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Sydney travel guide

The shining jewel of Australia, Sydney - although not the capital city - has definitely cemented itself as the cosmopolitan hub of the country. It's got famous landmarks such as the Royal Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, coastal surf towns like Manly and Bondi, hipster neighborhoods like Newtown, and seriously beautiful surroundings. Locals are known as Sydneysiders - do you want to become one?

Things to do in Sydney and New South Wales

  • The Rocks
    Get ready to tick those classic tourist spots off your list, because this is where you'll find the Royal Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.
  • Bondi to Coogee walk
    Bondi gets a lot of attention, but Coogee Beach tends to slip under the radar. Visit the two while wandering this stunning coastal walk and soaking up those beachy surfer vibes.
  • Wattamolla Beach
    Bondi a bit too crowded for you? Head to this lesser known beach among tourists: Wattamolla Beach in the Royal National Park. It's only a 2 hour drive from Sydney, so it's a perfect stop-off spot if you're travelling up or down the East Coast. Think cliff jumping into a lagoon, swimming in a cove and an incredible stretch of beach.
  • Blue Mountains National Park
    Travel slightly inland and take a day trip to the World Heritage National Park of the Blue Mountains - visit waterfalls, go on bushwalking trails, explore forest, and gaze at some seriously dramatic scenes. 
  • Nimbin
    Travel to the far northeastern corner of New South Wales to visit surf haven Byron Bay - just half an hour drive west of this coastal beauty is a quirky little village full of free spirits and hippy vibes (and plenty of tie-dye). Peace and love, dudes.  
  • Koala Hospital, Port Macquarie
    Who doesn’t come to Australia and want to see a Koala? But instead of going to a zoo or posing for a photo with one, think about visiting this adorable hospital for sick and injured koalas, rescued from bush fires and ruined habitats.

Our favorite neighborhoods in Sydney

The shores of Manly beach as seen from a distance

Manly

Another easy and short ferry ride from Sydney's Circular Quay is the beachy suburb of Manly. Get away from the hustle and bustle and take a stroll along the beautiful beach, play some volleyball, hit the waves or just soak up the sun. If you're looking for something a bit more adventurous, take the Manly to Spit Bridge Coastal Walk: hidden bays, beaches, and great view points.
Watson's bay

Watson's Bay

Take a short ferry from Circular Key to Watson's Bay for a perfectly chilled day out. Grab some fish and chips from Doyle's and sit along the beach, head to a beer garden for some drinks, or take the South Head Heritage Trail along to Camp Cove for stunning views and a step back into history.
Darling Harbour's buildings at night

Darling Harbour

Everyone loves Darling Harbour, and for good reason. It's impressive at any time of day, but if you want to see Sydney all lit up, head down in the evening for some sunset drinks, and watch Sydney light up in different colors. On a Saturday you could even catch a fireworks display.
Artistic flowers painted on the side of a building in Newtown Sydney

Newtown

Newtown is the cool kid on the block, where the backpackers and hipsters hang out. You've got independent coffee shops, street art (and regular art), music, events, and quirky bars. It's clear to see why students, backpackers and other young travelers come here.
Sydney Harbour Bridge as seen from across the Bay from Darling Harbour

Blue Mountains

Situated about an hour's drive from Sydney, the Blue Mountains is located in an incredible World Heritage Site, surrounded by local villages. It's known for its dramatic scenery, including the Three Sisters rock formation, various waterfalls, and bushwalking trails. The mountain range gives you an escape from the hectic city life of Sydney, and can be an easy day trip, or you can camp in one of their campsites. The bonus of this being that you can witness some stunning sunrises and sunsets.
The blue mountains during a vibrant red sunset

Blue Mountains Overnight | 2 days

Explore more of the Blue Mountains, Australia`s most visited World Heritage National Park with this overnight package that includes an active Blue Mountains Day Trip day trip plus an overnight stay at the cool art deco Blue Mountains YHA. The next day you have the freedom to pursue your own interests before taking the train back to Sydney.
The Three Sisters rock formation in the Blue Mountains

Ultimate Sydney | 5 days

Get ready to climb to the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge, learn to surf on Australia’s most famous beach, experience the majestic Blue Mountains wilderness, touch and feed native Australian animals including koalas and kangaroos, take a classic ferry ride to manly Beach, ride a bike along beaches and dramatic cliff tops, and visit cool bars for free drinks. 
A female in a red wetsuit climing on a red surfboard while a surf instructor looks on

Australia Surfing Adventure | 8 days

Like peanut butter and jelly, Australia and surfing were meant to be enjoyed together, and you probably won't find another Australian tour with more surfing than this one. In just eight days, you'll explore Coogee Beach, Bondi Beach, Byron Bay, and even a secret surf spot along the way.
An outline of three surfers carrying surfboards on a beach at dusk

Reefs and Rainforests (start Sydney) | 16 days

Starting Sydney-side wild nights & wildlife await you on the Aussie East Coast. Learn to surf in Coffs Harbour, enjoy a 'knees-up' at a farm stay, maybe hold a koala, then chill in paradise at our Whitsundays resort. Take a rooftop ride along the rainforest canopy, go snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef & get a taste of East Coast living.
people standing on the border of the Bondi Icebergs pool as ocean waves splash the side

Sydney New Year | 4 days

Take in a few days in this incredible city, and experience Sydney’s New Year's Eve celebration - it's one of the most spectacular in the world. Each year, the balmy summer celebration centers around the city's famous harbor. And with the stunning Harbour Bridge as a backdrop, you'll see some of the most breathtaking fireworks ever.

Sydney weather - what's it like?

The weather in Sydney is at its hottest between December and February, which is the Australian summer, where it gets to around 78°F on average. The mildest weather is between March and May, where the average temperature is between 58°F - 72°F. The coolest month is July.

What's the time in Sydney?

Sydney is 16 hours ahead of New York, and 19 hours ahead of Los Angeles. It's part of the Australian Eastern Time Zone (UTC+10.00).

Looking for some more inspiration? Check out our STA Travel Blog!

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Step outside of Sydney

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