SydneyTravel Guide

There’s always something going on in Sydney. With world class cultural festivals, a dazzling natural harbour, epic beachside walks (not to mention beaches), a cutting-edge restaurant and bar scene, excellent live music and theatre, and an unquenchable thirst for fun, you’ll never get bored in this most famous of Australian cities. Take the Manly Ferry, climb the Harbour Bridge, swim at Icebergs, catch some stand-up in Enmore, shop in the hipster boutiques of Balmain… the possibilities in Sydney are endless. If you’re planning a visit, explore our Sydney travel guide and find out how to make the most of your time in this always-on city. We’ve collected the best tips from our travel experts, and have the best advice on things to do, when to travel, where to stay, getting around and more. There’s also a guide to Sydney Airport if you’re jetting in from out of town.

Sydney quick facts


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Explore Sydney

Where to stay in Sydney?

If you’re not a local or particularly familiar with the city, you may have some trouble deciding where to stay in Sydney. After all, the city is sprawling! The good news is you really can’t go wrong when choosing a base for your time here. Will you wake up with views of the harbour and the hustle and bustle of the city below you? Maybe you’d like to tuck yourself away along a terrace-lined street, with quaint coffee shops and beautiful gardens as your neighbours. Wherever you decide to stay, there’s bound to be something to enjoy right on your doorstep.

Circular Quay is the home of Sydney's most famous attractions. The Sydney Opera House and Royal Botanic Gardens are just a stone's throw from each other, while ferries and buses run constantly to Manly and the north shore of the harbour. The western side of the quay is where you'll find The Rocks with its charming cobbled laneways and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Home to white sands, rolling waves and the occasional famous face, Bondi Beach is the epitome of Australian surf culture. A morning swim, an afternoon drink, or an evening of fine-dining – Bondi is beautiful any time of day. Weekend farmers' markets and a coffee in the shade is a great way to relax, so if a laidback atmosphere is what you're after, Bondi Beach is your best bet.

Discover the finest in Asian cuisine and culture, waterfront dining, wine and cocktail bars, and entertainment. Chinatown and Darling Harbour are at the heart of Sydney's buzzing life after dark. The lively precinct is only a 10-minute walk from the city centre, and it's also easily accessible via the light-rail network. Darling Harbour is one of the best places to stay in Sydney.

Surry Hills has a reputation as one of the most plentiful suburbs for drinking and dining. If nightlife is what you're after, Oxford Street is where you'll want to be. Running along the border of both Surry Hills and Darlinghurst, Oxford Street is your connection from the city all the way to Bondi Junction. If you're looking to soak up the atmosphere of Sydney fashion, food and nightlife, this area is tailor-made for you.

With the city just across the water and easy access via ferry, or a quick walk over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, North Sydney offers convenience away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. A quieter green metropolis, North Sydney is home to the beautiful mansions of Kirribilli and the splendid escapism of Wendy Whiteley's Secret Garden located in the wonderful Lavender Bay.

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  • Wide shot of Sydney Harbour Bridge with boats floating past
    • Aerial view of Bondi beach, large number of people on the beach
    • Aerial view of Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour.
  • Wide shot of Sydney Harbour Bridge with boats floating past
    Wide shot of Sydney Harbour Bridge with boats floating past
    Wide shot of Sydney Harbour Bridge with boats floating past
  • Aerial view of Bondi beach, large number of people on the beach
    Aerial view of Bondi beach, large number of people on the beach
    Aerial view of Bondi beach, large number of people on the beach
  • Aerial view of Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour.
    Aerial view of Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour.
    Aerial view of Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour.

Things to do in Sydney

You'll find no shortage of things to do in Sydney, with so much to offer right on your doorstep. Whether you’re exploring the iconic structures that line the expansive harbourfront, taking in the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens, relaxing on the inviting sands of Bondi Beach, or immersing yourself in the vibrant nightlife, your to-do list will be the envy of many!

