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Sydney is a vibrant metropolis that captivates visitors with its stunning natural beauty, iconic landmarks, and diverse cultural offerings. Situated on the stunning shores of the Pacific Ocean, Sydney boasts one of the world’s most recognizable harbors, a shimmering expanse of water adorned with sailboats, ferries, and the unmistakable silhouette of the Sydney Opera House. Whether you’re strolling along the waterfront, admiring world-class art, or savoring delicious cuisine, a visit to Sydney is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Sydney is best visited between late spring and late autumn. Being in the Southern Hemisphere, seasons are reversed. You’re best off visiting between September through to April. While Australian winters are mild, the continent is dry and the sun is harsh – moisturizer, lip gloss, and sunscreen are essential. Also, when in Australia, a hat is an essential part of your apparel while outdoors.

Sydney also celebrates the Vivid festival in May where all the iconic landmarks around the Harbour – including the sails of the Opera House – are lit up with animated light projections. The festival runs across 3 weekends that punctuate two weeks.

Getting There

Sydney is easy to get to, served by multiple airlines from all around the world. Both Singapore Airlines and Qantas operate multiple flights every day to get you there from Singapore. In addition, all major carriers serve Sydney from destinations from all around the world.

Where to stay

Getting Around

Sydney is well connected with public transport, served by trains, buses, trams, and ferries. Sydney’s public transport network uses an Opal card, and you can also tap-on and tap-off public transport using a contactless credit card. A cab from the airport can run about AUD60 to the Central Business District. I recommend riding the Airport Link train which will get you to Central Station from the airport in about 20 minutes and costs about AUD20 which you can pay with a contactless credit card as you go through the turnstiles. Ferries are your best form of transport while getting around the harbour, with frequent departures from multiple wharves that come with the added bonus of the best views of the city from the water. If you prefer using taxis, Australia uses 13-CABS as their primary taxi hailing service; Uber also operates ride sharing services.

Recommended Itinerary

There’s a lot to see in Sydney, but one can see the most iconic parts of the city in a day. The following itinerary is a 36-hour visit to the Harbour City, assuming that you arrive in the late afternoon and stay around the Central Business District.

Day 1: Circular Quay in the Evening

If you’re flying out of SIngapore, SQ238 lands at 4:00pm Sydney which gives you about enough time to make it to the CBD before sunset and settle into your hotel. Once you’ve checked in, its a good time to head to Circular Quay and take in the Harbour Bridge (also known as the Coathanger) and the Opera House, and get some dinner. If you’re in town during the Vivid Festival the sails of the Opera House are lit with art installations.

Day 2: Tour the City Sights and the Harbour

Start from Hyde Park at about 6:30am where you can walk around the Archibald Fountain, and then along ANAZC Memorial, past St. Mary’s Cathedral. At this hour, Sydney will still be very quiet with the sun coming up. You’ll come across a few Sydneysiders either working out, or making their ways to work.

After you’ve looped around the Archibald Fountain, walk down Macquarie street past the Sydney Barracks and the State Library of New South Wales to the Royal Botanic Gardens and walk to Mrs. Macquarie’s chair – an old stone bench from where one gets the best view of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

From here, walk along the harbour to the Opera House, and around Circular Quay, past the wharves, to Dawes Point to get a close up view of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

From here, walk through The Rocks, and get some breakfast, taking your time to take in the morning.

Once you’re done with breakfast, take a tram from Circular Quay to Town Hall for a tour of Inner City Sydney.

The Stand Arcade

Walk through the Strand Arcade on Elizabeth Street before making your way to the Queen Victoria Building – an elaborately decorated Victorian Building with two very ornamental clocks, stained glass windows , a glass dome, and a steel spiral staircase.

Once you’re done here, walk across the street and visit the Sydney Town Hall, and St. Andrew’s Cathedral. Then, from the train station at Central, take the inner West or Bankstown lines to Circular Quay, and catch a ferry to Milson’s Point or Kirribilli. This is where one gets the best views of Sydney.

From here, catch a ferry to Manly that will get you the best views of Sydney Harbour and the Opera House from the water. Once you’re at Manly, you have the option of visiting the Manly Aquarium (about a 2 hour investment), and then (depending on the season) watching the sunset from one of the restaurants or cafés at the waterfront, before boarding a ferry back to the city.

The Opera House from Sydney Harbour Bridge

Take the ferry back to Milson’s Point or Kirribilli and view the Sydney skyline at dusk or after dark, before walking up the hill to the Milson’s Point train station and getting on the Eastern side of the bridge, and walk back to The Rocks. The walk is a comfortable 25 minute walk offering a different perspective of the Opera House.

Once you descend from the bridge at The Rocks, you can either catch a train from Circular Quay, or a tram from the Rocks back to Central.

What Else

The Blue Mountains are a two and a half hour train ride from Central Station in Sydney, and is worth doing a day trip to. A lot of folks enjoy visting Bondi and Manly. They are beaches which the locals frequent regularly, and tourists can feel a bit lost when they visit there, for lack of specific things to do.

A Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb is something that a lot of tourists like to do. They run around AUD300; though in my opinion, walking across the bridge for free gives one a similar experience, with the flexibility of doing it whenever you like.

Some fun facts about Sydney:

  • Sydney Harbour Bridge is the world’s largest steel arch bridge and took 8 years to build. It’s 134 meters high and you can climb up the bridge or do a bridge climb tour.
  • The Sydney Opera House has over 1 million roof tiles that are self-cleaning. The roof is designed to look like sailing ships. Seeing a performance there is a must-do.
  • Bondi Beach is one of Sydney’s most famous beaches, with soft white sand and excellent surf. It gets very busy in summer. Nearby Coogee and Manly Beaches are also popular.
  • The Royal Botanic Garden near the Opera House features 30 hectares of gardens and plants from Australia and around the world.
  • The Rocks area is Sydney’s birthplace, with cobblestone streets, historic buildings, weekend markets, and scenic views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House.
  • Australia’s unique wildlife includes flying foxes, brush turkeys, ibises, and possums which can all be spotted in urban parks and gardens. Look up to see rainbow lorikeets in the trees!
  • “The Matrix” was filmed in Sydney. Some of the underground train stations in the city loop prominently featured in several scenes, as did the urban skyline.
  • The best views of Sydney are from North Sydney. Take a ferry to Milson’s Point from Circular Quay.
  • The best views of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge are from Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair which is along the harbour at the bottom of the Botanic Gardens.