Sydney, Australia is a huge city, with a population of over 4 million people. There are so many exciting things to see wandering through the concrete jungle. With a convenient rail system, it is easy to zip through the city and miss hidden gems.
It will be important to do your research before you arrive in Sydney. There is so much to see, you will need a solid game plan for your arrival. Not only is there a lot to see in the big city but you are also surrounded by natural wonders. Make sure to plan as many day trips as you can outside of the city.
If you are planning a trip to Sydney this post should give you some great ideas on where to start planning your adventure.
Day 1: November 7th
For your first time, I would highly recommend staying in The Rocks. The Rocks is a popular destination. It is a hip part of town that is only a few blocks away from the Circular Quay where the Opera House is located and is right next to the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge. My trip to Aus was a two week trip in mid-November, which is the early Summer season for Australia. To my surprise, Australia does not stay warm all year. It was nice to have an extra summer vacation while it was snowing back home.
Where To Stay
My friends and I stayed at the Syndey Harbour YHA hostel in The Rocks. When we first arrived the streets were crowded with people and many of the roads were blocked off. There were black and pink flags with white tents all over the city. With our luck, we had arrived just in time for a wine festival called Vino Paradiso. It was the perfect opportunity to celebrate our arrival, with the chance to try local wines from Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Riesling, Rosé, even some unique pear cider and lychee cider. Right away we felt welcomed by the warm Australian Sommeliers’ pouring us extra samples and telling us more about their homes and passion for wine.
If you are planning on being in Sydney during November I highly recommend attending this event. There is so much wine to try, with many other exciting activities to check out. Find more information about the event here.
When we needed more excitement, we decided to do some bar hopping. Our first stop was Munich Brauhaus. I snacked on German pretzels and washed it down with a large Mango Weizen. Afterwards, we stopped at the local pub, The Glenmore Hotel, right next to our hostel where they had a list of what seemed like hundreds of beer. We grabbed a pint and some crocodile pizza before we called it a night.
***The Glenmore Hotel and the YHA The Rocks both have rooftops with perfect views of the Circular Quay, so make sure to sneak a peek and a few photos up there.
WSV Travel Tip
It is very important for every coffee lover to budget going to the café every morning. Yes, every morning.
Trust me once you have an Australian cappuccino you will want one every day. The perfect, cream foam beverage topped with sweet cocoa will forever ruin American coffee for me. It is a must try, the creamy Aussie style drink is made with full cream but if you want fat-free just ask for a “skinny” cappuccino. I forever will be dreaming about the coffee in Australia. The coffee here in Denver does not compare, and I am always wondering how we put up with such bad coffee. I guess we don’t know what is out there until we travel abroad.
***Before you order an iced coffee, it is important to know that ice is not a normal thing for most restaurants or cafes to have, instead of ice they use ice cream.
Day 2 November 8th
Although summertime in Sydney starts in November, our first few days there were pretty rainy and cold. We chose to spend our first full day walking around the Sydney Opera House and with an adventure on the train to see Darling Harbour.
We walked a few blocks to the Circular Quay and grabbed some brekkie at City Extra and had a classic, Australian style toast with avocado and tomato and of course a cappuccino. After breakfast, we walked to the other side of the Circular Quay where the famous Sydney Opera House sits.
The train station is located on the Circular Quay and is where we got on the train to Town Hall. We walked to the famous Darling Harbour. Here we watched a street break-dance performance, stopped by the Chinese Garden of Friendship, and wandered around Paddy’s Market and China Town.
That night after all of our walking around the city we were starving. We walked down from our hostel to a place called The Vintage Café. We had a warm plate of Mediterranean meatballs with tomato herb sauce, parmesan, and fresh basil, with a plate of bread for dipping. To drink, I had a refreshing glass of sangria, and for dessert a warm mug of hot chocolate. The most satisfying comfort meal in a cozy café, with an ambient guitarist serenading us. This moment is a memory I could live in forever.
Day 3 November 9th
The next day we took a relaxing stroll with the free walking tour. This was a great way to see the main sights in the city while learning some history. When we were done with the tour we hopped on the bus to Bondi Beach.
Bondi Beach is a popular beach town nestled in a suburban area right outside of Sydney. We were lucky enough to catch the last day of The Sculpture by The Sea. An event that happens each year that is located along Coogee Coastal Walk. A beautiful walk along the ocean where they had transformed the area into a seaside art gallery.
Without rest from another long day of walking, we decided to gather with all of the backpackers at a popular backpackers bar called Scubar. The bar is set up as an underground tiki bar that has hermit crab racing and all you can eat kangaroo pizza.
Day 4 November 10th
Manly beach is another must-see attraction in Sydney. Just a short 30-minute ferry ride to this little beach town. The day we took this trip we spent the afternoon on the beach. This location is unique because the beach is covered in strikingly beautiful tall pine trees. I didn’t go too far into the ocean that day because that morning they had a few great white sharks lurking in the water.
Later that day we took a long un-guided tour through North Head Sanctuary. As we walked for a few hours we found ourselves on the other side of the Harbour overlooking Sydney and the Opera house from a private view. A cruise ship passed us as we looked at the city and it was blasting “Up Town Funk” so loudly that we couldn’t help but dance.
Where To Eat
We then rushed back to catch the bus back down to Manly. We choose a perfect restaurant on Manly Wharf where we could watch the sunset on the water at the Bavarian Bier Café. The goulash soup with a sausage/cheese plate and hummus bowl to start was heaven after a long day of exploring. When I got back to the states I had to recreate the goulash soup. I use this warm and comforting recipe, here, with a few healthy additions. Ground turkey, a couple potatoes, and a red pepper. The seasoning in this German dish is what makes it unlike any soup I have ever had, make sure you choose a delicious sourdough bread to dip in it.
Added to the Bucket List
When I return to Sydney it will be for a much longer stay. I hope I can go to see the fireworks for NYE one year. Some locations on my list had to be skipped because of lack of time, like the hike up to The Three Sisters and a road trip through all the unique towns along the coast up to Brisbane.
I would love to hear where some of your favorite places are in Sydney. Or if you need help planning your trip to Australia read my guide on How to Plan a Two Week Trip to Australia. Or shoot me an email, I am delighted to help with anyone’s travel plans!
Next stop of the trip was Byron Bay… read about the adventure here.