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We finally get to visit Australia’s most iconic city. You’ve seen the tourist photos: Harbour Bridge & Opera House, but Sydney has A LOT more to offer than just two landmarks. We briefly do the tourist thing and then quickly head out to explore this fantastic international city of culture. Watch the webisode and read the details on our adventure in Sydney below as well as our top 10!
For those of you with a decent attention span here is our full Sydney webisode where we visit the Malaysia fest, get kicked out of the opera house, head out on a jet boat ride around Sydney harbour and get up to plenty of other food and drink related antics. For shorter videos from our trip to Sydney take a look at our other Sydney blogs
What to do in Sydney?
The short answer: lots! But this blog post is our longer answer. One of the few parts of Australia that has a genuine feeling of history, albeit a more modern history, Sydney is littered with colonial age buildings from the 19th Century as well as some Australian architectural icons, like the opera house, that really put this city on the map. For our money though, there is only so much looking at moderately old buildings you can do before you want to drink beer… or eat… or just do something more interactive. Well, you are in the right place. If you like the buzz and life of a busy city then Sydney will not disappoint. Restaurants, bars, museums, epic amounts of people watching opportunity and all in a fusion of surroundings with the architecture of modern and historic.
The level of competition in the city also helps to force prices down for food and drink, it may still seem expensive to the international traveller, but relative to the rest of Australia it is actually at the more reasonable end of the spectrum.
Regardless of the expense, Sydney has become a world destination for a reason, and without trying to sound to cliche, its the je ne sais quoi, the hum in the air, the vibe. You may not be able to put your finger on it, but it’s there, it’s omnipresent as if the people who live there know they are in the right place and the people visiting know they made the right decision to do so. The city is infectious, and although there are many world cities that create this feeling, in Australia, a country the size of the USA but with a population of only 23 million, cultural centres are few and far between, and Sydney is top of the pile leaving even Melbourne in its wake.
SYDNEY TOP 10
Sometimes I become a little dis-enchanted with the “top 10” lists scattered around the internet. But I’ve found its not a matter of finding a top 10 list and then doing it all, its a matter of finding many top 10 lists and picking and choosing the items that sound like they’d suit you so that you can explore your own personal top 10. Moreover, discovering something new that wasn’t suggested by yet another travel blog like this one, is an even more rewarding experience. I did some research before heading to Sydney, I always do, and I was lucky to get a lot of experiences that were awesome! and a few that were unexpected… so here is the 5DT top 10 list (in no particular order), hopefully, a few of these will slip into your own top 10 if you get to visit Sydney!
1. Pub Crawl. – It’s not a secret that we like a beer here at 5DT 🙂 and Sydney is the best place in Australia to enjoy a pub crawl. With so many pubs in close proximity its ideal. You don’t have to follow our route, but it’s well worth exploring some of the historic pubs on The Rock – my favourites “The Australian Hotel” and “The Lord Nelson”. Read the full article by clicking the pub crawl link above.
2. The Circular Quay Harbour Walk – This will take you past the Harbour Bridge and The Opera House. Touristy as this may seem, these locations are iconic for a reason. It may be full of tourists, but it is not a tourist trap, its a haven – enjoy the sights!
3. Kings Cross – Famed as being the red light district, it is also the backpackers mecca of Sydney. Bars, hostels and a fun time await you. Head there at night and avoid any dodgy looking “private” clubs. We ended up at the world bar, amongst other places – the teapot cocktails are a novelty but are overpriced and not a proper cocktail as they are just pre-mixed spirits with ice and soft drink, the decor was interesting but I’d probably give it a miss in hindsight – there are plenty of better options around, and a late night kebab is always welcome – that isn’t a euphemism!
4. The Manly Ferry – Why would you pay extortionate amounts of money for a harbour tour when you can just take the ferry for a nominal amount (Its even included if you have the day/week public transport ticket) and look up anything of interest that you pass using your smart phone for more info. Hit the ferry just before sunset and get some awesome views/photos.
5. Bondi Beach/Manly Beach – Or any of the other myriad of beach options, depending on which is easier for you to get to. The only real reason to visit Bondi beach is because it is world famous. There is really nothing unique about Bondi, it just happens to be the most accessible beach to central Sydney. Either way, visiting the beach (any beach!) is an Australian tradition and well worth it, choose one and do it! Just remember that in the winter the water will be a little chilly…
6. Chinatown – Eating is one of our Five Dollar Traveller life essentials! And Chinatown is one of the most cost-effective places to eat out in Sydney. Check out some of our other Sydney Blogs for Food reviews.
7. Darling Harbour Fireworks – Who doesn’t like fireworks? Well, yes, cats and dogs maybe, but for us humans its a pretty universal thing to enjoy and Saturday night at 8.30pm is the regular (and free) fireworks show.
8. Jet Boat Around the Harbour – Its a little bit touristy, but what a location to get thrown around and soaked! We picked up a 2-4-1 deal online before we went and so paid $30 per person, at the darling harbour stall they were charging $45 per person and regular pre-booking online was even pricier. It was certainly memorable and fun, but if it had been $60 per person I’d have thought twice!
9. Paddys market – Probably the cheapest market in Sydney, and its massive. Everything from food to clothes to… well, anything, including rather expensive massages which we got conned into… they do have magic hands.
10. Check out the events calendar – Sydney is no dead end town with one “family event” per year in the park… There is a lot going on 52 weeks a year. When we were there we got to enjoy the Malaysia fest (Featured in our video above) which was one of the highlights of our trip. Chances are there will be something awesome going on when you visit, so do a little google research for festivals and events before you arrive, or ask around at the tourist info or your accommodation when you get there.
Save yourself $12 per person each way by walking out/in to the Airport rather than taking the train all the way. Depending on whether you arrive/depart domestic or international you can walk to/from the nearest station rather than paying the airport fee. Full explanation on how to do this is available on the “Between the airport and city” section of Wiki Travel. We did it, it was easy.
Looking for more hotel options in Sydney? We recommend HotelsCombined. They have a great selection and help you get the best possible price!
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