Spectacular Spots You Can’t Skip in Sydney: A Travel Interview
Sometimes it’s hard to believe that I spent two and a half years calling Sydney, Australia my home. In some ways, it feels like a distant chapter of my life, although other times, it feels like I was there just yesterday. While I got to see both the good and bad Australia has to offer, there’s one thing I can’t deny: Sydney is a truly stunning place. I’m excited to share my latest traveler interview, featuring a city that is very near and dear to my heart.
Cat and Joe are originally from the UK but are currently on the road in Asia. They spent five years living in Sydney and fell in love with it, getting to know it first as tourists and then as locals. They share their adventures on their travel blog Walk My World, so I spoke with Cat about her thoughts on spectacular Sydney.
Thanks for chatting with me! What do you love about Sydney?
My favourite thing about Sydney is that it is built around the water. Wherever you go in the city, you are never far from gorgeous harbour views. It might be one of the biggest cities in Australia, but nature is all around you. I was woken up far more often by the sound of the kookaburras laughing than by traffic noise!
I remember that sound well! What’s your all-time favorite place there?
The best attraction in the city is definitely the Harbour Bridge. It doesn’t matter how many times I walked or drove over it, or sat and watched the sun set behind it, it never felt any less special. It dominates the skyline and looks timeless against all the modern buildings nearby.
It’s a striking sight! If a traveler only had 24 hours in Sydney, what are some places you’d tell them they absolutely can’t miss?
I would say get up early and head over to Bondi Beach for sunrise. It’s the quietest time of day to visit this iconic location, and the sun rises above the ocean. If you like the outdoors, head from Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach following the clifftop coastal path. It’s an easy 5.5km walk and something not to be missed. Look out for whales and dolphins.
Next, head back into the city and wander around the historic area known as The Rocks. It’s then just a very short walk to Circular Quay where you can walk right up to the Opera House steps or enjoy it from the Opera Bar (which also has an amazing Harbour Bridge view).
The botanic garden is right beside the Opera House and leads to one of the most iconic views in the city, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair; if you can time it for sunset it will be extra special. If you still have energy left, then head to the Blu Bar at the Shangri-La Hotel. The view from the 36th floor is out of this world. You can see the whole harbour twinkling in the distance.
I love all of those spots! What’s your favorite off-the-beaten-path thing to do that wouldn’t be found in a typical guidebook?
Few visitors know about the little islands in the middle of the harbour. The best of all is the tiny Shark Island, Sydney’s best picnic spot. If you want adventure, rent a kayak at Rose Bay and head over there independently.
If you fancy something more sedate, hop on one of the Captain Cook Cruises. Bring everything you need, as there are no facilities (except for bathrooms) on this wild little island. It’s all about the views and the feeling of isolation. Note: if you are coming by kayak, you need to purchase a $7 NSW National Park ticket in advance, as the island is part of Sydney Harbour National Park.
What’s a cool neighborhood you’d recommend to visitors looking for something a little different?
If you are a coffee lover, then you can’t miss hanging out at one of the cool independent cafes in Surry Hills. This Sydney neighbourhood is renowned for having the best coffee in the city. Try local favourite Cook and Archies; the banana bread with ricotta is also highly recommended! It’s a great area for a stroll with lots of quirky shops and bars too.
I spent a lot of time in Surry Hills. Love it! Tell me about your favorite restaurant in Sydney.
My favourite hands down is Buffalo Mozzarella in Darlinghurst. This tiny bistro focuses on cheese imported from Italy and their salt and pepper spaghetti served straight from a cheese wheel is the best I’ve had outside of Italy. The restaurant is very small and doesn’t take bookings, so there is often a long wait. Don’t let that put you off though—ask them to text you when the table is ready and go for a drink at the nearby Bloody Mary bar.
I’m bummed I missed it! What are the most photo-worthy or Instagrammable spots? Any fantastic lookouts or otherwise photogenic spots?
There are so many Instagrammable spots in Sydney. If I had to pick a favourite, it would be Jeffrey Street Wharf in Kirribilli. The Harbour Bridge appears to loom over you; it’s great at sunset. Icebergs ocean bath at Bondi Beach is another favourite; sunrise is ideal for this one.
What are Sydney’s must-see museums or monuments?
The best museum in the city for me would have to be the Australian Museum. The exhibit on Australia’s now extinct megafauna has to be seen to be believed. They also have a great Indigenous Australian exhibit, which helps you get some understanding about the Aboriginal culture and history in Australia.
What tips do you have for travelers looking to avoid the crowds?
If you are heading to one of the popular beaches, then definitely head there early to avoid the crowds. In fact, visiting anywhere in the city in the early morning will lessen the number of people you are sharing the experience with.
What should visitors know about transportation around Sydney?
The most scenic way to get around the city is definitely by ferry. Make sure you take at least one ferry journey, the most beautiful being either from Circular Quay to Darling Harbour, where you travel under the Harbour Bridge, or the Manly ferry, which is as good as a harbour cruise for a fraction of the price. Ferries can’t get you everywhere, but most other places can be reached on foot or by train and bus. Grab an Opal Card when you arrive for the cheapest fares.
What other spots would you recommend?
If you have the chance, take a day trip to the Blue Mountains. It’s one of the most beautiful parts of Australia and can be reached in less than two hours from Sydney. There are some incredible hiking opportunities, and if that’s not your thing many of the viewpoints are drive-up, and Scenic World offers cable cars and the steepest railway in the world to get you to some of the most special spots.