Sydney Travel Advice

Sydney Travel Advice featured by top blogger, Design Mom

Sydney Travel Advice featured by top blogger, Design Mom

Hello, Friends. I need some advice, some Sydney travel advice specifically. I’m headed to Sydney on Monday. I was invited to speak at the Feminist Writer’s Festival and to present my Twitter thread on Irresponsible Ejaculation.

This is my first trip to Australia and I’m crazy excited about it. Though also somewhat overwhelmed. This is what’s on my mind:

– October is a particularly over-scheduled month and I haven’t had time to do the kind of travel research I would like to do. In fact, I’m writing this from a flight on the way to Palm Springs for a few days of on-site planning meetings for Alt Summit. The October calendar is just so jam-packed, you know?

– We still haven’t decided who is going with me to Australia. I’d like to make it a couples getaway for Ben Blair and me — we haven’t had a trip together in ages! — but we’re not sure we can make it happen. If not Ben, both Ralph and Olive are vying for a spot. (Or maybe it should be both of them so they can entertain each other when I need to work? Or maybe it’s best if I go solo?).

– I haven’t crossed the International Date Line since I went to Japan when I was 13. I fly out Monday night, and 13 hours later, arrive in Sydney on Wednesday morning — essentially skipping Tuesday altogether. For the return, I fly out of Sydney on Monday the 7th in the late afternoon, and then arrive in San Francisco on the same Monday but much earlier in the day than when I left. So cool! It’s been fun to talk about with the kids and discuss our concepts of time and calendars.

– I’ll be traveling on Halloween. I don’t think I’ve ever missed it before. But I don’t really mind, because this Saturday we have the school fall festival, and the church trunk-or-treat — where the kids will be in full costume — and I’ll be there for all of that. Plus I know from experience when Halloween happens on a school night, it tends to be more low-key.

– I’m truly looking forward to presenting my Twitter thread. I’ve been interviewed about it a few times, but this will be the first time I’ll be reading it aloud. I’m working on slides to accompany my words. I hope my presentation will be well-received. I would love for this to be my first attempt at adapting it as a TED talk. I’ve also been contacted by two journalists in Sydney for an interview and an essay leading up to the conference. I submitted both last night and will share links when they go live.

It feels like a big trip, and I want to make the most of my week there. Who knows if or when I’ll make the trip again?! Apart from speaking at the conference, my schedule is pretty much wide open. If you’ve been to Sydney and want to share travel tips and ideas, I would be endlessly grateful. What are your favorite things to see and do there? How about don’t-miss shopping? Particular restaurants or dishes I need to try? Are there things outside the city I should try to get to? Favorite souvenirs?

I’d LOVE your Sydney travel advice and suggestions, so leave them in a comment below!

P.S. — My hotel is near UT Sydney — based not the map I think it’s called the Ultimo neighborhood. It seems like it’s going to be a good spot!

43 thoughts on “Sydney Travel Advice”

  1. Sydney is a great city – I’m sure you’ll love it. For recommendations:
    Head down to Circular Quay then walk around the Opera house, to the botanic gardens and out to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair
    From Circular Quay you can also catch a ferry out to Watson’s Bay and have fish and chips at Doyles at the Beach or catch the ferry to Manly and walk around to Shelley Beach
    For a longer walk, do the coastal cliff walk from Bondi beach to Coogee beach (or reverse). There are a heap of cafe’s on Coogee Bay Road but my favourite (by a lot) is Globe – great breakfast & lunch and huge “large” coffees.
    For great modern asian food, I love Billy Kwong for Chinese or Longrain for Thai.
    Have a wonderful trip

    1. And I just realised Sculpture by the Sea is on until November 4 (outdoor art installation with all kinds of sculptures along the cliff walk between Bondi and Coogee) so this really is a treat.

  2. Have fun! I absolutely loved your thread, and am not at all surprised you have been invited to participate. Also, Thank you. Keep up the good work.

