Trains, buses and ferries make up the trinity of major transport options in Sydney. Buy a MyMulti pass and spend a day exploring the streets by train and bus from the upscale east to the trendy west. Catch a ferry to experience all the nooks and crannies of the world famous harbour and its majestic Bridge and Opera House.
Rugged cliffs, beautiful stretches of sand and plenty of green spaces make walking Sydney's streets an unforgettable experience. It will also give you time to admire the architecture, from the charming historic terraces of Paddington to the glistening modern skyscrapers in the CBD. With plenty of gentle hills, breathtaking views of the harbour are often just around the corner.
Sydney is teeming with gorgeous bays and beach esplanades that are perfect for cycling and soaking up the water views at your leisure. A bike will take you most places and you won't have to battle for parking spaces! While the city doesn't yet boast the cycle hire schemes of neighbouring Melbourne or Brisbane, there are still plenty of options.
Explore Sydney's outer edges and discover pockets of cultural diversity, bushland and quieter beaches. Renting a car will give you the freedom to roam more of the city than the usual talking points. The Northern Beaches, Hawkesbury River and Blue Mountains are easily accessible and only two hours away. Rental offices are available across the city.
One of Sydney's main attractions can also be one of its most dangerous. The ocean can hold strong rips that are hard to spot from the beach. Stay in between the flags when swimming and always listen to lifeguard information. The summer months are also the prime season for bluebottle jellyfish that have a nasty sting – so be extra vigilant.
Sydney is a seaside escape with glorious beaches, attracting crowds in the summer months between December and February. It's also a popular party destination, so prices can soar at peak times over Christmas and New Year, along with the temperature. Come in spring and autumn for a quieter scene, lower prices and cooler weather.
Sydney is a huge city, and sometimes taxi drivers aren't familiar with the less popular destinations. If you're new to the city, this could be tricky if you aren't prepared. Planning to travel by cab? Make sure you have clear instructions on how to get to your location, or equip yourself with a recent map to avoid any confusion.
In the height of summer, Bondi Beach can host up to forty thousand visitors. The waterfront comes alive and the atmosphere is vibrant. It's great fun, but the chaos presents a golden opportunity for pickpockets and bag snatchers. Try to avoid taking anything valuable to the beach and have someone keep an eye on your belongings if you're going for a dip.
Get there in 1 hour, 30 minutes on one of several daily direct flights with Qantas, Virgin Australia or Jetstar.
The quickest flight from Brisbane to Sydney is just over 1 hour, 30 minutes onboard Qantas or Jetstar.
Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar operate several flights a day from Perth and the journey time is 4 hours.
Airport Link trains are located at both international and domestic terminals and take just thirteen minutes to reach Central Station in the CBD. Trains depart every ten minutes and link directly to the City Circle line and other suburban rail lines. It costs $16 for a one-way journey and is the fastest way into the city.
Expect to pay up to $40 to get from the airport to the CBD, making it a good option for groups of three or more. While roads are pretty clear at non-peak times, do expect the journey to take thirty minutes in peak hour traffic. Taxi ranks can be found directly in front of both airport terminals.
Several major rental companies have desks at Sydney airport. It will take you half an hour to reach the CBD and inner suburbs and a trip over the bridge could take around forty minutes. Sydney's traffic can be congested, but the roads are well sign posted. A car lets you explore different regions at your leisure such the spectacular Blue Mountains, just ninety minutes away.
The number 400 is the only scheduled bus that runs via Sydney airport. The route takes you to Bondi Junction, the Eastern Suburbs' transport hub. Here, you can connect with the suburban rail network and other buses travelling all over the city. At the airport, buses depart from the arrivals level at both the domestic and international terminals and cost around $4 one-way.
Dedicate an afternoon to discover the inspiring art collection at the Art Gallery of NSW, one of Australia's finest cultural institutions. Wander its halls, admiring the permanent collection of over 29,000 exhibits and a variety of temporary collections. Recent exhibitions have included works by Picasso, Monet and the Chinese terracotta warriors.
The trip to Taronga Zoo is worth it for the amazing views, best seen from the giraffe enclosure. Nestled in beautiful bushland, this urban oasis is a fun family day out. Spend a morning exploring the enclosures, ranging from the famous Sumatran tigers to koalas. The most exciting way to get there is by ferry from Circular Quay, followed by a Skylift through the trees.
Surfing dominates the lives of many Sydneysiders with boards out at dawn. Even if you're not into it, you can't help admire the skills on display. If you do get the surfing itch, there are plenty of courses to try it out all over the city beaches. And if you're looking for something a little gentler, paddleboarding is the latest craze.
