Heading to Sydney? Well here’s how to make the most of it with my ultimate Sydney Itinerary – inc where to stay and the top things to do!
Trying to put together your perfect Sydney itinerary and not sure where to start?
Well this iconic Aussie city is packed full of things to see and do – from world famous beaches to postcard perfect views and some awesome day trips too.
So to help you piece together your dream Sydney itinerary here’s a rundown of everything you’ll need to know and how to fit in all the best bits!
The Ultimate Sydney Itinerary – Everything You Need To Know
Getting to Sydney
Sydney is one of the top destinations for any trip to Australia. It’s only a short flight away from most of the major Australian cities too, making it easy to fit into your trip and also for Aussies looking to explore their home country too.
Flight Time To Sydney
- Perth to Sydney = 4 hours 5 mins
- Darwin to Sydney = 4 hours 20 mins
- Cairns to Sydney = 4 hours 25 mins
- Melbourne to Sydney = 1 hour 25 mins
- Brisbane to Sydney = 1 hour 25 mins
With each trip being less than five hours, you will have plenty of time to explore the wonderful city of Sydney.
And of course if you don’t want to fly, you could choose to drive as part of an Aussie road trip. From Melbourne it’s around 9 hours or from Brisbane, you will have an almost 10-hour road trip.
However you choose to travel to Sydney it’s well worth the trip and whether you’re travelling solo, with friends or even with the family in tow this beautiful city won’t disappoint. From the Sydney Opera House to the Skywalk, there are plenty of adventures to be had while you are in Sydney.
Top Free Things To Do
Like any city, Sydney can get pretty pricey, pretty quickly! Luckily though there are plenty of free things to pack into your Sydney itinerary to keep you busy without breaking the bank!
Explore The Botanical Gardens
For visitors that want to see some of the natural wonders of the area and beyond, you can take a short trip to the Royal Botanical Garden. This stunning garden is located East of the business district, just a short walk along from the Opera House, and contains 74 acres of land filled with beautiful flowers, plants and wildlife too. Head around to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair for come incredible views – including that iconic shot of the harbour, Opera House and bridge.
Grab A Pic Of The Sydney Opera House
One of the most beautiful structures in Sydney is undeniably the Opera House – which is the Australian icon all over the world! The sail-like structure is a must do for any Sydney itinerary and is free as long as you decide to take a tour of the exterior and not the interior! A great spot for sunset, the adjoining bars are the perfect spot for a cold beer or wine whilst soaking in the views.
Stroll Around Darling Harbour
Whilst you’re at the Opera House you can always extend your walk to take in Darling Harbour too. This vibrant part of the city if filled with amazing bars and restaurants so it’s the perfect stop of to refuel and soak in the city vibes!
Coogee to Bondi Beach Walk
The famous Bondi Beach offers amazing views of the coast and the Coogee to Bondi Beach Walk is a great addition to any stay in Sydney. The beach walk trail is a 3-km walkway that takes you along the coast of Bondi Beach all the way to Coogee – or you could also do it in reverse too!
A beautiful scenic walk, make sure you pencil in a few hours to complete it so you can stop off and enjoy many of the secluded bays along the way.
Best Day Trips From Sydney
As beautiful as the city of Sydney is, it’s also well worth including some days trips outside of the city as part of your Sydney itinerary. Escape the big smoke and explore some spots around Sydney – including epic landscapes and gorgeous beaches.
Blue Mountains National Park
One of the most popular day trips from Sydney, The Blu Mountains got their name from the blue hue that the eucalyptus leaves lay over the entire park and is a spot that all visitors will love. With the fresh scent from the leaves to the to magnificent waterfalls and view point this is a firm favourite for anyone
Although the name might make you think of a beach with a gym on it, that couldn’t be farther from the truth! This beach is reached by taking a ferry ride across the harbour from the Opera House – the boat trip alone is worth packing your camera for! Chill on the sprawling sands, learn to surf or visit the wildlife sanctuary to see fish and turtles for even more photo opportunities.
This Port is one of the greenest in the area because of the many plants and bushes that line the border. With the towering trees surrounding the water, you are able to swim, snorkel, or go kayaking in the waters here. On route make sure you stop off and tackle the Port Stephens Sandboarding excursion for a bit of adrenaline fuelled fun!
Another super popular day trip from Sydney, Jervis Bay is full of natural beauty and this stretch of coastline is home to lots of dolphins too, so keep a watchful eye out for them.
