East Coast Australia Trip – Sydney
Australia is deservedly a popular destination for travelling, work and study. Jess shares the favourite parts of her East Coast trip, in a series of blogs. After visiting Melbourne, she headed to Sydney, and here are some of the highlights.
Check out our blog 10 Things to Know Before Travelling to Australia, which provides helpful info for planning a trip down under.
Recommended time: 5 days minimum
Sydney is the capital of New South Wales. Famous for its iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge, Sydney is known to be Australia’s most diverse and cosmopolitan city, with its exciting food scene, superb beaches, and lots of arts. There is so much to do in Sydney, you would never get bored! However, something to be mindful of when visiting Sydney is how expensive it is. We have specifically mentioned affordable things to do, so you leave the city with the budget to continue on your East-Coast adventure!
Things to do in & around Sydney
Surfing at Bondi Beach
Located in the Eastern suburb, Bondi Beach is arguably the most famous beach in Australia and a great place to surf or paddle. Experienced surfers will want to head towards South Bondi for the bigger waves and swell. In case you are new here, Australia is home to an array of deadly animals, and Great White Sharks are known to inhabit the waters around Bondi Beach. So, you need to be careful when entering the water, and especially look out if you’re surfing. The beaches are lined with lifeguards, but if you are inexperienced or would like more support when surfing / exploring the water, then there are plenty of surf lesson options with experienced guides. If you are a fan of the TV series Bondi Rescue, then be sure to look out for the lifeguards who will be hard at work keeping tourists and locals safe, and looking out for a ‘push and shove’!
I’m sure you are no stranger to the famous picture of the swimming pool located right next to the ocean. Well, if you visit Sydney, why not go for the swim and enjoy the ocean waves (safely) crashing in around you. The cost is minimal considering how stunning the pool and views, at only $9 for a swim session. Should your budget allow, the restaurant at Iceberg’s has an excellent seafood menu and is highly recommended by the locals, as well as being a great spot right on the waterfront. Before you go, do check the website for updates; note that the pool is shut on Thursday mornings for cleaning and maintenance.
Bondi to Coogee Walk
This urban costal walk is an absolute must when visiting Sydney! It features beautiful views of cliffs and beaches, with plenty of coffee shops to fuel you along the way. The walk is 3.5 miles so should take around an hour each way. You will also walk-through Bronte beach, which is another popular destination to explore.
Coogee Beach sunrise
Another one of Australia’s favourites is Manly Beach. It is 20km North of Bondi, so will definitely be a quieter and more secluded option for swimming. It’s also a great spot for surfing.
If you are wanting an adventure out of the busy city, then a hike in the Blue Mountains is a great way to spend a day. Located 60km out of Sydney, the area offers stunning views, with its dramatic sandstone ridges, eucalyptus forests and waterfalls amongst native bushland. You can see ancient Aboriginal rock art and enjoy the Scenic World tourist attraction. Again, remembering that Australia is home to all sorts of creepy crawlies, be vigilant when venturing into the bushland – you don’t want to come face on with a deadly brown snake! (There is always the option of a guided tour!)
Perhaps no longer Sydney’s best-kept secret, but this garden is a hidden gem in the heart of the city. It is a local artist’s small romantic oasis, which offers great views of the harbour. Stroll along the pathways and discover the sculptures, or take a picnic and enjoy peace and nature.
The background to the garden is a heart-warming story of how Wendy converted a once abandoned and overgrown allotment into a beautiful garden, following the death of her late husband, Brett Whiteley. Wendy never asked the local authorities for permission, and no one ever told her to stop, so she kept going and created something beautiful.
Sydney’s spectacular harbourside is home to the iconic Opera House. Arguably Australia’s leading landmark, it is one of the most-photographed buildings in the world. The Opera House is a very impressive piece of architecture, considered by many to be a masterpiece. It is a multi-venue performing arts centre, and there is often a chance to watch live music here. Alternatively, you could take one of the daily tours to learn about the history and culture of this famous tourist attraction.
Sydney Opera House
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Another must-see is the Harbour Bridge, which can be viewed from Wendy’s Secret Garden. This is where the New Year’s Eve fireworks are set off, so if you are visiting over the Christmas period, be sure to catch a glimpse of one of the world’s most impressive displays! For those adrenaline seeking souls, there is the chance to climb the bridge and capture some impressive views of the city.
Australia is considered one of the best places to enjoy a coffee, with an abundance of cafés and coffee shops producing some of the world’s finest coffee concepts. Sydney and Melbourne are generally rivals for first place in the Australian coffee markets, so why not decide for yourself which city does it better! These were my personal favourites: Pablo and Rusty’s is a stylish, light-filled café serving delicious expresso, as well as great breakfast and lunch options. For a contrasting vibe, full of cosy old-world charm, try award-winning, Grounds of the City, which is open 7am-5pm and serves an excellent brunch.
Similar to Melbourne, Sydney is one of the busiest cities which can push up accommodation prices. For a cheap but clean and comfortable stay, we would recommend the Wake Up!, which is a global hostel company with two locations in Sydney Central and Bondi Beach – right on the waterfront but priced at £20 per night!
Note: Prices are correct at the time of publication
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