  3. You are so awesome! I would LOVE it if this becomes a TED talk. You are such an inspiration to me as someone who takes risks and is vulnerable and true to herself. No recommendations for Sydney, sorry, but wishing you tons of luck and looking forward to seeing where else this takes you!

  4. Hello! My husband is from Sydney and we go back all the time to visit his family. Gemma’s recommendations above are perfect. I’d add to definitely not miss Toranga Zoo — we do it every single time, it’s not just for kids. It’s truly one of the world’s best zoos. You take the ferry from Circular Quay, and then the gondola up to it. The view from the bird show of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House is out of this world. When you return, make sure you get a gelato from the little stand on the Quay, almost under the bridge. (Can’t go wrong with a passion fruit cone while in Australia, just saying.) You can enjoy that while you listen to Aboriginal Australians play the didjeridu on the Quay. Then walk on over to the Opera House, and make sure you plan on a few hours in the Botanical Gardens. Then hop across the street to the National Gallery (free), then down the block to St. Mary’s Cathedral and Hyde Park. It’s kind of all connected, and near good shopping. Just wander around the CBD/Domain and you’ll find shops you love. My husband bought his first tuxedo at David Jones. Seed is kind of like J.Crew. Country Road is also a bit like J.Crew. If you need Chanel, that’s there too. :)

    Do not miss fish and chips wrapped up in newsprint. It’s a must. Also a meat pie with a Bundeburg ginger beer in the “stubbie” bottle. As Aussie as it comes.

    There’s a very, very awesome antiquarian print shop in the QVB (Queen Victoria Building) — they have things like Magellan’s original map, as well as other things that are a bit more accessible, price-wise. :) I’m helpless in this store, I always leave with a treasure.

    If you have a whole day and access to transportation, I recommend a visit to the Southern Highlands. Bowral is absolutely delightful and so very Aussie. There’s a cafe there called Elephant Boy that has wonderful curry, and a super great antique shop that I always drool in.

    Have the best time!

      1. No. Well, I don’t know. But I was there once and there was an ancient map of somebody famous on the wall and it was, like, $500,000. They have Captain Cook stuff there, but my memory (perhaps flawed?) is that it wasn’t Captain Cook. But, anyway, it’s a super fantastic store. Upper level of the QVB. A must for me every time I’m in Sydney.

    1. This is perfect advice! Definitely the Botanic Gardens, art gallery, opera House, cathedral walk. Pitt Steet Mall and the Strand as well as QVB. The Bondi to Bronte walk. Ferry to Watson’s Bay for scones at the Tea Gardens and a walk past Camp Cove and up to the lighthouse, I might add. Great to travel by bus too.

      For food, iced chocolate with ice cream if you’re not a coffee drinker! Lamingtons, vanilla slice, sticky date pudding are all classic treats. Stop in a fruit shop for a bowl of the freshest fruit and most delicious yogurt! Take advantage of any sausage sizzle. But ‘modern Australian’ food is amazing.

      In addition to the gorgeous Southern Highlands, you might consider a coach trip to the Blue Mountains (Leura, Katoomba, Three Sister, waterfalls).

      Main thing: do not nap the day you arrive! Safe travels.

  5. If you are keen on the idea of a bridge climb, but don’t have the time or the $$$$ there is a little harbour bridge museum inside one of the south pylons (on the opera house side. It is only about AUD$15. You can climb right up inside the pylon and then go out onto a deck area. It is almost as high as the top of the arch of the bridge itself and gives amazing views.

  6. I just got home last night from Sydney so I was scared to read the comments in case I missed something. Luckily, we did all of what Gemma suggested, including visiting the Sculpture by the Sea at Bondi Beach. What an amazing backdrop for an exhibition. You will love it. We also walked over the bridge (you can do the climb to the top if you want just like Prince Harry) and explored The Rocks and the Darling Harbour for some great shopping. We had the best hot pot dinner in Chinatown. I found Sydney so easy to get around – we walked everywhere, hopping on the ferries or the train right from Circular Quay. Have fun!