Tobruk Sheep Station
For the animal lovers that want to see some adorable creatures while in Sydney, they can take a day trip to the Tobruk Sheep Station where they can get a chance to see shearing demonstration. This is a family-friendly trip that children and adults will both love.
If you love a good tipple or two then a trip to the Hunter Valley region is a must do during your stay in Sydney! With a huge range of award winning vineyards and breweries to explore jumping on a Hunter Valley day trip will help you make the most of this stunning area and sample some of the best wines and beers in Australia.
Best Places To Eat In Sydney
Honestly there is a ridiculous amount of incredible restaurants and food vendors to eat your way through whilst exploring Sydney – but here are some of the highlights!
This restaurant is for those who want a new experience while eating, and not just some great food. The chefs here are known for their multi-course meals that include both Japanese and French inspired dishes that you will not get anywhere else. This place is made for those with a sophisticated palette, so best to leave the kids out of this one!
If you want a more casual option, then Ester will give you a contemporary twist on classic Australian dishes with lots of focus on fresh fish. There are also vegetarian dishes that will allow those on restrictive diets to have something great to eat as well. They also serve amazing desserts, so you might want to leave some room for them, or take one to-go….or maybe two!
This Cantonese restaurant is a treasure of the area with its industrial décor and comfortable environment. The delicious offerings from duck pancake rolls to dim sum, you can try a different flavor every time you come in. Sydney has plenty of incredible Asian cuisine to choose from and Mr Wong is one of the top places to hit up.
Just a short walk from Sydney Central Station, the cities China Town is well worth a visit if you’re looking for a tasty, budget friendly spot to eat. With plenty of food vendors and restaurants to choose from you’ll find a huge range of tasty food to keep your belly happy.
Cow and the Moon
This café and ice cream parlor is a hip corner spot that will give you lots of decadent creations with desserts that are breaking your diet for. They also serve coffee so you can have a bit of something hot with your cold dessert for the perfect afternoon snack.
Lox Stock and Barrel
A top choice for many visitors on a budget that want to get a taste of Australian history. From the corned-beef to the eggplant meals, you will find mouth-watering dishes that celebrate the Jewish history of the area while giving you a wonderful hot meal.
Best Beaches Around Sydney
Despite being a huge, sprawling city, Sydney is fringed by some incredibly beaches, that are easily reached from the city centre and some serious beach time is something you should add into your Sydney itinerary for sure!
If you don’t want to feel like a tourist, then head to Milk Beach with its view of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. This beach is close to Bondi Beach, which is always packed full of tourists, but this small beach is usually pretty scarce and gives you much more room to relax.
A great snorkelling spot, Shelly Beach is filled with sewed gardens and heaps of marine life. Make sure you put on plenty of sunscreen though, that Aussie sun isn’t very forgiving!
A trip to Sydney would’ve be complete without a visit to the world famous Bondi Beach and this area is one of the top places that you should visit when staying in Australia. Famous for its bright blue waters, bustling nightlife and of course the lifeguards – Bondi Beach is perfect for sunbathing and surfing too.
Key Events & Festivals in Sydney
Xmas and New Year
One of the biggest dates of the year for Sydney has to be the period from xmas to New Year – with hundreds of thousands of travellers descending on the city to enjoy an Aussie celebration! When it comes to xmas Bondi Beach is the place to head but you’ll have to get there early to nab your spot on the sand! Coogee is a greta alternative if you want to escape the backpacker crowds though.
When it comes to New Year Sydneys Botanical Garden is one of the best free locations to head for epic views of the midnight firework display. If you want to treat yourself though a ticket to one of the Opera House bars or boat cruises will give you a more exclusive view of the nights events.
Top tip though – if you’re heading to Sydney for xmas and/or new year make sure you book well in advance as accomodation books out and many have minimum stays of 7 nights, so be organised!
Sydney Fringe Festival
The Sydney Fringe Festival is one event that you can’t miss. This festival uses music and art to create a wonderful preview of all the different people and things going on in Sydney. This is an open festival that you can spend all day at finding new bands and artists to see and listen to, which also helps support local music and art.
Another highlight of the Sydney calendar is the famous Vivid Sydney festival – where the city comes alive with colour as light installations and performances pop up across the city. Of course the most famous of all is the light show projected onto the Opera House which is one you shouldn’t miss out on!
Chand Raat Festival
The Chand Raat Festival is one of the biggest multi cultural celebrations in Australia. The festival brings forth all of the best parts of Middle Eastern culture and arts with performances from traditional dancers, henna tattoos, and face painting for the kids. You can also get a taste of food and treats with Middle Eastern spices and dishes that will tickle your taste buds.
