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Sydney travel guide suggests things to do in Sydney, various attractions and sightseeing, budget tips to safely stay, travel, and plan your Sydney trip.
Sydney travel guide – About Sydney
Sydney is a cosmopolitan city surrounded by iconic beaches, world heritage sites, and acclaimed wine regions.
In addition to being the largest city in Australia, Sydney is also the most visited. (And contrary to popular belief, not the country’s capital!)
Backpacking Sydney is something that every traveler does when visiting. And, if you are not a backpacker, no matter what type of traveler you are or how long you are here, you are likely to have a 100% chance of visiting the city on your trip.
And why would you do it?
With an incredible variety of attractions and places to see, including the famous Bondi and Manly beaches, it’s easy to see why people come and stay for a while. There is a lot to do here. Try to stay at least a week if you can. I never, never get tired of visiting Sydney! It’s amazing.
Sydney travel guide – Top 5 Places to visit in Sydney
1. Hang out on the beaches
From Palm Beach and Manly to the famous Bondi and Coogee, Sydney has a beach for everyone. All the beaches are easy to reach by public transport and there are tons of restaurants and surf shops around. My favorite beaches are Manly (wide and beautiful) and Bronte (small and quiet).
2. The Blue Mountains
Over the millennia, the sandstone here has turned into gorges bordered by cliffs and narrow ridges. See the magnificent Tres Hermanas rock formation or hike the numerous trails to enjoy great views of rugged rock walls, waterfalls, and gorgeous forests. The park is free and can be reached by train from Sydney (90 minutes).
3. Visit Wild Life Sydney Zoo
The Wild Life Sydney Zoo is set up with highly detailed and “natural” environments for birds, wallabies, reptiles, and more. There are several guided tours and animal feeding throughout the day. This is a good family activity. Admission is $ 40 AUD ($ 29 USD), but save $ 12 AUD ($ 9 USD) when you buy in advance online. It is open every day from 9:30 am to 5 pm.
4. Sydney Opera House
The Opera House is famous for its white cape ceiling. As an architectural delight and an engineering feat (getting the roof to stay high took the creation of a complex support system), the guided tours ($ 40 AUD / $ 29 USD) give you an appreciation of how difficult it was to design the building.
5. Sydney Harbor Bridge
The bridge was built in 1932 as a government employment project during the Great Depression. Its steel frame has become an iconic symbol of the city. Although the tours that go up the bridge are expensive ($ 160 AUD / $ 114 USD), it is free to walk or bike to have panoramic views of the port and the Opera.
Sydney travel guide – Other places to see and do in Sydney
1. Visit the rocks
The Rocks are the oldest part of Sydney. With its narrow streets, fine colonial buildings, sandstone churches, and Australia’s oldest pubs, this neighborhood is where Sydney started when the British first landed. It was nearly brought down in the 1970s for modern skyscrapers, but fortunately, citizen action kept it in place. The Rocks weekend markets, art museums, street entertainment, delicious (and sometimes expensive) restaurants and beautiful views of the harbor, the Opera and the bridge make this one of the coolest areas in the city. I love heading to Sydney Observatory Hill Park for a good view of the city, strolling along the harbor boardwalk, and visiting bars at night. The museum is open every day from 10 am to 5 pm
2. Botanical Gardens and Mrs. Macquarie Chair
You’ll find Australia’s first orchard and a treasure trove of trees, ferns, flowers, and gardens at the Royal Botanic Gardens. On a sunny day, you will find locals strewn all over the lawn basking in the sun. You can also see Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, a seat carved out of a stone cliff, where you can sit and gaze out over the harbor. There are also one-hour volunteer guided tours of the garden, too! The gardens open daily at 7 am and, depending on the time of year, close as early as 5 pm or as late as 8 pm
3. Ferry to Manly Beach
The ferry trip to Manly ($ 15 AUD / $ 11 USD round trip, $ 2.70 AUD / $ 1.90 USD on Sundays) offers panoramic views of the harbor, the Sydney Harbor Bridge, and the world-famous Opera House. It’s a picturesque 30-minute ride each way that puts you in one of the coolest parts of the city’s north end. Manly is famous for its wide beach, giant waves, surfing, and its amazing nightlife.