Since 1932, the Sydney Harbour Bridge has stood as a magnificent fixture of the city skyline. The great steel arch is an Australian icon the world over and provides a handy connection between the CBD and Milsons Point. Why not ditch the car and take a 1km return stroll across the bridge to enjoy incredible city views at your leisure? Alternatively, unleash your adventurous spirit by tackling the breathtaking Harbour Bridge Climb!

Sydney sightseeing is not complete without a trip to the most exotic place in town, Taronga Zoo. Overlooking Athol Bay on Sydney's north shore, the 75ha zoo is home to over 4,000 amazing inhabitants. The animal lover inside you will be delighted by the fine array of creatures great and small. There are plenty of native Australian animals too, as Taronga is a conservation zoo, home to cuddly koalas, wombats, kangaroos, and even the elusive bilby!

A day at the beach is a classic Australian past-time, and Sydney boasts some of the most well-known and pristine beaches along the eastern coast. Names like Bondi, Coogee, and Manly are synonymous with sun and surf. Whether you're taking a dip, hopping on a surfboard, or just soaking in the sun, Sydney beaches are essential to your holiday itinerary.

Built over the remains of Australia's first Government House, the Museum of Sydney celebrates the people and cultures that have helped to shape the city. Behind the historic stone facade, uncover an intriguing past and enjoy a trip through history all the way to the present.

Explore five levels of fine art within the beautiful parklands that overlook Sydney Harbour. The Art Gallery of New South Wales is home to Australia's largest collection of indigenous art alongside masterpieces from Asia and Europe. Only a 10-minute walk from the city centre, the Art After Hours program plays hosts to free music, performance art, film, and more.

Step off the harbour foreshore to find the home of the first European settlement. The Rocks is history, culture, and charm all rolled into one. The cobbled streets and heritage-listed buildings stand alongside the giant cityscape; the old and the new meet in magnificent fashion. Weekend markets, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and some of the country's oldest pubs are just some of the main attractions in an area so vital in the birth of Australia.

Established in 1816, the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens is the oldest botanic garden and scientific institution in Australia. It's home to an outstanding collection of flora from around the world, with the number of plant species in excess of 8,900. Within the grounds you'll also find the historic Government House, an exquisite stone mansion from the late 19th century.

Located in The Rocks, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) fuses inspiring modern art with the rich heritage of the land that it inhabits. Once home to the Maritime Services Board, the stunning art deco building will engage you with works from a collection of over 4,000 pieces. The museum also plays host to stunning touring exhibitions from local and international artists.

The Sydney Opera House is one of the world's most creative and busiest arts centres, welcoming millions of visitors from all around the world each year. You can experience the iconic venue by catching a world-class performance – the Opera House features opera (of course!), ballet, theatre, live music, comedy, contemporary dance, musicals, and more. Before or after the show, take in incredible views and enjoy a bite from the exquisite Bennelong Restaurant.

Fascinatingly bizarre, Sydney's contemporary art galleries are a must-see if you're after something a little more out of the ordinary. White Rabbit located in Chippendale is a superb gallery of thought-provoking contemporary Chinese artworks. While across the harbour tucked behind Luna Park you'll discover the tranquillity of Wendy Whiteley's Secret Garden, a place to let your imagination run wild.

Looking for an immersive experience? Then a tour is the way to go.

Flights to Sydney

Sydney food and drink

Sydney food and drink is the epitome of diverse dining. The bustling markets that inhabit the city blend historical-style trade with endless delectable culinary creations. Famous also for their fresh produce, iconic Sydney marketplaces in Chinatown, Potts Point, and Bondi offer you a chance to taste the absolute best in everything home-grown. Some of the most recognisable names in fine-dining have cultivated a thriving upmarket restaurant scene, so you can indulge in some of the finest food anywhere in Australia. Find cocktail bars tucked away in charming alleyways, and discover lavish restaurants with superb views of the city skyline. Sydney bars and nightlife will add a touch of class to your evenings.