  7. Make sure you visit Bill Granger’s ‘Bills’ in Darlinghurst for brunch – fabulous fresh food and coffee; the corn fritters are superb.
    You could Uber there and walk back to town

  8. I’ve been to Australia twice for business. During my most recent trip i stayed out in Coogee…just beyond Bondhi. It’s a fabulous spot. You can Uber there easily from anywhere in Sydney. I would get up very early and walk along the beach…and several times I went swimming at McIver’s Ladies Baths. Probably this is the thing i’m most proud of accomplishing in my entire life. It took amazing courage on my (usually quite wimpy) part. But it was gorgeous, healthy, pretty safe and tons of fun. I highly encourage you to get in at least one “pools” swim.
    You’ve also got to go see koalas and kangaroos! I’ve been to both the Taronga Zoo and to Koala Encounters in Darling Harbor. Amazing. Enjoy every minute of your trip! Walk around and stretch as much as you can in flight. If you’re on the upper deck it’s easier to do so. (btw, i’m morra’s cousin)
    http://www.randwick.nsw.gov.au/facilities-and-recreation/beaches-and-coast/ocean-pools/mcivers-ladies-baths

  9. You will have the best time in this magical City.
    I second Sculptures by the Sea, climb the bridge ( there’s an option to do a smaller climb), ferry to Taronga zoo ( and while you are there, go down ton Balmoral beach, my favourite!! For lunch. There are fancy and cafe options)
    In the city, don’t miss a tour of the Opera house nd visits to Arr gallery of NSW ( feee but also a great exhibition on now), MCA ( atCircular quay) and Australian Museum ( especially the aboriginal exhibition on the ground floor is unmissable.
    If you want to Lear about the First Australians, I suggest you watch an excellent :“ First Australians” by sbs. You can stream it from sbsondemand here I in Oz.
    There are lots do but your schedule might be tight.
    Enjoy!!!

  10. We went to Australia and New Zealand for our Honeymoon 3 years ago. It was amazing.

    We went to see a concert in the Syndey Opera House and felt so chic (we sat pretty far back and still loved the experience), and we also went for a wallet busting meal at the Quay Restaurant right on the harbor THE VIEWS ARE AMAZING. https://www.quay.com.au/, we also loved wandering the old town part of Sydney (the Rocks).

    Bondi Beach was lovely and the walk along the waterfront path was great for people watching.

    We went on a tour led up to the Blue Mountains and I was disappointed with the tour itself (it was nearly an hour late from the pick up point, and we spent the rest of the tour trying to make up for that. Everything was rushed) the mountains were beautiful. If you get the time drive up in the morning and enjoy your day out there.

  11. Claire Williams

    Hi – I am a Sydney sider born and bred – happy to show you around!!
    All suggestions are great but would also include going to the top of the Sydney Tower to get a great view and shopping on Pitt Street Mall.
    A place we take all out of town visitors is Ripples at Milsons Point – right on the water under the Harbour Bridge and next to Luna Park – great food and views.

  12. I live in Sydney – would suggest trying AI Canteen near your hotel for the muffuletta sandwich, and maybe a drink at the Old Clare Hotel. The White Rabbit gallery is in your hotel hood too. Walk around the Rocks, Circular Quay, Opera House, Botanic Gardens to Art Gallery of NSW … also Australian Museum is great. Walking up Oxford St from Hyde Park is fun – lots of lovely shops around the Glenmore Road intersection and all the way to Centennial Park and Woollahra. Sculptures by the Sea is a must, and lunch at Bondi – try Icebergs (not cheap but amazing food and views) or North Bondi Fish. You may also like to look up city walking tours tours at Culture Scouts https://www.culturescouts.com.au/#about. I’ve never done it but the hop on hop off Big Red Bus tours would get you round most sights too. A ferry ride from Circular Quay to the Beach Hotel at Watsons Bay is lovely and you can walk up to the lighthouse at the entrance to the harbour. Enjoy Sydney!

  13. Hi Gabby,

    I am also a Sydney sider. I am very excited about next week – I have booked into your event at the writers festival.

