It’s a bright day in Sydney, you’ve unpacked your bags at the hotel and ready to wander through Sydney’s natural beauty and culture. Being the oldest and biggest city in Australia, Sydney offers a number of interesting attractions that can’t be found anywhere else in Australia.
Sydney has a plethora of public transportation options to help you get around, but the easiest way to explore the CBD is by taking the train or the bus. For convenience purposes, you can plan your trip at Transport NSW
[P.S. Check out 10 things to do in Sydney that are absolutely free!]
Day 1 – Saturday In the Park
Credit: David Berkowitz
Start your day with a walk in the park (1 or 2 hours if you love to take photographs)
- In a vast sprawling city like Sydney, it is advisable to start the day with a little island of peace and tranquility by wandering around the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens at Mrs Macquaries Road. There is a guided Aboriginal heritage tour of the gardens if you’re interested. Wander by the thousands of plants and catch a glimpse of water dragons, colourful birds, and fruit bats.
- Getting there: If you’re from the CBD, take the train to Circular Quay.
Lunch to get you through the day at Ipoh on York
Credit: Ipoh on York
- Sure, it gets pretty tiring from all the walking right? Take this opportunity to feast on classic Ipoh dishes at Ipoh on York, located on the bustling York Street. Learn the secrets behind good Ipoh Char Kuey Teow and Chicken Laksa. The best part is, this restaurant has received halal certification from Halal Australia 😄
- Getting there: Head back to Circular Quay station and disembark at the St James Station.
- Operating hours: Monday to Friday, 10am - 4pm, Saturday, 11am - 3pm, closes on Sunday.
Catch a glimpse of Australia’s humble past at Bennelong Point
- Once you’re done nom-ing the colourful delicacies of Ipoh, time to glide along the city’s excellent attraction, none other than Sydney Opera House. Snap a selfie (or wefie) and stroll around its exterior. The best way to experience the magnificent structure is to take a one-hour guided tour or, you can even attend a performance. Worth trying!
- Getting there : Walk to Sydney Townhall from Ipoh York which will take about 7 minutes of walk (depending on your stamina 😝) and take the train from Campbell Town Station on the Bankstown Line and disembark at the Circular Quay station again. From the station, enjoy a breezy 10-minute walk and you’ll be able to see the majestic landmark right in front of you.
- Before dusk gradually settles over the city, make your way to the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge. Witness the magnificent city like never before with a ferry by gliding by on a harbour cruise where you can uncover Sydney’s ‘hidden gems’, starting from Circular Quay, Wharf 3, and all the way to the iconic Manly Cove. Twisting and turning your way down the incredible harbour, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to capture the highlights of Sydney as you pass the iconic and amazing landmarks.
- Once the sun sets, you’ll come face to face with the colourful and scenic view from the bridge at night time. All that water surrounding the harbour offers a breathtaking view of Sydney.
- Getting there: From Sydney Opera House, take a 10-minute walk through Macquarie Street, all the way to Moore Steps and you will be able to arrive at Circular Quay, the hub of Sydney Harbour.
Day 2 - Of colourful markets and crystal clear water
Stroll around the famous Rock Markets (1-2 hours)
Credit: See-ming Lee
- What is Sydney without its vibrant markets? Thanks to the wide open spaces and glorious weather, the cosmopolitan city offers various markets.
- Head to The Rocks Markets on a sunny Sunday to enjoy a spectacular market scene in the area. Sydney’s answer to our very own Publika, around 200 stalls are featured with arts, craft, leather goods, vintage items, and so much more. A frequent haunt among tourists and expatriates, this colourful market scene is worth a visit.
- Getting there: From CBD, walk to Kent Street After Market Street and take the bus via network 311 to Argyle Place at Lower Fort Street. From there, take a walk to The Rock Markets.
Have lunch at eco-friendly cafe, Funky Pies
- Escape the hustle and bustle of Sydney's frantic CBD and get to a haven that has been gaining a reputation for unique brand of contemporary dining. Have lunch at Funky Pies, a vegan and eco-friendly cafe that serves planet friendly foods, ranging from classic pies to vegan rolls. Dishes such as the mushy peas, creamy mash and gravy have gained this cafe a reputation among locals.
- Getting there : From The Rocks Markets, head southeast on George Street towards Playfair Street where you can take the train at Circular Quay station, and disembark at Bondi Junction. From Bondi Junction, embark on a bus via network 389 for an 11-minute ride to the cafe.
- Operating hours: Monday to Friday, 7am - 8.30pm, Saturday and Sunday, 11am - 8.30pm.
Come down to Bondi Beach and refresh yourself
- Bondi Beach is undoubtedly one of Australia's most famous beaches and it is well-known worldwide. The iconic beach attracts tourists and the likes with its huge café scene, great surfing spot and cosmopolitan vibe. For Instagram-worthy pictures, take a picturesque coastal walk along the cliffs from Bondi to Waverley Cemetery.
- However, bear in mind that there are six different sections of the walk. If you are looking for a short leisure walk, the Ben Buckler to Bondi Beach is a short-level walk. Don’t forget to bring a bottle of water with you just in case the weather gets too hot.
