Sydney is a cosmopolitan city that is surrounded by iconic beaches, a UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as celebrated wine regions. Contrary to popular belief, Sydney is NOT the country’s capital. It is, however, Australia’s largest city, acting as the nation’s financial capital and has been labelled as a UNESCO Creative City. With a vast variety of attractions and sights, including the illustrious Bondi and Manly beaches, it is no wonder that Sydney is the country’s most visited city. With so many incredible sights to see, where does one start?
With that in mind, here are my Sydney top six, to help you get the most out of your visit:
The Rocks – The Rocks district is the oldest part of Sydney. Made up of narrow lanes, colonial buildings, sandstone churches, and some of the oldest pubs in Australia, this district is where Sydney first came to fruition when the British first landed. Nearly demolished in the 1970s to make way for modern high-rises, it had a lucky escape when citizen action saw it preserved. The Rocks plays host to renowned weekend markets, art galleries, street entertainment, incredible food, and stunning views of the harbour, Opera House, and the Bridge, surely making this one of the coolest parts of Sydney.
Sydney Harbour Bridge – Sydney Harbour Bridge was built in 1932 in response to the Great Depression, as a way of creating jobs. Since then, it has become an iconic symbol for the city, along with the nearby Opera House. If you feel like splashing some cash, tours to climb the bridge are available (160 AUD), otherwise it is free to walk or cycle across it for incredible payoff of panoramic views of the harbour and Opera House.
The beaches – Considering the city’s warm and sunny weather, there is a strong beach culture. Every weekend, there is an influx of locals, and most weekdays too, to be honest. The city’s renowned beaches also attract tourists from around the globe. Whether you are hitting Palm Beach and Manly in the north, or Bondi and Coogee in the south, there is enough beach for everyone. All Sydney’s beaches are accessible via public transport or car, as well as being surrounded by numerous restaurants and bars. However, if you fancy less bustle, Bronte is a smaller and quieter, yet equally spectacular beach.
The museums – As with most cities, Sydney has a wide range of museums. Whether it be modern art at the Art Galley of New South Wales, or local history at The Rocks Discovery Museum, Sydney covers all the bases. The one I would recommend is Hyde Park Barracks. It’s a museum established in the city’s old convict barracks, and does a stellar job of chronicling colonial life in the city, with tales of early settlers. It’s well worth the 10 AUD entrance, and a little education never hurt anyone.
Cultural events – As two of Australia’s largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne have a sort of sibling rivalry going on. Whilst Sydney has been designated a UNESCO Creative City, Melbourne holds the honour of being Australia’s ‘culture capital’. As a result, Sydney makes great efforts to try and out-do its rival by playing host to over 30 official festivals and events each year. Check out what’s happening when you’re there on the Sydney tourism website.
Party into the early hours – At the end of a long working (or travelling) week, Sydney dwellers like to let off some steam. If you’re looking for a wild that won’t break the bank, then head to King’s Cross. Here, the beer is cheap and the backpackers and locals, alike, party late into the night! My recommendation: head to World Bar, it’s where most of the action happens, and what’s more, the drinks are cheap and there is a huge dancefloor. Don’t fancy the backpacker hotspots? Head over to Manly, The Rocks, or the Central Business District, there you’ll find a load more locals and fewer travellers, the only downside is that the prices are higher.
The Rocks: Max Pixel
Sydney Harbour bridge: Wikipedia
Bondi Beach: Wikimedia Commons
Art Gallery of NSW: Wikimedia Commons
Sydney Festival: Wikimedia Commons
Manly Beach: Jay’s Thought Stream