Sydney, Australia | Cruise port of call | CruiseBe
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Sydney, Australia

Sydney is known as the Harbour City. It's the largest, oldest and most cosmopolitan city in Australia with an enviable reputation as one of the world's most beautiful and liveable cities.

Brimming with history, nature, culture, art, fashion, cuisine, design, Sydney's set next to miles of ocean coastline and sandy surf beaches. Longterm immigration has led to the cities reputation as one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse cities in Australia and the world. The city is also home to the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, two of the most iconic structures on this planet.

Understand

Sydney is a major global city and one of the most important cities for finance in the Asia-Pacific. The city is surrounded by nature and national parks, which extend through the suburbs and right to the shores of the harbour.

Sydney's 4,757,083 residents (according to a 2013 estimate)... Read more

Sydney, Australia

Destination:

Sydney is known as the Harbour City. It's the largest, oldest and most cosmopolitan city in Australia with an enviable reputation as one of the world's most beautiful and liveable cities.

Brimming with history, nature, culture, art, fashion, cuisine, design, Sydney's set next to miles of ocean coastline and sandy surf beaches. Longterm immigration has led to the cities reputation as one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse cities in Australia and the world. The city is also home to the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, two of the most iconic structures on this planet.

Understand

Sydney is a major global city and one of the most important cities for finance in the Asia-Pacific. The city is surrounded by nature and national parks, which extend through the suburbs and right to the shores of the harbour.

Sydney's 4,757,083 residents (according to a 2013 estimate) sprawl over an area of more than 12,350km². The timezone is identical with the majority of the state of New South Wales: GMT +10. The local timezone is AEST or Australian Eastern Standard Time. The city, as does the rest of the state, observes Daylight Savings time from October to April each year.

Sydney became the centre of the world's attention in September 2000 when the city hosted the Summer Olympics - officially announced by the IOC Chairman at the closing Ceremony to be the "the best games ever"! The Olympics saw a major building and renovation program take hold of Sydney, positioning it as one of the great world cities of the 21st century. Sydney continues to attract and host large international events.

Climate

Under the Köppen–Geiger classification, Sydney has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) with warm summers, cool winters and uniform rainfall throughout the year. Despite the city's reputation of abundant sunshine, Sydney experiences wet and often overcast conditions throughout the summer, leading to high humidity and cloudy skies. Alternately, the city actually experiences higher sunshine levels throughout winter and spring, keeping conditions cool but comfortable. At Sydney's primary weather station at Observatory Hill, extreme temperatures have ranged from 45.8 °C (114.4 °F) on 18 January 2013 to 2.1 °C (35.8 °F) on 22 June 1932. An average of 14.9 days a year have temperatures at or above 30 °C (86 °F) in the CBD. In contrast, the metropolitan area averages between 35 and 65 days, depending on the suburb. The highest minimum temperature recorded at Observatory Hill is 27.6 °C (82 °F), in February 2011 while the lowest maximum temperature is 7.7 °C (46 °F), recorded in July 1868.

The weather is moderated by proximity to the ocean, and more extreme temperatures are recorded in the inland western suburbs. Sydney experiences an urban heat island effect. This makes certain parts of the city more vulnerable to extreme heat, including coastal suburbs. In late spring and summer, temperatures over 35 °C (95 °F) are not uncommon, though hot, dry conditions are usually ended by a southerly buster. This powerful storm brings gale winds and rapid fall in temperature, followed by brief heavy rain and thunder. The far-western suburbs, which border the Blue Mountains, experience a Föhn-like wind in the warm months that originates from the Central Tablelands. Due to the inland location, frost is recorded in Western Sydney a few times in winter. Autumn and spring are the transitional seasons, with spring showing a larger temperature variation than autumn.

The rainfall has a moderate to low variability and it is spread through the months, but is slightly higher during the first half of the year. From 1990–1999, Sydney received around 20 thunderstorms per year. In late autumn and winter, east coast lows may bring large amounts of rainfall, especially in the CBD. Depending on the wind direction, summer weather may be humid or dry, with the late summer/autumn period having a higher average humidity and dewpoints than late spring/early summer. In summer, most rain falls from thunderstorms and in winter from cold fronts. Snowfall was last reported in the Sydney City area in 1836, while a fall of graupel, or soft hail, mistaken by many for snow, in July 2008, has raised the possibility that the 1836 event was not snow, either.

The city is rarely affected by cyclones, although remnants of ex-cyclones do affect the city. The El Niño–Southern Oscillation plays an important role in determining Sydney's weather patterns: drought and bushfire on the one hand, and storms and flooding on the other, associated with the opposite phases of the oscillation. Many areas of the city bordering bushland have experienced bushfires, these tend to occur during the spring and summer. The city is also prone to severe storms. One such storm was the 1999 hailstorm, which produced massive hailstones up to 9 cm (3.5 in) in diameter.

The Bureau of Meteorology has reported that 2002 through 2005 were the warmest summers in Sydney since records began in 1859. The summer of 2007–08, however, proved to be the coolest since 1996–97 and is the only summer this century to be at or below average in temperatures. In 2009, dry conditions brought a severe dust storm towards eastern Australia.

The average annual temperature of the sea ranges from 18.5 °C (65.3 °F) in September to 23.7 °C (74.7 °F) in February.

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Sydney, Australia: Port Information


Cruise ships generally dock at the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay or at the new (Dec 2013) White Bay Cruise Terminal to the west of the old Darling Harbour facility it replaced.

Circular Quay is a spectacular and convenient place to dock, next to the Harbour Bridge and just west of the Sydney Opera House. You can walk off the ship into the city centre and The Rocks or to the Circular Quay Train Station.

White Bay in the Inner West is a new wharf for passenger arrivals on cruise ships that are able to sail under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The best access to this terminal is via taxi from Central or Town Hall railway stations (approx A$20 as at November 2014), or via a shuttle bus. Most cruise lines will have airport or Central railway station buses available for a fee (P&O A$30pp to Central as at November 2014). There can be a long wait for a taxi back to the city. This area is closed to the public during non cruise days. Note that there is no convenient public transportation and no long term parking or hire car facilities available at White Bay Cruise Terminal. Cruise ship passengers departing from White Bay may have a spectacular view of Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House on the sail away.

Recently some cruises have been anchored off Taronga Zoo on the North Shore and the passengers tendered to Circular Quay (a sight not seen in Sydney for many years previously). If this happens to you, your tender will drop you at the Overseas Passenger Terminal to complete immigration, etc.

Get around Sydney, Australia


By public transport

The public transport system consists of commuter rail, bus, ferry and light rail. Combined, they can get you virtually anywhere in the metropolitan area.

Transport Infoline ☎ 13 15 00 provides information on fares and route planning for all public transport in Sydney 24/7.

TransitShops, Circular Quay (cnr of Loftus & Alfred Streets), Wynyard under Wynyard Park, QVB west has information on fares and route planning for all public transport in Sydney, together with ticket sales and accepts credit cards.

  • TripGo & TripView are free iPhone, iPad & Android Apps that provide directions for all transport modes around Sydney, Newcastle, the Blue Mountains & Woollongong. They show cost, time and carbon output for each trip.

As of 2012, Google Maps can also be used to plan Sydney public transport routes.

Public transport in Sydney has historically been poorly integrated and the ticket system can be confusing, though this has been alleviated somewhat with the introduction of the Opal Card (see below). Alternatively, one can purchase individual tickets to access each mode of transport or you can buy a MyMulti ticket which is explained below. If in doubt check with a driver or station attendant as transit officers do not accept any excuses and you'll be stuck with a $200 fine.

By train

Sydney has a vast suburban rail network operated by Sydney Trains, covering 882km of track and 176 stations. The train network will take passengers to most of the metropolitan area, with the exception of the north-west and northern beaches. Trains service every station in the metropolitan area at least every 30 minutes (except for the Carlingford line) Frequency is higher in the city, and major centres (Chatswood, Parramatta, Bondi Junction, etc) usually see a train every 10 minutes or so. Peak times (7AM-9:30AM and 4:30PM-7PM) have more frequent and also crowded trains, as well as some express services that skip more stations. Expect congestion around Central and Town Hall.

There are different styles and ages of trains running on the network. Most often, you will get a clean modern train, air-conditioned with comfortable seating and clear station announcements. Alternatively, you could get a train like a sauna packed in like sardines in the summer afternoon peak, with station announcements that are barely audible, if at all. Prepare yourself with a network map and a bottle of cold water, just in case.

Most train services do not stop at every station and do not travel to the furthest extent of the line. Look at the departure screens at the station concourse which indicate when the next train will arrive, its destination, the platform it will depart from, and the stations it will stop at. Alternatively, you can also listen to announcements that will regularly play before and when a train arrives at the platform. Or if you have mobile Internet services use the Transport Info trip planner.

Outside of operating hours, between midnight (1AM on Fridays and Saturdays) and 5AM, NightRide buses run at least every hour. Any train ticket is valid for the equivalent NightRide bus except a single. If you have no ticket, you must buy a NightRide single from the driver, which is more expensive than a single for the train. NightRide buses stop at most stations and a few additional stops, but they do not travel on the same routes. If you intend catching a NightRide bus home, check the NightRide route map on the back cover of each timetable, or with the Transport Infoline. Buses can be crowded on Friday and Saturday nights.

