I’ve been to Australia many times, but I could not get to Sydney. And so it happened! The city met me with a hurricane that lasted five days, I broke the umbrella and broke my mirror camera. But, for the first time having risen on the Harbor Bridge, I forgave Sidney all adversity. In such a place it is impossible not to fall in love.
The largest and oldest city in Australia is located on the banks of the winding Bay of Port Jackson. The main sleeve of the bay, Sydney Bay, gives the city its unique beauty. Not for nothing that Sydney is called The Harbor City.
This place cannot be imagined without the ocean and a long line of various beaches, where you can both deal with the waves and glide along the azure surface. Urban buildings are eclectic: skyscrapers, colonial architecture, neo-Gothic churches, private houses of all colors and sizes.
It is a noisy, creative, populous and multinational metropolis, whose inhabitants somehow miraculously manage to maintain a special Australian relax and ease. The bustle of a big city is easy to forget, being in one of the many parks with untouched nature, colorful parrots, possum and flying foxes.
How to get from the airport
Sydney International Airport Kingsford Smith consists of 3 terminals:
- T1 – international;
- T2 and T3 for internal lines.
To travel to the city by public transport at the airport, you can buy a refillable Opal card, which I’ll discuss in more detail in the “How to Travel around the City” section.
Mooving to the city
- Quickly and conveniently you can reach the center by train. He will drive you to Central Station for a record thirteen minutes. The fare depending on the time of day will be 12,36 – 13,14 USD (16,16 -17,18 AUD) for an adult, 10,39 – 10,78 USD (13,58 – 14,09 AUD) for a child.
- Cheaper, but longer to travel by bus. Route 400, connecting Bondi Junction and Burwood, stops at the exit from terminals T1 and T3. The ticket price to the terminal station is 3.44 USD (4.5 AUD), the children’s ticket costs 1.72 USD (2.25 AUD). In the very center of the bus does not go, so you have to change. The Central station can be reached for 2.68 USD (3.5 AUD), the children’s ticket will cost 1.34 USD (1.75 AUD). This will take about an hour. You can see the options for docking on this site.
- A taxi to the center will cost an average of 30.6 – 46 USD (40-60 AUD). It can be caught in specially designated areas.
- Many hotels offer shuttle bus service. Also, the shuttle can be booked in advance on the site or at the information desk upon arrival.
The price of a train ticket from Sydney Airport to the center is made up of the usual fare for the city and the airport surcharge (13.80 AUD for adults, 12.40 AUD for children). For example, the cost of a train ticket with the following Mascot station to Central Station will be only 1.8 – 2.6 USD (2.36 – 3.38 AUD). From the terminal of domestic lines, you can walk to Mascot Station in about 20 minutes. From the international terminal to go far, but there is an option to get on the bus number 400.
This type of transport is useful to you only inside the country. The rail system connects Sydney with the cities of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, including Melbourne (11 hours), Canberra (4 hours 20 minutes), Brisbane (14 hours 15 minutes). Schedule and prices can be viewed on the official website of NSW Trainlink Regional.
The luxury train The Indian Pacific will take from Sydney to Adelaide and Perth. Tickets can be booked on the Great Southern Rail website. All trains arrive at the central station of Sydney Central Station, from where it is easy to reach anywhere in the city.
By the way: the cost of tickets for long-distance trains is often higher than the cost of air travel.
The bus can make a cheaper alternative to the train. Sydney Central Bus Station is next to Central Station. Popular bus companies (Greyhound and Murrays) will be delivered to Sydney from Canberra (3.5 hours), Melbourne (12-13 hours) and Brisbane (18 hours).
Sydney is connected with neighboring cities by convenient and modern roads. If you are coming from Canberra, you can get to Sydney on average for 3.5 hours, the road from Melbourne will take from 9 to 11 hours, from Brisbane – about 11 hours drive. On the way, there will be toll roads, most of which can not be paid in cash.
Usually, a special device for contactless fare payment (a transponder) connected to the credit card account is installed on the machine. More about it, I’ll tell you in the corresponding section. Gasoline is on average 0.95 USD (1.24 AUD).
When is the best time to travel?
