YOUR BEST GUIDE FOR AN AMAZING TRIP TO SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA!
Out of all the places I’ve visited, this city is my absolute favourite. It was where I once called home for four wonderful years, so I want to share with you the best places to visit in Sydney, Australia, and why I think this iconic city should be high on your Australian Bucket List.
For starters, you have the world-famous harbour where you can visit both the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Of course, let’s not forget Sydney is also home to some of the most famous beaches in the world – Bondi and Manly, where sun worshipers head here to cool off and soak up those beach vibes on a hot day.
When it comes to nightlife, you are completely spoilt for choice. There’s the upmarket bars of The Rocks, lively and fun Darling Harbour or the seedy nightclubs and bars of Kings Cross. There are also many top-quality restaurants or tasty backpacker cheap eats catering to all tastes and budgets from China Town to Chatswood.
With so many great places on offer, I’ve put together the best itinerary, including top attractions and sites, all of which I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. I’ll tell you exactly what I thought of them so you can decide whether or not they belong on your bucket list.
Also, if you’re looking for the best places to stay while in the city, please click here for my Sydney accommodation guide.
So what are you waiting for? Start planning your Sydney trip today!
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DAY 1 – THE TOP SITES
On the first day of your epic three days in this beautiful harbour city, we’re going to cover the top attractions, so we’re going to start the morning of day one right on the waterfront at Circular Quay.
SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE
It’s no surprise that the Sydney Harbour Bridge has made it onto my three-day itinerary. Located right on Circular Quay is the most famous bridge in the world, more affectionately known as the Coat Hanger by the locals. You can walk across for cracking views of the city and Oprah House day or night, and the brave ones can even climb it!
The Bridge is renowned for its annual spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks display. I had the pleasure of experiencing this once-in-a-lifetime event around 2006, and it was so worth waiting all day for. [>>>>> Full Post Click Here <<<<<]
Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney, NSW 2000 | www.sydney.com.au
SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE
Located across from the Harbour Bridge is the Sydney Opera House. You just can’t visit the city without seeing this iconic building. It’s exceptional. On sunny days, the roof tiles sparkle, making it look even more spectacular. Be sure to catch a sunrise or sunset to see it in all its beautiful glory!
I first laid eyes on the Opera House back in 2006. It was my first time in Sydney, on a beautifully clear, hot day, and she looked incredible. I had a quick walk around the foyer area, but as I was on a tight backpacker budget at the time so I didn’t worry too much about taking the guided tour. [>>>>> Full Post Click Here <<<<<]
Bennelong Point, Sydney, NSW 2000 | www.sydneyoperahouse.com
MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
Also located along the famous harbour is the Museum of Contemporary Art. I ignorantly thought it would be worth a look due to its location. I was wrong. I think I left after around 15-20 minutes. The ground floor displays a jumble of different artefacts with no actual theme. I liked the lovely aboriginal paintings hanging in the centre of one of the rooms.
The top floor is the museums saving grace! Skip the first section and head along the hallway until you come to the fantastic photography exhibition of black and white pictures by Zanele Muholi. My favourite photo is of a black lady wearing white lipstick with white tape covering parts of her body that gives the image a sharp contrast. I was instantly drawn to this image as it is so beautiful. She is used as the subject for many other great photos in this section. For me, these photographs made it worthwhile visiting the museum. [>>>>> Full Post Click Here <<<<<]
140 George Street, The Rocks, Sydney, NSW 2000 | www.mca.com.au
ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDENS
Now it’s time to leave Circular Quay behind and head on over to The Royal Botanical Gardens. I happen to think they are some of the most beautiful gardens I’ve ever visited, hence why it has made it onto my itinerary for the best places to visit in Sydney, Australia.
Enter from Elizabeth Gate, next to the Opera House, where you’ll come across so many Instagrammable spots, lush greenery to explore that you could easily spend a few hours here relaxing on the lawns or following the paths which lead you past beautiful statues and flower beds.
Some highlights include the Rose Gardens, with its roses surrounded by neatly boxed hedges, and the Armillary Sphere Garden, lined with colourful plants and great views down to the water. There is even a full-size Koala made of plants and flowers, which is really cool! Head to Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair for the best views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. [>>>>> Full Post Click Here <<<<<]
Mrs Macquaries Road, Sydney, NSW 2000 | www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au
ART GALLERY OF NEW SOUTH WALES
One of the reasons I love this gallery, besides its beautiful artwork on display, is its location. You’ll find it right in the middle of the Royal Botanical Gardens, so naturally, this has to be next on the list.
