11 Great Places to visit in Sydney

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Having spent 2 years in Sydney (1999/2000) for my engineering degree, I am often asked for travel suggestions of the city. Below is the compilation of the 11 places in Sydney that I hugely enjoyed visiting during my undergraduate days. Hope you’ll enjoy them too!

 

Note:

– List is not in any particular order

– Unless otherwise stated, most of the sites listed below are within walking distance from each other in downtown Sydney.

– At the time of writing this post, I’ve not revisited Sydney for a number of years. Thus, some info might have changed; though I do not expect much. Feel free to correct me if any info is outdated.

 

  • #1: Sydney Harbour Bridge (map) (website)
    • Excellent photographic opportunity (Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House are probably the most photographed sites in Australia.)
    • There are a few good locations to snap scenic pictures of the Harbour Bridge. Some of the popular locations include:
      • Sydney Opera House
      • Mrs Macquarie’s Chair at the Royal Botanic Garden (map). This location is particularly scenic as you can see the Opera House with the Harbour Bridge as the background.
    • It is possible to join a guided climb of the Harbour Bridge. (details here)
      • Note: Children below 10 years old are not allowed on the climb.

 

  • #2: Sydney Opera House (map) (website)
    • Excellent photographic opportunity (Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House are probably the most photographed sites in Australia.)
    • Good locations to snap pictures of the Opera House includes the promenade area in front of the Opera House and Mrs Macquarie’s Chair at the Royal Botanic Garden (map).

 

  • #3: The Rocks (map) (website)
    • The Rocks is a laid-back and artistic area near the southern end of the Harbour Bridge. There’re plenty of unique shops dealing in arts items, food, fashion, jewellery etc.
    •  The Rocks Arts Market (website)
      • During weekends, you can find roadside stalls selling interesting art items. Highly recommended to visit.
      • Date/time: 10am – 5pm, Saturdays and Sundays

 

  • #4: Sydney Tower Eye (map) (website)
    • Tower with an observation deck that offers a 360degree view of the entire city. Great for photography enthusiasts and those looking for great views.

 

  • #5: Queen Victoria Building (map) (website)
    • QVB was build in 1898 as a market. Nowadays, it is an up-market shopping mall with its beautiful architecture well-preserved. Definitely worth visiting to witness its architecture.

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  • #6: Darling Harbour (map) (website)
    • A fascinating harbour with promenade full of pubs, restaurants and entertainment.
    • While there, you’ll never miss the eye-catching Pyrmont Bridge, which is still operational. If lucky, you might have the chance to witness it opening for ships to pass.
    • “Pyrmont Bridge is one of the world’s oldest surviving electrically operated swingspan bridges. The first bridge began operating in 1857.” (Source: www.darlingharbour.com)

 

  • #7: The Star Hotel and Casino (map) (website)
    • Formerly known as Star City. Just beside Darling Harbour.
    • The premier casino in Sydney. The Star is the second largest casino in Australia (largest being Crown Casino in Melbourne).

 

  • #8: Sydney Fish Market (map) (website)
    • “SFM is the largest market of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere and the third largest seafood market in terms of variety in the world.” (Source: www.sydneyfishmarket.com.au)

    • Located just a short walk from The Star and Darling Harbour. Alternatively, the easiest way is to take the Sydney Light Rail (trams) from Central station, Haymarket or Darling Harbour (website).
    • Best place to get fresh seafood. There’re plenty of stalls that serves fresh and cheap seafood, both for take-away and eat-in.
    • Definitely the place for seafood fanatics. A must-go for me. 

 

  • #9: Paddy’s Market @Haymarket (map) (website)
    • Short walk from Darling Harbour. Right in the heart of Sydney’s Chinatown.
    • One of the biggest market of its kind in Australia. Much like a big flea market selling a wide variety of goods like fresh produces, art items, clothes, gifts and souvenirs.
    • It is an immensely interesting place to visit; if not to shop, at least to soak in the atmosphere.
    • Open Wednesday to Sunday, 10 am to 6 pm. (source)

 

 

Recommended beaches in Sydney

  •  #10: Bondi Beach (map) (Wikipedia)
    • Probably the most well-known beach in Australia, and for very good reasons! The site of the Beach Volleyball competition during Sydney Olympics.
    • Excellent place for swimming/surfing and the surrounding cliffs offers great views of the entire beach. (Caution: Swim only in the safe areas marked by the yellow/red flags)
    • Plenty of cafes, hotels and restaurants around the area.
    • Approximately 40minutes by public bus from downtown Sydney.
Bondi Beach @2003
Bondi Beach @2003

 

  • #11: Manly Beach (map) (website)
    • If you prefer a more laid-back beach with less hype, try Manly.
    • The neighbourhood is more charming while it still has the great beachfront and view as Bondi.
    • Approximately 30minutes by public ferry from Circular Quay (beside Opera House).

 

 

Bonus: Beyond Sydney

If you have a full day (or more) available to spend outside Sydney, consider:

  • Blue Mountain (map) (website)
    • A scenic mountainous region west of Sydney.
    • Blue Mountain offers many breath-taking nature sights including the famous Three Sisters sandstone formation (map), limestone caves (Jenolan Caves), waterfalls and the steepest passenger railway in the world (Scenic Railway).
    • Scenic World offers a number of interesting rides which include:
      • Steepest passenger railway in the world (Scenic Railway).
      • ScenicCableway.
      • ScenicSkyway.
        • Cable car service that plys between cliff tops offering great views. (website)
    • Scenic World is located in Katoomba, as with Three Sisters.
    • Approximately 1.5hours by car (~100km) from downtown Sydney to Katoomba.

 

  • Port Stephens (map) (website)
    • The place to go for dolphin and whale watching.
    • Port Stephens is the base for many dolphin and whale watching cruise companies. Sand boarding activities are also available at the Stockton Sand Dunes. (website)
    • Approximately 2.5hours by car (~200km) from downtown Sydney.

 


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