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Christian Baines Senior Content Editor 1 year, 2 months ago

Four Perfect Ways to Spend a Day in Sydney

  • Sydney Harbour at twilight

The highlight of so many Australia vacation packages, Sydney, Australia, is a city dressed to impress. Built on the traditional lands of the Gadigal people, Australia’s biggest, most multicultural city wows visitors with its harbour, surf beaches, and instantly recognized Harbour Bridge and Opera House. It’s packed with attractions, experiences, and memories waiting to be made.

So… where do you start? You could easily spend a week in Sydney before adding on some extra day trips. But here are four perfect Sydney days readymade to get you started!

Best Things to Do in Sydney (with Only One Day)

Only one day in Sydney? If that’s all you’ve got, let’s make it count! Get a head start with a spectacular half-day tour that touches on many of Sydney’s most popular neighbourhoods. Enjoy a brief walking tour of The Rocks, see Sydney Opera House, Chinatown, the iconic Queen Victoria Building, the historic nightlife district of Kings Cross, beloved Bondi Beach, and much more on this perfectly planned Sydney tour that ends with a buffet lunch cruise on Sydney Harbour. Even if you have more than one day in town, this tour is an easy Sydney 101 for your first day.

Take a Sydney Opera House tour if you’re keen on exploring this iconic building inside and out. This can be paired with lunch if you skipped the lunch cruise. It should also leave enough time for a leisurely walk around Sydney Botanic Gardens, and to snap some photos from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. If you skip the Opera House tour, you’ll have time to visit the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the extraordinary Sydney Modern Project, devoted to modern art and home to The Tank, an ambitious and awe-inspiring art space with a surprising wartime history. Enjoy a late afternoon stroll through Hyde Park back to the CBD, admiring the art deco Anzac Memorial at dusk before dinner at Sydney Tower.

Man and woman dining outdoors in front of Sydney Harbour Bridge


The Very Best of Sydney Harbour

Pick up a Hop On, Hop Off Explorer Pass and catch the ferry to Taronga Zoo to meet Australia’s most loveable native animals, plus wildlife stars from around the globe. Your cruise pass is good for a variety of popular stops including Fort Denison and Luna Park. Manly is a great option if you want some beach time, as is Watsons Bay for breathtaking views of The Gap. Consider getting the 2-day pass to give yourself lots of time to enjoy these spots. It’s better value too! Be sure to bring your smartphone for full commentary. Closer to the city is Darling Harbour, where the fantastic SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, and the Australian National Maritime Museum await. There’s also Barangaroo, the former container terminal transformed into a public park space, art, and entertainment precinct. Cruise timetables vary with the season, so double check when planning your day.

Make sure you’re back at The Rocks in time for your Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. Best taken at dusk, the well-secured three and a half hour climb is relatively easy and takes in Sydney’s most awesome view. If not keen on the Bridge Climb, are on a tight budget, or have wheelchair users in your group, consider a free night at the museum instead. The Australian Museum, with its fantastic First Nations gallery, Crystal Hall, and Dinosaur Gallery opens its doors until 9pm on Wednesdays. The Powerhouse Museum, devoted to innovation and technology, runs Powerhouse Late until 9pm Thursdays, while the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia stays open until 9pm Fridays. The Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Sydney Modern Project are also open until 10pm every Wednesday.

Giraffes at Taronga Zoo, overlooking Sydney Harbour


Local Icons: The Best of Bondi and Sydney Opera House

A big part of what makes Sydney special is its perfect balance between an indoor and outdoor lifestyle. Give yourself time to enjoy breakfast in the beach suburb of Coogee before meeting your 10am guided walk to Bondi. One of Sydney’s best walks, it shows off the best of the city’s seaside beauty while taking you past plenty of cafes for refresher stops and lunch. If you really just want to see Bondi, explore it in depth on a guided Bondi walk, or try your skills at a favourite local pastime with a Bondi surf lesson! Surfing lessons start at 7am if you want time to take either of the walks afterward.

A local bus takes you right down iconic Oxford Street to Circular Quay for your Sydney Opera House Tour. Follow it up with dinner at Bennelong, beneath the iconic sails, Aria, one of Sydney’s most lauded fine dining restaurants, or Opera Bar for a more casual evening. Finish up in time to catch a performance, or simply take in the harbour views, capping off the ultimate local’s day in Sydney.

Sydney boardwalk along coast near Bondi Beach


Explore the Real Stories of Sydney

Want the ultimate insider’s look at this spectacular city? Today’s your day! Get up early (on a Sunday… we’re sorry) to join your VIP Backstage Tour of Sydney Opera House. We promise it’s worth it for this behind-the-scenes look at the world’s most recognizable performing arts venue. Relax over a leisurely breakfast before your Rocks Dreaming Aboriginal Heritage Tour. This is great way to understand just a little of the history, beliefs, and traditions that have shaped Australia’s 200+ First Nations over tens of thousands of years, including the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation (modern day Sydney). Both this tour and the Rocks Walking Tour (which focuses on Sydney’s colonial and convict history) are available at either 10.30am or 1.30pm each day. You can easily do both, though we recommend doing the Rocks Dreaming tour first. It’ll change your whole perspective on the land you’re exploring!

If you’re not doing both tours today, catch the light rail to Chinatown for a yum cha (dim sum) feast, or just a good value light lunch. Pick up some souvenirs at beloved Paddy’s Market, follow the Goods Line Walk to catch an eyeful of the Frank Gehry-designed UTS Business School. Round out the day in Chippendale, with an hour or two admiring White Rabbit Gallery’s incredible free collection of contemporary Chinese art (open Weds to Sun only). There’s even a tea house on site if you need to refresh. For dinner, (politely) elbow your way to a table among the locals in Spice Alley, choosing from delicious staples from all over Asia. If you’re still feeling energetic, Sydney’s beautiful Capitol Theatre hosts lavish musicals throughout the year.

Smiling Australian Aboriginal woman in a red shirt wearing a dilly bag.

21 Mar 2023, 9:12 p.m.

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