It is not an easy task to zero down top 10 things to do in Sydney, 4-5 things would come on each list, but beyond that it really depends on who you yourself are, and with whom you are traveling. I am glad I was traveling alone and I could get time to work on this post. This is all first hand, been there done that. All photographs, whether good, bad or ugly have been taken for Sydney project commissioned by Mapsofworld.com and they are their copyright.
My Top 10 are bound to be different from several others on the net, my top 10 about Sydney are based on my profile and is a snapshot of who I am and what leads me to these 10 things: 48 years; male; Punjabi; Sikh; Indian; lived for over 900 days in the US; married for 18 + years; more than 20 friends with friendship of more than 20 years; happily & hopelessly obese; avid traveler; 20 years + of international traveling; 24 countries + 1 India; 53 international cities + 100 Indian cities; loves camera; tech entrepreneur; loves history; lives maps; documenting life since 1979.
1. Hop on Hop off Explorer Bus Tour
Why? They have a huge learning curve, gives you a feel of the city and have a single 48 hours validity ticket for both tours – Sydney City and Bondi Beach for $60, which is a steal.
Sydney City tour is a 90 minute tour after every 30 minutes and Bondi Beach tour is a 90 minute tour after every 45 minutes. There are three interchange points to shuffle between the tours. Best option is to make Sydney Central as your default changeover point and pan out your trips accordingly. Both tours have Sydney Central as their stop. In my first round of both the trips I just didn’t get down from the bus, absorbed and understood what all I could, made notes and from my second trip onwards I was doing exactly what HoHo tours are meant for. I recommend 2 days to be kept for utilizing this ticket to its fullest. Camera always on ready mode is a must.
2. Hop on Hop off Captain Cook Cruises
Why? You can’t see Sydney without getting on a boat. On boat and suddenly the whole city opens up for you, everything looks different and adds a dimension, and faster the boat, faster the absorption of this dimension.
Captain Cook Cruises call their hop-on-hop-off boat a rocket and yes, I agree it is. All boats which I traveled in were in good condition and had neat and clean loo, that becomes important if you wish to spend a few hours on them. They have live commentary and hearing it once over is helpful. 24 hour validity ticket comes for $39.00 and if you use it the way I used mine, it looks like you got something for free. I recommend one day to be kept for this cruise and set of trips. Sydney tourism handbook has a discount coupon for the trip, I availed it and saved a few dollars. Camera always on ready mode is must.
3. Sydney Opera House
Why? Because you are not a moron. Sydney Opera House is an experience of a lifetime and a destination which doesn’t have a parallel anywhere else in the world. Planning your Sydney Opera House trip is important, ideally you need to keep one full day for it. If you can’t, 4-5 hours can give you a feel and create memories for a lifetime and enrich your soul for ever. Doing few leisurely rounds of the Opera House from its periphery and buying at least one inside tour is must. All inside tours don’t include main theater, it is important that you do inside tour with a group which has main theater as a part of the tour.
I paid $28.00 after availing discount as per Sydney Official Travel Guide and also availed discount for lunch at restaurant and for coffee at their own coffee shop. “Inside tour” takes more than an hour. There are 3-4 productions in different halls every day, you can pick and choose the production you would love to see.
4. Circular Quay
Why? Discovery of the city of Sydney begins here. If you haven’t been to Circular Quay, you haven’t been to Sydney. Go here for being a part of the pulse of this tourist hub.
A leisurely walk-eat-walk-see-shop-performance-walk from The Rocks to the Opera House requires 2-3 hours, if you have 4 hours to allocate, you are done with Circular Quay. Street theater and food needs to be provisioned for. There are fancy dining restaurants and also fast food restaurants are a plenty. Do go by reviews and menus before giving away your dollars.
5. Sydney Central Railway Station
Why? It is a microcosm of Sydney, an hour here and you can start understanding what all goes inside this potpourri called Sydney: city; people; society; priorities; fashion; footwear; handbags; finger food; attitude.
Just don’t give up after looking at the building from outside, buy a ticket and experience Sydney Central, a great experience awaits you. Keep two hours for this destination.
6. Sydney Fish Market
Why? There are more bridges, Madame Tussaud’s and Disneyland parks in the world than there are Fish Markets of the span and style of Sydney Fish Market.
I had to resolve whether to buy a trip to the top of Sydney Harbor Bridge or visit Sydney Fish Market, I am glad I opted for Sydney Fish Market. You need two hours, one hour to see and one hour to eat, add another one hour if you are a shutter bug, great views of Anzac Bridge from here.
7. Darling Harbor
Why? Entertainment and fun shouldn’t stop. I lost count of number of restaurants and parks I counted on my visit here. This is where the crowds are and theaters are including the largest screen in the world LG IMAX theater. Shopping, Madame Tussaud’s, Bowling, cultural shows, this is where the entertainment never stops.
Do keep 4-5 hours to work your way around, more if you need to visit exhibitions or theaters around this area.
8. St. Mary’s Cathedral
Why? It has so much of architectural extravaganza on display for visitors, and it offers peace. Lots of it.
Aquatic centeris next to it, Museum is bang opposite and right across is the Hyde Park of Sydney.
9. Bondi Beach
Why? It is one of the most happening city beaches in the world. Sunbathe, surf, sail, eat, drink or just have a party on the beach. Of course it also hosts a skateboarding area which is fit for preparing for local championships.
It is important to split your beach visit in three parts. Around Bondi, the walks and fun with water. Around Bondi can take about and hour, if you are not eating here, suggested place for a meal would be Bondi Icebergs Bistro, great ambiance and marvelous setting, of course food is good too. You and your surfboard can do some serious magic riding waves out here. Not very tough, but if you are a visitor, this is where your love for the sea begins.
10. The Rocks
Why? This is where history lives. If history of Sydney was asked for its address it would be nothing but, The Rocks, adjacent to Circular Quay, Sydney. That’s it.
Oldest pubs in the city, breathtaking views of Harbor Bridge, Souvenir & gift shops, old historic buildings, live street performances and the Rocks weekly market with fairly large number of stalls. Being almost anywhere in the Rocks area is like going back hundred years and more. There is no denying that this place has a touristy feel to it, but then if you are a tourist why crib.
If I had a choice of adding 11th thing to do in Sydney, I would have added iconic views of Sydney Harbor Bridge from all parts of the city or a climb up to the top of the bridge.
Sydney has scores of must see, must visit places, events and destinations, this is mine, yours could be different. I saw over 25 places, events and destinations within Sydney, Australia. These are my best 10 places to see from that 25.