Known as the Harbour City, Sydney is full of surprises and fun. With some of the best beaches, culture and architecture, it's a place the whole family can enjoy.
From Bondi or Manly Beach to the more hip district The Rocks, there's always something to see, do, or experience.
Whether you're heading to world-famous galleries, eating fresh seafood near the harbor, or simply lounging on the beach, Sydney is a wonderful and exciting year-round destination.
With one of the most famous beaches in the world, Sydney is a beach paradise. In addition to Bondi Beach, you also have the similarly pristine Manly Beach, Bilgola Beach, and Bronte Beach.
When you think of Sydney, the first two things that come to mind are probably the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge and these two remarkable landmarks are something special to see in person. Even better, take a tour of the Opera House and climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Sydney is a beehive of activity when it comes to museums. From the Museum of Contemporary Art to the Australian National Maritime Museum, places to learn about local history and culture are plentiful.
Take a stroll down the picturesque streets in The Rocks for some boutique stores or head to the famous Westfield shopping center. Be sure to not to miss the shopping opportunities available in the historic Queen Victoria Building and Strand Arcade.
From restaurants and bars along the harbor to eateries like Bondi's Icebergs that overlooks the ocean, there are some great options whether you're after a fancy meal with fresh seafood or a down-to-earth dinner with some Australian classics.
Sydney Harbour is jaw-dropping from every angle. Visit Mrs Macquarie's Chair for an incomparable view of the iconic Opera House, before swinging by for a backstage tour. The Harbour Bridge isn't far; daredevils can climb to the top or hit Luna Park's rides. For more pedestrian ventures, try out Circular Quay and the historical Rocks. You can even take to the waters and explore a myriad of creeks, from Camp Cove to Darling Harbour, before camping the night out on Cockatoo Island.
Rainforest, heathland, mangroves... Just south of Sydney, the "Nasho" is a haven for a day or two and some bushwalking, as locals call it. Be it bird or whale watching, the park's incredible scenery and its shoreline let you discover Australia's unique flora and fauna. Stuck in the city? Get your fix at the Royal Botanical Gardens or Taronga Zoo, directly in the Port Jackson area.
Boasting five floors of stunning collections, this museum sits in expansive parklands overlooking Sydney Harbour - and its art is just as nationally iconic. Hanging among old European masters, the creative and contemporary works of Australian and Aboriginal artists are given a well-deserved platform. The celebration of international art on every level is pervasive and moving, and is a must-see for visitors from all over the world. A ferry bears tourists to the area for an exceptional day out.
Built as a marketplace in the 19th century, this giant of a building spans an entire block of downtown Sydney. Now home to over 200 specialty shops and high-end retail, the mall sparkles from tip to toe with stained-glass windows and mosaic-tiled floors. Its exterior is also a lavish feat of design, bringing elements from Venetian Romanesque architecture to the southern hemisphere.
If you're looking for a sun-filled vacation spent relaxing on one of the many beautiful beaches then your best bet is the height of summer, but that means things will be a little bit more expensive. Temperatures in the summer can be scorching, sometimes higher than 100 degrees, so it may be a good idea to come at the beginning or nearing the end when it starts to cool off. If you're in Sydney for the architecture, the food, and culture, any time of year will be great times to visit. Believe it or not, winter can get quite cold in Sydney, dipping to the 40s overnight.
Most visitors to Sydney will arrive by plane into Sydney Airport (SYD). Located around six miles outside of the city center, it's not too far to go. The easiest way to get into the city is to use the Airport Link train, which leaves just underneath the airport, but you pay a premium (around A$18) to depart from the terminal. However, for a cheaper option take the 400 bus to the Mascot train station and take the T2 into the city.
