Is Sydney Worth Visiting? What You Must Know

Planning a trip to Australia and deciding “Is Sydney Worth Visiting?”

It’s a valid question, especially with the city’s geographical stretch. If you’re coming from the US or UK, it’s quite the journey.

A trip to Sydney isn’t a spontaneous weekend away. It’s a commitment in hours and, in airfare too. So, is a visit to Sydney worth your time and money?

I have lived in Sydney for several years now and had time to explore beyond the typical tourist trail.

This guide will take you through some of the best places to visit and the must-do activities that should be on everyone’s Sydney bucket list to help you decide – is Sydney worth visiting?

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Is Sydney Worth Visiting?

View fom Skytower in Sydney
View from Skytower, the best viewpoint in Sydney

Absolutely, Sydney is worth a visit! As a Sydney local who’s explored its streets, cafes, and coastlines, I can confidently say there’s a side to this city that goes beyond its iconic landmarks – trust me, Sydney deserves a place on your itinerary!

Sure, you know the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge – who doesn’t? But that’s just postcard stuff. There is so much more to Sydney!

For those with a love for arts and culture, the city boasts a vibrant array of galleries, local theatre productions, and cultural festivals that showcase Sydney’s diverse heritage.

Sydney also has an incredible “Sculpture by the Sea” Art Exhibition right on the beachfront which is simply stunning and not something I have seen travelling around the world.

Then there’s the natural beauty. From the serene Botanic Gardens to the sun-soaked sands of Bondi and Coogee, Sydney’s outdoor experiences are some of the best in Australia.

Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk, Sculptures by the Sea
Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk, Sculptures by the Sea Art Exhibition

But Sydney’s allure doesn’t stop at its coastal edges. Venture a little further, and the hinterland opens up with treasures like the Blue Mountains and Hunter Valley.

And for the night owls? The nightlife in areas like Darling Harbour, the Rocks and Newtown offers a mix of laid-back pubs, sophisticated bars, hip breweries and lively music venues.

Simply put, Sydney isn’t just a destination—it’s an experience. And in my books, it’s an experience everyone should have at least once.

What is Sydney Known for?

Views of Sydney Harbor Bridge in Australia
Sydney Harbour Bridge and Oprea House

Sydney, beyond its scenic harbourside views, is celebrated for many iconic landmarks and experiences.

At the forefront is the unmistakable Sydney Opera House, with its sail-like design making it a global symbol of architectural ability.

Then there’s Bondi Beach, a magnet not just for sunbathers but for surf enthusiasts who flock for its legendary waves.

Living in England vs Australia Kevin on Bondi Beach
Kevin at Bondi Beach in November

Yet, a little further along the Eastern Suburbs coastline, you’ll discover quieter beaches, even a nude beach or two, offering a more tranquil seaside experience away from the hustle of Bondi. And for those with four-legged companions, several of these spots are dog-friendly, ensuring everyone gets to enjoy the waves and warmth.

Food-wise, Sydney’s coastline serves up some of the freshest seafood you’ll ever taste. Think juicy prawns, succulent oysters, and mouth-watering fish, often served with a view of the shimmering ocean (or on the ocean, if you are up for a cruise!)

The city’s surf culture is massive too. From Manly to Cronulla, the beaches are dotted with surfers catching waves or just soaking up the laid-back beachside vibes.

It’s worth noting, however, that Sydney’s stellar offerings come with a price tag. It’s known for being on the pricier side compared to other global cities. I will break down some costs later in this article.

But for many, the unmatched blend of urban sophistication, pristine beaches, and world-class landmarks makes every dollar spent here absolutely worth it.

10 Best Things to Do in Sydney

So, you’re in Sydney and wondering where to start, right?

Let’s kick things off with the absolute must-dos, the places you’ll be speaking about for months after your trip has ended!

Then, I’ve got a list of the best spots and experiences that capture Sydney’s spirit. And if you’re thinking of splashing a bit of cash? Well, there are some indulgences here that are absolutely worth it.