    Can I suggest you spend a day exploring Sydney through the eyes of artist Brett Whiteley (https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/artists/whiteley-brett/)? I am not aware of any official tours but I can point you in the right direction.
    Some of his work can be seen at the NSW Art Gallery ( a lovely place to visit anyway with an incredible colleciton of Aboriginal art, open late on Wednesdays). You can also visit his studio (https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/brett-whiteley-studio/). Take a walk over the Harbour Bridge and visit Lavender Bay, one the places where he lived. You can sit under the beautiful Moreton Bay Fig Tree outside his house with sweeping views to the Harbour Bridge and imagine him painting some of his most iconic images from his balcony. His wife Wendy Whiteley has created an amazing garden in the space near her house that was originally railway wasteland. It was her solice after the death of Brett and her daughter – she literally started in one corner and dug and planted. Se has created an amazing space for all of us to enjoy and can often be seen in the garden day to day. (https://www.wendyssecretgarden.org.au/)
    I have not seen this exhibition yet but the Museum of Sydney has an exhibition specifically about Lavendar Bay and its influence on atrists (https://sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/exhibitions/bohemian-harbour-artists-lavender-bay) that may be worth checking out. The museum is an odd one – quite small – I’m not sure that I would spend time there unless ther ewas a particular exhibition that interested you.

    To me Sydney is all about the many ways you can see the Harbour – by Ferry (as good as any of the touristy boat cruises) or the many walks through the suburbs that border it. The walk from the Spit to Manly is breathtaking and gives you a taste of the bush without ever leaving suburbia (https://www.sydneycoastwalks.com.au/spit-to-manly-walk/) You can also rent Kyaks at the Spit. You could catch the bus to the Spit from the city, then walk to Manly and get the Ferry back to the city

    Definitely try and see something at the Opera House.

    The White Rabbit Gallery always has interesting exhibitions and is not far from where you are staying (http://www.whiterabbitcollection.org/)

    The sculpture walk (mentioned in earlier comments) is also defintely worth doing – loved by locals and tourists alike. Another geographically beautiful part of my worl.

    I know you are going to have a fabulous time – let me know if I can help in anyway. I would be happy to show you around (Lavender Bay is my neighbourhood) or help you out with any advice you may need.

    Have fun!!!

  14. Sydney’s great to visit! It’s all about the natural beauty here so I’d prioritise that.

    Another vote for the Bondi to Coogee walk while sculptures by the sea is on (it’ll be packed on the weekend) and finish up with a dip at Coogee — women’s baths mentioned above or Giles baths on the northern headland are great. Ferry to Manly for sure. The walk from Manly to the Spit is beautiful. Controversial, but I wouldn’t bother walking the bridge! I find the views from the water better.

    Head up to the Blue Mountains — jump on the train to Katoomba, walk along the cliff to Leura or Wentworth Falls and jump on the train back to the city from there (you’ll need a full day for this – it’s about 2hrs each way on the train).

    For eating — Chinatown, Surry Hills and Newtown are all close by with lots of great options.

    Have fun!

  15. Kitchen by Mike is one of the best places to eat in Sydney and it is through customs at the International airport so you’ll be able to eat there. Also Ms G’s at Darlinghurst, and Mr Wong at Bridge Lane in Sydney. For fun and funky vegan food Lentil as Anything at Newtown is a social enterprise – you pay what you can – it’s always busy and lots of fun as well as delicious. Carriageworks Farmers Markets are awesome if you are there on Saturday morning. And for amazingly beautiful Australian home design Koskela at Rosebery is worth a visit even if it’s just to window shop. You can also go kayaking on Sydney harbour – there are quite a few options – and the Harbour Bridge climb is fun too.

  16. Hi Gabrielle! Another born-and-bred Sydneysider here, chiming in…

    Yes to Sculpture By The Sea! Catch a bus to Bronte beach and walk from there to Bondi (allow about an hour and a half for the sculpture walk) – try to time it so you end up in Bondi for lunch! Then it’s easy to catch any number of buses back to the city.

    Speaking of transport – get an Opal card once you get to Sydney. You use this card for all trains, buses and ferries.

