Sydney was a fantastic city. There was always so much going on, so many things to experience and try. I loved my time there; I loved my time in Sydney so much that I ended up staying a good 10 days longer than I intended. (If you are now wondering how/why I have the ability to just extend my stay in Sydney 10 days, you should read my about page.)
The largest city in Australia is an expensive city to stay in, so my experience with where to stay is limited to hostels. If you’ve never stayed in a hostel before, I suggest you give it try. And that is an ageless suggestion. I have met wonderful 18-year-olds at hostel as well as wonderful 60-year-olds. Anyway, here is the little I can suggest of hostels in Sydney:
- Funkhouse is in Potts Point, near Kings Cross Station. The wifi kind of stunk and most of the people there were long-stay with workers visas. This created a kind of clique that was difficult to penetrate. But I loved the King Cross area. It was edgy and made me feel removed form the bustle of the city.
- Secret Garden Backpackers is in Surry Hills, close to Central Station, Spicy Alley and lot of coffee shops. I walked a lot from this location.
- I didn’t stay at Base Backpackers in Sydney, but I spent a lot of time there with friends. It definitely gave me hostel-envy!
1. get an opal card, stat
The public transit in Sydney is amazing! I got an Opal card at the airport and put 60 AUD on it. The Opal card works on trains, buses, ferries and even trains going outside of Sydney. When I took a train to Katoomba for a stint in the Blue Mountains… I just had to tap my Opal card!
2. go on the free walking tour
This is my suggestion for every new place. I even go on free walking tours in Chicago, and I’ve been haunting that town for six-year now. They are free, so no financial obligation, but they are also a great way to meet fellow travelers and to get local suggestions! A friend and I went on I’m Free Tours. They meet every day at 10:30am and 2:30pm.
View of the Opera House from Harbour Bridge
3. see the opera house from all angles
It’s “the thing,” so give it its due. Here are the various ways to see the all famous Sydney Opera House:
- Go on a 1-hour tour of the Opera House for $37 AUD
- Go to a show instead of a tour. I got a ticket to an opera for the same price the tour would have cost me. I recommend you search for shows in the main concert hall; there are several stages in the Opera House.
- Take the ferry from Circular Quay to Milsons Point and walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I planned my venture so I walked across during sunset. If you’re interested in doing this, I found this helpful blog: Walking Across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
- Is BridgeClimb worth $200? Maybe not, but some people say it is.
- Just seeing the Opera House from a ferry is pretty cool.
- The Glenmore Hotel in the Rocks has a lovely rooftop with a view of the Opera House
4. attend sunrise yoga at sydney tower
This hack is curtesy of my I’m Free Tours tour guide, so case in point that free walking tours are worth checking out.
Getting to the observation deck of the Sydney Tower to check of the highest view of the city will set you back about $38 AUD. BUT, sunrise yoga class on Wednesday mornings is cheaper and you get the observation deck without a lot of the crowds.
5. visit the art museums
The Art Gallery of New South Wales is free, in a beautiful building, in a beautiful park, has free art-tours… and you should just go. The Museum of Contemporary Art is also free and has some of the most interesting art exhibits I’ve seen.
6. walk to mrs. macquarie’s chair and the botantic gardens
The story behind Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair is something any local can (and probably will) recount to you. It’s a natural chair of sandstone rock that was carved and cut into the shape of a bench by convicts for Governor Macquarie’s wife. She’s site on the rock and watch for ships from Europe coming into the Harbour.
I walked from Pott’s Point to the Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, then down towards the Opera House and the Botanical Gardens.
View from Sydney Tower at sunrise before yoga practice
7. explore the nightlife near the rocks
The Rocks neighborhood is a historical laneway near Circular Quay. There are open-air markets, street foods and handmade fashions on the weekend. The area also boast some of the oldest pubs in the city. It is also one of the coolest areas to hang out in the nighttime to meet and mingle.