What I love about the gallery is the mixture of old and new marrying together so well, from the building’s design to the artwork on display. The 19th and 20th Century European Art section is my favourite area, especially the magnificent painting from Neo Rauch, which looked like a regrettable social media post, where he’s decided to paint over everyone’s faces as these people are no longer his BFF’s. Also, check out a beautiful painting in The John Schaeffer gallery, “Requiescat 1888” by Briton Riviere. It shows the body of the dead Black Prince (Edward III of England 1330-1376) lying dead in his armour, with his faithful dog guarding his master through the night… I think I might have something in my eye!
Don’t miss the excellent Sidney Nolan room too! His Ned Kelly pieces are his best work, in my opinion. Take my advice – skip the Minimalism and Abstraction section unless this is your thing. It really is skip-worthy!
DAY 2 – BONDI & DARLING HARBOUR
Welcome to the second day on your itinerary for the best places to visit in Sydney, Australia. Today we’re going to cover a lot of ground, as we’ll be venturing out of the city and checking out a place that you might have heard of before… Bondi Beach. So grab your thongs, bathers and slap on the sunscreen for your first stop of the day!
Okay, so I don’t mean to start on a downer, but Australia has the most incredible coastline with thousands of stunning beaches, yet this is the one on everyone’s bucket list! I believe you go to Bondi for the vibes, café culture, friendly locals, and great shopping, not the beach. As far as beaches go, sorry folks, but I’ve seen way better, which I will share with you on this blog. [>>>>> Full Post Click Here <<<<<]
Bondi Beach, NSW, 2026 | www.bondibeach.com
Welcome to one of my favourite places to go in Sydney! There is so much to see and do in Darling Harbour that you would struggle to see everything in one day. There are some great bars, such as Blackbird Café and Pontoon, as well as many eateries, including the Hard Rock Café, which only opened a few years ago. As far as attractions go, this is where you come to have fun. You have the Sydney Aquarium, Wildlife Zoo and Madame Tussaud’s all in the same area. Just a short walk to the opposite side of the harbour is the Maritime Museum and Harbourside Shopping Center, and at the south end, you’ll find my personal favourite, the Chinese Garden of Friendship. [>>>>> Full Post Click Here <<<<<]
Darling Harbour, Sydney, NSW 2000 | www.darlingharbour.com
CHINESE GARDEN OF FRIENDSHIP
If Darling Harbour is my favourite place to visit in Sydney, then the Chinese Garden of Friendship is definitely one of my top places to visit. Located at the southern end of the harbour, you could almost be convinced you are in the middle of the Chinese countryside for a brief moment. That is until you look up and see the high-rise buildings in the background.
Relax as you walk amongst nature, meander past the carp-filled lakes lined with beautiful lotus flowers and weeping willow trees or enjoy the exquisite statues and pavilions while you take a break on a hot summer’s day.
If you follow the Zig-Zag Bridge over to the top of the hill, where you’ll reach The Gurr (Clear View Pavilion), giving you one of the best vantage points in the gardens to take in the magnificent views. [>>>>> Full Post Click Here <<<<<]
Pier Street, Cnr Darling Harbour Street, Darling Harbour, NSW, 2000 | www.darlingharbour.com
DAY 3 – MANLY, SHOPPING & OLD SYDNEY
On the last epic day of your Sydney itinerary, we will explore some iconic areas, including where the city’s origins began. You’ll really be able to learn a bit able the origins of Sydney and check out some notable buildings along the way, which stand proudly next to the more modern architecture. So let’s get started!
Today is going to be an early start as we catch one of the iconic ferries from Circular Quay over to Manly to watch the sunrise from the deck. This is one place that really deserves its spot on the best places to visit in Sydney, Australia. The ferry ride alone is worth the trip, but there’s lots more to see in Manly than its famous beach.
I’ve only been to Manly once. It was with my husband Zac on Valentine’s Day many moons ago. Just like Bondi, you come here for the atmosphere, not the beach, but it’s still a beautiful area.
When you alight at the pier, the beach is just to your left. There’s also the Manly Art Gallery and Museum further along the Esplanade, displaying some cool art from local artists. We also had the most amazing fish and chips in one of the restaurants on the main street too. [>>>>> Full Post Click Here <<<<<]
Many Beach, Manly, NSW 2095 | www.manlyaustralia.com.au
After leaving the beautiful Manly, it’s time to head back to Circular Quay for our next stop of the day; The Rocks. Once you depart the ferry, it’s a very short walk over to Sydney’s oldest neighbourhood.
