Sydney Travel Guide


Sydney is renowned for its beaches, parklands, architecture, vibrant entertainment and beautiful waterfront harbour. Sydney is the capital of New South Wales (NSW), the country's most visited state. Sydney is also a thriving seaport and one of the largest and most popular cities in Australia.

Sydney is a wonderful and exciting year-round destination that's visited by millions of tourists each year. The city has lots to offer and caters well for all types of visitor from the budget traveller to executive travel and the latest demands in luxury facilities and experiences.

Sydney is separated into many different districts and neighborhoods, all of which offer unique flavors and experiences that are fascinating to explore. The beautiful and world-famous Waterfront and Harbour districts are the main areas of the city dedicated to entertainment and tourism, it's also where you'll find Sydney's unique landmarks such as Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

Experience Sydney: .

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Visitor information

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Visiting Sydney: There are lots of tourist attractions to explore, so if it's your first visit to Sydney you'll need to plan your sightseeing itinerary carefully. For sightseeing information check out the Flight4 visitors guide to Sydney's top tourist attractions and best places to visit.

Best time to visit Australia: Australia is located in the Southern Hemisphere so seasons are opposite to those in Europe, July is the coolest month and January is the hottest. October through to March are perfect months for exploring the warm and sunny coastline of New South Wales and for relaxing on the sweeping white-sands of Sydney's Bondi and Manly beach's.

Sydney's Districts & Neighbourhoods:
The city is made-up of separate districts and neighborhoods, all of which offer unique flavors and experiences that are perfect to explore:

Sydney Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour: Darling Harbour and Cockle Bay are part of Sydney's leading waterfront development and home to the city's largest recreational and pedestrian precinct, the Harbour area is a popular neighbourhood and is an ideal adventure for the whole family.

Darling Harbour is home to Sydney's finest entertainment, great shopping, waterfront dining and popular tourist attractions, including: the Sydney Aquarium, the National Maritime Museum, Sydney Zoo and the Chinese Garden of Friendship.

Darling Harbour is where you'll find the new IMAX theatre, including the world's biggest movie screen and the latest IMAX laser projection technology. The Harbour dock area is the departure point for several scenic 'Harbour Sightseeing Cruise' excursions.

The Rocks: The Rocks is one of the city's oldest neighbourhoods and the birth place of Sydney, it's also home to the Museum of Contemporary Art and the amazing Sydney Harbour Bridge. The area is full of historic and restored buildings, cobblestone streets and some of the best hotels in Sydney.

The Rocks is a perfect area to relax and stroll around, you'll find upmarket shops and galleries, weekend markets and plenty of bars and vintage pubs to keep you hydrated. Top Tip Take a step back in time and join The Rocks Guided Walking Tour to discover the history and birth of modern Sydney.

The Central Business District: Sydney's Central Business District (CBD) is the city's main business district nestled in the centre of Sydney's skyscrapers. CBD is where you'll find the Royal Botanic Gardens, the relaxing Hyde Park and the city's main entertainment, including: theatres, art galleries, museums, high-end shops, top restaurants and the largest department stores in Australia.

Surry Hills: The Surry Hills neighbourhood is located southeast of the Central Business District, it's regarded as the city's creative hub for music and fashion. Take time out to relax and meander the streets of Surry Hills, you'll find plenty of hip cafes and bars sitting alongside stylish dining and old warehouses transformed into classy art galleries, trendy shops and fashionable new homes.

Paddington: Paddington is a stunning heritage village that will surprise and delight, it's located next to the Surry Hills district and carries a similar chilled out vibe throughout. Paddington has gained a reputation as a fashion destination, it has a wonderful range of restored Victorian terraced buildings housing stylish designer boutiques and craft & art shops, with William street offering some of the best shopping in Sydney.

Paddington is home to sophisticated art galleries, fashion boutiques and a high concentration of traditional and renovated pubs, local cafes, hip bistros and trendy restaurants. Stroll the streets to admire the neighbourhoods stunning period homes and historic artifacts then rest-up for a while at Reservoir Gardens, a stylish heritage-listed public park.

