Located on Australia’s east coast, Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales and is consider the most popular city in Australia. Known as ‘the harbour city,’ Sydney is certainly a great destination for those looking for a stylish metropolitan break by the sea, during an Australia trip.
Below you’ll find the ultimate Sydney travel guide for all the best places to stay, sights to visit and food to eat while you’re there!
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The Best Time to Visit Sydney
Although Sydney is incredible to visit all year round, the best time to enjoy the summer months are from December to February, where it hits its highest temperatures. If you still want to experience warm temperatures but want to skip the busy (and very hot) season, March to May might be the best time for you as temperatures can (on the odd occasion) still hit as high as 45 degrees C – but the average is about 25 degrees. June to September are the coldest months.
Places to visit in Sydney
When people think of Sydney activities, the first thing they think of will probably be the Opera House, with its iconic design. Whether you’re visiting to take photos of the outside, taking a tour of the building or seeing a show, the Opera House is a must see when visiting the city.
Another well-known landmark in Sydney, the Harbour Bridge cannot be missed. Did you know you can climb to the top of the bridge for stunning panoramic views of the city? First, you’ll be prepared with some health and safety essentials, and then you’ll be sent off on your climbing adventure! This is perfect for those who love a bit of adrenaline when travelling (and the veiws from the top are pretty cool too!).
One of Sydney’s most popular beaches, Bondi Beach is a must-visit for everyone, not just surfers! This beach is home to white sands, great waves and some of Australia’s most vibrant cafes and bars. If you’re looking for a place to relax and spend an afternoon sunbathing, this place is definitely something you should add to your list.
As well as having some of the most incredible views of the harbour, Taronga Zoo is a fabulous day out while visiting the city! You’ll be able to see native and exotic animals and wildlife, watch daily shows and experience an exciting zip line course above the treetops. You can catch some really great views of Sydney harbour from here too.
If the zoo isn’t enough, you can also visit the Sea Life Aquarium Sydney, home to the world’s largest collection of Australian aquatic life. There are 14 different themed areas to explore, as well as the opportunity to swim with sharks, which of course should be on every must do Australian bucket list.
If you like viewing cities from above then the Sydney Tower Eye is a must-see! This is the highest point in Sydney, offering a full 360-degree view of the city. If you’re feeling extra adventurous you can even sign up to do a skywalk around the perimeter of the tower.
Rich in history, The Rocks was the first European settlement in Australia. Now well known for its markets, cobbled laneways and stunning views of the harbour, it’s a great area to spend an afternoon or two in the city, enjoying a pint of beer at one of the local pubs.
Circular Quay and Darling Harbour are two of the most stunning areas in Sydney, and definitely can’t be missed. If you want the best views and photos from a completely different perspective, why not take a cruise around both of them?
Having been around for over 150 years, Paddy’s Market has become iconic in Sydney. You can find reasonably-priced souvenirs along with all things you would normally shop for, as well as incredible food and a fun atmosphere. OPen from Wednesday to Sunday 10am to 6pm.
If you’re looking to do a large portion of these activities, why not consider getting a Sydney City Pass to help save money on major attractions? With the option to buy a standard pass or build your own, you can save up to 40% during your visit!
Where to Stay in Sydney (on a Budget or Luxury)
Whether you’re spending a week in Sydney or just a few days, you’re going to need the perfect place to stay. Luckily, we’ve done the research for you. We have also written an extensive guide on Where to stay in Sydney.
For those looking for a bit of luxury without the price tag, why not stay at the Hotel Rendezvous in Central Sydney.
If you’re looking for all-round luxury, the Meriton Suites in the famous Sydney World Tower are perfect.
For something a little bit more middle of the road, Mantra 2 on Bond Street has a bit of luxury at a reasonable price.
If you need an affordable trendy Condo Hotel perfect for couples, the Urban Newtown is a great choice.
How to Get Around on a Budget
With so many Sydney activities to sink your teeth into, you’re going to need to know how to get around without spending a fortune. To help, we’ve put together some of our top tips.
Use public transport – From ferries crossing the harbour to the metro system and city buses, there are plenty of ways to get from one place to another in Sydney that are both fast and affordable.
Use an Opal Card to save even more – The Opal Card is a handy card that you can tap to use on public transport. From Monday to Friday there’s even a maximum cap per day, so you’ll never spend more than $15.80 AUD travelling each weekday. On Sundays, the maximum cap is $2.70 AUD!
Walk where possible – A lot of the Sydney activities are within short a distance of one another, so if possible why not walk and soak in the city? This is perfect for the areas around the Harbour, the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, so consider the best walking routes before you splash out on public transport.
Use Uber if you prefer taxis – If you prefer to take taxis but still want to save money, Uber can sometimes beat the prices of local meter taxis. Make sure you double the surge charge before you decide to book, as the prices go up if it’s busier!
Best Places to Eat in Sydney
What would a Sydney travel guide be without some tips on the best places to eat? Whether you’re on a budget or eating in luxury, we’ve got you covered!
Famous for their red velvet pancakes, The Local Mbassy is a must-visit for breakfast during your stay in Sydney.