In 1770, this is where Captain Cook landed his ship, the HMB Endeavor, and the rest is history! Meander through the streets, and you will understand where the area gets its name, as everything is made from or carved out of stone. I’d highly recommend the small but impressive Rocks Museum, which explains early colonial life and the harsh beginnings they had to endure. Nowadays, it is an upmarket area and gets incredibly busy at the weekend, especially when the awesome markets are on. It offers a great atmosphere, spectacular harbour views, and unique items. Definitely worth a visit!
Don’t miss the creepy Nurses Walk, the narrowest street in Sydney. It gets noticeably thinner about halfway down the lane, to the point where you can’t stretch your arms out entirely at the bottom. I came across it one afternoon, and despite being in the middle of the day, I found it very spooky and felt like I was being watched! [>>>>> Full Post Click Here <<<<<]
The Rocks, Sydney, NSW 2000 | www.therocks.com
For our next stop of the day, we’ll walk to Hyde Park, which is around 20-minutes from The Rocks. It’s well worth it to admire this lovely green space right in the heart of this busy city. Take some time to wander along the tree-lined pathways, and explore the other highlights, such as the ANZAC Memorial, which has a collection of artefacts from past wars, and a statue of Captain Cook. Also, check out the Archibald Fountain, named after J.F Archibald, with its beautiful water feature surrounded by imposing-looking statues. [>>>>> Full Post Click Here <<<<<]
Elizabeth Street, Sydney, NSW 2000 | www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au
ST. MARYS CATHEDRAL
It would be a crime to visit Hyde Park and not check out St. Mary’s Cathedral, which happens to be right on the edge of the gardens, so this is where we’re heading next. With Australia having a relatively short history, I ignorantly assumed that this Cathedral wouldn’t be that impressive. I am happy to tell you that I was pleasantly surprised. This Cathedral is beautiful and best of all, it’s free! It is built from Sydney sandstone in a Gothic revival style with beautiful stained-glass windows depicting scenes from the bible, including one in particular by the front door of a King being beheaded. So yeah, welcome to the church. Please come on in! The Cathedral’s crowning glory is its magnificent altar. There is a row of colourful figurines of saints in the middle, which interestingly are all women. Definitely give this place a look. It’s a little treasure! [>>>>> Full Post Click Here <<<<<]
St Marys Road, Sydney, NSW 2000 | www.stmaryscathedral.org.uk
QUEEN VICTORIA BUILDING (QVB)
Now we’re going to head to our final stop on our best places to visit in Sydney, Australia itinerary, the Queen Victoria Building. Whenever I’m in the city, it will always include a trip to the QVB. You’ll feel like you have stepped back in time, with the detailed patterned tiles, ornate balustrades’ and industrial style look. There’s plenty of cafes and boutique shops to explore, and if you happen to be staying outside of the city, it’s cleverly extended underground connects you to Town Hall Train Station, so you don’t have to walk far to jump on a train. [>>>>> Full Post Click Here <<<<<]
455 George Street, Sydney, NSW 2000 | www.qvb.com.au
That wraps up your epic thee day itinerary which includes all of the best places to visit in Sydney Australia, follow my itinerary and have the best time.
If you’re lucky enough to be staying in Sydney for a little longer, there’s plenty of other attractions you can visit, from historical homes to museums, galleries and national parks, the choice is endless!
WHERE DO I SUGGEST?
The Blue Mountains for its fantastic scenery and beautiful walks, just two hours from Sydney by train!
The Central Coast and Newcastle for beautiful beaches, bushland and plenty of beautiful surfing spots.
Wollongong and the South Coast for miles of unspoiled beaches, natural beauty with clear blue oceans and abundant wildlife.
Thanks for reading my post on the best places to visit in Sydney, Australia. I’m sure you’ll agree that there’s definitely more to Sydney than just the famous Harbour Bridge and Opera House, with world-class museums, amazing shopping, and green spaces to explore. However, with so much to see and do in a city, sometimes the planning process gets a little overwhelming. That’s why I’ve created this Sydney Travel Guide to help you have the best trip. I hope that this guide will help you plan a fantastic trip to one of this country’s amazing destinations.
When are you planning on visiting Sydney? What are you going to do while you’re here? Let me know in the comments section below.
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