By Amani Bates, University of Western Australia, Australia
You want to go to Sydney. But other than the Opera house, you have no idea what to do, where to go, or who you’ll meet. Well, I was in your exact position, so let’s see if I can help you out.
My trip was super last minute. I had actually originally booked to go to Bali but two days before my flight I realised I only had four months left on my passport and I needed six to be granted entry.
Serval phone calls to Jetstar’s customer service later, I’d managed to alter my flight destination from Denpasar to Sydney as well as refund my accommodation (take advantage of Booking.com’s no upfront payment!).
I felt like a proper backpacker when I was sat in the airport, booking my hostel in Sydney for that same night. Very stressful, wouldn’t recommend. Anyway, it all worked out and I got to explore this amazing place. When I go to a major city, I like to do a mix of the obvious touristy things and the slightly lesser-known stuff.
So here are my 10 recommendations, ranging from absolutely unmissable to, nice to do if you have time…
1) The Opera House
Obviously. It’s iconic. Hard to miss, easy to get to. Grab a drink in the bar, the atmosphere is great. Although it is a little expensive, if you’re a fan of theatre you should definitely check what shows they have on! Alternatively there was a free firework display on each night I was there if you want a spectacle without the price tag. What else is there to say other than it’s a must-see landmark!
2) Bondi Icebergs Pool
This 50-metre saltwater pool is a really cool and unique spot. The ocean waves crash into the sea wall and seep into the pool. It’s a great way to see Bondi Beach and the $9 entry also gives you access to the sauna and gym for the day. A must for me.
3) Sydney Harbour Bridge
There are lots of cool ways to see the Bridge. The most obvious being to walk across it. It gives you a great view of the Opera House and if you head to the Northern side you can make a visit to Luna Park. There’s also a very picturesque spot down by the bridge’s approach pillars where you can sit and soak in the sunset. Finally, if you have the time and the money taking the guided tour up the bridge was an incredible experience, you get an unbeatable view of the city.
4) Manly Wormhole
This ‘secret’ tunnel was made by fishermen in the 1900s as a shortcut to the beach. However in truth, this ‘hidden gem’ isn’t too difficult to find. You’ll see the entrance marked by a pink heart, spray painted onto the side of the rock. Still, Manly is a lovely spot with a great beach and the novelty of the ferry ride over alone makes this a fun trip to do.
5) The Royal Botanic Garden
It’s beautiful. It’s free. Not a lot more to say. I read my book on the grass for an hour. Great view of the city.
6) Forgotten Songs
Commissioned by the city in 2011, The Forgotten Songs is a public artwork by Micheal Hill. Made up of 180 birdcages and accompanied by a soundtrack of bird noises the piece was made to show how city life has gradually forced nature out. As it’s right in the heart of Sydney, it’s worth tracking down and getting a picture of.
7) Green Square Library
Working in this library felt ten times more productive, simply for having this amazing rainbow bookshelf in front of me. It’s also not purely aesthetic, the books are all real! I decided to do the hour-long scenic walk to get to Green Square but it’s very easy to get to on the train. There are also some nice places to eat nearby.
8) The Museum of Contemporary Art
With free entry and a range of interesting exhibits, this is a must for art lovers. There’s also a rooftop cafe that overlooks the Opera House. (I didn’t take a picture of the museum whoops, pls enjoy another of the bridge!)
9) Queen Victoria Station
This architectural marvel is home to a wealth of cafes, restaurants, and stores. Even if you aren’t wanting to do any shopping, the stained glass windows, decadent staircases, and beautiful centre dome are worth going in for.
10) The Rocks
The oldest neighbourhood in the city, the Rocks is a cobblestone area with a selection of great pubs to grab a beer by the waterfront. Find local artists and vendors at the weekend markets and stay till the evening to enjoy the various late-night entertainment.
So there’s my list!
That’s what I managed to pack into four days but there’s still so much I would have loved to have seen. In truth, I fell slightly in love with Sydney and could see myself living there one day. I hope you enjoy it too!