4. Take a tour of the City Hall
The beautiful Sydney Town Hall is a wonderful Victorian building; On Tuesday mornings, there is a two-hour tour for $ 5 AUD ($ 3.50 USD).
5. Go to the museums
Like most cities, Sydney has a wide variety of museums. There is free admission to the Art Gallery of New South Wales (modern art), the Museum of Contemporary Art in Australia at The Rocks, the Nicholson Museum (antiquities), and the Australian National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbor. I also suggest visiting the White Rabbit Gallery (contemporary Chinese art; it also has a tea house) and The Rocks Discovery Museum (local history); both are also free. However, my favorite museum of all is the Hyde Park Barracks. Located in the old convict barracks, it does an amazing and detailed job of recounting colonial life in the city, with many stories of the early settlers, and is well worth the $ 10 AUD ($ 7 USD) entry fee. If you only pay for a museum, do it!
6. Learn to surf
Sydney is often the place where travelers bite the bullet and learn the art of Australia’s famous national pastime. There are many companies here that offer lessons. While Bondi is the most popular beach, Manly on Sydney’s north shore has better waves (although you can find good waves up and down the shore!). A group class starts at $ 70 AUD ($ 50 USD), and a private 1-hour class starts at $ 100 AUD ($ 71 USD).
7. Visit the Hunter Valley
To the north of the city is one of Australia’s main wine regions. Hunter Valley is home to incredible wineries that produce delicious reds. While it is not that easy on the budget, it is an excuse to get out of the city and see the countryside. Day tours are offered from Sydney, but they are expensive ($ 150-200 AUD / $ 107-142 USD) and you spend a lot of time on the bus. Do you want even more fun? Try a bike tour. Grapemobile and Hunter Valley Cycling offer one-day bike rentals from $ 35 AUD ($ 25 USD). It is best to stay at least one night to get the full experience. Day trips are offered from Sydney, but it is best to stay at least one night.
8. The Tower Sky Walk
As tall as the Eiffel Tower and twice as tall as the Harbor Bridge, the Sydney Tower offers stunning panoramic views of the city from its top Skywalk. At $ 50 AUD ($ 36 USD), it’s cheaper and easier than climbing the bridge itself, and the views are actually much better. Also included with the purchase of a Skywalk ticket is access to the “4-D” movie experience, which includes theater effects such as wind and fire.
9. Take the trike trail
Another fun way to explore the northern beaches is to rent a motorized trike. This day trip can take you past Palm Beach, the furthest point on the peninsula, to Ku-ring-gai National Park, past the Church point to Akuna Bay.
10. Take a coastal walk
There are a number of stunning coastal walks that allow you to take in the stunning natural beauty of Sydney Harbor. While tons of people follow the two-hour hike from Coogee to Bondi (they skip on weekends when crowded), I found the shorter hike at Watson’s Bay and the hike from Split to Manly are calmer and more impressive.
11. Attend a Cultural Event
As Sydney has a complex about Melbourne being called the cultural capital of Australia, it tries to outdo its rival by hosting over 30 festivals and official events each year. It offers art gallery nights, concerts, festivals and much more. Most of them are free and can be found on the Sydney tourism website.
12. Party at King’s Cross
If you are looking to go out and go crazy on the cheap, go to King’s Cross. This is where beer is cheap and backpackers (and locals) party late. The famous World Bar is where most of the action takes place (cheap drinks and a great dance floor). For a less traveler-focused time, head to Manly, The Rocks, or the CBD (Central Business District), where there are more locals and fewer travelers (but more expensive cocktails and beers).
Sydney travel guide – Travel costs to Sydney
Hostels in Sydney are very expensive. Cheaper hostels can be found in the King’s Cross area. An 8-bed dorm starts at around $ 26 AUD ($ 20 USD), while a 4-bed dorm starts at around $ 33 AUD ($ 24 USD). Private rooms range from $ 80-120 AUD ($ 57-85 USD) per night depending on things like location and whether the bathroom is shared or private.
