You can’t go to Australia without visiting Sydney, people say. As the biggest city in the country, there are countless opportunities and things to explore in and around the city. I spent five beautiful days there and I was never bored! Even though the size of the city is way too big for my liking, I really enjoyed my time there, seeing as Sydney is way more laid back than most other large cities.
With a dramatic skyline in contrast to quiet green parks, entertainment on every street corner, beach parties and rooftop parties with fireworks and a very multi-ethnic population, Sydney is a dynamic city where just about anything is possible; whether you are looking for an active holiday with bridge climbing on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, hiking in the stunning Blue Mountains and urban hiking in the city, or prefer to simply relax in the parks, catch some waves at the many beaches and go for evening strolls in the Royal Botanic Garden. Sydney has something for everyone!
My plan was to see as much as possible, but, contrary to what I usually do, I wanted to take things slowly and have time to relax and feel the city.
My first day in Sydney was a lazy day. The evening before, I met my host Naufar in Darling Harbour before going to his apartment in Glebe, and I decided to go back there and explore it for a bit. I met Naufar on his work break and he showed me around for a while. Afterwards, I decided to explore a bit more of Sydney. Even though I was feeling lazy, I decided to skip public transport for most of the day, and started walking the 4 km. route from Darling Harbour to Circular Quay, another harbour from where the famous Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge can be seen.
The walk to Circular Quay was really nice. I came by Barangaroo Reserve, where I found my own “secret spot”. I have quite a few of those around the World, my favourite being one in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands, that I’ve never shown to anyone but a few sheep.
Barangaroo Reserve is the newest harbour foreshore park in Sydney and was opened to the public in August this year. I spent over an hour in my secret spot, soaking up the sun (it was 40 degrees that day!), sipping a cold drink and enjoying life. There was no one there, no one but me, alone in a big city, surrounded by skyscrapers and nothing else, watching the World around me go by. I like having secret places to hang out with just me, my thoughts, a notebook and a pen in every corner of the World.
When I finally decided to move on from my secret spot, I walked a few hundred metres and was met with a beautiful sight of the Sydney Harbour Bridge – and soon after, the Sydney Opera House! I could see people walking on top of the bridge, and I kind of wished that it was me, but I had chosen to not do it to save money.
You should’ve seen my face, when I finally saw the Sydney Opera House. It was strange seeing something so famous, something that I’d seen so many times before on photographs, something on the other side of the Earth, something that for obvious reasons reminds me of a spaceship, with my own eyes. Finally. The moment that I had been waiting for since I came to Australia. Now I was finally there, I was in Australia, I had SEEN Australia.
When I finally got to Circular Quay, I was exhausted by doing absolutely nothing all day and decided to use public transport to get back to Darling Harbour, from where I still had a 2 km. walk back to Glebe.
Instead of taking a bus, I chose to take a slightly more expensive, but way more scenic ride on the public ferry that took me from Circular Quay past the Sydney Opera House, under the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Darling Harbour. It was definitely worth the money and I’m glad I got to view Sydney from the water as well.
On my second day in Sydney, I chose to go on a day trip to Canberra, which I wrote about earlier. That meant that I had one day less to explore Sydney, but it had been a plan from the very beginning, as I really wanted to see Canberra as well.
My third day was spent with Naufar and it was a looong day! First, we went to Bondi Beach and walked to Coogee Beach. When we got back to the center of Sydney, we went for a stroll through Chinatown, which is rather small compared to the size of Sydney, but still very nice and atmospheric as a Chinatown should be!
We then went to a rooftop bar in Darling Harbour, where Naufar had a drink and I had, well, nothing. I generally don’t like to drink unless I want to get drunk, as I simply don’t like the taste of alcohol (beer and vodka is okay, but cocktails are awful). I would choose a Coke Zero any day!
Our main reason for coming there, was to get a great view of the fireworks that are on every Friday and Saturday evening at Darling Harbour. The fireworks show was beautiful! Definitely worth seeing, if you’re ever in Sydney on a weekend.
The next day was spent in the Blue Mountains and it was definitely my favourite day! Read all about it here!
On my 5th and last day in Sydney, I decided to be active and see everything! I walked from Glebe to Darling Harbour and then onwards to Circular Quay once again – I came by my secret spot, but didn’t stop, as I didn’t feel that I had time. My first actual stop was at the Sydney Opera House. I walked right up to it and walked around it, while studying its weird spaceship-like shape.
I then went to the Royal Botanic Gardens, where I stopped to eat my lunch with a great view of skyscrapers on one side and the harbour on the other. I saw the beautiful Government House that was constructed between 1837 and 1843, walked around the main pond and then walked all the way to the end of Mrs Macquarie’s Point.
From there, I got the most amazing view of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
My tired legs then took me to Hyde Park and the beautiful St. Mary’s Cathedral, which I can’t believe isn’t more well known. I didn’t find anything about it in my travel book and that’s a real shame, because the cathedral is a gem. It was founded in 1821 and is a beautiful landmark situated in the center of Sydney.
On my way back to Glebe, I decided to walk past Pitt Street, where all the major shopping is in Sydney, and of course, the Sydney Tower. I didn’t go up the tower though, as it was too expensive. While in Pitt Street, I desperately searched for fries and mayonnaise, but there was no McDonalds (or Maccas, as Aussies say) to be seen and they are the only place in the entire country that sell mayonnaise. Burger King (Hungry Jacks) and KFC really let me down and I ended up with dry fries and an even bigger craving for mayonnaise.
I then went back to the apartment in Glebe for a last evening with Naufar and Shivin (his roommate), before heading to the airport the morning after.
Flying out of Sydney was a beautiful experience. I met two Danish guys in the airport and we had seats next to each other on the plane. I was supposed to sit on the aisle seat, but one of them swapped with me, so I got the window seat. And I was so happy that I did! As soon as we got in the air, we could see the most stunning view of central Sydney, including the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge!
Our destination was Hamilton Island in the Whitsunday Islands, where I experienced the most beautiful landing ever, but more about that later!
Although five days in Sydney could never be enough, I feel like I made the most of it and saw everything that I wanted. I had another great experience with Couchsurfing and now have two new friends, who quickly became more than just my hosts. Sydney is a very hyped city, but it deserves the hype. It’s an amazing city with lots to do and see and I agree on what people usually say; You can’t go to Australia without visiting Sydney!