Sydney is the biggest city of Australia, the capital of New South Wales and one huge adventure! Sydney is one of the few big cities where you can enjoy real busy city life and go the relaxing beaches at the same day and then take a short train ride and experience amazing Australian nature. Most of the sights are completely free or at least very cheap, which mean all you have to pay for is transport (more on that later)!
Sydney was one of my favourites on the East Coast. There's lots of things to do - both sightseeing, beachin' and hikes in the nearby National Parks. I ended my Australia trip with 7 days in Sydney. After a month by myself on the road, I was pleased to meet people to go to the beach with, have a drink with or hike with and the hostels in Sydney are a great place to meet them.
Do yourself a favor and buy a Opal card for public transportation in the Sydney Area and use this webpage to plan your trips: https://transportnsw.info/trip#/. It works for busses, trains, light rails, etc. and it shows you if you can pay with Opal card and makes traveling much easier. You can top-off your card on every station if you run out of money and you can't exceed $15 AUSD per day - the rest of the day you travel for free!
The Opera House & the Harbour Bridge:
When in Sydney you have to see the world famous Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. If you use public transportation, the nearest station is Circular Quay. If you feel like it you can take a bridge walk tour and climb Sydney Harbour Bridge and receive a magnificent view of the city. Find more information here. Or you can just look at it for free... ;-)
Note: The picture is taken from the ferry to Manly.
Blue Mountains National Park:
A few hours from Sydney is the beautiful Blue Mountains, a world-heritage listed site. And it is FREE! Take the Blue Mountain Line train at Central Station 2 hours and arrive at this beautiful scenery. Go for some walks in the rain forrest, see a few small waterfalls, but most important: See the Three Sisters (pictured) at Echo Point. If you stop at Katoomba you can either walk 2 km or take the bus straight to Echo Point! From there you can walk down the Great Stairway (to the left) and see the Three Sisters up close - don't walk the other way around and end up walking up the stairway. I did this and it was 900 steps of straight up hell! Walk to Scenic World and walk up the stairs at Furber Steps (or take the Scenic railway if you're feeling lazy).
The Royal Botanical Garden:
The beautiful green park in the middle of the big city is a breath of fresh air. I'm not really into plants and flowers but look at the flower fields!! If that isn't cute I don't know what is!! You can walk in here forever and completely forget that you are in one of the biggest cities in Australia.
The Figure Eight Pools:
One hour south of Sydney is the Royal National Park where you can find the cool natural pools - one shaped like the number eight (pictured). It's the coolest place but a bit hard to get to. It takes a bit of effort. It needs to be low tide and you have to be ready to climb over a few rocks. Read how to and when to go there here.
Shelly Beach, Manly:
If you ask a local about their favorite beach there's a good chance they'll say Shelly Beach. It's on Manly, which you can go to with the ferry from Circular Quay for $9. The beach is more isolated and is good for swimming and snorkeling. On Manly you can also take the bus to the North Side and see Sydney from a different perspective.
Darling Harbour by night:
The lights at the harbour is beautiful at night - just look at the picture - I can't sweet-talk you into going more than that. Additionally, It is a perfect spot to have dinner, maybe try a kangaroo steak (if you are ready for that), or watch some street artists do there thing.
The world famous beach, Bondi Beach! Where the celebrities go and you can work on your tan. If you feel like taking a walk or just feel like going to a smaller beach, you can take the Bondi to Coogee urban coastal walk. It's 6 km along the coast with beaches all the way. At Bondi you can also enjoy the coolest street art and make your tastebuds happy at Speedo's Café.
This is not the cheapest thing to do, but if you (like me) always wanted to skydive, this is a pretty good and cheap place to do it and I just wanted to show it to you any ways! Want an adrenaline rush over a beautiful beach? Why not try skydiving over Wollongong Beach about 40 min. from Sydney? Order it here! Jump out of a plane 1500ft up in the air, get 60 sec free fall and experience the spectacular coastal views of the South!
Where to stay:
If you need a good hostel then WAKE UP! Sydney is the place to be! It's right next to Central Station, it has a nice atmosphere, and it's quiet even though it has its own café and bar downstairs (which is also great). It's a bit expensive but everything in Sydney is a bit expensive - especially if you want something decent. The rooms are nice and often you'll find new friends to share your experiences with. Find it here.
That was all of for now! You're welcome to leave a comment if you think I've forgotten some of Sydney's many gems or if you have any questions.
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