Sydney does festivals and events superbly, with celebrations of food and culture running throughout the year. The city comes alive in January during the Sydney Festival with live shows in the Domain, art displays in Hyde Park and cabaret in the infamous Spiegeltent. Vivid Festival is a spectacular light display, which illuminates the Opera House like a kaleidoscope over 10 days in May.
A dinner at Quay is a dazzling, fine dining experience. Sitting right on the harbour overlooking the Opera House, this award-winning restaurant offers five-star service. The food is sourced from local organic farms and the wine list changes regularly. After a decadent main course, treat yourself to the signature white nectarine snow egg for dessert.
Perched above one of the world's most iconic beaches, North Bondi Italian offers deliciously authentic Italian food at reasonable prices. A fabulous spot to have lunch, sitting on the sunbaked terrace and watching the surfers carve through the waves before you. At night, the bar is bustling with Bondi locals looking for a fun night out.
Charmingly chaotic and crammed full of people, this is an exotic institution in the heart of Newtown – an edgy inner-west region just a few stops from the CBD. They serve up generous portions of some of Sydney's best Turkish fare, so squeeze into one of the courtyard tables and feast your way through what will seem like an endless stream of sumptuous eastern delights.
The smell of fresh lemongrass, ginger and coriander pours out of this cosy restaurant in vibrant Surry Hills. Authentic Thai food is beautifully presented in a lively dining room with wide-open shutters and street furniture that whisks you to the laneways of Bangkok. Some claim it is Sydney's best Thai restaurant, which explains why a regular queue can be spotted lining out of its doors.
The best views in town make this bar an essential destination. The long outdoor terrace affords spectacular views from the bridge to the Opera House just in front. Order a glass of local Hunter Valley wine, a Mediterranean sharing plate and soak up the best that Sydney has to offer.
Sydney's oldest licensed hotel is situated in the historic Rocks. The Lord Nelson has the same old world charm as the delightful workers' cottages that neighbour it. The hotel has a warm atmosphere made up of tourists and city professionals ordering homemade lagers and hearty fare from the traditional menu.
A pioneer of Sydney’s growing ‘small bar’ scene, this trendy Darlinghurst hangout is brimming with character. Tucked down a small alleyway, it’s tricky to find but worth the search. Behind a very ordinary brick façade is a lively lounge complete with hay covered floors, old whiskey barrels and a well-stocked bar.
Hugos occupies an enviable position on the Manly waterfront. With a sleek modern interior and expansive cocktail list, it's the perfect place to unwind and enjoy being away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Enjoy the fresh sea breezes and magnificent views through huge open windows at the front.
Hop on the M50 bus from the city to Coogee. The coastal walk to Bondi takes you over the cliffs between the Eastern Suburbs' main beaches. You'll tick off Clovelly, Bronte, Tamarama and Bondi. Stop halfway for a snorkel in Gordon's Bay and see if you can spot the giant groupers that gather there. At Bondi, continue strolling along the promenade and dip your toes in the water before heading to Bondi's Surf Lifesaving Club. Watch the water crashing onto the rocks below as the sun sets over the horizon.
Head over to Circular Quay and hop on a ferry to Cockatoo Island: an abandoned naval yard where you'll learn more about Sydney's role in World War II. On the return trip, jump off early at Balmain and explore the historic wharf streets. Walk south through Bicentennial Park and on to funky Newtown to explore vintage boutiques and quirky art galleries. Take your pick of restaurants serving cuisine from around the world and watch the eclectic folk wander past.
The Blue Mountains are just under two hours away by train and offer stunning scenery and the chance to discover old mining towns with quaint tearooms and antique shops. Get off at Katoomba to begin exploring the bushland on accessible nature trails, past trickling streams and roaring waterfalls. A Scenic World pass gives you access to the area's main attractions, like the world's steepest incline railway and the glass-bottomed skyway, taking you on a thrilling ride between the mountaintops.
Head to Milsons Point just over the Harbour Bridge. The Olympic outdoor pool nestled right under the bridge's arches offers an extraordinary setting for a morning swim. Afterwards head to Luna Park next-door: the free-to-enter family icon from the 1930s. Don't leave without a ride on the Ferris wheel! Next, see the beauty of the harbour from above with a heart-racing bridge climb taking you to the pinnacle. See the land and water run for miles around you before you descend. Finish off the evening at the Opera Bar with a cocktail to celebrate your feat!
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