8. check out some markets
When I made my “want” list for Sydney, I wrote down a lot of markets: the Paddington Market on Oxford Street Saturdays, the Bondi Farmers Market on Campbell Parade, the Flower Market on Parramatta Road, the Glebe. They were all energetic and I loved the experiences they gave me visit to Sydney…
But if you only have the stomach for one market, go to the Sydney Fish Market at Bank Street and Pyrmont Bridge Road. It unlike any place I’ve been before. I went around like a kid in the candy store putting together the freshest, most eclectic, fish-lunch of my life. I had oysters and seafood pasta, salmon sashimi and grilled scallops. I probably would have had more if I had more arms.
9. eat at spice alley
Spice Alley is an awesome haunt behind the Kensington Street laneway in Chippendale. Everything I ate there–and I ate there several times–was awesome.
10. visit the whiskey room
Belly up to the bar at the Whiskey Room and ask the bartenders about Australian-made whiskey! You will not be disappointed.
Iceberg pool in Bondi
11. go to bondi
When I had a twelve-hour layover in Sydney, I started that time at Bondi. I know it’s overrated; people will tell you it’s overrated. But at 30-minute bus ride from downtown Sydney, it’s a lot of fun for little effort.
- For an affordable price, you can enjoy a day of pool and sauna at the Bondi Iceberg Club. The pool is really cool; situated right next to the ocean with waves lapping in the pool.
- Yoga by the Sea
- Surfing lessons with Let’s Go Surfing
- Walk from Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach along the ocean cliff. See fantastic views, surfers, beaches… and even whales!
- Brunch at Three Blue Ducks.
12. take the ferry to manly
I have a new friend who lives in Manly, so I had definite reason to go, but everyone should go if they have the time (and the weather is nice) while in Syndey.
- Take a 20 minute ferry ride from Central Quay to Manly.
- Lunch at The Boathouse near Shelly Beach provided a great walk and a yummy reward!
- The Boathouse near Shelly Beach in Manly
Surfers at Bondi Beach
13. work remotely
Discovering whether or not a place is going to work for my digital nomad lifestyle is painstaking and stressful. So let me go ahead and ease anyone’s similar stress about working remotely from Sydney–you’re going to do great! Here are some of my favorite spots to work around the city:
- State Library of New South Wales–library love with wifi, beautiful reading rooms and plugs at every table.
- The Hyatt Hotel lounge has great wifi and a great view of the Opera House
- The Queen Victoria Building has free wifi and several coffee shops, but no outlets
- Gateway Sydney has wifi (and delicious eats), but no noticeable outlets
- Brooklyn Hide has yummy bagels and good wifi.
- Bread & Brew had good wifi and some power outlets.
- My Sweet Memory good wifi, power outlets, good coffee and fun snacks.
- Cossies Cafe was quaint and comfortable with free wifi, food and coffee.
14. day trip to the blue mountains
It’s very easy to get the Blue Mountains from Sydney, and can easily be a day trip (though I made my trip a weekend trip!) I ventured out to the Blue Mountains to see Three Sisters–suggested at sunset–and to the National Pass trail near Wentworth.
- Click here for more details about my trip to the Blue Mountains.
- 11 Top Rated Tourist Attractions of the Blue Mountains
Royal National Park
15. bushwalk/ hike that royal national park
The Royal National Park was absolutely amazing! The views were incredible, and I saw so many whales migrating close to the cliffs! I took the T4 train to Cronulla and the ferry to Bundeena when walked the Cliff walk to the Otford stop so I could get back to Sydney. This was a 30k (about 19 miles) bushwalk and took us over 10 hours. If we started earlier in the day, we could have finished the hike before sunset… but we ended up stumbling around in the dark for 2 hours at the end.
The travel books suggests this bushwalk be broken into two days. I believe there are hostels or camp sights to be had around the half-way point.
There is an IGA when you get off the ferry in Bundeena, so we stocked up on food there.
- Perfect weekend in Sydney
- My 15 favorite things to do in Sydney from Nomadic Matt
- Top things to do in Sydney
- Free things to do in Sydney
- Best day trips from Sydney
- The 50 best restaurants in Sydney
- Ten hottest new restaurants in Sydney from Eater
- The most essential restuarants in Sydney
- TimeOut Sydney’s cheap eat: TimeOut food awards 2016
- The best places to eat in Sydney right now according Thrillist
- Where to find the best coffee in Sydney according to TimeOut
- Where to drink coffee according to Thrillist