Sydney is good at any time of the year. The Australian summer gives an opportunity to enjoy swimming in the ocean, while in the cooler months a comfortable temperature keeps for walking and sightseeing. We do not forget that Australia is in the southern hemisphere and the seasons are opposite to ours.
Sydney in the summer
The period from December to February is a good time for a beach holiday. Air temperature can jump from +25 to + 40 ° C, and humidity can rise to 70%. Many tourists are attracted by the opportunity to celebrate New Year in Sydney. Harbor of Light Parade is one of the most famous fireworks shows in the world.
Every year in January, Sydney also hosts a fascinating Sydney Festival, which includes a variety of cultural events.
Sydney in the autumn
The beginning of autumn looks like summer. You can still swim, but the air temperature gradually decreases, and the nights get colder.
On average, you can expect a comfortable + 17 – 23 ° C. In late autumn, in the evening and at night, the temperature can drop to + 10 ° C. Rains are frequent. In late May – early June, the famous Vivid Sydney light festival takes place, turning the city into an area for impressive light installations.
Sydney in the spring
Spring is a pleasant time to get acquainted with the city: it is sunny, air on average warms up to +20-24 ° С. True, periodically there are sudden temperature changes in the range from +17 to +35 ° C. You have to be prepared for everything: take on a trip as T-shirts, and light jackets.
In late spring, the city’s beaches are decorated with Sculpture by the Sea Sculpture Festival and the colorful festival of kites Festival of the Winds.
Sydney in winter
Winter (from June to August) is mild, the air temperature on the average reaches + 15-17 ° С, in the evening and at night it drops to + 8-10 ° С. June is usually the rainiest month, and July is the coldest month.
July and August are sunny months. And although the water is cold for bathing, walking along the beach is still lovely.
Where to live better
The largest number of hotels is concentrated in the center of Sydney, which can be divided into the following areas:
- The Rocks is a historic quarter that preserves the colonial past of the city. The hotels are small and the prices are high: 230 – 345 USD (300 – 450 AUD) for a double room with all amenities. There are a couple of inexpensive hotels, but there the bathroom will have to be shared with other guests.
- Central Business District or CBD is the center of city life. There are many shops, cafes and attractions. The variety of hotels is much greater. Room with all amenities costs 155 – 230 USD (200-300 AUD).
- Darling Harbor and Pyrmont are pleasant areas around the harbor of Darling Harbor. Skyscrapers, a harbor, a fish market, museums, an aquarium, a casino, many restaurants. Prices do not differ much from CBD.
- Haymarket is the district of the central station, market and Chinatown. An attractive place for a tourist. Many inexpensive cafe. Convenient transport node nearby. Prices are slightly lower than in neighboring areas: 110 – 145 USD (140 – 190 AUD).
- Kings Cross is the entertainment district of Sydney. The reputation of the worst place in the city. There are many inexpensive hostels where you can get a bed for 20 – 30 USD (25-40 AUD), and a double room will cost 75 – 115 USD (100 – 150 AUD). But the area is still specific; not everyone will like it.
- Darlinghurst – a district famous for its nightlife, cafes, fashion boutiques, is popular with the local LGBT community. The cost of accommodation in hotels: 115 – 190 USD (150 – 250 AUD).
Apartaments for beach lovers
- Eastern Suburbs. The most attractive places to stay are the beaches of Bondi Beach and Coogee beach. This is a paradise for surfers, backpackers and just lovers of beach bliss. There are both cheap hostels and expensive hotels, as well as cafes, bars, shops, and everything you need for a comfortable stay. By bus from the center can be reached in half an hour. Double room costs 100 – 190 USD (130 – 250 AUD).
- Manly. For an active excursion program, this area is not very suitable, still far away. But if you are interested in a quiet resort atmosphere, proximity to the beach, and you are not confused by half-hour trips by ferry, this place is perfect. The cost of accommodation in hotels: 90 – 190 USD (120 – 250 AUD).
Whichever region you choose, I advise you to book accommodation as early as possible. Sydney is a popular destination and good options are sorted out quickly.
Top 5 Sydney Attractions
Sydney is a big and diverse city. You are waited with natural and human-made sights, a cycle of cultural life. Here you can always find something interesting: all kinds of festivals, exhibitions and parades will not let you get bored. And for lovers of nature, Sydney offers a variety of walking routes, giving the opportunity to learn more about flora and fauna of the continent.