Another incredible breakfast spot, Devon Café has incredibly fluffy French toast that they change to match each season. They also sell the most colourful breakfast pastries, perfect for getting that Instagram shot!
If you’re visiting Bondi beach you must stop off at Speedo’s Café for breakfast. With a wide variety of vegan and gluten-free options on the menu, this colourful café is a great breakfast stop!
Café Sydney is a gorgeous rooftop restaurant with a delicious lunch menu. The harbour views are just the start, as their food is just as incredible!
If you’re looking to grab a quick on the go lunch then Bourke Street Bakery is a great choice! Specialising in sourdough, you can get incredible sandwiches filled with chicken, ham or roasted vegetables.
Located in Palm Beach, The Boat House is the perfect brunch spot to sit and watch the world go by as you enjoy eggs, muffins, granola and all the smashed avocado on toast you can eat.
Mr Wong is one of the largest restaurants in Sydney, with over 60 items on their incredible Cantonese menu.
The Apollo offers their own modern interpretation on Greek food, and is housed in a stunning art deco space full of granite pillars and incredible gold finishes.
ACME serves almost exclusively pasta, making it extremely popular with tourists and visitors to Sydney.
Shopping in Sydney
If, like us, you like to go shopping while you travel then don’t worry! We’ve got all the best shopping spots in Sydney covered for you here.
Right in the city centre, Westfield Sydney is a hub for shopping with four incredible floors of stores, perfect for an afternoon of shopping. Nearby, you’ll find David Jones and Myer, two of Sydney’s most popular department stores.
In the cool neighbourhood of Paddington in Sydney East, you will find lots of boutique shops filled with up and coming designers and emerging talent. Paddington Markets is where many Australian designers got their start, so it’s definitely a must-visit if you’re a fashion enthusiast.
Bondi beach is also home to some of Sydney’s best boutique stores, especially when it comes to fashion.
The nearby The Queen Victoria Building in Sydney is known as one of the most beautiful shopping centres in the world.
Cheap Tours to do in Sydney
There are lots of different possible tours you can do in Sydney during your Australia trip, but we thought we’d share some of our favourites for Sydney on a budget.
Free Walking Tours with ‘I’m Free Walking Tours’ – If you’re looking for free Sydney activities, this is the perfect one for you! This organisation features a group of volunteers who want to share their love of the city with you, taking you on a tour of The Opera House, The Harbour, The Rocks and many more popular areas. There are three tours a day, so make sure to research which one best fits in with your schedule.
Hop on Hop Off Bus with Big Bus Sydney – One of the best ways to see a city is with a hop on hop off city bus. These buses stop at various key points and attractions across Sydney and for one set price you can get on and off whereever you please.
Sydney Opera House Guided Walking Tour – For ultimate opera fans, make sure to book yourselves onto a guided walking tour of Sydney Opera House. Averaging at around $29 AUD for adults, this is definitely an affordable tour for all the family.
Sydney Harbour Hop On Hop Off Cruise – Similar to the hop on hop off bus, this cruise of the harbour allows you to get on and off at various key stops. The perfect way to take a cruise of the city, whilst having the option to explore areas at your own leisure!
The Rocks Guided Walking Tour – The area of The Rocks in Sydney has become so popular that now there are guided tours available! Averaging at around $23 AUD this is a great option if you don’t want to take a full guided tour of Sydney, but want to learn a little about the city.
Day Trips to take from Sydney
Blue Mountains and Jenolan Caves Day Tour – Depending on your operators, this tour shows you the highlights of Blue Mountains National Park, including the Three Sisters pinnacles, the town of Katoomba and the richly coloured waters of Blue Lake. Afterward, you have the chance to go underground to see the stunning chambers of Jenolan Caves.
Hunter Valley Wine Tasting Day Tour – If you’re a lover of wine, why not explore the oldest wine-producing region in Australia, the Hunter Valley? View the vineyards, taste the delicious Australian wines and learn all about their incredible history on a day-long tour.
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park Day Tour – If you’re looking to escape the city and immerse yourself in nature, visit Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park for the day. You can learn about indigenous traditions, see ancient Aboriginal rock carvings and visit sacred sites on a catamaran.
Tobruk Sheep Station – Leave Sydney and take a 4 hour tour to a classic sheep station in the Australian Outback.
Recommend budget tours in Sydney
- Scenic World Blue Mountains: Unlimited 1-Day Ride Pass
- Sydney BridgeClimb
- All Inclusive Blue Mountains Small-Group Day Trip from Sydney
- Sydney Harbour Dinner Cruise
- Sydney Opera House Guided Backstage Tour
- Big Bus Sydney and Bondi Hop-on Hop-off Tour
- Sydney Attraction Pass Including Taronga Zoo, Sydney Opera House, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium
- Sydney Tour with Optional Sydney Harbour Lunch Cruise
- Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park Day Trip from Sydney
- Hunter Valley Wine Tasting Private Day Tour from Sydney
- Sydney Harbour Sunset Dinner Cruise
- Hot Air Ballooning Over Sydney Macarthur Region Including A Champagne Breakfast
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