By bus

Sydney has an extensive bus network, including a some free shuttle loop buses in the Sydney CBD and Parramatta and other centres. Some buses run from distant suburbs such as those on the Northern Beaches and North West all the way to the city, but there are also shorter feeders to suburban rail stations from surrounding suburbs. Buses are operated by the government-owned Sydney Buses in the inner suburbs bounded by Miranda in the South, Bankstown in the South-West, Parramatta in the west, Beecroft in the North-West and Palm Beach in the North. Outside of these area, various privately owned companies are contracted by the government to operate public bus services.

It is a good idea to plan your bus trips in advance where possible. The Sydney Buses website has a helpful trip planner feature to assist you, as well as route maps and schedules to print.

Most bus stops have timetables posted, as well as a route map for the routes servicing that bus stop.

You must flag down buses with an outstretched hand if you want them to stop for you and you must press the STOP button on board to disembark. They will not automatically stop unless they are signalled to do so.

On most buses there is nothing on the bus to tell you which stop you are approaching or which stop you are at. There are no poster maps on the bus either. If you are not sure where you are getting off, pick up or print out the timetable (found on the Sydney Buses website), which has a route map on it and watch for landmarks as you pass. Also, if you take a bus marked "Limited Stops" or "Express" (the route number will start with an L or an X), make sure that the bus stops where you want it to. Limited stops services stop only at major stops so they may make you walk around 750 metres or so if they skip your stop. However, express services can run very far from the city without stopping at all, before resuming a normal stopping pattern (express buses only operate during peak hours). All normally numbered buses stop at all stops, so missing your stop or getting off one stop early is a less serious mistake. Red Metrobuses (routes numbers starting with M) are longer route, cross city buses, running at 10-20 minute frequencies during their operational hours. These buses also have a screen displaying the next stop and onboard announcements as well. Metrobus stops usually have a name on top of the stand which easily indicates a Metrobus services the particular stop.

There are two main bus termination points in the CBD, at Wynyard and Circular Quay. These two points are separated by a one-stop commuter train trip. You will need to make this trip if connecting from buses arriving from north of the harbour bridge to buses heading east or west, or vice versa. Bus information centres are located at both Wynyard and Circular Quay.

By Sydney ferries

  • Sydney Ferries' central hub is at Circular Quay at the north of the CBD. Ferries run up the Parramatta River via Balmain and Olympic Park, across to Luna Park, around to Darling Harbour, and out to Manly, across to the Zoo and to Watsons Bay. Also, they also go to Garden island and Cockatoo Island. They run only within the harbour, so you can't get a ferry to Bondi. Ferries run to most destinations at least every hour, with additional peak services, and half hourly services to Manly and Darling Harbour.

At Circular Quay and Darling Harbour, each wharf has a large screen showing ferry departures and general information. Find your destination on the screen which shows when your ferry service is departing and from which wharf.

More than just a utilitarian means of transport, the ferries are a great way to see the harbourside. The best ferry excursion for visitors is from Circular Quay to Manly. Be prepared to take a stunning photograph of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge as you leave Circular Quay.

Trips to Balmain and Darling Harbour offer other great excuses to take a ferry trip under the Harbour Bridge.

At peak periods the Parramatta River ferries can fill to capacity, and you should ensure that you have an alternative for completing your trip. Passenger counts are strictly enforced. Peak periods are weekends around 4PM-6PM at Parramatta and Circular Quay, and school holiday weekdays 4PM-6PM at Darling Harbour (heading to Parramatta) (you are okay if you board at Circular Quay, where the ferry originates). The Manly and inner-harbour ferries can get busy, but it is very rare that they reach capacity.

If you don't have a Multi ticket, you can buy single trip tickets or ten trip tickets. There are two fare bands, MyFerry1 ($5.60/$2.80) and MyFerry2 ($7/$3.50) for trips under 10km and trips over 10km respectively. You can buy single and ten trip ferry tickets from ferry ticket machines, ferry ticket offices, and onboard the ferry. MyFerry1 will get you anywhere to the east of the Harbour Bridge except Manly, which is a MyFerry2. Ten trip tickets offer a 20% discount over single tickets. Most ferry wharves do not have a ticket machine (particularly the Inner Harbour and Eastern Suburbs wharves). Instead, you must purchase your ferry ticket onboard or on arrival at Circular Quay or Darling Harbour (located before the ticket barriers).

By Sydney and Manly fast ferries

Sydney Fast Ferries and Manly Fast Ferries run a competing services against the government owned Sydney Ferries. Both Sydney Fast Ferries and Manly Fast Ferries runs a service between Circular Quay and Manly.

Multi tickets are not valid on these services, and they issue their own tickets.

By light rail

There's a single 7km light rail line in Sydney which is useful for travelling between Sydney City and western Darling Harbour, the casino, and Pyrmont, and runs from Central to Dulwich Hill

If you don't have a Multi, tickets are distance based in two zones. You buy your ticket on the tram, there are no machines or ticket offices. If you are connecting from a train you can buy a combined ticket directly to a tram stop. However, this is no cheaper than buying your ticket on the tram.

You can buy a day ($9) or weekly ($22) travelcard just for the light rail. The light rail is convenient for western Darling Harbour and its sights, but you will most likely use it a lot less than other forms of transport.

Access

Some suburban train stations are easy access, with lifts to all platforms and ramps operated by station staff to allow wheelchair access to trains. Some buses have disabled access. All light rail stations have lifts and level access to the car. Station facilities and bus times are available from the transport infoline, online or by phone.

By car

Car Hire

There is numerous choice for car rental from Sydney airport and Sydney CBD. The majors with desks at the airport terminal and vehicles parked within a walking distance from the airport terminal are the following:

  • Redspot
  • Apex
  • Avis
  • Hertz
  • Europcar
  • Webjet Car Hire

There are also a number of choices for car rental in Sydney not located within the airport vicinity, but offer more competitive rates:

  • Bayswater Car Rental
  • East Coast Car Rentals

Minibus Hire

If you are in a group, you may need to hire a minibus. Minibuses have 8, 12 and 21 seat options. 8 & 12 seat minibuses can be driven with a regular driver's licence. Most minibus companies offer pickup and drop off at Sydney Airport using a "meet & greet" service:

  • Sydney Minibus Hire
  • Sydney Bus Hire

Travel times and routes

Sydney traffic is always busy, but outside of peak weekday times travelling by car is usually at least as quick as any method of public transport. Congestion can be expected on roads to the city 6:30AM-9:30AM, and roads away from the city 4:30PM-6:30PM. Allow double the normal travel time during these periods - longer if you are using motorways. Congestion is considerably worse and longer in both directions during the Friday afternoon peak, or when there are special events such as Vivid Sydney or State of Origin rugby matches. Some roads experience congestion at other times and roads heading to shopping, sports, parks and beaches can be heavily congested on weekends also - particularly on Saturday mornings and Saturday evenings. Roads around Bondi Beach and the other eastern suburbs beaches experience gridlock on summer weekends, with buses often caught in the same traffic as cars.

Roads are generally well signposted to the next major suburb or suburbs along the route. Only a handful of cross-city 'A' and 'B' roads are signposted by number. The airport is signposted from many major routes with an aeroplane symbol.

Travel times from the city centre to the Sydney outskirts can take around an hour in good traffic.

Tolls

Some motorways, tunnels and bridges charge tolls.

As of July 1, 2013, you can no longer pay in cash anywhere on the Sydney Orbital Network. There is no toll payable on the Eastern Distributor heading away from the city towards the airport. The Harbour Bridge and Tunnel, Cross City Tunnel, Lane Cove Tunnel, M7, M5, and the Falcon Street northbound motorway entrance only use electronic tolling and if you use these you need to decide how you will pay the toll. You can easily avoid the Lane Cove Tunnel, M7 or Falcon Street on-ramp, however, it is hard to avoid the harbour crossings if you are going to Manly, the Northern Beaches or the zoo by car.

Your choice is to have a pass or a tag.

  • A pass (also called an e-pass) is the simplest way to pay tolls. Just register your licence plate and credit card up to 48 hours after travelling on a toll road and tolls will be deducted automatically from your card. The Sydney Motorways website provides links to pass providers. The cost is $1.50 to register online, and 75c on top of each toll as a processing charge. Make sure you enter the dates you will be in charge of the car, so you don't end up paying for someone else's toll.
  • A tag (also called an E-tag) is a transponder stuck to the inside of your windscreen. You can purchase a visitor's tag from any motor registry before travelling on a toll road for $5 and set up an account linked to your credit card. Allow about 30 minutes at the registry to sort it all out. It is worthwhile considering only if you are staying in Sydney for a while or travelling on toll roads in Melbourne and Brisbane as well. You will end up ahead only if you need to pay six or more toll charges.

A capital 'E' marked on the lane indicates it accepts a tag and a lower case 'e' indicates it accepts a pass.

Not paying a toll incurs a $10-$15 administration fee in additional to the toll. If you are in a rental car, the rental car company will charge an additional fee for this to your credit card.

Some rental car companies, for example Avis, supply an etag with each car, and a service fee for each day it is used. You have no option to buy your pass or tag. Others, for example Bayswater, give you an option to rent one from them for a fixed fee, and you have a choice to obtain your own pass as an alternative. Check with your rental company.