Top Tip: Don't miss Paddington's Saturday Market! you'll find many trendy crafts and clothes stalls showcasing emerging Australian designers, plus locally designed arts & crafts.

Bondi Beach: Bondi Beach is world renowned and Australia’s most popular beach town. Located just 20 minutes from downtown Sydney, Bondi Beach quite literally has something for everyone, including great swimming, Kayaking, surfing and watersports, plus a hip nightlife with plenty of cafes, pubs and sea food restaurants.

Away from the beach you have a much recommended scenic coastal walk which takes you from Bondi to Coogee. The cliff top coastal walk extends for approximately 6km and has plenty of stunning views, beaches, sandy coves and parks to explore, there's also cafes along the route if you fancy a rest. Manly and Coogee are also great beach destinations and are well worth investigating.

Circular Quay: If you use Sydney's public transport system you'll probably find yourself at Circular Quay during you travels. Circular Quay is Sydney's main transport hub for ferries, trains, light rail (trams) and buses and it's worth spending a few hours here. The quay sits between the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House and offers great views and photo opportunities. Relax at one of the many laid backcafes and watch the quay's street performers and entertainers, or simply watch the comings and goings of Sydney's ferries and cruise liners.

Top Tip: One of the best ways to view Sydney's famous harbour and city skyline is to book onto a 'Harbour Sightseeing Cruise'. Alternatively you can catch a ferry from Circular Quay to Manly, the ferry takes in all the main sights including the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, South Head and Manly Cove. Some ferry's operate a licensed bar onboard. Journey times are between 20 and 40 minutes depending on the ferry service used. Note: Some ferry companies accept Opal Card for payment with the possibility to saving on ticket prices. See the Transport NSW website for details.

Sydney's Top Tourist Attractions

(1) The Sydney Opera House: The Opera House was opened in 1973 and instantly became Sydney's top tourist attraction. The Opera House is a multi-venue facility for the performing arts, it's also a World Heritage site. Regular performances include classical music, theatre, opera and dance, the building also houses several theatres, restaurants and bars. The best way to discover the Opera House is to book onto a guided tour, or go see a show or concert, you can see what's on & book here.

Sydney Opera House

(2) The Sydney Harbour Bridge: The Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened in 1932 and quickly became one of the world's most recognisable landmarks. The Bridge is the largest steel arch bridge in the world and majestically connects Sydney's Central Business District and The Rocks with the North Shore.

The best way to appreciate this wonderful landmark is to sail underneath the bridge on one of many harbour ferry's departing Circular Quay, or you can walk across the bridge for free. However, the ultimate way to experience Harbour Bridge is to book onto the BridgeClimb tour, this tour takes you on a climb to the very top of the world’s largest steel arch, 134m above sea level. Over the years more than 4 million climbers have reached the top to experience spectacular 360-degree views over Sydney and the Harbour.

(3) The Sydney Tower: The Sydney Tower Eye is the city's tallest structure located 250 metres above Sydney's Central Business District. At the top of the tower you can enjoy unrivalled 360-degree views of the city including all of Sydney's famous landmarks the Harbour, the coastline, and Sydney's surrounding suburbs, and on a clear day you can see the Blue Mountains over 80km away!

One of the best and most thrilling ways to experience the Tower is to book onto the breath-taking 60-minute SKYWALK tour. The Skywalk tour takes you to the highest outdoor viewing platform at 268m above street level, while Tower guides point out iconic landmarks and share their local knowledgeof the city.

(4) The Sydney Harbour Cruise: The Harbour Cruise is a great way to see Sydney's spectacular modern city skyline, the magnificent Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Although regular ferry services are a great way to experience all the above, the Harbour Cruise is a much more relaxed affair, with fewer passengers and more space and time to admire the views. You also have a choice of dining options and evening cruises.

Sydney's Public Transport & Opal Smart Card: .

Sydney has an efficient public transport system that includes buses, trains, ferries and light rail services, just hop-on and start exploring.

Ticketing for Sydney's transport is operated by the the Opal Smart Card system, which can be used on the majority of Sydney's public transport services, including trains, ferries, buses, and light rail.

