Sydney is the gateway to Australia. It is the most well-known location as well as the destination where most international flights arrive into. People often think that it is the capital of Australia, however that is Canberra. Sydney is the perfect city for a mixture of activities such as outdoors, arts, culture, shopping, and dining. There are certain iconic landmarks that make the city famous and attract tourists from all over the world. I recently spent two weeks in Sydney and felt like it was not enough to explore everything.
Circular Quay is a place that you cannot miss as it is the central tourist area of Sydney. I knew it would be crowded so I made sure to plan our visit according to non-peak hours. On the right side of Circular Quay you have the incredible Sydney Opera House. Although it may seem that there is only one auditorium, there are actually multiple all holding different types of performances nightly.
On the left side of Circular Quay you have the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge. There is also the bridge climb where you climb up on top of the bridge to experience views of the entire city. However the bridge climb is quite expensive and needs to be booked in advance, so an alternative is the view from the Pylons. There are brick pylons that you can climb for $10 and still get a 360 degree view of the harbor. Near the bridge is a lovely area called The Rocks. Right in the center of Circular Quay is where all the boats come in and out of. The two most popular stops are at Darling Harbour and Manly.
Darling Harbour is a fun place to visit day or night. There are tons of restaurants and bars all side by side. You can find many variations of food and entertainment. In the daytime the Chinese Garden is a beautiful place to explore.
The Ferry from Circular Quay to Manly Beach (Sydney’s second most popular beach) is awesome. On Manly you can rent a bike and head to North Head. It has a few uphills, however the lookouts are incredible.
Lastly, one other place at Circular Quay you cannot miss is the Customs House across the street. There is a full scale model of the city of Sydney in the floor as well as the best lookout of the Harbour (when a cruise ship is not docked) at the Cafe Sydney Restaurant. Be sure to make reservations as they fill up pretty fast.
Due to Circular Quay having many sightseeing spots, we were able to do a lot of walking from place to place. However public transportation in Sydney is fantastic and I highly recommend getting an Opal Card which is used for buses, trains, and ferries. We used it for commuting all across the city and for destinations outside.
Without a doubt the most popular beach in Australia is Bondi and it requires public transportation to get there. You can easily catch a bus the entire way and have a minimal walk once you arrive. The beach has stunning views of the ocean and coastline for miles. I definitely recommend doing the coastal walk to Coogee Beach to enjoy the scenery. Another place you cannot miss is a stop at Icebergs to view their world-famous pool. However avoid Thursdays as that is when the pool gets cleaned and the water is drained out. Bondi is a place you can surely spend all day as there are lots of restaurants and shops nearby.
Another interesting place to check out is Potts Point. It is known as the former red-light district of Sydney. We loved wandering around the area with lots of fun LGBTQ bars and restaurants. It is so lively at night and everyone was incredibly friendly.
Not too far from Potts Point is the famous Sydney Fish Market. It is the largest fish market in the Southern Hemisphere! In the early morning they hold auctions for fresh seafood. Later on the shops and restaurants open up and you can enjoy your browsing.
There is a cooking school where you can also take some classes. We enjoyed a Dim Sum Restaurant upstairs on the second floor of the Fish Market, however it was quite crowded making the experience a bit less pleasant, so I would advise eating elsewhere.
The Queen Victoria Building is a great place to hangout during breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The architecture is beautiful and it is located across from the Town Hall. There are many restaurants and shops in the vicinity, making it easy to find anything you are after. The shops are on all different levels including some of them underground.
No matter how long you stay in Sydney, there will always be more to explore!