Australia's largest city is a harbourfront delight
With its celebrated harbour, gorgeous beaches and busy city centre, you’ll never be lost for things to see and do here – Sydney is a truly international destination with a dynamic multicultural population and a buzzing events calendar.
If you’re visiting for just a few days, concentrate on exploring the vibrant inner city and the lovely beaches of the eastern suburbs. Tour the Opera House, climb the Harbour Bridge, see some theatre, surf (or sunbathe) at Bondi, or grab an artisanal coffee and browse the trendy boutiques of charming Surry Hills. If you’re staying longer, explore further afield. Sample a bowl of pho at Marrickville in the inner west, jump on a train and head to the Blue Mountains, or hike the Royal National Park.
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Things to do
Hit the water
Sure you can hire a yacht, but the best tours of Sydney Harbour are far more economical. Sydney's iconic ferries opens in new window provide some of the world's most spectacular views from a public transport system – make the most of it to explore the endlessly scenic waters. The legendary Manly Ferry offers views of iconic sights like the Opera House as well as the huge mansions that line the harbour. When you get to the other side, walk to beautiful Shelly Beach.
Just 10 minutes from the city, bohemian Newtown has local design boutiques, trendy cafés, classic pubs and a fascinating scene. Head there in the afternoon and wander along the main strip, King Street. Grab a table at either Hartsyard opens in new window (pictured) or Bloodwood opens in new window, two excellent local restaurants, for dinner. This is one of the biggest social hubs in the city, with plenty of pubs offering live music late into the night.
Book a table at one of the city’s best restaurants. Sydney is a fine-dining hotspot, and celebrated spots like Quay opens in new window and Aria opens in new window serve five-star views alongside top-class cuisine. If you’re looking for something a little more low-key and family-friendly, Chinatown, on the edge of the city centre, offers a variety of eateries – from order-at-the-counter food courts to the late-night chef’s favourite, Golden Century Seafood Restaurant opens in new window.
The high road
About three million locals and visitors have scaled Sydney Harbour Bridge. There are climbs to suit most ages (climbers must be at least 10 years old and 1.2 metres tall) and levels of nerve. The views from up there, needless to say, are mind-blowing.
Walk this way
The Bondi to Bronte Walk opens in new window follows the coastline through Sydney's eastern suburbs, taking in the stunning cliffs and beaches along its 4 kilometre path. Take the opportunity to explore some of the city's trendy beachside suburbs and watch out for Aboriginal rock engravings near the path just south of Mackenzies Bay; between April and December you might see whales on their migration.
Travel time 20 minutes
Taxi Approx A$50
Train Airport Link every 10 minutes (weekdays). One-way A$16.40 (adult); journey takes 30 minutesBack to top
When to go
With their sunny days and mild temperatures, autumn (March–May) and spring (September–October) are ideal times to visit Sydney. Summer (November–February) can be very hot with late-afternoon storms. If your plan is to head to the southern reaches, winters (June–August) can be cold and wet.
It's claimed that Australia holds more festivals per capita than any other country, and Sydney hosts the lion’s share. The summer months are packed with events and activities for all the family to enjoy from the weekly Friday night bazaar at The Rocks, through to the world-famous New Year countdown. The queen of the crop is undoubtedly the Sydney Festival, which hogs the arts spotlight for the entire month of January.
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