Yulefest in the Blue Mountains
During the colder months of the year, you can find something fun to do at the Yulefest in the Blue Mountains. There are lots of Christmas events that will get you in the spirit of the season, including the appearance of a fully-suited Santa Claus. Many places in the area offer special events, but the times may vary, so check ahead.
What’s The Best Time to Visit Sydney?
Shoulder Season – September Through November
If you want to see what Sydney has to offer but don’t want to deal with hundreds of crowds around the city, then you will want to go sometime in September November. This shoulder season means good deals on flights and accomodation – so more bang for your buck! The temperature is most moderate and comfortable throughout the entire day, making it ideal for wandering around the city and coastal paths.
Peak Season – November Through February
If you want the best of the weather and hit all the top events and festivals that dot Sydneys calendar then peak season is the way to go. Be warned though, temperatures can soar and it’s also the busiest time of year – so you’ll be paying top dollar for flights and accommodation and will need to book well in advance.
March Through May
Many of the same shoulder season perks apply to this time of year with flight prices and event tickets being lower, but it’s a cooler season that is perfect for those who want to see Sydney before the cold winter months begin.
Best Accommodation in Sydney
As with the rest of Australia, there are many AirBnB locations across the city. Often close to many of the most popular areas of Sydney so you won’t have to travel far once you are here – these also allow you to feel more at home within the city than staying at a hotel and are great for groups too.
This guest house has an amazing place that happens to be built on the side of a hill. This is design has won awards for its architecture and comes with a private space that you get all to yourself. It is about 40 minutes from the center of Sydney and has one of the most amazing views that you can get.
This luxurious suite is one way to stay in the lap of luxury on a budget. This suite has one bedroom with two beds and a private bathroom. This place is located in the center of the CBD and is near all the things to do in the city. With a great view of the city below, you will also love just sitting next to the window and looking out around the town.
Studio with Courtyard
This small studio apartment is a budget option that still looks like the perfect spot to stay. The studio is small but will hold everything you need for your trip and comes with a courtyard on the balcony so you don’t feel cramped. This AirBnB is a private apartment and allows you to have all the privacy you need, and it is close to the downtown area where the action happens.
If you’re a backpacker or looking for the best value accomodation throughout Australia then staying at a hostel is the way to go. Sydney has a huge range of hostels to suit every budget, ranging from cheap and cheerful to full flashpacker style setups.
Situated right across from Sydney Central Station, WakeUp! is one of the most popular hostels in Sydney and is where I stayed when I first arrived in Australia – in fact I’ve stayed there many times since! The location makes it a great base for walking around the city or jump on a bus or train if you want to go further afield. With free wifi, great facilities and even an in-house bar it’s the perfect place for travellers wanting to meet new travel buddies.
YHA The Rocks
A full flashpacker style hostel YHA The Rocks has won a whole heap of awards. The main draw here are the million dollar views of Sydney Harbour and the Opera House – with many private rooms offering views of them!
And if you’re not lucky enough to score a room with a view the rooftop BBQ areas has some spectacular panoramic views of the whole Harbour!
Base Sydney boasts a central location that allows access to the best parts of the city by foot and is another great option for budget travellers. An easy walk down the main shopping streets of Sydney it’s about a 15 mins walk down to Darling Harbour and the Oper House.
Not keen on hostel life and want to ease and comfort of a hotel? Well Sydney has an array of mid range hotels that have all the creature comforts of home for an affordable price…
Mercure Hotel Parramatta
This mid-range option is a great choice for young couples that want to see the nightlight of Sydney within a budget. The rooms are spacious and parking is on-site for those with a rented vehicle. This location is nearby shopping centres and gardens so you have plenty of things to do.
Rydges Sydney Harbour
With an incredible location and rooftop pool overlooking Sydney Harbour this is an awesome choice for a mid range hotel in Sydney. Walking distance to all the icons of the city and the train station for those trips further afield it comes with all the amenities you’d expect from a good Sydney hotel.
If you would rather spend your time enjoying the finer things in life, then booking a luxury hotel will give you what you want! These hotels boast room service, top-notch spas and gyms, and many have in house dinning options for guests. Kick back in the lap of luxury after a day of traveling and walking around the city.
