72-96 hours in Sydney

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Oceania » Australia » New South Wales » Sydney
June 28th 2015
Published: December 13th 2017
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Geo: -33.8679, 151.207



Sydney is capital city of the state of New South Wales, and is the jewel city in the southern hemisphere crown with its beautiful opera house and Harbour Bridge.

It's a very walkable city, with the CBD stretching from Circular Quay in the north to Central Station in the south (around 40 minutes' walk between the two). There are plenty of public transport options although it could not be accused of being a particularly cycle friendly city but that is trying to change despite the lack of support from main stream media, access to the water is from circular quay and there are many places accessible from there.


The seasons are fairly obedient with Summer being December – February and can be sticky, Autumn is March- May and would be more pleasant but can be wet, it is actually a bit cold in winter June- August although August would be less so and then Spring is September to November which is like summer in many west European countries – combo of mild and wet, getting warm.


There are hundreds of flights into Sydney Kingsford Smith airport daily from major hubs Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpar etc.


There are a number of areas a tourist would want to see:

- The Rocks/Circular Quay – you haven't been to Sydney if you have not seen, or better still gone to a performance in, the Opera House.

· Adjacent to Circular Quay are the botanical gardens linked by the Domain (location of the art gallery of nsw) to Hyde park on the south side, which is near all things city – shop, cafes and bars.

· North of Circular Quay is where you can get taste of the Bush without going too far from the city at Balls Head (get off at Waverton Station)

· Martin Place is the closest Sydney has to a civic centre, with a cenotaph commemorating Australia's war dead and amphitheatre for lunchtime entertainment and people watching.

· Town hall station will give you access to the beautiful high-Victorian "QVB" sumptuous shopping mall. Nearby is the lavish State Theatre, which does tours as well as performances.

· In the west are Chinatown which has many eating options and Darling Harbour (get off at Town hall station) which has all sorts of eateries/bars and entertainment as well as Aquarium & Casino.

· Nearby across the pedestrianized Pyrmont bridge (the world's first electric swing bridge) is the casino and Pyrmont itself has some good bars/restaurants/funky shops.

· South is central station (next one after Town hall) where you can get a train to nearly anywhere in NSW and even to out of state.

· Inner west (walkable or trainable from Central) has alternative Newtown & bohemian Glebe (walk/bus) which both have the funky ethnic eateries, second hand book shops, good bars and the markets on weekends.

· Bondi is the famous beach but is it 10km away from circular Quay by bus/train and bus, while Manly or Balmoral Beaches are accessible by boat from Circular Quay.

· The famous night time area eastwards is or was Kings Cross, but curfews have been introduced following too much drunken violence.

- Beside Kings Cross (15 min walk) is Woolloomooloo which is a very nice old neighbourhood and some good hotels and restaurants.

· The Powerhouse Museum of applied arts and sciences is in another inner west area called Ultimo.

· Also inner west are Paddington & Leichhardt are more des-res and home to some nice restaurants and shops - as is Crows Nest in the North Shore on the far side of the harbour.


Sydney's buses, trains and ferries are run by Transport NSW (transportnsw.info). An 'opal' card is the most economical way to go - currently trip 9 and up in week is free and the max amount you'd pay in day is around $8.30. Paper tickets are also available from vending machines, and from humans at big stations. Fines are hefty for not having a ticket/not tapping on.

Ferries run regularly from Circular Quay to Manly, Balmoral, Taronga Zoo, Cockatoo Island, Watsons Bay and more.


Obviously there's all manner of accommodation in Sydney and there's all the big name hotel chains.

Personally I have used:

- The Langham/Observatory (The Rocks)

- The Four Seasons (The Rocks)

- Shangri-la (The Rocks)

- The Westin (Martin Place)

- Pullman (Circular Quay)

- Sheraton on Park (Hyde Pk)

- The Blue Hotel (Woolloomooloo)

- And even Travelodge (CBD) for a cheapie sleep

And all have something good about them.


There are shops everywhere but Sydney's main shopping street is Pitt Street: The Strand and QVB are malls with all the chain shops and two big department stores (Myers & David Jones) that take up whole blocks so you can enter from a few streets. The big named designers are on nearby Castlereagh Street; else the little funky boutiques are in the other neighbourhoods I mention.

