Sydney, Australia, is a destination that is on top of many BUCKiTLISTS. When people think about Australia, they tend to think of the distinctive wildlife and a vast sunbaked country, but what is very surprising is that Australia is also home to very innovative, unique, and picturesque metropolises. A very friendly city and very welcoming to visitors, Sydney has landed on top of just about every travel destination poll and liveability poll, cementing its reputation as a great place to live or travel. Here is a list of 15 memorable things to do while you are in Sydney.
1) George Street: Once you get to Sydney and settle in, make sure to visit George Street in Sydney’s CBD (Central Business District). It is the main street through the CBD and has very nice shopping. Insider Tip- Parallel to George Street is Pitt Street which has a mixture of old shopping arcades and a new Westfield’s Mall making for an diverse shopping and site seeing experience.
2) The Rocks: At one end of George Street is the oldest and most historical part of Australia, it is called The Rocks. There are many heritage listed sandstone buildings and historical houses. You will find several places that all claim to be the oldest pub in Australia and an array of food options. Insider Tip- There is a great outdoor market set up in The Rocks every weekend 10-5 where you can find finely made artisanal craft and food products.
3) Sydney Harbour: Next to The Rocks, is the famous Sydney Harbour. Make sure to walk all around the Harbour as it is very picturesque. You can walk from under the Harbour Bridge to the Opera House. You can also go on a tour that walks up to the very top of the Harbour Bridge and/or do a tour of the Opera House. Insider Tip- Make sure to sit on the harbour and have a champagne at the Opera Bar, located next to the Opera House.
4) Darling Harbour: On the other side of the city is Darling Harbour. A very nice place to eat, relax, and stroll around. You can go to the Sydney Sea Life Aquarium and snorkel with their sharks, and next door is the Wild Life Sydney Zoo where you can pet a koala. Insider Tip- China Town is also located right next to Darling Harbour, with many authentic Chinese food restaurants.
5) Bondi Beach: When you are tired of shopping and walking go to Sydney’s famous beaches, Bondi Beach and Coogee Beach. You can lie down on a towel, soak up some sun and go for a swim. But be careful, there could be big surf and strong rip currents! Insider Tip- Located at Bondi Beach is a safer and more relaxed swimming option at an ocean rock pool called Icebergs.
6) Coastal Walks: There are many beautiful walks to do around the Sydney coast and Harbour. The Chowder Head Bay bush walk and Bondi to Bronte walks are both accessible and worthwhile. You will see lots of native flora and fauna, many big lizards, colourful birdlife, parklands, and Aboriginal rock carvings. You can get to Chowder Head Bay by taking a public ferry from Circular Quay at the Sydney Harbour. Insider Tip- At the end of the Chowder Head Bay walk is a lovely al fresco restaurant located on a pier called Ripples, where you can cool off with a white wine!
7) Luna Park: Luna Park, the harbour-side amusement park, is located in North Sydney. They have a Coney Island style carnival as well as adrenaline spiking rides for guests of all ages. Insider Tip- Also take a dinner cruise on the Harbour. You can book one at Circular Quay or online through Captain Cook Cruises.
8) Eat Right: Right now, one of the best restaurants in Sydney is Mr. Wong’s, where Cantonese style food is served in a heritage setting. Other highly rated restaurants include Rockpool, Spice Temple, Marque, and Sepia. Insider Tip- Bennelong Restaurant is located in the iconic Sydney Opera House and is run by celebrated Aussie chef Peter Gilmore.
9) Australian Art: The best artworks are located in the MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) and the Art Gallery of NSW. There are many great private galleries full of unique Australian art as well. The Olsen Irwin Gallery represents some of Australia’s best contemporary artists. The White Rabbit Gallery is internationally recognized for housing one of the world’s most significant collections of Chinese contemporary art. Insider Tip- Sydney is home to an array of exciting art festivals. The 20th Biennale of Sydney will be on in 2016. Every year Sydney is host to the biggest free-to-public out door sculpture exhibition in the world, Sculpture by the Sea, with over 100 large sculptures along the Bondi Coast walk. And every May-June Sydney celebrates the light, music, and ideas festival known as Vivid.
10) Blue Mountains: When you get a chance to explore outside of the city, go to The Blue Mountains. It is a beautiful forest located 2 hours by car or train outside of Sydney, headed west. Katoomba is the best place to enter the forest for a walk with scenic lookouts. Insider Tip- If you enter the forest by railway located at Scenic World, Katoomba, you will get to ride the steepest incline railway in the world (it is almost completely vertical, and a definite thrill)!
11) Jenolan Caves: Just a bit further than the Blue Mountains is the Jenolan Caves. An exciting and unusual place to see subterranean caves with ancient stalagmites and stalactites. Insider Tip- They offer night tours, abseiling, and local Aboriginal culture bush walks.
12) Manly Beach: Another nice beach community is Manly Beach. You can catch a ferry to Manly at Circular Quay. It is 30 minutes to get to Manly and a very nice boat ride with lovely harbour scenery the whole way there. In Manly, there are great restaurants, pubs, and beaches. If you are so inclined, stroll along the beach to a cove called Shelly Beach, which is a bit more secluded. Insider Tip- Manly is the best place in Sydney to take a surf class.
13) Surry Hills: Surry Hills is a neighbourhood in transition. Some parts are still run down, but that being said, it is an exciting and trendy area of town still experiencing gentrification. Many of the restaurants on Crown street are very good and some are considered the best in Sydney. For instance Red Lantern (Vietnamese), and Marque (French) are always voted in the top ten. For a drink, The Dome is nice, but it can get quite crowded. I love the Norfolk Pub for a cheap beer and food and a very cool atmosphere. Also, the Carrington is a lot of fun. Insider Tip- One of my favourite things to do in Sydney is go to the 505 jazz club on Cleveland Street. They never fail to put on a good show and it is always reasonably priced.
14) Night Life: Other hot places to go to for a night out in the city include the Establishment, Palmer and Co, and Ivy, all of which are located on George Street. The Crystal Room is also located in the CBD, and hosts a very exciting cabaret show on Saturday nights. Just off George Street in The Rocks, is a fun group of bars and restaurants called The Argyle. Go to Oxford Street for boutique shopping and to catch a drag show if you are so inclined. And then there’s Kings Cross; If you do venture to Kings Cross, keep in mind it is a “red light” district and can be very rowdy, but Victoria Room is a pretty classy place. Insider Tip- For an alternative funky side of Sydney, check out Newtown.
15) Australian Pastime: Try a good ol’ Aussie pastime and find a local lawn bowls club. A lot of these clubs have closed down due to lack of interest with the younger crowd, but the ones that have survived have evolved with the times and host bare-foot bowls days, where you can keep a beverage with you as you play barefoot on the manicured grass. This easy to play but difficult to master activity is fun for all ages. Insider Tip- The Greens in North Sydney have gourmet cuisine along with cityscape views, and even a morning yoga class for those looking to get more out of their lawn bowls experience.
We hope you find these suggestions handy, and if you have anymore insider tips or local knowledge, leave a comment and tell us about it.