    If you’re staying in Ultimo, I’d second a visit to White Rabbit Gallery, just dow the road, and there’s any number of fab places to eat at Central Park One https://www.centralparksydney.com/live/sold-out/one-central-park#

    If you want to learn about some of the city’s history, I thoroughly recommend booking in for an evening ghost tour around The Rocks – it’s atmospheric, fun, and you’ll learn a lot in a short period of time.

    An evening drink at the Opera Bar next to the forecourt of the Sydney Opera House is a great place for people-watching, and to catch life as it happens on the harbour.

    I’d second the suggestion for a day trip out to the Blue Mountains – catch a train from Central station (next-door to Ultimo!) to Leura or Katoomba. I think there’s a shuttle bus operating from Katoomba that will talk you to the lookouts and walks (it’s not far, but maybe a little too far to walk from the station). The train from the city will take about 1.5 hrs. Katoomba and The Three Sisters can be packed with tourists, so if you want a more peaceful experience, get off at Leura (a charming one-street village with great cafes and shops) and catch a cab to Leura Everglades https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/places/everglades-house-gardens/ for Art Deco goodness and beautiful views.

    If you don’t want to travel so far, catch a ferry from Circular Quay to Manly – a fun, picturesque beachside hub with beautiful walks and many places to eat/drink.

    Anyhoo, that’s my 20 cents worth! Lots of great suggestions above. I really hope the weather turns it on for you, and that you have a positive experience here!

  17. Hi Gabby

    I have also lived in Sydney for most of my life
    You will have a wonderful time – with or without children
    I am excited – I have booked to hear you speak

    Some things you may like to do:

    – explore Sydney through the eyes of the artist Brett Whiteley (https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/artists/whiteley-brett/)
    – some of his collection hangs in the NSW Art Gallery (worth a vist anyway – the Aboriginal art collection is breathtaking and the gallery is open on Wednesday evenings)
    – visit his studio ( https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/brett-whiteley-studio/)
    – walk across the Harbour Brindge and then explore Lavender Bay. Some of his iconic images were painted from the verandah of his house there. Sit under the gorgeous Moreton Bay fig and see what he did – sweeping views to the Harbour Bridge and city. Wander through his wife Wendy Whiteley’s Garden, created by Wendy after the death of Brett and her daughter. It used to be an unloved space by the railway. It is now a magical place and Wendy is often wandering and working there. (https://www.wendyssecretgarden.org.au/)
    – Check out the exhibition: Bohemian Harbour: Artists of Lavender Bay (https://sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/exhibitions/bohemian-harbour-artists-lavender-bay) You will see some of Whitele’s work and work of other artists inspired by Lavender Bay. I havent seen it yet but I am sure it will be interesting. It is in the Museum of SYdney – a funny little museum – I probably wouldnt go unless you are interested in this exhibition

    – Spend time on or around the Harbour
    – the Harbour ferries are a lovely way to travel
    – the Spit to Manly walk is magnificent. It’s a great way to see a little of the Australian bush without leaving suburbia (https://www.sydneycoastwalks.com.au/spit-to-manly-walk/) You can catch a bus to the Spit, Walk to Manly, grab something to eat and then head back on the Ferry
    – Barangaroo is a new parkland area close to the CBD that is worth exploring (https://www.barangaroo.com/) Bourke St Bakery is close by and would be great for breakfast

    – As suggested above definitely go to Sculpture by the Sea (https://sculpturebythesea.com/)

    – see a performance at the Opera House. The Opera Bar is a lovely place as the day ends

    – White Rabbit gallery is close to where you are staying and the exhibitions are always interesting (http://www.whiterabbitcollection.org/)

    Have fun. The days are long (day light savings started about 3 weeks ago) and the weather is a little humid.

    If you need further local advice, please let me know. Lavender Bay is my neighbourhood – so I would be happy to be a tour guide!!

