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Things to Do Around Sydney Harbour

Posted on: October 3rd, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

Sydney Harbour credit Destination NSW

If it’s your first time traveling to Australia, you’re probably landing in Sydney.

The moment you step off that plane – right at sunrise – you’re going to want to make a beeline for your hotel and fall face first into your bed.

But that’s a terrible idea.

Not only will most hotels not have check in until at least 2pm, but you’ll want to stay up to avoid jet lag.

Luckily, Sydney is filled with countless things to do right as you step off the plane.

And there’s nothing better than diving headfirst into this beautiful harbour city in all its splendor by exploring its dynamic harbourfront.

We’ve made it easy for you with these things to do around Sydney Harbour.

Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens

things to do near Sydney Harbour

With extensive grounds of beautifully manicured lawns and gardens, the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens are a tranquil escape right in the heart of the city.

Its many trails are perfect for getting your bearings and taking a leisurely stroll with fantastic views of the harbour.

Walk through the Mrs. Macquaries Road footpath to Mrs. Macquaries Point, a picturesque headland jutting out into the harbour.

Take a seat on the famous Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair for one of the best views directly across the Sydney Opera House.

Continue along the waterfront for more fantastic scenery. With the white Opera House sails set against the Sydney Harbour Bridge across the harbour, you’ll no doubt be stopping for pictures every step of the way.

The gardens are home to an array of stunning native trees, plants and flowers with lawns dedicated to each.

Grab a snack or pack a picnic lunch and rest on the Flower Bed Lawn, a clearing of verdant green grass dappled with towering trees and exotic plants. Stop by the Main Pond for a chance to see the resident eels (don’t worry, they’re harmless!). Head toward the Rose Garden Beds for a charming pavilion lined with roses, complete with a statue of Cupid to accentuate its loveliness.

You’re bound to see locals getting in their morning jog and other groups simply enjoying the resplendent grounds. Learn more about the garden by joining a free tour, hopping on the garden’s Choo Choo Express or take a guided tour led by an Aboriginal leader and taste Aboriginal bush food found in the gardens!

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House Sails credit Tourism Australia

From the Botanic Gardens you can easily reach the Sydney Opera House.

As you take your first steps toward the towering sails, you’ll feel the draw of this undeniably mesmerizing icon.

This is the face of Sydney, its main feature recognized around the whole world. Seeing it for the first time is an experience in and of itself.

So, bask it all in. You definitely won’t be the only one. This architectural wonder draws millions of visitors each year – and as such a unique structure set against one of the most picturesque harbours in the world, it’s no mystery why.

Join a tour to get an inside look at the Opera House with an expert guide detailing the history of the building. You’ll get an exclusive look at the interior of the concert halls – perhaps you’ll want to catch a show here later! 

Circular Quay

Right down the Sydney Opera House is Circular Quay, the hub of Sydney’s harbourfront action and gateway to iconic attractions.

This is where many cruises, ferries and water taxis depart, connecting visitors to the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and the historic Rocks District.

Here buskers tickle out tunes and impress crowds with unique performances. Pop-up restaurants and one-of-a-kind events set up shop along the Quay. Not too long ago, Jeff Goldblum set up his Chef Goldblum’s food truck serving up free hot dogs in the Quay!

Dining with a View

Lining Circular Quay is a progression of fantastic waterfront restaurants promising an essential Sydney experience – excellent food paired with unbeatable views.

Grab a spot at Opera Bar, often lauded as the best beer garden in the world. Perhaps the sweeping panoramic views across the harbour steer the scales in its favor. Peer over from the ledge of the Opera House’s promenade and you’ll spot vine-laden umbrellas perched over tables and bar stools. Order a cocktail or a glass of fine Australian wine and settle into the seats curving along the water’s edge .

For a special occasion, reserve a spot at Aria, only minutes away from the Opera House. Enjoy a delectable four course menu and extensive wine list, both highlighted by sublime views out from the glass walls.

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia credit Tourism Australia

This Sydney staple houses Australian and international contemporary art along with touring exhibitions. Get a glimpse of modern artworks produced around the world today and let your inner artist get lost in the thought-provoking collections you’ll encounter here.

See breathtaking exhibitions by Aboriginal artists, brimming with color and spirituality. Take in puzzling artworks, bemusing at first, but always with something to take away.

The Museum of Contemporary Art will at once welcome and challenge your notions of art and stimulate your imagination. If you’ve never given contemporary art a chance, this is the perfect place to give it a go.

The Rocks District

The Rocks Sydney credit Tourism Australia for Things to do Sydney Harbour

Cobbled laneways cut through some of Sydney’s oldest pubs and historic buildings. Structures gleam with their original eighteenth century colonial architecture, standing proud with their gabled roofs.

This is The Rocks, site of Sydney’s first settlement in 1788.

Brimming with a colorful history of convicts, soldiers and sailors, this is the perfect place to learn about the history of Sydney.

Many walking tours detailing the history of the area are available, some with a focus on Aboriginal history, convict stories or even pub walks. Who wouldn’t want to grab a pint in some of Sydney’s first bars?

Amble over to The Rocks Markets for enticing street food and boutique local shops, celebrating authentic local foodie experiences. The markets recreate a feel reminiscent of the bustling commons that once thrived in eighteenth century Sydney. Discover locally crafted clothes, jewelry and homewares along with gourmet food, artisan meats, cheeses and sweet treats mingling their delicious scents within the air.