Traveling to Sydney by train is not very popular due to long distances. Trains still run from cities like Melbourne or Brisbane and will take you the better part of a day. If you're coming from one of the cities on the other side of the country, like Perth or Darwin, you'll be taking an overnight or possibly two-day train journey. If you're arriving by train, you'll come into Sydney's Central Railway Station, located right in the heart of the city. If you're coming from Melbourne, there are two trains daily; one day train and one overnight train.
If you're arriving into Sydney by car, the most common way to arrive is by taking the M1 straight into the city center regardless of which direction you initially came from. If you're coming from Melbourne or the southern end of the country, you're likely to come in via the A1 to the M1 or M5. If you're coming from Brisbane or the north, you'll probably come in via the A1 or A15.
If you're coming into Sydney by bus the best option is Greyhound Australia, which connects Sydney to other cities in the country at affordable prices. Nonstop bus services depart from Melbourne, Canberra, or Brisbane, but you can connect through these cities from some of the others. Like the trains, buses into Sydney will also arrive into Central Station.
When it comes to accommodation in Sydney, some of the best options are in the CBD (central business district) overlooking the harbor and the Opera House. These include hotels like the Park Hyatt or the Shangri-La. While the luxury market is great in Sydney, there are also great boutique hotel options for couples in districts like The Rocks. If you're a traveling family, there are some great family-friendly hotel options with larger rooms and sitting areas, like the Amora Hotel Jamison.
The CBD - this is the heart of Sydney, with all of the high-rise buildings and offices. It's also where you'll find the big commercial shopping outlets including Westfield shopping center and the Sydney Tower Eye.
Circular Quay - this neighborhood is where you'll find the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Take in the amazing view with some drinks and delicious food at Buckley's, and finish off the day with a tour of the Opera House.
The Rocks - this district is northwest of the CBD and is the historic neighborhood of Sydney. Take a stroll down the cobblestone streets, stop into bars dating back to the 18th century, and visit the Rocks Markets, some of the oldest in Australia.
Getting around Sydney using public transportation is pretty easy and involves a variety of modes of transport. The most popular are the ferries, followed by buses and then the trams. Buy the local transport card, the Opal card, and top it up when and as you need it. Tickets vary by mode of transport but are between A$2.10 and A$5.
Taxis around Sydney are certainly convenient, but they also are not the most practical due to traffic. Fare prices average around A$3 per mile, and most rides throughout the city will vary between A$15-A$40.
If you choose to get around Sydney by car there are dozens of rental car options throughout the city for easy pickup, including Hertz, Avis, and Budget. For a standard-sized car holding five passengers, expect to pay around A$40 per day. It's important to note that most cars by default will be stick shift, so if you need an automatic be sure to select the right car. Metered on-street parking is available, while parking in lots is about A$10 - $20 per day.
You'll find upscale shopping brands in the Strand Arcade and the historical Queen Victoria Building, but for chains and other brands you're best bets are Wesfield, Broadway, or World Square. The best streets to walk down and shop are King St, William St, and Oxford St, all offering a wide variety of clothing, electronics, and more.
The two most popular grocery stores in Sydney are Woolworth's and Coles, but you can also find Aldis and other smaller chains. Coles tends to be the cheapest and you can buy food, drinks, and any personal care items from here as well. Buy a loaf of bread for around A$1 and a dozen eggs for A$4.20. There are also many markets that tend to be cheaper, such as Northside Produce and Paddington.
Due to its seaside location, eating outside in nice weather is very common and many restaurants will have beautiful views, such as Icebergs Dining Room and Bar on Bondi Beach or Searock Grill next to the Opera House. The Rocks is one of the best locations to find bistros and other cafes for lunch, as well as some great family-friendly eateries for dinner as well, such as the Cut Bar & Grill or Scarlett Restaurant. For a more luxurious experience head to Bondi Beach or Circular Quay and enjoy your meal while overlooking some of the most beautiful views in the world, but expect to pay for the privilege. mains generally cost around A$15 and sometimes up to A$40 at higher-end restaurants. Drinks will run anywhere from A$10-A$30, depending on what you order.