To save money, pay attention to tourist flyers – there are coupons for a discount. Many attractions offer complex tickets, including a visit to several objects.
- Sydney Harbor and the famous Harbor Bridge. Harbor Bridge is one of the world’s largest arch bridges. Walk on it is required, views of the city are fascinating. Naturally, you can walk on the bridge for free. For 12 USD (15 AUD) you will get the opportunity to climb to the observation deck Pylon Lookout, located in the southeast bridge support at an altitude of 87 meters above sea level. It is open every day from 10:00 to 17:00. Also there is a small exhibition devoted to the construction of this miracle of engineering thought. As part of the excursion, it is possible to climb higher, on the arches of the bridge.
- Sydney Opera House – the most famous building of the city (and, perhaps, the whole continent), which is in every textbook of architecture. This bold project was completed relatively recently, in 1973, but it is just impossible to imagine Sydney without it. Fans of architecture can go on a tour of the building. Although I would advise you to check the opera in action and go to one of the many musical productions. There are several concert venues in the opera house, and if you follow the poster, you can find an event at an affordable price.
- CBD and the Rocks. This is the heart of Sydney. Here is the business district of the city, as well as most of the historical monuments.
- Royal Botanical Gardens – a massive park with lush vegetation on the shore of the Farm Bay. Here you can enjoy walking, singing birds, bright flowers and views of the bay.
- The beaches of Sydney are one of the primary treasures of the city. The ocean largely determines the lifestyle and character of the place. Without visiting the coast, you can not get to know Sydney.
Best beaches of Sydney
The inhabitants of Sydney are fortunate: they have more than 100 beaches. If you like waves, go to the ocean coast. A more peaceful bathing will offer beaches of the bay. The choice is huge:
- Bondi Beach is the most famous beach in Australia, a cult place. It’s not just a beach – it’s a lifestyle. Around are fashionable cafes, restaurants, bars, shops. Local call this area Bondi Bubble. This is a special world, in which you can dive, forgetting about the problems of the big city. In honor of the waters of the beach is called the green-blue color Bondi blue, which Apple gave the body of the iMac G3. The length of Bondi Beach is about a kilometer; this is a beautiful place for surfers and amateurs to jump in the waves. Safe zones for swimming are marked with flags. Important: Do not ignore safety rules. On the beaches, there are dangerous currents that can carry deep into the ocean! If you are afraid of waves, you can swim in the outdoor pool with sea water, which belongs to the Bondi Icebergs Club. Entry costs 5 USD (6.50 AUD) for an adult and 3.5 USD (4.50 AUD) for a child. The road from the center by bus takes about half an hour. You can also take the train to Bondi Junction, and then transfer to a bus or taxi.
- Bronte Beach is smaller and cozier. There is a picturesque stone pool (by the way, completely free). You can get here from Bondi Beach along the beautiful path that goes along the coast. You can get there by bus.
- Clovelly Beach – you can not call a beautiful beach, it’s too urban, but it’s great if you want to swim in calm water without waves.
- Coogee Beach reminds Bondi but is a little inferior in size. Around the beach is an excellent infrastructure, many cafes and shops. An exciting tradition: on the ANZAC Day, the local surf community, grabbing drinks, floats on the boards to the small island of Wedding Cake Island in front of the beach to honor the memory of participants in military conflicts.
- Manly Beach. If you want to relax from the hustle and bustle of the city, a ferry from Circular Quay will drive you to the cozy suburb of Manly in about half an hour. The beach here is excellent, with a gentle approach and clean water. Nearby there is also a small and more sheltered from the waves of Shelly Beach. Manly attracts with its relaxed spa atmosphere, numerous cafes and restaurants. Also, a trip here by ferry is already a pleasure in itself.
- Balmoral Beach is located in a bay; its calm waters are suitable for a family holiday.
- Palm Beach is the northernmost beach of the city and one of the largest in Sydney. It is famous for the purest sand and crystal waters of the ocean. In addition to bathing and sunbathing, here you can enjoy a walk to the lighthouse Barrenjoey Lighthouse. But the beach is far away. The road from the center by car will take about an hour.
