Sydney is Australia’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, most famous for being home to iconic buildings, beautiful beaches, award-winning restaurants, and a vibrant culture.
Boasting some of the most photographed landmarks in the world, a wonderland of national parks, forest mountains, and historic riverside towns, Sydney is also a bit of an exhibitionist – sun-blazed beaches stretching the length of the famous harbor opening up into the Pacific, and glittering views of an impressive city skyline once the sun goes down.
There is so much to see and do in this magnificent city, that it’s almost overwhelming trying to cram it all in to one trip!
Whether you’re flying in, or driving in on a campervan hire, here is how to make the best out of 5 days in Australia’s favorite city. If you’re planning on exploring the greater surrounds, car hire in Sydney is easy to organize, and you can compare prices and book via companies like VroomVroomVroom.
Day 1 – Walking tour
Spend your first day taking a walking tour of the city. Starting at Circular Quay where you can inspect the great steel arc of the Harbor bridge up close, make your way through Sydney’s historic Rocks District, marvel at the splendid sails of the Opera House, walk through Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens, enter Sydney’s city centre, and finish your tour in Darling Harbor.
There are a number of museums along your way, including Museum of Contemporary Art, the Sydney Museum, and the Police and Justice Museum in the Circular Quay area. At Darling Harbour you’ll find the Powerhouse Museum and the Australian National Maritime Museum.
Spend the evening in Darling Harbor – Sydney’s hub of entertainment. Enjoy a delicious harbor side meal for dinner and experience Sydney’s energetic night life. Darling Harbor is home to Sydney’s IMAX Theatre, Sydney Aquarium, Wildlife Sydney Zoo and Madam Tussads.
For those not keen on walking, also an option is the Red Explorer Bus, focused on city sightseeing.
Day 2 – Cruise the Harbor
Taking a cruise on Sydney Harbor should be an essential part of any Australian itinerary – Sydney is, after all, a harbor city. Numerous cruises are available and travelers can choose between sightseeing cruises, a dinner cruise, a dance cruise, or choose from the multitude of ferries which operate out of Circular Quay to a number of destinations within greater Sydney.
Cross the harbour to Manly or head to Watsons Bay for phenomenal seafood. A ferry to Manly is a great way to spend your day – home to Shelly Beach which is one of Sydneys best spots for snorkeling.
You can also Navigate to Cockatoo Island – a historic island now a haunted naval storage facility. The island provides stunning views overlooking Sydney Harbour and is home to the Island bar, famous for its tropical cocktails and wood-fired pizza.
Day 3 – View Sydney
Spend your day taking in breathtaking views of the city. Head to the summit of ‘Sydney Tower Eye’ which offers views across the city to the Pacific Ocean, as well as the Blue Mountains in the west. For those feeling daring, the Sydney Skywalk experience is a moving, glass-floored viewing platform which sits at the top of the Tower.
Book in to climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge – not only is the climb incredibly adventurous and will keep your adrenalin pumping, but you’re greeted with spectacular views over Sydney once at the top.
The bridge climb is relatively expensive – for those traveling on a budget, crossing the bridge on foot is free and offers just as spectacular views and photo opportunities.
Day 4 – Australian Wildlife
Australia is known for having unusual wildlife, and Australian animals are unlike any found elsewhere in the world! From kangaroos and koalas, to platypi (platypus), Tasmanian devils and wombats – Australia has a huge range of wonderful wildlife and exotic species which provoke a sense of wonder and awe throughout the rest of the world. Make sure you get to see them up close!
Taronga Zoo is just a short ferry ride across the harbour from Circular Quay. Australia’s most famous zoo, visitors may marvel at thousands of exotic and native Australian animals. An adult ZooPass (includes the fare of the ferry from Circular Quay) is $45 – and those who don’t want to leave can sleep over! Luxury safari tents with after-hour adventures start at $225 for the night.
Visit Featherdale wildlife park in Sydney’s west or Wild Life Sydney at Darling Harbour for other Australian wildlife encounters.
Day 5 – Go to the beach
Spend your last day relaxing on Sydney’s most iconic beaches. Particularly in the warmer months, from November – March, Sydney’s beaches are the place to be. Opportunities to partake in water sports are ample – go swimming, surfing, water skiing or simply laze in the sun and tan.
Bondi Beach is Sydney’s most famous – glittering sapphire water, fabulous waves, golden sand; Bondi epitomizes sun, sand and surf. After a 2 hour surf lesson why not take in the spectacular views of Bondi’s sandstone cliffs and coves and complete the Bondi-Bronte walk. This walk is a 1 hour, 2.5km stroll.
Decided to miss your flight home? There’s more to do! For travelers with more time to spare in Sydney, great daytrip options are available to the north, south and west of the city. Try the Blue Mountains in the West or the Hunter Valley wine region in the North.
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Photo credits: Featured photo by Jason James.