Sydney Tourism Information
Many might think Sydney is the capital of Australia, when in fact it's Canberra. This is only because Sydney is the biggest city and hosts the most renowned landmarks and points of interest of the country like the Opera House or Sydney Bridge.
Many citizens have come around the globe to Sydney, not only because of its appeal for a holiday, but a place to live. It's a true representation of ethnic multiculturalization.
The most ethnics backgrounds you will be able to notice are Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Philippino), South Asian (Indian) the Pacific (Zew Zealand, Pacific Islands) and many European and American who have made Sydney their home either temporary or permanently.
Sydney is attractive for its good weather year round, high quality of life style and finally, renowned for its excellent food and drink, offering in many international high quality restaurants, bars and cafes. It's not a surprise that there is something for everybody's liking and all ages; whilst many head to the beaches; others love to visit the attractions of Darling Harbour or the most adventurous can climb the iconic Harbour Bridge, or if you prefer a chilled walk with great views of the Opera House, you can stroll the magnificent Botanic Gardens.
🌈Sydney is also a popular gay holiday destination, especially during late February when the annual LGBT Mardis Gras takes place.
Sydney is one of the world's top holiday destinations, offering stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife, superb shopping and delectable restaurants. And beyond the iconic landmarks of the city, many beautiful natural landscapes opens the door to explore the Australian great outdoors, making Sydney a great travel hub too!
Sydney enjoys a warm and pleasant climate, with a very mild winter. It has about 105 sunny, cloud-free days a year! During the Summer (December to March) temperatures can reach an easy 30°C and through the rest of the year it´s a more mild and comfortable 20°C on average.
If you visit during the Winter, June through to August, temperatures don't go below 9°C normally, so it's also a great time to visit when the northern hemisphere is in high season.
The best time to come to visit Sydney is March to June and September to November. (their Autumn and Spring). February is also very popular for swimming and the LGBT MArdi Gras.
Arriving to Sydney centre or the CBD as it´s called is easy by public transport. From the airport the cheapest option is to take bus 400 (towards Bondi Junction) which stops at International and Domestic arrivals level. Once you are at Bondi Junction you can take Train T4 to the centre. The trip takes about 45 min and busses pass every 20 minutes.
Once in the CBD, busses and trains run often. There is an electronic card called "OPAL Card" which is used for both locals and visitors and this will save you time in looking for change. You need to touch in with the card as you board a bus and also as you leave to calculate the correct fare.
You can buy the cards at main stations, at the airport and official shops. For more info check Transport Sydney.
Public transport is modern, fully air conditioned and has electronic displays for easy orientation and direction of routes. It's also possible to use multiple online and apps to track the status of the trains or busses.
Below you will find the train and central Sydney route map:
Probably most people will relate Sydney with its best known landmark, the harbourfront Sydney Opera House, with a distinctive sail-like design.
Of course there is much more than meets the eye. Like the massive Darling Harbour and the smaller Circular Quay port which are hubs of waterside life. Also the arched Harbour Bridge and Royal Botanic Garden nearby. In the city's skyline you can observe the Sydney Tower.
Sydney is a city full of life, and after visiting all these attractions, you can recharge or relax by the great venues for eating and drinking. And if that was not enough, the city hosts many cultural events such as music concerts, sport competitions and the famous Mardi Gras in February, the LGBT parade.
Below are the main highlights:
- Sydney Opera House: is Australia's most recognisable building and is an icon of Australia's creative and technical achievement. Since its completion in 1973 it has attracted worldwide acclaim for its design and construction. It is placed right at the end of Bennelong Point, close to the harbour and completely to scale in relation to the Harbour Bridge, It took 16 years to build. The technical challenge of how to construct the roof sails took four years to solve. Today the Sydney Opera House is a national cultural centre, and includes a concert hall, opera and drama theatres, a playhouse and a studio. It is a fitting showcase for many of the world's leading performers. You can visit the Opera House inside by tour or by attending a music concert or event. Prices range from AU $35 depending for the activity chosen. Advance booking always suggested.
- Sydney Harbour Bridge: also affectionately known as the 'Coathanger', was opened on March 19th 1932, after six years of construction. Made of steel the bridge contains 6 million hand driven rivets. The surface area that requires painting is equal to about the surface area of 60 sports fields. The Bridge has huge hinges to absorb the expansion caused by the hot Sydney sun. You will see them on either side of the bridge at the footings of the Pylons. It is possible to climb the bridge by organised tour, the costs are from AU $280 per person. (No children allowed) ans lasts 3 hours.
- Darling Harbour is adjacent to the city centre. It is also a large recreational and pedestrian district that is situated on western outskirts of the CBD.