Four Seasons Hotel Sydney
This luxurious option is a choice that comes with fantastic views and modern décor and furniture. The rooms are larger than others in the area, and although the price is higher, you get what you pay for! This includes a bar, fitness centre, restaurant, and pool and of course INCREDIBLE views!
Another great option right in the centre of the CBD, Swissotel Sydney oozes style, elegance and class! Walking distance from pretty much everything there’s a range of luxurious rooms for singles, couples and families and the on site facilities even include a day spa.
Meriton Suites Kent Street
These suites are located close enough to the harbor that you can walk to it and nearby a shopping center for some souvenirs. The rooms come with free Wifi, flat screens, and air conditioning for the hotter months of the year for your comfort as well as a fitness centre to help you stay in shape on your vacation.
The Perfect Sydney Itinerary
Whether you’re putting together a Sydney itinerary for 5 days or a longer or shorter stay, you will want to tick off all of the best things to do during your stay. So to help make the most of what the city has to offer here’s how I’d recommend spending your time in Sydney…and of course you can tailor it to fit your own style and budget!
Day 1 – Beach Vibes At Bondi
After traveling to Sydney, you don’t want to jump into the action right away, so why not spend a relaxing day at Bondi Beach? This area does get busy, but you can feed off the energy of the other people and splash around in the water after laying out in the sun. There are also lots of shops and cafés nearby so you can get a hot latte or cold smoothie whenever you need it.
After refuelling, you will be ready to head out on the town. Time to to tackle the Bondi to Coggee Beach Walk that leads you all the way to Coogee Beach – giving yourself plenty of time to stop off en route.
Time to tick off one of Sydneys top attractions – the Sydney Opera House! Grab the bus or train down to the Harbour in time for some incredible sunset views – including the Opera House, Harbour and Bridge. A great way to wrap up your first day in Sydney.
Day 2 – The Blue Mountains
After a chilled day exploring the beaches and settling into your time in Sydney it’s time to bounce out of the hustle and bustle for the day and explore the Blue Mountains.
You could opt to hire a care and self drive out there but honestly the easiest and most popular option is to book onto a Blue Mountains Tour. With pickups and drop offs across the city its ideal for all styles of traveller.
Depending on the tour your choose you’ll explore stunning waterfalls, stop off at the popular Wildlife Park for your chance to feed kangaroos and get a pic with a Koala, chow down on an Aussie BBQ and of course soak up those famous views of the 3 Sisters and the landscape that makes the Blue Mountains so famous.
Heading back into Sydney in the late afternoon grab a bite to eat at one fo the many restaurants around Sydney or head straight to Darling Harbour for a cheeky cocktail and fancy meal out!
Day 3 – City Strolls
After a day of adventure out in the Blue Mountains is time to tie up those shoes and get ready for a day strolling around the city.
Or if you fancy taking even more of what the city has to offer the the City Bus Pass is a great option – allowing you to hop on and off at all the major stops and attractions around the City. The on board commentary gives you an insight into the city you might otherwise miss so it’s well worth it.
Nip into China Town for some lunch time snacks or boot up TripAdvisor and find your favourite cuisine – Sydney has it all!
Finish off your day at the Sydney Sky Tower, which is an incredible spot for sunset and the in house dinning is certainly and extravagance you can easily justify!
Day 4 – Jervis Bay
Time for another day trip!
You’ll hit up the beach with the whitest sand in the world at Hyams Beach – so get ready for some pics and world class sunbathing! Keep that camera handy too as there are some stunning lookout points all along this stretch of coastline and you can even jump on a dolphin watching cruise too.
And of course if Jervis Bay doesn’t take your fancy Port Stephens is another awesome option to slot in here if you fancy some sand boarding action!
Day 7 – Across To Manly & The Botanical Gardens
Round off your Sydney itinerary with a final day of relaxation across and Manly Beach. Not only will you get to take in those fabulous views of the Opera House on the boat ride over, but this alternative side to Sydney is perfect for beach lovers, surfers and foodies.
Stroll along the coast, grab a coffee with an epic view and enjoy your final day in Sydney before grabbing the ferry back to the city and taking a walk through the Botanical Gardens.
Not only are they home to heaps of awesome flora and fauna but you’ll get more incredible views of the Opera House and Bridge too…and the perfect excuse for another sunset beer there!
And of course if you’re putting together a 7 day Sydney itinerary (or longer) there’s more than enough to keep you busy – from Taronga Zoo and the Aquarium to live music, incredible food and of course even more beaches!
What awesome things are you adding into your Sydney itinerary?
Add them in the comment below!