Being among the largest and most popular tourist destinations, it’s no wonder that many people actually think that Sydney is the capital city of Australia. However, they are wrong. That’s still Canberra. However, this doesn’t make the economic importance of Sydney any less. Being close to the famous Golden Coast, where beautiful weather, lush greenery and fantastic beaches await the visitors, Sydney is the starting point for most tourists visiting this country-continent. Let’s see what we can find in Sydney, what’s worth visiting and what’s worth doing here.
Sydney is among the largest cities of Australia and a very important maritime transportation hub of the South East Asian region. A beautiful seaside town with a large bay, it has some of the most spectacular views and one of the most significant trademark building in the world in its famous Opera House. A former British colony, Australia is still part of the British Commonwealth Nations however it has an independent government. Tourism is one of the most important business activities of the country alongside gambling revenues. The city is an international business and cultural centre and its very nature conscious, which means, you can get to find lots of parks and green areas in and out of the city.
Sydney consists of 6 key areas both of which are much worth visiting for different reasons:
- The Centre: here is where you can find the beautiful Sydney Harbour with the iconic Opera House and this is the site which is the most popular for tourists to visit. It’s also stacked with restaurants, shops and other attractions I will talk about later on.
- Darling Harbour Complex: this is the area where families come to have fun, it gives home to fun parks, aquariums, parks and museums
- The Rocks: here is where you can find the old town of Sydney and this is where you can actually cross the famous Harbour Bridge too.
- City South: it’s popular area for its Haymarket, flea markets and it’s also here where the city’s Chinatown is located. Many locals come here for cheaper shopping options.
- City East: this is the bohemian artistic side of Sydney where there are clubs, cafés, restaurants, pretty streets and fashion shops are located in this district.
- City West: its main attractions include the early morning fish market, the Powerhouse museum.
Most people have their roots back in England, Scotland or Ireland and there is a large Chinese population as well. The indigenous Australians - Aborigines are about 2% of the total population. As an interesting fact, Sydney has the largest number of citizens and it’s a young city, with over 70% of its population aged under 49 years of age.
Most countries do not need a visa to visit Australia. If you live outside the EU, check with the nearest consulate to learn more about requirements.
Best time to visit:
Don’t forget, that Australia being on the other side of the globe has mixed seasons and our winter is their summer. However, the best time to visit to avoid the heat is either springtime or early summer.
The key attractions of Sydney:
- The Sydney Harbour with the Sydney Opera House: the large expressionist building designed by John Utzon has quickly become the trademark building of Sydney and the whole Australia. Situated in the very centre offering a magnificent view to the Harbour the Opera House is really worth visiting.
Sydney is a young city, it’s a place for doing things and a great hub for surfers.
- The Harbour Bridge: built in 1932 the bridge is one of the oldest buildings in Sydney. Many tourists like to climb through the bridge, but you can also walk or bicycle through it.
- The Old Town: this is the district where you can get to find the old quarters, with British style Victorian red-brick buildings which have pubs, restaurants and specialist shops. It’s the place where you can find some of the most pleasant little hotels and hostels in the city.
- Chinatown: located in the City South district, Chinatown is a colourful place which literally transports you in China. You can get to buy all sorts of Chinese groceries and food over here, it also has yearly festivals such as the famous New Year festival.
- Queen Victoria Building: situated in the Rocks area of the downtown, it’s both one of the most beautiful Victorian style buildings and one of the key shopping places for locals to visit also because today it’s been recreated to become one of the hippest shopping malls of Sydney.
- Sydney Observatory: another popular touristic site located in the Old Town area, the Observatory is really worth visiting for its charm and if you want to learn even more, then continue to the Powerhouse Museum to which the Observatory is part of.
- Sydney Tower Eye: One of the newest landmarks of the city, this huge tower hosts several activities including a 4D cinema, an observation point and it has its own Skywalk too.
- St. Mary’s Cathedral: The largest and most important Catholic cathedral of Sydney, this church is the mother church of the religion in Australia and it’s really worth checking out, if you are fond of old neo-gothic architecture.
Family Programs in Sydney :
- Taronga Zoo: Australia’s largest zoo is very family and animal friendly as a destination. You can watch Kangaroos and other species which live only in this part of the planet, including the Tasmanian devil or the Platypus too. Tip: come here by taking a cruise from the Sydney Harbour, which stops by the zoo. It will be a perfect family program.
- Darling Harbour: this is not just a district it’s an attraction on its own, as it’s a modern complex consisting of several museums, such as the Maritime Museum, shopping malls, art galleries, aquariums and more family friendly programs.
The Royal Botanic Gardens:
if you like parks and want to have some fresh air, then visiting the Botanic Gardens is the perfect activity for you and the whole family. The whole garden is surrounded by a larger park, which makes it feel like you are outside the city.
Shopping in Sydney:
The Rocks is best for small shopping and if you are looking for the branded stores, check out the shopping malls of Queen Victoria building or the other two called Westfield Sydney, Strand Arcade both located in the downtown area of Sydney. Westfield is considered the hippest shopping mall of the city.
Things to do in Sydney:
♦ Stroll across the Rocks: which is packed with flea markets, food markets and has a great vibe to it.
♦ Take a water taxi and visit Chowder Bay: water taxi is a popular way of transport in Australia and in fact this is the fastest way to reach Chowder Bay, which is famous for its alfresco restaurants offering fantastic seafood and Italian specialties.
♦ Do a Harbour water sightseeing: it’s one of the most popular programs and the sight of the city lights in the evening from water is amazing.
♦ Visit the Museum of Contemporary Arts: which hosts South East Asia’s largest collections of contemporary art works and has lots of guest exhibitions too.
♦ Visit Mrs. Macquarie’s Point to get some of the best views to the Harbour. Just follow Farm Cove that’s situated east of the Opera. According to local beliefs if you sit on the rock formation named Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair and make a wish, it would be soon granted.
Excursions outside Sydney:
the city is close to many of the most popular beaches of the Golden Coast such as the Bondi beach that’s world famous among surfers. Many of these beaches can be easily reached from Sydney even by public transport. The Manley Beach is another spectacular beach where many locals go and It has a fantastic relaxed Mediterranean vibe to it.
Getting Around Sydney:
Public transport here mainly consists of a commuter rail a light rail, bus and ferry. I highly suggest you purchase the Opal Card, a prepaid card you can load anytime can give you access to each one of these means of public transport without a hassle. Locals are also aware that Sydney’s public transportation is not as good as it could be, therefore many tourists end up renting a car. It also enables them to get to the Golden Coast more easily. There are several car rentals enabling you to rent a car cheaply, most hotels also offer you the opportunity to manage car rental directly, which I found very convenient. If you don’t want to rent a car, taxi is also a good way to quickly get from A to B especially in the later evening hours.