Whatever your vibe or budget, a trip to Sydney is undeniably worth it.

1. Best Tours for Seeing the Sight of Sydney

Whenever someone asks me about exploring Sydney, my go-to advice is to kick things off with a guided sightseeing tour. It’s the perfect introduction to the city.

Not only does it give you a comprehensive overview, but it also helps you pinpoint areas that truly pique your interest, so you can circle back and delve deeper on your own terms.

Here are my top picks;

Half-Day Sydney City Sightseeing Tour

Centennial Park Is Worth Visiting In Sydney Kev and Ivy at Lake
Centennial Park with Family In Sydney

Book this sightseeing tour if: you have limited time or want an introductory overview of Sydney’s iconic landmarks – plus they offer hotel pick-up so it’s super convenient too!

Where you will visit:

  • Pass by The Rocks
  • Stop at Mrs Macquarie’s chair (fantastic viewpoint overlooking the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge)
  • Travelling through the Eastern Suburbs of Double Bay, Rose Bay, Point Piper and Watsons Bay (with plenty of photo stops and a short walk)
  • 30-mins to dip your toes at Bondi Beach
  • Centennial Park
  • Pass by Paddington

From the historic charm of The Rocks to the unparalleled views from Mrs Macquarie’s chair, you’re going to see a variety of Sydney on this tour.

As you weave through the Eastern Suburbs, with stops at Double Bay, Rose Bay, and Watsons Bay, you get to sample the city’s varied landscapes and vibes.

And of course, the 30-minute stop at Bondi Beach is a teaser of Australia’s famed beach culture. If the waves and sands captivate you, I’d highly recommend returning to the beach another day to explore the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk for a deeper dive into Sydney’s beachside beauty and some stunning photo opportunities.

Similarly, I’d recommend carving out a half-day to just wander around Paddington at your own pace. Home to charming boutique shops and also beautiful gardens to walk around!

Sydney Bike Tours

Manly Beach in Sydney
Manly Beach in Sydney

Book this tour if: you’re keen on sharing a bike journey around Sydney’s best sites alongside like-minded travellers.

There are 4 Bike Tours to choose from:

  • Sydney Classic Tour – This great all-round bike ride, is the easiest of all tours – most popular you’ll get to ride on the world-famous Sydney Harbour Bridge and relax in one of Sydney’s oldest pubs…it’s the one tour in Sydney that shows a little bit of everything along the way!
  • Sydney Highlights Tour – Great if you are short on time or families with small children
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge Rise  – Those who enjoy a longer bike ride, and have extra time to spare
  • Manly Beach and Sunset Cruise – Great for exploring beyond the city (as long as you don’t mind a big hill)

Dive into the heart of Sydney with this highly-rated tour. You’ll be whisked through city highlights and, just when you think you’ve seen it all, you’ll stumble upon those hidden spots only the locals know about.

Could you find these on your own? Maybe. But it’d take an entire day on foot, and who’s got time for that?

The secret sauce to this tour’s stellar ratings? The guides. Their undeniable passion for Sydney radiates through every story they recount. You can instantly tell they’re locals, deeply passionate about the city in which they live. And trust me, that genuine love is what will make your experience.

Big Bus Sydney and Bondi Hop-on Hop-off Tour

Darling Harbour in Sydney
Darling Harbour, Sydney

Book this tour if: you want the freedom to explore Sydney and Bondi at your own pace.

If you’re keen to dive deep into Sydney and Bondi’s landmarks and local spots, then the hop-on and hop-off bus will be a great option for you with flexible ticketing options; grab either a 24-hour or 48-hour ticket.

There are two routes available and tickets are valid on each:

  • The Red Route covers Sydney City with 23 stops, including key attractions like the State Library of New South Wales, the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium in Darling Harbour and the iconic Rocks area. With buses operating between 9 am to 4 pm, you have ample time to explore.
  • The Blue Route takes you on a scenic journey to Bondi, with 8 stops along the way. Highlights include Paddington Town Hall, the picturesque Rose Bay, and of course, Bondi Beach itself. This route operates between 9.30 am to 3.15 pm.

