Day 1 - Suss out Sydney
Sydney has a handful of different suburbs to stay in. You can either lay your hat in the city centre, in some of the neighbourhoods just outside it or by one of the beaches. Let’s presume that you are staying in the city centre, and use Central Station as you’re starting point.
Georges Street runs the whole way through the city centre and is a good place to begin your wander, starting at Central Station. From here you should hang a left and meander through Chinatown. Full with jewellery shops and restaurants, there is also a market known as Paddy’s Market in the area, and a great food hall if you are feeling peckish. Also close by is Darling Harbour. Previously one of the parts of the city most locals wanted to forget about, in recent years it has become slightly commercialised, but still worth a look.
From Darling Harbour you should make your way to Pitt Street. There is a monorail which operates around the city but it is really just for novelty reasons, although is used by some city commuters. Whichever way you decide to get there, you can have a walk around the shops in the pedestrianised area as there are lot of shopping centres and department stores about. If you don’t want to blow all your cash straight away you can pick a spot and watch some of the street performers or buskers. Sydney’s tallest building known as ‘Centrepoint’ is also right in the middle of Pitt Street and there is an observation deck at the top which offers excellent views over Sydney.
When you are strolling down Pitt Street you should recognise a segment of a bridge which is at the end. This is Sydney Harbour Bridge. Known as the ‘coat hanger’ to locals, it connects North Sydney to the CBD and really is breathtaking when you see it up close. The best vantage point to see the bridge is from Circular Quay, where you will also find Sydney Opera House. This famous building looks different from every angle and is unlike any other in the world. If you only do one thing down here, sip a coffee and just gaze at both these landmarks
If you finish up in Circular Quay, just beside the quay is a part of the city known as ‘The Rocks’. The area is full of activity seven nights a week. In particular, there are loads of Irish Bars along the Rocks’ end of Georges Street. ‘Fortunes of War’, which claims to be the city’s oldest pub, is also in the area. The best thing about drinking in ‘The Rocks’ is seeing the Harbour Bridge very first thing when you walk out of the pub.
Day 2 - Beaches, cliffs, then fish and chips
Note: This day can be done either way ie start in Bondi and finish in Coogee, or vice versa. We’ve done it so you start in Bondi.
It might not be the most amazing beach in the world, but Bondi Beach is undoubtedly Sydney’s, and probably Australia’s most famous. Spanning one kilometre from the north to the south headlands which guard it, lifeguards patrol the beach while surfers and swimmers can be seen in the sea. And then there are sunbathers, of course. If you don’t feel like sunbathing for a couple of hours the surfers provide hours of entertainment, as do the skateboarders going up and down the half-pipe which is at the southern end of the beach.
After all that relaxing in the morning you should do something a little more active in the afternoon. And between Bondi and Coogee is the perfect activity. Regarded as one of the best walks in Australia, the Bondi-Coogee cliff walk lets you visit all the eastern suburb beaches along with taking in some truly breathtaking ocean views. Departing from Bondi, the next beach is Tamarama, dubbed ‘Glamorama’ as it is where many of the city’s beautiful people come to sunbathe. From there you travel by Bronte, through Waverly Graveyard, on to Clovelly, passed Gordon’s Bay until you eventually reach Coogee Beach. While not as internationally known as Bondi, it is extremely popular with locals and backpackers alike.
The walk is a total of 6 kilometres in distance and takes approximately 2 hours to complete. After upon completing it you should have worked up quite an appetite. There are loads of restaurants in both Bondi and Coogee, but what both coastal towns both have is excellent fish and chip shops. They are bound to fill that gap in your stomach, and if you feel like desert you can try deep fried Mars Bars from Bondi Surf Seafoods on Campell Parade. Mmmm!
Depending on which of the two suburbs you end up at in the evening that is where you should stay. Both have good places to party in, and as both are full of backpackers, there is always a good atmosphere in them. Wednesday night in Bondi is the busiest while in Coogee Thursday is when everyone decides to go bananas.
Day 3 - Katoomba and the Blue Mountains
Situated about 65 kilometres from the city centre, the Blue Mountains National Park is one of Greater Sydney’s ‘must-dos’. What’s good about most day tours to the park, which is situated close to a town called Katoomba, is that they also take in Homebush and the Olympic Village, home to the 2000 Olympic Games, considered the best ever. Stadium Australia and the Sydney Aquatic Centre, where many memorable scenes took place during the games, are in the village and it is nice to see it in person.
