Long considered one of the World’s most beautiful as well as live-able cities, Sydney is a city which effortlessly and consistently draws all types of travellers, from first-timers to globetrotters. It is the must-see city for any traveller to Australia, who come for good reason: Sydney has one of the most recognizable skylines in the world, filled with iconic buildings, small galleries showcasing inspired Australian talent, a thriving music scene, some of the world’s finest restaurants alongside local eateries which truly explain the cities multi-ethnic gastronomic roots – and we haven’t even mentioned the weather, beaches, architecture or wine!
Sydney is one of our favourite cities too – as a travel company, our only office outside of North America is based in Sydney. We’ve polled our experts for travel to Australia – who plan out custom Australia tours for our clients on a day to day basis – what were their favourite things to see and do in splendid Sydney. While how much time you have will obviously be up to you, we think this city deserves at least 3-4 days. That said, the following list is more or less in the CBD (central business district) of Sydney, meaning you could combine a few of the following ideas.
Take a Private Sydney Harbour Boat Cruise – Nothing will set the stage for a few exciting days in Sydney better than sailing past the Opera House with a glass of Australian wine in hand – Welcome to Sydney.
- Do a private tour through the historic Rocks area, one of the oldest neighbourhoods and adjacent to the Harbour Bridge. Afterwards, having gained a sense of where you are, explore the Rock’s many art galleries and boutique shops.
- Take a half-day private surf-lesson on Sydney’s legendary Bondi Beach.
Embrace Sydney’s beach culture and spend the whole day at the beach… As they say, “when in Rome”, Sydney has multiple beaches like Bondi, Manly or Coogee, and many more. Depending on your interests, swimming ability, and location, it is hard to say what the best beach in Sydney is. But, under pressure we’d have to confess a love for two less crowded beaches: Tamarama (Caution: very strong riptide – not the best swimming beach, but famous with surfers, and absolutely beautiful) or Balmoral Beach (near Taronga Zoo, quiet, beautiful, good views, and family-friendly).
- Explore gorgeous Circular Quay and Darling Harbour on a private Sydney bicycle tour
- Have a ‘flat white’, ‘tall black’ or whichever way you like it… Coffee, European style! Sydney is a city which screams coffee culture, and we love the Café Two Black Sheep, on 580 George St, right down town.
- Window shop and take in the Romanesque Revival architecture in the Queen Victoria Building (built in 1890’s and now home to the city’s most upscale shops). If you’re looking for a quick insight into Sydney’s’ high-quality multi-ethnic cuisine, we’ve never witnessed a better mall food-court than here: imagine a spin on the legendary Australian meat-pie, with Indian butter-chicken curry filling!
- After a healthy Sydney breakfast of fresh fruit, avocadoes, and incredible coffee you will want to work up an appetite for a seafood lunch by doing one of several beautiful coastal walks. There are magnificent views along the Bondi to Coogee Beach Coastal walk (just under 3 miles or 6 km), with well-marked, well-maintained trails. If you’ve earned it, try the champagne version of fish and chips: “Barra’ and Chips”, which is Barramundi, a local seafood delicacy.
- For the photographer – you obviously know that catching the early morning light is a no-brainer, so wake up early and head straight to Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair (near the Royal Botanic Gardens – everyone in Sydney knows where it is) for the best view of and incredible photos of the Opera House and sailboats in the Harbour. It’s a must on all Australia tours.
- Join the “Behind the Scenes VIP small group tour” at the Sydney Wildlife World, you will get so much more than just wandering, it’s worth it! Not only will you cuddle a koala, you’ll get up close and personal with many different kinds of Australian wildlife.
- Have a gourmet picnic in Hyde Park. A green oasis in the center of Sydney’s central business district, it’s near everything. The Sydney Picnic Company can prepare the perfect basket of fine foods (think European cheeses, a charcuterie board, stuffed olives and artisanal bread), and can even deliver it to your hotel!
- Have a schooner (small beer glass) at one of the many historic pubs or fantastic patios, anywhere downtown. For phenomenal brews and an original setting, try the Lord Nelson Brewery Pub & Hotel, located in the Rocks.
Sample great Australian Wine at Wine Odyssey Australia where they have a wine tasting arrangement that can include 44 wines (in 25ml samples)! With a high-quality wine list with 120 different wines, and a store with over 300 wines, this is an underrated wine-drinkers sanctuary! Note that most wines are Australian, and it’s located on Argyle Street in the Rocks (Would combine well with your Rock’s area private tour and perusing art galleries)
- For the true ‘cherry on top’ experience, consider a flight over Sydney Harbour on a seaplane!
- Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Why would you climb a perfectly good bridge, when you can enjoy it from afar? The Sydney Harbour Bridge climb is not only great fun, good exercise, and on every celebrities must-do activity when visiting Sydney, you’ll get the most incredible views (and photographs) of Sydney, with you in them (and maybe a celeb’ too)!
Sydney enjoys a top-notch lineup of accommodation choices, especially for discerning travelers. It’s hard to have one favourite, as tastes vary, but overall we could probably say our number one pick for Sydney is the Park Hyatt, a hotel we consider as one of our Stays of Distinction. The location just doesn’t get any better – and that’s that. Situated between the majestic Sydney Opera House and the beautiful Harbour Bridge, this property sits at the epicenter of what makes Sydney a beautiful city. With spacious guestrooms with private balconies that boast stunning views and include 24 hour butler service as well as a sumptuous daily breakfast, you could just forget all of our recommendations and just spend your entire time here! But with the historic Rocks district and Circular Quay at your doorstep, you’ll find it hard to stay indoors. That said, after you have thoroughly explored this world-class city you will not have to go far for relaxation, as the Hyatt’s full service day spa with a rooftop pool and sundeck is one of the city’s finest. Don’t worry, you’ve earned it!
Some of our other Australia tours featuring Sydney: