Sydney, Australia (2/23-3/3)

Welcome to our 8 day tour of Sydney, Australia. We hope you enjoy traveling with us and are inspired to take your own trip. This trip was part of our seven month journey around the world which began in Flores, Guatemala. See a summary of the destinations we traveled to over our seven months here: link.

Gettin’ Down Under in Sydney, Australia

After a long 14-hour flight from Honolulu, O’ahu we finally touched down at our next destination.

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Why Travel to Sydney, Australia?

Sydney, Australia’s largest city, is all about relaxing and enjoying the outdoors, marveling at natural beauty, and gawking at the stunning World Heritage sites. If we were to ever live in a foreign country, Australia (and in particular – Sydney) would make the top of the list. There are options for hiking, playing beach volleyball, enjoying a picnic at the park, and entertaining city life; all before mentioning the incredibly friendly and laid-back people.   

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How Long to Stay in Sydney, Australia?

We generally don’t like spending too much time in cities, but there are plenty of sanctuaries and things to do that kept us around. While we loved Sydney, we don’t think it’s necessary to spend a lot of time here to really enjoy it. A nice itinerary would be to do the walk of the coastal beaches and spend a couple of days lounging at your beach of choice (surfing or volleyball optional). Then having a couple days for various guided or self-guided walking tours of the city. There is a lot to see and enjoy in a small area. You could also fit in a day trip to the Blue Mountains or visit a wildlife park. Other activities of interest would be catching a show at the opera house or going whale watching, if in season. There are also loads of shopping, restaurants, and night-life options for you to explore too. For our purposes, we would have been happy with five days, but certainly enjoyed having the extra time.

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Top Things To Do in Sydney, Australia


1) Beaches, Beaches, and More Beaches!


A stone’s throw away from downtown Sydney you will find several gorgeous beaches lining the coast. Each beach is easily accessible by car or by public transportation. For those that want to travel by foot (free option), take a walk along the impressive Eastern Beaches Coastal Walk connecting all the golden beaches (more on that later).

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach is unarguably the most iconic beach in Sydney. With its crescent shape, fine sand and dependable waves, it is clear why many flock from all over the world to Bondi. 

Coogee Beach

The rivaling Coogee Beach is where you’ll likely find a good game of volleyball while chatting up locals and tourists. 

Coogee Beach in the background
Manly Beach

Manly is the laid-back cousin to Bondi. Manly Beach is not only a surfers paradise but also a place where many come to unwind, sunbathe, and let go of their worries. On the outskirts of Manly is The Corso, a pedestrian-only strip that is home to dozens of shops, cafes, and gift shops. A top attraction would be taking the ferry from Manly back to Circular Quay (or vice versa which gives excellent views of Sydney harbour including the opera house and bridge. 

Each of these beaches have a pick of nearby restaurants to keep your hunger satisfied all day long.


2) Bondi to Coogee (Eastern Beaches Coastal Walk)


Take this breathtaking six-kilometer (just under four miles) walk along the coastline of Sydney. Enjoy sweeping views of some of Australia’s most well-known beaches and enjoy the nice architecture along the way. You’ll pass through several beaches. Feel free to stop and relax at your beach of choice. Personally, we were always drawn to where people were playing volleyball.

Dunningham Reserve; just north of Coogee Beach
Sunset over Tamarama Beach
The walk has heaps of stellar views and bays

The Eastern Beaches Coastal Walk is a can’t miss activity when in Sydney.


3) Walk, Walk, and Walk More


It’s surprising how many wonderful things you can see in a short period of time. See map below for walking directions to hit each of these stops:

  1. Darling Harbour (see #6)
  2. Queen Victoria Building
  3. Hyde Park/Anzac Memorial/St. Mary’s Cathedral – and nearby park
  4. Royal Botanic Garden (See #7)
  5. Sydney Opera House (See #4)
  6. The Rocks  (See #10)
  7. Sydney Observatory (Observatory Hill Park) (See #9)

This exact route is four miles (one-way) and takes just over one hour. Note that this is the direct route from each stop to the next and does not include time spent exploring. For instance, you can easily spend hours at the Royal Botanic Garden.

There are several “free walking tours” offered that will take you to most of these destinations while also providing history and context. We highly recommend this.


4) The Sydney Opera House


The world-famous Opera House is said to be the Country’s number one tourist destination. The sail-like appearance of the building is magnificent to see from many different viewpoints in Sydney and the interior exemplifies the meticulous architecture. Make sure to catch a performance or consider a tour of the inside to see what all the fuss is about. 

Sydney 101: If you want to attend a show, book far in advance
Nighttime view of the Opera House from Sydney Harbour Bridge

5) Sydney Harbour Bridge


The Sydney Harbour Bridge is an iconic steel bridge built during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Building the bridge provided over 2,000 jobs during the worst economic time of the century. At time of completion, the bridge broke the records for the longest, largest, and widest steel-arch bridge, which it no longer holds.

