Sydney is Australia’s most famous harbour city, receiving a staggering 25 million visitors from around the world each year. If you are visiting for the first time then you are in for a treat as there is plenty to see and do in this vibrant city and if you are a return visitor then there is always something new to discover. Sydney is easily navigated on foot, with most tourist attractions located in the CBD. If you prefer to save your feet then the city circle train and the hop on hop off bus are good options for getting you from one side of town to the other. Here is a list of essential Sydney must sees.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Striking an imposing presence across the harbour is an easily recognised Sydney land mark – The Sydney Harbour Bridge. Anywhere along the harbour or in the Rocks precinct you will get great views of the bridge. If you are interested in walking across the bridge then take the Cahill walk located on the outer edge of the Rocks. To get onto the walking path you will need to take the stairs which is accessed from Cumberland Street. Walking across the bridge is free and will take you around ten minutes and offers great views of the bay. Not only can you walk across this bridge but you can also climb it for the ultimate panoramic view. The bridge climb is an organised activity and must be booked in advance through bridgeclimb.com
Sydney Opera House
The Sydney opera House is a UNESCO world heritage site and is an engineering masterpiece consisting of seven theatre stages, including the forecourt. The premier venue for opera with greats such as Pavarotti and Dame June Sutherland having performed here. The history behind this modern day architectural masterpiece is fascinating and according to UNESCO is one of the worlds most undeniable feats of human creativity, not only in the 20th Century but in the history of human kind. To get the most out of this venue, take the one or two hour tours and you will not only be privy to off limit areas in the opera house but learn the amazing story of how this came to fruition. There are a number of eateries and bars incorporated into the area surrounding the venue. The Opera House kitchen and the Opera House bar are both very popular spots and by mid to late afternoon is swarming with people of all ages enjoying the view.
The Rocks is a historic precinct in Sydney and was the first place of European settlement in Australia. The Rocks got it’s name from the various rock faces that can be seen throughout the area, the rough cobblestone lane ways and original sandstone bricked buildings. Saturday and Sunday are market days here and you will find over 200 stalls selling clothes, souvineers, one off jewellery and original artworks. Fridays are dedicated to the foodies market, with gourmet offerings to keep you happy as you wander about the area. There is a free tour of the Rocks every night at 6pm, meeting at Cadman’s Cottage.
Royal Botanic Gardens
The Royal Botanic gardens is centrally located and are open every day of the year. On the edge of the gardens is a long promenade by the Harbour which takes you on a lovely walk from the Opera House right through to Mrs Macquaries chair. Mrs Macquaries chair is a popular spot for photographers to capture both the Harbour bridge and the Opera House at twilight. Within the gardens you will also find Government house, the conservatorium of music and the Art Gallery of NSW. The gardens itself are a lovely place to wander about or just sit with a picnic and a glass of wine admiring the view.
Martin place is a pedestrian mall in the CBD of Sydney and has a large collection of various building styles and many with unique stately interiors. The open space of the mall itself is home to many events throughout the year, including outdoor performances. The channel 7 studios Sunrise program is broadcast from Martin Place and often secure free performances in the mall from touring big name acts. Of recent times Katy Perry, One direction, Coldplay and Lily Allen (to name a few) have all performed in Martin Place whilst on tour. Check out who’s touring at the time and keep up to date with Sunrise’s Facebook page for any up coming music events.
Queen Victoria Building
The Queen Victoria Building is not only a lovely piece of 19th Century architecture with wonderful stained glass windows but a fabulous place to shop. Plenty of retail therapy is on offer here with many up market and boutique stores and when you are all shopped out then sit yourself down, grab a cup of coffee and treat yourself to some ‘Zumbarons’ by Adrian Zumbo – they are a truly delicious treat and an absolute must if you are a macaron lover!
Take a walk down Angel Place and you will find some interesting public art. Completed in 2011 by Michael Thomas Hill – Forgotten songs commemorates the songs of fifty birds once heard in central Sydney but are no longer due to the settlement of Sydney. High above the street are a canopy of birdcages and as you walk down the lane you will hear the sounds of bird calls.
Darling Harbour is a large recreational and pedestrian precinct that is home to a number of major public facilities and attractions. Visitors are spoilt for choice with many restaurants, cafes and bars lining the harbour. Other attractions include – Madame Tussaud’s, Museums, Aquariums, IMAX theatre, Sydney entertainment centre, Star City Casino, Darling Quarter kids playground, Chinese Garden of friendship and Harbourside shopping centre.
Chinatown, Paddy’s Market and Market City
Chinatown is located in Dixon Street not far from Darling Harbour and is a mix of restaurants, food halls, noodle bars and quirky shops. Opposite Chinatown is Paddy’s Market which is a large indoor market that operates Wednesday to Sunday and Market City is a retail and factory outlet centre open seven days a week.
Take a ferry over to Watsons Bay and treat yourself to a lunch on the beach at Doyles. Doyles is a Sydney dining institution specialising in seafood and offers diners the opportunity to sit by the seaside under the shade of blue and white umbrellas. The food is excellent and the bay view is a great excuse to sit down to a very long lunch! Then when the evening hits, drop by the Beach Club for cocktails with a spectacular view of the harbour.
Bondi and Manly Beaches
If you want to head further a field then take a trip to either Bondi or Manly beach. Bondi beach is Sydney’s most famous beach and is heavily populated with tourists. The actual beach itself is lovely, great for swimming and surfing but shopping and food is really tourist focused. Manly on the other hand has a buzzy atmosphere with good restaurants and shopping. The ferry ride over to Manly is a pleasant trip in itself passing by the many bays and landmarks on the way.
Ferries are government run and are an inexpensive way to get around the harbour or beach towns further a field.