Sydney is a clean, sophisticated city with enough scintillating sights, delectable dining, and interesting history to keep a visitor happy for days. It is also a very walkable city with many of the top sights easily accessible by foot. Here are my top nine must-do sights in Sydney.
1) The Circular Quay (pronounced key) is an excellent place to begin your exploration of Sydney. This is the transportation hub of the city with ferries and harbor sightseeing cruises frequenting five piers. Many restaurants have alfresco tables for a people-watching dining, street entertainers perform, or at night, enjoy live jazz at The Basement.
2) The Opera House is a world-famous architectural landmark. The white-tiled roof that looks like billowing sails resulted in huge cost and time overruns from the original plan and the designing architect, Joern Utzon, never saw his masterpiece completed. The complex houses a concert hall and opera house with near perfect acoustics, as well as several performance theaters for dance and drama. Tours that are full of interesting trivia are available for a fee.
3) The peaceful Royal Botanic Gardens were established in 1816 and remain a popular respite for busy city dwellers. The sandy soil of the gardens is kept fertile with “zoo poo” from the Taronga Zoo across the bay. Mrs Macquarie’s Chair (actually a rock) provides a popular view of the harbor and the gardens offer free walking tours and admission year-round.
4) The historic Rocks District is within easy walking distance of the Circular Quay. This area is full of quaint pubs and restaurants for your dining and drinking pleasure. Many shops also line the cobblestone streets, making it a good area for souvenir shopping.
5) The Sydney Harbor Bridge, aka the Coat Hanger, has one end anchored in the Rocks and connects to the north side of the harbor. The adventurous can get spectacular views of the city, harbor and Opera House by taking a 2.5 hour tour that goes up ladders, steps and catwalks to the very pinnacle of the suspension arch. Safety instructions, climbing suits, tethers, and a hefty fee are required. The less brave can walk across the vehicular bridge on a flat sidewalk, preferably from the north to the south side at sunset, for almost equal views.
6) Darling Harbour is a large area full of activity, lined with a huge choice of restaurants and sidewalk cafés. Cockle Bay Wharf, Kings Bay Wharf and Harbourside are each distinct areas of the complex.
7) The Sydney Aquarium on Aquarium Pier at Darling harbor boasts the world’s largest collection of Australian marine life. A moving walkway inside a tunnel puts you in the underwater habitat of sharks and stingrays. Crocodiles, penguins, platypuses are also on display. Next door, Sydney Wildlife World exhibits more Australian flora and fauna from different habitats. Daily programs and feedings even give you an opportunity to pet kangaroos and koalas.
8) Taronga Zoo resides on the north side of the Harbor on 75 acres of bushland. Home to Australia’s largest collection of exotic animals, visitors can see kangaroos, koalas, platypuses, dingoes, wombats, and Tasmanian Devils in their natural habitats. The zoo even has special sleep over events for kids called “Roar and Snore.”
9) Manly and Bondi Beaches are two of the most popular beaches and are closest to downtown. Sidneysiders love their beaches and make full use of surfing, sunbathing, and watersports during their summer which runs from early October until March or April. These lively beach areas have promenades, plenty of cafés, and draw an eclectic group. Nudist beaches and family oriented beaches are also available, but found in more out-of-the-way locations. All of Sydney’s beaches have protective shark nets a half mile off shore.
Note: My recent visit to Sydney was sponsored by Goway Travel. Visit their website at www.Goway.com.