  18. Hi, Sydneysider here. Sorry if doubling up on advice above, I only skim-read but saw some great suggestions. This is one of the best times of year to visit the city – it isn’t oppressively hot yet but it’s definitely warm enough to go to the beach. The water is chilly by Australian standards but balmy compared to the Atlantic. I’d also recommend staying in the eastern beaches – bondi/coogee/bronte etc. There are very few trains in the east so you’ll need to bus or uber to a lot of places but the beach is so beautiful this time of year and it’s not as busy as it is in summer. We’re in the middle of building a tram network so don’t mind all the construction! There are lots of great airbnbs around. Ultimo is close to the city and there are good public transport links (predominantly bus). If you wanted to be closer to the venue, the inner west is also good. It’s quirky, close to everything and very close to UTS. For posh inner west: Balmain. For regular inner west: Erskineville and Newtown. Another option would be one of the city hotels close to Hyde Park – walking distance to Circular Quay and very easy to get everywhere else.
    – Public transport (trains/buses/ferries) all accessed via an Opal Card. Can be purchased at train stations and 7-eleven and topped up at train/ferry points or online. Despite what people from Melbourne say, the system is fine – especially if you’re within 10km of the city.
    – Definitely check out Sculpture by the Sea – avoid weekends and go early in the morning if possible. Pack a water bottle and a snack, swimmers and a towel because it’s a long walk. There are half a dozen beaches along the way, almost all have protected sea pools. Start at either end although my preference is to start at Coogee.
    – The ferry to Manly (normal ferry, NOT the fastferry) is a cheap lovely way to see the harbour. It’s at least as good as one of the tours. Get a seat outside. From Manly wharf Shelly Beach is a quick walk. More sea pools en route here too! (we LOVE an ocean pool here – this is a tiny sample https://www.timeout.com/sydney/sport-and-fitness/the-best-ocean-pools-in-sydney). You can catch the ferry to the very Eastern suburbs like Watson’s Bay too. Lots of cafes + fancy area with plenty of houselust.
    – Bakeries: Flour and Stone in Woolloomoolloo, Black Star Pastry in Newtown.
    – Restaurants: Sydney is a fabulous place for food generally. Look it up by suburb when you get here. Fine dining places abound and are world-class but our cheap eats and mid-range is where we shine. Breakfast is the best meal to eat out. Weekends get busy unless you get up early! Bills (I think someone mentioned) is excellent. Billy Kwong (now in Potts Point) is an institution. You will likely need to book for dinner in most popular places.
    – Gelato: Messina is taking over the city and is quite good. Cow & Moon in Enmore is better.
    – Climbing the bridge is quite expensive – you’ll need to book soon as it is very popular. It was fun but I’d rather spend the money on a fabulous dinner. Walking across the bridge is free, and you can go to North Sydney Pool (sensing a swimming theme?) or grab a coffee and catch the ferry back.

  19. Make sure you pack your swimmers and a towel and always take them with you when you’re out exploring – in Sydney you’re never far from the sea, a beach or a pool and they are all glorious!!😍

  20. Trish, Blue Mountains

    Gabby, you’ll enjoy your time no matter how you fill your days, sunshine, bright skies, friendly Sydneysiders, we welcome you to Oz. The comments already spin a glowing array of ‘what’s on’ in our fair city and I’m sure you’ll be happy with any of them. Have a great time at the Festival, it certainly sounds amazing. I’m a Blue Mountains resident so please see if you can visit, you’d love the views and it’s easy to get a train from Central Railway (walking distance from your hotel at Ultimo)…Have a super holiday x

  21. Hello Gabby, I live in Sydney. If you’re staying near UTS in Ultimo, you can walk into the CBD from there (Chinatown, the historic Rocks and Opera House and Botanic Gardens).

    Try getting a ticket to a play at the Sydney Theatre Co, and visit our Art Gallery of NSW which also has a gift shop. This weekend is the final weekend of the Invictus Games with Prince Harry.

    For souvenirs: Kinokuniya book store (opposite Town Hall on George street), Haighs chocolates at the Strand Arcade. The Strand Arcade is opposite the Apple Store on George Street and has local designers on the upper floors.

    From the supermarket: Vegemite, twisites chips, Tim Tam chocolate biscuits and the chocolate aisle.

