Oh, Sydney, I cannot believe it took me 21 years to fully explore all you have to offer! I now can say I completely understand why locals and tourists alike are smitten with Australia’s largest city. It has some of the best of everything Australia has to offer; from cafes to beaches, sights to shopping, you won’t be short on things to do in a long weekend next time you’re in Sydney. I am quite eager to get back, and while I didn’t see it all, here is what I got up to in a long weekend in the wonderful city of Sydney…
Getting there + around
Depending on your budget and location, there are several ways of travelling to Sydney. Most international tourists will obviously fly into Sydney, but if you’re travelling around Australia, there are definitely some cheap domestic flights found on Tiger and Jetstar! As well, many buses operate between cities, although it does take quite a long time as Australia is such a big country!
To get to the city from the airport, it couldn’t be easier. Just load up an Opal card for your public transport and get on the train that will take you into places such as Circular Quay, Kings Cross and Martin Place. The best way to get around Sydney is obviously on the train, and then buses as well from say Bondi Junction station to the beach as well as ferries! To get you from the airport will set you back about $15 on the card, though everywhere else you travel is super cheap. As great as the transport is, we actually walked pretty much everywhere. While my feet, legs and just about every muscle was crying at the end of the trip, our wallets were happy!
Where to stay
One of the best tips I can give you is to stay away from accommodation in the city. It is quite a hectic area and who wants to really be surrounded by huge high rises, loud traffic and hoards of people?! My favourite area in the whole of Sydney was Potts Point, where I stayed at the Regents Court Hotel. It is just near the train station, sweet little cafes and close enough to walk around the harbour and to the city, too! Also, it has its own rooftop garden, so, what’s not to love?! If it’s budget accommodation you’re after, Potts Point has plenty of hostels in beautiful terrace houses!
What to see + do
Bondi is by far the most well-known beach in Australia and just because it’s touristy doesn’t mean it isn’t amazing! All the locals love to hang here whether it’s to sunbake, surf or grab a healthy breakfast or lunch at the buzzing cafes in the area.
Bondi to Coogee Walk
One of the highlights of my trip, don’t skip on this walk when you find yourself in Bondi or any beach along the walk, in fact! Walk behind the Icebergs pool (the one you see on instagram all the time, you’ll know it!), and just follow the paths along the beach and rockwalls! You’ll walk along some of Sydney’s best beaches such as Tamarama and Bronte. If it’s as hot of a day like I had and you don’t bring your swimmers, then you will most definitely regret it! The water is very tempting, especially after walking for 2 or so hours in the Australian heat.
Home to the sweetest terrace houses, great cafes and boutiques, get out of the city and come to Surry Hills. We wandered through the streets, wishing we lived in all of the cute homes, window shopped and ate a ton of pastries and cakes at the famous Bourke St Bakery!
Circular Quay & The Rocks
An area most tourists don’t miss, Circular Quay is where you’ll find many restaurants, the ferry docks and the famous Opera House. The Rocks area is not only a historic part of Sydney, but is where you’ll find the Harbour Bridge, Sunday markets and many popular hotels.
I found myself spending a lot of time here walking through the gardens from Potts point and into the city and harbour. It has to be one of the most amazing botanical gardens I have seen, as the views are just priceless. Grab a book or a picnic, sit under the trees or sun and take a break from the city life.
I cannot believe I nearly skipped Manly, as I just didn’t realise how beautiful the area was! Get yourself on the ferry for half an hour, cruise past the Opera House (where you’ll get one of the best views), and you’ll be in an amazing part of Sydney in no time! Wander around the shops and cafes before getting to the main section of Manly beach. Wander to the right and along the path where you’ll find many quiet swimming spots before reaching Shelly’s beach. There is a cute boathouse cafe here, or you can pack a picnic yourself and sit on the beach admiring the beauty of Manly!
Harbour Bridge Climb
A super touristy activity that even Aussies themselves partake in, is the Harbour Bridge climb. While I didn’t exactly have enough money to do it this time, I’ve heard it’s super fun and will obviously give you some great views over Sydney!
Rushcutters Bay area
What seemed to be quite underestimated by the lack of people, Rushcutters bay is absolutely stunning! I really did love how quiet the area was as we walked along the water’s edge towards this secluded view of the Harbour Bridge.
See a show at the Opera House
So while I didn’t exactly see a show inside the Opera House, outside was Crowded House’s concert just about every night I was in Sydney. We actually didn’t even had tickets, but sat on the dock, listened, danced and watched the band on the big screen – score!
Queen Victoria Building
If you’re wandering along George St, this eye-catching and historic building isn’t hard to miss. Inside you’ll find it is equally as beautiful and is teaming with little cafes and boutiques as well as popular shops. Don’t skip Parisi without trying their chocolate dipped fruit – I recommend the watermelon!
Lastly, just about my favourite area in the whole of Sydney (from what I saw, anyway) is Potts Point. It has such a wonderful, relaxing atmosphere amongst the beautiful buildings and restaurants. It is just a quick walk away from Rushcutters Bay as well as an easy and scenic walk to Woolloomooloo, the Botanical Gardens and the Harbour area!
Where to eat + drink
As an avid food lover, The main reason I wanted to visit Sydney was to sample some of Australia’s best food and drinks. It really didn’t disappoint! From healthy pitaya fruit bowls and green juices in Bondi to cocktails in bubble tea cups to rose-shaped ice-creams, Sydney has it all. Can the Gold Coast pick up its game a little!? Anyway… check out my extensive guide to some of Sydney’s best food and drinks here!
- Australia is quite expensive, especially larger cities like Sydney. Though, you can do it on a budget! Just look out for cheap Airbnbs and hostels, don’t forget to grab an Opal card and try not to eat out and spend large amounts of money on alcohol and food – just treat yourself occasionally!
- Please don’t be an idiot like me, and remember the suncream. Despite coming home with a tan, I was a little pink the entire trip, even my scalp was bright red! Don’t underestimate the power of the Aussie sun!
- I urge you to stray away from the CBD area when you can! Some of the best sights in Sydney, such as it’s beautiful beaches, are found in areas like Bondi and Manly.