With millions of tourists visiting the city each year, Sydney is one of the world’s most popular destinations for tourists and backpackers. With plenty of things to do and places to see, it can be quite overwhelming deciding where to start. In this Sydney travel guide, we are going to go over sights to see, where to stay, places to eat and any other questions you might have about travelling Sydney!
Getting to Sydney
If you are flying to Sydney from the US or Europe, your flight will typically take around 20 hours with at least one stopover. I highly recommend that you check out Skyscanner for the best flight prices. With Skyscanner, you can actually search by month to see an overview of the cheapest days to travel to Sydney. Doing this could save you a few hundred dollars on your flights!
How Many Days Do You Need?
The answer will of course vary a lot between people since there is always things to do in Sydney. However, if you don’t have a lot of time in Sydney, three days would be just enough to cover the major sights. In three days, you would be able to visit all the big attractions, a few beaches and see some of the night life Sydney has to offer. But after making this Sydney Travel Guide, I would highly recommend you spend at least a week in Sydney so that you can do some day trips from Sydney and not around rush as much.
Things To See In Sydney
With so many world famous sights and beautiful nature to see around Sydney, it can be hard to decide what to see, especially in a limited time, so here are some of the most popular places:
Sydney Opera House
It wouldn’t be a great Sydney travel guide if we didn’t mention the Opera House. As one of the most famous landmarks in the world, the Sydney Opera House is simply a must see while you travelling Sydney. You can go to one of over a thousand events hosted every year or take a guided tour to learn the history of the building. At the very least, talk a walk around the outside of the building or take one of the public ferry to see it from a better angle.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Another famous Australian landmark, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is definitely worth a visit. The bridge is actually right beside the Opera House so you can see both at the same time. If you have some time, I recommend taking a walk across the bridge. Access to the walkway is free of charge and has some of the best views of the city!
Darling Harbour is in the heart of Sydney. If you are looking for places to eat or day activities, Darling Harbour is worth checking out. Also, if you are feeling lucky, you can check out the Star Casino right next to the harbour. The casino also has a nightclub and a 24/7 sports bar!
Bondi Beach & More
As one of the most famous beaches in the world, Bondi is a must see when staying Sydney. However, Bondi isn’t the only beach to see. There are some other great beaches close to the city centre including: Tamarama Beach, Bronte Beach, Clovelly Beach, Coogee Beach & Maroubra Beach. If you have some time, why not take the Bondi to Coogee walk? The trail is a 6km walk along the coast from Bondi to Coogee. Along the trail there are plenty of picturesque beaches, cafes & restaurants to see.
Royal Botanic Gardens
The Royal Botanic Gardens is a 70 acre heritage listed garden in the centre of Sydney. With picturesque views and plenty of animals to see, the Royal Botanic Gardens is a great break from the hustle and bustle of the city without leaving the area! With plenty of events being hosted every year, the Botanic Gardens are definitely worth a visit.
Located just across the bridge in North Sydney, Taronga Zoo is a great day trip. I highly recommend you bring a good camera with you if possible. With over 2500 animals to see and amazing panoramic views of the city, Taronga Zoo is one of the nicest zoos in the world.
One of my favorite spots in Sydney, located around 14km south of the city centre, La Perouse is a relaxing coastal suburb with plenty to see and do. You can spend your day at one of the beaches (Frenchmans Beach, Congwong Beach or Little Congwong Beach), take the bridge across to Bare Island, visit the museum or enjoy some food at one of the cafes or restaurants. La Perouse is a great place to go if you are looking for a less crowded beach and a bit of piece and quiet.
Another great Sydney beach worth seeing is Manly Beach. If you are staying near the city centre, the best way to get to Manly beach would be to take the ferry from Circular Quay. Taking the ferry you will also be able to have great views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge!
Sydney Travel Guide: Things To Do In Sydney
- Surf one of the many famous beaches in Sydney!
