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1) Visit Taronga Zoo

Taronga Zoo.

2) Walk Across the Sydney Harbour Bridge

The iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge is not just something you can look at from a distance, walking along the bridge under the towering steel frames and pylons, is an incredible experience. You will not quite appreciate the scale of this stunning work of architecture until you are dwarfed by it and gazing ever upwards. At the other end of the Bridge is the suburb of Kirribilli, an idyllic and quaint area with some great restaurants and cafes. Lunar Park, right on the harbour at Kirribilli, is also worth a visit.

3) Check out the Iconic Opera House

This stunning masterpiece, conceived by Architect Jorn Utzon, is much, much more than just a photo opportunity. The story of how this iconic piece of architecture came into being is truly an interesting one, and one that is well worth exploring through one of the many guided tours around the building. There are also, of course, spectacular views from inside! Tours operate daily at 12pm. After exploring the Opera House, wander over to the Opera bar for their excellent cocktails!

4) Have a drink at the Opera Bar

If there’s one bar in Sydney that will make you feel like a high roller, it’s Opera Bar. With 180 degree views of the harbour and cool beats playing all day long, this place feels so exclusive that you get tricked into thinking you’re Donald Trump and start buying rounds you can’t afford for people you don’t know! Opera bar serves killer cocktails and a wide variety of beers, to keep everyone happy.

5) Take a ferry to Darling Harbour

For great views of the city and the harbour, take the short ferry ride to Darling Harbour from Circular Quay. The ferry departs from Wharf 5 and get in to Darling Harbour very close to Pyrmont Bridge. Tickets cost around $5 one way and the ferry ride takes about 25 minutes. Darling Harbour is home to a wide array of attractions including the incredible Sydney Aquarium, Sydney Wildlife Zoo, Madame Tussauds (package deals exist for these three attractions!) the Maritime Museum, and IMAX. It is also not far from Pyrmont Fish Market!

6) Walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens (Look up to see the bats!)

The Royal Botanic Gardens is the perfect place for a wander on a sunny day. Narrow paths meander through feature gardens including a succulent garden, Sydney fernery, Rare and Threatened Plants garden, and Sydney Tropical Centre. A series of ponds and water features are dotted around, providing great spots for picnics. There is a wildness to the Royal Botanic Gardens that makes it a really special spot!

7) Stroll through Hyde Park

Hyde Park, the oldest park in Australia, connects Oxford Street with the domain and the Botanic Gardens beyond. A favourite spot for sun-bakers, Frisbee enthusiasts, picnickers, and readers, Hyde Park is beloved by all. Musical, cultural, and culinary events often take place here, including Sydney Festival which just passed. If you do choose to luncheon here, be aware of the Ibis as these sneaky bastards will snatch your sandwich right out of your lips if you allow them to get to close!

8) Take a ferry to Manly beach (great harbour views!)

You don’t have to pay alot of money to see the best ever view of Sydney harbour. Simply board a ferry from Circular Quay Warf 6 and enjoy 360 degree views of the harbour, islands like Goat Island, Shark Island, Cockatoo Island, and the Idyllic foreshore suburbs of Mosman, Watsons bay, and Vaucluse. Once in Manly, take a short stroll down to Manly beach, a beautiful stretch of white sand and turquoise waters that is perfect for snorkeling, picnicking, or sun baking. Manly beach is also great for beginner surfers!

9) Visit the Rocks (optional historic bar crawl)

If you thought Sydney lacking in the way of historic architecture and heritage, head to the Rocks and revel in the polished cobble-stone lane ways and rustic taverns of old. The original architecture of the Rocks was characterized by local sandstone block work that can still be observed today in this area and in others Sydney. For a good brew head to one of Sydney’s oldest pubs, the Fortune of War or Philips Foote (also serves excellent modern Australian fare!). On Friday nights the labyrinthine lane ways of the Rocks comes alive for the Rocks Markets, showcasing local artisan, food, and craft wares in a laid-back and festive environment. There are also several live music acts every week!

10) Go up the Sydney Tower Eye

For the best view of Sydney city and surrounds, and for those of us who are not predisposed to hurl violently when at a great height, the Sydney Tower Eye is really the only contender. Very easy to find from anywhere in the city (just look up), and affordable, a trip up the Sydney Tower Eye is definitely recommended. From such a height it is possible to see the Blue Mountains, white-sand beaches of North Sydney, and of course the harbour in all its glory. The observation deck provides state-of-the-art binoculars and informative touch screens to enhance the experience.

11) A spot of shopping at the Queen Victoria Building, George Street.

In terms of historic Sydney architecture, the Queen Victoria Building is as opulent and elegant as they come. Built in the 1890’s to serve as the Grand Market and later transformed into a luxury shopping precinct, the QVB is steeped in history. Characteristic fittings include the huge stained glass windows, the centre dome with historic clock, and the 19th century spiral staircase. The QVB is now come to some great cafes and boutiques, as well as some international retail outlets.

