One of the greatest once in a lifetime experiences in Sydney is the $200 Sydney Harbour Climb. I remember watching Oprah and a crew of people, harnessed up to walk across the famous steel arch. Last December, I remember my husband and I having the thought of whether or not we wanted to embark on this thrill, gut wrenching experience. It was almost an automatic no for me, but I wonder if my husband would have opted in if he was with his pals. The experience is far too scary and unnecessary for me. I much prefer the more predictable and free option! After walking in The Rocks area we reached the entrance for the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Looking for gorgeous views of Sydney on a clear sunny day? Then you must put walking across the Sydney Bridge on your list of free things to do.
Entrance to the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Take the stairs up
Let the views begin and don’t take the engineering of the bridge for granted. Take your time and appreciate this distinctive landmark.
The bridge connects two major commercial areas, The CBD of Sydney and Milsons Point. When you get to the other side you will be in Milsons Point. I’m not sure if the vendors are always set up at the foot of the bridge on the Milsons Point side, but if they are be sure to stop and look at the handmade crafts, antiques, and fashion from local artists.
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.
Sydney, Australia is one of my favorite cities that I have visited. It has an incredible skyline and multiple harbourside views for walking, dining, and touring in the heart of the city. The most popular attractions include the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I love Sydney because it is a walkable city and the public transit is easy to figure out and extremely accessible. When visiting Sydney, stay in the central business district, also known as the CBD. I stayed at the Grace Hotel and its location was perfect for everything that I needed to do. I was walking distance to the Opera House, Darling Harbour, the Circular Quay, all the shopping, the Contemporary Museum of Art, the Rocks Precinct and more.
The Grace Hotel is one of the oldest buildings in Sydney and was recently restored. This neo-gothic structure was built in the 1920s by the Grace Brothers. I found the hotel to offer the warmth of a heritage hotel with a touch of luxury for an affordable price. The room with the double bed was very spacious and the beds were just as described… “dreamy”. Our room was made up perfectly every day and any time we needed something, the staff was responsive right away. If you want to stay at a reliable hotel with a lot of charm, this will be the place for you. The only downfall for this hotel was the gym. It is on the top floor with a very low ceiling. Weight trainers will have to skip their routine and stick to cardio on the treadmill or the bicycle. Overall, I recommend this hotel for someone who wants a very clean hotel, with a perfect location, and good service. Look for this hotel on Hotels.com to get the best rate.
If you don’t mind staying a little further out, there are some hotels closer to Spice Alley that may be good options too.
No matter how you travel or where you stay, always be thankful for your adventures. I thank God for travel.