Low Hotel Prices
Hotel prices vary widely in the city. If you want to stay in the center, you better get a private room in a hostel, as the hotels are too expensive in the center. Most budget hotels start at around $ 90 AUD ($ 64 USD) per night for a single, and $ 150 AUD ($ 107 USD) for a double, and become more expensive the closer you are to the center ($ 200 + AUD / $ 142 USD). Take a look at Airbnb to rent from a local and get a better value for a great location. You will find better offers and, per person, you will be able to find cheaper offers if you are with a group. On Airbnb, a shared room in a home costs around $ 33 AUD ($ 24 USD) per night. You can find entire apartments from $ 105 AUD ($ 75 USD) per night.
Average Food Cost
Cheap meals like sandwiches, burgers, and sushi can be found for less than $ 14 AUD ($ 10 USD). If you cook your meals, expect to pay around $ 100 AUD ($ 71 USD) per week for foods that will include pasta, vegetables, chicken, and other staples. An average restaurant meal will cost you around $ 20-28 AUD ($ 14-20 USD) to eat without frills. If you are staying in shelters, most offer family-style meals each night for around $ 8 AUD / $ 6 USD (some offer “free” dinners but are generally poor quality sausages and sausages).
The restaurants in the port will cost a bit more due to all the tourists and great views. Fast food costs around $ 15 AUD ($ 11 USD) for a meal. Sushi trains around town offer hearty food for $ 10-20 AUD ($ 7-14 USD), noodle and meatball shops in Chinatown offer tasty and authentic meals for under $ 10 AUD ($ 7 USD), and Lentils Like Anything (a vegetarian restaurant in Newtown) offers meals on a pay-as-you-feel basis. Another cheap place to eat is the food court at the MLC Center.
Sydney travel guide – Sydney Backpacker Suggested Budgets
Sydney is not cheap, but since it is the largest city in the country, here is something for every budget!
With a budget for backpackers, you can do it for around $ 77 AUD ($ 55 USD) per day. This is a suggested budget, assuming you stay in a large hostel bedroom, cook most of your meals at the hostel, and use public transportation to get around. There are also plenty of activities you can do within this budget, like visiting one of Sydney’s many museums or touring the town hall, or you can take advantage of free activities like hanging out on the beach.
With a mid-range budget of about $ 230 AUD ($ 165 USD), you can stay in a budget hotel, eat burgers and other western food (or eat lots of tasty things in Chinatown!), Do more with your Opal Card (like a ferry trip to Manly) and enjoy more expensive activities like the Sydney Zoo or a tour of the Opera.
With a “luxury” budget of $ 505 + AUD ($ 360 + USD), you can sleep in a luxurious 4-star hotel, eat all your meals in good restaurants, do more extravagant activities (like the Sydney Sky Walk), and rent a rental car to get around.
Sydney travel guide: Tips to save money
Sydney is one of the most visited places in Australia and the prices are high.
Walk the bridge for free
Taking a Bridgeclimb cost $ 174 AUD ($ 124 USD) but you can cross this icon for free!
Accommodation in Australia can be quite expensive. If you plan ahead, you can usually find really nice Couchsurfing hosts across the country. In this way, you not only have a place to stay, but you will have a local host who can tell you the best places to visit and things to see.
Work for your room
Many hostels offer travelers the opportunity to work for their accommodation. In exchange for a few hours a day of cleaning, you get a free bed. Commitments vary, but most shelters ask you to stay at least a week.
Get an Opal card
This metro card is free, you only need to load it with money. It’s worth using for three reasons: first, it offers a discounted rate compared to buying single-use tickets (varies by distance); there is a maximum fee of $ 15 AUD ($ 11 USD) per day; and on Sundays, a maximum of $ 2.70 AUD ($ 1.90 USD). That means you can go anywhere on the metro system on a Sunday and you will never pay more than $ 2.70 AUD ($ 1.90 USD)!
Free Walking Tours
I Am Free takes a free daily tour of the city center and The Rocks, Sydney’s original settlement. Plus, you can use Sydney Greeters (advance reservation required!), Which is a free service that connects you to a local that will show you around your neighborhood.
