Capital Culture, Aussie Flair: Stuff to Do in Sydney

Stuff to Do in Sydney

While Sydney is not my favourite place to go in Australia (that award goes to Melbourne), it’s more than likely your starting or ending point for a visit Down Under.  For me, it is very city: lots of cars, noise, tall buildings.  But it is also very Australia: laid back atmosphere, beer and sunshine available on every corner.  Sydney is not Australia’s capital (that award goes to Canberra) but you can’t deny that the city has a capital culture-like buzz infused with some Aussie Flair.  Here’s some of the stuff to do in Sydney I found during my few weeks in town.

Downtown Adventures

Downtown Sydney is split up into two main sections:  the CBD (Commercial Business District) and the Rocks. The CBD has a lot of fantastic shopping areas, restaurants, museums, etc.  Down on the rocks you’ll find more food and drink, as well as access to the harbour.  Highlights:

  • Sydney Harbour Bridge:  Iconic indeed.  I cannot stress enough that you must book advance and do the Sydney Bridgeclimb.  It’s a one of a kind experience, very safe (even for those who aren’t up for hanging off the side of a bridge), and the views are killer.  But you have to book in advance – months, usually.
  • Sydney Opera House:  Also iconic, and it’s interesting to see the architecture.  But it is an opera house.
  • Strand Arcade:  I’ve been to many Victorian shopping arcades in my travels, but this is one of the most beautiful and largest I have seen.  Tons of retailers and a must-see for souvenir and gift shopping.
  • Art Gallery of New South Wales:  Out of all the art galleries and museums downtown, this one really struck me as best in class.  It’s a great building, and their rotating exhibits are second to none.

I’d encourage you talk a walk along the harbour wherever you have the change – there are a number of parks and gardens with fantastic views and often free events on at lunch and in the evenings.

Oceanside: Manly & Bondi

As the picture implies, hitting the waves is the stuff to do in Sydney that you see on TV.  In reality, just chilling out with a cold beer and your feet in the sand is just as enjoyable.  Bondi Beach is the epicentre of the action, where you’ll find the see-and-be-scene crowd (their bars are exclusive access only), but check out the boardwalk behind the beach, where a killer smoothie from Boost will quench your thirst.

There are two other destinations besides Bondi that are oceanside and come with my highest regards.  The first is the walking path Bondi to Bronte.  It must be the best 2 mile walk in Australia, with graveyards perched over the ocean, dropping cliffs, and everywhere you look is awash in colour.

Otherwise, heading back into town, catch a ferry to Manly.  It is just on the other side of the harbour, towards the sea. Locals tell tourists to take the Manly ferry because it gives you the same view as the more expensive tourist ferries, and they’re right.  Plus you should just check out Manly – it’s great.

Food & Drink

Aussies love to party, so most come to Australia knowing the beer will be cold and the cocktails strong.  But Australia’s got some great talent in the food scene, and the capital is a great place to find them.  I would agree with the majority who say that Australian food is mostly a blend between Asian and European influences.

I also had some of the best cocktails of my life in Australia – they don’t mess around, and they’re very creative at creating concoctions that aren’t only delicious, but that pair with meals.

What to eat in Sydney then?  Two musts:

  • Chinese:  Lots of immigrants means lots of fresh flavours.  Golden Century is an old hat favourite.  Also, ask around for a good Sunday dim sum – you’ll love it.
  • Thai:  You’ll find thai restaurants everywhere – but I suggest you try to get yourself to Darlinghurst, where some of the city’s best Thai kitchens will be.

Australian breakfast also made our list of breakfast around the world, so try a pie and milk while you’re there!  And don’t forget a beer, which is usually always within reach any time of day.

Lastly, harbour dinner cruises are a popular option; mostly, the view is incredible, the food is generic, and the experience is expensive.  Still… the harbour at sunset is spectacular.

Sydney Daytrips

While there’s tons of stuff to do in Sydney, I highly encourage that you get out and see some of the countryside.  Suggestions:

  • Blue Mountains:  Easy to access via Katoomba, the Blue Mountains (pictured above) offer hiking, walking, and scenic nature, and it is a tourist friendly area, so you don’t need to have a car to get around here as there’s a useful bus service.
  • Hunter Valley:  Hunter is one of a few wine growing regions in Australia, and the wines here are gorgeous – I suggest you try one of everything, including the only-found-in-Oz sparkling red wine.  (Better than it sounds, trust me.)  This is a long drive and then with wine, perhaps worth spending the night.

Photo Credits: Eustaquio SantimanoDeclan Prendiville Photographydailyfood, kiumo

No Comments

    Leave a Reply