Fresh produce, yummy treats, homemade goods, and one-of-a-kind treasures will delight you at any of Sydney's local markets. With over 30 popular locations playing host to markets of organic foods, you'll never find yourself lacking for somewhere to indulge your taste buds with fresh ingredients. Famous locations such as Paddy's Market and the Sydney Fish Market, along with up-and-coming inner-city organic markets, will undoubtedly delight and surprise you.

Tour the best of Sydney's stylish bars and heritage pubs with some of the most spectacular views of the city as your backdrop. Whether you're looking for an evening of excitement or a chance to unwind, Sydney's bars and nightlife bring the harbour city alive after dark. Find yourself enjoying some of the most satisfying drinks from Sydney's best mixologists and brewers.

You aren't at your best without your morning coffee, and luckily Sydney has the best to offer in fine caffeine pick-me-ups. Buzzing local haunts, hole-in-the-wall vendors, and quaint cafes… Sydney coffee culture is thriving, with hotspots to be found in inner city Surry Hills, hipster Newtown and pockets along the Northern Beaches . You won't have trouble finding the best coffee in Sydney, whether you're after a classic cappuccino, a long black or anything between.

From upscale dining to the best in authentic Asian cuisine, Sydney restaurants are the place to indulge. With unparalleled views of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, Darling Harbour is a must on your holiday menu. Innovative dishes in the hottest dining precincts like Surry Hills and Barangaroo offer a taste of something extraordinary.

Enjoy sumptuous gourmet dining within the white sails of the Opera House, or watch the sunset over the harbour from above the city skyline – with the best in modern Australian cuisine on your plate, of course! Sydney restaurants with a view are the best way to enjoy the city's culinary and visual delights simultaneously. Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between, excellent locales like Bennelong, Graze, and Waterfront have you sorted.

Get a real taste for the local cuisine by booking a tour.

Sydney through your eyes

Where to shop in Sydney?

With homespun markets, high-end fashion retailers and boutique pop-ups, shopping in Sydney is as diverse as the people who live here. Find one-off pieces and indulge in the latest in quality fashion all in the space of a few blocks. Westfield Sydney, The Strand Arcade, and the Queen Victoria Building are three massive destinations to kickstart your inner-city shopping spree. For a change of pace, why not take a stroll along some of the best markets in Sydney? Be sure to treat yourself to something perfectly delicious along the way!

Head to Paddy's Markets in Chinatown and get lost in the hustle and bustle of this historic, eclectic marketplace. Make sure to keep your eye out for some excellent bargains and unique products. For the perfect mix of vintage designs and street cuisine, fossick through charming neighbourhood markets in Marrickville, Bondi, and The Rocks. Follow your shopper's instincts and you're sure to find a fabulously one-of-a-kind souvenir to take home.

Your Sydney shopping guide isn't complete without a trip down Oxford Street in Paddington, the home to some of Sydney's most well-known clubs, as well as the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. By day, Oxford Street is the place to be seen for fashionistas in the know. Meanwhile, Surry Hills (once the home to Sydney's ‘rag trade') has been reinvented as the suburb of food, drink, and fashion.

Looking for a bit more glitz and glamour? You'll love shopping in Sydney. The CBD boasts more shopping centres and high-end retailers than you could possibly get through in a day. The best place to start is right in the heart of the city at the pedestrian Pitt Street Mall. With arcades and shopping centres galore, Sydney is ready to entice you with clothes and accessories from some of the biggest names in international and home-grown fashion.

Looking for a safe and simple way to bring your money when you travel? Our Travel Money Card has you covered!

When is the best time to travel to Sydney?

The weather in Sydney comprises a sunny climate with mild winters and warm summers, perfect for making the most of the great outdoors. The best time to visit Sydney will depend largely on your personal preference and your ideal getaway plans. You can enjoy the stunning coastal headlands from summer right through winter, and the mild weather and drop in humidity also makes for perfect whale-watching conditions, in autumn and winter.

