What to do in Sydney, Australia

Some years back, two dear friends from Scotland decided to spend a year in Sydney and asked if I’d like to join. I had just graduated from college and wasn’t quite ready for my first adult job, so I decided to go along for the ride!! It was one of the best decisions of my life! Sydney is a fantastic city and I feel lucky to have called it my home–even for just a short while.


First things first, where to stay. Sydney is an expensive town, if you’re from the US – think New York prices.

If you’re on a budget and in your 20s, there is an excellent Youth Hostel on Sydney Harbour. You could also check out Airbnb options.

If you want to splurge hit up the Shangri-La Hotel on the Rocks in Sydney Harbour.


One of the most quintessential images of Sydney is the Opera House (above). The Opera House can be viewed from many vantage points, but if you’d like to get inside you can take a tour or see an Opera. More than seven million people come out to see the Opera House each year!

bondi beachDuring my time in Sydney I lived off Bondi Beach and spent my days serving at a restaurant on the promenade. Bondi Beach is a must see in Sydney. It is a popular city beach just outside of downtown and on the weekends you’ll find young professionals decked out in their designer sunglasses.

Every other day of the week you’ll find sunburned tourists doing the “lobster walk” (dubbed after their sun-burned red skin) down the beach.

bondi icebreakers sydney, australiaThe beach is home to Bondi Icebergs–a swimming club that dates back to 1929 and is the starting point of the Bondi to Coogee beach walk. This fantastic cliff walk will take you from one beach to the other with beautiful ocean views along the way. Do the walk! I promise it will be one of the highlights of your trip!

bondi to coogee walk sydney, australiaOne of the best ways to see Sydney is to get on a boat. You can do an organized harbour tour or a cheaper option is to take the ferry to Manly beach.

Manly Beach Sydney, AustraliaYou get to enjoy a pretty sweet beach (less crowded than Bondi) if you make a day of it and will see incredible harbour views on the ride over.

sydney, australiaIf you make the trek all the way to Australia, you have to see a kangaroo! Although it is way cooler to see ‘roos in the wild, if your itinerary isn’t going to take you outside of the city, the next best option is the Taronga zoo!

Taronga Zoo Sydney AustraliaAs a bonus you get to take cable cars to the entrance.

Taronga Zoo Sydney, Australia

One question I get a lot is, should I do the Bridge climb? It’s definitely a cool experience, but it costs a lot of money. Splurge if you want the full experience, but remember it’s free to walk across the bridge and although not as thrilling it will provide great views of the city.

There is plenty more to see and do in Sydney, but this should be enough to get your planning started!

If you’re looking for packing ideas, check out my packing post for Sydney here!

Taronga Zoon Sydney, AustraliaG’night, Sydney!

xo, Jenny

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  1. 8.12.15

    Great tips! I’m visiting Australia on my next big trip and will be in Sydney over New Years Eve (very excited). As we’ve got such a short amount of time there I was torn between Bondi and Manly but looks like it’s easy to do both. Any advice for my first Sydney NYE?

    • 1.8.17
      Lisa said:

      Omg this is amazing advice. I’m going for a year myself in April! Can’t wait! X

  2. 9.22.15
    Cathy said:

    Choose Bondi over manly Lucy. It’s easier to get around the city from there. Personally I would stay in the city near circular quay or down near Darling Harbour to make it easier to get around.
    For NYE if you want a prime spot around the Harbour you will need to be prepared to get there really early in the morning and then wait all day. Most spots are free.
    Don’t forget to do the bridge climb, you get an amazing view of the city and beyond.

  3. 1.4.16
    Peggy said:

    If you don’t want to do the bridge walk- I recommend the Tower- right in the middle of downtown Sydney and it has a 360 view all around the city and beyond!!

  4. 8.22.16
    Marcie Spano said:

    I’m enjoying reading your blog. I will be traveling with my adult daughter to Australia in December. We picked this time so that we could enjoy your summer weather.We will be in Australia for three weeks and then onto New Zealand for two weeks. How can I not overpack and still have the proper clothing for these two countries?Do you dress in Sydney for dinner or is it a more of a casual atmosphere? We will be staying at two high end resorts so I want to bring the right clothing. Any guidance that you can give will be greatly appreciated.

  5. 11.22.16

    I can’t wait to get to Sydney for Christmas. We’re staying in Bondi, so we’ll be on the beach on Christmas Day. Loved the Bondi to Coogee walk when I was there last.