Parking

Parking your car in the City Centre in parking stations is always possible but very expensive. Expect to pay up to $70 per day or $25 per hour at some central parking lots and around $30 even with specials on weekdays. Prices generally reduce significantly on weekends however, and you may only pay $15 - $20 or so for a full day's parking. Reduced parking charges are also made for early bird parking, where you must enter and leave within prescribed times. For example you can park all day at the Opera House for $16 provides you enter before 10AM and leave 3PM-7PM. There is no grace period, so you cannot get out even one minute before 3PM, and you will be charged the day parking rate of $42 if you are 10 seconds late. Most city parking lots offer reduced flat fees (around $15-$25) for evening and weekend parking.

Street parking in the CBD is generally only possible before 8AM and after 6:30PM. on weekdays and, even then, is almost invariably metered until 10PM at $2.20-3.30 per hour. On weekends, most parking spaces have a 4 hour limit, again metered at $1.10-2.20 per hour. All day street spots are sometimes available in the Domain/Mrs Macquarie's Chair and Hickson Road, but these spots are often taken up by commuters, and, since they are metered, an early bird deal may work out cheaper than the metered rate. Parking meters increasingly accept credit card payment, but have cash just in case. Similar prices are charged in North Sydney.

City hotels invariably charge for parking for the guests.

Parking in many major suburban centres and beaches can be a matter of spending time cruising and searching for parking spots. Usually parking within easy walking distance of these centres has a time limit restriction - often 2-3 hours. Shopping mall car parks usually have a similar restriction.

Some train stations have all day free commuter parking. At major stations, this can be full before 8AM. Smaller stations with less frequent train service tend to have better parking availability. On weekends it is easy to find a spot in the commuter parking lots. The stations with commuter parking are marked on rail maps.

Parking at some beaches, on summer weekends, can often be almost impossible. Some beaches are in suburban neighbourhoods, without large car parking facilities. Check the appropriate destination guides for more information.

Parking fines in Sydney are $88 if you exceed the allowed parking time or don't pay the fee in a legitimate parking space. Reloading the meter or moving your car within the same parking zone will not get you out of a fine. Parking in a no stopping zone will cost you more. If you park illegally and wait with your car, you may find you have the licence place photographed and fined before you have the chance to move on - don't expect a warning. If you park illegally in a disabled spot, the fine is $441. If you do get fined for exceeding time, you will not be fined again the same day.

Clearways are no-stopping zones on main roads during peak periods, marked with clearway signs and a broken yellow line on the kerb. Fines will be around $400 to reclaim your car after it is towed away. Clearways also offer parking opportunities if you want to park just after 10AM.

By taxi

Taxis are a convenient way to get around Sydney. They can also be the only transport option available to some locations late at night when the trains and regular buses stop.

It is usually easy enough to flag a taxi down at the kerb in the CBD, or catch one at taxi ranks located in most suburban centres. The availability of a taxi is indicated by an illuminated "taxi" sign positioned on top of the vehicle. If the light is on, it is available for hire; if the light is off, the cab is occupied. You can also book a taxi by calling one of the taxi companies or booking online.

By bike

If you are a fit and experienced urban cyclist, used to riding on multi-lane roads in heavy traffic, then just get on your bike. Cyclists are permitted just about everywhere on Sydney's roads, except for of some freeway tunnels where bicycle signs will usually direct you to the alternative route. Kerbside lanes are often narrow, so ride assertively, be seen, and take the full lane when you know there is insufficient room to be passed. Bikes are permitted in bus lanes (like the city streets), but not bus only lanes (like the harbour bridge, and T-ways).

The city centre is not particularly cyclist friendly traffic-wise. It is not flat either - you can expect regular hills but no marathon uphill climbs. The weather is, however, usually good for cycling.

If you are looking for a quieter ride, a number of quiet on-road and shared pedestrian/cycle paths are available, but can be hard to find. A good place to start is at Sydney Olympic Park where you can get your cycle legs on the extensive off-road trails; then, if you want to, you can follow off-road/quiet road trails out to Parramatta or following the Cooks River to Botany Bay in Southern Sydney. The Harbour Bridge has a dedicated cycle lane, suitable for all ages, but as soon as you get off the bridge you are back onto urban streets in Milsons Point.

The Bourke St cycleway is a newly opened north-south route in the the City East and a cruisy place to cycle between Woolloomooloo, Darlinghurst and Surry Hills. Lots of shade and cafes to break the trip. Some other separated cycleways have opened in the City centre, but they are yet to form a cohesive network, and your trip may easily end up on a busy and unforgiving city road if you haven't planned well in advance.

Other cycleways are often just converted footpaths, so be on the lookout for bollards, street signs, roots and branches strategically placed across cycle paths - as well as pedestrians. If cycling at night ensure you have lights bright enough to light your path.

What to see in Sydney, Australia


Sydney is one of those cities that invites tourists to custom-design their sightseeing. Unlike many cities throughout the world, Sydney is not a city where people come to see "X" or experience "Y." That's because Sydney is home to museums, cafes and restaurants, shopping and historical sites. It can be explored both on foot and via the water. While all of Sydney has sights worth visiting, much of its glory is housed in the City Centre. Here, visitors can choose to start their visit with a journey back in time at The Rocks, site of the first European settlement in Australia.

If you want to learn more about Australia's past, present and future, you can visit the multitude of museums found in City Centre. Some museums are free to enter year-round while others charge admission.

The Sydney Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House are two of Sydney's famous landmarks that can be visited when exploring Sydney on foot. While these are two of the best-known landmarks, Sydney's City Centre has a host of less famous buildings and structures that are worth a visit.

Australia is nothing if not renowned for its vast and unique variety of wildlife. There are numerous opportunities to spot birds, bats, opossums and the occasional kangaroo or wallaby in Sydney's national parks. The only trick is that most of these animals are primarily spotted at sunrise and sunset when the weather is coolest. Those wishing to guarantee animal sightings can head to the Taronga Zoo in the Lower North Shore or the Wild Life Sydney Zoo in Darling Harbor. Darling Harbor is also home to the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium. The aquarium offers visitors an opportunity to truly see life "down under", down under the water anyway.

For a different type of animal sighting, visitors can head to Sydney's Eastern Suburbs to find the famous Bondi Beach. This beach attracts thousands of visitors every year, making it a great place for people watching.

After exploring Sydney by land, stop by Sydney Harbor to explore it by water. Ferries, cruises and whale watching excursions depart regularly from this part of Sydney.

Landmarks

  • The Sydney Harbour Bridge crosses the harbour from the The Rocks to North Sydney. There are many different experiences centred around the bridge. You can walk or cycle across, picnic under, or climb over the Harbour Bridge. See the details in The Rocks.
  • The Sydney Opera House. The Sydney Opera House is simply one of the most famous structures ever built. It is in the city centre.
  • Darling Harbour is a large entertainment precinct and includes a range of activities, restaurants, museums and shopping facilities.
  • Sydney Olympic Park. Home of the 2000 Olympics and now parklands and sporting facilities.
  • Luna Park, 1 Olympic Dr, Milson's Point, tel. 02 9033 7676. Is a large theme park situated near the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Its mouth-shaped entrance can be seen from many areas of Sydney as well as the large Ferris Wheel.
  • Sydney Tower also called Centrepoint Tower or AMP Tower. The tallest structure in Sydney, the tower contains a buffet, cafe and a rather large restaurant and attracts many visitors a year. The tower is in the City Centre
  • St Mary's Cathedral. Sydney's main catholic cathedral. Corner of St Mary's Road and College St. The cathedral is in the City Centre.
  • Royal Botanic Gardens- The Royal Botanic Gardens were first established in Sydney by Governor Bligh in 1816. The gardens cover 30 hectares and adjoin the 35 hectares making up the Domain, there are over 7500 species of plants represented here. The gardens are at the north eastern corner of the City Centre and overlook Sydney harbour.

Historical areas

  • The Rocks has sites preserved from Sydney's early settlement.
  • Parramatta to the west of Sydney is the site of many of Sydney's oldest buildings from colonial times.
  • Macquarie Street in the City has a string of historical sites, from the first hospital in the colony, to the Mint to Hyde Park Barracks, to the Conservatorium which was the original government house stables. Sydney Hospital was first known as "The Rum Hospital", it was the first major building established in the colony.
  • La Perouse, near Botany Bay, in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs contains the grave of an early French explorer, museum, and old fort.
  • The walk from Manly to Middle Head passes many coastal artillery fortifications built into the cliffs of Sydney Harbour during the late nineteenth century.
  • Mrs Macquarie's Chair and walk near the Botanical Gardens in the City
  • Anzac War Memorial at the eastern end of Hyde Park in the City Centre. The memorial commemorates the memory of those Australians who lost their lives during war. It houses a small museum, an impressive statue and the Pool of Remembrance. Sydney's Anzac War Memorial was built in the 1930s.

Museums and galleries

Some of Sydney's museums are free to enter including the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Museum of Contemporary Art. You may be charged to enter certain exhibitions. Sydney Museums generally do not have 'free days' that you can find in other parts of the world but some historic houses may be free on certain public holidays, though tend to attract large crowds.

