Sydney is the capital that other cities love to hate; with stunning surf and buttery beaches, glorious weather and glamorous people, world-class restaurants and outrageously fashionable bars, she seemingly has it all. And, damn it, doesn’t she know it.
Built around one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world, Sydney’s shimmering soul reveals an iconic landscape that to many signifies ‘Australia’. The Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, myriad sandstone headlands, lazy bays and scalloped shorelines are breathtakingly beautiful. But while her neighbours might snipe that Sydney is all about fleeting physical fun, Sydneysiders know that there’s more to this city than good looks (even if Bondi Beach on a Saturday afternoon argues otherwise). She’s Australia’s oldest, largest and most diverse city with captivating monuments, urban galleries, magnificent museums, a vivacious performing arts scene and an edgy multiculturalism that injects colour to her outer suburbs. That's right, Sydney has substance as well as style.
Recommended things to do & see
Our top picks for Sydney
Capped by Barrenjoey lighthouse, Palm Beach is a meniscus of bliss. Nudists nude-up to the north, million-dollar real estate booms in the south, and cheesy TV soap Home & Away is filmed somewhere in between.
This historic lighthouse (1881) punctuates the northern tip of the northern beaches in an annexe of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. You’ll need some decent shoes for the steep 20-minute hike (no toilets!), but the views across Pittwater are worth the effort. On Sundays short tours run every half-hour from 11am to 3pm; no need to book ahead.
If in need of a swim, Will Wentworth would no doubt have strolled down to Shark Beach in Nielsen Park, once part of the then 206-hectare Vaucluse House estate. Today the park and nearby Greycliffe House, a beautiful 1851 Gothic sandstone pile (not open to visitors), are surrounded by a section of the Sydney Harbour National Park. Visit on a weekday when it’s not too busy:
just mums, kids, oldies and people throwing sickies from work.
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