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Sydney is a city with a hundred things to do. How can you decide when you have so much choice? I have compiled a list of the 10 best things to do in Sydney, to help you keep it simple so you have the best chance of getting to know the largest city in Australia.
Eat at Chinatown
China Town in Sydney is the largest in Australia. It is well known to offer incredible value for money and delicious food. Chinese Noodle House is one of the best restaurants in my opinion. Then follow the crowds to find the Hokkaido Baked Cheese Tarts.
If you can’t decide where to eat, or just want to try the best of everything, then a Chinatown food tour is a great idea.
Catch the Ferry to Manly
Considered by many to be the best value tourist trip in Sydney. For the price of public transport, you can sail through Sydney Harbour past the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge and all the way to the beachside suburb of Manly. It is the best way to take in the famous Sydney Harbour Views and is the number 1 thing to do in Sydney.
The trip takes about half an hour each way. If you have an Opal card you can tap on and off, but if you don’t you can purchase a one-way ticket from the ticket machines located at the entrance. For more information on the ferry trip have a look at the Transport NSW webpage.
Visit the Botanic Gardens
Located right next door to the Sydney Opera House, the Botanic Gardens could easily fill a whole day. There are a number of different gardens, exhibitions, restaurants and events. Check out their website for the most up to date information.
We opted for the motorised train ride through the Botanic Gardens to save our sore legs. It was great for the information it provided and had 4 stops where you could get on and get off to see the whole of the gardens. There is a small booth at the entrance to purchase tickets and they accept cash only. It was about $25 per person.
The Aboriginal Heritage Tour is available on Wednesday, Friday and Saturdays and is a great way to learn about the indigenous history and culture in the area.
Visit Botany Bay National Park
Located on the outskirts of Sydney, we thought that Botany Bay National Park was a highlight of our trip in Sydney. There is a small museum at the site explaining the historical significance of the area as well as a walk through the grounds with landmarks and information boards.
Botany Bay was the landing point of Captain Cook and was the start of white settlement in Australia. Prior to the landing of Captain Cook it was a meeting place for the Indigenous peoples. There is information on Aboriginal culture and the importance of the area to the traditional owners, as well as information about Captain Cook, the Endeavour and their explorations.
Explore the Sydney Opera House
I would love to watch a concert at the Sydney Opera House but unfortunately haven’t found the right show yet that is also kid-friendly. It is great to stroll around the Sydney Opera House even if you don’t go in, to see the incredible architecture up close.
There is an official tour of the Sydney Opera House, if you would like to learn more about it’s history and architecture.
It is worth a trip to Luna Park just for the photos. Located right on Sydney Harbour, below the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Luna Park is the number 1 thing to do in Sydney if you have kids. You can purchase unlimited rides for $50 per person or 3 rides for $20.
We chose the 3 rides and Lala got to choose which 3 she wanted to try most of all. It was a good compromise and meant we didn’t have to stay all day. After Luna Park, we walked over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and explored The Rocks on the other side.
Walk or Drive across Sydney Harbour Bridge
The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb is definitely not for me, but I did want to drive and walk across the bridge. The bridge is not a toll way, so is a great option if you are driving through the city anyway. Make sure you have GPS to guide you because the traffic and roads in Sydney are crazy.
The walk is only about 15 minutes one way, and there is so much to explore on both sides.
Visit The Rocks
The Rocks is the oldest part of Sydney with many of its buildings constructed by convicts. The Rocks Discovery Museum is free and has lots of interesting information about convict history in Sydney.
The streets come alive on weekends as the markets stretch through the cobble stoned streets. There are plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars where you can rest your legs. The Glenmore Hotel offers some of the best views over Sydney Harbour, for the price of a beer.
Visit Cockatoo Island
Located in Darling Harbour, Cockatoo Island is a UNESCO World Heritage listed island that you can access by ferry. It is an important historical site that I would love to explore. If you have the time, it is worth looking at one of their varied accommodation options.
Explore the Northern Beaches
The best way to explore Sydney’s northern beaches is to do the famous coastal walk from Maroubra to Bondi Beach. The track is 12km long and hugs the amazing coastline from rugged cliffs to inviting bays. There are a number of cafes, parks and playgrounds to stop at along the way.
The walk can also be shortened by starting at Coogee. Coogee to Bondi is about 7km or it is 4km if you go the other way to Maroubra.
Sydney is a city that could keep you busy for a lifetime so it is impossible to try and squeeze it into a few days. To do everything on the list above you would need at least 3 or 4 days. I would also love to explore the Blue Mountains, but that is a whole other story!