Learn more about The Rocks before European settlement at The Rocks Discovery Museum. Housed in a restored 1850’s sandstone warehouse, here you’ll find unique exhibitions showcasing images and artifacts found in The Rocks – some of which you can even hold. The best part – it’s free!

Cruise on the Harbour

You can’t go to one of the world’s most gorgeous harbour cities and not go on a cruise. In fact, it’s a Sydney rite of passage.

Lunch cruises, dinner cruises, ferries and water taxis – the options are almost unlimited.

Get the glamorous harbour cruise experience with a dining cruise. With breakfast, lunch and dinner cruises available, enjoy a spectacular meal any time of the day with million dollar harbour views.

Explore more of Sydney and the sparkling harbour aboard a sightseeing ferry. We like to recommend our clients to get their hands on a Hop On Hop Off 2-day ferry pass for an easy cruise across the harbour highway to 10 famous Sydney stop overs, including Circular Quay, Darling Harbour, Taronga Zoo, Luna Park, Barangaroo and others.

Darling Harbour

Harbourside Shopping Center credit HSC

This lively precinct is home to fun tourist attractions, trendy waterfront dining experiences as well as premier Sydney shopping.

Meet incredible aquatic species at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, one of the largest aquariums in the world. Discover dugongs, sharks, penguins and tropical fish in the aquarium’s differently themed zones. Touch sea stars, shark eggs and coral at the Discovery Rockpool, and get a look into the prehistoric marine life from the dark depths of the ocean at Jurassic Seas.

Stroll down along Darling Harbour to the Harbourside Shopping Center, where the exciting buzz of Darling Harbour emanates from its waterfront dining and boutique shops.

Here you’ll find anything from familiar places to grab a quick bite to eat to waterfront steakhouses. Grab some grub then browse the shops for a new Australian-made outfit or souvenir.

Further along the harbour you’ll come across the Australian National Maritime Museum, where a wealth of seafaring and naval exhibitions provide a look into Australia’s coastal culture.

Climb aboard a replica of Captain Cook’s Endeavor vessel, the tall ship in which he first landed on Australia in 1770. Learn stories about the passengers – settlers and convicts from the 18th century – and their voyages to a new life in Australia. With knowledgeable guides possessing an impressive passion for Australian maritime history, you’re sure to dive deeper into the history of Australia – so closely intertwined with the ocean.

Taronga Zoo

Koala at Taronga Zoo, Sydney credit Tourism Australia

A popular stop on a harbour cruise is Taronga Zoo. With native Australian wildlife, rare exotic animals and breathtaking views of the cityscape across the harbour, Taronga Zoo might just be one of the most gorgeous zoos in the world.

Start with a gondola cable car ride lifting you above the zoo, gliding over trees and bush with views across the harbour.

Meet cuddly koalas, friendly kangaroos and their elusive tree-dwelling cousins, tree kangaroos.

Get up close to the graceful Sumatran Tiger on the Tiger Trek, or see the magnificent Asian elephants. Visit the towering giraffes, who have arguably to best view across the harbour in the whole zoo. Home to over 340 species, you’re bound to find your favorite animal.

Luna Park

Luna Park, Milsons Point credit Steve Back and Destination NSW

Find a true boardwalk amusement park experience at Luna Park, another favorite stop on the sightseeing ferry. Situated across the harbour right along the water, that ferris wheel is guaranteed to have incredible views.

Vibrant with colors and exciting rides for the kids, this is an essential harbour stop for families with little ones. But there’s an undeniable thrill that will strike your very core as you feel like you’re about to be flung into the harbour as you ride the Wild Mouse rollercoaster!

Slide down steep slopes on the Devil’s Drop or spin into a frenzy on the Rotor. Wind down on the Carousel – an amusement park staple – or get lost in the dizzying Mirror Maze.

Luna Park lets your inner kid go wild and immerse yourself in the nostalgia of the perfect carnival day.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge credit Tourism Australia

Past Darling Harbour is the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, an architectural feat to match the likes of the Opera House.

Its famous steel arch has earned it the nickname “The Coathanger.” Luckily, it’s much more supportive than that. In fact, the bridge has eight traffic lanes and two railway lines with a pedestrian walkway on the eastern side of the bridge and a cycling track on the western side.

Haven’t had enough of those gorgeous harbour views? Get a totally different perspective of Sydney Harbour at the very top of the Harbour Bridge arch on a BridgeClimb!

An essential Sydney must-do, this exciting journey combines fascinating history detailing the making of the bridge with a thrilling climb over the arch. You’ll get fitted with a climbing suit, briefed in safe practices and set off in a group led by a bridge climbing pro.

With morning, afternoon and evening climbs available, you can wake your senses with this invigorating climb or see the sunset glow cast over the harbour and Opera House sails. 

Besides, it’s not everybody who can say they’ve climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge!

Barangaroo

Baragaroo Reserve, Barangaroo credit Destination NSW

Barangaroo is the new kid on the block. Or harbour, you could say.

Once a site used for dumping shipping containers, this wasteland has transformed into a spectacular waterfront precinct. Quite the ugly duckling turned into swan story.

The precinct is named after Barangaroo, an indigenous Cammeraygal clan leader from the Eora Nation living around the north harbour at the time of European colonization. She was revered as a free-spirited and strong-willed Aboriginal woman. Several accounts tell about her refusal to wear European clothing to a formal dinner with settlers and turned up painted in white clay with a bone through her nose.