Museums of Sydney
Curious tourists have a place to turn around: in the city, there are art, historical, natural-science museums, as well as many galleries. My favorite places:
- Australian Museum – the oldest museum in Australia. Perhaps, this is the best museum in the city with a fantastic collection of zoological, paleontological and anthropological exhibits. The exposition is very colorful; it will be interesting for both adults and children. The museum is open every day from 9:30 to 17:00. The ticket costs 11.5 USD (15 AUD), children under 16 can go for free.
- Art Gallery of New South Wales. It presents classical Western art, the art of Australia, including the work of the indigenous population of the continent, the art of the East and contemporary art. The gallery is open every day from 10:00 to 17:00, and on Wednesdays until 22:00. The entrance is free.
- Powerhouse Museum – Museum of Science and Applied Arts. The collection of the museum covers a wide range of aspects of life: from water processing to cinematography. Here you can see the first Australian locomotive, the mock-astronomical clock of the Strasbourg Cathedral and much more. There are interactive expositions that will be especially interesting for children. The museum is open from 10:00 to 17:00. The ticket costs 11.5 USD (15 AUD), children 16 years and younger – free of charge.
- Australian National Maritime Museum will acquaint you with the history of navigation. The zest of the museum is the opportunity to visit a real submarine and ships moored in Darling Harbor. A gallery with a permanent exhibition can be viewed for free, but for access to boats and some other exhibitions will have to pay. The cost of the ticket for adults is 23 USD (30 AUD), for children from 4 to 15 years – 14 USD (18 AUD), under 4 years – free of charge. The museum is open every day from 9:00 to 17:00, in January to 18:00.
- Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. The entrance is free. Even if you are far from this genre, you will like the museum cafe, located on the terrace with a beautiful view of the Opera House.
Sydney is a very green city. There are many parks here, and each of them is good in its way. I will list only some favorite places:
- Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain. The Royal Botanic Gardens and the adjacent Domain Park are a vast oasis in the center of the city. The Botanical Garden has a fantastic collection of local and imported plants. There is an interesting historical component: in this place, in 1788 the first farm was founded on the continent. Also here is the Government House, the former residence of the Governor of New South Wales, and now the museum. Mainly I like to walk along Farmer Cove, Farmer’s Bay, which seems to be embraced by the Botanical Garden. This promenade is popular with tourists, photographers and residents who care about health and run. Elegant views open from the viewing platform Mrs. Macquaries Point-a popular picnic spot and watching the sunsets. Here is Mrs. Masquarie’s Chair – a bench in the rock, on which the governor of New South Wales loved to have a rest. Botanical gardens open at 7:00 and work until 19:30 in October, until 20:00 from November to February, until 18:30 in March, until 18:00 in April and September, until 17:30 in May and August, until 17:00 in June and July. The domain is open 24 hours a day every day, except for dates when special events are held.
- Hyde Park is named after its London brother. In addition to the shady avenues, the impressive ANZAC Memorial, a memorial erected in memory of the losses of the Australian and New Zealand army corps in the First World War, is of interest. In the center of the park is a beautiful Archibald Fountain. In the evenings, you can meet possums in Hyde Park.
- Chinese Garden of Friendship. The Chinese Garden of Friendship is a small piece of paradise near Darling Harbor and the Sydney Chinatown. Traditional garden, stylized under the gardens of the Ming Dynasty, was created by landscape architects from Guangzhou with the observance of all canons of Chinese park art. There are waterfalls, small lakes with carp, elegant pavilions and cozy paths. The garden is open from 9:30 to 17:00 from April to September, in the remaining months from 9:30 to 17:30. Entry costs 4.5 USD (6 AUD) for an adult and 2.3 USD (3 AUD) for a child.
- Centennial Park. When you look at the map of Sydney, you can not help noticing the giant Centennial Park, broken in 1888 in honor of the centennial of European settlements on the continent. It was here on January 1, 1901, that the solemn ceremony of unification of six former British colonies was held in the Australian Union. In the park, there are many birds (parrots, ducks, swans) and a colony of flying foxes. In addition to watching the animals, you can have fun here by bike and horseback riding.
- Cremorne Reserve is a small park, remarkable for its beautiful views of the city. As a rule, people here are few. Get here very easily by ferry from Circular Quay. The park can be visited by walking along the northern suburbs.