This lets you jump on and off the bus whenever you fancy within that timeframe.

And hey, if you’re new to Sydney, here’s a little insider advice: book the 48-hour ticket. On day one, ride the whole route from start to end. It’s an easy way to get a feel for the city and figure out which spots you want to hit up again later.

If you are planning to visit quite a few sites in Sydney and the eastern suburbs, I highly recommend booking a ticket for this hop-on hop-off bus – it will save you so much money!

2. Visit the Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House Front

Would you visit Paris and skip the Eiffel Tower? Well, you can’t come to Sydney without soaking in the essence of the Opera House. Is Sydney Worth Visting? I would say yes, for the Opera House alone.

It is more than just its iconic sails; it’s an experience, whether you’re gazing at its design or being serenaded by a performance within. Don’t leave it off your list.

A tour I highly recommend is the Sydney Opera House Guided Backstage Tour which allows you to walk on the very stage where top names such as Cate Blanchett, Luciano Pavarotti, and Ella Fitzgerald have all performed as well as gain access to areas where are usually off-limits to the public.

❗️ One thing to note: due to copyright laws and privacy concerns, there are certain areas where photography isn’t permitted. So, while you might snap a few memorable shots, please don’t go expecting to photograph the entire tour.

Also keep in mind, that the exact spots you visit might vary based on the shows and events happening during your tour.

At the end of the tour, you’ll enjoy breakfast in the Green Room, where artists from around the world have sat and shared moments of relaxation and camaraderie.

3. Go Surfing at Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach in Sydney Passport Down Under
Bondi Beach in November, Sydney

Surfing isn’t just a sport in Australia; it’s woven into the fabric of the nation’s culture.

Whether you’re a complete newbie or someone looking to refine your skills, surf lessons at Bondi are tailored to fit your ability.

But why surf at Bondi? Well, apart from its iconic status, Bondi offers a unique blend of wave conditions suitable for all levels. The beach’s vast expanse ensures there’s ample space for everyone, making it an ideal spot for learning.

Plus, there’s something incredibly special about catching your first wave at a beach that’s steeped in surfing history.

4. Immerse Yourself in Sydney’s Wildlife

Sydney’s not just about that famous bridge and surf beaches; it’s got some world-class zoos and marine wonders!

Chloe Scorgie Passport Down under at Taronga Zoo in Sydney
I checked out the view from Taronga Zoo!

At the forefront is Taronga Zoo, arguably the star attraction amongst the city’s zoos.

Located on the shores of Sydney Harbour, Taronga offers more than just a wildlife experience. Its elevated vantage point boasts unmatched panoramic views of the harbour, Sydney Opera House, and the Harbour Bridge.

I highly recommend this value-for-money ticket option, which combines a ferry trip across Sydney Harbour to the zoo and the entry fee!

Down at Darling Harbour, you’ll find WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo. It’s not as big as Taronga, but just the right size to let the kids walk by some kangaroos and have their picture taken with a koala.

Right next door, the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium dives into the deep blue of Australia’s marine life.

You can easily do both on the same day, and they have ticket options that work out as really great value if you decide to visit both.

Like saving money? It is SO MUCH CHEAPER to buy this attraction pass which will allow you entry into 4 of the best things to do in Sydney; WILDLIFE Sydney, SEALIFE Sydney, Madame Tussauds and the Sydney Skytower (not to be missed!)

Dinosaur Exhibit at Sydney Zoo
Dinosaur Exhibit at Sydney Zoo with my daughter and Kev

Further afield in Western Sydney lies Sydney Zoo. Famous for its innovative displays, such as giant Lego animals or prehistoric dinosaur replicas, the zoo also introduces a festive atmosphere with fairground rides during the summer months – great if you’re planning a trip to Sydney with kids.

