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Best Things To Do When Visiting Sydney
We love Sydney. Such a beautiful city and with the most incredible harbour to be found. The city has more beaches and coastal paths than any other city we know and is an ideal place for a holiday.
This list of the top things to do (in our opinion) takes in a number of free and paid activities that will keep travellers busy for days. We have also sought out some of the absolute best accommodation options in the city and nearby locations.
Time in Sydney, Australia Right Now
Australia uses three main time zones: Australian Western Standard Time, Australian Central Standard Time and Australian Eastern Standard Time. Regulated by each individual state governments. Sydney is in the AEST time zone, Check what time it is in Sydney right now.
View this Live Web Cam to see Sydney Harbour
Sydney Tower – Costs around $18
Go up to the top of Sydney Tower, the city’s tallest free-standing structure standing at 309 m (1,014 ft). There are an observation deck and cafe with great views of the city skyline.
Walk Across the Sydney Harbour Bridge – Free
Stroll across one of the most famous bridges in the world for free. The views are gorgeous. You can also choose to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge if you seek more of a thrill of course. It costs around $200.
The Rocks District – Free
Exploring the historic Rocks District is a must. The Rocks are the oldest section of Australia’s first established city and a good introduction to Sydney.
With some lovely heritage-listed buildings, plenty of history (ok, not old by some standards, but still acceptable!). It even has a few cobblestone laneways.
The Rocks Discovery Museum is free to enter and well worth exploring too. Set over several floors the museum delves into more history and stories from years gone by.
Find more of Sydney’s museums here.
Observatory Hill – Free
Nearby to the Rocks area is Observatory Hill, stunning views and a fairly easy climb to the ‘summit’ for one of the best photo opportunities around.
Royal Botanical Gardens – Free
Most cities have their own Botanical Gardens and Sydney is no exception. Hours can easily be spent wandering these gardens near the harbour and some of the prettiest harbour views can be seen, walk to ‘Mrs Macquarie’s Chair’ for views to the Opera House and Bridge.
Sydney Opera House Backstage Tour – Cost
The Sydney Opera House Backstage Tour allows access to areas not generally seen. Tour groups meet at the stage door and get to go into the dressing rooms of the Concert Hall, Opera and Drama Theatres, Playhouse and the Studio. Learn a few secrets and stories that go on behind the curtain, from pulleys to props, sequins to soundchecks. Tours include breakfast.
Bondi Icebergs Pool – Small Cost to Swim
At the far end of Bondi Beach, the Bondi Icebergs Club is a Sydney icon and one of the most photographed pools in Australia. A swim in summer or, if brave enough, in winter would be a good addition to your Sydney itinerary!
Home of winter swimming since 1929, the pool is open to visitors all year round. The Iceberg’s clubhouse is open to both members and guests.
Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk – Free
Cliff views, beaches and rock pools make this super walk one of Sydney’s best. Plenty of places to stop to swim as well as cafes along the way. 6 km’s of fairly easy walking that is ideal in any season.
Read more here.
Manly to Spit Coastal Walk
Passing by mansion homes and beaches with clifftop views, this is another of the best walks to be found in Sydney. It is about 10 km, and worth every step. The walk is quite easy to do, stop in at cafes, have a swim or laze in one of the parks along the way.
Taronga Zoo – Cost
A Zoo with a View! Incredible views across the Harbour as well as animals galore. This must be one of the best zoos in the world. The ‘Roar and Snore’ is regarded as Sydney’s Ultimate Sleepover and the Taronga Zoo is the ideal place to be for New Year’s Eve as the views to the Harbour Bridge are perfect for viewing the fireworks. NYE must be booked well ahead of time and is not just a regular zoo ticket – tickets are jolly expensive, costing over $500 pp for the best area!
Sydney Seaplanes Sightseeing
Departing from the location of Australia’s first-ever international airport, this would be the ultimate indulgence perhaps. A splendid way to see the city skyline, the harbour in all its glory and do something a little bit different from the ‘normal’ city tours.
Aerobatic Thrill Seekers Flight!
If you want an incredible adrenalin rush –
“Be treated to aerobatic G-Forces, experience a neck- numbing, adrenaline-inducing roller coaster of thrills 2000ft in the air above Sydney as your pilot gives you a taste of the G-forces Baron Manfred Von Richthofen himself may have experienced during air combat”.
This must be the ultimate way to experience Sydney from the air!
Palm Beach and The Basin
How about joining a fun bus tour to Summer Bay home of the well-known Australian TV series, Home and Away?
Delphine from ‘Lester Lost’ Travel blog has written a super article about visiting this stunning area. As a local, she has a lot of knowledge and passion to share about places to visit in her home of over 20 years. The Basin and Palm Beach should be on your itinerary too!
Royal National Park
Just under an hour’s drive from the centre of Sydney, the Royal National Park is over 15,000 hectares of bush along the south coast of Sydney. Waterfalls, hiking and swimming as well as the famous rock formation called ‘The Wedding Cake Rock’.
Getting Around Cheaply
Sunday is the ideal day to get around Sydney on the cheap. Just $2.50 per person for unlimited travel on trains, buses, light rail and the fabulous ferries!
My Multi-Day Pass – Whole day passes for unlimited travel on all other days.
Catch the Ferry to Manly
The $15 return ferry trip to Manly is one of the best ways to experience Sydney Harbour. Or go on a Sunday when all tickets are $2.50.
It is one of the best ferry rides on the harbour and heading over to famous Manly Beach is a real drawcard.
Best Places to Stay in Sydney
Best Luxury Accommodation
The Walsh Bay Luxury Hotel on Circular Quay is an outstanding hotel with the best views of the harbour and bridge. The Federation style hotel even has a limited number of dog-friendly rooms.
For an indulgent stay in Sydney, it is hard to beat this stunning hotel.
Best Budget Accommodation
The Holiday Inn, Darling Harbour is our favourite hotel in the budget range. Certainly not super cheap, but the location, quality and service are hard to beat.
Darling Harbour has more accommodation choices, the Novotel being one of the best for budget-friendly rooms.
Budget-friendly rooms at the Ibis Budget Motel near the Sydney Olympic Park with parking on site is a good choice for people travelling with cars.
Best Backpacker Hostels
Sydney Central YHA Clean and comfortable with a friendly feel, it has been a popular backpacker hostel for years.
Wake Up Sydney hostel. A fun place to stay, well managed and friendly with a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence. Cafe on site, fabulous rooms and centrally located in the heart of Sydney.
Best Caravan and Camping Choices
Wanderers Rest is on the outskirts of Sydney but in a good location and free for members, nominal charges for non-members.
The Poplar Tourist Park is another pet-friendly site with a good location not too far from the city.
Search for more places to stay in Sydney at Hotels Combined
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