  • The Australian Museum is much the old style natural history museum. Usually a special exhibition on as well. The museum is near Hyde Park in City Centre.
  • The Australian National Maritime Museum has inside and outside exhibitions - much of the history of Australia is a maritime one, and much of it is in this museum in Darling Harbour.
  • The Art Gallery of NSW has mostly classical, but some modern and Aboriginal art. Near the Botanical Gardens in the city centre.
  • The Powerhouse Museum has some buttons to push, some technology, but some interesting displays of Sydney in the 1900s, in the City West in Ultimo, right on the boundary with Darling Harbour. Exhibits designed for children also.
  • The Museum of Contemporary Art in the city centre, near Circular Quay.
  • The Museum of Sydney in the city centre.

Or see one of the smaller chic Art Galleries in East Sydney.

Wildlife

In captivity

  • Taronga Zoo Large zoo whose animals have the best view in the world, a short ferry trip from the City on the North Shore.
  • The Koala Park Sanctuary in the Outer West.
  • Sydney Aquarium in Darling Harbour.
  • Sydney Wildlife World' adjacent to the aquarium in Darling Harbour.
  • Featherdale Wildlife Park in Western Sydney

and just out of Sydney, the

  • Australian Reptile Park, about an hour north of Sydney, has kangaroos, wallabies, dingos, and more.
  • Symbio Park in Helensburgh.

In the wild

  • Whale Watching see whales migrating the Pacific coast. There are boats from Darling Harbour or Circular Quay.
  • Bats (Flying foxes) nest next to the fernery in the Botanic Gardens in the city, and fly to feed over the city buildings and Harbour Bridge at dusk, you can see them on the eastern side of the Opera House at sunset.
  • Rainbow Lorikeets swarm around the trees in many suburbs at dusk, making a tremendous chatter Sulphur Crested Cockatoos are commonly seen in the leafier suburbs all day.
  • Ibis are an unusual wader bird, that has made its home in the suburbs, especially in Hyde Park in the city
  • Possums are a native marsupial at home in the urban environment. Look up carefully in tree lined streets, or in Hyde Park after dark. Locals regard these critters as somewhat of a nuisance as they have a habit of nesting in the warmth of house roofs and love to brawl noisily at about 2am above your bedroom.
  • Kangaroos & Wallabies. These can be spotted with patience in most of the Sydney National Parks, including the Royal National Park, ask the local rangers where they tend to be seen in the late afternoons. This is a great way to experience Australia’s native wildlife in their natural habitat compared to seeing these amazing animals confined in zoos, but requires considerably more time and patience.

Sydney Harbour

Sydney's large natural harbour was the reason that the original penal settlement was established in the area, near what is now known as Circular Quay. It is now well developed, with skyscrapers, highrises, and houses all around its shores, but it is still very beautiful.

The harbour is served by ferry services that transport passengers around the harbour. An excellent way to see both the harbour and Sydney attractions is to take a ferry east from Circular Quay to Taronga Zoo or Manly or west under the Harbour Bridge towards Parramatta. These are reasonably priced and a favourite for tourists. If time is short, for a shorter route, the ferry between Circular Quay and Darling Harbour will let you ride under the Harbour Bridge and see the central part of the harbour.

Catch a ferry from Circular Quay to Manly. Before returning to the Sydney CBD, walk from the Manly ferry wharf along the Manly Corso to famous Manly Beach. A great day, afternoon or evening out at a fraction of the price of a commercial harbour cruise.

You can take a cruise on Sydney Harbour. There are many cruises to choose from and they depart from Darling Harbour or Circular Quay. For a bigger adrenalin rush, try the jet boats that zip around the harbour at breakneck speeds.

Sydney Harbour can be viewed from the city or from on of the many walks next to it, most of which are easily accessible by ferry or bus.

The world famous Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race begins every year on Boxing Day, on Sydney Harbour. Thousands of spectator craft take to the water to farewell the yachts as they set off on their grueling journey to Hobart. Seaworthy craft can follow the yachts through the Sydney Heads into the open ocean. You can also see the race from a harbour vantage point like Watsons Bay. where you can see them sail towards you across the harbour, and then cross to the gap to see them sail down the coast.

You can visit the Harbour Islands by ferry or water taxi.

Swing by the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Art Gallery of New South Wales on the edge of the gardens. While you're in the area visit Mrs Macquarie's Chair for a picture postcard view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House in one picture. You may have to compete with the numerous wedding couples on weekends.

  • Scenic Flights Adventures and Flight Training, +61 2 9791 0643 (contact@redbaron.com.au). A fantastic way to see Sydney Harbour is from the air. Red Baron Adventures do scenic flights over Sydney Harbour and the Northern Beaches most days of the year (weather permitting) in an open cockpit Pitts Special bi-plane. They also have heart stopping Aerobatic Flights available for the more adventurous (note: these are not done over Sydney Harbour). Flights range from $440 to $660 and go for between 45 min and 80 minutes.

Aboriginal Sydney

Far from being confined to the inland areas, Aboriginal people extensively occupied the Sydney area prior to the arrival of European settlers.

  • Rock Carvings, can be seen in the Royal National Park - catch the train and ferry to Cronulla and Bundeena. There are extensive carvings in Kuringai National Park, near West Head that are accessible only by car. Closer to the city, there are examples at Balls Head and Berry Island, near to Wollstonecraft station. There is an interpretive walk at Berry Island.
  • Meeting of Civilisations. Interpretive centre is at the site of the landing place of Captain Cook, at Kurnell.
  • Bangarra Dance Theatre, is a modern dance company, inspired by indigenous Australian themes.
  • Aboriginal Art. A wander through The Rocks and you will find many places exhibiting and selling contemporary Aboriginal art. The Art Gallery of New South Wales the City Centre has an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Gallery, which is free to visit.

What to do in Sydney, Australia


  • Rockfish Catamaran Hire (Rockfish Sailing), 2 Lee Street (Nr Central station), ☎ 0292117900. Rockfish offers charter hire for catamaran cruises on Sydney Harbour.  

Swim

  • Swim at one of Sydney's many surf beaches. Try Bondi, Manly, Coogee, Cronulla or Wattamolla, or get off the tourist trail at one of the other beaches in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs or Northern Beaches.

Cycle

  • Cycle around Centennial Park in the Eastern Suburbs or Bicentennial Park at Sydney Olympic Park

Kayak and Canoe

Sydney's Waterways offer great canoeing and kayaking, and you can explore Sydney's bushland, history, and exclusive waterfront properties. There are lots of places to hire them from, or to even go on a guided tour.

  • The Spit or Manly to Kayak the Harbour.
  • Lane Cove National Park and the Royal National Park have canoes and kayaks by the hour - see turtles and birdlife as you paddle
  • You can paddle on the Georges River from Wororora, or the Port Hacking river from Bundeena.

Surf

  • Surf at one of Sydney's many surf beaches, a quintessentially Australian experience. Try Bondi, Manly, Coogee, Cronulla or Wattamolla. The major beaches (Bondi, Manly) have surf schools and places where you can rent surfboards. Sydney Surfboard Rental and Hire offers boards for hire.

Fish

  • If you've got the time and inclination, Sydney offers decent fishing during the warmer months. It's not recommended to fish in Sydney Harbour due to pollution. Do NOT eat fish caught in the harbour, it has been found Sydney Harbour fish are tainted with dioxin which is harmful to humans. However signing up with a fishing charter to take you out of the Harbour into open water, Middle Harbour or Pittwater is a rewarding experience. You'll likely catch something of decent size and even if you don't, being out on a boat in Sydney is one of the great Sydney experiences in the warmer months (if you can afford it).

Sports fixtures

  • Winter: The winter football season generally begins with trial matches in February, before the season proper kicks off in March and runs to late September or early October. Sydney's most popular winter football code is rugby league (often just called 'football' or 'footy' by locals - although never just 'rugby', which refers to rugby union). Nine teams from the national competition are based in Sydney and the sport is an important part of the city's culture - many teams play at least some of their games at intimate grounds in their suburban heartlands, and this can be a good way to experience the traditional heart of the sport. There are also State of Origin games, where the best of New South Wales and Queensland players are matched against each other. This is significantly rougher. Other major sporting teams playing in Sydney over the winter are the Sydney Swans and Greater Western Sydney Giants (AFL), the NSW Waratahs (rugby union) and the Sydney Swifts (Netball).
  • Summer: Sydney's primary summer sport is cricket, which you'll find being played (in somewhat modified form) on beaches and in backyards across the city. The professional stuff is largely based at the Sydney Cricket Ground close to the CBD: the traditional New Year's Test, between the Australian team and whichever foreign team is touring at the time, commences around the 3rd of January and runs for four to five days. Later in the summer, international one-day and/or Twenty20 matches are held at the SCG.

The primary domestic tournaments, contested between Australian state teams, are the Sheffield Shield (first-class), Ford Ranger Cup (one-day) and KFC Big Bash (Twenty20): they are usually sparsely attended and so are much cheaper to attend than internationals. Some one-day and Twenty20 matches are played at ANZ Stadium at Olympic Park rather than at the SCG, but the cavernous stadium is far inferior to the grand old ground if you really want to get a feel for cricket culture. Australia's professional Assoication Footbal tournament, the A-League, runs over the summer. Sydney has 2 teams; Sydney FC, who play at the Sydney Football Stadium and Western Sydney Wanderers who play at Parramatta stadium.

Walk

Sydney has a huge amount of green space, much of it beside the sparkling harbour or ocean, so walking is a great way to experience the city's parks, reserves and remnant bushland. There are also great walks through the more built-up areas, allowing you to check out the city's modern architecture and its colonial heritage. The following are just a few of the better-known routes.

