Visit Sydney – Waterfront
Visit Sydney cruise terminals at Circular Quay or nearby Darling Harbour are both ideal locations to take a walking tour of Sydney and the Central Business District. Find handicrafts at The Rocks Market, located at the north end of George Street, right beside the Circular Quay terminal. The Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Sydney are within walking distance of the waterfront.
Just north of Circular Quay is Dawes Point Park, located at the foot of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. For adventure seekers, climb along the upper level of the bridge. It’s open to visitors for a fee. Across the Sydney Harbour Bridge is Luna Park, which is an amusement park.
Sydney Waterfront Ferries
Catch a ferry to Manly Beach. Take a ferry to the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium and adjoining Sydney Wildlife Zoo where you can see a koala in downtown Sydney. Alternately, take a ferry north to the Taronga Zoo.
The Sydney Opera House is on the peninsula at the east edge of Circular Quay. Take a Sydney Harbour Lunch Cruise. South of the Opera House is Government House and then the extensive Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust is found. In the Botanic Gardens on the small peninsula bordering Farm Cove you will find Lady Macquarie’s Chair, which provides excellent views over the city.
The Domain Park adjoins the Botanic Gardens to its south and contains the well known Art Gallery of New South Wales. The Domain Park transitions into Hyde Park, with Parliament House along the border of the Domain.
Visit Sydney – Hyde Park Area
Hyde Park includes the Sandringham Gardens, the Pool of Reflections and the Anzac Memorial (Australia & New Zealand Army Corps).St Mary’s Cathedral and the Australian Museum border Hyde Park. The Sydney Tower Eye is one block off the park. The tower has great views over the city at a height of 309 m (1,014 ft), plus a Skywalk for the more adventurous. Sydney Town Hall and the shops of the Queen Victoria Building (known as the QVB) are near Hyde Park too.
Visit Sydney – ANZAC Bridge Area
ANZAC Bridge spans Johnstons Bay near the Central Business District.
Paddy’s Markets is a well known flea market found just south of the Garden of Friendship.
The Australian National Maritime Museum is free. The museum is two blocks north of the Convention Centre and can also be reached by crossing the Pyrmont Bridge from the Sydney Aquarium.
Visit Sydney – Hotel Recommendations
Get Around Sydney – Opal Card
To get around Sydney your best bet is an Opal card. You can get to downtown Sydney from the Sydney Airport with an Opal Card on the rail system. The airport is about a half hour south of the main downtown tourist attractions. The rail system is also much cheaper than cab fare to and from the airport.
The Opal Card preloads cash and deducts the fare when you tap the card before and after your ride. You can use the Opal Travel App on your phone too. The Opal card works on buses, trains, light rail, the metro and ferries. The Opal Card can be used to get to downtown Sydney, Manly Beach, Bondi Beach and the Blue Mountains. If you buy your Opal Card at the airport there is a minimum amount you must preload on the card.
You can also use chip credit cards on the trains and ferries, but with credit cards you alway pay full fare. With an Opal Card your fare is discounted slightly and your total for the day is capped. So, if you travel to the Blue Mountains and cruise back on the Paramatta River ferry, you likely won’t have to pay anything for the last part of your trip. Buses currently don’t take credit cards.
Unfortunately visitors aren’t able to get a refund for the balance remaining on their Opal Card when they leave. So, you almost need to hire an accountant to figure out whether to buy single fare Opal trips from vending machines, use your credit card or get a preloaded Opal Card.
Visit Sydney – Urban Area
- University of Sydney Museums – Visit University Art Gallery, the Macleay Museum (biology) and the Nicholson Museum (archaeology) .
- Sydney Olympic Park – the 2000 Summer Olympics venue. The Australian Tennis Museum is here too.
- Sydney Park
- Watch Australian Rugby
- Attend the Sydney Festival held every year in January.
Bondi Beach is one of the most popular tourist stops in Sydney. Spend time at the beach, in the park or at the nearby shops and restaurants. Then walk along the waterfront trail south from Bondi Beach to Bronte Beach. To get to Bondi Beach we recommend the express bendy-bus #333 from Circular Quay in downtown Sydney.
Manly Beach in the suburb of Manly is an easy half hour ferry ride from Circular Quay in downtown Sydney. The ferry service is frequent and the Opal Card works on the ferry. You reach Manly Beach by walking from the ferry landing along the Corso to the beach. Manly Beach is a very popular community with many restaurants and shops along the waterfront. The beach is on the open ocean, outside the bays that shelter Sydney. You will find Manly Sealife Sanctuary in the cove near the ferry landing.
The Blue Mountains National Park is a World Heritage area about 2 hours west of Sydney at Katoomba. The Blue Mountains National Park includes the Three Sisters Viewpoint, Katoomba Falls, Wentworth Falls and Mount Tomah Botanic Garden. You can take the 2 hour Blue Mountain Train from Sydney Central Station to Katoomba.
The most popular tourist attraction in the Blue Mountains is Scenic World. At Scenic World try the Skyway, Walkway, Cableway or the Railway. You can see Katoomba Falls and the Three Sisters from Scenic World. To reach Scenic World from Katoomba Station take the 686 bus. Your Sydney Opal Card works on the bus.
Organized tours to the Blue Mountains from Sydney often include Scenic World, a stop at Featherdale Wildlife Park and a Paramatta River Cruise back to town from Paramatta Wharf. The Paramatta River Cruise is covered on an Opal Card too, but if you intend to see everything in one day, you will save a lot of time with an organized tour.
Jenolan Caves is another hour west of Katoomba, which is the best cave site in Australia.
Other Sights near Sydney
- Palm Beach – an excellent beach an hour north of Sydney.
- The Entrance, Pelican Feeding – on the Central Coast, north of Palm Beach.
- Royal National Park – known as Nasho or the Royal. It’s located an hour south of Sydney on the way to Wollongong Beaches.
- Wollongong Beaches – two hours south of Sydney with 17 beaches to choose from, including North and South Wollongong Beaches.
- Travel the continent on Great Southern Railway. Take the India Pacific to Adelaide and then catch the famous Ghan for a trip across Australia from south (Adelaide) to north (Darwin) with a stop in Alice Springs for a visit to Uluru in the Red Centre.
The city of Sydney, Australia is located in the Southern Hemisphere, so its seasons are reversed as compared to Europe or North America. Temperatures in the winter months of May to September average highs of about 19 C (67 F) and lows of 10 C (50 F). The summer months around December average 27 C (80 F) for highs and 18 C (65 F) for lows. Summer months can experience periods of very hot weather and high humidity.
Rainfall is spread fairly evenly throughout the year, but the months of January to June do see slightly higher amounts of precipitation. December is a popular month to visit and spend Christmas at the beach.
Visit Sydney – Background
Sydney is the largest city in Australia with a population of about 5 million. Captain Cook sailed into Botany Bay in 1770 and the city was founded in 1778 with the establishment of a penal colony. The city is centered around Port Jackson and Botany Bay in the state of New South Wales. The Blue Mountains are to the west and Royal National Park is south of the city.