12) Enjoy the serenity of the Chinese Garden of Friendship, Darling Harbour

An oasis of calm amid the frenzied crowds of Sydney City, the Chinese Garden of Friendship is the perfect place to take a breather and relish in the calming influences of ancient Chinese architecture. With a series of sighing waterfalls, bubbling fountains, and still lakes, the garden is certainly a must see. Narrow paths meander through the garden, under weeping willows. There is even a traditional Teahouse serving Chinese tea and dumplings. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for concessions.

13) Eat some fresh fish at the Sydney Fish Market

Fish markets everywhere in the world are vibrant and busting places, and provide a window into the local culture –the Sydney Fish Market is no exception. The largest fish market of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, the Pyrmont Fish Market is an immense, working market offering fresh seafood straight from the fishing boats. Get there at 5:30am when trade begins for the day and you’ll get the very best and freshest catch in town. The market precinct also offers cooking classes run by top Australian Chefs!

14) Take the train to Newtown for shopping, food and bars.

Newtown is always a hive of activity, with amazing local and international cuisines (for cheap!) and great shopping. This is the new-age, hipster, anything-goes hub of the inner city. It’s more common in Newtown to see someone with bright pink dread-locks than someone with long blond hair skinny jeans. Shops range from vintage second-hand to hippy hemp to goth-chic, there really is something for everyone in Newtown.

15) The amazing Bondi to Coogee coastal walk

Arguably the most picturesque walk in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs is the 6km Bondi to Coogee Coastal walk. Heading off from the southern end of Bondi beach the walkway, which clings to the cliffs and raises high above the ocean, passes by a number of idyllic beaches including Tamarama (a favourite for surfers!), Bronte, Clovelly, and Gordon’s Bay before it reaches Coogee. Stop at one of the cafes at Bronte for a snack or a drink along the way. The Waverly Cemetery just past Bronte is a striking spot (it has to be one of the most desirable resting spots in the world!) with incredible views and an interesting history!

16) Visit Watson's bay

Watson’s bay was established as a fishing village as late as 1788, making it Australia’s oldest fishing village. It was also the site at which Governor Philip, founder of the Settlement which became Sydney, first landed in Australia. Watson’s bay is thus a heritage gem, and one that Sydney-siders very much cherish. Get fish and chips at the historic Doyle’s restaurant and enjoy great views from the park next to the wharf. A short walk from Watson’s Bay will take you to camp cove, a gorgeous spot for a relaxing swim or snorkel.

17) Snorkel, swim and relax at Clovelly beach.

Clovelly beach is a perfect beach of sun-baking and even better for snorkelling. Wide concrete platforms surround the bay, providing easy access to the reef and the deep ocean. There is a famous blue grouper that hangs around Clovelly, who you will meet if you’re lucky! This is also a great place to bring kids as it is sheltered and the water is usually very calm. There is a car park just adjacent to the beach which provides easy access to drivers!

18) Shopping on Oxford Street/Crown Street.

Shopping on Oxford Street is always an interesting affair. Worlds collide along this street, with posh and oh-so-refined Paddington extending to the west, and “hello-boys” gay parade extending to the east. Whichever end you choose, however, there is plenty to get you buying up a storm. Paddington has some great little clothing boutiques, whereas the on the other end of Oxford you will find all manner of lewd costumes and paraphernalia. Crown Street is the vintage shopping hub of the inner city, with some fantastic and affordable second-hand options.

19) Go to China Town and Eat!!

Located in Haymarket, between Central and Darling Harbour, China Town is brimming with culture, history and FOOD. Made up of a collection of ‘little’ Asia’s (Thai town, little Korea etc.), anywhere in Asia you wish to go can be brought to within 20 paces from you. The very best of Asian cuisine can be found in China town, usually at the end of a dark and ominous alley-way or above a nondescript grocers’. For the best cheap and cheerful dumplings, head to Chinese Noodle Restaurant (not to be confused with their neighbour and rival, Chinese Noodle House) at 8 Quay street.

20) Check out the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, Darling Harbour

If you haven’t already explored this underwater wonderland....then frankly you’re a fool. But it’s never too late to repair a damaged reputation! Sea Life Sydney aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in the world, boasting over 700 different marine species, including a fearful number of sharks and sting rays; in fact, Sea Life is on track to become home to the world’s largest variety of these mysteriously beautiful creatures. There are also a number of themed areas including Discovery Rockpool, Mangrove Swamp, Tropical Bay of Rays, and Shark walk, which promise to keep you entertained for at least 8 hours, if not more. Do be aware that doors do close at 8pm (last entry 7pm), which seems rather premature if you ask me but there you go.

**Disclaimer: All information is correct at the time of printing. Jolly Swagman Backpackers is not responsible for any change in operation of these venues. Jolly Swagman Backpackers would advise guests to check for up to date information prior to visiting these venues.