Visit the markets
Sydney has many amazing markets to tour. At Paddington Markets (Oxford Street; open on Saturdays after 10 am), the fish market (Bank Street and Pyrmont Bridge Road), Bondi Farmers Market (Campbell Parade on Bondi Beach), the flower market (Parramatta Road) and Much more seasonal markets, it is really easy to spend a lot of time wandering around and shopping. I love Paddington Markets and the Farmers Market – they draw an eclectic crowd and the Farmers Market makes me want to cook non-stop.
Explore free museums
Australia has many expensive museums, but it also has plenty of free museums. Some free museums worth considering: The Mint (a small exhibit on how they used to make money), the Australian Photography Center, the White Rabbit Gallery (fine arts), the Manly Museum of Art, the Sydney Observatory and the Rocks Discovery Museum.
Get a phone plan
The Telstra phone company has really improved its service and offers great phone packages that have great coverage across the country. Their calling/texting rates aren’t that high either, so the credit will last a while. Vodafone also has amazing (sometimes better) deals but they have more limited coverage across the country.
Drink goon (box wine)
Goon is infamous on the trail of the Australian backpacker hostel. This cheap wine box is the best way to drink, have fun, and save a lot of money at the same time. Typically 4 liters cost $ 13 AUD / $ 9.25 USD (compared to a six-pack for the same price). Drink this before you go out and save money at the bar (where it costs around $ 10 AUD / $ 7 USD per drink). Also, pop the bag when you’re done and have a small pillow to rest on!
Get Free Internet
The Internet in Australia is painfully slow and expensive (just ask any Australian how you feel about it), but libraries and McDonald’s have free WiFi that you can use.
The best way to cut your costs is to cook as many meals as possible. ALDI is the cheapest supermarket in the country, followed by Coles and then Woolworths (although sometimes you can’t choose where you can buy it! Some small towns only have one!).
Drink in backpackers bars
Drinking in Sydney is expensive, with beers costing up to $ 10 AUD ($ 7 USD) each, but backpackers bars are where to go for a cheap pint. World Bar and Ivy Hotel have backpacker specials for 4-7 AUD, and the Peter Pan Travel Agency in Kings Cross has free drinks on Tuesdays.
Save money on carpooling
Uber is much cheaper than taxis and is the best way to get around a city if you don’t want to wait for a bus or pay for a taxi. The Uber Pool option is where you can share a ride for even better savings (although you can also get your own car). You can save $ 15 USD on your first ride on Uber with this code: jlx6v.
Sydney travel guide – Where to stay in Sydney?
Some of the best available hostels in the world are in Sydney! Here is a list of some places to stay in the city:
- The Pod Sydney
- Wake Up! Bondi Beach
- Siesta Sydney
- Wake Up! Sydney Central
- Sydney Harbour YHA
- Big Hostel
- Sydney Central YHA
- Coogee Beach House
- Mad Monkey Backpackers on Broadway
- Manly Bunkhouse
Sydney travel guide – How to get around Sydney?
Sydney’s transport system consists of trains, buses, and ferries. It’s easy to move!
Bus: Like other major cities in Australia, bus fares depend on the number of zones you travel with adult fares starting at $ 2.80 AUD ($ 2 USD). Fares also vary slightly depending on the time of day and the number of passengers. The bus system is very comprehensive: many travel from Wynyard and Circular Quay and beyond. To get to Bondi Beach you must take 380 or 333.
You must use an Opal card (or a single-use Opal card) to use the system, but if you get a long pass, you will save money on each trip (for example, initial fees with an Opal card cost $ 2.20 AUD / $ US $ 1.55). The card is free, just load it with money and there is a maximum fee of $ 15 AUD ($ 11 USD) per day; and on Sundays, a maximum of $ 2.70 AUD ($ 1.90 USD). That means you can go anywhere on the subway system on a Sunday and you will never pay more than $ 2.70 AUD ($ 1.90 USD)!
Train: City Circle is the looped Sydney train that stops at Central, Museum, St. James, Town Hall, Wynyard, Circular Quay, and Martin Place. It is the best way to get around the city center! Like the bus, you can use Opal to pay for your trip.