- Circular Quay: Basically it´s the city's main ferry terminus, situated in the very heart of Sydney Cove. The founding place for the settlement of Australia. It serves as a gateway, connecting visitors to Sydney's major attractions - Sydney Harbour, Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and The Rocks. It's a vibrant, bustling hub with ferries leaving every few minutes to different parts of the harbour, including Manly, Watsons Bay, Mosman and Taronga Zoo.
Circular Quay is at the foot of the central business district and the older, historic end of the city. Buses depart here for Bondi and the eastern suburbs. It is also a major railway station on an underground railway known as the City Circle, which loops around the CBD. Much of its appeal lies in the great many outdoor eating areas set up nearby. The walkway that leads to the Sydney Opera House is bustling with great restaurants, with heaters outside during the evening and cosy indoor tables for when it´s too cold. There are great views of the Harbour Bridge, day and night, from all points of Circular Quay.
- The Rocks: It's the first settlement area for Sydney Cove that gave rise to soldiers' barracks, hospitals, whaling warehouses, rat catchers and the Bubonic Plague. Now it is a vibrant pocket of cafes, restaurants, shops and weekend market stalls set against a backdrop of historic buildings and mysterious passageways. One of the most popular eating areas is a bank of restaurants set up in a row of former wharves. This part of Sydney is one of the oldest, most attractive and most interesting.
- Bondi Beach: It's a famous beach and resort in Sydney. Also very popular for surfers. It is a good area for souvenir shopping, local markets and local food. To get to Bondi Beach, get a train to Bondi Junction and then bus 333 (Stand A3) to the beach. Or you can walk which takes about 20 min down hill 3km. There is also a red Metro bus, number 40 from Chatswood via Wynyard, Town Hall, Museum and Paddington that terminates in Bondi junction.
- Sydney Tower: Nicknamed the 'golden basket', the tower contains an observation deck, a coffee lounge and two restaurants. The enclosed observation deck offers a 360 degree view over Sydney from a height of 250 meter. For those seeking extra excitement there is also the skywalk, an open-air stroll on a glass-bottomed platform 268 meter above ground level.On a clear day, visitors can see as far as 55km. Prices cost from AU $18.55 per adult if bought online (saver price). Check Sydney Tower Tickets.
- Royal Botanic Gardens, Within the CBD, yo will find this wonderful tranquil oasis on the edge of one of the world’s great natural harbours. From the gardens, you’ll enjoy spectacular views and can take great photographs of Sydney Harbour, the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.The garden has thousands of plant specimens. Wildlife in the garden includes colourful birds, fruit bats and water dragons. The Calyx is a world-class horticultural space, with changing exhibitions designed to capture your imagination. Volunteer guides will lead you through the gardens on free walks, daily at 10.30am, except on public holidays, and at 1pm on weekends.The walks are for 90 minutes and depart from the Information Booth outside the Garden Shop at the Palm Grove Centre, in the middle of the gardens, where you’ll also find a restaurant and café. Entry is free into the gardens, open daily from 7am. The nearest train stations are Circular Quay and Martin Place.
- Australian open for Surfing: It's a big event located on Manly Beach, celebrated at the end of February of each year. it includes the best surfers, skateboarders, BMX, and music events. The best thing is that it´s all for free! Additionally, the party goes on with plenty of live music, art, gourmet food and beverage during the day and into the early hours of the morning. Its a good area for going out and socialising in a relaxed atmosphere.
- 🌈Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, or locally just Mardi Gras, is an annual LGBT pride parade and festival attended by hundreds of thousands of people from around Australia and overseas. It is one of the largest such festivals in the world, and includes a variety of events such as the Sydney Mardi Gras Parade and Party, Bondi Beach Drag Races, Harbour Party, Mardi Gras Film Festival, as well as Fair Day, which attracts 70,000 people to Victoria Park, Sydney. Held every year at the end of February.
✔️Tip: Join a Free walking tour organised by locals or students living in Sydney. These walking tours are completely free and give you good in depth knowledge from the city, history facts and curiosities about Sydney. At the end you can leave a tip if you liked the tour. The tours meet at Town Hall Square and are about 2 hours long.
For more info check Free Walking Tour
Additionally there are several day trips that you can take from Sydney to explore the surroundings and the scenery of the state.
Generally you can take tours which include the following places mentioned below or you can do it yourself. Greyhound is one recommend tour company.
The Blue Mountains are highly recommended to visit within a day trip. Comprising several highlights, the area is famous for its bluish mountains. They are so named because, from Sydney, they look blue. The reason comes from the vegetation which grows in the region, the vast forests of eucalyptus (commonly called gum trees), which in the hot sun discharge a fine mist of eucalyptus oil from their leaves. The mist refracts light, which makes the haze look blue at a distance.
