Best Sights in Sydney
Blessed with sunny weather, golden beaches, and one of the most famous icons in the world, Sydney is a must on everyone’s bucket list. But besides the famous Opera House, what else does Sydney have to offer, and why should you go there? We will show you the best sights in Sydney. And tell you when to go, how to get there, and everything else this beautiful city has to offer!
When to Go to Sydney
We have some great news for you- Sydney is a sunny destination! It has warm to hot summers, and mild winters, which means that Sydney’s fantastic attractions can be visited all year round.
The hottest months in Sydney are January and February, where average temperatures are 26 degrees (78° F). The coolest months are June and July, where average temperatures are a mild 17 degrees (62°F). Sydney’s wettest month is typically June, with an average rainfall of 132mm (5.2 inches).
We have been in Sydney in the summer (January), autumn (March) and winter (July). In January, we had some scorching hot days. Our days while we were there in March were cloudy, and we needed light jackets. It was never cold while we were in Sydney in July, but we rarely left the house without rain jackets just to be sure.
With this in mind, Sydney is perfect destination to extend summertime while fleeing the American or European winters!
How to Get to Sydney
Located on the Southeast Coast of Australia, Sydney is the capital of the state of New South Wales and is the largest city in Australia.
Flight: All major airports serve flights to Sydney, both domestic as well as international. The average flight time to Sydney from Europe is 21 hours, typically with a stop in either Singapore or the Emirates. If you’re coming from the US, the flight duration is almost 18 hours, with direct flights often originating from the West Coast. From most of Asia to Sydney, the flight time averages over 12 hours.
If you’re flying from within Australia, the flight distances are also long! Perth or Darwin is about 4.5 hours, 2 hours from Adelaide, 1 hour, 30 minutes from Brisbane, and just under 1.5 hours from Melbourne.
Car: If you are already in Australia, the most flexible way of traveling is driving by car, or like us, with a campervan.
- It takes around 10 hours to drive from Melbourne to Sydney.
- From Brisbane to Sydney, also count in almost 10 hours.
- If you are on a road trip starting in Adelaide, it will take 16 hours.
- And, if you’re coming from Perth, it’s a good 42 hours. Good luck mate!
Keep in mind that Australia is a huge country, so if traveling by car, you should rather add in more time for traveling than less.
Bus: The most well-known bus company that will serve most cities and towns is Greyhound Australia. However, there are other bus companies as well. We recommend checking one of our favorite apps Rome2Rio to see all possibilities on getting around, including how long it takes, as well as the estimated costs.
How to Get Around in Sydney
Sydney has a good road system, with both toll and non-tolled motorways, so it is easy to get around. However, we found Sydney’s public transportation will save you time and you can see the sights more comfortably. Be sure to get an Opal card to save money. The card itself is free, and you can top it up at newsagencies/newsstands, vending machines, or 7/11.
Where to Stay in Sydney
We were amazed by the countless possibilities of awesome accommodations in Sydney! There is a huge variety of hotels, apartments and even a great Campsite with options of campgrounds, glamping tents and self-contained houses. Here are some of our top picks!
If these don’t fit your style, you can search for other options in Sydney here:
Sightseeing in Sydney
Sydney is a vibrant city and has endless possibilities for sightseeing. So, if you want to spoil your taste buds with fantastic food, go for a swim at one of the many beaches, or simply stroll the CBD, Sydney has it all. And it’s exactly that mix that makes this city so attractive!
Let’s dive into the best sights in Sydney!
Sydney Opera House
Who doesn’t know THE iconic landmark of Sydney: the Sydney Opera House!
A visit to the Sydney Opera House with its exceptional structure is a MUST. If you don’t visit this UNESCO architecture yourself, you haven’t been in Sydney!
Tip: The best view of the Sydney Opera House that we found is from North Sydney; and to be more precise, from McMahons Point. From here you have an unobstructed view of both landmarks, the Sydney Opera House AND the Sydney Harbour Bridge, benches to sit and enjoy, and amazingly little to no tourists.
