City Guide: Sydney

Sydney Opera House

What to see and do in Sydney

Sydney isn't Sydney without it's iconic harbour. The best place to get that perfect photo of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge is in the Royal Botanical Gardens not far from Mrs MacQuarie's Chair.

Taronga Zoo is one of our favourites and the Wildlife Zoo at Darling Harbour is perfect for those pushed for time. Watch out for Rex, their 5 metre crocodile.

Beach lovers have an excellent choice in Sydney. Bondi is the more famous of the beaches but can get crowded with tourists and locals vying for space. Bronte and Coogee beaches are also great places to catch the rays and lie further south of Bondi.

For the more adventurous you can skid around the harbour in a jet boat (several operators are available) or walk on top of the Sydney Sky Tower, 880 feet above the ground. However the most rewarding is the BridgeClimb, a 3 1/2 hour climb on one of the most iconic landmarks in the world. After a short briefing you walk beneath the bridge before climbing to road level and then onto the arch. The climb is perfectly safe as you are harnessed in at all times and there is a ledge between you and the edge of the bridge.

Accommodation Options

Budget

Sydney Central YHA is one our favourite hostels of the world. Basic double rooms but does give you the extra privacy away from the dorms. Two large kitchens in which to prepare your meals each with ample food storage.

The hostel is just a couple of minutes walk from Central Station and around a 10-15 minute stroll to Darling Harbour.

11 Rawson Place, Sydney. +612 9218 9000

Luxury

The Grace Hotel on the corner of York and King Street is ideally located in the centre of the city only a block away from the shopping hubs of George Street and the Queen Victoria Building.

Housed in a former home to the Grace Brothers retail business, the neo-gothic building has spacious rooms with very comfortable beds. The rooftop recreation centre come complete with gym, pool, spa, sauna and steam room.

77 York Street, Sydney.  +612 9272 6888

Shopping around Sydney

Many high street stores are found on Pitt Street in the centre of the city. Underground passageways link up to the Queen Victoria Building where designer labels and speciality stores can be found.

The Rocks Market takes place every Saturday and Sunday in the shadow of the Harbour Bridge. The market is a mix of arts and crafts, jewellery and souvenirs.

For bargain hunting head out to the suburbs of Balmain and Glebe for their Saturday markets.

Eating Out

You'll find a range of restaurants throughout the city with a large selection based in Darling Harbour. Our favourite by far is the Meat and Wine Company at the end of the Harbour. The Kangaroo steaks are to die for.

Getting There and Away

Sydney's airport lies to the south of the city and has both an international and domestic terminal. Sydney is a major international route so it shouldn't be difficult to find airlines flying in. The airport is serviced by a train line that runs direct to Central Station in the city.

Long distance trains and bus services run from Central Station with ticket office based in the terminus.

Getting Around the City

The city circle train is the perfect way to get around Sydney quickly. The train runs from Central Station stopping at Museum (for Hyde Park), St James, Circular Quay (for Opera House and ferries), Wynyard and Town Hall (for Queen Victoria Building).

The train services also run out to the suburbs for visits to the Olympic Park and Parramatta. Bondi Beach can be reached from Central Station to Bondi Junction and join a connecting bus down to the world famous beach.

You can't visit Sydney without jumping on one of the famous green and gold Harbour Ferries. Services run from Circular Quay and head around the harbour to Taronga Zoo and Manly Beach amongst others.

The much maligned Monorail runs within the city running from the Town Hall to Darling Harbour. The trip is mainly for tourists and can work out quite expensive for such a short journey.

Visas and Currency

Americans and most Europeans require an electronic visa, obtained prior to arrival, to enter Australia. Citizens of New Zealand do not require a visa prior to arrival and will receive a Special Category Visa upon entering Australia.

The currency is the Australian Dollar broken down into 100 cents. Notes come in colourful variations, a green $100, yellow $50, red $20, blue $10 and pink $5.

Paul's Tip for Sydney

If you love your pies (and trust me, I do) then head down to Harry's Cafe de Wheels in Woolloomooloo near Finger Wharf. The pie cart offers up hot dogs and pies with the most famous being the Tiger Pie, a beef pie topped with a mountain of mashed potato, mushy peas and gravy.

Angela's Tip for Sydney

If you're in Sydney for the weekend the Rocks market is a must to dig out that bargain.

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What are your tips for Sydney? Where did you stay?