All Melbournians we met hated Sydney saying that it is too busy, has no style and people are snobbish bastards only thinking about money. Arriving in Sydney was a relief. It is a beautiful multicultural city with lots of green areas and nice neighborhoods. Although the inner city is too busy indeed, its long beaches and great climate make up for this little shortcoming though.
We only spent 3 days and 3 nights in Sydney, which is not enough for such a huge and exciting city. Obviously we couldn’t see everything worth visiting, so this article is not even pretending to be a professional guide for the city, more like a motivational piece pointing out a couple of great things to see and try in Sydney and surrounding.
#1 You obviously need to see the Operahouse, right? Not seeing it would be like going to Paris and skipping the Eiffel Tower. Catching sight of this iconic building with the Harbor Bridge in the background we were literally moved to tears. Sunset is especially pretty from the Botanical Garden on the opposite side of a little bay. I would recommend taking a bottle of wine and some snack with you for a fancy picnic. 🙂
#2 If you are at the Opera house already, it would be a shame leaving without taking a long walk in the Botanical Garden. It is so pretty and really huge; you can easily spend 2 hours there just walking around enjoying pure nature in the centre of the city.
#3 Even if you know the CBD like the back of your hand, you can’t get the whole picture of Sydney without visiting one of its iconic beaches. We chose Manly beach, as even just going there by the ferry is a lovely experience. You can see the city from a totally different perspective. And the beach itself, OMG, is exactly how you picture a real Australian surfer beach: a beautiful long beach with soft golden sand, loads of seagulls, tons of surfers, and many people exercise on the beach too. I would definitely go for a jog every day barefoot on that silky sand if I lived there.:) And it is not only the beach itself, you can take wonderful walks on the coastline and in the Sydney Harbour National Park as well. What is more, as a bonus, you can see humpback whales migrating to the north at this time of the year. Ask for the best location for whale-spotting in the information centre just opposite to the port!
#4 Sydney has the oldest and biggest Chinatown in Australia. Walking around this area is a must if you are in Sydney. Here you can see the quirkiest shops, the craziest outfits and style and the strangest food. Allegedly, here you can have the most traditional and authentic Chinese food outside Asia. We only had Japanese food just next to Paddy’s Market and it was very delicious too.
#5 If you are in Sydney CBD visit The Dough Collective bakery! What makes this bakery so special? Lots of things. E.g. you can try everything before buying it, there are exact baking times for the different sweet and savory treats, so if you go early in the morning you don’t find certain goodies, but at least you can be sure that what you buy is fresh. Through a glass window you can actually see the bakers working. They make the dough from scratch which is a rare thing nowadays. The prices are a bit higher than in an average bakery, what what you get is also more than what you expect from an average bakery, so it’s alright. You will not regret if you pay a visit to this place and believe me, it will be guaranteed not your last visit. 🙂
Sydney is great, but if you spend there a couple of weeks, you might need a short break from the hustle and bustle of this hectic metropolis. No worries, I have a tip for you! Take the train or rent a car and go to magical Byron Bay! It is the most easterly point of Australia about 800 km to the north from Sydney. I had heard so much about this place before that I really had great expectations and I was almost afraid of getting disappointed when I actually see it. But completely the opposite happened: I was amazed and mesmerized. It is very difficult to explain what makes Byron such a magical place but is truly magical.
Long sandy beaches, beautiful nature around, friendly people, lovely climate. It has everything for you to feel relaxed and happy. At least it was definitely enough for us. We loved Byron Bay so much that we stayed 2 extra nights and even after 5 days we felt sad about leaving the Bay.
We had top accommodation in the Byron Beach Resort, which made our stay even better. It is a really great hostel suitable not only for backpackers but for families as well. Rooms are clean and spacious, kitchen is well-equipt and organized, there is a fireplace in the community room surrounded by comfy sofas, which makes the whole room totally cozy, not to mention the hammocks in the garden; and the ocean is just across the street. 🙂 You just don’t want to leave this place…And it is really inexpensive for that quality.
If you are in Byron in May-June or September-October chances are that you can see the migrating humpback whales here too. Finally, after long weeks of whale watching we actually see a couple of them; even if not from that close. People say in September-October they tend to come much closer to the shore as they are with their babies teaching them to jump or slap their tails. In case you visit Byron in the summer months, you can still see bottle-nose dolphins flickering around close to the shore. They are pretty cute too and they live in the bay all year round.
Sydney and Byron Bay, these truly amazing places, were the last Australian stops of our travels. After almost 5 months of living in Australia, the country really felt like second home to us. Leaving it was not easy but the upcoming new destinations cheered us up a bit.
Stay tuned for more travel adventures in New Zealand! 🙂
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