City Guide to Sydney, Australia
Author: Julie Thompson | Last Updated: 30 Jun 2019
Sydney. Is there a more spectacular city in the world? You’d better come and find out! Australia’s largest and most famous city, Sydney is home to 5.2 million people. Set around a meandering harbour, and with the iconic harbour bridge and sail shaped Opera house, it is a truly beautiful city. Beaches, sailing, national parks, world class restaurants, vibrant bars, art, theatre and history – Sydney really has it all.
Best time to visit Sydney
Honestly the weather in Sydney is pretty great all year round. Temperatures obviously peak in Summer with daytime temperatures on average 26 degrees, but days of 30 degrees are relatively common so if you prefer cooler temps you might want to avoid Jan/Feb. Winter is cooler, but daytime temps are still relatively mild at 17 degrees. All that said, the months of Spring and early Summer is where this city really comes alive, with festivals and night markets October/November are great months to visit.
No visit to Sydney is complete without paying a visit to the iconic Opera House on the harbour. With over 40 different shows per week including operas, Sydney Symphony orchestra, ballet, Shakespeare, dance and more there is something for everyone. And if you aren’t able to get to a show, then make sure you take a little time to have a beer at Opera Bar. With the Opera House on one side and views across the harbour bridge on the other, this is a place to just sit and take it all in.
It’s not everyday you can climb upon a piece of history, but the Sydney Harbour Bridge offers just that opportunity. After almost 10 years in construction, the bridge was finally opened in 1932. A feat of engineering, this bridge remains the tallest steel arch bridge in the world, and was also the widest long-span bridge in the world until the Port Mann Bridge was built in Vancouver in 2012. And with just a few hours to spare, you can climb the bridge (with the help of experts of course to ensure it’s safe) and get a totally unique view of this beautiful city.
Sydney’s botanic gardens are located right on the harbour next to the Opera House and are the perfect place for an afternoon walk and a picnic. After a busy time exploring the city, why not set up on the spongy grass with a view of the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and the sparkling harbour, crack open a bottle of wine and let the day unfold.
Hit the Beaches
Sydney is world famous for it’s beaches, and for good reason – with clean, white sand and crystal clear water, you could easily spend your entire holiday exploring these beaches. Bondi beach is perhaps the most well-known internationally, but it’s most definitely not the only one worth a visit. To the south, Cronulla beach has a great break making it a favourite with surfers, and just north of the harbour, Manly beach is definitely worth a look offering both surf beach and a smaller bay beach. In Bondi, you will find a lot of other tourists..but from there it is well worth walking along the coast to Coogee. This 8 kilometer track takes you through a multitude of small beaches and offers uninterrupted views of the ocean along the way. Finish it off with a swim in the refreshing clear water at Coogee and then head up to the Coogee Pavilion for a pizza and a beer and you’ve had yourself a great day.
Perhaps the centrepiece of the city, sailing on the harbour is a brilliant way to enjoy this incredible part of Sydney. Whether you prefer a masted sailing ship with some history, an elaborate catamaran or an adrenaline filled ride on a Jet boat, just make sure you get out on the water. And if that won’t fit into the holiday budget, then catch a ferry! Just another mode of public transport here, ferries are a practical way to explore and enjoy this stunning harbour.
Eat in style
A long time favourite of foodies for years, Sydney has some world class restaurants, and being a country of migrants it is a true melting pot of flavours, styles and traditions. Whether it is fine dining, family style meals, inventive fusions or just a great pub, there is something here for you. Enjoy a fancy affair in Aria; impeccable Japanese at Tetsuyas; Italian wine with seasonal food designed to match at 121BC; Chinese made modern with an Australian twist at Billy Kwongs…and the list goes on. In fact you might find you need to extend your stay so you can keep trying this never ending list of brilliant eateries.
In this convict built part of town you will really feel like you are a part of history. Wander through the markets and then find a pub for a burger or a pie – it doesn’t get much more Australian than that. Perhaps on the rooftop of the Glenmore Hotel or nestled into a booth in the Lord Nelson, just be sure to match your meal with a schooner of fresh beer and you’re set to enjoy a great afternoon.
This is no ordinary zoo. Of course, there is a spectacular range of animals to see – over 350 different species in fact, including all the Australian favourites. But the setting – wow. On a cliff on the edge of Sydney’s beautiful harbour, this zoo offers breath-taking views across the harbour and the city skyline as you wander past the giraffes, or sit and enjoy a coffee break. And if an afternoon in this amazing place doesn’t seem like quite enough, then why not stay over with “Roar ‘n’ Snoar” and experience the zoo at night?
Just a couple of hours west of the city, the Blue Mountains are a breath of fresh air away from the bustling city. Famous for spectacular scenery, hiking here is a real treat, and there is no end of trails to choose from, with waterfalls, eucalypt forests, and of course the famous “3 sisters”. Katoomba is the largest town in the area, but if you can, stay in Leura. This is the a great base for hiking, but with some great restaurants, gorgeous boutiques, gallery, an old-fashioned lolly shop and the most delicious “flower pot” scones, Leura offers a truly relaxing mountain experience.
Just a couple of hours out of Sydney you will find the Hunter Valley. Rolling hills covered in vineyards and producing some really top quality wines. With 150 wineries in the area you need at least a couple of days to explore, but it’s a great idea to start with a tour to get the most out of your time. Even better, take a tour with a horse and cart so you can enjoy the scenery between wine tastings, and let your tastebuds go on a journey they won’t forget.
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