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How to get around Sydney

Sydney transport is designed to be accessible and worry-free. Finding your way around the CBD is as easy as hopping on a bus or taking a trip on the light-rail. Getting yourself to one of Sydney’s famous beaches like Manly or Watson’s Bay is simple too – just climb aboard a ferry from Circular Quay. If time is sensitive or you need to travel further afield, Sydney taxis are ready to take you wherever you need to go.

Need a cab? You have a range of taxi services to choose from including GM, Legion, and Premier. You can order a taxi over the phone, using the appropriate app, or simply by hailing them. Taxi ranks are also plentiful and easy to spot around major tourist precincts.

Sydney trains are a great way to get around the city, and are your best option for travel that extends beyond the city and inner suburbs. Whether it's south to Cronulla Beach, out to the suburbs, or a day trip into the Blue Mountains, Sydney's spacious trains will take you there. A visit to the official New South Wales transport website will provide you with the most up-to-date timetables and information.

Sydney buses are your most affordable transport option. With dedicated bus lanes running throughout the city centre, hopping on a bus will often be your quickest option too. You will need to purchase an Opal card and top it up with funds, whether you want to take one trip or a dozen, as the city has done away with the hassle of paper tickets.

In a city with so much to see, it's at ground level that some of the hidden treasures of Sydney reveal themselves. Take in magnificent city views with a 1km return stroll across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and walk through some of the oldest shopping precincts in Australia. The city's unique way of layering old and new buildings provides endless intrigue in a city easy to navigate and a delight to explore on foot.

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What are the best beaches in Sydney?

Prepare for sun, surf, and sand when you visit Sydney! New South Wales’ capital is home to some of the most iconic beaches in all of Australia. Whether you’re taking a dip in the rolling waves at Bondi, lounging at a seaside cafe in Manly, or having a picnic along a tranquil stretch of sand in Balmoral, Sydney beaches are sensational in any season. Spectacular headland views and hidden coves all along the coast make for the perfect vantage points to watch the annual humpback whale migration. From popular tourist hubs to secluded stretches of uninterrupted sand, there are plenty of ways to have fun in the sun in Sydney.

Sydney's most famous beach is not just a must-visit surfing destination. You'll quickly discover delicious places to dine along the beachfront stretch of cafes and restaurants, or you can find something fresh at the Bondi Farmers Market each weekend. Take a stroll along the picture-perfect coastline that links Bondi and Coogee, or go for a round on the stunning nine-hole clifftop golf course.

Located between Sydney's iconic Bondi Beach and Coogee, Bronte Beach is an eastern suburbs local favourite. Out of the way of the holiday hustle and bustle, this is the perfect place to get away from it all. With the sheltered cove of Clovelly Beach and secluded Gordons Bay just next door, it's easy to forget these beautiful beaches are walking distance from buzzing Bondi.

Balmoral Beach is home to beautiful homes, expensive yachts, and stunning views of Sydney Harbour National Park. Situated in the city of Mosman, Balmoral Beach is the perfect place to take a dip in the tranquil waters of the protected beach. Why not grab some fish and chips in the shade of the historic beach club as the sun starts to set?

The ferry ride from Circular Quay to Manly is a Sydney bucket list activity in itself. When you arrive though, Manly is beachside living and city sophistication wrapped up in a picturesque package. The smooth waves make it the perfect location to try your hand at surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, or a spot of snorkelling. Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary is also home to a variety of marine life including sharks, turtles, and stingrays.

The spectacular Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk winds through 6km of beaches, rock pools and parklands to Coogee Beach. As one of Australia's oldest beachside suburbs, Coogee offers classic Australian seaside living at its best. Art Deco shops and houses dot the beachfront, while calming beach baths give you a chance to relax outside of the surf.

Welcome to the home of Summer Bay! Palm Beach is instantly recognisable as the exterior filming location for the drama and theatrics of Home and Away. More than just a soap opera backdrop, the city's most northerly stretch of sand is a great spot for fun. The Palm Beach wharf is the perfect place to cast a line, the Barrenjoey Headland makes for a sensational lookout and the Boathouse is the ultimate in relaxed waterside dining.


