One of the beautiful things about our planet is that when it’s the dead of winter in the northern hemisphere, it’s the height of summer in the southern hemisphere. So what better time to escape the cold and take a trip down under? From beautiful beaches to thrilling activities and unforgettable sights, Sydney has so much to offer. Here are our ideas for five things you must do in Sydney.
1. See Sydney Harbour
Covering more than 30 square miles of water and with 150 miles of shoreline, Sydney Harbour is considered by many to be the most beautiful natural harbour in the world. A tour of the harbour is an excellent way to see many of Sydney’s most famous landmarks, including the magnificent Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge (aka “the Coathanger”). Have your camera ready.
One of the best ways to experience the harbour is to take the Manly Ferry from Circular Quay to Manly, an incredibly enjoyable and scenic journey. Try taking it at sunset when the sky is ablaze with its amazing variety of colours.
Sydney Harbour also offers a wide range of opportunities for kayaking. Explore meandering creeks, cavernous gorges, thick bushland, immense sandstone outcrops and welcoming beaches. And if you really like the harbour, you can even stay overnight. You can camp on Cockatoo Island in the Middle Harbour, the other side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. If you don’t have your own tent, no worries mate; you can rent a pre-erected tent there. You’ll wake up to the most spectacular views!
2. See the Blue Mountains and Katoomba
It’s a two-hour drive west from Sydney, but a day trip to the Blue Mountains National Park is totally worth it. You can get there by train or even take a coach tour. The park is home to the famous rock formation, the Three Sisters, as well as 2.5 million acres of bushland, blue eucalyptus forests, waterfalls, underground caves, bushwalking trails, sandstone cliffs and much more. You’ll also find lots of delightful townships and charming hotels. In Katoomba, Scenic World is a must-see. Here you can hike above the rainforest canopy and take the Scenic Skyway gondola on a ride spanning Jamison Valley, which provides marvelous views of Mount Solitary, Katoomba Falls and the Three Sisters.
3. Take the Bondi-to-Coogee walk
Sydney is known for its beaches, and while Bondi Beach is the most famous, there are also gorgeous beaches like Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly and Coogee. Having a beach day is always a good idea when you’re in Sydney, but for a little more adventure and a way to appreciate the beauty of the coastline, try taking the walk from Bondi to Coogee. This 6-km clifftop hike takes you through Sydney’s most iconic beaches, and provides some breathtaking views of the area’s coastal beauty. You’ll find plenty of rest stops and cafés along the way, as well as notable landmarks such as the historic and iconic Waverley Cemetery with its suspended walkway, and some great places to cool off with a swim.
4. Follow the underwater trail at Gordons Bay
Speaking of swimming, along the Bondi-to-Coogee walk you’ll find Gordons Bay, a secluded inlet north of Coogee Beach and south of Clovelly Beach. Not only is it a perfect place to do some snorkelling, it actually has an underwater nature trail. Grab your mask and snorkel and follow the 600-metre “path” of submersed concrete drums with steel plaques attached to them explaining the variety of sea creatures you’ll see in the bay – starfish, cuttlefish, sea urchins and blue gropers. Completing the trail should take about 40 minutes. Where else can you do an underwater nature hike?
5. Discover Sydney’s beauty and history
The Royal Botanic Gardens are a must-see when you’re in Sydney, not only for their extensive beauty, but for educational programs they run. You can stroll leisurely through the 30 hectares of splendid gardens and pathways or take one of the free guided tours. There’s even a train ride for the kids. The Royal Botanic Gardens also host Aboriginal Heritage Tours where visitors even get to sample an array of indigenous bush foods.
Just north of the Royal Botanic Gardens, at the tip of a peninsula, you’ll find Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, a bench carved out of the sandstone rock by Sydney’s convicts in 1810 for the wife of the then-governor Lachlan Macquarie. It’s the perfect spot for photo ops, offering amazing views of Sydney Harbour, the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Sydney’s colourful colonial history comes alive at The Rocks. You can ramble through the cobblestone lanes or take one of the walking tours to learn how Australia’s first European settlers lived (there’s also a free “Walking The Rocks” smartphone app that can help provide more historical context about the area). Afterwards, have a picnic beneath the Harbour Bridge or visit the area’s many unique shops, galleries, pubs and restaurants.
Of course, Sydney’s history goes back much further than colonial settlements. In fact, Australia’s Aboriginal people represent the world’s oldest continuous culture. An Aboriginal-owned tour, such as those run by Splendour Tailored Tours, will give you a glimpse into the life and practices of the area’s indigenous inhabitants. Your journey starts under the Harbour Bridge with an Aboriginal welcome ceremony, and then proceeds to the site of ancient rock carvings on the other side of the harbour before winding up with an Aboriginal bush food lunch at the Gardener’s Lodge Café.
What about you? What was the most memorable thing you did in Sydney? Tell us all about in the comments below!