Sydney is by far one of the most iconic cities in the world. Sun and surf, sophisticated shopping and stunning beaches; however long you spend in Sydney, chances are that you’ll wish you’d stayed longer - it’s just that kind of place. Pretentious meets casual in this uber-cool metropolis where there is always something shiny and sparkly to chase. If you can possibly spare it, this fantastic city deserves at least a few days of your time and if you plan to incorporate nearby attractions like the Blue Mountains and Hunter Valley extend your stay to at least a week or so. Here’s our guide to stopping over in Sydney…

When to go

Temperatures are mild to hot throughout the year with damp winters and hot, sunny summers. The summer months (November – March) are the best times to visit.

Getting around

Sydney Airport is about 6 miles (9km) south of the city centre with well-connected transport options. The Airport Rail Link service connects the airport to the city centre, as well as buses, taxi cabs and shared shuttle buses which offer a reliable door- to- door service – we can arrange your transfers alongside your flights if you would prefer. Traffic congestion can be an issue in this city so avoid hiring a car and use metered taxi rides or public transport where possible. Trains, ferries, trams and the monorail loop make for a variety of pleasurable and interesting ways see this spread-out city.

Where to stay

Most of the recognisable international chains tend to be located in Circular Quay and The Rocks in the city centre and these mostly cater for business and mid-high end travellers. There is a handful of centrally-located cheaper options available – including the Wake Up! Sydney Central backpackers hostel – and you should check out Kings Cross and Glebe as places to stay that will save your dollars. Everywhere is easily accessible by public transport, so you can choose an option to suit your budget, and whether you are looking for cheap backpackers, self-catering apartment or a luxury hotel, there are accommodation options in Sydney to suit every style and budget.

What to see and do – our favourite picks!

Royal Botanic Gardens If there are botanic gardens anywhere in the world with a better setting than Sydney’s, we are yet to find them! These beautiful, two hundred year old gardens are right in the centre of the city and run along the edge of the waterfront on Farm Cove. One minute you’re admiring the outstanding collection of native and foreign horticulture, the next you’re gazing over the majesty of Sydney Harbour in all its glory, Opera House and all.The gardens also host a huge variety of wildlife – keep your eyes peeled for creatures as diverse as Rainbow Lorikeets, Flying Foxes, Possums and Eastern Water Dragons.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney

Mrs Macquaries Point and Chair is one of the most famous photographic spots in Sydney with views across the Harbour to the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Back in the 1820’s, Mrs Macquarie, the Governor’s wife, had the chair carved out of the rock so she could sit and watch the ships pass by.

Spit Bridge to Manly walk around the northern side of Sydney Harbour is a fantastic way to discover the different beaches, bays and bushland around the harbour, without spending a cent! This scenic walkway is in fact a series of short tracks of 1-2km, with the entire walk extending to just over 9km - an easy 3 to 4-hour stroll.

Walk to Manly, Sydney

Coogee to Bondi 6km coastal walk. From the Botanic Gardens, stroll back to Circular Quay and jump on a bus, the journey takes around half an hour. The walk from Coogee takes you north along the coastal path on waterside boardwalks and cliff top paths, with sensational views along the coastline, before arriving in Bondi.

Bondi Beach, Sydney

Sunrise over Sydney harbour make an early start and find your way from your accommodation to Circular Quay, Sydney’s bustling port area. Grab a coffee and then hop on a ferry to the northern beach of Manly – ferries depart every half hour and the journey takes around 25 minutes. You should have plenty of space as you’re going against the commuter tide of workers travelling into central Sydney from the northern beaches – not a bad commute! Assuming you made it up early enough, the close up views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge as the sun is rising over the Pacific Ocean make this a truly magical experience.

Sydney Opera House

Wander around the historic Rocks the birthplace of Sydney when it was a penal colony back in the late 18th Century. Today it’s an absorbing area to explore: a maze of cobbled lanes lined with historic landmarks, colonial buildings and lots of places to eat and drink.

The Rocks, Sydney

Exploring further afield

The Blue Mountains is a 60-90 minute drive, ideal for a day trip. Head to this region of stunning natural beauty to witness the majestic rock formations named the Three Sisters and spot the eastern grey Kangaroos in their natural habitat. Take a 4WD tour through the mountains and visit Katoomba (home to the steepest passenger railway in the world!)

Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk is around 90 minutes south of Sydney in the Southern Highlands. This attraction literally takes going for a walk to new heights. A 500m walk in the treetop canopy ranging from 20m to 45m above the forest floor. The tower has 106 steps and opens to breathtaking views from the escarpment over the Illawarra

Glenworth Valley is around an hour’s drive north on the Central Coast. Home to Australia’s largest horse riding and outdoor adventure centre, this is an adventure paradise set on more than 1200 hectares of pristine wilderness. Natural rock pools and ancient native rainforest make the perfect setting for abseiling, kayaking, fishing, laser skirmish, bushwalking, camping, and quad biking. Venture out this way if you want a break from the laid-back beach days.

Hunter Valley is around two hours’ drive north of Sydney and is Australia’s oldest commercial wine producing district with over 7000 acres of vines. Rolling hills and valleys are dotted with wineries and villages which all offer sumptuous cuisine and award-winning wines. Historic villages and magnificent waterways cross your path as you head to this region, making for a great trip to explore further afield.

Interested? How to include Sydney as a stopover

Sydney is a very popular stop on any round the world ticket, with plenty of opportunities to explore Australia further, with internal flights to Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane; an east-coast self-drive up to Cairns, campervan rental options from shoestring to deluxe RVs. If you’d like some more ideas about how to explore Sydney and wider Australia, and for ideas for tours and accommodation just contact Chris.

Some ideas for flight itineraries that include Sydney:

London - Dubai - Bangkok - Sydney - Johannesburg - London Flights from £1,125 pp including taxes

London - Tokyo // Osaka - Hong Kong - Sydney - Auckland - Noumea - Papeete - Los Angeles - London Flights from £1,695 pp including taxes

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*Inc. International flights (per person, based on 2 sharing)

Sydney, Red Centre, Top End & reef holiday

Tailor-made holidays
Duration (in days): 18
From: UK - Sydney
To: Port Douglas - UK

This 16 day holiday explores the full diversity of Australia and maximises your time here with internal flights; see Sydney’s iconic harbour, bridge and opera house; visit the Red Centre and Uluru (packed with Aboriginal history) before heading to the beaches of Queensland to explore the Great Barrier Reef - this holiday definitely covers all bases!

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