Sydney is with no doubts an unavoidable destination in any Australian travel itinerary. In our collective imagination places like the Opera House, the golden sandy beaches full of surfers, and the Harbour Bay are amongst the most symbolic in Australia.
That’s why you need minimum 4 days to visit the capital of New South Wales, located in the southeast of Australia.
ALSO READ: How to reach the Blue Mountains by train from Sydney
In this article we offer an itinerary of Sydney to follow on foot and using public transport. Let’s get to know the most iconic places in town!
HOW TO GET TO SYDNEY
For obvious logistical reasons, the vast majority of visitors arrives in Sydney by plane. You’ll be happy to know that Sydney Kingsford Smith airport is just 8 km from the city, and well connected. It takes 25 minutes by train, even less by car (traffic permitting).
Whereas you won’t be happy to certify the price of an Opal Card, needed to use public transport across the city, which will set you back 35AU$ (25US$). Despite the airport being close-by, the ticket costs 19.80$ for a one way trip. Consider a taxi/Uber.
For those who are already here in Australia and will reach Sydney travelling on-the-road like we did in the past, we suggest Lane Cove Caravan Park or Sheralee Tourist Caravan Park to spend the night in your van and easily explore Sydney by day.
We didn’t get to Sydney straight on a helicopter, but we did take a memorable flight over the city. That’s how we managed to take photos like this one! More info about the helicopter flight here.
DAY 1 – SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE AND HARBOUR BRIDGE
If you too have been dreaming of Sydney for years, the first destination on your itinerary of Sydney will be the Opera House. The world famous building is wonderfully located on the waterfront within the bay, facing the other majestic monument, the Harbour Bridge. Hop off at Circular Quay station to get there. From here you can take several walks along the bay and enjoy the views from many angles.
Not far from the Opera House you can chill out at the Sydney Royal Botanical Garden, the typically huge green area where native Australian plants are displayed. A nice panoramic point is Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. This is where we watched the well-known New Year’s Eve Fireworks from (video below). Next to Harbour Bridge is the neighbourhood of The Rocks, great for a cocktail or dinner by night.
DAY 2 – BONDI, BRONTE & COOGEE BEACHES
After a first day of city landmarks, it’s time to hit the beach! Winters in Sydney (May to September) are mild and can be wet, but for the rest of the year it gets hot as soon as the sun is out. The most popular beach is Bondi Beach. It’s your classic postcard from Australia: a wide sandy beach spreading out for hundreds of square metres, exposed to open winds which create perfect waves for surfers. Come here to sunbathe and swim, have a picnic, and admire the surfers doing what they do best.
We definitely recommend the Bondi to Bronte walk (2.5 km) and up to Coogee for the more fit among you (6 km). These locations feature amazing beaches and breathtaking cliff-side views.
In order to reach Bondi Beach you can either take the bus from the city (30 minutes), or the train to Bondi Junction followed by bus n.333 to the beach. If you are in a group of three or four, you might be better off with taking a taxi/Uber.
Warning: if you want to swim at Bondi Beach and any other beach, make sure you do so within the yellow-red flags which indicate the presence of life-savers. Riptides are very strong and areas outside the flags are for surfers only.
DAY 3 – FERRY TO MANLY AND DARLING HARBOUR
We talked earlier about the Opal Card for transports. The best days to use it are Saturdays and Sundays, since the daily cap is halved from 16.30$ to 8.15$. Besides the real perk is using ferries, which allow you to move quickly around the bay and to do some sightseeing at the same time.
Therefore if you are in Sydney over the weekend, make sure to keep a full day to make the best of this opportunity to visit the following spots.
Luna Park: the old Sydney Luna Park is one of the most loved places by kids and families. Plenty of fun and rides by the waterfront. The Luna Park is just one ferry stop away from Circular Quay.
Kirribilli: quiet Kirribilli neighbourhood, home to the Australian Prime Minister, is opposite to the Opera House. It can be reached by ferry too, come here for a different perspective over the city.
Manly Beach: if you want to see another beautiful beach in Sydney, the Manly Ferry will take you to the seaside area of the same name. The charming cross takes roughly half an hour, ferries are frequent. If instead you prefer quieter corners, head to Rose Bay or Watsons Bay, 20 minutes away.
Darling Harbour: west of the CBD lies fascinating Darling Harbour, full of bars, restaurants and tourist attractions, including different museums, the aquarium and the observation wheel. Ideal to spend the evening, and it can be reached by sea too.
DAY 4 – ALTERNATIVE NEIGHBOURHOODS
We are almost at the end of our itinerary of Sydney. If you have half more day to spend in town before leaving, here’s some ideas to keep busy for a few hours.
The city centre offers many galleries and shopping malls. The most famous ones are older Queen Victoria Building, and newer Tower Eye, with its revolving platform and restaurant at the top.
As for most metropolis, Sydney too has its own Chinatown. It lies close the CBD, offering many food places, the night market, and the Chinese Garden of Friendship.
Several museums in Sydney are free, among which the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Australian Museum, and the State Library of NSW. Also, they are easily reachable on foot and nearby the nice green areas at Hyde Park and the Botanical Garden.
Last but not least we mention the cool neighbourhoods of Surry Hills, known for its quirky cafés and bars, and Newtown, where the music video “A Sky Full of Stars” by Coldplay was recorded.
If you’re staying longer read our article How to reach the Blue Mountains by train from Sydney
Our 4-day itinerary of Sydney is complete! Don’t hesitate to write us in the comment section below if you have any questions. We wish you a great time in Sydney!
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- You can book all your stays in Sydney and Australia with free cancellation here.
- Best Western Plus Hotel Stellar: excellent value for money in the city centre of Sydney, close to Hyde Park.
- Metro Aspire Hotel Sydney: located in the neighbourhood of Ultimo, not far from Darling Harbour.
- Lane Cove Caravan Park: our favourite caravan park in Sydney, 20 minutes by train from the CBD, prices from 40AU$ (29US$) including all facilities.
HOW TO GET AROUND
- Car and campervan: as said it’s convenient to stay in a caravan park by night and head to the city everyday. If you’ll be travelling out of Sydney too, rent a car at the airport.
Best car rental options in Australia here.
- Train and metro: you need to get a Opal Card at the airport to start using public transport, priced at 35AU$ (26US$). The fare from/to the airport is 19,80$, rides in town between 3-6$ with a maximum daily cap at 16,30$ (8,15$ weekends). The Opal Card is valid for buses and ferries too.
- Helicopter tours: 20-40 minute long flights over the city and the bays, starting from the airport. More info here.
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