What are the best parks in Sydney?

Sydney Harbour might be the sparkling crown of the city, but the city’s green spaces are equally as important to this spectacular city skyline. For Australia’s largest city, Sydney has plenty of open space, from foreshore parks around the harbour to bushland reserves with plenty of picnic spots and walking tracks for a spot of nature bathing.

Boasting 189 hectares of green space, Sydney’s Centennial Park is easily its largest urban park. Combining gardens, sprawling sport fields, cycle ways and wetlands the park attracts locals and tourists year-round. Enjoy breakfast, brunch or lunch at a number of cafes and kiosks dotted throughout. Or go DIY at one of the park's many barbecue facilities and picnic tables.

Sydney’s newest park constructed on elevated headland, this former industrial zone near the Walsh Bay wharves combines stunning harbour views with open spaces. Long a place of spiritual and cultural significance to the region's indigenous Eora nation, the best way to enjoy this reserve is to join an aboriginal cultural tour that will immerse you in the indigenous history of Warrane (Sydney Harbour).

Huddling a gentle harbourside hill between The Sydney Opera House and the city's CBD, The Royal Botanic Garden is the grand old dame of Sydney's parks. From wedding venue to seedling nursery, botanical research centre to running trail, or simply an ideal spot for a shady stroll by the water, Australia's oldest botanic garden is a city-side breath of fresh air.

Tiny and intimate compared to its near-namesake, Bicentennial Park is nestled on the shore of Sydney Harbour and bisected by a tranquil canal. A favourite picnic spot for families the park has children's play equipment and on-leash and off-leash dog areas. The shore edge is the perfect spot to stop and drop with a stash of fish and chips.

Sprawling along the Tasman Sea coast to the south of the city's edge, Royal National Park is famed for its rugged oceanfront cliff trails winding through scrubland and forest. The place is huge, so be sure to make a daytrip of it if you love bushwalking, birdwatching, whale watching or simply listening to the crash of the sea as you look out onto a distant horizon.

Grief-stricken by the death of her renowned artist husband Brett in the early 1990s, Wendy Whiteley set upon cleaning up a patch of disused land between her Lavendar Bay property and the railway line tracing the shoreline below. Her clean-up morphed into a quietly dazzling garden project and a now not-so secret park where native and exotic shrubs create nooks and walkways while playing host to a thriving community of coastal birds. The public but un-signposted park is as amazing as Wendy's story. Google Maps will guide you.

Getting from park to park is so much better with your own wheels. Hitch your ride now!

Sydney Frequently asked questions

Sydney is a city best explored on foot, so comfortable walking shoes are a must! If you’re heading there in summer, be sure to throw in some swimmers, a towel, a fabulous hat and, of course, your reusable water bottle. Other times of year can get chilly in the city, so throw in a jacket or cardigan but leave room in your suitcase as Sydney is known for its excellent shopping.

Sydney is a culinary and cultural smorgasbord dishing up an endless array of things to see, do and devour. Some of the must-see spots while you’re in town are the world-famous Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, Bondi Beach, Taronga Zoo and Darling Harbour, to name just a few. Our advice? Arrive with a (mostly) empty itinerary and just see where the day (and night) takes you.

Life happens - we get it! Read more here.

Summer in Sydney is a special kind of magic. Skip from the beach to a rooftop bar, sipping cocktails as the sun sinks from the sky. Summer (December to February) also offers a jam-packed roster of festivals and events. If you’re less of a beach dweller and more of a culture seeker, autumn (March to May) winter (June to August) and spring (September to November) is a nice time to check out the city’s artistic heart.

Whoa, where to start? Sydney is known for its exceptional food scene, so be sure to dedicate some solid time to snacking and sipping. When you need to walk off your food coma, pound the pavement and explore the city on foot, popping into museums and galleries that take your fancy along the way. Of course, no trip to Sydney is complete without a visit to the incredible harbour to check out the bridge and Opera House. Better yet, book a sunset cruise around the harbour or get the heart pumping with a bridge climb.

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