The capital of New South Wales is a world-renowned tourist destination. Countless visitors flock here every year to see famous sights such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the peculiar sails of the Opera House.
For new visitors to the city the vertical size of Sydney looks impressive. Gleaming high-rises stretch upwards from the Sydney Harbour, but don’t be fooled – the city is actually not that big. Pick a good weather day, chuck on some sturdy shoes and follow this whistle-stop walking tour of the city.
Starting out from the ferry port at the middle of Circular Quay, the centre of Sydney Harbour, your first steps will be towards the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge. Following the bay round, you will hit the Rocks, where Sydney’s history can be discovered.
Many of the 19th-century warehouses that lined the narrow cobbled streets have since been turned into bars and restaurants, but you can still get a flavour for how things used to be. For more insight into the past visit the Rocks Discovery Museum, or take a walking ghost tour and listen to tales of the colony that once stood on the site.
The Royal Botanical Gardens
On the other side of Circular Quay, jutting out into the water, you will find the Sydney Opera House, with its metallic roof shining in the sun. Take a stroll up into the lush botanical gardens, where you can sit and enjoy a drink looking out across the harbour.
To the east side of the gardens you will find the St George open-air cinema, a good place to visit at night, and to the west the Conservatorium of Music, from which you can head back out on to Macquarie Street and into the centre of the city.
Hyde Park and surrounds
Walk south on Macquarie Street, past impressive buildings such as the State Library of New South Wales and the Sydney Mint Museum. As you arrive at St James Station, the green oasis of Hyde Park will stretch out before you.
Take a rest by the Archibald Fountain, from where you get a great view of the monolithic Sydney Tower, which rises 250m above the city floor.
To the left of the park stand the impressive spires of St Mary’s Catholic Cathedral, whose first foundation stone was laid in 1868. From the church, head back down Elizabeth Street towards Circular Quay.
The Northern Beaches
After a bout of exploring, your feet will probably deserve a good rest. Jump on a ferry from the harbour and head over to the coastal resort of Manly. Just a 30-minute boat ride away, this quaint beach town is the perfect place to spend the afternoon on long golden beaches.
The first bay in a line of Northern Beaches that stretch up the coast, Manly is also a great place to start a longer break to the area. For well-priced Aussie accommodation, authentic Sydney B&Bs are your best bet. If you want to stay with locals, Wimdu bed and breakfast offers are a good place to start.
Once the accommodation is sorted, dump your bag, head to the beach and grill some food on one of the many public barbecues, or grab some local fish and chips and watch the sunset over the bay.