- Sydney Harbour National Park is a large national park that includes parts of unspoiled nature along Sydney Harbor. The main attractions: the rocky peninsula Bradleys Head; North, South and Middle Heads; old quarantine station, Macquarie Lighthouse and Hornby Lighthouse lighthouses.
Tourist walking streets
I advise you to stroll along the following streets of Sydney:
George Street, the main CBD street, stretches from the Harbor Bridge and the historic Rocks to the central station. Elegant buildings of the XIX century adjoin here with modern skyscrapers. The main attractions: the oldest house in Sydney Cadman’s Cottage; Museum of Contemporary Art of Australia; a luxury shopping gallery of the XIX century Queen Victoria Building; Sydney Town Hall – City Hall in Victorian style, St Andrew’s Cathedral.
Pitt Street is another famous street of the business center. Particularly popular is its site between Market Street and King Street. It is called Pitt Street Mall, 200 meters away is a large number of shops, including another beautiful shopping gallery of the XIX century – The Strand Arcade.
Martin Place is the heart of the business center, an area surrounded by skyscrapers of the largest corporations. During lunch, hundreds of office workers fill it.
Macquarie Street with a high concentration of historical monuments: the Hyde Park Barracks Museum, the former Mint Mint, the St. James Church, the Sydney Hospital, the Parliament and the State Library of New South Wales.
Oxford Street. Along with the historic buildings of Victoria Barracks and Paddington Town Hall, there are many designer boutiques, bohemian bars and nightclubs. This street is very popular with the LGBT community of Sydney. Also every Saturday, the famous Paddington Markets market opens here.
King Street, Newtown is another popular Sydney street in the suburb of Newtown. Fashionable and lively, it is full of exciting shops, original cafes and music bars.
What to see in the vicinity
In the vicinity of Sydney, there are many interesting places, which can be visited either by a rented car or by public transport.
The Blue Mountains are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The name of the mountains is due to the bluish haze surrounding them – the result of the evaporation of many eucalypts.
The eponymous national park occupies a vast territory. To see its main attractions one day, of course, not enough. Here you can roam the eucalyptus forests, climb the rocks, go down into the caves, admire the waterfalls, ride the cable cars and cable cars. If you have limited time, you will have to make a difficult choice.
For example, for the first time, I decided to go to the city of Katoomba. It is straightforward to get there: the train from the Central station will take you to Katoomba without any transplants in 2 hours. By the way, I remind you, if you plan a trip on Sunday, then on the road, you will spend only 1.9 USD (2.5 AUD)! From the Katoomba railway station, you can walk or take a bus to the Echo Point observation deck, which offers a classic view of the legendary Three Sisters and endless eucalyptus forests.
In the vicinity, there are a lot of hiking trails. For example, you can go along the Prince Henry Cliff Walk trail to the Katoomba Falls waterfall. In Katoomba, there is also a Scenic World complex with two cable cars and a cable car. A ticket that includes the use of the entire Scenic World infrastructure costs 30 USD (39 AUD) for adults, 16 USD (21 AUD) for children from 4 to 13 years. A family ticket (2 adults + up to 5 children) will cost you 76 USD (99 AUD). From the nearby village of Leura, there is an easy walking path to the observation deck of the Gordon Falls Lookout, from where you can admire the beautiful waterfall. Another famous waterfall, Wentworth Falls, can be reached in two hours along the Charles Darwin’s path from the town of Wentworth Falls with the same name. If you do not have a car to travel around the country and see more in a short time, I recommend using the local bus company Blue Mountains Explorer Bus or Blue Mountains Trolley Tours. Do not forget about warm clothes: the weather here, as a rule, is much colder than in Sydney.
If you have a car, you can go to the wine region in the vicinity of Sydney – the Hunter Valley. At your service there will be hundreds of restaurants, wineries and breweries. It produces the legendary white wine Semillon. Nice also chardonnay, shiraz and merlot. Local farms are famous for their cheeses and olive oil. Popular, but expensive entertainment – flying over the valley on balloons. It can be booked in many companies, including Balloon Aloft, Cloud9 and Balloon Safaris.
