After a three and a half hour flight from Auckland New Zealand, we were excited to spend seven days in Sydney Australia. Our home for the week was an apartment in the inner city suburb of Wooloomooloo (you have to say it really fast). We booked through Airbnb. The apartment had panoramic views of the city skyline, and was the perfect location for exploring all Sydney has to offer.
Our first night in the city we went for an easy walk from Wooloomooloo to the wharf for dinner. The recently refurbished wharf is a great spot to go for a walk and has restaurants and bars along its length. I read someplace that some of Sydney’s biggest names (such as Russell Crowe -) live upstairs! Didn’t see him. It was however, a place to people watch – especially on a Saturday night. The fashion felt a little like Miami – think short skirts, low cut tops and high heels. The look was quite a contrast from what we experienced in New Zealand!
From there we continued through the beautiful and relaxing Royal Botanic Garden to the harbor just in time to watch darkness fall over the Sydney Opera House. It was a thrilling and a little surreal seeing this iconic landmark in person.
We were a little tired our first couple of days in Sydney, so we kept it pretty low key with easy walks around the city enjoying delicious foods and taking in the sights, getting haircuts & doing laundry. When you spend an extended amount of time hiking and road tripping, stopping to take time for a little grooming eventually becomes a priority 😉
It didn’t take long to realize that Sydney is not flat! Every walk involved steps, steps and more steps – no wonder the Aussies who live here are so fit! At least we were able to eat gelato every day and still lose weight!
Sydney really is a beautiful city and even on the days we didn’t venture too far it was amazing just hanging in our spacious apartment watching the cockatoos and parrots from our balcony. Had no idea there were so many amazing birds in Australia!
The most incredible walk we took during our seven days in Sydney was the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk. Bondi Beach is one of Australia’s most famous beaches. It has a laid back atmosphere and very little high-rise development. Because it’s only 6 miles from the city centre, Bondi Beach is one of Sydney’s busiest beaches.
Bondi Beach is enjoyed by tourists and the locals who enjoy beach living, swimming,surfing, biking or strolling the promenade.
The term “must do” gets thrown around a lot, but if you are lucky enough to visit Sydney, you really “must do” the Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk. The Bondi To Bronte Walk is the most probably the most walked and most famous walk in Sydney, and it was our favorite walk during our entire stay in Australia.
You encounter breathtaking views on the cliff top walk along the coastline through beaches, parks, cliffs, bays and rock pools. The walk is about 4km, but if you have the time and energy continue on another 2 km to Coogee.
The entire 6 km could be completed in as little as two hours, but plan more time! You’ll want to stop to soak in the scenery and take long breaks by the ocean.
The Aussies are hard core swimmers, and we were blown away watching them swim against the wild waves in the ocean. One little guy who couldn’t have been more than 7-8 years old swimming amazed us as he swam in the rough waters alongside an adult. Occasionally he would need to stop, catch his breath, have dad hold and encourage him, and then he was off again!
And if you prefer not to swim in the ocean, you can try the slightly calmer (and critter free) sea water in the pools built into the sides of the rocky coast- brilliant!
We ended the day with a delicious fish dinner at the Coogee Pavilion before catching an Uber back to our apartment. If you haven’t already, download the Uber app to your phone. It’s so easy to catch a ride and usually about half the price of a taxi.
Sydney’s oldest precinct, The Rocks, has a unique and interesting history. The area had a reputation as a slum back in the 1700s. It was the side of town for arriving convicts and was often frequented by visiting sailors and prostitutes. It continued to have a rough reputation until around the 1870s when buildings began to decay and eventually around the 1900s many residents were wiped out by the Bubonic plague. The cobblestone streets of this colonial village have now been revived with trendy shops, restaurants and pubs.
The Rocks Markets on the weekends have more than 200 eclectic stalls where you can find fashion and accessories by emerging designers, homewares, beauty products, photography, art, crafts and jewelry. It’s also a great spot for yummy street food and fresh juices!
From the charming stone walks and cobblestone streets of The Rocks it’s a short walk to the Sydney Harbor Bridge. The bridge, nicknamed “The Coathanger” because of its arch-based design, is the sixth longest arch span bridge in the world. It’s fun to experience the view from under the bridge, and if you want to get a view from above check into the Sydney Harbor bridge climb.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House sit either side of the Circular Quay Ferry Terminal. You can stroll along the busy wharfs of Circular Quay, listen to the Aboriginal street artists and enjoy the views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s also the place to catch a harbor cruise.
There are plenty of options for a ride in the harbor, and I highly recommend getting out on the water. We chose to take the ferry to Manly Beach. The 30 minute cruise across Sydney Harbor passes the Opera House as you go between north and south head before feeling the swell of the open sea. The views were amazing going out and even better when we returned after dark to see the twinkling lights of the city.
Manly Beach is a little like Bondi Beach, but seemed much quieter. We enjoyed walking the rugged coast taking in views of the surfers and wildlife.
There is so much to see and do in Sydney, we barely scratched the surface. But there are some things that just shouldn’t be missed – like a visit to the Sydney Opera House.
It’s one of the world’s most distinctive buildings and no trip to Sydney would be complete without a visit to this thriving hub of art, culture and history. We took a guided 1 hour tour and were amazed by the facts we learned about this incredible structure.
Of course, one of the best ways to experience the Sydney Opera House is to see a show. The Opera House is actually not just one performance venue, but seven venues hosting over 1,600 performances a year. Of course, I had my heart set on the opening night performance of The Australian Ballet, which was sold out. I went back every day for a week trying to get tickets to the opening night performance. Our last night in Sydney it happened – two seats were available – you should have seen my happy dance!
The Paddington Market has been open on Saturdays since 1973 and has over 150 unique stalls filled with Australian designed and hand crafted products, live music, and according to Bill – incredible massages. I was to busy shopping to stop and relax.
It’s a lovely community and awesome market. I love this quote I found on their website.
At Paddington Markets we believe …
That people matter and their passion and creativity should be encouraged.
It’s worth supporting small Australian business and designers.
Unique good quality local products should be promoted.
That with a generous heart and a passionate spirit you can change the world.