Fun Fact: I was born in the same year that the Sydney Opera House opened! Can you guess which year?
Sydney Harbour Bridge
No trip to Sydney is complete without having crossed the Sydney Harbour Bridge on foot! And it’s free too! Enjoy incredible views of the Sydney Harbour from the bridge and take a close look at the steel construction of the “Coat Hanger” as the bridge is affectionately known by locals.
And why not take the Bridge Climb! With an admission of $ 348.00 pp, the Bridge Climb is not on the cheap side. But the 360° view of the city you will get in exchange, is sure worth every penny.
The best place to start your sightseeing tour of Sydney is the Circular Quay– after all, it is home to the city’s icons.
Located directly on the harbour, the quay is probably Sydney’s major transportation hub, with the metro and ferry terminals*.
Get a delicious icecream, watch the people walk by, soak in the sights and sounds of Sydney- and why not joining a Harbor Cruise* afterwards.
Australia’s oldest fishing village, Watson Bay is a small town that was founded in 1788. From Watson Bay you can see the incredible Sydney skyline.
To get to Watson Bay, take the train to Circular Quay Wharf. From there, take a ferry. The ferry crossing from Circular Quay Wharf to Watson Bay takes only about half an hour.
Tip: Doyle’s Fish ’n Chips is well known and not only by tourists, because the locals love the food here as well.
While in Watson Bay, be sure to take a small hike. The South Head Loop is just 3 km. The loop starts at the harbor and takes about an hour. And believe us, the views of Sydney and the Tasman Sea you get from here are spectacular!
The loop will take you passed two bathing bays. The first bay is quite crowded and has a small kiosk where you can buy drinks and snacks. A perfect spot for a break!
The second bay, Lady’s Bay, is beautifully located, looks like paradise, and is not overcrowded at all. But the reason why might be because Lady’s Bay is a nudist beach!
Tip: We combined Watson Bay with Bondi Beach. Bus number 380 will take you directly from Watson Bay to Bondi Beach and only takes 15 minutes.
Free Walking Tour Sydney
Sydney’s Free Walking Tour takes place twice a day, once at 10:30 in the morning and again at 2:30 p.m. The pace is very pleasant, and you need about 2.5 to 3 hours. In the end, everyone pays for what they thought the tour was worth. The meeting point is at Town Hall, and the tour covers all the highlights of Sydney.
We saw the St. James Church, the Queen Victoria Building, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Rum Hospital, Parliament House, The Rocks, Macquarie Street, and more. The tour ended with Sydney’s icons: the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
We highly recommend joining a walking tour to get a good overview of Sydney.
Luna Park in Sydney
Huge fans of amusement parks, when we found out that there is a Luna Park in Sydney, we had to go visit.
Sydney’s Luna Park opened in 1935. Molded after the original Luna Park in Coney Island, Sydney’s Luna Park features the Art Deco architecture of the 1930’s.
Complete with roller coasters as well as family rides, our favorite section was Coney Island.
And the best part about Luna Park is that the entrance and strolling around is absolutely free!
The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney
The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney opened in 1816 and is the oldest botanic garden in Australia. Savor the beautiful exotic plants from all over the world on a leisurely stroll through the Gardens – a green oasis like no other.
Located near the Opera House and Circular Quay, it’s easy to get there.
Another spectacular area is Darling Harbor. Its location right around the corner from Circular Quay makes it a perfect place to be. Uncountable restaurants and bars are well liked by both tourists and locals. Also don’t miss out on visiting the Sydney Aquarium with over 13000 fish and other eye-catching species.
Not directly at Darling Harbor, but only a 10 minute bus ride away, is the famous Sydney Tower*. Indulge yourself with 360 degree views and delightful dishes from all over the world in the rotating restaurant.
Hip Newtown is a trendy neighborhood in Sydney with many bars, restaurants, and cafes. There are also many second-hand shops, vintage shops, and a lot of shopping opportunities for vegetarians and vegans.
