No matter how many times you visit Sydney you’ll always be left wanting more. I’ve been lucky enough to visit this spectacular city about a dozen times and it is, without doubt, one of the world’s best cities. Your first view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House is something you’ll never forget.
Explore Sydney – Circular Quay
The iconic Opera House stands proud at the end of Circular Quay which is a great place to start your visit, so for the purposes of this article I’ll put Circular Quay at number one on the list of top five things to do in Sydney. It is an incredible hive of activity, being so close to all of the city’s major attractions. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants along the promenade where you can sit and enjoy the spectacular views of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. It’s also the main transport hub. From here you can catch interconnecting trains, buses and ferries. The city has great transport links, so getting around is really easy.
Discover Sydney – The Rocks
Very close to Circular Quay is the historic area known as The Rocks. The cobbled streets, sandstone buildings and the oldest pub in Australia all combine to give you a sense of what Sydney was like many years ago. It is from these stone buildings that the area was given its name. This was the area where the first settlers established themselves in 1788. Over the last couple of hundred years or so this area has changed dramatically from being a once down at heel neighbourhood to a modern, vibrant and bustling precinct that is packed with trendy bars, cafes and beautiful shops. Sydneysiders flock to this area to enjoy the local markets which are open every Saturday and Sunday. It is just a short walk from the quay and a place I’d definitely recommend you visit. Whether you are looking for a place to eat or to enjoy some of the finest shopping in Sydney, you’ll be sure to find it here.
Discover Sydney – Take A Ferry Ride To Manly
No trip to Sydney would be complete without a trip on the ferry and the famous Manly ferry is a must-do during your stay here. You catch the ferry from Circular Quay and it takes just half an hour or seventeen minutes if you choose to go on the fast ferry. It’s the best way to explore this magnificent city’s waterways. Manly itself is a great destination. It’s just seven miles from Sydney and has some of the best beaches in Sydney. Manly beach is one of the most famous beaches for surfing in Australia. If you have time to explore the area further, Cabbage Tree Bay is another beach definitely worth a visit. This area is a protected marine reserve, with over 400 species of marine life. It’s a fabulous location for snorkeling and diving and also has a beautiful ocean swimming pool.
Discover Sydney – The Royal Botanic Gardens
Close to Sydney’s CBD (Central Business District) are the breathtakingly beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens. Situated on the foreshore, it offers you the most incredible views of the harbour, Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. You can wander through this beautifully laid out garden and admire the thousands of species of plants as well as the incredible wildlife inhabiting the park which includes beautiful birds, fruit bats and water dragons. If you can I’d definitely recommend taking one of the free guided tours of the gardens as without a guide you can miss out on so many interesting points, such as the fact that the park was built on Cadigal land, known to Australia’s indigenous people as Cadi, which was the first land cleared in 1788 by the European settlers so as to establish a farm and cultivate crops in order to feed the new arrivals of a thousand people.
Explore Sydney – Darling Harbour
A short walk from the city centre lies the utterly incredible Darling Harbour. It is such a fabulous hub of activity and is jam packed with fantastic attractions. If you’re looking for entertainment then this is definitely worth a visit. One of the first things that hit me when I first went there was how many bars and restaurants there are, leaving you completely spoilt for choice. In addition to great dining, Darling Harbour is also excellent for shopping. Moreover Darling Harbour also boasts the world’s largest cinema screen at IMAX as well as Madame Tussauds, harbour cruises, Sea Life Sydney Aquarium and the Wild Life Sydney Zoo.
If you have time then the Australian National Maritime Museum also at Darling Harbour is a great location to visit. This is great for anybody travelling with children in particular, as you can climb aboard a tall ship and even get to go inside a submarine and a destroyer. Although great fun for everybody, I’d say it really does keep the kids entertained!
Another great place to visit at Darling Harbour is the Chinese Garden of Friendship. This was built as a symbol of friendship between Sydney and Guangzhou (Sydney’s sister city) in the region of Guangdong China to commemorate Australia’s bicentenary in 1988. The design behind the garden was based on the Taoist principles of ‘Ying-Yang’ and the five elements of earth, fire, water, metal and wood. One of the main attractions of the garden is the Dragon Wall which is symbolic of the close connection between NSW and Guangzhou. It also has a tea room where you can drink traditional Chinese tea. The garden is a wonderful area of tranquility where you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city and absorb Chinese culture in the most beautiful setting.
This is barely scratching the surface of what Sydney has to offer but simply highlights just a few of the different things you can do and see in this fascinating and beautiful city. You’ll want to explore so much in your time there, but no matter what you choose to visit, you will not be disappointed and will no doubt want to make a return visit.