Sydney, often mistaken as the capital of Australia, is only the state capital of New South Wales. This is because of its infamous Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Bondi Beach and Darling Harbour all being in the center of every commercial. Despite being one of the biggest cities, it is home to over 100 beaches. Australians can never get away without the beach bum stereotype because of this. Sydney has developed into the multicultural hub of Australia, home to over 270 ethnic groups.
You would think with all that diversity that there might be conflict, there will always be some of course that is unavoidable with big cities all over the world. It would be attributed to the Australian laid back attitude as to why there is such cultural harmony. Either that or other cultures don’t quite grasp the sarcastic Australian humor. So be warned, the Aussies are very sarcastic, they aren’t being rude, it’s just their way of being funny. Most of Sydney’s main attractions fall around Darling harbour and Circular Quay. Circular Quay is one of busiest docks in the world welcoming more than 12,000 large vessels a year, that doesn’t include their passenger ferries.
Speaking of passenger ferries, be sure to catch one over to Taronga Zoo, it is Australia’s best wildlife park. Getting around Sydney is fairly easy with the trains and buses. You can easily get to and from all the attractions. Sydney experiences 4 seasons but it never really gets that cold. Their hottest month is January with temperatures topping 85°F and not really dipping below 55°F in July. Bear in mind that during the summer, December through to February, it is their thunderstorm season. You will get the best weather during their very mild winters. Plus the spectacular Sydney Opera House display, Vivid Sydney showcases its magical light display in Winter – Usually May and June.
10. Paddy’s Market
Paddy’s Market is a 170 year old market that sells everything from handbags to watches to food and souvenirs. Be wary that most of the products here for sale are knock offs but you can find some great bargains. Paddy’s Market has over 1,000 stalls so even if you don’t buy anything, it’s cool to have a walk around. I have to admit, it is hard walking around and not getting tempted by anything. Travelers tip: Shop around for the best bargains as a lot of the shops sell the same thing, make sure you get the best price.
9. Botany Bay
Botany Bay is famous for being the place where Captain James Cook of the HMS Endeavour landed his ship in Australia for the first time in 1770. His arrival sparked the beginning of Britain’s interest in Australia. This then led to the colonization of Australia with British convicts. Today, there are many shops and cafes around the beautiful beach and bay to take in the historic sight.
Darling Harbour is at the heart of Sydney’s shopping and entertainment district both by day and night. This beautiful harbour offers a multitude of attractions like the aquarium, Chinese garden of friendship and Madame Tussauds. It also features several shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars, fountains and gardens. This is the ultimate-destination in Sydney that you cannot miss.
Hornby Lighthouse is a striking red and white lighthouse that stands tall in Sydney Harbour National Park. This is a great spot to visit all year round but you may have a good chance of seeing some whales swim by during the winter months.
The lighthouse was constructed in 1858 following two fatal shipping disasters. To reach the lighthouse, take the South Head heritage trail, an easy paced walk from Camp Cove.
6. Bronte Baths
The Bronte Baths is a swimming pool located to one side of Bronte Beach. This is the original infinity pool if you will. They are salt water pools that are naturally filled by the waves of the ocean. That means you can swim in the ocean in a perfectly safe environment. You get all the benefits of swimming in the salty sea with none of the risk. How cool is that and why aren’t these in every country? There is one called the icebergs at Bondi Beach but this one is nicer in my opinion and far less crowded. Best of all, it is free to use.
5. The Rocks
Coming in hot at number 5 on our Tripio custom top 10 of uniquely Sydney is The Rocks. The Rocks is a historic neighborhood in Sydney. It features some of the oldest pubs in the country along with quaint, boutique shops selling hand-made crafts. There are also buskers and open-air markets to enjoy here. It has a totally different vibe to the rest of Sydney, to the rest of Australia in fact. It is very unique. It is one of the only places in Australia that really feels historic apart from Uluru in the Outback of course.
4. Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach is one of the most famous beaches in Australia. It even has its own hit Television show called Bondi Rescue. This beach is conveniently located a close proximity away from downtown Sydney. Though, as the name of the tv show suggests, it can be quite dangerous to swim in the ocean here if you are unfamiliar with the strong Australian undercurrents. The waves also reach over 13 feet high. In 1938, on a day now referred to as Black Sunday, more than 200 people were swept into the sea after being struck by a massive wave. Not to mention that sharks are often spotted. Not to put you off or anything, there is a team of professional lifeguards on the lookout. My advice is to always swim between the flags and when there is a lifeguard on duty. The iconic beach is crescent-shaped and spans 0.62 miles long. It is great for sun-bathing, building sand castles and playing beach volleyball. There are plenty of bars, shops and restaurants around to make your visit enjoyable. Surfers and beach lovers, add this one to your custom itinerary on the Tripio app.
3. Taronga Zoo
Taronga Zoo is the largest zoo in Australia and is famous for its iconic location. This zoo offers an incredible opportunity to see amazing animals with the Sydney harbour in the distance. You can take a ferry from Circular Quay to the zoo which creates the illusion of it being on an island. Even though it isn’t and is actually attached to the mainland. Taronga Zoo is one of the world’s leading zoos in terms of its conservation efforts. Their enclosures are well maintained and all the animals are well looked after. The Zoo is spread out over 69 acres and is home to more than 4,000 animals. You are bound to get some incredible and unique pictures here. Add Taronga Zoo to your custom itinerary on the Tripio app for a fun adventure for the whole family.
The Sydney Harbour bridge comes in at number 2 on our top 10. Unfortunately, though a remarkable structure on its own. The Sydney Harbour bridge is nearly always outshined by the Sydney Opera House. Even when it comes to appearing in photographs. Built in 1923, the Sydney Harbour Bridge was the star of harbour for 36 years before the Opera House was built. The bridge is affectionately called the coat hanger by the local Aussies due to its perfect arch. The bridge spans over 1,650 feet making it one of the largest steel arch bridges in the world. You can walk, cycle, drive, ride a train and even climb it. Catch it on New Year’s Eve as it always has a spectacular display of fireworks off it.
Coming in at number 1 on our custom top 10 is The Sydney Opera House. You’ve seen it on nearly every commercial advertising the land down under. It is the most iconic landmark in Australia, let alone Sydney. This remarkable building attracts more than 10 million visitors every year. This one is definitely on most people’s bucket lists. Over 200 designs were submitted and it was a Danish architect by the name of Jørn Utzon who won the honor of having his design immortalized. It was built in 1959 and has been the pride of Australia ever since. Australia is a long way from everywhere so if you have traveled this far you may as well check out what shows are on in the opera house to appreciate the inside of this remarkable building as well.
Bonus: Vivid Sydney
Vivid Sydney is an incredible, if not the hands-down best time to visit Sydney for a vacation. It is a festival of light and music celebrating some of the country’s most brilliant creative minds. It is held once a year for about a month, usually in May and June. These dates do change each year so make sure you check before booking your vacation to Sydney. Vivid includes absolutely stunning immersive visual projections and light installations on the sails of the Sydney Opera House. I lived in Australia for 14 years and this was my favorite attraction. If you want to be blown away by the power of art, add this to your travel itinerary. An adventure all the way down under would be made extra special by catching this incredible event. Oh and it’s free.
When creating your custom itinerary on the Tripio app, ensure you carefully select your preferences. We, at Tripio have done all the research for you to ensure your next vacation is full of all the right attractions and adventures to suit you individually. The Tripio app will generate custom top 10 lists based on your preferences. We want to make sure you tick off your bucket list and maybe even find some more adventures and vacation destinations to add to your list. I hope you have enjoyed Tripio’s blog on uniquely Sydney.
-Gemma Winchester, Tripio Guru