Sydney: Everything You Need to Know about the Harbour City

by Sasha Selkirk

The smell of flat whites and cinnamon-sweet banana bread from the local cafe, the soft caress of a salty tide on sand-scorched toes and the rejuvenating ‘holiday’ sensation that colours every, single average day in Sydney. With over 236 days of sunshine every year, it’s no wonder that Sydney has become synonymous with blue skies and sunny days. 

Sydney has more than an enviable climate going for it and the city is home to many of the most iconic sights and landmarks on the continent (no wonder it’s so frequently mistaken for Australia’s capital – sorry Canberra!)

Before the global pandemic, Australia saw a monumental 9.4 million international visitors annually – 49% of which were here to set their sights on Sydney in all its splendour. That’s more than any of other city in the country. You can’t argue with statistics – or the 4.6 million annual visitors – Sydney must be one special city. 

So, without further ado, let your induction to Sydney begin: 

Sydney Harbour Bridge & Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera house and Bridge

For the most iconic sightseeing in Sydney, look no further than Circular Quay. The city’s transport hub is often the first stop for visitors arriving from the airport and the picturesque harbour is a sight for sore eyes and the perfect promenade to stretch out those jellied flight legs. 

Do: Climb the bridge & catch a concert at one of the world’s most spectacular venues

Eat & Drink: Raise a glass to the Opera House from Cruise Bar or the Harbour Bridge from the Opera Bar

R.S.V.P for: New Year’s Eve Fireworks

Taronga Zoo 

Nowhere else in Sydney offers such a sublime vista back over the city skyline….if only those pesky giraffes would mind their necks! Thanks to Taronga’s focus on animal protection and conservation you can enjoy this immersive wildlife experience guilt-free. Giraffes and elephants amble around their extensive, verdant homes and Andean Condors stretch their wings freely over the glistening ocean under the protective eye of a nurturing trainer. 

Do: Watch the bird show & say hey to the coolest of the park residents

Eat & Drink: Pack a picnic to enjoy in the open-air

R.S.V.P for: Twilight at Taronga – January-March 

Bondi Beach

Don’t leave Sydney without scrunching your toes in the sand on the city’s most famous beach. This world-renowned bay offers reliable curling waves and the perfect conditions for aspiring surfers to paddle out and catch the white-wash back in. Or, if surfing sounds like too much hard work, spend a day splayed out on the dazzling white sands and dip between the turquoise ocean and beach-side cafes.

Do: learn to surf & walk the coastal path from Bondi to Coogee 

Eat & Drink: Wet you whistle – and your toes! – at Bondi Icebergs Club

R.S.V.P for: Festival of the Winds – September 

Watson’s Bay 

Australia’s oldest fishing village, now one of Sydney’s trendiest suburbs, is situated on a peninsular at the Southern end of the Sydney Harbour. Its location means that over the duration of one walk you may find yourself staring one moment into the bustling soul of the city and the next out onto an uninterrupted expanse of the big blue. 

Do: Take the coastal cliff walk for stunning harbour views & check out Hornby Lighthouse

Eat: Fish and Chips from Doyles

Drink: Sunday Sessions at the Watson’s Bay Hotel

R.S.V.P for: Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race – December

Manly Beach

Manly beach

The Circular Quay to Manly ferry is a rite of passage for your induction to Sydney. Take the 30-minute scenic boat crossing for your first peek at the Northern Beaches – I promise, you will never look back. Really. My first ‘daytrip’ to Manly resulted in a year-long lease! Manly lives up to all the delicious beach-life stereotypes: wake up to the sound of the ocean, roll out from bed and into the waves, brush shoulders with penguins on your daily dip and cheers to another sunset melting into the sea.  

Do: Swim from Shelly Beach & hike along the cliffs at North Head

Eat: Coffee at the Bower, al fresco brunch at The Boat House or sushi at Sunset Sabi

Drink: Cocktails at Wharf Bar or beers at 4 Pines Brewery

R.S.V.P for: Inflatable Boat Race – February

This list is by no means comprehensive and these are only five of my most special spots in the whole of Sydney. If you had to count the best bits of the city on one hand; which highlights would make your cut?

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