Just as Barangaroo held tightly to her indigenous roots, so does the idyllic parkland known as Barangaroo Reserve. This project is a testament to the achievable beauty of a congenial blend between urban renewal and nature.

Barangaroo Reserve is a 14-acre natural sanctuary created with a mission to restore the endemic trees, plants and shrubs of the area. Join a walking tour through the picturesque reserve and learn about the different plants and their uses, led by a knowledgeable Aboriginal guide.

Barangaroo Waterfront Dining

Head down past Nawi Cove for exceptional Barangaroo dining. The strip directly facing the waterfront features ten unique, carefully selected restaurants showcasing some of Sydney’s best local cuisine.

Indulge in Turkish share plates bursting with fresh flavors at Anason, and top it off with an authentic Baklava pastry. Treat your tastebuds to a feast of eclectic Australian flavors with an eight course tasting menu at Bea Restaurant, housed in the unique Barangaroo House. Pair your delectable dishes such as seared swordfish with bone marrow and wild barramundi with apple and brown butter with premium Australian wines. Order the Rocky Road for dessert for a chocolate experience out of this world!

Explore Sydney Harbour

Sydney is a world-class city with a harbour unparalleled in adventures to thrill history buffs, foodies and daredevils alike. The number of things to do around Sydney Harbour are countless and promise incredible experiences uniquely Australian.

The best part about exploring the harbour is that many of these sightseeing stop are some of the best free things to do in Sydney!

Want more recommendations on things to see around Sydney Harbour? Connect with our Destination Specialists to plan your perfect Sydney visit on your trip to Australia.

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Best Time for Whale Watching in Australia

Posted on: October 19th, 2017 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

Whale Watching Season in Australia

Whale Calf Breaching

Whale watching in Australia has grown tremendously over the last decade. The long whale season in Australia – between May and November – no doubt contributes to its growing popularity.

But whale watching season differs throughout the country and so do the kinds of whales you’ll see.

In May, whale groups including humpbacks and southern right whales migrate from the waters of the Antarctic to the tropical waters of Australia for mating season. Minke whales and even the rare blue whale also make a stop in Australia’s waters throughout their migration.

The warm waters provide a safe habitat for delivering and nursing their calves, contributing to the growing whale population in Australia. With nearly 60 per cent of the world’s whales found in Australia’s waters, it’s no wonder this is a top whale watching destination.

Make your stop along the coasts of Australia – the best place to see whales – for an incredible opportunity to see these iconic gentle giants on your Australia vacation. Read our guide below to discover the best times to see whales during whale watching season in Australia.

Whale Watching in Victoria and South Australia

Southern Right Whales in Australia

Every year along the southern coast of Australia you’ll see southern right whales migrate to the bays of Victoria and South Australia to give birth.

Whale watching season for southern rights in this region is between June and October, when they swim closest to the shores. In Warnambool, Victoria, blue whales are occasionally seen in May.

Cross off two breathtaking experiences at once and journey along the Great Ocean Road on the southeastern coast of Australia. Cruise one of the world’s most scenic drives and stop at popular lookout points to stretch your eyes across the waters below your to spot whales frolicking and breaching. Southern rights are the most commonly spotted whale from different points along the Great Ocean Road, including at Cape Nelson, Portland Bay, and Warnambool.

These curious whales tend to venture close to humans, often swimming close to boats and ultimately lending to an incredible experience with these gentle giants of the sea.

Whale Watching on the East Coast of Australia

Whale Watching in Sydney

The east coast of Australia offers excellent opportunities for whale watching, especially along the coasts of New South Wales and Queensland.

The best time to see whales in popular destinations throughout the east coast ranges between May through July and September through November.

In Sydney, you’ll typically spot humpback whales close to shore making their journey toward Queensland. Humpback whales, like southern rights, are friendly and curious about boats and divers. Their inviting nature has given them the reputation of the most popular whales among whale watchers.

Venture out to the ocean and get a glimpse of humpbacks in their natural habitat with a whale watching cruise in Sydney.

These whale watching cruises typically combine whale watching with sightseeing and information on Sydney’s history. Cruise vessels provide an intimate experience by carrying only up to 11 passengers. You’ll enjoy a private, small group tour along the Sydney Harbor with personalized and knowledgeable commentary about the city and whales throughout your journey.

Luxury Whale Watching in Sydney

Soon you’ll be an expert on Sydney and whale behavior patterns.

If you like to cruise in style, Sydney offers luxury whale watching cruises complete with a gourmet luncheon served on-board and drinks to purchase. Comfortable indoor seating allows you to sip on a cocktail while watching the giants of the sea. Or you may take in the blue expanse of the ocean out on spacious viewing decks.

Whale watching has never been so luxurious.

Spot Whales on a Great Barrier Reef Cruise

From snorkeling to diving, glass bottom boat cruises to helicopter tours, there’s no end to the ways you can experience the truly breathtaking wonder of the Great Barrier Reef.

Take a cruise to the reef and not only will you experience the world’s largest living organism – the reef itself – but you may also see whales, the world’s largest animals.

Whale season attracts humpback and dwarf minke whales between May and September to the warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef. The best time for whale watching in this region, however, is between July and September.

Whale Watching in Australia on a Great Barrier Reef Cruise

Whale Watching on the Gold Coast

If you’d rather keep your feet on the ground but still yearn for the special experience of seeing a whale, Australia’s east coast is the best place to spot whales from the beach.

