As a resident Sydneysider who has visited many other iconic cities, I know how overwhelming it can be arriving in an unknown city for the first time. Although are many great travel sites out there that provide detailed information for tourists, I wanted to provide a more personalised guide to my own city – Sydney, Australia. So read on and discover some of the top places to visit in Sydney.
Sydney has been called home by the indigenous Aboriginal people, early British convicts and settlers. This harbourside city has been voted as one the World’s Best Cities to Live In, and as a city that has come of age it should be a destination of choice on a tourist‘s bucket list.
It is one of the world’s best cities for many reasons; its harbour looks great day or night, it offers a tourist so many things to do and see, and of course, like many of Australia’s other cities, Sydney reflects the famous Aussie spirit of friendliness.
Sydney is home to many well-known landmarks and tourist hot-spots. Iconic images such as the Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House, and of course, the legendary Bondi Beach, will quickly come to mind. But besides these world famous urban structures and beach-side gems, here are some Top Tourist Tips for some hidden treasures and places and activities that are well worth discovering.
Historic Barangaroo has been a site of spiritual and cultural significance for the Aboriginal people long before colonisation. It has also recently undergone an extreme face-lift as part of Sydney’s largest urban renewal projects and it is now proudly titled, Sydney’s new Harbour foreshore playground. It is located on the western harbour foreshore and is easily accessible from Circular Quay, Wynyard Station and Darling Harbour. Although its development continues to evolve with more additions planned for 2016 up until 2023, Barangaroo offers its visitors a wealth of cafes, bars, restaurants, parks and cultural experiences.
You can picnic in the Barangaroo Reserve, a six-hectare headland that features a spectacular sandstone foreshore, and is home to 75,000 native shrubs and trees. You can walk or cycle or join a guided tour and learn about the history of Barangaroo and its rich indigenous heritage. Barangaroo also hosts a wide range of art and cultural events such as The Ephemeral City.
Dee Why Beach.
Although most tourist have Bondi Beach on their list when visiting Sydney, I recommend some of the other beaches that are located on the North Shore. My personal favourite is Dee Why Beach. It has a family friend beach for swimming, and a rock pool. Enjoy the magnificent views of the ocean from The Bicentennial Coastal Walkway, a cliff walk that takes you past Long Reef golf links and down to North Curl Curl Beach. You can choose to chill out and sample some of Dee Why’s finest dining at the many beach front cafes and restaurants like Stella Blu.
The Royal Botanical Gardens.
The Royal Botanical Gardens is an idyllic horticultural centrepiece located in the heart of Sydney. One step inside the gates and you can escape from the hustle and bustle of the crowds and stroll down winding paths that are lined with colourful native flowers and trees. You can breath in the fresh scented air and visit one of the many gardens on display like the HSBC Oriental Garden, and the Palace Rose Garden or enjoy a picnic under the shade of the Coolabah tree. Maybe you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a laughing Kookaburra or a Crimson Rosella or see a Flying-Fox. But beware of the bold Australian White Ibis – they are guilty of stealing a snack or two.
Sydney Tall Ships.
A great way of experiencing the beautiful Sydney harbour is on-board a Sydney Harbour Tall Ship. As you travel out into the harbour on a vessel that is part of Australia’s maritime history, and with the wind in your hair and the sails above you billowing in the breeze, you can enjoy a range of dining or entertainment options.
You can choose a Champagne Brunch Cruise or a Wine and Canapes Dinner Cruise. If you are feeling adventurous why not join the Convicts, Castles and Champagne Tour or experience a live show, the wildly entertaining, Attack of the Pirates.
Sydney Harbour Jet-boat
If you see yourself as a thrill-seeker why not try the Sydney Harbour Jet-boat. Take a ride on the wild side with Thunder Jet’s Twist Ride or the Extreme Adrenaline Ride. You can also take home a video of your ride to prove to your friends and family that you are truly an adrenaline junkie.
The Harbour Bridge Climb
The Sydney Harbour Bridge (affectionately known as the ‘coat-hanger’) is a magnificent and enduring icon of Australia. It has even featured in Hollywood movies such as Independence Day. Although many travellers are happy to sit back and admire its grand steel arch and study concrete and granite pylons from a safe viewing distance on the Circular Quay foreshore, why not take part in the Harbour Bridge Climb. As you begin your climb you will not only appreciate the sacrifice of those who gave their lives while building this mighty structure, you will be rewarded with the spectacular panoramic views at the top.
Bars and Restaurants
If you are looking for a great night out in Sydney, then look no further than Ivy’s entertainment quarter on George Street, which is the number one place for first class dining, entertainment, and retail options. You can sample an Aussie beer at The Royal George, enjoy a cocktail while sitting at the marble bar at the sophisticated Establishment, or experience Ivy’s unique night-club, Pacha, that combines burlesque, dance and features circus performers.
The Opera Bar
The Opera Bar is situated at Circular Quay, near the Opera House steps. As well as being located in the middle of the cultural heart of Sydney, The Opera Bar provides uninterrupted views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which is spectacular day or night.
Gowings Bar & Grill
Gowings Bar & Grill came as quite a surprise to me as I had no idea it existing until a few months ago. I discovered this little wine and dining gem after a recommendation from a friend. It is located inside the historic Gowings and State Theatre building on Market Street.
Stylish, Spacious and Sophisticated, the Gowings Bar & Grill offers comfy couches to relax and an extensive wine list and mouth-watering cuisine. Gowings Bar & Grill is a mix of European Brasserie style and contemporary design and offers breakfast, lunch (closed for lunch on Sundays) and dinner, and the bar is open until 12 am. As well as the Bar & Grill, there is also a boutique hotel (QT Sydney Hotel) located inside the same building, with 200 guest suites.
Stay tuned for more Tourist Travel Tips for the great city of Sydney.