    From the David Jones food hall: Herbies dried herbs (like lemon myrtle).

    From Peter Alexander pj store: Aussie-themed pyjamas.

    From Smiggle stationery: lots of stationery ideas for June and Olive. If you can squeeze it in, a bottle of Australian wine.

    From pharmacies: Aussie skincare brands like Sukin and Jurlique.

    Enjoy your trip. Xx

  22. My advice about Sydney is to visit Melbourne, far superior ;) and has a healthy long-lived rivalry with Sydney! Haha!

    No Sydney is a gorgeous city, if you can spare a few days – hitting Byron Bay for some really laid back ocean time is always a plan.

    Enjoy!

  23. These are all great suggestions so you have lots to choose from, but one of my favourite things to do in Sydney is to catch a sea plane and have lunch at Cottage Point Inn. It is in a national park. Divine.

  24. Sydney is inner if those places where there is more to do than you’ll have time for, but everything you do do will be great.
    Someone suggested Uber. I’d be cautious about that – Sydney traffic is awful. Just assess your different transport options carefully for where you want to go. The ferries are definitely good options – being on the harbour is just gorgeous as well as convenient transport.
    As for outside Sydney, Canberra is only 3 hours away by road. Murray’s run buses from both city centres. There is also more to do here than you’ll ever have time for. Parliament house has a very interesting free tour, if you bring kids of any age questacon (science centre) is a must, there’s a number of galleries and museums, a number of beautiful parks, a central lake right near all the galleries/Parliament/ City centre, Kingston foreshore for great cafes on the water, Brandon for cool shops… There’s heaps. (If you hire a car from Sydney, you could also go via the southern Highlands as others suggested. Great shopping in almost every town there, make Fitzroy falls a priority there.) Other Aussies will poo-poo Canberra but it is such a great place and everyone leaves impressed.
    But even just staying in Sydney you won’t run out of options.

  25. General tips for Australia: it will seem expensive (and it is) but remember, tax is already included in all prices where required so is not added on at the end AND tipping is not required or expected for the most part. We have minimum wages including for wait staff.
    Wages, and therefore prices, are higher in Australia. Enjoy!

  26. Gabby
    Sydney resident here and the comments above have covered it
    Bondi coastal walk definitely
    Spit bridge to manly walk awesome – long but I took kids as young as 7 recently
    Surf lessons at manly or Bondi
    You’ll love the strand arcade and Gorman
    If you’re at the art gallery and opera house there’s a vegetarian (or maybe even vegan) yum cha place Bodhi which is fab
    For a special dinner – cafe Sydney
    Def get in the sea whether pool or ocean – swim between the flags!
    Blue mountains are well worth a day trip they’re gorgeous
    Agree w comments about getting the ferry, unbeatable
    Instagram famous watermelon cake at black star pastry at kinokuniya bookshop in galleries Victoria is wonderful (as is the bookshop)
    Our city is awesome and I hope you get sunshine xx

  27. Hi Gabby,

    I live in Brisbane but Sydney is quite possibly my favourite city on earth. Its problem – and why, I believe, a lot of people don’t love it as much as I do – is that it can seem a little inaccessible. But its train network is good , and its buses good enough, and walking is the best way of all to get around. Bring a good pair of shoes!