5. Kayak Sydney’s Coastline

Best Kayak Tours Sydney
Kayak Seal Encounter in Sydney

Sydney’s picturesque coastline is perfect for water enthusiasts, with kayaking being a prime activity to dive into. From the serenity of Lane Cove River to the majesty of Sydney Harbour, kayaking here is an intimate way to explore hidden beaches, coves, and iconic landmarks.

Looking for the best Kayak experience in Sydney? Sydney Kayak Seal Encounter Adventure is the answer. 

Starting at the peaceful Palm Beach on the Pittwater side of Governor Philip Park, you’re introduced to your guide, who’s as passionate about kayaking as they are about Sydney.

All equipment is included, and you’ll paddle your way to an unforgettable encounter: meeting the local fur seal colony! Just watching them in their natural habitat is a joy.

And just when you think the tour’s peaked, there is more. Paddle a bit further, and you’ll find yourself at a secluded Pittwater beach with a luxury lunch waiting.

6. Go Whale Watching

Sydney Known for The Iconic Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge

There’s something truly special about Sydney. It’s not just the bustling city vibes or the iconic landmarks, but the fact that right on its doorstep, you can witness one of nature’s most awe-inspiring migrations.

So, if you’re thinking of diving into this, the Intimate Family-Friendly Whale Watching tour is your ticket. What sets this tour apart? For starters, It’s just half a day, so you’re back in time for lunch or an afternoon stroll.

And with the whole thing wrapping up in under three hours, it’s short, sweet, and unforgettable.

What I personally love about this tour is the small group vibe. With only 25 folks on board, there’s no elbowing for a good spot. Plus, the captain and guide? Top-notch. They’re not just experts at navigating the waters, but they’re also passionate about the whales and the harbour.

And here’s a little bonus: it’s not uncommon to spot dolphins dancing around the boat, so this tour is fantastic value for money.

7. Elevate your experience with a Scenic Helicopter Tour

Helicopter in the sky. The shy has a pink hue in the background.
Helicopter Ride In Sydney

Sydney is all too well known for its iconic landmarks, and while these sights are impressive from the ground, it’s an incredibly special experience viewing them from above.

Now, I get it. Helicopter tours might seem like a splurge, but trust me, this is the kind of splurge you won’t regret.

Picture flying over the eastern coastline, taking in the beauty of Coogee Beach, Bondi Beach, and Manly Cove. You’ll soak in the sights of Sydney’s harbour, the Sydney Opera House, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The pilot isn’t just there to fly; they’re your guide, sharing stories, history, and insights about the city. The commentary is engaging, and the interaction makes the flight feel personal.

I highly recommend treating yourself to this experience, it will make your entire trip to Sydney!

8. Walk around the Historic Rocks District

The Rocks Sydney. Sydney Harbour Bridge with The Rocks in the Background
The Rocks District, Sydney

If you’re the kind of person who loves to wander and wonder, The Rocks in Sydney is right up your alley.

The visual appeal of The Rocks is undeniable. As you stroll, you’re treated to views of the gleaming Sydney Harbour and the timeless charm of Campbells Cove Wharves. And historic structures, like the steadfast Cadman’s Cottage from 1816 and the dignified Garrison Church of the 1840s, hold stories of Sydney’s early days.

Now, you might think, “Why not just explore on my own?”

This guided walking tour offers a deeper dive, so I highly recommend booking on it.

Your guide will unveil stories, anecdotes, and insights, making the surroundings come alive. You’ll discover hidden spots and learn about the people who laid the foundation for modern Sydney.

The tour’s pace is leisurely, covering about 1.2 miles in 90 minutes. It’s a small-group thing, so it feels like a casual walk with friends who are just as curious as you. You’ll explore spots like the quaint Kendall Lane, bustling George Street, and Foundation Park.

