Sydney is stunning. There’s no doubt that sparkling Sydney Harbour makes it an attractive destination, but there’s lots more going for it than just natural beauty. Take in the smooth sandstone of colonial buildings, enjoy entertaining theatre, visit world-class museums and indulge in gourmet delights.
History and heritage
Explore cobblestone lanes and other colonial buildings in The Rocks, including Australia’s oldest pubs. The Argyle Stairs lead to Cumberland Street which take you right under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which opened in 1932. On the other side of the harbour you’ll spot the other major landmark, the Sydney Opera House, which opened in 1973.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, established in 1816, is a tranquil oasis with a free daily tours and intriguing exhibitions in the Calyx. From here, walk to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, a sandstone bench carved by convicts in 1810 for the Governor’s wife that has prime position overlooking the harbour.
For art deco masterpieces, head for the ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park and the picturesque suburbs of Potts Point and Woolloomooloo. Here, you can also dine on one of the longest timber wharves in the world, the heritage-listed Woolloomooloo Finger Wharf. Or to uncover Sydney’s newest chapter, visit the gleaming towers of Barangaroo.
Things to do
The bustling city centre is a shopper’s dream, there are elegant boutiques, multi-level department stores and enticing fashion malls. The palatial Queen Victoria Building is all class and the stylish Strand Arcade is a beautifully restored arcade where you’ll be delightfully surprised on every level.
The Art Gallery of NSW and the Museum of Contemporary Art continually host new exhibits from local and international artists. There are also public artworks dotted throughout this vibrant city, such as Forgotten Songs, an artwork canopy of 120 birdcages in Angel Place. For evocative theatre and blockbuster musicals, checkout the ever-changing events calendar.
Darling Harbour is home to a different kind of museum, the Australian National Maritime Musuem where you can climb into a cold war submarine or explore a naval destroyer. Nearby, in keeping with the water them, visit Sea Life Sydney Aquarium where you’ll meet penguins, sharks and a dugong.
Eat and drink
Underground restaurants are a fine dining trend, visit the French-themed Hubert, descend the stairs to Bistecca, which specialises in Tuscan-style Fiorentina steaks or check out Mary’s Underground for Euro-style bistro food and live jazz. If it’s all about a harbour view, you can’t go past award-winning Quay, Bennelong and Aria.
Opera Bar may have the best location in town, under the Sydney Opera House and looking at the Sydney Harbour Bridge. For something more intimate, check out the great small bars dotted around the CBD including Bulletin Place, Grandma’s, The Baxter Inn, Papa Gede’s, PS40, The Lobo Plantation and The Barber Shop.