  • Across the Harbour Bridge from The Rocks on the south side to Milsons Point on the north side (or vice versa).
  • Coogee Beach to Bondi. Following the eastern coastline past several of Sydney's beautiful beaches - stop off for a swim if you get too hot.
  • Manly to the Spit. Along the foreshore of Sydney Harbour.
  • Bradleys Head. Take a ferry to Taronga Zoo wharf and then head to your right along the promontory. There's pristine bushland (almost unchanged from the time of European colonisation), quiet beaches, and knockout views across the harbour, and in the warmer months you'll spot plenty of Eastern Water Dragons, a type of large lizard. Once you reach the tip of the headland, you can either amble back to the wharf or - if you're feeling more ambitious - follow the track several more kilometres to Clifton Gardens, ogling the gigantic houses along the way. From there, you can either hike all the way back to Taronga or get a bus to a ferry wharf.
  • Circular Quay and surrounds. Start underneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge, then walk past The Rocks, Circular Quay, the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Botanic Gardens and Mrs Macquarie's Chair. For an extended tour of the city centre, covering these and other major sights, see Walking tour of Sydney.
  • The Colony Walk. The way of the earliest European colonists.

Skate

Sydney has four indoor ice skating centres in the suburbs. The closest to the city centre is:

  • Macquarie Ice Rink. Macquarie Ice Rink is in the vast expanse of Macquarie Shopping Centre in North Ryde. Activities include training sessions, birthday parties and casual visits. Skates are available for hire (usually a bit worn and not necessarily sharp), or bring your own. Phone to enquire about public session times as the ice is shared between many other users (like hockey teams) and may not be available for the whole day. It is located within a 2 minute walk from Macquarie University railway station.

But there are three others; one near Canterbury station, one west of Liverpool and one next to Norwest in North West Sydney.

Performing Arts

Sydney has three theatres which show major international productions, the Capitol Theatre in Haymarket, the Theatre Royal under the MLC Centre in the CBD and the Lyric Theatre in Star City in Pyrmont Bay. Usually one of the latest theatre blockbusters will be on show at these theatres. Slightly more on the cutting edge, with more locally produced drama can be found at the Sydney Theatre Company, in Walsh Bay in The Rocks, or occasionally at the Opera House Drama Theatre. Similar productions are often on at the Seymour Centre next to Sydney University just off Broadway on City Road. Smaller theatres, some with lesser known performers, featuring new and local writers can be harder to find. Try the Belvoir St Theatre in Surry Hills in City East, or the Newtown Theatre in the Inner West. Amateur theatre, especially musical theatre, proliferates in Sydney, with over 30 amateur musical theatre companies providing a fun night of theatre for around $20 per ticket in the suburbs. Check the Riverside Theatre in Parramatta, the Zenith Theatre in Chatswood on the Lower North Shore, or the Sutherland Entertainment Centre in Sutherland.

For classical music fans, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra plays at the Opera House and at Angel Place Recital Hall. If the Sydney Symphony aren't playing, the Recital Hall may have other performances of interest. Conservatorium of Music often hosts performances on a smaller scale.

Opera Australia perform at the Opera House in the City Centre.

A handy guide for performing arts in Sydney is the Spectrum liftout, which you'll find in the Sydney Morning Herald's voluminous Saturday edition. It contains reviews and features on all things cultural, as well as fairly comprehensive listings towards the back.

Cinema

Sydney has mainstream movies showing on multi-screen cinema complexes all around Sydney, including the City Centre and Moore Park. The two main operators are Event Cinemas and Hoyts.

For arthouse, or more obscure movies, try the Chauvel or Verona cinemas on Oxford Street in the City East, or the Dendy near the Opera House in the City Centre or in Newtown, or Cinema Paris at the Entertainment Quarter at Fox Studios at Moore Park in the City East. To get a taste of what was once Sydney's many art-deco cinemas, visit the Ritz Cinema in Randwick or the Cremorne Orpheum in Cremorne. Both have been lovingly restored and extended in the style of art-deco theatres.

Many of the larger cinema complexes offer premium seating and services for a premium price. On Tuesdays, most cinemas will offer a discount price on their tickets. The cheapest Tuesday prices are the Odeonin Hornsby ($7.00) or the Ritz Cinema in Randwick ($8.00).

There is one drive-in movie left open in Sydney, at Blacktown in the Outer West.

The IMAX Theatre, which provides a movie experience with the largest cinema screens in the southern hemisphere in Darling Harbour.

What to eat and drink in Sydney, Australia


Eat

Prices

Prices in Sydney's restaurants vary. Breakfast at a standard cafe (food plus a coffee or juice) can cost anywhere up to $20 for a full English breakfast or other substantial meal. A main meal in a mid-range restaurant is around $25-35. Upper mid-range averages around $35-45. At the real top-end places a dinner for two with wine can run up to $400-500 and beyond.

For the more budget-conscious, Sydney's multicultural demography means plenty of quality ethnic cuisine for cheap prices, particular Asian restaurants. Many restaurants particularly in the city will also offer "lunch specials". For example, a good Korean "set lunch" can be found for less than $15. A bowl of noodles in Chinatown will run you $8 or $9. Some Thai curry with rice at any of the many restaurants all over Sydney will cost about $10.

Newtown in Sydney's inner-west (approx 4km from the CBD) is renowned for its inexpensive cafes and restaurants on King St, in particular Thai food. It is highly popular among students from the nearby Sydney University.

For an Asian bent, head to Chinatown for authentic Asian cheap eats. As well as restaurants, there are numerous food courts scattered throughout Chinatown packed with Asian eateries where the rock bottom priced food (but no less tasty) can be found. Plonk down at a laminate table shoulder to shoulder with hungry locals for some bubble tea and a sizzing plate of delicious Asian food. If you have a little money to spend, yum cha (dim sum) for lunch at one of the many Cantonese restaurants around Sydney is a regular ritual for many Sydney siders. Yum cha can be had in Chinatown (avoid the touristy al fresco places on Dixon St, go to East Ocean or Marigold instead), the city (Zilver, Sky Phoenix and others) and most urban centres around Sydney. Expect queues on weekends and brusque service all days - it's all part of the charm of yum cha. Some yum cha restaurants have now abandoned the trolleys, and instead give you a menu to tick your items which will be brought to your table. Some only have trolleys for specials or on weekends.

Eating times

Cafés serving breakfast start opening at 06:00 and breakfast is usually served until 11:00 or, occasionally, all day. Orders for lunch start at about noon and continue until about 15:00. Many cafes will start closing late afternoon, although a few may remain open for dinner.

Restaurants usually open for dinner around 17:00-18:00 and while there are exceptions (usually concentrated in areas with active nightlife), last orders for dinner are typically taken around 22:00. Restaurants in business areas open for lunch as well. It's common for restaurants in suburban locations to sometimes be closed on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday nights.

It is more expensive to get a sit down meal in the evening, than it is for lunch.

Eating with locals

While not as popular as in Buenos Aires, there are a growing number of underground or home restaurants in Sydney that enable you to eat with locals.

Eat streets

Just about every suburb in Sydney has a restaurant or two, a cafe or coffee shop, and a place that sells takeaway food.

However, there are are a number of places in Sydney where you can window shop through many restaurants and make your choice.

All of Darling Harbour is like this, there are restaurants of every variety all along the waterfront. East Circular Quay in the City Centre is similar, along with the International Passenger Terminal on the west of Circular Quay - however many of the restaurants in this area are expensive and loved more for the view than the quality of the food. There are (pricey) exceptions, such as Cafe Sydney, Aria and Sailors Thai.

In the east of the city, Victoria Street in Darlinghurst and Crown Street in Surry Hills (between Oxford and Cleveland Streets) has a large range of funky cafes, small bars, pubs, patisseries and restaurants. Darlinghurst and Surry Hills has it all, from cheap Asian take-aways to high end restaurants. Many trendy restaurants in this area don't take bookings; often you wait at the bar for a table. These suburbs are popular with hipsters, yuppies and the gay community.

Just east of the city is Woolloomooloo Wharf which boasts a fantastic view across the harbour and several upmarket restaurants, including excellent steak, Chinese, Italian and seafood restaurants. Perfect for lunch on a sunny day.

King Street, Newtown, centred on the railway station, has a constantly changing selection of good value restaurants, pubs, cafes and bars. You can find many various types of cuisine here; mainly cheap Thai, but also Vietnamese, Italian, Turkish, Japanese and modern Australian. This area isn't touristy, but popular with students from the nearby Sydney University. The area has its own alternative style, which makes for great people watching.

On the Lower North Shore Willoughby Road at Crows Nest, has honest and consistently good Indian, Japanese, Thai, steak, a handful of small bars. Military Road through Cremorne and Neutral Bay have a smattering of decent restaurants, mostly Japanese. Kirribilli has a few nice cafes and restaurants, and a short after dinner stroll will take you by some of the best views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Parramatta, to the west, has an eating strip, many with alfresco options. Harris Park nearby is Sydney's Little India with a good number of very affordable, authentic Indian restaurants.

In the North West district, Castle Hill has many restaurants on Terminus St as well as at "The Piazza" which is adjacent to Castle Towers shopping centre and features a pleasant, lively atmosphere with a fountain in the centre of the ring of restaurants.