9. Experience the Thrill of Sydney Harbour

Now, for those adrenaline seekers (or those who just don’t know it yet), Sydney Harbour has something that’ll get your heart racing.

The iconic Sydney skyline, the gentle waves of the harbour, and you, aboard a jet boat, zooming past these landmarks at thrilling speeds.

Kicking off from Circular Quay, this 30-minute ride isn’t your typical harbour cruise.

Within minutes, you’ll be zooming past the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, feeling the wind in your hair and maybe letting out a whoop or two. And just when you think you’ve caught your breath, the boat throws in some wild 270-degree spins and power slides.

Yep, you’re going to get a bit wet, but that’s half the fun! Don’t stress though; they’ve got ponchos and lockers to store your belongings beforehand.

Your pilot, apart from showcasing the boat’s impressive moves, doubles as a guide. Amidst the thrills, they’ll share insights about Sydney, adding a touch of local knowledge to the adventure.

This tour is highly rated, even those who were a bit hesitant at first end up having the time of their life.

10. Admire the Views from Sydney Skytower

View fom Skytower in Sydney
View from Skytower in Sydney

If you’re looking for a low-cost alternative to see Sydney from above, the Sydney Tower Eye is a top pick. Not only does it offer an affordable way to get panoramic views, but it’s also hailed as one of the best things to do in Sydney.

Once you’re 250 meters up, it’s a visual feast. The Sydney Harbour sparkles, the city stretches out, and the Pacific Ocean meets the horizon.

A pro tip: try to make it early. You dodge the crowds and snag the prime photo spots. And while there’s a tempting souvenir shop up top, it’s wise to be a bit mindful of the prices, (especially if you’re touring with enthusiastic little ones)

Like saving money? It is SO MUCH CHEAPER to buy this attraction pass which will allow you entry into 4 of the best things to do in Sydney; WILDLIFE Sydney, SEALIFE Sydney, Madame Tussauds and the Sydney Skytower (not to be missed!)

Best Day trips from Sydney

Is Sydney worth visiting? Absolutely, because beyond its iconic landmarks, its allure extends beyond the city’s boundaries.

Just a short drive away, a surplus of unforgettable day trips to experience, showcasing everything from wine regions to national parks. Below are the top spots you shouldn’t overlook when venturing outside the Harbour City.

Royal National Park

Royal National Park, Wedding Cake Rock
Royal National Park, Wedding Cake Rock

Just an hour’s drive from Sydney’s centre lies the Royal National Park, an oasis of natural beauty and diverse landscapes.

As one of Sydney City’s nearby treasures, this park is a real gem in New South Wales and offers visitors a retreat from urban city life.

Situated to the south of Sydney, the park is easily accessible by car from Sydney CBD and the smaller towns that surround it. 

However, given the vastness of the area (15,091 hectares of bushland), booking a guided tour can be a wise choice, especially if you are short on time and want to see as much of the Royal National Park as possible.

For those keen on a comprehensive experience, the Royal National Park Full-Day Tour comes highly recommended.

Book this tour ifYou prefer small groups or private tours and also like hiking and nature.

Where you will visit:

  • Horderns Beach: Kick off with a laid-back vibe in Bundeena. It’s quaint, charming, and oh-so-photogenic.
  • Wedding Cake Rock: A striking formation of white sandstone juxtaposed against the azure backdrop of the ocean.
  • Marley Beach: A secluded spot, perfect for relaxation and taking in the untouched beauty of the park.
  • Wattamolla: A unique location boasting a cascading waterfall, tranquil lagoon, and ideal picnic spots.
  • Bald Hill Lookout: A panoramic vantage point, providing expansive views of the coastline and beyond.
  • Sea Cliff Bridge: An architectural marvel, this bridge offers both functionality and scenic views. If you are short on time, this is definitely worth checking out!
  • Symbio Wildlife Park: A chance to get up close with Australia’s iconic wildlife, from koalas to kangaroos.