Train prices are slightly more expensive than the bus. A one-time fee starts at $ 4.40 AUD ($ 3.13 USD), or $ 3.54 AUD ($ 2.52 USD) with the Opal card. Prices outside of peak hours are lower, starting at $ 2.47 AUD ($ 1.76 USD).
Sydney also has a light rail that runs from Central Station to Dulwich Hill and is good to use when you want to visit Chinatown or Darling Harbor. A one-time fee starts from $ 2.80 AUD ($ 1.99 USD) or $ 2.20 AUD ($ 1.57 USD) with the Opal card.
The airport express train costs $ 18.70 AUD ($ 13.32 USD).
Ferry: Ferries traverse Sydney Harbor from Circular Quay to various destinations, including Manly, the Olympic Park, and the Taronga Zoo. You can use your Opal card for ferry services (public ones only), and fares start at $ 7.40 AUD ($ 5.25 USD) or $ 6.01 AUD ($ 4.28 USD) with the Opal card. Otherwise, you can buy tickets at the dock.
Bike Sharing – There are several bike-sharing programs in Sydney, including Mobike, oBike, and Reddy Bike. These companies allow you to use a mobile app to locate a shared bike station and then use it for short distances. Prices vary, but the average is approximately $ 2 AUD ($ 1.40 USD) for 30 minutes.
Car rental: You can find a small car to rent in Sydney for around $ 50 AUD ($ 35 USD) per day. Here you will find all the usual car rental services such as Hertz and Enterprise.
Taxi: Taxis are fairly easy to dial but expensive. UberX has become a very popular form of transportation in the city and is approximately 40% cheaper than a taxi. You can save $ 15 USD on your first ride on Uber with this code: jlx6v.
Sydney travel guide – When to go to Sydney?
September to late November and March to May are the best months to visit Sydney. These are the shoulder seasons when the temperatures are nice and you don’t have to deal with the large tourist crowds. Airline prices are also cheaper during this time.
September to the end of November is just before the high season, so there will be some crowded spots. But in general, temperatures range from 10 ° C (50 ° F) to 24 ° C (70 ° F). The fall season (March-May) is very similar, so you’ll want to pack a light jacket for those colder days.
The peak season in Sydney is December through February, which is Australia’s summer. Temperatures are often in the mid-70s (20C) every day, so people flock here to take advantage of the heat. This makes it a very expensive time to visit!
Sydney travel guide – How to stay safe in Sydney?
Sydney is safe, even if you are traveling alone, and even as a solo traveler. People are quite friendly and helpful and unlikely to get you in trouble.
When in doubt, always trust your instincts. If a taxi driver seems gloomy, just stop the taxi and get out. If your hotel or accommodation is seedier than you thought, go out and go somewhere else. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and identification, before traveling in an emergency. Also, send your travel itinerary to friends or family so they know where you are just to be safe.
As a general rule, if you don’t do something at home, don’t do it when you’re in Sydney. Follow that rule and you will be fine.
Most incidents around here tend to happen because visitors aren’t used to Sydney’s unique climate, so make sure you have enough sunscreen and stay as hydrated as possible. If you are venturing into the suburbs, you will have to pay attention to the wildlife. Watch for snakes and spiders, and if bitten, seek immediate attention. (Don’t worry though, all those horror stories about giant spiders and vicious animals are pretty rare!) Also, if you’re swimming, pay attention to the red and yellow flags. Yellow flags indicate that swimming conditions can be dangerous; The red flags mean that the beach is closed. If you swim in the ocean between November and May, just swim where there is a stinger net on the beach, otherwise, you run the risk of being stung by jellyfish.
The most important safety tip is to buy good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellation. It is comprehensive protection in case something goes wrong.
Sydney Travel Guide – Best Booking Resources
Sydney travel guide – Sydney Gear and Packing Guide
In this section, I will give you my suggestion for the best travel backpack and advice on what to pack when visiting Sydney.
The best backpack for Sydney
REI Flash 45 Package
What is the best backpack for traveling around Sydney? I recommend the REI Flash 45 package. It is lightweight and comfortable, front-loading, and fits perfectly in the top compartment of an airplane.
