A guide to explore the best spots in Sydney

What to do in the city on your first visit to Australia

Rafael Bahia Faustulo Machado, Getty Images

Published October 2019

The capital of the state of New South Wales offers a clear glimpse into the ‘Australian way of life’ – so much so that it’s often mistaken for the country’s capital, which is Canberra. For first-time tourists, we’ve made a basic itinerary to explore Sydney:

Sydney Opera House and other famous attractions in the city

You’re in the city of postcard monuments, there’s no doubt about it! Just look at the Sydney Opera House arts center with the Harbour Bridge in the background. Both attractions are located in the Central Business District (CBD), which is also home to two famous green areas: Hyde Park and, on the other side of the street, the Royal Botanic Garden. To find cheap souvenirs, head to the Paddy’s Market.


Urban parks and reserves on the outskirts of Sydney

Further to the west, Bicentennial Park is a legacy of the Olympic Games with a panoramic view from the Treillage Tower and areas to have a barbecue, or ‘BBQ,’ the locals’ favorite activity. In addition, the city is surrounded by ecological reserves, resulting in an intimacy with nature that’s so characteristic of Australia. There are national parks that extend into neighborhoods, like Sydney Harbour National Park (where you can take a walk while enjoying beautiful views of the ocean), and more distant ones – Blue Mountains National Park, for example, offers trails among rock formations and breathtaking views, an hour away from the city by car.


Bondi Beach, Manly Beach, and other beaches in the city

Sydney is in a natural port with beautiful spots, like Manly Beach and Shelly Beach – at the latter, you can go snorkeling. On the lively tip known as Bondi Beach is the restaurant Icebergs, with pools sprinkled with droplets from the Pacific. But, to escape the crowds, the best option is to take a 40-minute walk on the coast to reach the neighboring Bronte Beach, a paradise for surfers that’s also great for less experienced swimmers, who will find a waveless ocean-fed pool at its southern end.


Where to have an Australian breakfast and other meals

The country takes breakfast very seriously – so much so that they call themselves the inventors of flat white (espresso with microfoam). It’s essential, therefore, to start the day with an unhurried breakfast at the Grounds of Alexandria. For some seafood, head to the Sydney Fish Market and look for the extremely fresh rock oysters (a species that’s typical of the region) at Doyles. At night, it’s time to explore two neighborhoods that are filled with excitement: Newtown welcomes visitors with great Australian wine at the Continental Deli; and Surry Hills is home to the restaurant Firedoor, which combines the two national passions: seafood and barbecue.



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