We had a fantastic day in Newton, spending an afternoon at the movie theatre, having a smoothie in a beautiful corner cafe, and a delicious plant-based Bacon Burger for lunch.
We liked Newtown very much. It is a very cool place where you can easily spend a few hours.
Best Beaches in Sydney
Being the largest city in Australia, you might be as surprised as we were to learn that Sydney has over 100 beaches! And many of them are easily reached by public transport from the city centre.
What would a sightseeing trip to Sydney be without a visit to one of the most famous beaches in the world, Bondi Beach! Bondi is a perfect place for swimming, surfing*, and has a long beach for sunbathing.
We found that Bondi was much more than “just a beach” however. We found plenty of coffee shops and boutique shops to occupy our time. And while we didn’t come at night, with a ton of bars, Bondi offers a big nightlife.
Located in Sydney’s Northern Beaches region, Manly Beach is a surfer’s paradise. You can reach Manly Beach from Circular Quay by bus, train, or ferry. Our tip is to take the ferry to get amazing views and enjoy a 30-minute cruise to get to Manly*. Manly has 2 beaches, one that faces the Pacific Ocean, and one facing Sydney Harbour.
We didn’t have the best of weather on our visit to Manly, but we enjoyed the awesome vibe of the town while strolling around and window shopping in the many surf shops.
Opinions are divided whether Bondi or Manly is the best beach in Sydney. So, it would be wise to go see both and then decide for yourself!
More Beaches in Sydney
While Bondi and Manly may be the most well-known beaches in Sydney, there is a huge variety of choices possible for your perfect day at the beach. When in Sydney, check out these other fantastic beaches: Maroubra Beach, Shelly Beach, Bronte Beach, Coogee Beach, Kutti Beach, Balmoral Beach, Milk Beach, and Tamarama Beach.
Tip: Be sure to stay between the red and yellow flags while swimming in the ocean.
Shopping in Sydney
Sydney is full of beautiful arcades and shopping malls where you can find everything that your heart desires. But wherever you go shopping, don’t miss out on these exceptionally attractive malls:
- Queen Victoria Building, also known as QVB, was completed in 1898 and houses over 180 of Sydney’s finest boutiques. The QVB is an architectural masterpiece, so even if you’re not interested in shopping, a stop here is highly recommended.
- “The Rocks” is a located at the Circular Quay and is an area with many individual small galleries and shops. While on our walking tour, we learned that The Rocks is the birthplace of Sydney, as it was here that the convicts first established their shops and homes. We highly recommend this unique area!
- Westfield Sydney is a shopping mall chain that offers a huge food court.
- Town Hall Square
- Opened in 1922, The Dymocks Building has an Art Deco flair, and is home to historic Dymocks Sydney, Australia’s largest bookstore.
- And the Strand Arcade is a majestic beauty. Built in 1891, The Strand Arcade is home to many old-fashioned retailers and is now an institution in Sydney. If you are looking for something extraordinary and unique, you will find it here.
- You will also find many shops all along the streets, just stroll around in the CBD.
Tip: If you walk down George Street, you’ve covered most of the shopping malls listed above. You can then relax in the nearby beautiful Hyde Park, a green oasis that rests between Sydney’s skyscrapers.
Day Trips from Sydney
If you are in Sydney and have some extra time, there are some incredible destinations on Sydney’s doorstep.
Is it Worth Visiting Sydney?
Hell yes! In our opinion Sydney is absolutely worth a visit! To be able to have a city trip combined with beach days is the best scenario for both city and beach lovers! The landmarks are bucket list sights, and the different districts hold many unexpected surprises.
Sydney is often compared with Melbourne, and everyone wants to know which city is “better”. But they are different and are offering so many great sights, restaurants and shopping that we know that Sydney vs Melbourne, if it is better or not, is just a feeling of an individual. If you only have time to visit one of these cities, then it comes down to a personal choice of what you want to do on your holiday.
As we like to say: go and explore, open your heart and see the full beauty of a place. And let us know what you discover.
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