Blue Mountains

Jenolan Caves is one of Australia most impressive cave systems and can be explored on a Blue Mountains walk.
Jenolan Caves, Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains, just a short 90-minute drive from Sydney, is a picturesque escape that you simply can’t miss on your trip to Sydney.

With views that seem to stretch endlessly, this region is simply breathtaking.

For the adventurous, the Blue Mountains offer numerous bushwalking trails ranging from easy strolls to challenging hikes. These trails often lead to incredible lookout points, perfect for photography buffs.

Now, I’ve heard many say, “It’s just for bushwalks,” but let me tell you, there’s so much more to this place.

Sure, the bushwalks are fantastic, with world-class views and waterfalls like Wentworth and Katoomba Falls, but the mountains have a charm that extends beyond the trails.

Each town within the Blue Mountains has a different vibe, with their incredible lookout points, shops and quaint cafes.

Echo Point Lookout Katoomba
Echo Point Lookout, Katoomba – Amanda Slater CC BY-SA 2.0

Now, if you’re wondering where to start, Katoomba is your go-to. Often dubbed the heart of the Blue Mountains, this town has plenty of things to do for all types of travellers.

It’s home to the iconic Three Sisters rock formation, and trust me, the sight of those towering rocks against the backdrop of Jamieson Valley is really special.

Now if the Blue Mountains wasn’t incredible enough, booking this Aboriginal Experience Blue Mountains Tour will take your time in the Blue Mountains to the next level.

I have personally taken this tour and spoken to many fellow travellers who said that even if this tour was double the price, it would still be exceptional value for money and I agree!

With a local Aboriginal guide leading the way, you’ll dive deep into a world filled with rich traditions, and age-old ceremonies. Ever heard of the traditional smoking ceremony or the Waratah show? These aren’t just events; they’re windows into a culture that’s been thriving for thousands of years and a real privilege to be part of.

Before the end of the day, you’ll visit Featherdale Wildlife Park, home to over 1,700 native animals, giving you a chance to get up close with kangaroos, koalas, and dingos.

The tour is also incredibly convenient, picking you up and dropping you back in Sydney at the end of the day. So if you’re a fan of stress-free day trips, this tour is for you.

Hunter Valley

Hunter Valley Cheese and Wine Food Tour from Sydney
Hunter Valley Mystery Wine Tasting at Tulloch Wine

The Hunter Valley is one of my favourite destinations in New South Wales, and for good reason. As a world-renowned wine region, it naturally draws enthusiasts enthusiastic to sample its award-winning varieties.

But even if you’re not a wine aficionado, don’t be quick to bypass this beautiful city. Beyond the vineyards, the Hunter Valley has plenty to offer non-drinkers too. Think delicious cheese and beautiful gardens and a round of golf, if that is your thing.

Now if you’re thinking that Hunter Valley is only for adults to enjoy, you would be wrong! On a recent visit to Hunter Valley with my 3-year-old daughter, I was pleasantly surprised that not only did many wineries cater for children but there were also lots of activities around Hunter Valley for families – The Hunter Valley Gardens being one of the best things to do in Hunter Valley with kids!

Hunter Valley Gardens Storybook Ladybird Ivy 1
Hunter Valley Gardens, Storybook Garden

As you explore Hunter Valley, it’s not uncommon to spot kangaroos freely roaming, a sight that brings you a world away from the busy hustle and bustle of Sydney.

I would highly recommend allocating 2-3 nights to truly immerse in the Hunter Valley’s tranquillity – you’ll thank me later.

However, for those with a tighter schedule, don’t fret. There’s an outstanding day trip from Sydney I can’t praise enough.

When is the best time to visit Sydney?

SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE, AUSTRALIA during vivid festival
Sydney Opera House During Vivid Sydney

If you’re wondering when’s the best time to visit Sydney, I’ve got the inside scoop since I live here all year.

For a mix of good weather without breaking the bank, aim for March to May or September to November. The September to November window is especially awesome because you get the sun without the holiday crowd and jacked-up prices.