Sydney is great for morning markets on weekends in many areas such as Glebe, Kirribilli, North Sydney and many more. Note the morning part! Paddies markets are on?

SUGGESTED ITINERARY (assuming you are based in The Rocks)


Morning of walking

Do a walking tour of the Rocks - loads of sign posted convict history to check out e.g. Nurses walk and its Sydney's first European settlement so has its own interesting story, not to mention the original Cadigal's people history in the Rocks Discovery Museum . If you're really interested in the convict topic go up to Macquarie St area (between Opera House and Hyde Park) e.g. Hyde Park Barracks.

Walk around circular quay check out the Opera house and/or bar, grab some food and/or have a picnic and a rest in the botanic gardens and note the gorgeous Australian native flowers.

Afternoon of culture

Check out the (free admission) Art Gallery of NSW, on Art Gallery Road, The Domain, see Aboriginal, Australian, Asian and European art and they usually have a travelling exhibition e.g. Monet, Picasso.

For something more modern check out Museum of contemporary art on 140 George Street.

Evening of climbing/eating/drinking

Pre book a bridge climb for sunset (or sunrise). Prices vary depending on time of year but are not cheap see www.bridgeclimb.com

Go for dinner on George st and drinks in one of the many great bars around here, an thinking Sydneys oldest pub Fortune of War 137 George St.

Circular Quay general sustenance

- Ice cream stalls on the quay

- Walk in restaurants on street & 1st level of many buildings

Circular Quay Splurge restaurants:

- Aria (can book online)

- Quay (book months in advance)


North Shore foray

Walk up to the bridge via Cumberland St. up steps and walk across the pedestrian part of the bridge (railed off from the traffic) continue up to south east pylon for a modest fee and then go on across bridge to Kirribilli for a great view back to the harbour. Wander around the neighbourhood see Governor General's and Prime Minister's Sydney residences should that be of interest to you.

Walk up to Lavender Bay and come around by Luna Park, have a look or go on the hurdy-gurdies if its open, or even go for a dip in N. Sydney Olympic pool. If you'd like to see the Australia's only catholic saint's memorial church head up Mount St. N. Sydney.

Bedside Lavender Bay is McMahon's point which has some nice restaurants and cafes on Blues Point Road. If you go that far you could get a ferry back to circular quay.


Morning ferry on the harbour

Get a ferry to Manly or Balmoral beach or go exploring Cockatoo Island if beach is not your thing. Cockatoo is an ex shipping yard but is a very cool island where boutique music festivals and the like are held, you can camp/glamp there and get food/drinks there too. Watsons bay is another good ferry option for lunch an beer.

Afternoon at the zoo

If you won't be back or elsewhere in Australia you need get a ferry to go see the Australian animals at Taronga zoo.

Evening at the Opera House

Opera house - see a performance, go for pre theatre meal (in Aria perhaps).

And/or do the rocks pub crawl, suggestions…

- Opera bar

- Fortune of war

- Mercantile

- The Argyle

- Glenmore

- The Australian


Morning in the city

Get yourself up town walk to Martin place, check out Sydney tower aka Centrepoint tower for amazing views.

Walk over to Town hall & check out QVB building itself and its' shops, amble up to Hyde park and St. James's church b1819 oldest church in Australia & convict designed - features in TV alternative travel shows - have a spot of lunch in World Square perhaps.

Afternoon in Darling Harbour & surrounds

Head down to the Aquarium at Darling Harbour. Check out the Chinese garden of friendship. Walk over Pyrmont bridge go for a coffee or libation.

Evening in Darling Harbour

Have dinner in DH and check out some of the bars there – Bungalow 8 or Cargo and the like.

DAY4 BONDI-CHINATOWN/CQ (if you had an extra day)

Morning/Afternoon in Bondi

Get yourself over to Bondi Beach, go for brunch (or swim) and then do the Bondi to Coogee Clifftop walk. Or if it's November do the Bondi- Tamarama walk to see “sculptures by the sea”.

Final evening in Circular Quay or Chinatown if you've done CQ

If It's your last night go for splurge dinner with a view (if you haven't already) back on circular quay, else check out Chinatown.


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