Featherdale Wildlife Park
If you do not want long travel and exciting wildlife of Australia, I advise you to go to Featherdale Wildlife Park. Unlike the usual zoo in this wildlife park, you can approach animals closer and even touch some of the fantastic inhabitants of the continent. Who does not dream of stroking koala?
Getting on public transport is not difficult. You need to get on the train to Blacktown station, and then take bus number 729, which stops near the bus stand E at the exit of the station. The park is open from 9:00 to 17:00. Adult ticket costs 24 USD (31 AUD), children’s (from 3 to 15 years) – 13 USD (17 AUD).
Royal National Park
It is a vast national park that can offer a variety of activities: from walking and cycling to explore the culture of the aborigines. The main attractions: snow-white rock Wedding Cake Rock, view from Garie North Head, Garie beach, Lady Carrington Drive bike track and much more.
Things to do
- Climb the arches of the Harbor Bridge. As part of an organized tour, you will climb to the very top of the bridge, to a height of 134 meters above sea level. It does not require climbing skills; it’s just necessary to follow the guide and observe the safety rules. The ticket price for an adult starts from 120 USD (158 AUD). Book tickets online at BridgeClimb.
- Ride on the ferries. Ferries are the most pleasant and picturesque way to travel around the city. They are easy to pay with an Opal card, which must be attached to the reader when landing on the ferry at the quay, and then at the exit on arrival at the destination. For a relatively small amount of money you will get great pleasure. Choose any route: you can go in the direction of Manly or the opposite direction, towards Parramatta.
- Listen to the opera in the open air. If you are in the city between March and April, do not miss Handa Opera on Sydney Harbor. Opera unfolds against the backdrop of the scenic scenery of the Sydney Harbor.
- Take a walk along the hiking trails of the coast. I have already mentioned the section of the trail from Bondi beach to Bronte beach, but the road goes further, to Coogee beach. A walk will take a little over an hour if you do not make long stops. But it is almost impossible, because, in addition to beautiful views, along the way, you will meet and beautiful beaches. Another scenic route, Federation Cliff Walk, also starts from Bondi Beach, but goes towards Watsons Bay. Street Military Road leads you to the Raleigh Reserve, along with the paths along the rocks you will come to the beautiful viewing platform Gap. If you have enough strength, you can walk to the lighthouse Hornby Lighthouse. The walk is great to complete at one of Watson Bay pubs.
- Swim with sharks in Manly Sea Life Sanctuary. You will meet with sharks ranging in length from one to three meters without any cells! Prices start from 195 USD (252 AUD).
- Go up to the observation deck of Sydney Tower, Sydney’s tallest building (309 m) and the second tallest tower in the Southern Hemisphere. The ticket costs 20 USD (26.50 AUD) for adults, 13 USD (17 AUD) for children (from 4 to 15 years). If you buy it in advance and for a certain time, the price will be slightly lower. There is also an open area, but you can get there only as part of the tour with the Skywalk Tour guide. Prices start from 38 USD (50 AUD) for an adult and 25 USD (32.5 AUD) for a child. The price includes a visit to the closed viewing platform.
- Watch the whales. In the season (from May to November) from the piers of Circular Quay, Darling Harbor and Manly depart special pleasure boats that will allow you to see more closely these magnificent creatures. If you are lucky, you can see whales for free. An excellent observation deck is equipped with Cape Solander cape in the Botany Bay National Park. Other favorite places of observation: North Head observation deck, Palm Beach Lighthouse, and the already mentioned trail from Bondi Beach to Coogee.
- Visit the zoo. Taronga Zoo is famous for its rich collection (more than 4000 inhabitants). There is a cable car; there are regularly held various shows involving animals. Come here and because of the dizzying views of the bay and the city. By the way, the word “Taronga” is translated from the language of the aborigines as “beautiful view”. The beauty of the surrounding landscape has made the zoo a popular venue for wedding receptions. To reach easily by ferry from Circular Quay. From the pier of the zoo to the main entrance will take a special bus. Opening hours: 9:30 – 16:30 (May to August), 9:30 – 17:00 (September to April), on New Year’s Eve the zoo is open until 4:00 pm. Ticket price: adult – 35 USD (46 AUD), child 20 USD (26 AUD), family (2 adults, 2 children) – 99 USD (129.6 AUD). By booking tickets online, you can save a little.