- Visit the hipster suburbs of Sydney (Newtown, Surry Hills, and Potts Point).
- Go check out some of the best snorkel spots.
- Enjoy the sun and have a barbecue at one of the beaches (many free barbecue areas around).
- See some of the famous landmarks around the city.
- Go to the Museum of Sydney and learn a little more about this great country!
- Visit Luna Park in North Sydney.
- Enjoy the best views of the city from The Sydney Tower Eye!
Day Trips Near Sydney
Blue Mountains National Park
An hour and a half drive from Sydney Central, the Blue Mountains is a National Park situated west of Sydney. Take a hike along the beautiful scenery or even take the Scenic Skyway above to see it all from a different angle! You can even stay overnight near the Blue Mountains. I recommend joining a travel guide / guided tour so as to see some places you might not see when travelling on your own.
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
Another great national park that is only 40 minutes drive from the city is Ku-ring-gai. It is the 2nd oldest national park in Australia. Named after the Guringai tribe, the national park is over 150 km squared in size and has some of the nicest views around Sydney.
Close to Ku-ring-gai National Park is Palm Beach. A coastal suburb in the Northern Beaches region of Sydney, Palm Beach is a great place to relax with beautiful plenty of quiet beaches & some nice cafes around.
Getting Around Sydney
Even if you are travelling by car or camper-van, you will still use the public transport when exploring the city. Thankfully, public transport in Sydney is great. The main forms of public transport in the city are buses, metro, trains, light rails & ferries. If you are planning on staying in Sydney for more than a night then I highly recommend you get an Opal card. Opal cards are the official NSW transport cards that you use to tap on/off of public transport. The cards are free but you top up the card with credit to pay for transport. They are available in most retail outlets in Sydney. The Opal cards transport fares also work out a lot cheaper than buying single tickets including $2.80 for unlimited travel every Sundays!
Hotels: On average, a 3 star hotel in Sydney costs AU$71 per night per person, while a 5 star hotel would typically cost you over AU$200 per night.
Hostels: The average price per person for a night in a Sydney hostel is AU$30 per night. Choosing to stay in hostels, will be a major boost to your travelling budget. However, trying to find good hostels to stay in can sometimes be difficult, that is why I highly recommend that you use Hostelworld to book your budget accommodation. Hostelworlds best feature is being able to see other travelers reviews and opinions on the hostels before you book. Some of the most popular hostels in Sydney include: Sydney Central YHA, Base Sydney, Mad Monkey Backpackers & Maze Backpackers.
Airbnb: There are plenty of listed accommodation in Sydney on Airbnb with places for each budget. Since you would typically be staying in a room in someones house, this can be a great way to meet locals and find out more about the city.
Shared Accommodation: If you plan on staying in Sydney for a few weeks or more whether just to travel or to work, the best option would be to stay in a shared apartment. Shared apartments are typically filled with other backpackers and are one of the more affordable ways to stay in Sydney. You can find shared apartments on the Facebook Marketplace, Facebook groups, Gumtree and Flatmates.
Here are the answers to some other things you may be wondering before travelling to Sydney.
Sydney has a humid subtropical climate, with weather being mild and cool in the winter and hot in the summer. If you are looking for beach weather, the best months to visit Sydney would be from November to April.
If you are looking for a backpacker nightclub, the most popular is The Ivy. With rooftop pools and plenty of bars, the ivy is especially busy on backpacker nights (Thursday). However, I recommend just going to Surry Hills, Newtown or any other suburb and exploring one of the many pubs in the area. There is plenty of places to party in Sydney, just go out and explore!
Sydney Travel Guide: Conclusion
There you have it! I hope this Sydney travel guide was able to answer a lot of your questions and concerns for travelling to Sydney. Make sure to enjoy your stay, its a beautiful city with plenty to do. If you would like to learn more, make sure to check out some of our other posts for everything related to backpacking Australia!