The Gold Coast is rapidly becoming the premier whale watching site in Australia, with whales venturing as close as one or two kilometers from beach shores. Whales may be spotted all throughout the regular whale watching season in the Gold Coast, peaking in August.

Numerous lookout points along the Gold Coast provide great ocean views where you’ll spot humpback whales breaching and shooting big spouts of mist into the air. Point Danger, a headland on the southern end of the Gold Coast, is renowned as a premier spot for whale watching on land. Other great vantage points include Burleigh Hill and Miami Hill.

Whale Watching on Point Danger

Whale Watching in Hervey Bay

Humpback whales make a stop on their return migration to enjoy the waters of Hervey Bay. The clear waters allow you to easily see humpbacks as they frolic and breach, basking in the sheltered waters of Fraser Island with their young. The best time to see humpbacks in Hervey Bay is between July through October, right before they head south again for feeding.

Whales in Hervey Bay

You will typically begin spotting humpbacks twenty minutes into a cruise out on the waters of Hervey Bay – perfect for the eager whale watching enthusiast. Sometimes the whales venture close to the boats, a delightful treat for lucky passengers.

An even better treat is getting to swim with the whales.

Swimming with Whales

Swim with Whale Sharks

Swimming with Whale Sharks in Ningaloo Reef Exmouth photo credit Tourism Australia

The once in a lifetime opportunity to swim with whales awaits at Ningaloo Coast. This World Heritage Site is located in the north-west coast of Western Australia. Here, whale watching adventures can combine a snorkel on the Ningaloo reef with whale watching and swimming on a full day tour.

Take a cruise between March and September for the chance to get up close and personal with these friendly giants.

And the giant you’re most likely to meet on a whale swim is the whale shark. Don’t worry though – classified as the world’s largest fish, these animals are more like whales in their behavior than sharks. These docile creatures are accustomed to swimming alongside humans, with a diet consisting of only micro-organisms such as plankton and krill. So there’s nothing stopping you from taking the plunge and swimming with whale sharks!

Meeting a new friend means first gaining their trust. The same holds true even for these enormous creatures.

You’ll enter the waters with an expert guide in a small group of up to 5 swimmers, so as not to scare off the whale shark. Gaining the animal’s trust may take up to half an hour, but that’s a small price to pay for such a grand experience.

To ensure this exhilarating experience goes as smoothly as possible, a spotter plane flies overhead and alerts the crew on board when a whale is spotted. A photographer joins the swim to capture unforgettable underwater moments you can look back on.

Swimming with Dwarf Minke Whales

Swimming with Minke Whales

Other friendly and inquisitive whales that you are likely to meet on a whale swim are dwarf minkes.

These whales hang around the Ribbon Reefs of the Great Barrier Reef between May and September, peaking in early July. This region is the only place in the world where humans can interact with these whales. With a limited number of tours permitted to offer swimming with minke whales, you don’t want to miss out on this special experience! Day trips and even 3-7 night excursions onto the sea are available for enjoying minke whale watching and swimming.

If you are unsure about swimming with whales, minke whales are just gentle enough to try out the experience. They often seek out human company, swimming around snorkelers and divers and approaching boats just within a few yards. Just another reason why Australia is the best place to see whales – you’re able to experience whales in their natural habitat.

Whale Watching in Australia

All along Australia’s coastline are fantastic spots to see whales. Whether you’re a swimmer and ready for the once in a lifetime experience of swimming with whales, or if you’d rather keep your feet on the ground and see whales frolic in the ocean from the beach or a cruise, there’s a spot in Australia perfect for your style of whale watching.

Want to include whale watching in your trip to Australia? Contact one of our expert Destination Specialists. We’ll set up the perfect whale watching experience for you to see these majestic giants of the sea.


 Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).


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Why You Should Spend 5 Nights in Sydney

Posted on: August 10th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments

Why You Should Spend 5 Nights in Sydney

Most people tend to spread themselves too thin when they travel abroad. But the depth of your trip, meaning the quality of time you have experiencing the culture and sights of a given destination, is just as important as the quantity of things you see and experience, if not more.

When we plan vacation itineraries, we are very careful to include the minimum amount of time it takes to thoroughly enjoy a city. This usually means spending 3 – 4 nights. That varies, of course, with what our clients want to see and how much time they have to see it. In a perfect world, we would want everyone to spend at least 5 nights in Sydney.

Sydney is Australia’s largest and most cosmopolitan city. It boasts some of the world’s most iconic landmarks and authentic Aussie experiences. The city itself has a plethora of things to do and see, while the greater surrounds hold enchantments for lovers of nature, wine and beaches.

From world famous sites like the Sydney Opera House to world class beaches to wildlife you only find in Australia, Sydney has everything you need for a quintessential Aussie experience.

And with plenty of time to have a quality experience, your vacation in Sydney will have the depth to keep you sated when you return to the ‘real world’.

Here are just a few things you can fill your time with while you stay in Sydney for 5 nights.

City Sights and Opera House

5 nights in sydneyGet your bearings and feel out the lay of the land in Sydney with a city tour. By taking a city tour early in your trip, you’ll be able to figure out how to get around and eye a few spots you may want to return to for a closer look later in the week.

Sydney is a huge, diverse city and deserves exploring. However, many strapped-for-time tourists make a mad dash for the Opera House and miss everything else Sydney has to offer.

5 nights in sydneyLuckily, with a week in Sydney you won’t be strapped for time.

Of course, the Opera House and Harbour are a must visit. Start off with an insider walking tour of the world famous venue. You’ll hear the behind the scenes scoop and controversy surrounding the building’s construction.

