Sydney is Australia’s most famous city and the one many flock to for spectacular views of the harbour and fireworks on New Year’s Eve and I love it. I’ve been twice since living in Melbourne and am visiting again next month. For a traveller looking to settle in either Melbourne or Sydney for work, the decision can be a difficult one with Sydney holding more of a reputation of BIG city life complete with hustle and bustle as well as the risk of pretentious personality whereas Melbourne is often seen as more relaxed, friendly and compact. However, Sydney can offer something Melbourne doesn’t so close to the city centre, beautiful Australian beaches. Pure bliss.
So that brings me to the first in my list of things to do when figuring out how to spend a few days in Sydney.
Top Up Your Tan At The Beach
One of Sydney’s most appealing factors for tourists and travellers are its beaches. As far as Australian lifestyle and culture goes, Sydney offers it all with its busy city life so close to the laid back beach vibes available. The two most popular beaches are Bondi and Manly but you can also visit the famous ‘Summer Bay’ beach, the set of Home And Away, known as Palm Beach.
If you’re in town for less than 5 days you may not want to spend more than one day at the beach but if your timing is right and you’re organised you could explore Manly and Bondi in one day. However, to really appreciate Bondi you need to do the coastal walk between there and Coogee, so I would recommend doing them on separate days if possible.
Master Your Opal Card And Explore
If you’re wondering how to travel around Sydney and don’t just want to stick to the inner city, then you’ll need an Opal card. Similar to London’s Oyster and Melbourne’s Myki, Sydney’s travel card is fantastic for exploring the city using the multiple transport options available. Sydney has trains, buses and ferry services connecting every inch of the city and its surroundings so this little card really is your best friend, plus Google will instantly tell you how to travel from A to B in an instant.
During out first visit in Sydney, we were staying in an apartment in Manly, booked through Airbnb, so it was essential for us to use the ferry service to get into the city. The morning journey was always a pleasant way to start the day and the beautiful harbour views as you come in to Circular Quay never got old! I’d definitely recommend using one of the regular ferry services during your stay. They can take you to a number of places including Manly, Parramatta, Watson’s Bay and Taronga Zoo.
There are also buses and trains, all accessible with your Opal card, which cover a huge area of Sydney, you’ll need these if going to Bondi Junction and Bondi Beach – we even used ours to go as far out as The Blue Mountains for a very reasonable cost. Have a look at this for where the train network can take you.
Do Something Adventurous
I’ll be honest, it won’t take you very long to complete the site seeing checklist in Sydney. You can walk around the harbour, taking in the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge from a few different angles, maybe take a couple selfies, in no time at all but there are a few ways you can experience these iconic landmarks and get your heart racing at the same time so if you’re looking for a little bit of excitement and adventure then consider doing one of these:
- Sydney Bridge Climb
- The Shark Attack – speed boat ride
- Helicopter over the harbour
- Luna Park and Taronga Zoo
- Scuba Diving
With adventure comes cost and these are the more expensive things to do while in Sydney so if you’re on a budget you might be better off exploring the city sites a little more or opting for either the Zoo or Luna Park entry at a more affordable $53 and $48 per adult (you can almost always find some sort of discount or BOGOF deal if you shop around a little as well). If you do have some extra days to spare and you can stretch to one you won’t be disappointed.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge climb really is a once in a lifetime experience and you’ll be able to say you climbed the tallest steel arch bridge but it will set you back around $300 depending on the experience you choose. Opt for a quick thrill and take a ride on the ‘Shark Attack’ costing $79 for a 30 minute ride.
We’d been out of the water for 6 months since leaving Koh Tao so were itching to dive. For $200 each we got 2 boat dives and full equipment hire with Dive Centre Manly and it was definitely an experience. I didn’t cope well for my first dive in colder water and only did the first dive but I saw Wobbegong sharks and a huge Bull Ray so was happy as Larry to have done it.
Travel Outside Of The City
Ok so you’ve come all the way to Sydney and I’m telling you to leave..! Well, if you do have more than a couple of days to explore than there are definitely some worthwhile destinations just outside of the city with great transport connections.
In just two a two-hour train ride from Central Station, you can be at the fabulous Blue Mountains where you can explore bush walking trails with dramatic scenery, cliff edges, waterfalls and spectacular lookouts all for free. If you want to ride the steep railway or glide from mountain top to mountain top via the Skyrail then passes are available at the gift shop, you can get an unlimited multi pass for $30.
Well, I guess this isn’t Sydney specific because wherever you travel I would 100% recommend making the most of what’s on offer when it comes to cuisine. Part of exploring new places is about tasting the culture and there’s always such a vast range of choice in the cities from street food style cafes, gelato bars and specialty seafood restaurants to the fancy fine dining with cocktails to match.
My absolute favourite was experiencing the latter at Rockpool Bar And Grill, which you can read all about here, but if you do love seafood then we found a great place near The Rocks, aptly named ‘Fish at The Rocks’ and it was delicious – try the seafood salad, it’s a lot more special than you would imagine.
So there you have it, the best way to spend a few days, 5 in fact, while in Sydney. Hope you enjoy your visit there as much as I did.