Sydney was stop 1 on our two week vacation to Australia! We kicked it off with a bang and didn’t stop until we hopped on a plane back home to the states! This will be the f›irst of 3 travel guides for each city/place that we went to! I hope you guys enjoy & I’d love to hear about any other favorites you have from your time in Sydney! Thanks for stopping by & checking my Sydney travel guide out!
Intercontinental Sydney: I cannot say enough good things about the Intercontinental. The location was incredible, the view from our room was like it was out of a movie (we were overlooking the Sydney Harbor Bridge, so dreamy!), and overall it was pretty much a dream. I mean there was a Vera Wang wedding dress show room in the hotel-talk about dreamy! We were right downtown in the thick of it all. We were within walking distance from the Opera House, the Sydney Harbor Bridge, and Circular Quay. We were able to even check in a little early since we arrived to Australia at like 8 am. They simply sent us a text when everything was all set. They also have a women’s and men’s changing/bathroom area that we used before our room was ready and were able to freshen up before we went out and explored! Next, their breakfast there was SO good. They legitimately had everything you could think of. They had breakfast options from different countries, too (mainly Asian cuisines) so honestly everyone had an option. Their fresh juice bar was the icing on the cake. How else was I supposed to feel good about myself after having a bunch of carbs and bacon?! Haha! Last, one night Den went down to the concierge and asked where was a close spot to grab a bottle of wine & they just whipped out a bottle and gave it to him & said enjoy! How sweet and nice is that?! Quality service most definitely doesn’t go unnoticed in my book!
Circular Quay: This is basically where all of the boats/ferries, restaurants, Opera House, Bridge, etc. are situated in. Our hotel overlooked this area. We were right in the city center so any hotel in the vicinity would be your best bet in general. If in doubt when looking at hotels and the Intercontinental doesn’t suite your needs, then just stick to the Circular Quay area and you’ll be SO happy you did! Everything was within walking distance. Also, the condos and houses that overlook the harbor on the other side of the water are legitimately AMAZING and if any of those would be available for an AirBnB, I’d check that out, too! Sticking close to everything is definitely your best bet!
Vivid: We got SO lucky because Vivid was going on while we were in Sydney. Vivid goes on for about three weeks once a year in Sydney. They light up the entire quay-the Opera House, The Bridge, the Hotels, the Boats/Ferries. There’s a path that leads to the Botanical Garden (our hotel overlooked this, as well) and that is all lit up, too. It seriously was such an added bonus to us being there. We explored one night and stopped at an outdoor food and bev. stop and looked over the water to take it all in. If you can somehow plan your trip around this time, you won’t regret it! Although their seasons are opposite (they were going into Winter), Sydney was very mild so it actually was perfect weather for us: like 75 and sunny!
Sydney Bridge Climb: I feel like this is a quintessential tourist-y thing to do for someones first time in Sydney. Even though I’m afraid of heights, for some reason it didn’t phase me for the climb! We actually did a night climb that ended up being SO incredible! We could see all of Circular Quay lit up because of Vivid! Everything looked freaking amazing-I can’t say it enough! The climb pass includes a group picture they give you at the end and then you have an option to purchase some photos after-which we did! The first part of the climb was a bit scary getting to the actual climbing part but once we started the actual climb, it honestly wasn’t scary at all! It’s wider than you think and you’re all secured in. If you think you can do the climb and put the heights aside, I totally recommend doing it!
Sydney Opera House Tour: So this might be a pass for some people because it might sound boring at first, but for us, it was a given! I mean it’s what Sydney is known for-it’s freaking iconic! The tour was roughly an hour and tickets are around $40. We walked through the different halls, heard about its history, and what was really interesting to me was the design and architectural side of everything. Also our tour guide’s sense of humor was to die for! He had such dry humor, but had us all in shambles from laughing so hard. We ended in the gift shop-which got us in trouble in every city/place we traveled to! Haha. The design in general is breathtaking and I think it’s a must see & do while you’re in Sydney!
Boat/Ferry Tour: This was HANDS DOWN one of my favorite things we did while in Sydney. We did this our first day after we arrived and it honestly was the perfect combination of relaxing and exciting at the same time, just in case we were too tired from the jet lag! There are countless ferry tours you can choose from and it’s really easy to pick from. There’s a port right in the middle of Circular Quay where you can check out different options, times, prices, and tour sizes. One of the biggest ones, Captain Cook, carries up to like 200 something people I believe. However, we went a little more private of a route. Chartering a 52′ yacht for essentially the entire day was the route we went. It was just us five and the two crew members for a little over four hours. We toured around different harbors, dropped anchor at one point to fish (or swim if we wanted), had lunch that they prepared for us..I mean, it was absolutely amazing! Oh & unlimited wine! I can’t say enough great things about the boat staff and how knowledgable the main woman was who was giving us tour information as we sailed around. I’m sure a larger tour would be great, but going the more private route for us was so fun and worth it!