Opal Cards can be ordered online or bought at stations and at numerous locations across Sydney. The Opal smart card must be loaded with credit and topped-up when running low. The smart card system calculates and deducts the correct fare depending on the distance traveled and the type of transport used.

To use your Opal card you tap it against the electronic card readers located at train and metro station entrances or when boarding buses or on light-rail platforms, and on ferry platforms or when boarding the ferry. You are notified when your Opal Card credit is running low and when you need to top-up your card.

Top Tip: (1) You can Register or activate your Opal card, check your balance and top-up your card online here. To help plan your journey try using the route planner for Rail and Bus services.

Sydney Bus Transport: Sydney has an extensive bus network that transports more than 23.5 million passengers each year, you can plan your tourist bus journey using the Transport nswwebsite or app. Many bus services operate via Circular Quay to Sydney’s suburbs, beaches and regional areas.

Top Tips: (1) If your just traveling around the city's main tourist attractions try using the 'Big Bus Tour of Sydney' hop-on hop-off service. This bus departs from Circular Quay every 20-30 minutes and stops at approximately 33 tourist destinations and famous landmarks across the city, including Bondi. Tickets have to be purchased in advance and are valid for either 24 or 48 hours. (2) Just for fun, plan and take a scenic regional bus service ride to the Blue Mountains, or take a bus along the main coastal route to other popular NSW towns and cities, most regional bus services depart from Central Station.

Sydney Rail Transport: The main rail hub for Sydney's local and regional trains is Central Station (a heritage-listed railway station built in 1906) located in downtown Sydney. The City Circle line is the easiest way to get around the city centre, the network runs a looped service around the city stopping at most central tourist areas including: Central, Museum, Town Hall, Wynyard and Circular Quay. Train networks operate across the Harbour to North Sydney, east to Bondi Junction and south to Sydney Airport.

Sydney Ferry Transport Services: Ferry services depart from the Circular Quay Ferry Terminal and serve key points around the Harbour and to tourist hotspots further afield, including the scenic ferry route to Manly Beach and Taronga Zoo.

Sydney Light Rail Network: Sydney's street Light Rail network operates three main lines, from Central Station to Dulwich Hill in West Sydney. Plus Randwick and Kingsford.

Sydney Underground: Sydney's metro 'North West Line' opened in May 2019 and serves 13 metro stations between Tallawong Station and Chatswood Station. This line is currently being extended into Sydney's Central Business District and beyond, with the next phase of completion scheduled for 2024-25.

Visit Australia: There has never been a better time to visit Australia and enjoy the wide range of holiday experiences this massive country has to offer. From its dramatic outback to lush wilderness, from great beaches to dynamic cities, Australia has something for everyone.

Sydney Airport (SYD). Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport is located 8km (5 mi) south of Sydney's central business district.

Airport Transport and Shuttle Services: The fastest and easiest way to travel into the city is by Airport Rail Link. Trains run every 10 minutes and travelling time to the city centre takes 13 minutes. The International rail station is located directly below T1 (International Terminal) and is reached from inside the terminal at the arrivals level. Rail platform access is also available from Domestic Passenger Terminals (T2 & T3).

Trains run on the T8 Airport & South Line, a suburban commuter rail network that stops at stations on the city circle line.

Taxis: Taxis to Sydney's city centre take approximately 20-minutes. You'll find taxi ranks at the front of all terminals.

General Facts: Sydney Airport has three runways and three passenger terminals. Sydney Airport serves as a hub for Jetstar Airways, Qantas, Regional Express Airlines, Virgin Australia and Tigerair Australia.

Visit Australia: Australia is a vast area, rich in natural attractions with a wide range of wonderful experiences to offer. With so much to see and do, planning your holiday can be a challenge so give yourself plenty of time for research. Discover the diversity of the four states of Australia with the opportunity to explore cosmopolitan cities with easy-going lifestyles, world-class cuisine and fine New World wines.

Car Hire: All major car rental companies are represented at Sydney airport, including Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt.

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