Riding the public transportation is Sydney is super easy. We found it to be the most economical way to get around. You can buy an Opal card at train station at the airport and load it with as much as you want. Use your Google maps to figure out how to get to your destination and top up your Opal card at any of the train stations and many grocery stores. The Opal card is good for the ferry as well (not the Fast Ferry).
All the details you need for the Opal Card can be found here:
I arrived in Sydney on Thursday morning and had 4 full days to see the city. Sydney was awesome, right from the start. Whether you love museums, parks, architecture, galleries, food, shopping, beach or water sports, you can find it all here. I had beach time on the top of my list! Next I knew I wanted to check out the waterfront and see the nationally recognized Sydney Opera House. I explored the city as much I could without cramming too much in. If you would like to follow the same itinerary, here is what I suggest:
Day 1: Take a couple of hours to explore the area where you are staying. I always do this in every city that I arrive in. It helps me get to know the lay of the land. In Sydney, I stayed in the heritage hotel called The Grace. I highly recommend this hotel for its location, price, size of the suite and the maintenance. The Grace Hotel is centrally located and walking distance to cool places like the Spice Alley.
After exploring your area and perhaps a little bit of shopping head down to the Royal Botanic Gardens. As you walk through the gardens, you will reach a point (right at the top of Mrs. Macquarie’s Road) where you have a gorgeous view of the Sydney Opera House. If you love taking photos, this will be a nice angle for you. After that, you can walk through the park to get to the Opera House. I walked into the theatre to chill a bit in the lounge. I didn’t leave without snapping a couple more pics of this magnificent place.
Take a stroll along the Circle Quay and stop in to the Aboriginal Art Gallery. There you will find a collection of art from world renowned artists. A visit to Australia is not complete without learning something about its first rightful owners of the land.
The weather was great and the sun was yet to set for several more hours so we took a quick ferry ride to the famous Bondi Beach. Leaving the beach and getting back into the central business district (CBD) is very easy. Just hop on a bus heading to Town Hall or St.James Station.
Darling Harbour. Sydney is surrounded by water, so of course there are multiple spots to catch an amazing view of the city. Darling Harbour also has the Australian Maritime Museum and the Welcome Wall honoring more than 6 million overseas migrants that have settled in the country. I didn’t go through the entire museum, the first level is free and if you like American history you may enjoy the display. I perused through for about 10 minutes and then moved on to see more of Sydney.
Barangaroo South. A short walk away is the Barangaroo South district, which is still going through development, but there is enough to please your appetite for food, retail therapy, and great photos opps.
If you love walking head over to The Rocks, and tour the cobble laneways and visit with local artisans. You can cover this area in 30 minutes and then walk up to the Harbor Bridge. You can walk across the bridge and get an up close experience of this wondrous engineering without doing the BridgeClimb (which I was not interested in). Once you get across the bridge, you will be in Milson’s Point area. If it is a Sunday, there may be a local fashion market happening. You can catch the train from here back to where ever you need to go (perhaps your hotel to take rest).
Manly, Manly Beach, and if you have time head up more north to Palm Beach. If you make it to Palm Beach, plan to veg on the beach because there is nothing around in this secluded area, except gorgeous mansions, one restaurant and a small shop. It took about 40 minutes from Manly to get here by bus and it was well worth it. There are multiple ways to get to Manly. You can use the fast ferry or take the Manly Ferry (which is more economical and you can use your Opal card). Both options will give you the spectacular views of the Sydney harbour and surroundings.
If you like to discover neighbourhoods that feel more local, yet still have something to offer tourists, then you need to hit the Spice Alley. I heard this place referred to as a little Singapore in Sydney. I have yet to travel through Singapore, but the plethora of food option, flavors, and smells is exactly how I imagine Singapore to be. Spice Alley is in the heart of Chippendale and don’t get this name twisted with the male tour group. Chippendale is a happening area popular for its converted warehouses, galleries, green space, and shopping.
There are more touristy things that you can do like, visit the Blue Mountains, The Toronga Zoo, and do the Bridge Climb. All of which, I have heard amazing stories. If you have done this, let me know about your experience.
Getting around by public transit in Sydney is super easy. You will need to purchase an Opal card, which you can do upon departure from the airport. For all the insider tips on getting around with public transit click here.
In Cairns, you will need to rent a car to really explore the area well. We drove about 130 km from Cairns to the Australian rainforest of Daintree National Park. Millions of years ago, much of Australia was covered by rainforest. The climate became drier as glaciers disappeared and continents shifted. This area is one of the last refuges of Australia’s tropical rainforest and owned by the Aboriginal people, specifically The Eastern Kuku Yalanji people.
Upon arrival, you will be welcomed at the visitor center with educational material and a souvenir shop. You can buy a shuttle bus ticket, which will take you up the road getting you closer to the Mossman Gorge and saving you walk time.
Melbourne is full of character and you won’t run out of things to do, especially if you love quirky sites and culture. You can spend several days discovering interesting neighborhoods. Brighton is an affluent area about 11 km outside of the central business district. We took a stroll along Brighton Beach specifically because we wanted to see the beach bathing boxes. We went very late in the afternoon and it felt like a bit of a ghost town because we expected there to be so many people. I even thought there would be vendors selling things out of these quirky colorful home like boxes. I was completely wrong. I have heard that in the early part of the day it does get super busy.
This side of the beach didn’t seem like a place for lounging and more of a site seeing art installation that is excellent for postcard pictures. Apparently, these bathing boxes date back as far as 1862, when bathing in the daytime in the open was restricted. The beach was even divided for males and females.
These sort of bathing boxes were usually used as shelter from wind and for changing in and out of swimwear. Similar bath boxes or bath huts also exist in France, England, Italy and South Africa and have been used for vacationing as well.
I’d love to hear your stories with bathing boxes across the world.
Take a vacation that is good for your soul. If you want to rest and allow your mind and body to be in peace, check out the all inclusive trips in the Caribbean and Mexico. I reckon spiritual and yoga trips as well, although I have yet to experience this sort of trip. Most of my adventures in the past two years have totally been to entertain my soul in cities by discovering authentic foods, hidden vibrant streets, cafes, art galleries and having conversation with locals. Sometimes your soul needs to connect with other people or maybe even with animals around the world. It always feels good to connect with nature and God’s beautiful creatures. I took this photo while hanging out with these adorable koalas in Cairns, Australia. Staring at an animal sounds boring and I typically don’t agree with visiting zoos. I justified this experience because I didn’t know any other way to see these cute and cuddly animals in their native land.
Fun Fact: Did you know that koalas sleep for 16 hours a day? They need more time to digest the leaves they eat.
Entertain your soul to feel more alive in this journey we call life.