Splurge

Sydney is also home to some of the world's best restaurants.

If you are wanting to try Sydney's finest rated restaurants during your visit, make a booking well in advance at Quay or ARIA in the The Rocks; Tetsuya’s, Est in the City Centre; Marque in the City East or Pier in the Eastern Suburbs. You may be lucky on a weekday and get a walk-up table at one of the restaurants in Campbells Cove in the The Rocks.

Neil Perry is one of Sydney's celebrity chefs, and runs Rockpool at The Rocks. He also has the Rockpool Bar and Grill in the city, not far from Circular Quay, with Spice Temple downstairs.

If you want to splurge on the location make an advance booking at the restaurant Bennelong in the Opera House, owned by Peter Gilmore (as is Quay in the Rocks).

If you want to have fine dining away from the central Sydney, try Jonah's in the far Northern Beaches - go for lunch, the view is stunning. Alternative, Berowra Waters Inn is an experience unlike any other and a top pick for devouring excellent European / Modern Australian cooking overlooking a natural bushland waterway in northern Sydney. (You will need to arrange a car, or, for the jet set, take a sea plane!)

Cafe Culture

While Australia's cafe culture may have its roots in Melbourne, Sydney has well and truly taken up the joys of good coffee and tasty, easy food. The best cafes are usually in the inner city and the inner west. Many Sydneysiders take great joy in good coffee, and the very best places for this will be the likes of Campos Coffee on Missenden Road in Newtown, Coffee Alchemy in Marrickville, Mecca Espresso in Ultimo or King Street in the City, Single Origin Roasters near Elizabeth St in Surry Hills, or The Source Espresso Bar in Mosman. Other well-known favourites include Three Blue Ducks in Bronte (also open for dinner and run by ex-head chef of Michelin starred Tetsuya's), Bourke Street Bakery in Surry Hills (where a very good bakery is crammed into a tiny corner terrace), and Black Star Pastry in Newtown. You can expect to line up for any of these, though the wait is worth it.

Sydney's strong cafe culture is matched by its penchant for morning and all-day breakfasts. A visit to Sydney is not complete without having breakfast at one of the many beach-side cafes in the Eastern Beaches (Coogee and Bronte in particular; in Bondi you will find the better cafes along Bondi Rd heading down to the beach or in the streets back from Campbell Parade), the Northern Beaches (Manly in particular, but also Freshwater or Dee Why) and at Cronulla, in the city's south. If you do get to a beachside cafe for breakfast, a quintessential Australian breakfast is Corn Fritters with Bacon and Poached Eggs.

Modern Australian

Thanks to Sydney's (or rather, Australia's) multicultural mix, "modern Australian" is usually characterised by a fusion of cuisines. Think entrées spiced with a Thai-inspired chilli dressing, mains with a hint of a Chinese-style ginger-based marinade or sunny Tuscan flavours- all in the same menu. Many of Australia's celebrity chefs are of ethnic backgrounds, and many have trained overseas, bringing with them a world of experience back home.

  • Visit the Sydney Fish Markets in Pyrmont (within walking distance of Darling Harbour) for a lunch of fresh seafood of almost any description. Sadly the cooked seafood on offer is overpriced, greasy and frankly an embarrassment. Avoid. For a proper seafood lunch at the fish markets, bypass these shops and go directly to one of the many fishmongers. Pick out the best freshly shucked oysters, cooked Balmain Bug or lobster tails, glistening prawns and sashimi. Take it out to tables outside and enjoy getting your hands dirty. Otherwise, head upstairs to Fisherman's Wharf Chinese Restaurant for some wonderful Cantonese seafood or yum cha.
  • Hit a steakhouse and try Australia's world-famous prime Angus beef.

Alternatively, many CBD pubs offer $6 to $10 steak "meal deals", provided that you also order a particular alcoholic drink at the same time.

Multicultural

For those who are after authentic multicultural culinary experiences, there are unique "food districts" scattered around the greater city. The range of food available is huge and isn't necessarily expensive. It is usually possible to find a restaurant of any nationality, specialising in almost any cuisine.

  • Eat Chinese (Cantonese) in Chinatown Chatswood on the North Shore. "Noodle markets" are also held in Chinatown every Friday, starting from around 17:30. Many Chinatown restaurants hold open-air stalls, selling everything from finger food, to stir-fry noodles, to Chinese-style desserts. For more northern Chinese flavours, including Shanghainese and Pekingnese, head to Ashfield and Strathfield in the Sydney/Inner West- both easily accessible via public transport. Some outer suburbs are particularly known for their Chinese restaurants - recommended examples are Eastwood (north-west), Parramatta (west) and Hurstville in Sydney's southern suburbs which all have a number of restaurants offering more home-style Chinese food. They are all accessible by public transport.
  • Eat Uyghur on Dixon Street, Haymarket (Chinatown)- fiery, flavour-bursting food originating from the Turkic regions of Central Asia.
  • Eat Thai in one of the many low priced Thai outlets in Newtown's King Street in the Inner West, or around "Thaitown" in the city (around Campbell St, near Chinatown).
  • Eat Italian in one of the restaurants in Leichhardt's Norton Street, or nearby Ramsay Street, Haberfield in the Inner West. Or in Stanley St in East Sydney - a walk from the CBD.
  • Eat Spanish in Liverpool Street in the city.
  • Eat Portuguese in Petersham in the Inner West.
  • Eat Indian in one of the many restaurants in the Outer West with all types of Indian cuisine (North Indian, South Indian, Vegetarian, meat, etc.)
  • Eat Korean in Liverpool & Pitt St in City, Strathfield, Eastwood and Campsie.
  • Eat Japanese in Neutral Bay or Crows Nest.
  • Eat Nepalese in Glebe Point Road, Glebe, in the Inner West or Crows Nest.
  • Eat Turkish in Auburn (Outer West). Closer to the city, there try Enmore Rd Enmore / South King St Newtown in the Inner West. Get your Sucuklu and Pastirmali here.
  • Eat Lebanese in Cleveland Street. Baba Ghanouj, Lahem Begin and Baclawa here. Salam Alaikum. For the very best Lebanese, head out to the Middle Eastern enclaves of Greenacre or Lakemba.
  • Eat Vietnamese in Marrickville. The most authentic Vietnamese can be experienced in Cabramatta or Bankstown. If you have the time, Cabramatta particularly is a fascinating and worthwhile day trip. So awash is the suburb with Vietnamese restaurants groceries, butchers, craft shops, clothing stores and restaurants - not to mention Vietnamese people - you'd swear you were walking around Saigon rather than Sydney.
  • Eat Kosher in Bondi. Many great restaurants throughout the area.
  • Eat Indonesian in Anzac Parade, Kensington, Kingsford & Maroubra.

Take away

Take away food in Sydney can be as cheap as buying the ingredients and making it yourself, and many stores specialise in take-away food. There will usually be a picnic table, park or beach nearby to eat whatever you can select. Quintessential Aussie takeaways include the meat pie (minced beef with gravy sauce in a crusty pastry shell), sausage roll (sausage mince in a puff pastry casing), usually topped generously with tomato sauce/ketchup, and fish and chips (inherited from the British to be sure but loved by all Australians).

Most restaurants will do take-away food as well, but almost certainly at a premium to the cost of buying food from a take-away. Outside of the city an occasional restaurant may offer a 10% discount for take-away.

Vegetarian and special diets

Vegetarians are well catered for. Every restaurant will usually have at least one vegetarian dish. Indian restaurants can be relied upon to provide a wider selection. The trendy East Sydney and Inner West suburbs have many choices, Cabramatta in the western suburbs have many Asian Buddhist cuisine restaurants that are vegan and vegetarian.

There is an awareness of gluten-free and dairy-free diets in Sydney, and again the more trendier inner city suburbs are more likely to cater for these diets.

 

Drink

Sydney has an enormous number of places to drink and party. A limited number of venues have 24-hour licenses, however the majority close before 3AM and some as early as 11PM, particularly if there are nearby residents.

New liquor laws covering most of the Central Sydney area (including Kings Cross, The Rocks and parts of Darlinghurst and Surry Hills) came into force in February 2014. There is a 'lockout' between 1:30am and 5am, which means that you need to stay inside the pub/bar/club or you won't be able to get back in - even if you go out for a cigarette (smoking is illegal inside). No alcohol can be served between 3am and 5am. As a result of the laws, some bars will now close at 1am if they are not many patrons. Ask the bouncers or some locals if you're unsure and they will tell you which places are affected by the lockout and which aren't.

Busy venues will have door staff checking photo identification to determine that you are over 18. Admission is also commonly refused to those who seem visibly drunk. More popular venues have discriminatory door practices, the most common of which is refusing entry to groups of men who are not accompanied by women. Some pubs and most clubs will admit children accompanied by adults as long as they don't approach the bar or enter an area where there is gambling. Check with staff at the venue. Some pubs don't provide a nice environment for children some nights. Photo identification proving that you are 18 or older will often be required again when purchasing alcohol if you appear to be under 25. Generally only Australian driver licences and Australian or foreign passports will be accepted.

Many places have at least a basic dress code, enforced all hours in the city, and usually after 7pm in the suburbs. For most generic pubs, men should wear closed toe shoes (not running sneakers), full-length pants, and a shirt with sleeves (not a singlet). For clubs, men should don neat business-style shoes. In almost all cases, women can dress more freely, but a small number of places require closed shoes or dressy sandals or high heels.

