Things to do in Sydney and beyond

If a long haul trip is within your grasp, then the weather in Sydney over Christmas is unlikely to disappoint. And Australia's largest and most cosmopolitan city has a lot to offer besides sunshine, so from a one time Sydney-sider, here are my top tips of things to do in Sydney.

Sydney city centre
Sydney city centre © Hamilton Lund - Destination NSW

Things to do in Sydney

Flights to Sydney are available from BA* and Qantas. From the UK, Sydney is nearly 24 hours away, so it makes sense to make this a long trip; the jet lag can be a killer when you first arrive, so ensure to give yourself a few days to acclimatise.

Once there and sleeping at roughly the correct time, slap on some sun cream and get exploring (and I'm not kidding about the cream; sun protection is a serious business Down Under. At school you are not allowed out at playtime if you don't have a hat!).

1. Beaches

No trip to Sydney would be complete without visiting the famous Bondi Beach, and it is a marvel. Watch or take part in the surfing, see and be seen and rollerblade along the promenade; you can even hire skates if your luggage allowance does not stretch that far.

Bondi Beach, Sydney
Bondi Beach, Sydney © mrkva -

My favourite of the other beaches in Sydney would be Balmoral, in the northeast of the city. While not one for the surfer, there are lovely rock pools to explore and some world-class eateries. It is also the perfect spot for a proper swim, with a large netted bathing area.

2. Explore the neighbourhoods

Sydney is a very diverse city and each area has something different to offer a visitor. One of the nicest ways to spend a day in any city is to pick a neighbourhood, stroll around soaking up the atmosphere and allowing yourself to be diverted by a fun shop or delicious looking bakery along the way.

Corelli's Cafe, Newtown, Sydney
Corelli's Cafe, Newtown, Sydney © James Horan - Destination NSW

The Saturday Street Market in Paddington is a Sydney institution and with good reason, this centrally located neighbourhood is bustling and full of life. For upmarket bohemia, a day spent in Newtown is hard to beat. This area has café culture in abundance and is known for its street art and worldwide dining options.

3. The Harbour

Much of Sydney life revolves around the glittering harbour; it is the focal point of the city and is lit up on New Year's Eve by a vibrant fireworks display. Crowned by the majestic bridge there are many ways to enjoy this lovely water feature.

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge © cbckchristine -

If you have a head for heights then an excursion climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, by day or night, is an unforgettable experience, as is a Sydney by Seaplane adventure.

If you would prefer to see the harbour from the water, there are lots of charming and reasonable ferry trips to choose from. My favourite is the Manly Ferry; not only is Manly a great area to visit, and you might even spot a whale from the boat.

4. Culture

Standing out like a beacon as one of the city's most recognisable landmarks, the Sydney Opera House is a must-visit attraction. The concert halls are specially designed to sound exquisite, so music lovers should try and catch a show. They also offer backstage tours around the building, which any architecture buffs would love.

Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House © Paul Liu -

Away from the Opera House, Sydney also holds an astonishing number of festivals, showcasing everything from music to dance, comedy and theatre, so it is well worth checking to see if there is anything special on whilst you are there.

5. Things to do in Sydney on a rainy day

You are certainly less likely to have your plans scuppered by rain on the other side of the globe, but there is still the possibility that you might need to spend a few days undercover.

Darling Harbour, Sydney
Darling Harbour, Sydney © iofoto -

Luckily, Sydney has many wonderful museums to keep you occupied and the Sydney Aquarium, on Darling Harbour, is a fascinating place to keep dry, while, of course, being surrounded by water. The shark tunnel is particularly impressive.

6. Further afield

If you are in Sydney for a couple of weeks there is a good chance you might want to leave it for a day or two. The Blue Mountains, just 90 minutes from the city give breath-taking scenery and some incredible walks.

The Blue Mountains, 60 miles west of Sydney
The Blue Mountains, 60 miles west of Sydney © Jan Ebling -

The impressive Three Sisters rock formation viewed from a glass-bottomed cable car is not one for those with vertigo, but an amazing view.

A little further from Sydney, Hunter Valley is home to some of New South Wales' most famous wineries and is well worth a visit to see the countryside and sample some of the region's finest libations.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. Pack your bathers and explore; I'm sure you'll find your very own list of unmissable things to do in Sydney.

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Tillie Sklair

Tillie Sklair

Posted on Friday 9th November 2012 in: City Excursions Oceania

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