If you’re visiting Australia, there’s no doubt you’ll be spending some time in its largest city, Sydney. Home to stunning views, beautiful beaches, trendy shopping precincts, and world-class restaurants, Sydney is the economic and cultural hub of New South Wales. Sydney is a bastion of modern tastes and culture intermingled with incredible natural parks and scenery.
Ideally, you could spend weeks exploring and experiencing all there is to see in Sydney. What to do if you’ve only got two days? Don’t worry, here’s a guide for exploring Sydney in just 48 hours. You might not see everything, but you’ll experience the essence of what is one of the world’s greatest cities.
Wakey wakey! One thing you don’t want to do is sleep too much when visiting Sydney. Get yourself out of bed and grab a bite at one of the many eateries around the city. Circular Quay is a great place to choose from a plethora of cafes offering a myriad of breakfast options, with harbour bridge and opera house views.
Grab a ferry from the Quay and visit the seaside town of Manly, enjoying views of the harbour and mega-mansions on the way. At Manly you can join in activities like scuba-diving, parasailing, and fishing, or just take a walk along the beach and lounge with the other sunbathers. There are also lots of restaurants and shops around. The Bower Restaurant on Marine Parade has delicious local seafood and great views of ocean surfers.
A scenic stroll along the coast will give you the opportunity to see the many views that Manly has to offer. Your camera will get a workout, and no matter what beach you’re on there are many places to stop for a rest and a drink. If you’re a television fan, you can hop on a bus to visit Palm Beach, which is otherwise known as Summer Bay on the series Home and Away. The crew are regularly filming there, so there’s a good chance you’ll catch a star or two hanging around the area.
… And of those places might be the Barrenjoey House Restaurant. Fill up with a Tasmanian meal after a tiring day of adventure and exploring. From there, you can grab a long bus or cab ride along the coastline back to Sydney, enjoying the sights as you go.
Grab a nightcap at one of the many establishments Sydney has to offer. Great options include the Baxter Inn and Frankie’s Pizzeria.
Not far from Circular Quay, you’ll find The Rocks. This is an area of retro-chic, as Sydney’s oldest neighbourhood, and is trendy among both tourists and locals alike. You can search for hidden gems in their many boutiques or check out the Museum of Contemporary Art for some interesting exhibitions. The Rocks is also a great place to enjoy a nice mid-morning coffee at a café while watching the people walk by.
After The Rocks, why not head over to climb the famous Harbour Bridge? This is one of the most popular sights in Sydney, and for good reason. Grab a safety wire and climb atop “the coat hanger” while taking in the sights and sounds of the bustling city and harbour.
After 3.5 hours spent atop the bridge, it’ll definitely be time for a late lunch. Why not try one of the trendy food trucks located around the city? If you have time, hit up Harry’s Café De Wheels, at the Woolloomooloo Finger Wharf. Harry’s has been a Sydney institution since 1945 and serves meat pies with mash, gravy, and peas, as well as hot dogs and other tasty snacks.
Right near Harry’s is the Art Gallery of New South Wales, home to a comprehensive collection of Brett Whiteley works. Whitely is perhaps Australia’s most iconic artist. You can also marvel at the collections of Aboriginal and Asian art which highlight some of Australia and its neighbours rich histories. If you’re keen for more iconic aboriginal artwork, you can then head to Wentworth Galleries in Martin Place. If time permits, stroll around the nearby botanical gardens to get a little serenity in your day.
If you want to stick exclusively to Whiteley, you can head down the road to the Brett Whitely Studios. This is a studio where he often worked, and remains as a monument to his life and art.
You can also head down to King Street Wharf and take in all of the fun of Darling Harbour. There’s fun for the whole family with cinemas, the Maritime Museum and cruises into Sydney Harbour. For dinner, there’s loads of options – some favourites include the Malaya, Blue Fish Restaurant and Kobe Jones Teppanyaki.
Showtime! You can’t visit Sydney without taking in a show of some kind. Since time is limited, you should make sure to check one out at the iconic Sydney Opera House, home to drama, dance, concerts, and the symphony. There is bound to be something for your tastes. If you’re not able to take in a show at the Opera House, there are always Broadway-style musicals to see, featuring the best performers Australia has to offer. After the show, grab a drink or two at the Opera Bar just outside, and relax while taking in the views and the beautiful city lights. A perfect way to cap off your Sydney adventure.
As mentioned, 48 hours is not a lot of time to explore Sydney and experience everything it has to offer. So if what we’ve named isn’t to your tastes, don’t fear, there’s plenty more to see and do.
The Bondi to Bronte coastal hike is a 3.5km cliff walk along one of Australia’s most famous beaches. Afterwards you can enjoy a stroll through Paddington, where there are some wonderful independent boutiques and lots of little delis and patisseries. Paddington Reservoir is an amazing hidden gem with overgrown plants; grab some takeaway and head here for a nice, serene lunch. No matter what you’re looking for, there’s tons of iconic tourist walks throughout Sydney to choose from.
Of course, a conversation about Sydney is not complete without a mention of their spectacular beaches. It would be very easy to spend an entire day sitting at a place like Nielsen Park, which boasts clear views of the harbour and the Harbour Bridge. There’s also a nice restaurant and food kiosks to keep you refreshed throughout the day.
And if you’re travelling with the kids, why not choose some fun-friendly activities? This guide to kid-friendly restaurants, activities and venues in Sydney is sure to be of interest for the whole family.
So, while here is a perfect guide to get the essence of Sydney, there is so much to see and do that you can mix and match all you want to get your perfect 48 hours. Arts, culture, food, fashion, and relaxation are all available, so it doesn’t matter where your tastes lie, you simply can’t go wrong with a visit to Sydney.