Whether you take a organized tour or make your own way around the city, here are some sights you won’t want to miss!

Darling Harbour

This bustling marina precinct is just adjacent to Sydney CBD makes for a great stop along a city tour of Sydney. Take advantage of Sydney’s excellent public transportation and take a ferry from the Opera House to this beautiful, waterside location. You’ll have near limitless options for dining, shopping and other activities

Queen Victoria Building

Shop like the locals do at this beautiful, Victorian-era building right in Sydney CBD. This architectural masterpiece was built back in 1890 and has since undergone a complete restoration to its original beauty. Take in the airy windows, stained glass and a fully operational, vintage lift all restored to their 19th century glory. There is plenty to see at QVB and the building is worth a tour even if you’re not up to shopping ’til you drop. Want to learn more? We’ve written a guide to the Queen Victoria Building‘s rich history as a shopping staple in Sydney.

Royal Botanic Gardens

This impeccably manicured mecca of native plants and pristine greenery is perfect for a pre or post Opera House walk. Go for a walk through the beautiful garden grounds, spot local Aussie wildlife like sulfur-crested cockatoos and flying foxes and find prime photo-ops overlooking the Harbour. The Royal Botanic Gardens are saturated in color, from the 2,000+ bloom rose garden, to the lush-green Glasshouse, ferny and native succulent gardens.

Check out our guide to the Royal Botanic Gardens for more reasons to visit.

The Rocks District

Step back in time to the earliest days of Sydney settlement. Just a quick walk from Circular Quay, The Rocks district was the home of the first European settlement in Australia and features some of Sydney’s oldest buildings, shops and pubs. These days, The Rocks serves as a pedestrian friendly district with great views of the Harbour, Bridge and historical buildings.

Museums

You could spend an entire afternoon touring the museum district within walking distance of the Harbour Bridge. For modern works, you’ll want to stop at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. A hip, diverse collection of cutting-edge art is housed in this building whose architecture is a work of art in and of itself. Then, check out The Rocks Discovery Museum for a historical look at The Rocks district through the years. Adjacent to Circular Quay is the Museum of Sydney, with informative and diverse collections and exhibits of Sydney history.

Tip: If you want to see more of Sydney outside of the CBD, but still want the option to walk at your own pace, get a spot on a hop-on, hop-off bus. You can ride the bus route around Sydney, including the beautiful suburbs outside the CBD, and hop-off wherever you’d like to walk around and see the sights up close.

Barangaroo

Dip your toes in the Harbour at Sydney’s newest waterfront destination. Adjacent to The Rocks, this mixed use district has green spaces, restaurants, shopping and the chance to see Sydneysiders at work and play.

Sunny Beaches

With Sydney’s excellent infrastructure and public transportation, getting to some of Australia’s most popular beaches is easy. Hop on a city bus or train, take a ferry or go for a quick drive to Bondi Beach. This sunny spot is the perfect destination for casual beach goers, hardcore surfers, locals and tourists alike.

This horseshoe shaped section of coastline features golden sands and brilliant, turquoise waters. The surrounding esplanade is home to a dining precinct featuring some of the best beach side restaurants and cuisine.

5 nights in sydney

Photo: Tourism Australia / Andrew Wallace

Spend some time on the beach soaking up the sun or learning how to surf. Bondi Beach is famous for its surf schools, teaching all skill-levels how to ride the waves of the sunny Aussie coast.

If waves aren’t your thing take a dip at the Cliff-side Bondi Icebergs pool (or ‘baths’) where you get a front row seat to watch the surfers without getting sand in your shorts!

Then grab a bite to eat from relaxed al fresco cafes before spending the rest of the afternoon walking from Bondi to Coogee Beach.

The scenic, clifftop coastal path along sheer cliffs connects Sydney’s most well-known beaches along a pedestrian boardwalk. Soak up the sun all along the way as you beach-hop Sydney’s coast. Each beach has it’s own feel and quirks and whether you’re catching waves at each one or digging your toes in the sand, this is one of the best ways to see Sydney’s beaches.

Spend a day at the beach like a local by heading to Manly Beach.  This Sydney suburb can be easily reached by ferry from Circular Quay.  It’s a beautiful white sand beach where you’ll see Sydneysiders doing the three S’s – surfing, swimming and snorkeling.  Manly Beach is a great place to get active for the day – bike rental, paddle-board lessons, surf lessons, kayaking, amazing walking trails and much more. And, of course, plenty of pups to wash down an Australian beer if it gets a little hot!

Hop On Hop Off Ferry

Spend a day seeing many of the sites listed above with a Hop On Hop Off Ferry pass. Travel on the harbour highway and skip the maze of commuter timetables as you cruise to 11 famous Sydney Destinations.

  • Circular Quay
  • Darling Harbour
  • Taronga Zoo
  • Fort Denison – A former penal site with an interested history.
  • Manly
  • Watson Bay – A suburb with a great beach, bird life, vibrant green parks and Gap Bluff, South Head, where you might just spot some whales in the winter months.
  • Luna Park – Known for it’s iconic smiling face of the Moon, this amusement park is great for children and the young at heart.
  • Shark Island – A pristine park in the middle of the harbour, perfect for a picnic
  • Garden Island – A military base where The Royal Australian Navy Heritage Centre
  • Barangaroo
  • International Convention Center – Worth a look for the stunning architecture alone!