    Here are my top tips for your week in Sydney:
    – The Whiteleys: Wendy’s Secret Garden (at Lavender Bay, just over the Harbour Bridge) is a lush, densely planted garden spilling down from the edge of Clark Park to the water. Formally a wasteland, it was reclaimed over several decades by guerrilla gardener, Wendy Whiteley, who still lives in her spectacular house overlooking it. Wendy is the widow of legendary Sydney artist, Brett Whiteley, whose work amazes. His studio in Surry Hills is well worth a visit while you’re in town. Ralph and Olive would love the Whiteleys.
    – Watson’s Bay: catching the ferry from Circular Quay to Watson’s Bay is not only one of the best ways to (briefly) appreciate the harbour’s beauty and magnitude, it’ll take you right to the heart of one of the most stunning spots in Sydney. Have a cold drink and some fish and chips at Watson’s Bay Boutique Hotel or Doyle’s, then walk up to The Gap lookout to gape at the Pacific Ocean lashing the cliffs on side and the city glistening over its harbour on the other. Walk to Camp Cove, a nearby beach that’s one of my favourite of Sydney’s sheltered harbour beaches, and go for a dip.
    – Do the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk for the most glorious views! Some walk just from Bondi to Bronte, but if you have time go all the way to Coogee – it’ll mean you pass through the beautiful, haunting cemetery at Clovelly as well as Gordon’s Bay, which is possibly my favourite coastal beach in Sydney. Bondi is a spectacle, but it’s certainly not the nicest of Sydney’s coastal beaches. There are plenty along the route and they’re all quite different. Wear your swimmers underneath some sun-safe clothes and have a dip at each beach, and you’ll all come away with a different preference. They’re so varied! When you reach Coogee, have a drink at Coogee Pavillion.
    – If you visit Manly, catch the ferry, and make sure you do the (very short) walk from Manly Beach to Shelly Beach.
    – Wander around The Rocks area for a bit of convict history.
    – Wander through the Botanical Gardens. The Gallery of NSW, on the edge of the gardens, is fantastic and its permanent collection (which is wonderful) is free.
    – The suburb of Paddington is really lovely. There’s a great bookshop/cafe called Ampersand on Oxford St, but do make sure you leave the main stretch (Oxford St) and explore some of the narrow, tree-lined residential streets; perhaps start at Little Napier St.
    – If you’re in the city centre, my favourite ice creamery is called ‘Anita La Mamma Del Gelato’ – it’s in the Central Park building, which is architecturally amazing. And the Snickers ice cream is sooooo good.

    Enjoy, Gabby! I’m very excited for you.

  28. A favorite city– recommendations:

    Sculpture by the Sea
    Attend an event at the Opera House
    High Tea at Gunners Barracks
    Museum of Sydney
    Manly Ferry
    Swim every chance
    The Strand and Queen Victoria Building (the tile work is amazing)
    Try a Golden Gaytime ice cream bar. Only in Australia.
    Lunch at an RSL
    Northern Beaches — Palm Beach and hike to Barrenjoey lighthouse

  29. G’day, you’ll love visiting Sydney! Some tips, walk on the left, it’s a queue not a line, a lift not an elevator, ground not first floor. Absolutely coogee/bronte to bondi walk and sculpture by the sea. Along the walk, spend an hour at Clovelly Lawn Bowl (conveniently located along the bondi walk) and lawn bowl (!) with the greatest views. Definitely swim in a public rock pool. Look up at dusk as the flying foxes journey between Centennial Park and the Botanical Gardens. And certainly if you can make your way to Melbourne, send me a holler. You’ll have heaps of fun!

  30. I spent a week in Sydney twenty years ago, and apart from all the well known sights, I remember best walking along the coast near Bondi beach, eating blueberry bagels and shopping in Dinosaur Designs, where I bought jewelry I still cherish.

  31. Hey Gabby
    If you subscribe/search broadsheet.com.au
    You will find all the wonderful things to do in Sydney.
    Design wise the art gallery of nsw has a great exhibition of post impressionist artists from the hermitage – really special x

  32. I like all of these ideas. I lived in Yowie Bay/Cronulla in Middle School when my dad taught at Sydney Uni.

    Public Transport! Take the ferry to Manly or Watson’s Bay get some fish and ships or a pie and a pint or go to Watson’s Bay Milk bar. Then you can take the train back and get off at any stop that looks interesting. The Botanic Gardens are great. You can take the train to the Blue Mountains! Revel at the fact that Aussies were smart enough to create a public transpo infrastructure. Can you imagine being able to live in LA and take the train to the beach? Or Living in Utah and being able to take your mountain bike on the train right to Moab?

    It was so great to be a young teenager and just be able to pick a new beach to visit or go into central Sydney without any worries about who would drive you.

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