Sydney is a big, bustling city. The gleaming gem of the east coast of Australia is home to world-renowned landmarks and sun-blazed beaches. I absolutely loved my time exploring, but whilst Sydney is undoubtedly impressive, there’s no denying that for a first-timer it can be a little overwhelming.
The good thing is that when it comes to finding things to do in Sydney, you really don’t have to worry. Whether you’re exploring the city for a few days or making it your home for a while, there’s an abundance of activities to keep you busy! From the harbour front with its iconic landmarks and bustling restaurants, to the many lush, inner-city parks and coastal walkways. So if you’re limited to three days, here is what I would recommend you do.
Grab your map of the city and explore! I can’t think of a better introduction to Sydney than spending your first morning capturing the iconic landmarks in all their glory. Head to Circular Quay to see the famous Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Of course, you can spend a little extra to take a tour of the Opera House, or even climb the Harbour Bridge… but you can also just walk along it for free!
Finish your sight-seeing by strolling through the Royal Botanic Gardens. Sydney is huge, so the chances of getting lost are high as you navigate yourself around the busy, bustling streets! If you’d rather explore with a group, there’s also the option of a walking tour to give you an insight into the cities impressive sights, history and culture.
Your first afternoon in Sydney can be spent learning about its history! The best place for this is The Rocks; the site of Australia’s first European settlement which is home to the oldest buildings in Sydney. Head to The Rocks Discovery Museum for more information. Afterwards, climb Observatory Hill for panoramic views of the city!
TOP TIP: if you’re staying in Sydney for a while, grab yourself an Opal card from the nearest 7-Eleven. This is essentially a tap-on tap-off card which offers discounted travel; you’ll never pay more in a day than the standard cap, and on Sundays you’ll spend a maximum of $2.50.
Looking for the perfect spot to watch the sun go down? Look no further than Mrs Macquarie’s Point, which is a short walk along from the Opera House. Whilst there you’ll see Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, where the rock was hand carved into a bench by convicts in 1810. The area is named after the Governors wife, who apparently liked to sit on the rocks and watch for ships sailing into the harbour. You’ll be rewarded with a stunning view; make sure you get that money shot with the incredible backdrop of Sydney’s famous landmarks!
Afterwards, head back to Opera Bar, which is situated right at the waters edge. It might be a little more expensive if you’re on a backpackers budget, however its completely worth it to spend an evening next to the lit up landmarks.
After a busy day exploring the city, spend the next morning relaxing at Bondi Beach. This popular tourist spot is arguably the most iconic beach in Sydney! There are a range of delicious cafes to choose from for brunch; I’ve heard great things about Speedo’s Cafe. Afterwards, enjoy a few hours sunbathing on the golden sandy beach or appreciating the unique artwork.
In the afternoon, take your time meandering along the incredibly picturesque Bondi to Coogee coastal walk, which will take you by golden beaches, jutting cliffs and rocky bays. This was definitely one of my favourite experiences whilst in Sydney! The 6km walk takes around 2 hours to complete without stopping, but you’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy a break at the other beaches along the way, including Tamarama and Bronte.
Take a bus (373, 374 or 377) back to the city and spend your evening at Darling Harbour, Sydney’s main entertainment hub which hosts an abundance of bustling bars and restaurants. Time your visit perfectly to see the free firework show that takes place every Saturday at 8PM. Here you have your choice of high-end restaurants and cafes. I couldn’t resist tasting the delights of the Lindt Chocolate cafe!
The morning of your last day can be spent exploring other parts of the city. Start the day by grabbing yourself a bargain and picking up souvenirs at Paddy’s Markets, which is open every Wed-Sun 10AM-6PM.
Then venture to Hyde Park, the oldest parkland in Australia. The park hosts numerous monuments, statues and the ANZAC Memorial Building.
In the afternoon take the ferry to Manly, which is a lot quieter than Bondi so offers a less touristy feel. The ferry journey across the harbour will give you the opportunity to snap a picture of Sydney’s impressive city skyline as you sail across the water. As the boat pulls into Manly Wharf, make sure to follow the crowd of people heading to the beach! Tickets cost around $15 from Circular Quay.
So there you have it: 3 days of exploring Sydney! Staying in Sydney longer? Why not visit:
- The Blue Mountains
Head out of the city to the most popular road trip from Sydney. One of the main highlights, The Three Sisters, is located at Echo Point, which offers you a brilliant view of the mountains behind. According to aboriginal legend, the unusual rock formation represents three sisters who were turned to stone!
- The Prince Alfred Park Pool
Spend a day relaxing at the Prince Alfred Park Pool. This costs $6.20 for an entire days entry and it even has its own cafe!
- The Chinese Garden of Friendship
Set within the heart of Sydney, the Prince Alfred Park Pool is the perfect setting for a tranquil afternoon (entry $6), with the only sound you can hear being the running water from the waterfall within!
- Northern beaches
Explore further north on a day trip to the various other golden sandy beaches that Sydney has to offer, including Newport, Whale and Palm Beach (famous as being Home and Away’s fictitious setting of Summer Bay) to name a few.
Was there anything else you’d add to the list?
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Heading up the east coast? Check out my complete itinerary!
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