopping district, visit the hipster Surry Hills, and if you want a night out, head to Kings Cross.
It’s also a great idea to do the Free Walking Tour for an hour and a half which departs every morning at 10.30 from the Museum Station entrance – I love doing these in the major cities as it’s a cheap way to get a glimpse of everything and decide which areas you want to explore more for the rest of your time there!
Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb //
The bridge climb is without doubt one of the best things I’ve done so far since coming to Australia. Book it online before or a day or two before depending on availability. If you’re doing it mid summer I’d really recommend choosing a late afternoon or evening climb, as the heat is scorching in the daytime and you are covered head to toe in a jumpsuit! It is expensive, especially if you’re on a budget like I am – but I really think it’s a once in a lifetime experience. The tour was so informative, fun and the views over Sydney are just as incredible as you’d imagine.
Beach Time //
Sydney isn’t all about the city. It also boasts some of the most famous surfing beaches in the world, and a trip to the city wouldn’t be complete without sampling some of them. Bondi is where I stayed and I absolutely loved it – its chilled vibe, the strip of beachside shops, cafes and restaurants – especially the independent cafes selling fresh juices and healthy organic food, which is all part of the lifestyle – and the amazing street art along the beach.
My favourite places to eat and drink there during my week there were The Anchor, casual bistro dining and bar, and the surf themed Bucket List.
If you can take a half or full day out of your schedule to go to Manly beach, it is also definitely worth it. Take a half an hour ferry ride there from Circular Quay ferry wharf and spend the day lying on the long stretch of white sand and wandering around the lovely little town centre.
Bondi —> Coogee Coastal Walk //
Starting at the cliff top trail on Bondi beach, the entire walk is filled with the most amazing pacific ocean views. You will need to allow a whole afternoon to do the walk – and it’s completely worth your time!
For more details on the walk see here.
Blue Mountains //
Just a couple of hours from the city is the beautiful Blue Mountains. You will need to take a full day for this, whether you book onto a tour, rent a car and drive it yourself, or catch the train from Sydney Central Station. Leave the city early, spend the morning wandering around the small mountain villages of Leura and Katoomba and enjoy coffee and breakfast at one of their tiny cafes or tea rooms, before continuing on to Scenic World at the heart of the Blue Mountains.
From here, there are many different hiking trails spread over the area, between the site’s Cableway, Skyway, Walkway and Railway, which, clattering down the mountains and through natural holes in the cliff and at a 52° angle, is the steepest in the whole world. It’s a really great day out and a nice break from the bustling city.