Ahhh Sydney, we really, really heart you. You’re so beautiful, varied, sunny, and delicious. You give us so much hiking to do, culture to experience and Australian slang to learn (here’s a quick crash course). But *ahem* can Sydney really be worth all the hype? In a word: absolutely. Locals, expats and visitors agree. Here are ten reason to love, love, LOVE Australia’s jewel.
1. The harbour
Impossible to be not be impressed? We think so. As kangaroos are to Australia, harbour is to Sydney – it’s impossible to separate the two. Choose your adventure – explore it on foot, aboard a ferry, or while island-hopping (bonus fact: there are islands in Sydney Harbour – Fort Denison, Shark, Clark, Rodd, Goat and Cockatoo). See it from atop the Harbour Bridge or while surfing or stand-up paddleboarding along its more than 240 kilometers of shoreline.
Yes, so many kilometers of coastline give Sydney a lot – dozens! – of beaches, with something for every taste: calm waters, photo-worthy coves, stunning sea pools (like the Bondi Icebergs one picture above), or just a great surf spot. There are beach-to-beach coastal walks, nature trails (including the 500 meter underwater nature trail at Gordons Bay) and surfing culture at Curl Curl, Narrabeen and Newport beaches, among many others. A bonus reason to love Sydney beaches? They make your day out easy, with electric barbeques, changing rooms, kiosks, play areas and public toilets.
When overseas, Australians love to bond over food as much as anyone. But as the conversation turns to traditional food from each country, “So, what’s a typical Aussie dish?”, you’re not likely to doesn’t get a very detailed answer. This is because – after years of immigration – international cuisine is the norm in Australia. In Sydney, you’ll find amazing and authentic Asian, Latino, European and even African cuisine. In the city center, sample some of Asia’s yummiest dishes in Chinatown, Thaitown and Koreatown. Still hungry? Head to the neighbourhood of Marrickville for Greek, Vietnamese, and Portuguese fare, or get your Turkish and Lebanese fix in Granville, Lakemba and Auburn. Oh, and an Italian craving can be fixed in Leichhardt. And that’s just the entree in a very long, delicious dinner party!
4. Trails and walks
With so much coastline the best way to see Sydney is on foot. Start with the easy 1.8 kilometer Hermitage Foreshore Track, the relaxed Bradleys Head walk, or the park-style Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk. Later, up your mileage on the 30km Harbour Bridge to South Head walk, an inner-city trail reaching the harbour’s entry point. Many tour companies offer guided walks of Sydney’s coastal trails – or do it yourself with a picnic lunch and great company!
5. Aussie English
Australian English remains popular because of its unique tone, laid-back style and creative slang. In Sydney, don’t forget your bathers (bathing suit, also called swimmers, togs or cozzie) or to spread heaps ofavo (lots of avocado) on your toast. Aussie terms also extend to coffee culture, where you will need to decide if you prefer a flat white, short black or long black… Again, here’s something to get you started before you even go.
6. The Manly Ferry
For a mini day trip, hop on a rolling harbour ferry to Manly, one of the city’s most loved waterside suburbs. The 15 minutes ferry ride is the highlight for many, as the vessel lurches gently along through the water. Once in Manly, grab some fish and chips and a spot on the beach for an outdoor meal, or browse the peninsula’s superb restaurants and cafes.
7. National Parks
Sydney is surrounded by picturesque national parks. Visit the famous Blue Mountains west of the city, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park to the north or the Royal National Park to the south. Between them, they boast dozens of premier bushwalking trails, as well as creeks, gorges, ocean views, mangroves, and cliffs. If you like your nature with a dose of adventure, try abseiling, kayaking, canoeing, mountain biking and even horseback riding.
8. Whale watching
You read right! Catch a glimpse of migrating humpback whales from Sydney’s best vantage points. The season officially runs from May to November, but your chances increase around in winter solstice in late June and early July. Try your luck at North Head lookout, Hornby Lighthouse near Watsons Bay, South Head, Shark Island, and Sydney Harbour National Park’s Arabanoo Lookout. Visit in the early morning or afternoon to avoid glare from the sun, and come prepared with a windbreaker, sunblock, hat (even in winter!) and binoculars.
Everyone knows the jaunty white shape of the Sydney Opera House, the classic place for a culture shot. But it’s not all Sydney offers. In January, the city is taken over by the Sydney Festival and its museums, galleries, parks, squares, restaurants and other venues open their doors to three weeks of theater, cabaret, comedy, free events, workshops, circus and dance. Outside the month of January, the Art Gallery of NSW, State Theatre and a myriad of independent artists and performers continue revving the culture engine.
10. The weather
Sydney’s weather is generally as delightful as its food, walking trails, views – and everything else discussed here, so in terms of the best time to visit, with 300 days of sunshine a year, you’re spoiled for choice. For those who like stats: In summer expect 19° – 26°; fall 15° – 22°; spring 11° – 23° and winter 9° – 17°. Clearly, a Sydney winter is not the freezing affair that Northern Hemisphere visitors are used to!