Also squeezed in to the first half of the day is Glenbrook National Park which is full of wildlife in their natural habitats, and Wentworth Falls, a town best known for its 922ft waterfall and bush walks.
After lunch is when you go to see the famed ‘Three Sisters’ which are found in the Blue Mountains. The lookout to the mountains is apparently the most visited lookout in Australia. The haze given from the Eucalyptus forest below is how the mountains got their name. Afterwards you walk to Katoomba Falls, through spectacular rainforest and return on the world’s steepest railway. Day tours really fit loads in and are the best way to visit the mountains.
There are two ways to visit the Blue Mountains. You can either get one of the day tours like mentioned above (recommended) or you can travel to Katoomba and stay there overnight. If you do plan to get a hostel in Katoomba there are still a good number of places to go as the town has a population of over 17,000 people. But if you decide against it, and go back into Sydney, around the city centre there are a large number of pubs, particularly Irish ones. These aren’t too bad, and are full with backpackers, but some are quite dirty. You have been warned!
Day 4 - Manly, more walking and the best ferry ride of your life
North of Sydney Harbour are some of the city’s best beaches which are far quieter than those in the eastern suburbs. The best known of these is Manly and the best way to get there from the city centre is on a ferry from Circular Quay. Taking approximately 30 minutes, the scenery along the way ensures it isn’t the longest half an hour of your life.
Manly is a fairly big town with lots of shopping to do, particularly if you like surf clothes. And if you don’t want to go splashing your money on clothes, the beach itself is perfect for a few hours sunbathing.
For the more adventurous of you out there, another walk begins in Manly, this one even longer than the cliff walk in Bondi. Known as the Manly-Spit Scenic Walkway, it runs for a total of 10km and has lots of places along the way where you can stop for a quick dip if you are getting too hot. Once you leave Manly, you reach the North Harbour, then Forty Baskets Beach before crossing across Dobroyd Head. This is where you will enjoy the best views of the entire walk. When you get to Clontarf you may decide to stop for a coffee, or maybe even a swim. When you finally reach Spit Bridge this is where the walk ends. It is from here that you can decide whether or not you want to walk back (fair play to you if you do!), get the bus back to Manly or one straight into the city.
As Manly is another of the suburbs which is particularly popular with backpackers, you can always be guaranteed of a good night out there. Even though you may be in Australia, and it would be nice to socialise with the Aussies every now and then, there is something about going out with a bunch of twentysomethings who don’t have too many cares in the world which is extremely enjoyable. And the best thing about doing it in Manly, is that if you are staying in the city you get to enjoy the ferry back to the city centre after dark. This is easily an attraction in its own right and saves money on getting one of the organised night time harbour cruises!
If you feel the need to get back into the city centre for some serious partying, the Route 69 Party Express is an organised pub crawl visiting all of Sydney’s best known pubs. Picking up backpackers at points in Bondi and Kings Cross, the bus drops you off door to door at the various pubs around the city (which comes in handy when you can hardly stand any more!). There are games and giveaways throughout the night and it always proves to be a bit of a laugh!
Day 5 - Kayaking and bar crawling
There is one thing seeing Sydney from land, but it’s another thing to be able to say you kayaked on Sydney Harbour. It’s a great way to see some of the harbour and a good way to get active also. Sydney Harbour Kayaks run full and half day tours around the North Shores which give those on the tour the chance to swim and snorkel also.
After your paddle in the harbour, make your way back into the city for some relaxing in the Botanical Gardens which are right beside the Opera House. Inside the gardens are a glass pyramid where you will find the Sydney Tropical Centre, a rare plants section and, most impressive of all, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. This is the best place in the whole of Sydney to see both the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge together.
Oxford Street runs from the top of Hyde Park in the centre of the city, the whole way down to Bondi Junction, one of the eastern suburbs. There are pubs, clubs and fast food joints every 100 yards down the street, making it the perfect place to go on a pub crawl. It is also the heart of Sydney's gay social life, but whether you are gay or straight nothing will stop you from having a night to remember.