Love art? Then you’ll want to be here in May when the Vivid festival lights up the city. It’s really cool and definitely worth planning your trip around.

❗️Be careful if you’re thinking about coming during the Aussie school summer break, which is December to the end of January. Everything from flights to hotels gets way more expensive. The worst is from Christmas Eve to January 2nd; even hostels make you stay at least five nights and everything gets super pricey. If you have to visit during these dates, book as early as you can.

If you’re on a budget, winter is the best time to visit Sydney. Late June, most of July, and all of August are quiet, so you’ll find some sweet deals on flights and places to stay. It’s a bit colder, but hey, you’ll save some cash.

How Many Days Should You Spend In Sydney?

Views of Sydney Harbour Bridge
Views of Sydney Harbour Bridge

Plan for at least 5 days in Sydney to make sure you get a solid intro to what the city offers.

Given that Sydney is Australia’s largest city, you could easily burn through a couple of weeks here without getting bored. But let’s be realistic, not everyone has that much time.

Day one is usually set aside for exploring the Circular Quay area, the beating heart of Sydney Harbour. This is where you’ll find the main ferry terminal and have direct access to iconic landmarks like the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Now, if you can stretch your trip a bit longer, consider taking a weekend detour to Hunter Valley. It’s a whole different world compared to Sydney’s hustle and bustle—totally worth it for some chill-out time.

Another fantastic option is a trip to the Blue Mountains. If you’re into jaw-dropping scenery, lookouts, and don’t mind getting your boots a bit dirty, then the Blue Mountains are must-see. They have several small towns to explore, but my favourite is Katoomba, the three sisters are a must-see. 

Getting Around Sydney

Navigating Sydney is pretty straightforward with its advanced public transportation network that includes light rails, subways, buses, and ferries.

To start, you’ll want to buy yourself an Opal Card. You can find these cards at the airport, train stations, 7-11 convenience stores, supermarkets, and newsagents.

With an Opal Card, you get to enjoy daily travel caps—$16.80 for adults, $8.40 for kids and concessions, and just $2.50 for seniors and pensioners. Plus, if you’re hopping between modes of transport within 60 minutes, you’re only charged for a single journey, saving you even more money.

For those who want to sightsee at their own pace, hop-on hop-off buses are another excellent option. They’ve got about 33 stops between Sydney and Bondi and let you take in all the must-see spots without the stress of navigating public transport.

When you land at Sydney Airport, the Sydney Airport Link is your best bet to get into the city. It connects both International and Domestic Terminals to key city stations like Central Station, St James Station, and Circular Quay.

❗️ The train ride takes about 20 minutes, however, be aware that an additional station access fee of $14.20 applies to trips to and from the airport. Therefore expect to pay approximately $19.40 for a trip into the city, which is still way cheaper than getting a taxi.

Other options for getting to and from the airport include hotel transfers or taxis, but the train is usually the most efficient and cost-effective way to kick off your Sydney adventure.

Is Sydney Expensive?

Helicopter view of Sydney Harbor Bridge and Lavender Bay, New So
Helicopter View of Sydney Harbour Bridge

Is Sydney expensive to visit? Well, that really depends on how you like to travel. It’s no secret that Sydney is often tagged as the most expensive city in Australia, especially when it comes to accommodation and dining. That said, you can still find some budget-friendly options if you know where to look.

Hostels are always an option for those who don’t mind sharing space. Plus, there are plenty of free things to do to offset the costs. Take the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk, for example—it’s free and gives you some of the best views in the city. Public transport here is also more wallet-friendly compared to other countries, and there’s always Uber if you prefer ridesharing.

Want to enjoy the iconic Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge? You don’t necessarily have to splurge on a guided tour. There are various vantage points around the city where you can take in these landmarks for free. And don’t forget about the Royal Botanic Gardens—a great spot for a free day out. Just pack a picnic and you’re good to go.

