Planning a solo trip to Sydney, Australia? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- Sydney is Australia’s most populous city, with a population of around 5.3 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 (AirLink) is $16 AUD, while taxi is about $45-55 AUD.
WHERE TO STAY
- Best hostel for solo travelers in Sydney: The Pacific House. Newly refurbished, this place will blow you away with how clean and comfortable everything is (rooms, common areas, bathrooms, beds, etc.) Friendly staff, and an interesting mix of travelers – great for meeting friends (but not a party hostel). Daily breakfast included. Central location – 20 minute walk to the Opera House.
- For budget accommodations, look for hostels in the southern part of the CBD (Central Business District) and in Haymarket.
- 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.
- Great bars to start your night in Sydney: Tio’s Cerveceria, Shady Pines Saloon. Also check out: Frankie’s Pizza (rock music with pinball machines, great for 4-6 PM happy hour).
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.
- One of the best things you can do is wake up really early and take a sunrise kayak tour under the Harbour Bridge. Check out Sydney by Kayak.
- Go for a mid-day stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens. Guided tours are available; alternatively, you can simply explore yourself.
- 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.
- If you’re into hiking at all, you owe it to yourself to take an overnight trip to Katoomba (Blue Mountains). Takes 2 hours to get there by train, so it’s best to stay overnight to be able to relax and take full advantage of the local trails.
- Catch the ferry to Manly and explore the area – and Manly Beach (beautiful sunsets here).
- Sydney’s traffic can be frustrating for pedestrians (traffic lights every 200 meters).
- Great restaurants to try: Ippudo, Bar Luca (hamburgers), The Spice Room (Indian), Anason (Turkish), Winghaus Barangaroo (gastropub), Bistecca ($$$ – steak), 6HEAD (fine dining – steak), Cirrus Dining ($$$ – seafood), Cafe Sydney ($$$$ – if you’re headed to the Opera afterwards).
- Where to find good cheap eats: hard to find in Sydney (one of the most expensive cities in the world). If you’re really on a budget, get something to go at Aldi (supermarket). Budget picks: hearty ramen at Gumshara, Mappen (Japanese), Maltese pastries at Pastizzi Cafe. Easy mode: do a Google Maps search for the nearest “Banh Mi” (Vietnamese sandwiches) – usually a solid bet in Sydney!
- Dangerous areas: Sydney is generally very safe. One recommendation is to avoid crowds of drunk youngsters (while harmless, they can be very annoying).
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days