Food and Dining

Of course, you wouldn’t be in a world-class city without world-class dining options right in the heart of the city. Whether you’re in the mood for a 5-star, fine dining experience or just a quick bite to go from a food truck, Sydney is never short on great food.

You can find everything from Vietnamese to-go carts, upscale Italian dining, Australian gastropubs, eclectic French cuisine and more.

scoysterbarAdjacent to the Opera House, discover some of Sydney’s best seafood restaurants, like Sydney Cove Oyster Bar and GRAZE, sitting in the perfect spot for views over the bay while you dine.

Or head over to Chinatown for your pick of authentic cuisine, noodle bars and dumpling houses like China Town Noodle King, Golden Century Seafood Restaurant and more.

Mountain Walks and Hikes

Not a city person? Tired of the hustle and bustle of the downtown sights? Get into the great outdoors with a day trip to see world-class Aussie natural wonder.

5 Nights in Sydney

Credit: David Ireland / Tourism Australia

Since you’ve got plenty of time in Sydney, take a short drive to Blue Mountains National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is considered the “Grand Canyon of Australia”. Rolling, rugged terrain, deep canyons and blue gum-trees as far as the eye can see cover the expansive vista.

A tour of the Blue Mountains provides unforgettable views from various lookout points in the park where you can spot tall waterfalls, sheer cliffs and famed rock formations like the Three Sisters. An expert guide drives you out to the Blue Mountains region, providing informative commentary and in-depth knowledge along the way.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also choose to participate in the hike portion of the trip. You’ll be dropped off at the trail head and make your way along a well-marked hiking trail. After you’ve worked up an appetite, a well-deserved lunch awaits before heading back to Sydney.

It’s the perfect way to experience the great outdoors and still have time for happy hour drinks at the Opera House.

5 Nights in Sydney

Three Sisters, Blue Mountains

For a closer look at Blue Mountains National Park, check out our list of things to do in the Blue Mountains.

Wineries and Vineyards

Craving a little of those famous Australian wines? How about a taste of Aussie Red and White with a trip to wine country?

Head out to the Hunter Valley wine region, just a short drive from Sydney proper.

5 nights in sydney

Photo: – Tourism Australia / Oliver Strewe

The Hunter Valley region is home to some of Australia’s best wineries. Embark on a tasting tour and experience award-winning wines in beautiful, green vineyards. Landscapes lined with rows of grape vines provide a picture-perfect backdrop to satisfy wine-lovers and fans of the great outdoors alike.

To really do the Hunter Valley justice, spend a couple of nights in wine country. Drive yourself along the rolling hills dotted with wineries, make a few leisurely stops and take your time in this relaxing region outside Sydney.

5 nights in sydney

Photo: Pernod Ricard Winemakers / Ernest Fraczak

If you’d rather let an expert do the driving for you, you can embark on a luxury-coach tour of Hunter Valley. You’ll visit a few of Hunter Valley’s most renowned vineyards and all you have to do is kick back, relax and remember to cleanse your palate between each tasting!

Aussie Wildlife

There’s nothing more iconic to Australia than its kangaroos and wildlife. Luckily, in Sydney you’re never far from experiencing wildlife up close.

Taronga Zoo, located just across the Harbour from the Opera House, is not only the most convenient place to see wildlife in Sydney, but maybe the most fun to get to. You’ll board a ferry from Circular Quay in Sydney CBD and cruise over to Taronga Zoo’s personal dock and wharf. Step right off the boat and into Taronga Zoo where you’ll see more than 300 unique species, including all of your Aussie favorites.

5 nights in sydney

Or, if you opted for the Blue Mountains tour, you’ll already be in a prime spot to visit the Featherdale Wildlife Sanctuary, where you’ll get to meet plenty of Australia’s native wildlife.

Man-made environments and walled enclosures not exactly the nature experience you were imagining?

What if you could see Australian wildlife that’s actually in the wild?

Take a day trip to the Australian Bush, just a short drive outside of central Sydney, and search towering forests for kangaroos, koalas, platypus’ and more.

The Southern Highlands outside of Sydney features thousands of acres of untouched wilderness, where animals run wild and free, just as nature intended.

See the Most of Sydney

To be honest, you could spend weeks seeing all that Sydney has to offer. Don’t shortchange yourself with a few short days. By the time you’ve traveled to the city it seems like it’s already time to leave the city.

Spend 5 nights in Sydney and get to know the city from the inside out. You’ll make some solid, unforgettable memories and a vacation with the depth you deserve.

  I Want to Spend 5 Nights in Sydney


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5 Reasons Why You Need to Visit the Sydney Opera House

Posted on: July 21st, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments

It’s the Aussie icon that’s adorned post-cards, book covers and travel brochures the world over. It’s been featured in movies and travel documentaries countless times.

For most, it’s the face of Sydney. And nearly 50 years later it’s still a top tourist draw to the city.

Would you believe us if we told you it was almost never built?

We’ll show you how what was once called “the biggest planning disaster in the world” continues to amaze visitors and locals alike and why it’s an Aussie staple you don’t want to miss in Sydney.

Quick History

Sydney Opera House

The stark-white, scalloped building is unmistakable. The white, shell-like wings sprout in to the sky from its personal peninsula on Sydney Harbour.

It was this standout building proposal that won Danish architect Jorn Utzon New South Wales’ competition in 1957 to design a public space to be constructed on the Harbour.

The opportunity of a lifetime, right?

Not so much.

