How to Spend 5 Days in Sydney
Day 1: Sydney’s Dodgy Past and a Ferry Ride
Start your stay in Sydney with a short but entertaining history lesson. It’s best to go to The Rocks.
This historic old quarter is the place where the first convicts and their guards built the first houses. The ground was rocky, hence the name. Later, the dockers and day laborers lived here – it was a real slum! Luckily, these times are long gone.
Today, this area is very popular with tourists. There is always something going on! Walk along the cobblestone streets and do a little window shopping. Buy some souvenirs at the weekend market and enjoy delicious sweet and savory specialties in the restaurants and cafes. Enjoy the LIVE music, enjoy the relaxed holiday atmosphere.
If you want to learn more about the history of Sydney and this neighbourhood, take a quick look at the Rocks Discovery Museum (free entry) or join one of the many private Sydney tours. For a delicious lunch, try the Pony’s Dining or visit one of the historic pubs – many claim to be the oldest pub in Australia.
You will then return to Circular Quay, where all passenger ferries, cruise liners and Sydney tour boats stop, and buy an opal ticket to drive to Manly on Wharf 3. Manly is a lovely little bathing resort on the other side of the harbor, which also has a fantastic Pacific beach. The ferry crossing takes 30 minutes and is as good as any tourist cruise on the harbor – just a lot, much cheaper. There are toilets, coffee and free Wi-Fi on board.
When you arrive in Manly, follow the Corso straight to the Pacific beach. The Corso is a busy pedestrian street with shops and pubs. Enjoy the view of the open sea, let the salt water splash into your face, build a sandcastle with the kids! Maybe you also want to go swimming? Please look for the place between the red and yellow flags, so that the lifeguards have a good view, because the currents can pull you out quickly. If you do not want to swim, you might want to take another afternoon walk to Shelly Beach. Keep on the water, keep right. Maybe you also see a water dragon. These are the big lizards who like to sunbathe on the rocks.
In Manly you will find a wide variety of restaurants, with or without water views. We recommend you Papi Chulo at Wharf, La Chica Bonita near the Corso in a passage, or Daniel San on the Pacific beach.
Day 2: The Opera, the Royal Botanic Gardens and Aboriginal Art
Today can be the best day to join a private tour in Sydney. If you prefer exploring on your own, start the day with a walk in Circular Quay. Watch as the ferries arrive and depart again, listen to the Aboriginal street musicians and enjoy the indescribably beautiful views of the Sydney Harbor Bridge. A super good vantage point on the action can be found on the motorway bridge over the train station, on the Cahill Express Way. To get there, take the glass elevators in the south-east corner of Circular Quay. From up here you have a great angle to take pictures of the bridge and the opera house.
Then you continue to the Opera House. Just walk around the Opera House. Is not the architecture gorgeous and wonderfully surprising? Really great to see such a world-famous building from other perspectives. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can even find a seal on the steps behind the Opera House. But you have to be lucky!
Continue along the water and then through the gates into the Royal Botanic Gardens. This park is also very often visited by tour companies. Follow the boardwalk along the Farm Cove (so named because it was the colony’s first farm) and enjoy the great view of Sydney’s natural harbor, one of the most beautiful harbors in the world. The further you walk along the headland towards Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, the better the view of the bridge, the Opera and the skyline. Perfect for a few typical Sydney photos for the loved ones at home. By the way, you’ll find Mrs Macquarie’s Chair at the top, a ledge on which the governor’s wife likes to watch the ships coming and going.
We dare to say that the Sydney Botanic Garden is one of the most beautiful free parks in the world. We Sydney insiders know that only too well. Here we like to take picnics, play ball with the kids, take our wedding photos and go jogging during our lunch break. But you can also find some very interesting trees and plants in this park. As you head south to the Art Gallery of NSW, keep your eyes open. Incidentally, there are two lovely cafes in the Botanical Garden, which are ideal for a light lunch in the countryside. Alternatively, you can also have lunch in the Art Gallery.
The Art Gallery of New South Wales offers the perfect crash course in Australian art history. Not only are the best Australian artists exhibited since the times of the colony. There is also a fantastic Aboriginal exhibit that should not be missed. But here comes the best: the entrance to the art gallery and the standard exhibitions is free.
The Art Gallery has a number of temporary exhibitions from Asia, Europe and America. In addition, every year there is the exhibition of the famous Archibald Prize, a portrait competition with mostly well-known personalities as a subject. Admission to these special exhibitions usually costs $ 20 per person.
For dinner you can either use the restaurant in the Art Gallery or continue to Woolloomooloo.
Finger Wharf is home to the rich and famous (Russell Crowe once lived, for example), and there are a number of restaurants here. For example, Critini’s is a popular pizza and noodle restaurant that’s perfect for families. But our tip is the small snack stand not far from the Finger Wharf. Harry’s Cafe de Wheels is simply legendary. We were first taken to Café de Wheels by our tour guide on our first Sydney tour.
Dozens of photos prove that the stars simply love this snack. We recommend the Chilli Dog, but if you prefer it traditional, order Harry’s Tiger, a beef pate with pea porridge, mashed potatoes and gravy. Delicious!
