- Sydney is Australia’s most populous city, with a population of ~4.6 million
- The city was founded on 26 January, 1788 (now celebrated as Australia Day)
- Sydney’s Harbour is the largest in the world (562 million cubic meters of water)
- Nicknames: Harbour City, Syd, Steak & Kidney, The Emerald City
- Currency: Australian Dollar (AUD)
- Spoken languages: Australian English (an acquired accent, featuring plenty of slang).
- Best time to visit: from November to January (Sydney gets quite cold in the winter)
- Arriving via airport: train is $15 AUD, bus is $12 AUD, taxi is about $40 AUD
WHERE TO STAY
For budget accommodations, look for hostels in the southern part of the CBD (Central Business District) and in Haymarket. Rooms in hostels start at about $25/night. Top-notch hotels can be found in The Rocks, Darling Harbour and at the heart of the CBD.
- Sydney has an extensive rail network, consisting of both skytrains and subway lines. Fares start at $3.20.
- The city’s bus network features several free shuttle loop buses that will take you the most popular attractions. Bus fares start at $2.20.
- Arguably the best way to see Sydney is by boat. There are numerous ferries between key points in the city, with fares starting at $5.80.
- Drinking age is 18, no official last call (nightclubs start closing around 3 AM)
- Hip scene: Darling Harbour is the place to be (some nightclubs stay open until 6 AM).
- Out of town crowd: Bondi Beach is Australia’s most visited beach, and its bars/clubs will appeal to all.
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- The Sydney Opera House is one of the most iconic buildings in the world. A must-see.
- Opened in 1932, the Harbour Bridge is the world’s tallest steel arch bridge (134 meters).
- Darling Harbour is Sydney’s most popular tourist area, featuring restaurants, museums, parks and boardwalk activities.
- The Royal Botanic Gardens cover 30 hectares and overlook the Sydney harbour. Home to over 7000 species of plants, the gardens make for a great picnic location.
- Go for a mid-day stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens.
- Darling Harbour is best seen mid-day, before the hoards of tourists arrive. Walk to the National Maritime Museum and check out the warships on display.
- Balmain’s main street is packed with hundreds of cafes, shops, and restaurants. Take the ferry to east Balmain and walk west towards Rozelle along the famous Darling Street.
- Sydney’s traffic can be frustrating for pedestrians (traffic lights every 200 meters).
- Where to find good cheap eats: hard to find in Sydney (one of the most expensive cities in the world). While cheap food is available (fast food), your best bet for a good meal at a reasonable price is to visit one of Sydney’s many gastropubs.
- Dangerous areas: Sydney is generally very safe. One recommendation is to avoid crowds of drunk youngsters (while harmless, they can be very annoying).
RECOMMENDED SYDNEY GUIDE BOOKS
- DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Sydney
- Backstreet Nomad’s Anti Travel Guide Sydney: See Sydney Like the Locals
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days