Many pubs are called hotels, but only very few can ever offer you a place to sleep. Hotel pubs are usually found on a street corner with at least one ground-floor bar, and are usually a few floors high (though not all floors may be open to the public).

Entry charges for live music or DJs are usual and range from $5 to $30 depending on clientèle. Entry charges are rare if you're going into a pub for a drink.

There is a taxi shift change at 3AM, and it is notoriously difficult to catch a taxi anywhere between 2:30AM and 3:30AM.

Backpackers Bars & Weeknight Events

These are usually near to major hostel areas, and will find a lot of fellow budget travellers in pubs in the Eastern Suburbs Beaches like Bondi Beach and Kings Cross in the City East. The World Bar in Kings Cross is an institutional venue for travellers partying in Sydney, with Tuesday and Thursday nights being very popular with backpackers. If you're after the fun, backpacker style of party, check out Scu Bar (Haymarket) on a Monday night, Side Bar (Haymarket, also Mondays), Scary Canary (City, Wednesdays) or The World Bar (Kings Cross, Thursdays).

Hot Damn at the Exchange Hotel on Oxford Street is an alternative music institution spread out over a number of levels and bars and is regularly at capacity. Here you can expect here a good mix of all types of alternative rock music - ranging from pop-punk to dub-step, and hardcore/screamo. Greenwood Hotel in North Sydney is very popular on Thursday nights with the fresh-out-of-school crowd. Perfect for you if you fit into that category, avoid if you do not.

Sydney's students drink in the Inner West. Try student bars Manning at Sydney Uni, the Roundhouse at UNSW and the Loft at UTS which all offer pleasant, hassle free environments, and noone checks if you're a student. Manning Bar is also great for a meal as they have their Manning BBQ. The Clare opposite UTS on Broadway, though very ratty looking, is a similarly popular place for students. There are many great bars and pubs on Broadway, such as the Lansdowne Hotel which also offers cheap lunch meals for $5-6 on some days of the week.

Clubs

The biggest clubs in Sydney include the sprawling Ivy on George St in the city, Marquee at The Star casino in Pyrmont, Home Bar at Cockle Bay, and Arq at Taylor Square. Kings Cross has countless clubs, though these vary in size. Kings Cross has been most affected by recent lockout laws which forbid the entry of patrons into bars and clubs after 1:30am in areas in the city.

Small Bars

The state government made changes to liquor licensing laws in previous years, which has seen an explosion in the number of small bars throughout the greater city. The sheer number of them mean there will always be a new latest and trendiest bar to go to - for the most up to date ones, check out the TimeOut Sydney website. Most of them are well hidden in office building basements, or in laneways, or frequently both, and the only way you'll find them is by seeing the queue to get in. Be wary though: on Friday and Saturday nights these places will more than likely be packed out. For the best experience, head along on a weeknight. After-work crowds will mean there is some life to the place, but you won't have to wait in a queue just to get in.

A great example of the quality of these types of establishments is Baxter Inn, off Clarence Street in the city, which was voted the #8 bar in the world in 2013, by Drinks International.

A good majority of these small bars also have a theme to them, such as Vasco on Cleveland St (a very fun Rock and Roll bar), Tio's (Guatemalan Owl Cerveceria), Lobo Plantation (colonial plantation, minus the racism), and The Barbershop (Barbershop-cum-bar, and you can actually get your hair cut). Other heavyweights in the small bar league include Shady Pines Saloon in Darlinghurst, 121 BC in Surry Hills, Mary's in Newtown, Bulletin Place in the City, and Frankie's Pizza also in the City. Many of the more established small bars are in the CBD and inner-city, mostly Darlinghurst and Surry Hills. Don't be shy about visiting some of the more up-and-coming suburbs, either. Marrickville and Redfern are rapidly gentrifying, and with it, a slew of very interesting bars are popping up along their main commercial strips. In Manly, on the Northern Beaches, and throughout Mosman and Cremorne on the Lower North Shore there is a cluster of very formidable and popular bars.

Irish Pubs

In some ways Irish pubs are a global phenomenon, but they've certainly taken Sydney by storm. Irish pubs are concentrated in both The Rocks area and the southern area of the city. They are outrageously popular on the 17th March for St Patrick's Day.

Business pubs

These cater to the city crowd: lawyers, financiers and brokers and are very busy Friday nights when the city workers are let loose for the week. They're usually a bit quieter on the weekends. Great after-work places in the CBD include The Glenmore & The Australian Hotel in The Rocks, as well as Baxter Inn on Clarence Street, and Sweeney's Hotel opposite Town Hall. Be sure to check out the rooftop bars at Sweeney's and the Glenmore.

Gay Scene

Sydney's gay scene is concentrated on Oxford Street in City East although it still has a large range of pubs and clubs for all ranges of sexuality and is a prominent nightspot for many party-goers. Sydney's queer community also can often be found on King Street in Newtown which offers a more relaxed place to gather and far fewer yobs. Generally speaking, King Street, Newtown is more popular with Lesbians & female-identifying, while Oxford Street is much more popular Gay Men and those who are male-identifying.

You can expect Drag shows in just about any of Oxford Street's gay bars. Stonewall Hotel has these on the hour on busier nights, while Thursday nights at Arq have an amateur "Drag for Dollars" event. The Imperial in Erskineville is also worth checking out for its shows, though is a little bit off the beaten track - but still only a short stroll from Erskineville or Newtown station.

Microbreweries

Sydney's microbreweries are in the Rocks and the City Centre. Noteworthy mentions around here include the King St Brewhouse at King Street Wharf, and the Lord Nelson on Kent St in The Rocks. Harts in The Rocks is also a great spot for beer-- they serve a wide variety of craft beers in pints or schooners. In Newtown, the Young Henrys brewery is open early in the day for tastings.

Tipping

Most bars and clubs in Sydney will simply return your change, and no tip is expected. Some more upmarket bars will return your change on a tray. Most Sydneysiders will simply collect the change from the tray, however feel free to leave the coins on the tray if you would like to tip. Working out a percentage of the drink cost, or tip per drink is never required.

Alcohol-related violence

The potential for alcohol-related violence is an unfortunate reality of Sydney's drinking scene in some parts of the city. Problems are typically caused by young, aggressive, drunk males, with most problems occurring after midnight in hotspots such as King's Cross and the CBD. Some attacks are random and unprovoked, even causing death in some instances where the victim has been caught off-guard by a "king hit", fallen and hit their head on the pavement.

Sydney is a safe city and the likelihood of something happening to you is very small. Due to the increased occurrences of such incidents in recent years, police presence has also been markedly scaled up in problem areas. However it is worth exercising caution while out drinking late anywhere in Sydney. Avoid large groups of rowdy, obviously drunk men. If you are provoked, walk away. If the things escalate call the police immediately on 000.

Shopping in Sydney, Australia


See the Sydney District Pages for things to buy in the City, and other Sydney districts.

Most stores will accept VISA/Mastercard credit cards - generally only some smaller stores are 'cash only'. However, it is not uncommon for some smaller stores not to accept card payments for small amounts (under $10 or $15), or to charge a surcharge. American Express is generally accepted only at larger stores.

Currency exchange

As with the rest of Australia, currency exchange offices operate in a free market, and the small convenient exchange booth you pass on George Street, by the Opera House or at the airport can charge 15% or more over the best rate you can obtain elsewhere. As always, check rates and commission carefully. Know today's rate and be prepared to walk away if the amount of money they calculate isn't what you would expect. Banks typically offer much better rates, but are only open business hours on weekdays.

You may find it better to pay by credit card and use ATM withdrawals and have the certainty of getting the rate and fees provided by your bank.

Opening hours

Main department stores and speciality stores open around 9am and close around 6pm, staying open until 9pm on Thursday. On Sunday expect them to open around 10am in the suburbs, and around 11am in the city centre, and to close at 5pm. There are a few locations where you will find shops opening a little later, such as Darling Harbour which is open until 9pm every weeknight.

Large supermarkets will be open from 6am until midnight, but many are open later, some even 24 hours.

Other general department stores such as Target and K-Mart will also have later trading hours, often to around 10pm, but there are a few 24 hour K-Marts around.

Many convenience stores, fast-food restaurants and petrol stations within the Sydney metro area are open 24 hours a day.

Banks will usually only open weekdays, with only an occasional branch opening Saturday morning. Travel agents (not including booking agents in tourist areas) close on Sundays.

Souvenirs

Those quintessential Aussie souvenirs - stuffed koalas and kangaroos, various "Australiana" knick-knacks - can be found in any souvenir store around the city, as well as in airport shops. Authentic Aboriginal/indigenous arts and crafts, such as traditional paintings, hand-made didgeridoos, are expensive, and the range in Sydney is much smaller than in Alice Springs. For those who only wish to take home a replica, as a memento of their trip to Australia, head to Paddy's Markets in the Haymarket area of the southern end of the city. The markets also sell a huge range of souvenirs at much better prices than regular souvenir stores. Dollar shops (see "Food and Essentials" below) also sell souvenirs at bargain-basement prices, albeit at a much reduced quality.