Straps: Thick and padded with compression technology that pulls the pack load up and in so it doesn’t feel so heavy.
Features: removable top cap, large front pocket, hydration compatible, contoured hip belt
Sydney travel guide – Packing list for Sydney travelling
- 1 pair of jeans
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 swimsuit
- 6 shirts
- 1 long-sleeved shirt
- 1 pair of flip-flops
- 1 pair of slippers
- 8 pairs of socks
- 5 pairs of underpants
- 1 toothbrush
- 1 tube of toothpaste
- 1 razor
- 1 package of dental floss
- 1 small bottle of shampoo
- 1 small bottle shower gel
- 1 towel
Small medical kit (safety is equally important !!!)
- Cream Antibacterial Cream
- Ear Plugs
- Hand Sanitizer (Germs = Sick = Bad Vacation)
Others list- Optional
- A combination key or lock (security first)
- Zip lock bags (prevents things from dripping or exploding)
- Plastic bags (great for washing clothes)
- Universal charger/adapter (this applies to all)
- LifeStraw (One bottle of water with a purifier).
Travel List for Women
- 1 swimsuit
- 1 pareo
- 1 pair of stretch jeans (easily wash and dry)
- 1 pair of leggings (if it’s cold, they can go under your jeans, otherwise with a dress or shirt)
- 2-3 sleeve tops long
- 2-3 shirts
- 3-4 spaghetti tops
- 1 light cardigan
- 1 spray of dry shampoo and talcum powder (keeps hair long without grease between washes)
- 1 hair brush
- Make-up you use
- Hair bands and hair clips
- Feminine hygiene products
Sydney Travel Guide: Suggested Reading
In a sunburned country in Bill Bryson’s A Sunburned Country
It’s hard to pick just one Bill Bryson book that’s good because they all are. It is one of the most prolific and recognized names in travel writing. This book chronicles a journey through Australia and takes you east to west, through small mining towns, forgotten coastal towns, and unusual forests. Bryson includes many curiosities in his history while traveling in amazement, and sometimes fear (thanks to jellyfish, tides, crocodiles, spiders, and snakes), of this huge country. This is the book that inspired me to go to Australia.
The Thorn Birds, by Colleen McCullough
This is an Australian classic, originally published in the 70s, which follows the epic saga of a family living in sheep country in the Australian Outback. The story focuses on two main characters: Meggie Cleary with her forbidden love, and Ralph de Bricassart – a parish priest whose passion for Meggie haunts him. Even if this isn’t your type of book, it’s a really awesome insight into life in the Australian Outback (especially during the 70s).
A Long Way From Home, by Peter Carey Long Way From Home, by Peter Carey
Irene Bob loves to drive fast, and her husband is the best car salesman in Southeast Australia. Together they decide to participate in the 1954 Redex Trial, a resistance push that circumnavigates the entire country. Willie Bachhuber, an unsuccessful school teacher, joins them. If they win their lives, it will change forever, but first, it will take them out of the comfortable Australia they know so well and on an unexpected adventure full of twists and turns. Peter Carey is a two-time Booker Prize winner and one of Australia’s best-known writers. Read this book!
Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Walk Through 1700 Miles of Australian OutbackTracks: A Woman’s Solo Walk Through 1700 Miles of Australian Outback, by Robyn Davidson
This is Robyn Davidson’s memory of her incredible 1,700 journey miles through the Australian desert to the sea, accompanied only by four camels and a dog. Davidson defends himself from the suffocating heat, venomous snakes, and dangerous men, all while fighting with his temperamental camels. It is definitely one of those transformative stories that allow you to get a huge investment in the author as well as in the harsh Australian desert landscape. It has also become a great documentary!
The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin Songlines by Bruce Chatwin
You cannot come to Australia without learning a little about the country’s indigenous Australians. This is partly a travel notebook and partly an autobiography, and one of Chatwin’s most famous books. Here, Chatwin searches the Australian Outback for the source of Aboriginal “footprints of dreams”, the invisible paths from which Aboriginal ancestors sang of the world’s existence. The Songlines was an instant bestseller when it was published, and today it is a classic.