Wondering what to do in Sydney? I am sharing my favorite things to do in the city!
Sydney is Australia’s largest city, beating out Melbourne by just 300,000 people. The city on Australia’s east coast was founded as a British penal colony in 1788 and when gold was discovered in 1851 Sydney grew rapidly. Although Sydney is considered to be one of the most expensive cities in the world, it’s a good time for Americans to visit since the exchange rate is USD 1 : AUD 1.43. With the exchange rate working in my favor I didn’t feel that Sydney was more expensive than a major US city.
I had imagined Sydney to be like Los Angeles, a city with a laid back vibe filled with surfers and beachgoers. Maybe it’s like that in the summer, but it isn’t like that in the fall. Instead, Sydney is more of a serious business and cultural center.
Things to Know about Sydney:
If you have a contactless credit card (check your card for what looks like a sideways WiFi symbol), you can use that to pay for rides on the Sydney Metro. In order to ride the bus, you need to go to a newstand or a 7-Eleven to get an opal card to pay for your ride – remember to tap the card when you get on and off the train.
The train will take your right from the airport to downtown Sydney, it’s quick and very convenient.
What to do in Sydney:
I am sharing a mix of things to do in Sydney along with things nearby the city.
The Sydney Opera House
The city’s most iconic architectural landmark is something that you should see both during the day and at night. At night, be sure to walk up the steps and to walk past the opera house so that you can see the skyline behind it. You can also opt to tour the opera house.
The ferry ride from Circular Quay to Manly will give you one of the best views of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Once in Manly, you might want to grab a coffee or lunch at one of the cafes near the ferry terminal.
Bondi to Bronte Walk
I received lots of recommendations to do this walk along the coast, and it’s absolutely stunning. Start in Bondi and then walk to Bronte Beach or continue all the way to Coogee. Allow yourself at least 2 hours to do the full walk, more if you want to stop to have coffee or eat along the way.
If you do the Bondi to Bronte walk you will pass the iconic Bondi Icebergs pool, a sea pool beside the beach. I was surprised to learn that sea pools are popular in Australia and that they were originally built to give swimming clubs a place to practice in the winter.
You can swim in the pool or dine at the cafe. The water in the pool is salt water and it gets filled up with the high tide.
Visit a Public Sea Pool
Icebergs is the most well-known sea pool in Sydney, but it’s also the only one that isn’t free to use! You might want to check out one of the free public sea pools located on the beaches instead of paying to use the Icebergs pool.
This museum is free and right by the Sydney Opera House. It’s small enough to see in an hour or two, and I loved how the museum focuses on displaying work by Australian artists.
The rooftop cafe has views of the Sydney Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, and the harbor.
The Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains are a 90-minute drive outside of Sydney and it’s a popular spot for day trips. It’s a place to see the eucalyptus forests that are home to over 400 species of animals.
Visit a Wildlife Park
Getting to meet koalas and kangaroos was a highlight of my trip, but just a heads up, expect most people at these parks to be parents with toddlers.
There are several zoos and wildlife centers near Sydney that you can choose from, and this is your chance to see native animals like koalas, wallabies, and kangaroos up close. The Australia Zoo where Terri and Bindi Irwin work, is another popular destination for people wanting to see native animals.
Sea Cliff Bridge
This architectural landmark bridge was built over the ocean beside a cliff.
The day trip I did took us to Bendooley Estate winery in the Southern Highlands which produces cooler climate wines. There are lots of different day trips available so you can focus on wine tastings or you can combine that with another experience like I did.
This tall waterfall off a cliff overlooking a forest filled valley is located in Morton National Park. Once you arrive at the park it’s an easy and short walk to see the falls.
Hyde Park and the Anzac Memorial
You will find this long rectangular park in downtown Sydney and the Anzac Memorial can be found within the park. The rows of trees leading to the Anzac Memorial are very beautiful.
This is a fun part of downtown Sydney that is very close to Circular Quay. You will find a mix of bars, restaurants, and boutiques here. Plus, there was an outdoor market and several food stands.
My thoughts on Sydney:
I preferred Byron Bay and Melbourne. Sorry! I just want to share that information because I think it might help other people planning trips to Australia.