Prior to my 25 day road trip around Australia, I decided to spend in 4 days in Sydney and start exploring. Here's my Top 10 must do's...
1. Sydney Opera House Tour
The iconic structure sitting along the waterfront is regarded by many as the most famous landmark in Australia, let along the city of Sydney. Many pose for pics outside, but it's surprising the lack of visitors who take a tour inside the Opera House.
$37 AUD represents great value for a start, tours can be booked on the day, run for an hour, and are really informative. Your guide will fire plenty of fast facts via your audio headphones about the construction, past and present usage, as well as info on Jorn Utzon, the founding architect.
Top Tip - Present your tour ticket stub at the box office and get up to 50% off tickets to all of the performing shows.
2. A walk through Hyde Park
Named after the famous part of London, albeit a fraction of the size. A great spot for a chilled out walk to absorb the greenery, chill reading a book, go for a picnic, or check out the ANZAC Memorial. Best of all... it's free!
3. A day tour of the Blue Mountains
A perfect opportunity to escape from the city and head into nature. Located 125km to the west of the city, and under 2 hours on the road takes you to this rugged mountain range with dramatic scenery.
Check out Echo Point for the best views of the Three Sisters, gave into the vast expanse of Jamison Valley, and ride the steepest railway in the world, with an incline of 52 degrees.
I'd recommend booking via http://www.bluediamondtours.net/ as they seem to be the best value at $195 AUD for an all day trip including hotel pick up, coffee and scone en route, a pub lunch, plenty of scenic photo stops, entry into Featherdale Wildlife Park, and a boat ride back into the city.
4. Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb
Pretty pricey at $288 AUD, but truly a phenomenal experience. Don a climb suit, and make your way to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The excursion lasts a little over 3 hours and best to book in advance, but you won't regret it. The guides are knowledgable and energetic, as well as there being plenty of photo stops en route to the top.
Top Tip - I'd recommend the Twilight Tour slot, as you get the best of both with views at day and night.
5. Bondi Beach
Without a doubt, one of the most famous beaches in the world. Located 7km east of city centre, but certainly not to be missed. The beach is 1km in length and a hotspot for surfer fanatics, but in addition, there's plenty of restaurants and cafes along the shoreline, as well as some cool graffiti spanning along the beach wall. There's also free wifi across the whole of the beach for those Facebook and Instagram addicts.
Top Tip - The open top bus tour has a Bondi loop, so can double up as convenient way to check out the beach.
6. The Museum of Contemporary Art
Please note that I'm not the biggest museum lover, but this is worth checking out. Free of charge to enter and located on the front of Central Quay next to where the cruise liners dock.
The building is spread across 4 floors, with temporary exhibits taking place on floor 3. Providing there's no cruise ship in the harbour, floor 4 offers a great view of both the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.
7. Visit Manly
A 20 minute ferry ride for $20 AUD return will take you to the beautiful suburb of Manly. You'll find beautiful beaches, shops, restaurants, and even museums all within easy reach. Manly is small in size and best explored via bicycle.
Top Tip - Visit Shelly Beach. When you depart the ferry, walk straight and you'll hit Manly Beach. From there, walk to the right.
8. Open Top Bus Tour
With both 24 hour and 48 hour tickets available, the open top bus tour is a great way to explore the city and familiarise yourself with the local spots. There's a city route, and a Bondi route, with both taking 90 minutes to complete the circuit.
I'd recommend a complete circuit first off, so you'll pick up all the useful knowledge via the audio headset, as well as marking out the spots you want to hop off and explore send time round. St Mary's Cathedral, Kings Cross, The Botanical Gardens, Bondi Beach, Darling Harbour, and Hyde Park for the Sydney Tower are all worth a stop.
Top Tip - The Botanical Gardens stop is where to hop off for the best views of both The Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
9. Darling Harbour
A harbour adjacent to the city centre that's packed with restaurants, bars, and also plenty of major attractions.
Darling Harbour is where you would access Cockle Bay Wharf, Tumbalong Park, Sydney Aquarium, Madame Tussauds, Sydney Wildlife World, and the Powerhouse Museum.
10. Sydney Fish Market
The market sits on the Blackwattle Bay foreshore in Pyrmont, which is 2km west of the Sydney CBD. Open 7 days a week and is the world's third largest fish market. Best to arrive early morning and watch the local fishermen hurl in all the fresh fish.
You can get to the fish market using the 501 bus route.
11. Bonus Foodie Recommendation - Mr Wong Chinese Restaurant
Okay, perhaps Chinese food isn't the first cuisine that pops into your head when arriving in Australia, but this place is a game changer. This place is always packed out, so best to make an advance reservation. Located on Bridge Street, a short walk from The Rocks.
Top Tip - The crispy pork dish will change your life!