Itinerary Overview

Sydney is regularly voted one of the most livable cities on earth, and for a good reason. It is a modern cosmopolitan that makes great use of its expansive waterfront, with endless parks and outdoor spaces. The Opera House and Harbor Bridge in particular combine for one of the best skylines in the world. Weather-wise, Sydney has fewer than 30 days a year without sunshine, making its beaches among the best in the world for surfing, suntanning, and people watching. While the city is quite spread out, its public transportation system, including a first-class network of water ferries, make it easy to navigate.

This itinerary attempts to pack the best (and most unique) parts of the city into just three days. Day One is spent in the heart of Sydney at the Royal Gardens, Art Gallery of NSW, and the famous Opera House. Day Two includes the historic Rocks District and Darling Harbor. Day Three is spent at Bondi Beach and the Coogee Coastal Walk.

Day 1

1. Royal Botanical Gardens

2. Art Gallery of New South Wales

3. Harry’s Cafe de Wheels

4. Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair

5. Busby’s Bar and Bites

6. Sydney Opera House

7. Opera Bar

Time: 7+ hours

Budget: $45+ per person 

(all $ figures in USD; includes entrance fees, food, and transport)

Day 2

1. The Rocks

2. Museum of Cosmopolitan Art

3. Cadman’s Cottage

4. Pylon Lookout

5. Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel

6. Queen Victoria Building

7. Darling Harbor

Time: 8+ hours

Budget: $80+ per person

(all $ figures in USD; includes entrance fees, food, and transport)

Day 3

1. Bondi Beach

2. Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk

Time: 4+ hours

Budget: $45+ per person 

(all $ figures in USD; includes entrance fees, food, and transport)

 

Fast Facts

BEFORE YOU GO

UTC/GMT +11

Native English proficiency

I Sockets / 230V / 50Hz

Tap water is considered safe for drinking, cooking, and brushing teeth

Tourist visas are required for all non-Australian and non-New Zealand passport holders

The CDC recommends Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccines for most travelers

When You Arrive

$1.00 (USD) = 1.4 Australian Dollar (AUD)

Tipping is not customary for restaurants, taxis, or tour guides; consider 10% if service as exceptional

Great public transportation system of trains, light rails, buses, and ferries; Uber and taxis are also widely available

Drive on left side

Airport to City Center: (SYD) Each terminal has its own taxi line with supervisors on hand during peak times and Priority Pick-Up zones for Uber rides (30 minutes; $30)

Preferred accommodation type is luxury hotel, boutique hotels, Airbnb, and hostels

Best Time To Visit

September to November is the best time to visit Sydney

September to November and March to May avoid Sydney’s high season and offer visitors comfortable temperatures and manageable crowds. Seasons in Australia are opposite to those in the Northern Hemisphere, with summer from December through February, and winter from June through August. Sydney’s hottest weather and busiest tourist season falls between December and February. The winter months offer less tourist traffic but the weather cools off considerably.

Neighborhood Guide

 Sydney CBDDarling HarbourSurry HillsDarlinghurst
DescriptionSkyscrapers, transportation hub, bars, and restaurantsSightseeing, shopping, and city viewsTrendy boutiques, hipster eateries, and hip nightlifeNightlife, bars, vintage boutiques, budget hotels
Affordability
Parks
Dining
Landmarks
Nightlife

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Sydney center

1) Royal Botanical Gardens – Sydney’s Royal Gardens are a tranquil oasis on the edge of one of the world’s great natural harbors. From here, you will be able to enjoy spectacular views of the Opera House and Harbor Bridge. The gardens boast thousands of plant specimen, colorful birds, fruit bats, and water dragons. The Calyx is a world-class horticultural space and offers a ninety minute guided Aboriginal Heritage Tour where you can explore traditional plant uses or sample bush foods.

 1-2 hours $0

2) Art Gallery of New South Wales – The Gallery was established in 1871 and is one of Australia’s leading art museums. Visited by over one million people annually, it holds significant collections of Australian, European, and Asian art. The modern and contemporary art is displayed in expansive open spaces, offering stunning views of Sydney and the Harbor. There are also dedicated galleries celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.

1-2 hours $0

3) Harry’s Cafe de Wheels – Harry’s pie cart is a Sydney institution, serving up delicious savory and sweet pies to tourists, visiting celebrities, local workers, taxi drivers, and late night revelers. Over the years, the pie cart has been upgraded and modernized but Harry’s has been operating continuously at this location since 1945. It makes for a tasty midday snack along the Navy Docks before moving on.

Up to 1 hour $10+

4) Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair – Mrs. Macquarie’s Point provides excellent views west across the Harbor to the Bridge and mountains in the far distance. The historic chair was carved out of a rock ledge for Governor Macquarie’s wife, Elizabeth, as she was known to visit the area and enjoy the panoramic views.

