Sydney is one of my favorite cities on the planet! There is so much to do and see that you will never do it in one trip. And enjoying it with someone you love, only makes it that much better. But whether you are there on a “Dateventure” or solo, it is a great adventure that awaits you. I may not get big on specifics here, but I can give you a smattering of the best places I have uncovered in Sydney and the surrounds.
First stop- get thee to Bondi! Bondi Beach is an absolute must see. Not only is it one of the most famous beaches in the world (it was the beach volleyball location for the Summer Olympics) but it’s also one of the prettiest. Every time I hit Sydney, I make a sojourn over to Bondi to walk along the shore, ramble through the local shops, and take a short hike north to seek my little secret perch overlooking the beautifully ragged coast unimpeded. To get there, look north while on the beach and you will see a golf course up on the hill. Follow the beach road heading that way til you pass the main bus terminal. Not too much further, you will see a bus stop to your left. To your right, there will be a staircase seemingly to nowhere. Take it. It leads you to a green belt area where some locals walk their dogs and such. From here head straight over toward the sea. You will have to hoof it quickly across the golf course. Not too fast though, you may just fall right off into the ocean. Not good. But once there, you will be treated to this:
The last time I was there, I sat and watched as a pod of whales slowly made their way out to sea. It was simply magical. Oh, but before you head up on such a hike, you should fuel up on a good old fashioned Australian breakfast, or “brekky,” as they call it. You can find many great places to enjoy one, and Bondi does it right:
Ever since my first foray into an Aussie brekky, I have been fond of beans on toast! So now that you are full and have had a nice eye full of Bondi beauty, let’s get back to town!
Sydney is most definitely a great walking city. So much to see. I recommend a few choice attractions. First, you MUST take a walk across the Sydney Harbor Bridge! Don’t argue with me. GO! One of my most cherished memories is taking a morning jog across the bridge on a foggy morning. As the sun rises higher, it burns away the mist, slowly revealing the peaks of the Opera House rising like talons out of the bay. Breathtaking. Imagine seeing it from this perch:
Now get back over the bridge and prepare yourself for some serious shopping at Paddy’s Markets (http://www.paddysmarkets.com.au/). You will find hundreds of bargain stalls selling everything you can think of. This is where you will find lots of goodies for the friends back home. Paddy’s is smack dab in the heart of Chinatown as well, so be sure and grab some dim sum or yum cha while you are there.
You will need to spend a day walking all around the Royal Botanical Gardens (http://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/welcome/royal_botanic_garden). Here you will enjoy great views of downtown as well as the view of the bridge and the opera house seen at the beginning of this blog. Be sure to hang out around sunset to see the flying foxes zipping through the air and a cockatoo or two shouting at them. Kinda freaky, but cool.
You will undoubtedly spend plenty of time wandering all around Circular Quay (http://www.sydney.com.au/quay.htm) and the Opera House (http://www.sydneyoperahouse.com). Dining around there is a nice idea, but I recommend getting out of the touristy area for that. You will find plenty of great places nearby over at one of my favorite areas, The Rocks; not a long walk at all. 2 of my faves over that way fight for the title of the oldest pub in Sydney. I like them both! So check out the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel (http://www.lordnelsonbrewery.com/) and the Hero Of Waterloo (http://heroofwaterloo.com.au). You will not be disappointed at either. Although, you can get a Cellar Ghost Tour over at the Waterloo. Just sayin…
If you are able, I highly recommend taking a sailboat out on the harbor, like the Maverick Adventurer does…
Or take a nice little ferry trip to explore the surrounding little cities like Manly. Or just take tons of pictures along the coast, the choice is all yours! You will want to check out all around the Darling Harbour area too (http://www.darlingharbour.com/) which is full of shopping, museums, restaurants, clubs, and attractions of all kinds. Like I said, just waaaaander all over and enjoy!
No matter where you go, you simply must dig into my favorite Aussie food, a tasty meat pie! One filled with Kangaroo is my favorite… Seriously. I always eat some Kangaroo when I’m down undah. I’ve even had kangaroo pizza! One of the classic places to enjoy a meat pie culinary wonder is a famous little place in Woolloomooloo called Harry’s Cafe De Wheels (http://www.harryscafedewheels.com.au). It’s been around continuously (more or less) since the Great Depression and serves up a great “Pie and Peas” or, my favorite, “The Tiger”- named after the owner, Harry “Tiger” Edwards- a chunky beef treat that is topped with mashed potatoes and peas and covered with gravy. Harry’s doesn’t have a kangaroo pie, but trust me, you will find one somewhere for sure and you will thank me.
If you have the time to get out of town a ways, head out to the Blue Mountains (http://www.bluemts.com.au), where you can see the Three Sisters- a natural formation of rocks that the Aboriginal stories say were 3 sisters turned to stone, take a bushwalk, or enjoy the sights from the back of a Harley as I did with a Blue Thunder Motorcycle Tour (http://www.bluethunderdownunder.com.au/. Be sure and take a fly swatter with you, as the flies are absolutely unstoppable and will be all over you all the time. You will suddenly understand the need for a hat with corks dangling off of it.
And/or check out the Hunter Valley wine region (http://www.winecountry.com.au/). Only 2 hours away from Sydney lies the oldest commercial wine-producing area in Australia. A beautiful landscape where you can sip away at some fine wine at dozens and dozens of wineries.
So there you have it. Lots to see, lots to do! Take it all in, enjoy every moment, and know that once you go there, you will most definitely return. One final thing, while in Australia, I just recommend swinging in to a McDonald’s and check out the little differences. I always find it fun to see what the locals do to the most famous of American institutions. Then have a burger somewhere else around town where you will have the options to put all kinds of unfamiliar burger toppings on your creation, such as beetroot, mango, fried eggs, cole slaw, pineapple, etc. Whichever way you go, you can’t lose. But beware, they are super stingy on ketchup. They will charge you per packet. Crazy. Other than that…
Get to Sydney, and good on ya!