So, while Sydney can lean towards the pricey side, with a bit of savvy planning, it’s entirely possible to keep your spending in check.

Where to Stay in Sydney

When it comes to Staying in Sydney, you’ll want to stay as close to the city centre or the action as possible, especially if good transport links are a priority for you.

One way to elevate your experience is by opting for a hotel with a balcony. Not only does it add a touch of luxury to your stay, but it also offers the chance for some incredible views over Sydney Harbour and the Opera House.

Of course, Sydney has a range of accommodation options to suit all budgets, whether you’re looking for a luxury suite or a more wallet-friendly hostel. So, you’re sure to find something that fits your needs while staying close to all the action.

Luxury Pick: The Langham Sydney

Best Sydney Hotels with Balcony
The Langham Sydney, with great views over Sydney
  • Located in Millers Point near the CBD, The Langham Sydney is the top choice for luxury seekers.
  • Features private balconies with either skyline or harbour views.
  • Boasts a 20-meter indoor pool for leisurely swims.
  • Marble bathrooms come equipped with rainforest showers for an extra touch of luxury.
  • Situated in the historic Rocks district, it is a great starting point for exploring Sydney’s main attractions.
  • Pet-friendly, so you can bring your four-legged friend along.

Mid-Range Pick: Crowne Plaza Coogee Beach

Coogee Crowne Plaza Balcony Room
Coogee Crowne Plaza Balcony Room
  • Situated in the laid-back beachside suburb of Coogee, it offers a different experience from Sydney’s busy centre.
  • Rooms often come with balconies featuring either ocean or city views.
  • Hotel amenities include a rooftop pool and a spa, along with two on-site restaurants for dining options.
  • Well-located for local attractions, including the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk and Sydney Cricket Ground.
  • Easy public transport to the CBD with bus lines 373 and 374, making stops at Circular Quay and Centennial Park.

Budget Pick: Wake Up! Sydney Hostel

  • Ideal first stay in Sydney with clean facilities and helpful staff.
  • Excellent for socializing, thanks to events like solo traveller meet-ups and organized outings.
  • No Sydney Harbour views, but close enough to the CBD for easy exploration.
  • The on-site bar hosts events, adding to a vibrant atmosphere. Recommended for solo travellers.

Visiting Sydney: FAQs

Which is better for tourists Melbourne or Sydney?

Picking between Melbourne and Sydney really boils down to what you’re into. If world-class beaches and iconic landmarks like the Sydney Opera House tickle your fancy, then Sydney’s your spot. But if you’re more about the arts and sipping excellent coffee, Melbourne might be more up your alley. Both cities have their own distinct charm and vibe, so you can’t go wrong either way—it’s all about what you want to get out of your Aussie adventure.

Is Melbourne or Sydney better for nightlife?

If a chill, low-key night out is more your speed, then Melbourne’s got you covered. The city is known for its cosy laneway bars, inviting beer gardens, and live music spots, all with a relaxed dress code to match. Sydney’s nightlife can be a bit more high-energy and dressier in comparison. So if you’re looking for a casual evening, Melbourne might be more your vibe.

Is 2 days enough for Sydney?

While you can certainly pack in a lot of sightseeing in just two days in Sydney—especially since key attractions like the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Botanic Gardens, Sky Tower, and Taronga Zoo are conveniently located near each other—it’ll be a whirlwind tour. If you prefer a more laid-back pace and want to explore beyond the city’s central landmarks, I’d recommend staying for a minimum of five days. This gives you the freedom to make some day trips to places like the Hunter Valley or the Blue Mountains.

What is the coldest month in Sydney?

The coldest month in Sydney is typically July, with average low temperatures hovering around 8°C (46°F) and average highs around 16°C (61°F). It’s a good idea to pack a few layers if you’re visiting Sydney during this time. Despite the chill, the cooler weather doesn’t put a damper on Sydney’s attractions. Most tourist spots are open year-round, so you won’t miss out on any of the city’s key experiences.

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