The construction of the Opera House was riddled with problems. An estimated $7 million construction cost ballooned to more than $100 million – a 1400% cost blowout that still stands as the largest in history.

Contractor mismanagement, infrastructure disasters and government cover-ups all but ruined the career of Utzon for good. In fact, seven years before the building’s completion, Utzon packed his bags and left the job and the country.

He never returned.

A group of auxiliary architects stepped in to take his place and with a lot of hand-wringing and a little bit of luck, by 1973 construction had wrapped on the Opera House.

sydney opera house

But sometimes the end justifies the means and as luck would have it, the Opera House went on to become an international landmark. Each year, the building-that-almost-never-was adds more than $700 million in tourism.

We’d call that a winning bet!

Though Utzon never returned to see his completed design in person, he did receive his long overdue comeuppance. In 2003, he has awarded an honorary Doctorate of Architecture.

And in 2007, the Opera House was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Just one year before his death.

Besides it’s brilliant architecture, the Opera House is renowned for a plethora of activities that solidify its place as one of the top destinations in Australia.

Take a Tour

Dive right in to your Opera House experience and get set up with an expert guide to give you an inside look at the Sydney Opera House. You’ll walk the inside of the historic building while you listen to the oral history of it’s construction and completion. This exclusive look at the interior of the multiple concert halls within the Opera House is often unseen by the average tourist.

Since the Opera House hosts six different performance halls, it’s hard to get an in-depth look at the entirety of the venue on your own.

sydney opera house

Your guide will take you through many of the unique performance venues, each with it’s own particular architecture and feel.

Insider Fact: The Grand Organ in the Concert Hall is the largest mechanical action pipe organ in the world!

See a Show

It goes without saying, but seeing an actual show at the Sydney Opera House is one of the most memorable ways to experience it. And although you might not know it by the name, the Opera House hosts more than just operas.

A wide range of Broadway-shows, gigs, contemporary concerts, symphony orchestras and more ensure that you won’t miss an opportunity to sit in on one of the most fantastic live venues in the world.

A lot of people can see they’ve seen the Opera House – even if just in the distance from the Harbour. But how many can say they’ve experienced all it has to offer?

Tip: Book early – the Opera House didn’t become world renowned as a venue by playing to an empty house! Seats tend to fill up quickly and it’s best to book your tickets ahead of time, ideally before you even arrive in Sydney. Ask us how.

Wine and Dine

Looking to ramp up your already-special occasion? Grab a table at Bennelong, the Opera House’s premier restaurant. With world-class chefs and a fine-dining level of service, there is no better way to make your Opera House experience special. Tables inside this airy space face out on to the Sydney Harbour and city-skyline for a view that rivals the five-star menu.

sydney opera house

The space and architecture of Bennelong was one of the last projects Jorn Utzon (the Opera House’s original designer) completed before leaving the project. The tall ribcage of wood and glass that provides those stunning views of the Harbour also provides a look in to Utzon’s original idea for the rest of the Opera House’s interior.

Also be sure to check out the Opera Kitchen, just adjacent to the Opera House. The al-fresco dining experience overlooks the Sydney Harbour for great views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. If all that walking around has you hungry, combine your Opera House tour with lunch at the Opera Kitchen.

Cruise to the Sydney Opera House

Looking to arrive at the Opera House in style? Hop aboard a Harbour Cruise and ferry over to the Opera House entrance. The scenic cruise takes you around the entirety of the Sydney Harbour for unprecedented views of the city skyline, Opera House and Royal Botanic Gardens. With an Express Pass, you’ll have the option to use this hop-on, hop-off ship as your personal water taxi.

Cruise over to the Opera House for your tour and when you’re done, hop back on and ferry over to Darling Harbour. From there, head to the Royal Botanic Gardens and Rocks historic precinct. You’ll get to enjoy the beautiful Sydney weather aboard the open air Harbour Cruise. It’s an unforgettable way to see all the sights around the Opera House and Harbour.

See it All Lit Up

sydney opera house

If you’re lucky enough to plan your trip around mid-May to June, you’re in for an incredible audio-visual festival experience. Vivid Sydney is a two-week festival that covers the city, including the Opera House and Harbour in light-installations and art. The city comes to life as blank walls become canvases for talented artists to paint with light. Colorful light projections illuminate the scalloped-wings on the Opera House – and the view of the Opera House lit up from the Harbour is stunning.

The Opera House also holds special concerts during Vivid, blending this visual-experience with music to create a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Can’t travel to Sydney for Vivid? Don’t worry! You can still see the Opera House in all it’s lighted glory every single night.

Badu Gili is a 7-minute art-installation projected on the “sails” of the Opera House. A different work of art from Aboriginal artists will be displayed each night at sunset and repeated at 7 p.m. So even if you can’t make it for Vivid, you’ll get the beautiful visual of the stark white Opera House turned technicolor each night of your stay in Sydney.

Visit the Sydney Opera House

Sometimes a city’s biggest attraction can be something of a tourist trap. Overhyped, too crowded, not worth it.

The Opera House is none of those things.

There is something for everyone to enjoy at this Aussie icon and you don’t want to leave Sydney without a visit. Remember, the biggest tourist destination in Sydney draws big crowds and events sell out fast.

Let us do the booking for you, whether you want to be there for Vivid Sydney, see an amazing show, or simply cruise the waters of the Harbour.


 Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).


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Sydney Must-See: Royal Botanic Gardens

Posted on: May 23rd, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments


You’ve seen the Opera House. You even cruised the Harbour. You think you’ve seen it all. Time to pack up and go off to the next city, right?