- Getting there: Take the train from Circular Quay station to Bondi Junction. From there, take network 380, 381, 382 or 333 bus for a 15-minute ride to the beach.
- Once you’re done immersing yourself in the scenic seaside charm of Bondi Beach, it’s time for early dinner (as most places in Sydney close at 5pm). Make your way to Sadhana Kitchen, a much-loved organic and raw foods cafe.
- Getting there : Just a 6 minute walk from Bondi Beach, you get to enjoy everything gluten-free and sugar-free.
- Operating hours: Monday to Sunday, 9am - 4pm.
Day 3 - Exploring mother nature at Blue Mountains
Credit: Wei Ti Chiang
- It is not a Sydney trip if you don’t take a tour to the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains National Park. Witness the picturesque Three Sisters pinnacles as you arrive at the Echo Point where you can feast your eyes on the stunning views of the dramatic rocky cliffs over the Megalong Valley.
- You can also take a tour through the oldest open cave system in the world and Australia’s most impressive limestone caves, the Jenolan Caves.
- Be at awe with the dramatic lighting, cave formations and underground rivers in the show caves that are open to public every day. Psst! Be on the lookout for Australia’s wildlife such as the kangaroos when you come out of the caves.
Credit: Weekend Notes
- Getting there : Although there is an option of travelling via train, it is highly recommended to take a travel package at your selected Sydney hotels and travel on the road where you can sit back and relax as you enjoy a scenic view from central Sydney to the iconic Blue Mountains National Park. As you pass through the mountain township of Katoomba, you will be witnessing century-old guesthouses and cafes.
- You must be tired from all the hiking and exploring, now it’s time to wrap up your day and take a trip down to Leura Mall from Blue Mountains and head over to Rubyfruit, a boutique vegetarian cafe and bakery that serves tasty vegan staples such as burritos, baked goods, vegan burgers, sweets and light meals. Everything is egg-free and dairy-free!
- Getting there: From Blue Mountains Park, take a walk to Glenbrook Station and take the train via Blue Mountains Line and disembark at Leura Station. From the station, head to Leura Mall and you’ll see Rubyfruit.
- Operating hours: Monday to Sunday, 10am - 4pm.
Day 4 - A day with aquatic animals
Credit: Neptune Palace
- It’s Day 3, and you’ve covered most of the parts in Sydney. Why not chill at the CBD and head over to Neptune Palace Restaurant, an award winning Chinese and Malaysian restaurant located in the heart of Sydney's Circular Quay. Of course, you can’t resist that right?
- Specialising in seafood, this halal-certified restaurant serves a wide variety of Malaysian and Singaporean staples such as the chilli mud crab, murtabak and the aromatic beef rendang.
- Getting there: From CBD, take the train to Circular Quay station. From the station, walk to Neptune Palace Restaurant.
- Operating hours: Monday to Sunday, 12pm - 3pm and 5pm - 10.30pm.
- Note: Alcohol is served at this restaurant, so do dine at your own discretion.
- Continue your day at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium! One of the largest aquariums in the world, SEA LIFE Sydney stores over 700 different species in its aquarium. Take on a journey of discovery through different zones and walk through the amazing tunnel where you can see sharks and other aquatic animals up close.
- Getting there: From Neptune Palace, take a walk to Lang Park, York St and take the bus via network 254 and disembark at King Street Wharf, Cuthbert St.
- Done with your discovery? Why not feed yourself with some good food? Try the authentic Indian food at Zaaffran . Situated on the waterfront close to the CBD, Zaaffran specialises in innovative Indian delights that takes the cuisine to another level. Enjoy the breath-taking skyline views as you dine.
- Getting there: Zaaffran is located at Darling Harbour therefore, it is best to take a walk (about 9 minutes) and head east.
- Operating hours: Lunch (Monday to Saturday, 12pm - 2.30pm), Dinner (Monday to Thursday, 6pm - 9.30pm, Friday to Sunday, 5.30pm - 10.15pm).
- Note: Alcohol is served at this restaurant, so do dine at your own discretion.
- End your day by just strolling around Darling Harbour where you can experience an array of indoor activities and drop by some fabulous places to stop and enjoy the breeze.
Day 5 - Taste the seafood of Sydney
Credit: Sydney Fish Market
- Save your tummy for some good seafood and head over to the famous Sydney Fish Market. Walk around the supermarket, witness the colourful delights and smell the freshness that of seafood that will make you drool. Varying from prawns, lobsters, oysters, salmon, sea urchins, and many more, this is definitely a seafood haven.
- Getting there: Catch the Sydney Light Rail from Central Station to the Fish Market stop which is located across the road from the market.
- Operating hours: Monday to Sunday, 7am – 4.30pm.
Explore rare exotic animals and learn of Australia’s naval history
- Still can’t get enough of Australia’s native wildlife? Head over to Taronga Zoo! Lively and interactive, the ferry to the famous zoo is just a 10-minute walk from Sydney’s CBD. Not only does the zoo offer interactive iPhone app that guides you around, you can even camp the night at the zoo on the Roar and Snore tour.