Up to 1 hour $0

5) Busby’s Bar and Bites – Busby’s is only a short walk west along the water from Mrs. Macquarie’s. It is nestled in the tranquil surrounds of the Royal Botanic Garden’s Victoria Lodge and boasts uninterrupted views of the Bridge and Opera House. Pull up a picnic rug, bean bag, or chair with a glass of local wine and take in the view.

Up to 1 hour $10+

6) Sydney Opera House – Continue west along the path until you reach Sydney Opera House, one of the great architectural works of the 20th century. The Opera House comprises three groups of interlocking vaulted ‘shells’ which cover two main performance halls and a restaurant. These shell-structures are set upon a large platform and are surrounded by terraces that function as pedestrian concourses. Go the extra mile and reserve tickets ahead of time for a performance inside. You will not be sorry!

Up to 1 hour $0+

7) Opera Bar – With the Opera House as its backdrop and up close views of the Harbor Bridge, Opera Bar is a Sydney favorite. Watch chefs shuck oysters and slice meats to order while you enjoy sunset drinks on the water’s edge. Live music is often played during the evening.

 1-2 hours  $25+

Day 2: the rocks and darling harbor

1) The Rocks – Visit the Rocks neighborhood to experience what Sydney might have been like during the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Stories from the past, such as the life of convict households, the habits of sailors and wharf laborers, and the changing alignment of the waterfront can still be felt around the neighborhood thanks to archaeological evidence and written histories. The Rocks Cafe is a good starting point for the day. It has a bohemian feel that matches the neighborhood vibes nicely.

 1-2 hours $15+

2) Museum of Contemporary Art – The MCA is Australia’s leading museum dedicated to exhibiting, interpreting, and collecting contemporary art. From major thematic exhibitions to solo exhibitions by emerging artists, the MCA covers the range and diversity of contemporary art. It is housed in the former Maritime Services building – a captivating Art Deco along the Harbor. The MCA Cafe offers a solid menu and spectacular views of the Harbor.

1-2 hours $5+

3) Cadman’s Cottage – Built in 1816, Cadman’s Cottage is one of only a handful of Sydney buildings from the first thirty years of the colony that remain. A short stop here is worthwhile before heading deeper into the neighborhood.

 Up to 1 hour  $0

4) Pylon Lookout – Climb 200 steps inside the southeast pylon of the Harbor Bridge to the Pylon Lookout for sweeping views of the Opera House and Harbor. On the way up there are three levels of exhibits dedicated to the history and construction of the Harbor Bridge and those who built it. A free entry pass to the Pylon Lookout Museum is included in each BridgeClimb ticket. For those who do not wish to make the climb but are interested in the area, Dawes Point Park is a nice alternative at the northern tip of the Rocks with unparalleled views across Sydney Cove.

 1-2 hours  $15

5) Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel – Lord Nelsons is Sydney’s oldest continually licensed hotel and home of Australia’s oldest pub brewery. It makes for a charming location for lunch or a mid-day pint.

 1-2 hours  $20+

6) Queen Victoria Building – Queen Victoria occupies an entire block on George Street and holds Sydney’s finest fashion boutiques, accompanied by delightful cafes and restaurants. Built in the 1890s, it was erected as a Municipal Market on the scale of a cathedral. It has since been restored and has quickly become Sydney’s most popular and prestigious shopping center. The dominant feature is the center dome, a must see for any visitor.

 1-2 hours  $0+

7) Darling Harbor – Darling is a small inlet, ringed by attractions and pedestrian boardwalks facing the water. The area has a National Maritime Museum, aquarium, ice-cream parlor, playgrounds, parks, fountains, and other free attractions on weekends. The neighboring suburbs of Pyrmont and Ultimo still contain many of the original pubs that were inhabited by the dock and warehouse workers during the prior life of the area.

 2-3 hours  $25+

Day 3: bondi beach and coastal walk

1) Bondi Beach – Bondi (pronounced bond-eyeis located just five miles from Central Sydney and is the city’s most popular beach. It is also the setting for more postcards than perhaps any other destination in Australia, other than the Opera House. The picturesque promenade and temperate climate allow locals and visitors to surf and swim year-round. Chapter One Coffee or Trio are both reliable options nearby to grab coffee or breakfast.

1-4 hours $20+

2) Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk – The coastal walk begins on the south end of the beach by the iconic Bondi Icebergs, just above the Bondi Baths. The four mile walk of picturesque coastal pathways takes between one and a half and two hours at a leisurely pace and offers plenty to see and do along the way. Make your way up a set of steep stairs near the start of the walk to see Aboriginal rock carvings in Marks Park. It is also a prime whale watching spot between May and November. The walk to reach Gordon’s Bay features a steep staircase that challenges most but proves rewarding with its clifftop outlook. When you finally arrive in Coogee, celebrate with refreshments at Coogee Pavilion or cool down with a dip at Coogee Beach. With bus stops at Tamarama, Bronte, and Clovelly, hikers can join or finish the coastal trail from various points along the route.

 3-6 hours $25+

BOTTOM LINE

 

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