Cliffnotes of Sydney

Seeing the Opera House first thing in the morning or as the sun sets is an absolute must.


Where I stayed: 

Sydney Harbour YHA

What to do: 

  • Opera House 
  • Sydney Bridge 
    • Finding the entrance on the city side can be tricky, so jump on a train to Milson’s Point and walk back towards the city. The best time for pictures is the early morning for the sunrise or the late afternoon when the sun is behind 
  • Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is the best view of both the Opera House & Bridge 
    • FANTASTIC for sunset pics 
  • There’s a 3 story deck on the opposite end of Circular Quay from the Opera house
    • FANTASTIC for sunrise pics 
    • It’s just passed the passenger wharf aka Overseas Passenger Terminal, known officially as the Sydney Cove Passenger Terminal 
  • The Circular Quay and The Rocks districts are cool to explore 
  • Blue Mountains 
    • Train to Katoomba (A$12 offpeak, A$17 commuters hours) 
    • Very easy to navigate from anywhere, no need to book separate transportation 
    • Blue Mountian Trolley Tours- 
    • A$25ish for hop on/off. Cheaper buying in person, day of (cheaper on weekdays?) 
    • I didn’t buy one- I just hiked from (then to): 
    • Leura- town with Sublime Lookout Point (also called Echo Point)- best view of the 3 Sisters landmark 
      • Walk down the Giant Staircase behind the 3 Sisters, then walk the Dandevil’s path 
      • Walk through Leura Forest, the Marguerite Cascades and the Leura Cascades 
    • Wentworth Falls- town with waterfalls 
    • National Pass Park takes you to Valley of waterfalls 
    • Charles Darwin Walk 
      • Brings you to Rocket Point Lookout- awesome waterfall 
      • Before climbing to the point, you walk over the top of the waterfall. You can hop the gate, and there’s about 50 feet of completely safe rocks/water to hang out in. 
  • Featherdale Wildlife Park 
    • Student- A$23 
  • Bondi Beach 
  • Bronti Beach (cliff-top walk) 
    • Favorite beach in Sydney 
  • Manly Beach 
    • Walk along the coastline to tiny and protected Shelly Beach, with cute marine sculptures and a tidal pool. 
    • Ferry to/from here is great- WARF 3 
    • Walk along the edge at the end of the beach to get to a cool rocky pier area with tons of crabs 
  • Luna Park (a permanent carnival) for views after sunset 
  • Free entry to: 
    • Art Gallery of New South Wales (including lots of aboriginal art), the Museum of Contemporary Art at the Rocks, Nicholson Museum in Sydney University, and the National Maritime Museum at Darling Harbor 
  • Check “What’s On Sydney” 
  • The tourism office probably has discounted deals on anything you’d want to do 
    • Green 555 bus is free 9am-330 on week days, 930-6 weekends 
  • Darling Harbor- tourist precinct 
    • Wildlife World – One of the newest additions to Darling Harbor, the Wildlife World is set up with highly detailed, ‘natural’ environments for birds, wallabies, reptiles, and more. 
    • Yellow water taxi- A$15 for 15 minute shuttle from Darling to Circular 
    • The boats here are pretty cool to see- there’s some old giant sailboats and plenty of yachts 
    • Australian Museum / replica of ship James Cook discovered Oz in
  • The Rocks- famous neighborhood in Sydney 
    • Free maps on Visitor’s Center 
    • The Rock’s Discovery museum- free, 10am-5pm 
    • Cool little 24/7 pancakes shop- “Pancakes on the Rocks" 
  • Bondi to Coogee Beach Coastal Walk 
  • “I’m Free” sightseeing tour 
    • 10:30am & 2:30pm regular, 6pm tour of The Rocks (2:30pm one ends where 6pm starts) 
    • The regular tour I was on went to: the Opera House, Hyde Park, Martin Place, the Queen Victoria Shopping Mall/Underground, the Talking Dog Statue, Sydney tower, Circular Quay, the Rocks (briefly), The Rum Hospital 
      • Not all tour guides will bring you to all these, so use that last point as a general idea 
      • All those places are worth seeing even if you don’t have a guide, but getting the history makes them cooler 
  • Sydney Greeters- free, personalized one on one tours given by locals 
    • book AT LEAST 2 weeks in advance 
    • Mine took me through Newton on a street art walk 
  • Airport transport- train to Mascot, bus to airport 
    • Platform 5 to central, then platform 23 to Mascot, at Mascot, leave, and take 400 bus, across the street from subway 
  • Trip view lite 
  • Saturday morning market in the Rocks was excellent- food and items
  • There’s also a Friday foodie market (9am-3pm) 
  • Opal card- discounted rates, capped at A$15 per day, $2.50 on Sunday 
  • Newton- hip, urbanized area. Lots of street art. Great food. 


  • Pompei’s- Italian. Best Sydney pizza according to Frommers 
    • Tried Kangaroo Pizza at the Australian Hotel (~A$20) 
  • Tons of different ethnic foods in Newton 
  • Tim goddam tams 
  • Frankie’s Pizzeria was recommended by a local, never made it

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