- Getting there: Catch a train to Circular Quay, then take a ferry to Taronga Zoo wharf. Ferries depart from Circular Quay every quarter-past and quarter-to the hour.
Credit: Chris Devers
- Operating hours: Monday to Sunday, 9.30am to 4.30pm.
- Once you’re done exploring the rare wildlife that Australia can offer, grab the opportunity to climb aboard tall ships and inspect inside a submarine at Australian National Maritime Museum where you can learn about the naval history and be amazed by the stories of daring adventures at sea.
- Getting there: From Taronga Zoo, take the bus via network 247 and disembark at Wynard Station. Head south from York St towards Pirrama Road and you’ll find the museum standing beautifully on your left.
Wrap up your day with Turkish food at Efendy
- If you’re a fan of Turkish food, well this is the place for you! Walk through the spacious restaurant, relax, enjoy great food and a wonderful ambience with authentic Turkish cuisine at Efendy such as the charcoal-smoked eggplant babaganush.
- Getting there: From the museum, take the bus via network 501 at Harris Street near Pyrmont Bridge and drop at Victoria Road near Darling Street. From there, change to via network 444 and disembark at Darling Street near Elliott Street. Head southwest and you’ll arrive at Efendy on your right.
- Operating hours: Closes on Monday, Tuesday to Friday, 5pm - 10pm, Saturday to Sunday, 9am - 3pm, 5pm - 10pm.
- Note: Alcohol is served at this restaurant, so do dine at your own discretion.
Day 6 - End your trip with a shopping spree
Credit: Nicki Mannix
- It’s your last day in Sydney, wrap up your trip by shopping at the Romanesque-style Queen Victoria Building where you can see Sydney’s finest fashion boutiques. Take a break from shopping at some of the delightful cafes and restaurants. Architecturally stunning and rich in history, the Queen Victoria Building is one of the most iconic landmarks that occupies the entire block on George Street.
- Getting there : From CBD, you can take any train and head towards Town Hall station. From the station, walk to Queen Victoria Building.
Credit: The Art of Dr. Seuss Gallery
- Operating hours: Monday to Wednesday, 9am – 6pm. Thursday, 9am – 9pm. Friday, 9am – 6pm. Saturday, 10am – 4pm. Sunday, 11am – 4pm.
- While you’re around the area, don’t forget to drop by the famous Art of Dr Seuss Gallery that takes you on a journey behind the scenes of Dr Seuss’ work. Here you can witness first-hand the imaginative mind of America’s most beloved and legendary author and illustrator.
- Getting there: From Queen Victoria Building, head south on York St towards Druitt St. Turn left onto Druitt St and left onto George St. You will see the art gallery on your left.
Credit: Tony Fernandez
- Operating hours: Monday to Wednesday, 10am – 6pm. Thursday, 10am – 8pm. Friday to Saturday, 10am – 6pm. Sunday, 11am – 5pm.
- Not far from The Art of Dr Seuss Gallery, walk over to Elizabeth Street and look for the Archibald Fountain. An art nouveau piece at its finest, the fountain was sculpted by French sculptor Francois Sicard, it is a masterpiece to commemorate the association between Australia and France in World War I. Take your time to appreciate the magnificent art that draws elements from the Greek ancient past, and of course, take lots of pictures!
- Getting there: From Art of Dr Seuss Gallery, take a walk via Market Street towards Elizabeth Street.
Explore the lower north shore of Sydney
Credit: Chatswood Mall Market
- Grab the opportunity to explore the lower north shore of Sydney on your last day and partake in the Chatswood Mall Market that are only held on Thursdays and Fridays. Besides the wide variety of market stalls providing the highest quality of arts, crafts, and fashion, the Chatswood Mall Market also features amazing musical entertainment in many styles between 12pm and 8pm. Sit back, relax and enjoy the performances.
- Getting there: Take a walk from Archibald Fountain to the Sheraton Park, embark on a bus via network 343 to Chatswood and stop at Victoria Avenue near Jacques St. Head west towards Chatswood Avenue.
Get a taste of Sydney’s mamak food at Chatswood
- Missing mamak food back home? Fret not, Sydney has its own mamak food too! Tucked behind Chatswood station, Mamak is situated among office buildings. Feast on the crunchy roti canai and rustic murtabak.
- Getting there: From Chatswood Avenue, walk via Nicholson Street to Archer Street, and continue on Daisy Street towards Railway Street.
- Operating hours : Monday to Sunday, 11.30am - 2.30pm, 5.30pm - 9.30pm.
Of course there is a lot more to explore in Sydney. If you’re a foodie, you can discover the many Muslim friendly restaurants around the CBD. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, you can opt for hikes at the jungles and water sports at the stunning beaches. If you’re just looking to explore the entire city, well, you may have a lot of options to choose from so better start planning now!
[Going to other cities in Australia? Check out our itineraries for Melbourne, Perth and our guide to Gold Coast!]
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