When I lived in Sydney I managed to see quite a bit of the city and the surrounding area of New South Wales. Here’s the list of my top ten things to do when in Sydney. My funny memories will be coming soon, when I have censored them to conceal the identities of the not so innocent!
1) Manly Beach – This is at the top of my list for purely personal reasons. This is where I lived. I loved Manly and therefore I am completely biased that this is the best place in Sydney to visit! The beach is stunning and the community has one of the friendliest atmospheres I’ve ever encountered. Manly has a plethora of trendy bars, cafes and shops as well as a few good old Aussie pubs for good measure. It’s the perfect location if you’re a backpacker, on a family holiday or a honeymooner. Manly is easily reached by ferry, so Sydney and all of its delights are never far away.
2) Sydney Harbour & Opera House – The first time I saw these two “true blue” Aussie icons was on my first day in the city. It was very surreal and I felt as though I had entered a postcard. After many years of wanting to go to Australia, I finally was here! I never got the opportunity to do a Sydney Bridge Climb as these can be a little pricey for a backpacker, but I managed the next best thing. Climbing one of the towers at the end of the bridge. My view may not have been quite as panoramic as from the top of the bridge, but it was a fraction of the price, the views were still breathtaking, and it was still enough of a climb for my out-of-shape legs to muster. I would recommend this climb to anyone who feels that they have to see Sydney from a great vantage point, but is travelling on a budget. You get to read about the history of the bridge during the climbing of the tower, so you get a real feel for what the builders went through all those many years ago!
3) The City – Sydney is bustling and vibrant city. I usually entered the main city from Circular Quay (the main ferry harbour) and within a few minutes of walking I would be surrounded by the vast shopping centres, including the QVB (Queen Victoria Building) with its boutique shops and the Westfield Shopping Centre. Nearby was the famous Darling Harbour, with its smorgasbord of shops, cafés, bars and clubs. A must see for all tourists looking for a little light refreshment and entertainment.
4) Bondi Beach – Everyone visiting Sydney visits Bondi Beach at least once. This is the main beach where all backpacking tourists migrate to learn to surf, boogie board and generally chill out on the beach and meet like-minded people. It’s probably the most crowded beach in Sydney, but worth the day trip to soak up the sun and atmosphere.
5) Palm Beach – Known to many as Home and Away’s Summer Bay, this is a beautiful beach approximately an hour north of Sydney. I was somewhat surprised to discover that it was only an hour away, due to many years of watching the aforementioned soap opera, where people would go to “The City” and never return! I didn’t get a starring role during my time at Palm Beach, but I managed to locate “The Surf Club” which made my day (a little pathetic I know) and have the perfect fish and chips!
6) The Rocks – Located close by to Circular Quay, the Rocks is home to the designer and boutique shops of Sydney. Being the oldest part of the city, the Rocks is home to spectacular architecture and every Saturday there is a market where you can buy all different types of craftwork, paintings and souvenirs from the local artists – well worth the visit!
7) Narrabeen – You may not have heard of Narrabeen, but it’s worth a visit. The main two attractions I saw there were the peaceful beach (which had great surfing waves the day I was there) and just across the road… a beautiful lake where you can go kayaking. This was one of my more active day trips (with a nice relaxing picnic thrown in for good measure) in Sydney and definitely brings back good memories.
8) Seaplane Tours – Wanting a tour with a difference? Then why not tour Sydney in a seaplane. They can be fairly pricey, but if you have money burning a hole in your wallet, this is a unique way to see the city.
OK, OK the next two bits aren’t in Syndey, but it’s more good stuff to do when in New South Wales!
9) Blue Mountains – Most people visit the Blue Mountains for two or three days and this is plenty of time to take in the breathtaking scenery and fresh country air (although saying that, I found Sydney to be a really clean city in comparison to most I have visited). The mountains are spectacular and their bluish colour is something I have never seen before in a mountain scene.
10) Hunter Valley Wines – A great place for all wine lovers. Just a couple of hours drive north of Sydney and you’ll be in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales’ wine country. There are many beautiful places to stay if you choose to extend your visit before heading back to the bustle of Sydney, so you can get a true feel for the many different vineyards the region has to offer.
Other things to do in Sydney… take in a show at the Opera House, go to a sports event at Homebush (the Olympic Stadium), take in the glamourous Mardi Gras parade and of course enjoy the many different fine dining and local cuisines on offer throughout the city.