1. Circular Quay
The Quay that combines the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge is a view that you should already be familiar with. With a busy ferry port that provides you with heaps of ways to explore Sydney and see the famous landmarks from the water, as well as an outdoor bar in the shadows of the architectural masterpiece you’ll be spoilt for choice and have plenty of potential Instagrams. After taking in the views, snapping loads of pictures and having a bottle of the Opera Bar Sparkling Wine be sure to venture further afield to complete the most touristy day in Sydney.
Located near the beginning of the Harbour Bridge, takes you back to the first colony’s to reach Sydney with it’s old architecture, narrow lanes and two pubs which claim to be the oldest in Sydney. If history isn’t for you don’t be put off as each weekend the rocks markets are on, giving you the chance to find gifts, locally made products and delicious food along the cobbled streets. After you’ve learnt some history in the free Rocks Museum and checked out the markets stop for a beer in the Bavarian Bier Cafe.
Check out the website to see what’s on and find out more.
The Botanical Gardens
As well as seeing the Opera House up close it is well worth walking through the tranquil Botanical Gardens, with water to your left and the cityscape to your right until you get to Mrs Macquarie’s Point. This gives the postcard view of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge perfectly lined up – head there for sunrise or sunset to get the best photo opportunity.
2. Darling Harbour
For the perfect dining setting make your way to Darling Harbour and eat overlooking the Harbour as boats come and go. With enough restaurant choices for even the fussiest of eaters this really is the best spot for your evening meal. And once you’ve filled up on dessert and fought over who’s paying the bill you can chose the next bar for some cocktails by the waterfront.
As well as providing your evening entertainment Darling Harbour is a great day out. With the Sea Life Aquarium, Wild Life Sydney Zoo and Madame Tussaud’s Museum just a few steps from Pyrmont Bridge. Better yet, book a 2-course lunch on one of the many cruises departing from either Darling Harbour or Circular Quay for the ultimate dining experience.
3. Harbour Bridge
The Harbour Bridge Walk
Ever wondered what’s on the other side of the Harbour Bridge or what it’s like to stand right at the top of it? Well luckily you can find out, although one will set you back anywhere between $200-$400. My personal choice is the leisurely stroll across the bridge where you can stop as many times as you want to have a look around and get some pictures of the view. This option is completely free – or you can pay $15 per adult to go up to the Pylon Lookout for a slightly more elevated, unobstructed view of Circular Quay.
If you make it the whole 1.5km to the North side of Sydney there are a couple of stops worth paying a visit to – Luna Park and the Olympic Pool.
Luna Park first opened in 1935 and provides another great view of the Harbour Bridge. It’s definitely worth checking out at night when the lights really make it come to life.
The Olympic Swimming Pool
Complete with a Spa and Sauna, the Olympic size swimming pool gives you a cheap opportunity to have a swim while looking out to more impressive views of the bridge. If you don’t feel up to the walk back catch the ferry from Milson’s Point and you’ll find yourself back at Circular Quay.
For pricing and further information click here.
The Bridge Climb
Something I haven’t done as I felt satisfied with the pedestrian footpath. However, if you have the money to spend it’s well worth looking at the sunset climb as Australia really does know how to put on a good show at dusk. Not only will climbing the bridge give you the ultimate vantage point of Sydney Harbour but you also get to wear matching blue jumpsuits!
For packages and more information click here.
4. Sydney Beaches
You’ve probably heard of Bondi Beach (one of the most famous beaches in the world) but you may not be familiar with Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly or Coogee – a string of beaches lining Sydney’s Eastern suburbs and all part of a 6km coastal walk.
Keep an entire day free for this walk and make sure it’s a nice day for picture-perfect views and clear blue water. From the City hop on a bus to Bondi Beach. Spend some time sat on the grass or sand watching the beach-goers with a coffee or juice before heading to the South end of the bay and the famous tidal pool – Bondi Icebergs.
From here just keep walking South, ensuring the ocean is always to your left you can’t go wrong. Be prepared to make some stops along the way as the rock formations and crashing waves make for good pictures and an ideal spot to look across the water, hear the ocean and relax. Also, if you’re doing the walk between the months of May and November keep an eye on the horizon for sprays of water as you may just catch a glimpse of Humpback Whales doing their annual migration.
Ensure you have a bag with all your beach essentials as each bay provides a unique stop, complete with lifeguards, cafes and tidal pools – which you will be thankful for if it’s a hot day. Also don’t forget a water bottle, and no need to ration your supplies as there are fountains all the way along the walk.
Part of the Coastal walk is currently closed due to storm damage in June 2016. Therefore there is a detour which takes you through Waverly Cemetery, opened in 1877 on top of the cliffs at Bronte. This sea of white, intricate gravestones looking out toward the horizon is a breathtaking sight and worth the slight extension to the walk. If you chose to do the walk during sunset the pink and red hues to the sky create a beautiful contrast.
A perfect option for sand haters as concrete platforms have been constructed with access steps to the water. This beach is popular with sunbathers and snorkelers and is more similar to a large tidal pool than a beach although there is sand if traditional sandcastles and paddling along the shore is more your style.
When you eventually get to Coogee Beach it’s worth heading up the strip and seeing the cafes and restaurants available, or make your way to the top floor of the Coogee Pavilion where you can have some Mediterranean tapas while overlooking the beach. Luckily you don’t have to walk to Bondi to get back as buses to the city from Coogee are regular and the bus stop is right by the beach front.
Check out the Coogee Pavilion Menu here.
Museum of Sydney
If you’ve now completed numbers 1-4 of the list I can assume you’ve started to fall in love with the city that perfectly combines it’s Central Business District and Coastal location. Now all that’s left is some culture. Learn about the indigenous people, the convicts and how Sydney got to where it is today in the Museum of Sydney; conveniently located just a few minutes from Circular Quay, adults pay $12 and have the choice of getting a free tour.
The Australian Museum
If this doesn’t answer all your questions about Australia then have no fear, the Australian Museum is also located in Sydney, and for $15 you can find out about Aboriginal tribes from all around Australia, be scared by the dangerous animals you may see over here and see some collections of indigenous objects and artwork.
Museum of Contemporary Art
If art is more your style then the Museum of Contemporary Art is worth a visit. The admission is free making this an ideal way to wile away a couple of hours. With exhibitions being changed regularly it’s worth having a look on the website to see what’s on. Once you’ve had a look around head to the cafe for some lunch where you can sit on a rooftop with views of the Opera House as this museum is positioned on the far side of Circular Quay.