Fashion

Australia's unique style and creativity means Sydney is developing on the international fashion circuit, as designs from Australians such as Wayne Cooper, Collette Dinnigan, Akira Isogawa, Lisa Ho, Oroton and Easton Pearson are seen around the globe. In fact, around 60 Australian labels are currently exporting their designs to boutiques and department stores in Asia, Europe and the United States.

The greatest concentration of clothing and accessories stores are to be found in the northern half of the CBD, starting from the Town Hall precinct, neat the Queen Victoria Building.

  • Queen Victoria Building in the City Centre is a renowned, beautifully maintained, 19th century sandstone building, home to over 400 stores. The stores in the building are laid out in a hierarchical style- literally. The basement level has cheap, casual-fashion stores with a food court, the street level mid-range brand-name chains and level 3 is where various Australian designers, some European labels and Italian shoe stores are located. It is one of Sydney's more photogenic pieces of architecture. Located on George St adjacent to Town Hall and Pitt St Mall.
  • Castlereagh Street in the City Centre is lined by many of Sydney's most expensive European-label boutiques and jewellery stores.
  • Department stores. There are only two of these in the City Centre, Myer and David Jones, located practically next door to each other near the Pitt Street Mall, and joined by an above-ground covered pedestrian walkway. Both offer your standard department-store range of goods.
  • Pitt Street Mall is a pedestrian mall in the City Centre. It is one block long between Market Street and King Street and is one of Australia's busiest and most cosmopolitan shopping precincts. Despite the areas small size, it is home to many flagship chain stores. It has now become a part of Westfield Sydney.
  • Oxford Street just east of the city is lined with shops, bars and nightclubs. The section between Taylor Square and Queen St, Woollahra is particularly good for mid-high end Australian fashion designers and boutiques. Some of these boutiques and other fashion retailers sell at Paddington Markets, which are held in the grounds of the Paddington public school every Saturday from 10am.
  • Queen Street in Woollahra also east of the city is an upmarket shopping destination with high-end boutiques, food and homewares stores.
  • King Street, Newtown in in the inner west is a long strip of inexpensive boutiques, and the odd chain store, with plenty of places to stop for a coffee or wine along the way!
  • Westfield Shopping Centres Large shopping malls at Bondi Junction, Chatswood, Parramatta, and Miranda. The Bondi Westfield offers the most upmarket experience, with many European fashion labels available. All are easily accessible by car and public transport, see the district articles for details.
  • Birkenhead Point - A multi-story factory outlet in Sydney's Inner West. Short bus ride from the City Centre.
  • DFO is a place to shop for brand name fashions at discount prices. It is located near Sydney Olympic Park at the corner of Homebush Bay Drive and Underwood Road. By public transport, take the 525/526 bus from Strathfield Station to the last bus stop on Underwood Road.
  • "Westfield Warringah Mall'  is a large cheerful mall on the Northern Beaches on a sprawling complex that includes dolphin-featured waterfalls and sunny courtyards. Previously known as "Warringah Mall".

Food and essentials

Prices are inflated in convenience stores and in tourist areas, and it is worth seeking out the supermarkets - even in the city centre. The main Supermarket Chains in Sydney are Woolworths, Coles, IGA Australia and Aldi. See the local guides for locations.

Postcards

Sydney postcards are least expensive at post offices (AUD 0.75), where you can buy stamps from as well. Do look in Paddy's Markets. Convenience and souvenir stores may sell a wider range of (more expensive) postcards, but generally they do not sell stamps. An overseas stamp for a postcard costs AUD 1.60.

Safety in Sydney, Australia


The Australia-wide emergency number is 000, with the ambulance service, fire department and police being available through this number.

Theft

Be on the lookout for the usual big city petty crime problems, though pickpocketing and theft is much less common then in cities in Europe or Asia. Lock your car, and keep valuables safe or hidden. People begging may ask for money or cigarettes, but they are generally harmless. They will often make up the usual stories about needing a train fare etc. Simply say "Sorry, no" and they will usually leave you alone.

Violent crime

Sydney has some of the violent crime issues that plague major cities, however, in general, no special precautions are required visiting the typical tourist areas during the day.

Most assaults in Sydney take place in or near pubs and nightclubs at night, and involve alcohol. Most involve young males as perpetrators and victims. Most robberies occur in nearby quiet laneways, or parks close to pubs and nightclubs at night. The most common perpetrators or robberies are drug addicts. For this reason, take care around King Cross, The Rocks, Oxford St, and the George St Cinema District, especially late at night on Fridays and Saturday nights. There has been an increase of reported alcohol related violence in Kings Cross, king hits followed by death have been widely reported in the local media, avoid that area. Avoid Redfern station late at night. Even changing trains at night is best done at Central rather than Redfern. Women should take extra care at bars and keep an alert companion at hand, especially in the central hostel area, and take precautions against spiked drinks.

Some areas Sydney have a reputation, generally gained by news reports of motorcycle and other gang related violence. However, if you want to venture out into these areas during the day, there is no exceptional risk. If you're planning to head way off the tourist trail to some suburban pub or nightclub for a night out, seek some local advice. It may be a nice pub, but it pays to be informed. Areas around railway stations tend to be hang-outs for youth gangs in Western Sydney, particularly on Friday and Saturday night. Stay in company, and don't engage.

Public transport after dark

After 9PM, smaller outer suburban stations can be very quiet, and many are totally unstaffed after this time. The trains can also be empty when they get towards the end of the line at this time. Don't expect a taxi to be waiting at every station--only the major ones will have a well patronised taxi rank.

Travel in the carriage closest to the guard's compartment, which is marked with a blue light on the outside of the train. Drunk people are common on trains late at night, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights. If you ever feel concerned for your safety on any train, you can call 1800 657 926 to speak with Sydney Trains security, then can sometimes arrange for a transit patrol to board the train and provide assistance. It is generally more advisable to seek assistance from the guard however as Transit Officers are few and far between. In more modern trains, you can press the button in the entry area to speak with the guard. Every train station has an orange emergency help point monitored by CCTV that connects to Sydney Trains security, usually towards the centre of the platform.

Nightride buses, which replace trains after midnight, can arrange for a taxi to meet you when you get off. Ask the driver.

Scams

As Sydney is notoriously well-known for its adult entertainment, beware of a variation on the 'clip joint' scam in Kings Cross, where bouncers will haggle with you to enter a strip club. Once inside, you will be pressured to buy (overpriced) drinks from the bar, the place will be deserted and you may be propositioned by prostitutes. If you choose to visit such types of venues, be sure to do some research beforehand into where you want to go, a quick Google search will usually help. Good venues will normally have a website and the ladies working there will not offer sex, as there are plenty of legal brothels and 'massage parlours' across Sydney.

Other than that, there are very few tourist scams present in Sydney.

Beachgoing


Bondi Beach - Australia's most iconic beach
If you are going to the beach, take the same precautions as you do anywhere in Australia. 

The biggest thing to remember when swimming at any Sydney beach is swim between the yellow and red flags. These flags are places by the lifeguards and indicate the safest place to swim at the beach away from dangerous currents. If you get into trouble while swimming, try to remain in one spot and raise your hand straight up into the air (do not wave). The lifeguards will rescue you if necessary.

Sydney is generally sunny and UV radiation is higher than in the places where many tourists come from (Europe and North America). Make sure to wear a hat, sunglasses, and apply sunscreen (minimum SPF 30+) regularly.
Sydney has no really dangerous jellyfish. Bluebottles (Portugese Man-Of-War) are blueish-purple stingers that hit the Sydney beaches a couple of days every summer, when the wind direction is right. They have an air-bladder that floats on the water, and stinging tenticles. Often the air-bladder can be no bigger than a coin. You will see the evidence of them with their air-bags washed up on the beach if they are present. They can give a painful sting - even when on the beach - but it won't keep everyone out of the water. Apply a heat pack if you can, or ice, or salt water. The best way to remove the pain is to run the affected area under the hottest water you can stand. Vinegar is useless. Sometimes small transparent jellyfish appear in the harbour and estuaries. You can usually avoid any groups of them, but they are mostly harmless. More rarely larger purple jellyfish are in the harbour and other estuaries. If you see these in the estuaries, best to stay out of their way. Probably more of an issue to water skiers than to swimmers.

Sydney ocean beaches all have shark mesh nets around 100 metres out to sea, and are regularly patrolled by air for sharks. A shark alarm will sound if any are sighted, and you should get out of the water. The risk of shark attack swimming on a patrolled beach between the flags is virtually nil. Shark attacks are rare on Sydney beaches, but they have occurred, although there have been no fatal attacks for 45 years. Advice is to avoid swimming in murky water after storms, or at dusk or at dawn, and to swim in the netted enclosures within the harbour and other estuaries.

Language spoken in Sydney, Australia


Australian English is the main language. ​
32.5% of people in Sydney speak a language other than English at home with Arabic, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese and Greek the most widely spoken.

LOCAL TIME

3:40 pm
December 15, 2018
Australia/Sydney

CURRENT WEATHER

29.86 °C / 85.748 °F
moderate rain
Sun

27.14 °C/81 °F
moderate rain
Mon

26.76 °C/80 °F
sky is clear
Tue

23.48 °C/74 °F
sky is clear
Wed

26.75 °C/80 °F
sky is clear

LOCAL CURRENCY

AUD

1 USD = 1.39 AUD
1 EUR = 1.57 AUD
1 GBP = 1.75 AUD
1 CAD = 1.04 AUD

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