As we watch countries around the world deal with the pandemic, it is extremely tempting to start dreaming of a faraway vacation to one of the nations that seem to have fared best. I truly believe there is nothing more relaxing than exploring somewhere hot and sunny, and god knows we all deserve a holiday to the other side of the world after the year we’ve had. As an Australian, I often have Torontonians hear my accent and tell me of their dreams to travel to my home country, so below you’ll find my official Sydney guide featuring my favourite places to go when you’re venturing out — post-pandemic of course!
This historic neighbourhood offers such a variety of activities and experiences that it would
definitely be a mistake not to spend a day (or night) exploring the area. Located right under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, The Rocks was the site of the first European colony in 1788 and is now a thriving area of boutiques, restaurants, cafes, and events. The open-air Rocks Markets take over the beautiful cobblestone streets every weekend with locally produced products, and free tours of the area take place at 6 pm each night. If you’re feeling brave, you can even join one of the famous Ghost Tours, exploring the spookier side of Sydney’s oldest neighbourhood. don’t forget to wander over to Circular Quay to catch the ferry to Manly for a picturesque trip on the water.
Sydney Opera House
I know this one might be a bit obvious, but the Sydney Opera House is truly one of the most
iconic and spectacular buildings in the world so it had to be added to the Sydney guide! I must have been there over a hundred times in my life, but I am still blown away by its beauty every time I visit. Whether you’re seeing a show inside, dining at the Bennelong Restaurant in the southernmost sail, or just exploring the building’s architecture outside, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is an essential day trip for any traveller to Australia.
Bondi to Coogee Walk
This beautiful six-kilometre walk is an essential adventure on any summer vacation to Sydney.
Begin at the world-famous Bondi Beach, and walk along the clifftops past Tamarama Beach,
Bronte Beach and Clovelly, until you reach your gorgeous destination of Coogee Beach. The full walk takes between 2 and 3 hours depending on how often you stop, but I would definitely
recommend taking a full day and stopping at each beach for a swim (plus an incredible photo
opportunity). If you’re visiting in winter, it might be too cold to swim, but the Bondi to Coogee walk is a great spot to see humpback whales making their annual migration along the coast, so don’t let the cooler weather deter you from trekking out! You can even take part in a virtual version.
Hyde Park Barracks
No city guide is complete without a little culture and this Sydney guide is no different. Originally built to house convicts in early colonial Australia, the Hyde Park Barracks is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site and truly incredible museum in the heart of Sydney. An immersive experience is offered through self-guided tours with interactive audio technology, with sessions running for about 90 minutes. You can take your time looking around the exhibits – the technology can tell where you’re up to in the museum and make sure that you’re hearing the correct audio to match your location. Make sure you visit the Hyde Park Barracks to step back in time, follow in the footsteps of real people who spent time in and around this site, and learn about the early days of Australia.
In August of every year, light artists take over all of Sydney’s architecture and open space along the harbour foreshore with stunning art installations and 3D projections. The Rocks, Circular Quay, Luna Park, Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, and Darling Harbour are all lit up with moving light art every night from 6 pm, drawing millions of visitors during the winter, a typically quieter period for Australian tourism. Exploring Vivid is a favourite activity for tourists and locals alike, so if you happen to find yourself in Sydney during the colder months, wandering around this festival is an incredible way to see the city in a different light, quite literally.
Royal Botanic Garden
The Royal Botanic Garden is a 30-hectare collection of closely cultivated plants from
around the world, conveniently located in Sydney’s central business district. With spectacular
views, year-round events, and amazing natural wildlife, there is truly no more relaxing place to
spend a day in the sun, hence why it needed to be added into the Sydney guide! Entry into the gardens is free, though I would definitely recommend buying tickets to the Aboriginal Culture Tour to learn about the diverse history of the Aboriginal people in the Sydney area. Also, for the best view in town, make sure you visit Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair nearby – an exposed sandstone rock cut into the shape of a bench overlooking Sydney Harbour.
Travel safe, and don’t forget your sunscreen!