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Guide to Sydney

Relax on sun-drenched beaches, dine at award-winning restaurants and take in some shows on your trip to Sydney.


By Ellie Schneider

Enjoy Sydney’s natural beauty, from unspoilt beaches to public gardens and, of course, the sparkling harbour, before discovering its thriving restaurants and markets. Top it off with a trip to the Blue Mountains, a popular excursion among locals.

HOW TO GET THERE

International flights fly directly into Sydney Airport from many global hubs. From the airport it’s an easy 20 minute taxi or train ride to the city centre.

DON’T MISS

  • Swim at picturesque beaches
  • Take in Australia’s most recognisable landmarks
  • Dine at world-class restaurants
René Redzepi

Sydney is one of the world’s most vibrant cities, and is also a gateway to the rest of Australia. It’s exciting and vibrant.


Video guide: Sydney

Sydney highlights

TOP THINGS TO DO IN SYDNEY


Walk Sydney's famous Bondi to Coogee coastal trail

This photogenic six kilometre (3.7 mile) walking track will take you through scenic Eastern Sydney beaches, including Bondi, Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly, and, finally, Coogee Beach. The trail begins at Bondi Icebergs pool, winds past Aboriginal rock carvings at Marks Park, and offers plenty of opportunities for a swim along the way. At the end of your walk, enjoy lunch at seaside eatery Coogee Pavilion – its rooftop boasts beautiful 270 degree views. Every October the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk plays host to the free Sculpture by the Sea exhibition, with 520,000 visitors viewing 100 unique sculptures by artists from around the world. Express buses operate from Bondi and Coogee to the city centre.

Get up close and personal to the animals at the zoo

Visit the animals at Taronga Zoo with their incredible waterside address just 12 minutes ferry ride north from Circular Quay. Taronga Zoo houses more than 4,000 animals from various exotic and native species, including gorillas, tigers, leopards, chimpanzees, giraffes, Australian sea lions, kangaroos and koalas. Once you’ve been up close with the animals, experience the wildlife from a new perspective by tackling the treetop Wild Ropes – more than 60 high rope challenges over four courses, including zip-lines, rope climbs and suspended bridges. For the ultimate sleepover, book the Roar & Snore experience, allowing you to stay overnight at the zoo, sleeping in luxury safari-style tents.

Spend the day at the Sydney Opera House

There are many ways you can experience what the Sydney Opera House has to offer. A masterpiece of 20th-century architecture, the Sydney Opera House in Circular Quay hosts more than 40 performances each week. Book tickets to Opera Australia’s latest show and tick this truly iconic Sydney experience off your bucket list. If what happens off-stage intrigues you, sign up for a two-hour backstage tour, which takes guests behind-the-scenes into the exclusive domain of performers, with a full cooked breakfast in the green room. Tours operate daily at 7am. To cap it all off, dine overlooking the harbour at Peter Gilmore’s restaurant Bennelong - one of the nine unmissable Australian dining experiences according to Gourmet Traveller critic Pat Nourse. 

Climb to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge 

Nicknamed “The Coathanger” and dating back to 1932, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of Australia’s grandest engineering feats. Visitors are free to walk or cycle across this vast structure, but book a BridgeClimb for the opportunity to scale to the summit and enjoy unbeatable panoramic views. Expeditions will take you high into its arches before reaching its peak, 134 metres (440 feet) above sea level. No special climbing skills are required, and there are various sessions throughout the day, including at twilight and dawn.

Dine at the innovative restaurants

Sydneysiders take their food seriously, with many of Australia’s most awarded and innovative restaurants found here. Dine at Quay to sample beautiful, natural produce such as wild blacklip abalone, Murry cod and chef Peter Gilmore’s celebrated dessert, the Snow Egg. Also in the city centre, Sepia's sophisticated five or nine course tasting menu with matching wines has been applauded by the world's best chefs and critics. For a more laidback affair, head to Mr. Wong which serves modern Cantonese cuisine (its Peking duck is legendary) at its French colonial space on Bridge Street. Or head to the inner-city neighbourhood of Potts Point, a 10 minute drive from the centre of Sydney, to dine at hip restaurants including Fratelli FreshCho Cho San and Apollo.

Ride the ferry to Manly

Manly, on Sydney’s north side, is renowned for surf breaks, scenic walks and laidback cafés. A half-hour ferry ride from Circular Quay, a trip to Manly is the perfect family day out. Join an EcoTreasures snorkelling tour to discover more than 200 fish species, including the famous Blue Groper, in the calm, clear waters off Manly’s Shelly Beach; or test your balance stand up paddle boarding, available for hire from the Manly Kayak Centre. Enjoy fish and chips from one of the countless takeouts, or sit down at the charming Fika Swedish Kitchen – the cinnamon bun pudding is delicious. Make a weekend of it and stay overnight at The Sebel, which is located just steps from the beach. 

Camp on Cockatoo Island

Spend a night on Cockatoo Island, in the middle of Sydney Harbour, and wake up to one of the world’s greatest views. You can bring your own tent or book a ‘glamping’ package to leave it up to the experts, with beds, lanterns and toiletries included. Campers have access to hot showers and a communal camp kitchen, but if you'd rather not cook, barbecue and breakfast packs can also be ordered.

Take in the natural beauty of the Blue Mountains

Famous for its rock formation known as the Three Sisters – along with quaint hotels and charming townships — the Blue Mountains National Park is just under a two hour drive from Sydney. Here you can discover one million hectares (2.5 million acres) of tall forests, sandstone cliffs, waterfalls and bushland, either mountain biking, abseiling or on foot.  For a unique perspective, head to Scenic World in Katoomba, home to a cableway, a walkway over the rainforest canopy and a glass bottom skyway.

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