You really need more time – and we don’t say that often…
You’ve probably traveled a long way, but fortunately, Sydney is well worth the trip. Full of world famous landmarks, gorgeous beaches, excellent food, chilled out vibes and lovely weather – 48 hours is better than nothing – but it’s really not enough. Here’s how to have the best, fun, action-packed weekend possible – and if you can squeeze longer, you just won’t need to wake up so early to get in all in!
Getting from Sydney International Airport to the city center is extremely easy. The train is cheap, cheerful and quick costing roughly $10 one way. If you get off at Circular Quay for a centrally located hotel, you’ll be right outside the Sydney Opera House. Otherwise, Uber works just fine and is about 25-35 minutes and $20USD into the center depending on traffic. Generally, very friendly drivers in Sydney too!
If flights were expensive – there are excellent hotel options in Sydney using points. Staying near the Opera House or Central Business District (CBD) is great, especially for first timers, as you’re well located with easy access to train and boats to get around the city. But for a more local feel, we recommend renting an AirBnB in Potts Point or Balmain, where you’ll really be spoilt for choice with restaurants, coffee shops and bars.
There are so many good spots for breakfast, you’ll be wishing you were staying weeks and not days. Excellent coffee, pastries, muffins, eggs, granola and fresh fruits are literally everywhere – and at quality we rarely see in other major cities. A few standouts well worth a try: Bowery Lane, Cabrito, Gypsy Espresso, Cafe Berlin, cafe d’Yvoire. But no matter which neighborhood you’re in, if you wander,you will be sure to pass some quaint, tasty looking coffee shops.
Whether you’ve been before or not, casting your eyes on the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge is always spectacular. Get the train or Uber to Circular Quay and walk all along the harbor, taking in every angle and view. Next, stroll through the botanical gardens to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, it’s a gorgeous and peaceful walk with endless picture-worthy shots. Just hope there’s no massive cruise ship parked there that day – which generally happens on weekends, FYI!
While you’re in Circular Quay, take the ferry to Balmain East. They’re cheap, at about $5USD one way and run frequently. The ferry offers a relaxing and beautiful ride, zipping passengers under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, with more cool shots of the Opera House. You can hop off at Balmain or Balmain East which leads you shortly to Darling Street. Wander up the street where you’ll find boutiques, charming coffee shops, restaurants and a local, friendly vibe that makes you feel you could live here. Perfect for a spot of shopping and lunch.
If you’re on Darling Street or in Potts Point, it will be hard to choose just one spot. There are honestly so many good options. But one reasonable option you absolutely must try is Chester White Cured Diner in Potts Point – a small space with bar seating and a few tables serving up the freshest and tastiest pasta cooked literally right in front of you. Get the carbonara, which they mix together in front of you, immediately before serving, or the truffle spaghetti served out of a parmesan wheel. It makes you wonder how so many Italian restaurants go oh-so-wrong with basic dishes. Absolutely delicious!
This is a definite must-do! Take an Uber to the famous Bondi Icebergs Club where you can start this gorgeous walk heading on the paved path in the direction of Tamarama. It’s about 6km from Bondi to Coogee, but you can turn back at anytime if you’re not feeling up to all of it. The scenery is spectacular and you can cool off at one of the many ocean pools along the way or in the ocean itself. There are plenty of refreshment stops along the way, and if it’s a hot day – it’s best to go in the morning or mid-late afternoon. A truly, unforgettable route.
Without a doubt, go to Billy Kwong. It’s got a cool, fun vibe serving Australian and Chinese fusion dishes from the minds of two (literally) top chefs. The restaurant has consistently ranked in TimeOut Sydney’s top 10 for years and we see why! If there are any duck specials that day, go with it! And be sure to devoir an order of the Stir-Fried Organic Hokkien Noodles to share. Quite possibly the best noodles we’ve ever tasted. Other great options are: Restaurant Hubert, Indu, Blue Ginger, Rockpool Bar and Grill and Yellow.
Sydney offers a wonderfully laid back but vibrant atmosphere, and if you’re looking for some cocktails that are worth staying up for then head to one of these cool spots: Eau de Vie, The Lodge Bar, PS40, The Baxter Inn, Papa Gede’s Bar, The Cottage Bar & Kitchen, This Must Be The Place. Check out the menus, pick one (or a few) and go for it – you can’t go wrong. Generally, they’re all in cool neighborhoods too. Cocktails and cool – they go together, right? Enjoy the night!
If you happen to be in Sydney over the weekend, head to one of their iconic open street markets. Carriageworks Farmers Market is full of fresh, local, seasonal produce – with tempting tastings galore. While there, keep your eyes peeled for some well-known chefs, known to make appearances and even occasionally, open up a food stall. The Rocks Market also boasts charming and authentic stalls, selling things from chocolates to soap, clothes, paintings and much more, perfect for gifts to take home. Whichever market you choose, be sure to get there on the early side when they open, as crowds can build up fast.
If you don’t want to leave Australia without hanging out with some kangaroos and koalas, your best bet is to head to Featherdale Wildlife Park, a 45 minute drive from the city center. You can book different experiences to enjoy personal encounters with the animals, or just a normal day pass. Yes, you can pet kangaroos or wallabies here. For more convenient and general animal sitings, Taronga Zoo makes for a fun afternoon!
A bit like going up the Empire State Building or the London Eye, it’s a cool thing to do once for some. We passed because of the jumpsuit and price, but the views over Sydney are spectacular, especially at night time. It will set you back over A$250, but it’s a nifty thing to say you’ve done.
Honestly, 48 hours is just not enough time to fit everything in. Sydney is an incredible city you’re bound to fall in love with – and instantly book a trip back to. If you have longer, there are more beautiful beaches to visit such as Manly and Bilgola, some excellent art galleries and museums, just find the ones best suited to you, and endless quality food to discover. Oh, and go to a cute market shop called Bottega del Vino on MacLeay St and try the Zebra Dream ice cream – the lemongrass caramel flavour is to die for!