Sydney was somewhere I originally went to find work. I'd just finished travelling around Asia, spent all my money and needed a job! Well, I got well and truly stuck there, for 9 months to be exact, and I can honestly say I had the best time of my life! Having always lived in small towns I never experienced city life until I moved to Sydney, and what a city to begin with, it stole my heart immediately.
Sydney really does have everything you need! You will NEVER be bored here, whether you're travelling solo, there with your friends or family, I guarantee you will have a great time! From beaches to restaurants, cafes, markets, shopping centers, festivals, national parks, harbors and not forgetting the famous Opera House; Sydney has it all!
In this article I'm going to give you a bit of an insight on what it's like to visit Sydney.
I firstly want to talk about transport. From all the places I've been in the world I have to say that Sydney has one of the best transport connections I've ever seen. You've got trains, trams, buses, taxis, watertaxi, ferry; whatever you want. I used the train and bus mostly as they cover long distances and run regularly. The main train stations in the city are Central and Town Hall. They run through to almost everywhere, whether it be down to Bondi beach, into the suburbs or out further to places such as the Blue Mountains, Newcastle or Woolongong. Taxis are generally quite expensive around the city, as I'm sure you can imagine! In my opinion the best way to get around is to walk! If you just want to get around the city, why not do it on foot! There's plenty to see along the way and the traffic can be so hectic at times this could be your quickest and cheapest option! You can get from the top of George Street which is right in the center down to Circular Quay in 30-40 minutes. It may sound long, but walking jut became a part of my life in Sydney, you don't realize how far you walk you just do it! If you have any trouble with transport, I used an app called TripView; that should help!
Paddy's Market, Chinatown, Haymarket
Ok, so next here's one for the ladies.. SHOPPING! Yes, we all love to shop, and Sydney has some of the best shopping around! There's just something therapeutic about spending the day walking around the shops and just getting lost in it all!
Definitely take a visit to Westfield Shopping Center. They have these all around Australia but the best 2 I've been to are in Bondi Junction and Parramatta. With 3 levels of every shop imaginable you can easily spend a few hours in here and it wouldn't be a day wasted! Heading over to Chinatown which is in Haymarket, you'll find Paddy's Market. It really is just like a market you'll find in Vietnam or Thailand. I took my family here, they loved it! Plenty of great souvenirs and gifts all for a great price! Lastly, Town Hall Shopping Center. This is just full of quirky shops and small boutiques, it's a must see! I'd walk through here everyday to get the train to work and 9 times out of 10 I'd stop at a little nut shop called Nutorious; they have the best caramelized macadamias.
FREE THINGS TO DO
So being a backpacker, I'm pretty much a pro now at finding the greatest free stuff to do! Here's a wee list of my favorites:
- The Opera House, Circular Quay: This is obviously Sydneys biggest landmark, of course you're going to want to see this place, its beautiful! Walking down circular quay you'll find plenty of nice bars along with buskers to keep the tourists entertained. A personal favorite of mine was the Aborigines doing a performance with the didgeridoo. The Opera House itself really is a masterpiece and is admired by tourists from all around the world. Take a walk up the steps and around the back to see the great details of this urban sculpture.
Harbor Bridge & Opera House. Circular Quay
- The Royal Botanic Gardens: If you like nature and wildlife then I would highly recommend taking a stroll through these gardens, they are simply beautiful. It's a perfect place to chill out, take the kids, have a picnic and just enjoy the view! The best part is listening to all the different birds, keep a look out for the cockatoos and parakeets! If you walk around the waters edge to Mrs Macquarie's Point, there you will find the perfect photo opportunity to get a picture of the Opera House with the bridge.
Mrs Macquaries Point, The Royal Botanic Gardens
- Darling Harbor: This harbor is simply stunning. Take a walk across the bridge from the city and you'll see the beautiful views. In the surroundings you've got brilliant bars, restaurants and a small shopping mall on the Pyrmont end of the bridge. A great place to enjoy lunch with a cold beverage on a hot summers day! Oh, and check out their firework display ever Saturday night! Its top class!
- Go to the beach: There are some beautiful beaches in Sydney. Might sound typical but my personal favorite is Bondi, which is also Sydneys most famous. This beautiful beach is surrounded by great views, cafes, shops, restaurants and don't forget to look out for the Bondi Rescue boys! Other beaches to definetly check out are Manly (catch the ferry from Circular Quay), Coogee, Watsons Bay and Bronte.
Watsons Bay, Sydney
- Bondi to Coogee coastal walk: If you enjoy walking then this is a must! Whether its just a chilled stroll you want or a light jog, this route is perfect. I'd say it's easy to do for all ages however there are some steep paths and stairs. This route carries on for around 6km and you will find plenty of great rock pools, parks, cliffs and spectacular views along the way. Depending on your pace it will take you 1-2 hours.
Coastal walk view of Bondi Beach
- The rocks: With just a 5 minute walk from the harbor you'll find yourself on cobblestone streets with some of Sydneys oldest pubs. This is a great historic place and be sure to visit the market they have every Saturday, its brilliant! You'll find stalls with handcrafted jewellery, art, photography, homewares and beauty products.
- The Blue Mountains: This National Park is on the West of Sydney and is a popular tourist attraction for it spectacular views, bushwalks, galleries, and the three sister rocks!
The Blue Mountains
Also be sure to check these activities out!
- Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb
- IMAX Cinema- boasting the largest screen in the world!
- Sydney Sky Tower
- Ferry to Manly
- Have a night out in Kings Cross
- Toronga Zoo – a 10 minute ferry ride from Circular Quay
- Sea Life Sydney Aquarium
Street Art, Circular Quay
HOW EXPENSIVE IS SYDNEY?
Hostels in the city are pretty pricey! In my experience you'll be paying between $20-$40 for a dorm room. Take yourself over to Kings Cross for cheaper accommodation! Hotels are very expensive in the center of Sydney, you're better off heading to the outskirts of the city or getting a private room in a hostel. When it comes to eating out you'll probably find yourself paying around $10-$20 for a fairly cheap meal. These will be things like burgers, sandwiches, sushi etc. A lot of people choose to do a weekly shop and cook their own food. My weekly shop whilst living here ranged from $60-$100 from Woolworths or Coles. If you use transport a lot, I'd recommend getting a an opal card (its free)! This is a tap on tap off system with a discounted fare price. Or you could get a mymulti, these cards cover transport on trains and buses and cost $44 for just around the city.
So hopefully I've covered enough here for you to have an idea what Sydney is like. There's a reason why its one of the top cities in the world, it's just beautiful, but like most things you've got to experience it yourself!
I hope you enjoy this place as much as I did!