We spent 3 lovely days in Sydney – capital of Australia and real life hustling, bustling city. Here are some of the highlights:

George Street and Pitt Street: Our YHA hostel was right on the corner of both and we walked both streets quite a few times to get to different places. Both are lined with stores, restaurants, and businesses and have a thorough mix of casual tourists and formal business men and women walking along the sidewalks. When I think city, this is exactly what I picture.

Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge: Stunning, both during the day and at night. There’s also a great skyline from where they are and a really busy line of pubs along the waterfront. We also visited the Rocks and Circular Quay.

Hyde Park/Botanic Gardens: I liked the Botanic Gardens a lot better than Hyde Park, mostly because it was bigger. We saw a lot of native plants species, got to tour the governor’s mansion’s grounds, and see the ANZAC (google it) Memorial. At the Botanic Gardens, there were a ton of super intense people working out… Guess that what happens when you live close to so many beaches.

NSW Art Gallery, Library: The Art Gallery had really neat collections, except the special contemporary art exhibit. That one was kind of disturbing… The entrance featured a dead body covered by a sheet. On the other hand, the library was GORGEOUS and also had mini exhibits of its own.

Paddy’s Markets: These were amazing. Everything was super cheap and featured things from clothes and souvenirs to unique foods and massage stalls. It was also right under an outlet mall and a delicious food court.

Chinatown: Almost right next to Paddy’s. Lots of merchants and restaurants. It was actually interesting because almost everything around Sydney was translated into Chinese underneath the English, not just in Chinatown.

Victoria Building: Super expensive shops, huge Christmas tree, really neat clocks. Most beautiful building in the city.

Darling Harbor: All throughout the city there were Christmas trees and lights and banners and it was awesome. Darling Harbor also featured a million Santas. We ate at one of the restaurants at night and also tried out the Lindt Café. There were carols at night but we missed them.

Sydney Aquarium: Ever since seeing the Beijing Aquarium when I was little, I’ve been pretty disappointed with every aquarium I’ve visited since. But Sydney Aquarium was actually very different and impressive. Part of it was that the animals were more unique (platypus!) but also the underwater tunnels were awesome! We saw sharks, dugongs, and sting rays swim around and over us! Pretty cool.

Manly Beach: This was undoubtedly my favorite part of Sydney. Upon recommendation by several people, we went there instead of Bondi Beach and I’m so happy we did! We climbed up to a lookout and the coast was absolutely beautiful. The beach wasn’t too crowded and we basically napped on the rocks. Everything else (besides the markets) on this list was free and we only had to pay a ferry ticket to get out here. It was so worth it. Up on the lookout you couldn’t even tell we were only 20 minutes out from downtown Sydney. It was a perfectly clear day where you could see all the way to the horizon… I absolutely adored it.

Say what you will if we missed any important sites, but I really liked our itinerary for our short time in the city. Especially since it meant food and accommodation were our biggest expenses!


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