*Side note: I don’t have a website link to this as it was booked through an agency, so if anyone is interested in this, reach out to me (comments, emails, whatever!) and I’ll get that information to you! Trust me, it’s so worth it!
Bondi Beach/Bondi to Coogee Walk: Bondi beach is like the most iconic beach in Australia so we had to take a little trip there. It was about a 15-20 minute uber ride to the beach, so not bad at all! Even though it was a little bit colder and windy, Bondi was still seriously so beautiful. I even went and put my feet in the water and the temperature actually wasn’t that bad! I mean still cold and I probably wouldn’t swim in it (unless I had a wet suit like the surfers) but it felt great to stick my feet in! The water, the views, the cute shops around..I was obsessing over it all! There’s a walk to Coogee that is roughly 3.5 miles that leads you through scenic cliff views with coves, cafes, restaurants, smaller hotels, houses, even a burial ground with some breathtaking views. We stopped a little bit before the end (it ended up getting super windy, cold, and a little rainy & we had the bridge climb that night so we didn’t want to overdo it) and grabbed a bite to eat for some fuel. It definitely took us longer than the “estimated” time given because we took SO many pictures. Around every corner was another amazing view. & we saw two whales playing out at sea! It was the cutest thing ever.
*Side note: After we got back, Den & I discovered a Netflix show all about Bondi Beach lifeguards and their day-to-day lives and saves. It has been SO fun to watch since we’ve been back because we keep saying “I remember that!” Haha
Queen Victoria Building: If you’re up for some shopping in the city (which I always am!) then you have to go to the Queen Victoria Building. First off, it’s beautiful inside-that always makes shopping more fun, right? Second, it has great shopping stops inside, mainly high end, but those window displays are always the coolest. Even if you aren’t into shopping, just walking through this to experience the architecture and design aspects inside and out is really fun and exciting!
So for the most part, we had breakfast at the hotel because..duh, it was amazing and convenient! So I don’t really have any breakfast/coffee recommendations. However, I’ve listed a few places we hit up while we were in Sydney. *Side note: most of the tours/activities we did included a lunch or dinner aspect, like our boat day included lunch, snacks, coffee/tea, drinks!
Opera Bar: This was our first stop when we arrived and checked into Sydney. We wanted to take a quick walk around because our hotel was so central to everything and ended up stopping here for some drinks and smaller bites to eat. It overlooks the water, a perfect view of the bridge, and had great food and drinks! I 10000% recommend ordering the crispy fried cauliflower! It was HEAVENLYYYY. & the rose was great, too! It started to get a little more crowded as the day went on, but most of the seating was outdoor anyways so it all felt open! 10/10!
Sea Salt: This was the restaurant we stopped at along our walk from Bondi to Coogee, it’s actually located in Clovelly looking over the water. I got the mushroom risotto with chicken and it was killer. For those that don’t love mushrooms, it honestly didn’t have a mushroom flavor or essence to it at all. Just more creamy with chicken-ugh so good, especially after being so cold during the longer scenic walk! Den got the salmon that I didn’t get a chance to try but he said it was great-that means a lot coming from him when he doesn’t necessarily care for sea food!
Fortune of War: We stopped in here for drinks on one of our last nights. It’s known as the oldest public bar in Sydney! Once we found that out, we had to go in. The second I walked in, I felt like I was in Dublin again in the pubs. It was so nostalgic I just loved every minute of it! There were people from all walks of life there and I loved every second of it!
Food Trucks: Since Vivid was going on, they had a bunch of food trucks right by all of the restaurants because everywhere was so packed. So we chose to get some nachos from one of the local food trucks and then this like potato ring on a stick thing (no idea how to even explain it, but it was GREAT!) seasoned with salt and vinegar. It was a quick and easy food option that we could take and walk around with so we could still explore!
A few others that we passed while exploring that looked really cute and had good vibes around (still located in Circular Quay, all overlooking the harbor) were: Cruise Bar, Quay Restaurant, Sydney Cove Oyster Bar. All of these are within walking distance of each other, have awesome views of the harbor, and overall felt like they had such great vibes! You know how you can just tell?!
Okay so this post turned out WAY longer than I expected and I even left out quite a bit of stuff (these were just my favorites!) but I truly feel like these are some of the best of the best options for your time in Sydney! Don’t forget to subscribe if you want to follow along with future travel guides for the other two cities we visited while we were in Australia! Thank you so much, again! Cheers!
Ps: I recently wrote a post about my first impressions of my Away Travel here & let me say, it did not disappoint while I was in Australia! Safe to say, I’m obsessed with Away Travel!