Nearby is the Scenic World in Katoomba where to enjoy panoramas of the wilderness, waterfalls, valleys and rugged sandstone tablelands by cable car or the famous scenic railway. You can explore the ancient caverns of Jenolan Caves and discover limestone crystal and underground rivers deep within the mountains.
A trip to Leura is also recommended by its proximity to the Blue Mountains (sometimes included in the package of the organised tours). It's a very pretty enchanting village.
With its Edwardian storefronts and 19th century cottages, Leura sits framed upon a background of stunning natural wonders, sandstone escarpment, dense eucalyptus forests and rugged terrain. It's a step back in time which will surprise visitors to find quaint little shops, boutiques, cake shops, cafes and a famous Teapot house, very interesting to visit.
To get there you can get a train taking just under two hours from the central station in Sydney.
Finally but not least, what's a trip to Australia without seeing the natural wildlife? Plan a trip to one of the many wildlife Parks nearby Sydney. (You can always go to the Sydney Zoo if you want to see many animals). But the best idea is to visit one of National Wildlife Parks which specialise in Australian animals like the Kangaroo, Koala, Wombat, Crocodiles, birds, etc. One Park recommended is Featherdale Wildlife Park, With over 1,700 mammals, birds and reptiles. You can take pictures with the animals and be around some of them (Kangaroos).
To get there from the City, take the North Shore and Western line to Blacktown Station. Bus stand E is located just outside the station. Take the number 729 bus for a 10 minute ride which will drop you right outside Featherdale gates.
Those having enough energy left to continue into the night, will not be disappointed to find that Sydney's nightlife is all go!
The best party areas include Darling Harbour, Oxford Street and The Rocks. 🌈Oxford Street is the epicentre of the LGBT nightlife scene in the city, though there are many straight bars and clubs as well.
Kings Cross is the reputed Red Light District of Sydney, an area which has seen some improvement over the last few years, attracting an increasingly diverse and arty array of visitors, but it remains a gritty nightlife centre, as one would expect for an area once dominated by sailors and brothels.
The Rocks and Kings Street Wharf offer more upmarket entertainment options. Sydney is also renowned for its performing arts, the most notable venue being the iconic Sydney opera House.
There are some last drinks laws in effect in the Sydney CBD, with no drinks served after 3am at hotels and registered nightclubs, but some smaller venues are exempt from these rules.
✔️Tip: When out and about its good to know that Sydney offers a good range of transportation getting back home. NIght busses reach most districts so there is no worry about driving or taking last metros home! Below you have the map of the night busses, available to download:
Those loving a bit of shopping in their holiday will not be disappointed with Sydney. It's a cosmopolitan city that offers international as well as local name brands, world-class shopping centres, speciality shops, and discounted market stalls that offer anything from clothes to arts and crafts.
Most of the large department stores are within the city centre and within a few blocks of each other. For exclusive shopping, the QVB, or Queen Victoria Building, is an architectural masterpiece housing a large variety of designer label and speciality shops, while in similar vein the nearby Strand Arcade houses some of Australia's top designer labels, as well as boutiques, jewellery shops and beauty salons. Downtown Duty Free in the basement is a great place to pick up some bargains.
Other centres include the Grace Bros department store, boasting vast quantities of goods; Sydney's oldest department store, David Jones; the Harbourside development at Darling Harbour; MLC Centre.
Explore the streets of The Rocks, which hide myriad speciality shops, while Skygarden centre is home to the biggest bookstore in town, Borders, which also stocks a wide selection of magazines, CDs and DVDs.
Sydney's biggest market is Paddy's, open from Thursday to Sunday, which offers discounted mainstream items, while the Glebe (Saturday) and Bondi (Sunday) markets are traditional alternative markets with a good selection of clothing, arts and crafts, and second-hand goods.
For something totally different the daily Sydney Fish Market is a fishy spectacle as well as a great place to eat fresh seafood.
Sydney is expensive in regards to Hotels, specially if you want to stay in the CBD. The best recommendation is to stay away from the city with access to train or bus lines which can get you in to the city centre. One area which is definitely worth checking is Kings Cross. Here there is everything you might need for a tourist, convenient restaurants, shops, cafes, bars and better value Hotels. Its also an area popular for Hostels. Hotels are about €70 per night whilst other options might include self catering apartments and Airbnb.
Sydney is truly an impressive city and no matter how long you stay, there is always so much to see and do. Will it be tours around the state, shopping and dining, relaxing, swimming and water sports, you probably need a good week to take it all in. However under a tourist point of view the city's main attractions and a couple of tours are worth it for staying at least 4 nights.
If you're only coming to Sydney from a long haul destination and planning to relax,then one week to 10 days would be good as well, including some tours and days to relax.
Sydney Photo Slide 📷