Australia's celebrity city is a harbourfront delight

With its celebrated harbour, gorgeous beaches and diverse cultural attractions, Sydney lives up to its hype as one of the world's great cities. It's truly an international destination, with a multicultural, LGBTQI-friendly population and a calendar packed with festivals and events.

If you’re visiting for just a few days, focus on nailing the balance between Sydney’s two main qualities: beach life and city culture. Jump right into the obvious and take a dip at Bondi. Hang around for a coffee and a coastal walk, before visiting the blockbuster sights: the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Then head out west to explore Sydney's cool, inner-city suburbs. Here it’s all about bands, craft beers, indie boutiques, baristas and vegan food.

If you’re staying longer, head further west for multicultural delights, or head back into the city for Chinatown and museums. Hang around for rooftop cocktails and a night out on the Cross, The Rocks or Oxford Street. And if time is on your side, jump on a train and head to the Blue Mountains, or go hiking in the Royal National Park.

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Things to do: Sydney

  • People on the sand and in the water on a sunny day at Bondi Beach, Sydney.

    Sydney’s beaches

    A surf, a swim, a laze, a walk, whatever your mood, the beaches are a way of life in Sydney. Start at Australia's most famous patch of sand, Bondi Beach. Kick back and take it all in before making your way to Coogee along a coastal walk through Sydney’s string of pretty eastern beaches.

  • Aerial view of sun rising over Sydney Harbour and Circular Quay, Sydney. Image credit: Destination NSW

    Sydney Harbour

    Unquestionably, Sydney's pièce de résistance is its sparkling harbour. Home to its famous icons, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, this is ground zero for tourists. While the best views are out on the water aboard the Manly ferry, the panoramas from atop the bridge aren't too shabby either! So for a true appreciation of this architectural marvel, clamber right on up on a bridge climb. And then make your way over to the other masterpiece for a tour of the Sydney Opera house. Or better yet, catch a show.

    Image credit: Destination NSW

  • Close up of seafood platter at Manly Wharf Hotel, Sydney. Image credit: Destination NSW


    The food in Sydney is like the city itself: diverse and laidback as it is cosmopolitan and world-class. From fine dining degustation in Circular Quay or fish ‘n’ chips at Coogee Beach, to Vietnamese pho in Cabramatta or gourmet burgers in Bondi, the food here runs the full gamut. And whether it’s indulging in a plate of oysters (with a sparkling wine) at a waterfront bistro or stopping by the city’s famed fish market filled with fresh catch, seafood lovers are spoiled for choice.

    Image credit: Destination NSW

  • Inner West

    If the beaches and harbour are what gives Sydney its good looks, then its inner suburbs are what nourishes its soul. To discover the city's more rock ‘n’ roll half, spend a day exploring the inner-west suburbs around Newtown, Surry Hills and Marrickville. You’ll find dive bars spinning vinyl, indie venues, boutique galleries, character-filled pubs, vintage stores and red-brick neighbourhood cafes.

    Image credit: Destination NSW

  • Exterior view of the Art Gallery of New South Wales on a sunny day, Sydney. Image credit: Destination NSW

    Museums and galleries

    Sydney may be well known as an outdoors destination, but don’t forget to head indoors to check out its magnificent museums and galleries. For a fascinating history lesson, the Australian Museum and the Rocks Discovery Museum both offer a balanced picture of Sydney's past. For Australian 19th- and 20th-century art, don’t miss the fabulous Art Gallery of New South Wales. For something more contemporary, drop by Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA), White Rabbit or Carriageworks, all hosting a regular roster of local and international art shows.

    Image credit: Destination NSW

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Airport information

Sydney Airport (SYD)

Distance to city centre 8km

Taxi and rideshare You’ll find taxis and rideshare cars outside both the international and domestic terminals. It will take around 20 minutes to get to the city centre and cost approximately AUD $45-55 (plus an AUD $4.75 airport surcharge). For rideshare, expect to pay around AUD $35-50.

Train Airport Link runs every 10 minutes and will get you into central Sydney in about 15 minutes. A one-way adult/child fare costs around AUD $20/15. 

Bus Public bus route 400 runs frequent services stopping at both the domestic and international terminals, travelling to Bondi Junction. The trip takes an hour and the fare is around AUD $6.

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When to go

With their sunny days and mild temperatures, autumn (MarchMay) and spring (SeptemberNovember) are ideal times to visit Sydney. Summer (DecemberFebruary) can be very hot with late-afternoon storms. Winters (JuneAugust) can be cold and wet.

It's claimed that Australia holds more festivals per capita than any other country, and Sydney pulls its weight. From the iconic Sydney Harbour New Year's Eve Fireworks to the Sydney Festival, the summer months are packed with events and activities.

Most famous is the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras – a two-week extravangza celebrating LGTBQI pride in February or March. In winter, don't miss Vivid Sydney, a well-respected arts festival taking place over several weeks in August.

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Getting around

Buses, trains, light rail and ferries criss-cross Sydney, making it reasonably easy to navigate. The easiest and best-value way to travel on public transport is to get an Opal card, available at stores all over the city.

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