The bridge is stunning to view from various points around Sydney and walking this incredible structure provides some of the most spectacular panoramic views of the Harbour and Opera House. 

There is even an option to climb the top scaffolding of the bridge, though it does come at a steep price. 


6) Darling Harbor


Our accommodation was right outside of Darling Harbor, so we were lucky enough to enjoy walking through it each day.

Between the waterfront restaurants and bars, the aquarium, museums there are plenty of ways to stay entertained and enjoy some nightlife.  

Oh hey, that’s my girl Lea DeLaria from Orange is the New Black
Make sure to enjoy a nigh-time walk around the Harbour

7) The Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney


The Royal Botanic Garden is free to the public and is a massive grounds of beautiful natural flora.

Sydney 101: Do all the free activities. It's worth your time.

This heritage-listed site is not to be missed while in Sydney and is easy to fit in on a trip down to Circular Quay (official name of the harbour with the Opera House and Bridge). If you are looking to energize your day, go for a run or a bike ride along the harbour coast. Guaranteed to give you a boost of energy. 


8) The Blue Mountains


Head 1-hour west of Sydney to the rugged Blue Mountains known for its impressive scenery. The mountain range boasts dramatic cliffs, deep gorges, waterfalls, and forests covered with Eucalyptus trees. It is also home to the famous rock formation – the Three Sisters (which apparently you can hike to but we got there too late, ugh).

View of the Three Sisters Rock formation. Per aboriginal legend, three sisters were turned to stone for protection by an elder who was killed in battle and thus could not turn them back.

One of the best times to view The Three Sisters is during sunset. The cherry on top? It’s free to visit and there are several trail hikes with the option to stay overnight.  

Kurt also did a day-hike on a previous trip to Sydney back in 2013 and enjoyed it thoroughly. Here are some photos from his hike:  

There are several exhibits and points of interest throughout the park as highlighted here: 

https://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/visit/map#/


9) Observatory Hill Park


A public park with sweeping views of Sydney Harbour and the Harbour Bridge. You can look at the park’s artworks, workout, or just chill and kick back. I mean, with these views you don’t need much more.


10) Featherdale Sydney Wildlife Park


At less than an hour drive from Sydney, this park is home to native Aussie animals from koalas to kangaroos to the endangered Tasmanian devil. One of our favorite parts about the park is being able to buy feed on-site to feed wallabies and other local wildlife.

Feeding the wallaby

Kurt met his best friend and now favorite animal, the wombat, back on his previous trip in 2013. And brought me back here to see why. 


11) The Rocks


The Rocks, a neighborhood west of Circular Quay, is the birthplace of modern-day Sydney where British settlers first came in the late 1700s. Be sure to take one of the many free walking tours to learn about the striking history. The Rocks consist of narrow streets, old pubs, cobbled lanes, and sandstone buildings all brought to life through a guided tour.


12) Visit Sydney’s Hyde Park


(Hyde Park/Anzac Memorial/St. Mary’s Cathedral)

Hyde Park

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Top Things To Do From Last Time in Sydney, australia 

Kurt visited Sydney back in 2013 and here are a couple of other things he did while on that trip:


Taronga Zoo


Australia’s largest zoo, located in the suburb of Mosman, on the shores of Sydney Harbour.

Even the giraffes get the skyline view
And the bird show gets a view too

Jenolan Caves


Located in the Blue Mountains a few hours from Sydney lies a massive limestone cave system. Walking tours and adventure caving tours are offered.

Stalactites
Check out how huge this cave is…notice the ladder to the right

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Where To Eat in Sydney, Australia

There are plenty of world class eateries in Sydney, and several come with epics views. As with the majority of our trip, we mostly cooked our own meals to save $$$.

Sydney 101: Cook your own meals whenever possible, as food is expensive in Australia

However, below are a few places we did try worth mentioning.


Moo Gourmet Burgers Manly


Located right off of Manly Beach, Moo Gourmet Burgers Manly specializes in burgers and shakes. They offer a variety or food that caters to all dietary requests, including vegan and gluten-free diets.

Moo Gourmet Burgers, (right along Manly Beach); dining with a view

Australian Hotel


This is one of Sydney’s oldest pubs which doubles as a Hotel. They put their Aussie twist on the menu, one of which was a kangaroo/emu pizza. Wait…what??? I know… they explained the kangaroo was overpopulated, but now I don’t know how I feel about this. Wild. I think at some point after this is when I went full vegan.

Our awesome Aussie friends that Kurt has known for some time

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Other Recommendations of Things to Do

These are all adventures that we unfortunately didn’t have time to do on our own but would have considered if we had more time:

  • Whale watching: Mid May – mid November is a good time for humpback whale watching.
  • Surfing: Because when in surf country…
  • Tour of Royal Botanic Gardens: So many interesting things to see here. Check out this link for options: https://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/Visit/Tour-and-activities
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk: Walking up in the scaffolding seems like it would be pretty awesome.

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Question For You

  • What was your favorite thing about Sydney?

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