Sydney is a beautiful and vibrant harbor city with tons of exciting attractions. There’s something for everyone! Beach Bums will love Manly or Bondi Beach, both are beautiful but a ways out of the city. Foodies like me will delight in the many restaurants, pubs and cafes all over the city offering every cuisine imaginable. And don’t even get me started on the shopping…more on that down below! Here are my must see favorite places in Sydney.
Unfortunately, public transportation inside the CBD (central business district) is limited to buses or taxis. However, a light rail system is coming soon! Stay close to Circular Quay or The Rocks to be within walking distance to most my favorite places. If you are planning a trip Down Under, be sure to read Australia: Know Before You Go. Of course, there are so many more places to go and things to see in Sydney, but these are my favorites.
Sydney Opera House
No trip to Sydney would be complete without visiting this iconic building that everyone recognizes. Just like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Golden Gate in SFO, it instantly identifies the city. An easy stroll from Circular Quay, you can walk all the way around the building and enjoy gorgeous views of the city and Harbour Bridge. Interesting tours are offered daily. There’s a Backstage Tour, Sydney Opera House Tour, Access Tour or for foodies the Taste of the Opera House Tour, where you can eat and drink your way through all of the restaurants and bars!
Speaking of food, the Bennelong Restaurant at the Opera House offers modern Australian cuisine and is fabulous. Be sure to make a reservation, get dressed up and go enjoy a delicious (and pricey) meal with a beautiful view of the city. Or, just go to the bar for a glass of bubbly and soak in the view!
Royal Botanic Garden
Just a short walk from the Opera House, the Royal Botanic Garden is a beautiful place for a morning stroll. There are several spots with gorgeous views of the city, and Sydney Harbour. Guided walks and tours are offered daily, as well as an Aboriginal Experience. Visit one of the cafes or restaurants and sit outside while enjoying the abundant gardens.
Queen Victoria Building
Of course, no trip to Sydney would be complete without visiting this amazing building, and doing some shopping inside of course! This is one of my absolute favorite places in Sydney Even non-shopoholics will admire the architecture and stained glass of this magnificent historic building. For all of you fellow shoppers: Pitt Street Mall, George Street, The Strand Arcade, and so many more all within a few blocks. There are literally hundreds of shops within a three or four block area! Head to Australia’s famous David Jones department store for some Australian designer shopping! You’re welcome.
Located right on the Harbour, next to Circular Quay, The Rocks is a lively district steeped in history. Take a historic walk and discover the many historic sandstone buildings and cobblestone streets filled with shops, restaurants and cafes. If you’re lucky enough to be in Sydney on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, be sure to check out the Rocks Markets featuring artisanal and gourmet foods, crafts, art, clothing and all sorts of fabulous finds! The Market is a perfect place to find some great souvenirs to bring back home.
King Street Wharf
If you’re looking for some good restaurants with a fabulous Darling Harbour view, head to King Street Wharf and Barangaroo Avenue just above it. Super fun restaurants line both the street and the wharf, and it’s a great place for an afternoon cocktail. Be sure to walk along the wharf and head towards the end of Darling Harbour, where you will find my next favorite place.
WILD LIFE Sydey Zoo
If you don’t have the time to take a ferry to the Sydney Zoo, this is a great place to see some Australian wildlife. You’ll see a variety of marsupials, koalas, a huge crocodile and beautiful birds. The Aquarium is right next door where you can view marine animals from around Australia. It’s a great place for kids and adults!
Hop on a ferry at Circular Quay for a short 20 minute ferry ride to Watson’s Bay. It is located at the end South Head Peninsula with fabulous views of Sydney Harbour. Watson’s Bay is Sydney’s oldest fishing village. Visit the Macquarie Lighthouse, the first and oldest surviving lighthouse in Australia. Be sure to have lunch or dinner at the famous Doyle’s on the Beach Restaurant. They are most famous for their fish and chips, but all of their seafood is delicious.
Shangri La Blu Bar on 36
Finally, at the end of a busy day exploring, head to the Shangri La hotel on Cumberland Street. Take the elevator to the 36th floor to one of my favorite places in Sydney for an amazing view and great cocktails. It’s the perfect place for a bird’s eye view of the city and its many landmarks. Be sure to get there early, it’s a very popular spot, and stay for sunset. Trust me, you won’t regret it! Blu Restaurant is next to the bar, very lovely and a bit pricey…but hey, vacations are the perfect time to splurge!
I hope you go to Australia and fall in love with Sydney as I did! If you plan to go to Australia be sure to read What To Do In Melbourne and Top Places to Visit in Hobart, Tasmania. Feel free to E-mail me or comment below. As always, keep traveling my friends.