Day 3: Fun for the Mini Globetrotter
The best place for families in Sydney is undoubtedly Darling Harbor. Although much is currently being built, there is by far the best selection of museums and zoos. The nice thing is that all the attractions are very close to each other, which saves a lot of time. In addition, you can buy a combination ticket for many attractions, which is great for the holiday fund (tip: book online and save again).
Depending on your preferences, you can choose between different attractions (or make them all). Madame Tussauds is our Australian version of the great London waxworks. Here you will find mainly Australian and Asian personalities and celebrities, such as Kylie Minogue, Nicole Kidman, and Wolverine. Here you can have a lot of fun with the dolls, because you can not only set in scene, but also touch them. Professional photographers like to shoot some funny pictures for a fee.
The Sydney SeaLife Aquarium next door has a mesmerizing shark tunnel, manatees, glowing jellyfish and a beautiful Great Barrier Reef Basin.
In the Wildlife World you can finally get a closer look at the Australian wildlife. Although it looks pretty small outside, you will find everything you would expect from Australia. Kangaroos big and small, snakes, koalas, spiders, butterflies, wombats and much more hide behind the simple façade. A great souvenir is a photo session with one of the koalas on the roof – but touching is not desirable out of consideration for the animal.
The area around Darling Harbor is great for families. The many restaurants have totally focused on families, and there is almost everywhere a children’s menu, from which you can order smaller and child-friendly dishes. The Harborside Shopping Centre on the other side of the Pyrmont Bridge is perfect for cheaper alternatives as well as shopping.
Or you can head south to neighbouring Chinatown. There are many Asian restaurants here that do not cost the world. Asia round trip included – Malaysian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Indonesian … everything is great combined in a small neighbourhood. Paddy’s Market Haymarket is also open Wednesday through Sunday. In the market halls, everything your heart desires, from cheap and cheap to cheesy and silly.
Day 4: Excursion to the Bush and the Surrounding Area
Of course, Sydney is great if you want to see an Australian metropolis. But if you want to experience the bush and the unique fauna of the continent, you have to leave the city behind. Either you go for the train (preferably on Sundays, because there is a favorable rate), or you book a Blue Mountains tour to the neighboring Blue Mountains. The mountains are only two hours away, but reveal a completely different, deserted and wild mountain. Incidentally, the Blue Mountains are so called because they emit a blue haze that hangs over the tops of the thousands of eucalyptus trees that cover the area like a carpet. The Blue Mountains is a national park that is naturally protected.
Find your way in one way or another to the famous Echo Point, a viewing platform in the small village of Katoomba. So in the fastest way you get a great first impression of the breathtaking mountains surrounding you here. From here you can also see the famous Three Sisters, a rock formation that plays an important role in the legends of the Aboriginal people. By the way, the first Sister can be visited relatively easily from here – a short hiking trail leads you there, which can be found from Echo Point. Echo Point is also the tourist office, where you can get lots of tips for walks and attractions in the area. In the villages of the Blue Mountains there is a tourist bus that drives you around (hop-on-hop-off), or you can take public buses. The neighboring Leura is also worth a visit because of its pretty little houses and small gardens.
If you want to try Bushwalking, take the bus to one of the signposted trails and visit waterfalls and viewing platforms. Please do not leave the predetermined trails, because there are already so many visitors lost in the dense bushland. If you cannot or do not want to walk a lot (for example, traveling with young children) then the trip to Echo Point is also a good destination for a day out in the Blue Mountains.
Katoomba has a good selection of restaurants and cafes.
Day 5: Sydney’s Cool Surfing Culture
The biggest difference between Sydney and Melbourne is by far the great surfing culture we have in this city. It’s best to take a close look at it when you’re here. We recommend a hike along the Pacific Coast along the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk.
Start at Sydney’s most famous surfing beach, Bondi Beach. You can reach it easily with the bus of the line 333. Here live celebrities and backpackers, students, artists and of course surfers. Before you head south along the coastal path, make another quick fix in one of the inexpensive fast food restaurants in Bondi.
The Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk is one of the finest and best things you can do in Sydney. This six-kilometre trek runs along the wild Pacific coast, passing through beautiful beaches including Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly and Coogee. If you want, you can even continue to Maroubra, but this section is less well developed. If you do this walk when you are on your private Sydney tour then your tour guide can pick you up at the end of your walk. You can book a Sydney tour and their great tour guides can tailor your day according to your taste and needs.
The path from Bondi to Coogee is perfect for enjoying the sun while the stunning coastal scenery is perfect for beautiful photos. Of course you can also go swimming on the way, if you have your swimming clothes with you.
Should you visit Sydney in October, look forward to the wonderful Sculpture by the Sea open-air exhibition, which takes place every year between Bondi and Tamarama.
The trail is very popular, and it can get pretty crowded. Just take your time, take a lot of breaks, protect yourself from the sun and take some drinking water with you.
Highlights of the trail include a great view of Iceberg’s Club right next to Bondi Beach and the Waverley Cemetery.
Once in Coogee, head to the family-friendly Coogee Pavilion for a beachfront dinner. If you have run the other way around and come out in Bondi, visit the Bucket List Bondi and enjoy a cold beer in the setting sun.