If you’re anything like me when you’re travelling you want to experience wonderful local perspectives of the cities and towns you’re exploring.
So as a local Sydney girl I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite Sydneysider activities to help make your Australian holiday fabulous.
5 Must Do Things During Your Visit to Sydney, Australia
1. Finding original and locally made Sydney treasures
With Sydney rents as they are it is very difficult for talented creative makers to afford shops so the smart alternative is The Rocks Markets. It’s a selective process with about 1000 hopefully applicants each year and about 20 making it through so with competition this tough the standards are high and prices competitive, a bonus for the shoppers – and it has to be Australian crafted.
Creatively Belle was invited to join The Rocks Markets in 2008 and is now a permanent stall holder in Playfair Street with Southern Ice Porcelain necklaces, brooches and earrings made by Belinda with love. Be sure to say hello and check out the specials for when you’re getting presents.
You also have great food options at The Rocks with four affordable cafes in Playfair Street and a number of restaurants too. Sitting in a cafe or a pub and doing a spot of people watching is always fascinating.
2. Stretching the legs
So you’ve been travelling for hours and want to stretch those legs out, well the good news is Sydney has lots of spectacular options for you.
Sydney has loads of wonderful coastal walks that pass through seaside suburbs. Locals have been flocking to these much loved footpaths for years and now visitors are discovering them too. Check out the popular Bondi to Coogee walk along the stunning sandstone coast line of the Eastern Suburbs. Transport is easy, simply catch the 380 bus from the city to Bondi and head to the southern headland (the ocean is to the east and the headland is home to the Bondi Ice Bergs). You’ll find the public footpath accessible from there.
You can finish your walk at any of the beaches and find cafes and a bus to take you back into town.
3. Taking in some Sydney stories
Sydney has a range of museums and art galleries and favourites of mine include the NSW Art Gallery at the Domain, the NSW State Library on Macquarie Street and the Museum of Sydney on the corner of Phillip and Bridge Streets.
Each has great exhibitions and shapes with somewhat decent cafes.
The NSW Art Gallery has a wonderful standing collection that is free to visit and I have some treasured paintings there that I always enjoy sitting with. Usually the special visiting exhibitions are fee based and you’ll need to get your tickets on the main floor with the exhibition space downstairs.
The NSW State Library has a similar setup with some free and some paid for exhibitions (usually upstairs).
While the Museum of Sydney is paid entry only but I’ve always found it good value. One of my favourite standing exhibition features of the museum is a wall display showing artefacts from the maritime port experience of Sydney. This always captures my imagination.
And if you’re going to The Rocks Markets be sure to also stop into The Rocks Discovery Museum too, tucked away in a sandstone alley next to the markets.
4. Fall in love with Sydney Harbour
Now this is a truely local thing to do, fall in love with Sydney harbour! It’s completely easy to do and it only takes a moment!
As a local I’ve been on lots of Christmas party harbour cruises and I’ve always loved being chauffeured around the harbour. Over the years I’ve also crewed on sailing yachts out of Middle Harbour or Rushcutters Bay and if you have the chance to do this jump at it.
When I was working in the city I would escape down to Circular Quay and a return inner harbour ferry, eat a sandwich and marvel at my beautiful harbour.
Whatever experience you have on the water in Sydney you’ll be amazed by the tucked away little bays, the mansions with stunning views and the network of ferry jetties all around it.
5. Have some good tucker by the water
Most of our beach and harbour side parks have free BBQs so it is really easy to get yourself a picnic together and head off for a traditional Aussie barbie. The rules are pretty simple, share nicely and clean it up when you’re done and always put your rubbish in the bin (if it’s full, take it with you until you find a suitable one). Many parks allow you to enjoy a beer or a wine but some have alcohol restrictions so do check signs and respect the local council rules – again, this makes life easier.
Not up for a spot of cooking, want someone else to do it all? No worries, you can combine a ferry trip with food too! Most ferry jetties are close to cafes and restaurants so you can have your pick. Watson’s bay has two options – one is an expensive restaurant and the other is their cheaper, take away fish and chips shop where you can take your tucker and sit by the water under a beautiful tree. I’ve done both and they are wonderful experiences to have.
Transport is pretty easy in Sydney, even when there’s a chunk of work being done. We have buses, trains and ferries, taxis and uber drivers plus tourist buses and loads of footpaths.
If you’re anything like my God-son and his brother, when they came to Sydney as littlies the best thing about their visit was going on trains, buses and ferries! So their mum and I just caught up on the go. I must confess, I think it is rather interesting seeing a different city from it’s public transport windows. You get to see the locals as well as the suburbs and I find that fascinating. 131500.com.au is the government transport website to check out.
You’ll need an Opal card which is easier than it initially sounds. You can buy them at most news agencies at train stations, one for each of you as the card can’t be shared for the same ride.
Start with $10 on each card and top up as you need to. You can top up using a credit card payment at an Opal machine or with cash at the news agency. You can’t get refunds from your Opal card. Some hotels might have Opal card options for you too. Note that the NSW Opal card is different to the Melbourne transport card that you have to buy and add credit too. The Opal card itself is free, you only pay for the trips themselves.
Our Gobal City Sydney
I know as a Sydneysider I’m completely biased, but I think Sydney is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and I hope you have a wonderful time here.
Our beaches and harbour are spectacular, even the ones us locals tend to ignore because we’re spoilt for choice. We are renowned for being friendly and while we don’t always see ourselves that way we would be very disappointed if a smile wasn’t greeted with a smile.
You’ll find all the usual big city conveniences and big brands. If you’re after the same high end shops you can find in any city of the world or even the same cheap Chinese things you’ll find them in Sydney too – just head to the shopping malls, they are all there.
We also have cuisine from all corners of the world because we are, happily, a global city that welcomes everyone. If you’re looking for a particular Australian style of food you’ll find that we take influences from all different food traditions and fuse it into something called ‘modern Australian cuisine’ – this can mean basically anything so if you’re a foodie looking for an adventure you’ll have a ball of a time!
While Sydney isn’t such a working port anymore you can get on a number of cruise ships and head off for a sea holiday. Sailing through Sydney Heads is a wonderful experience I’d recommend to anyone, whether they’re on a cruise ship or an ocean going yacht.
I hope you thoroughly enjoy your visit to Sydney and to see your smiling self at The Rocks Markets one weekend!