Wrong.

If you leave Sydney without seeing the Royal Botanic Gardens, you’ve missed one of the most beautiful parts of the entire city.

Sydney is huge. It can’t be boiled down to just those two landmarks. Don’t get us wrong, they are amazing, must-see destinations. But it should be criminal to miss seeing this idyllic park right on the iconic Sydney Harbour.

We’ll show you why you’ll love this floral oasis just as much as we do in our guide to the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.

Prime Photo-Ops

Keep your camera at the ready, because every which way you turn is a great backdrop for a photo. Sunny skies most days out of the year keep the flowers blooming, the trees thriving and the grass plush – year round. Your friends will be green with envy. See the Opera House in the morning and then walk on over to the Garden. It’s a great one-two punch of the best sightseeing in Sydney.

Enter through the Queen Elizabeth II gate and take the winding, perfectly manicured path through native plants and pristine greenery. This entrance runs along the water’s edge for great shots of Sydney Harbour. 

From there, stroll toward Government House, the current official residence of New South Wales’ governor. Even better, we think you’ll dig the architecture of this sprawling 1800’s-era mansion that looks like something from King Arthur’s Court! You can even catch a tour of the inside of the building, whose design hasn’t been changed in over a hundred years.   Exit the mansion and head for the Australian Native Rockery. Walk among picture-perfect examples of native Australian flora. Sit on the lawn facing Sydney Harbour for amazing views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.  

Tip: This is one of the best places to get shots of three Sydney landmarks in one! If you look close, you may even see climbers in the distance participating in a Harbour Bridgeclimb!

Love is in the Air

There’s just something romantic about walking through a garden. Especially when that garden has more than 2000 huge, fully bloomed roses of all colors surrounding you (OK, maybe that’s a bit on the nose). Nevertheless, we dare you to walk through this sea of reds, whites and pinks and not feel at least a little lovey-dovey. Let that sweet, floral scented air envelope you and you’ll see why the Royal Botanic Garden is one of Sydney’s most popular wedding spots.   Look above for a great view of towering downtown Sydney skyscrapers looming overhead. A reminder that this serene, green garden is an oasis just minutes away from the hustle and bustle of the central business district.  

Aboriginal Heritage Tours

Aboriginal Australians are the world’s oldest civilization. Dating back some 50,000 years, Aboriginal heritage plays an important role in Australia’s history. Aboriginal Australians are fiercely proud of their heritage and their continued traditions make Aboriginals the oldest, continuous human culture in existence. Learn about the diverse history of Aboriginal Australians in Sydney with a guided tour led by an Aboriginal guide.

Using the Royal Botanic Garden as a historical backdrop, you’ll learn about the rich, Aboriginal heritage of the Garden. Your guide will show you useful and medicinal plants in Aboriginal culture, see ancient artifacts and taste traditional bush foods. Heritage Tours are 100 percent Aboriginal owned and all proceeds support Aboriginal jobs and communities.

Tip: Go for a longer Aboriginal heritage tour that takes you through the Garden at Sydney proper. You’ll get in-depth insight in to the rich Aboriginal cultural history.

Australian Wildlife

Sulfur crested cockatoo Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

Photo: Sulfur-crested Cockatoo

Ask the average person what they think of when they hear “Australia” and you’ll most likely get one of three answers. The Outback, the Great Barrier Reef and of course, the wildlife. The kangaroo, the koala, the crocodile, the dingo… The list of iconic animals that call Australia home goes on and on. And the Royal Botanic Garden is no exception.

Among the animals that have found the Garden’s prime real estate the ideal place to set up shop are the sulfur-crested cockatoos.

Named for the sulfur-colored yellow streak that adorns the tops of their heads, these ivory-and-yellow feathered birds are found in many areas of the Garden. They have become increasingly friendly with humans due to hand feeding, but it is not recommended officially by the park because of dietary restrictions of birds.

The flying fox is another example of winged wildlife that the Royal Botanic Garden hosts, albeit reluctantly. The trees where these furry-bats like to nest are increasingly being decimated by the species and there have been efforts to re-home the animals. But they can still be spotted in the trees of the park hanging out during the day.

Latitude 23 Glasshouse and Fernery

If you just desperately miss that heavy, humid summer air, you’re in luck. Latitude 23 is a tropical paradise all inside a large glass building. The moisture is cranked up to replicate the equatorial region between the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn (both located at 23° latitude, hence the name!). Amazing, non-native tropical plants thrive in this hot box glasshouse, so you can see exotic orchids, hoyas, bat-plants, Papua New Guinean tongue-lilies and more.

Stop by the Fernery next door where immense, lush ferns grow wild. From climbers, to hangers, to the tallest tree ferns from all over the world. The Fernery is liked you stepped in to an uninhabited jungle, where the plants rule the land.

From there, walk over to the succulent garden for an amazing look at some native Australian succulents and cacti.

Make sure you carve out some time for the Royal Botanic Garden when you’re in Sydney. Bring a blanket, pack a lunch and have a relaxing picnic in the park surrounded by some of the most amazing plant life and greenery in the city. It’s the perfect spot to spend a few hours idly strolling, either before or after your visit to the Opera House.

Want to make sure you don’t miss it? We can schedule the perfect itinerary for you and ensure you don’t miss anything in Sydney.

Add Sydney Royal Botanic Garden to My Trip

Want to start planning your trip now?

Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm) and speak to one of our expert Destination Specialists today.