Sydney Destination Guide
Sydney: it's the Australia you see in Hollywood movies, all sweeping shots of a glistening harbour and tanned bodies lazing on the iconic Bondi Beach. From the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, to Luna Park and Sydney Tower, all of the icons are here.
As the oldest and largest city of its kind in Australia, Sydney proudly shines bright as the place both tourists and locals want to be. It's a city and beach in one; a multicultural playground where history abounds and the country's rich and famous reside. Sydney is beloved as much for its balmy weather as it is for its sunny lifestyle – if it doesn't charm you with its charisma, it'll definitely seduce you with its beauty.
Top Sydney vantage points...
- The ferry to Manly
- Bondi Cliffs
- Luna Park
Most travellers looking for things to do in Sydney will start at Circular Quay on the iconic harbour. Here, you can tour Australia's most recognizable landmark, the Sydney Opera House, scale to new heights with a Sydney Harbour Bridge climb, or see world-leading artists at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Also on the shores of the Sydney Harbour, just a ferry ride away is the famous Taronga Zoo, where you can see giraffes and Asian elephants wandering in front of a backdrop of the city skyline.
Located on Darling Harbour, Sydney Aquarium is another popular attraction and is home to around 7,000 different species of animal life. If the sun’s out (and it usually is), go for a swim at the iconic Bondi Beach or Palm Beach – the set of the long-running Aussie soap opera Home & Away.
Visit less touristy beaches including...
- Shelly Beach – close to popular Manly Beach
- Tamarama – Sydney’s gay beach
- Cronulla – deep in Sydney’s south
For a meal with a view, few Sydney restaurants can beat the idyllic setting of those found at Circular Quay, except maybe the celebrity favourite Icebergs restaurant that overlooks Bondi Beach. Straddling the harbour in a historic setting is The Rocks, home to some magnificent restaurants such as Quay and Neil Perry's Rockpool. For something more relaxed, head to city-fringe suburbs including Surry Hills, Darlinghurst and Glebe.
Some cheap and cheerful pubs can be found along King Street in Newtown, while Kings Cross is a long established Sydney nightlife strip popular with the young and rowdy. Much more laid back are eclectic back-street establishments such as Shady Pines in Darlinghurst and the Cricketers Arms Hotel in Surry Hills.
Sydney's favourite foodies areas...
- Surry Hills for contemporary fare
- Newtown backstreets for bars & pubs
- Pitt Street in the city for Asian eats
From chain hotels in the CBD to holiday apartments by the beach, Sydney accommodation is as diverse as its suburbs. If it’s luxury you seek, you may want to splurge on a room at Sheraton on the Park or Park Hyatt at the Rocks – Sydney's most expensive hotel. For character and comfort, take your pick from one of a growing number of boutique hotels in Sydney such as the Kirketon and Regent’s Court.
If you don't mind the ever-so-slight commute, hotels in Darlinghurst and Surry Hills offer slightly better bedrooms for your buck, while Kings Cross and Glebe are great for budget accommodation and hostels.
Ocean views can be had right along the Sydney shoreline with Bondi, Coogee and Manly home to the widest range of resorts, hotels and apartments. Outside of Sydney, head to the Blue Mountains where cosy B&Bs are plentiful.
Make more of your time & stay in...
- The Rocks for extra sightseeing
- Bondi or Manly to be by the beach
- Kings Cross or Surry Hills for nightlife
Though Melbourne likes to claim itself as being Australia's fashion capital, when it comes to shopping, Sydney is an undisputed champion. Start your Sydney shopping adventure at the Pitt Street Mall, home to dozens of department and specialty stores including the celebrated Westfield Sydney, then head to the iconic Strand Arcade for more luxury items.
Dating back to 1981, the Strand Arcade has long been a premier shopping building in Sydney with leading labels such as Sass & Bide, Lover and Scanlan & Theodore setting up shop in its halls.
The city's other main designer precinct is located in the trendy backstreets of Surry Hills and Paddington, while vintage and quirky independent wares can be found in Newtown.
Sydney shopping secrets...
- Independent designers in Paddington & Surry Hills
- Vintage items on South King Street, Newtown
- Asian food and groceries in Cabramatta
Sydney like a Local
Sydneysiders may love their beaches – but they love their pools just as much. At the top of your swimming pool list should be Sydney institution Icebergs, one of the only licensed swimming pools in the world. Come for the pool–side cocktails, stay for the view! If you'd rather swim laps than sip champagne, you can do so under the Sydney Harbour Bride at the North Sydney Pool.
Still, you just can’t beat the backdrop of the ocean for a swim and salt-water ocean baths are another favourite Sydney swim spot. You’ll find them right along the New South Wales coastline and at many of Sydney’s most popular beaches including Coogee and Manly.
Sydney’s favourite ocean baths include...
- McIvers Bath at Coogee
- Clovelly Beach
- Fairy Bower Pool at Manly