Is one weekend enough to visit Sydney? Definitely not, but you certainly can get a taste of it! That’s what we did this weekend, when we decided to fly in from Melbourne, just one week before leaving Australia. I have to confess this city stayed unmarked on my Bucket List ever since 2009, so when Damien proposed a weekend in Sydney rather than a week in Cairns or some other northern parts of Australia I gladly accepted! Yes, visiting Sydney for a weekend is as expensive as a week in Cairns, Gold Coast and others. But it’s totally worth it!
3 Days in Sydney is still short, but somehow, we managed to squeeze in a lot of activities! From touring the famous Opera House to eating the “best pizza of Australia”, there is not much we missed around town.
We arrived in Sydney at noon (thank you for the 1 hour delay Tiger Air), which still gave us a full day of exploring and getting a hold of the city. Our hotel, Castlereagh Boutique Hotel had an excellent location so all we needed to get around were some good walking shoes! Located near the Westfield Tower and about 10-15 minutes walk from Darling Harbour, this hotel really made our life easier. The price is good for what’s available around Sydney, but then again the hotel is quite classic, if you know what I mean 🙂
Once again, I’m impressed with how Aussies manage to redevelop areas that had a totally different purpose. Nowadays, Darling Harbour stands for one of the most popular areas in Sydney, and no surprise. Here you can gaze at the majestic views of the city’s skyscrapers reflecting in the water while having your cocktail at one of the many places available around. At least, that’s what I did!
Circular Quay: Opera House and Harbour Bridge
The day was still young so we set towards our next attractions! From Darling Harbour we took the public ferry for a short ride until Circular Quay. First, you get a glance at Harbour Bridge, an impressive structure, that has been an important landmark for Sydney since 1932. Getting closer and closer to the Sydney Harbour, I finally got to see it! The Opera House, the place that I had in mind 8 years ago when I wrote Sydney on my Bucket List!
Watching the sun set over Opera House
We wandered around the Opera House for one hour and then we went to the right, towards the Botanical Gardens. Definitely recommend this when you find yourself there, you’ll get to see some interesting birds and typical Australian trees. Keeping the Harbour on our left, we continued to walk until we finally found our good spot for watching the sunset. A truly majestic experience, I must say, and this activity ranks high also on TripAdvisor tops. This fall has been offering Sydney a couple of amazing sunsets, and we were just lucky enough to get one! Is there something more astonishing than a purple sky over the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, all that with a reflection across the waters of the Harbour? Nope I didn’t think so!
Dinner at Frankie’s Pizza
Having left the gardens all amazed up, we started to get pretty hungry and my boyfriend had promised before to take me to Frankie’s Pizza, considered to have the best pizza of Australia! Or at least, that’s what hundreds of positive reviews say! Not your usual pizza place, Frankie’s Pizza was firstly supposed to act solely as a rock bar serving pizza. Very soon, word got out and they got really famous for it! I totally loved the place and their rock music, but most of all, their pizza! Prices are not too bad for such a famous place: around 25 AUD for a pizza, which is best to share! Slices are also available for 6 AUD.
Circular Quay to Luna Park
Again, our location was great, so we just walked 10 minutes and then took the ferry from Circular Quay(where the Opera House is) and went for a short ride until Luna Park. I found this amusement park to be more entertaining than the Luna Park in Melbourne, so it’s definitely a good addition for your trip, especially if you have kids!
Going up the Harbour Bridge
From Luna Park it was just a short 10 minutes walk till up the stairs for the Harbour Bridge. I was hesitant at first, as it was really hot outside (27 C, but Aussie sun is really strong so it always feels like much more). Going up the stairs I realised it was just great on the bridge! Mostly shadow and a chilly breeze from the Harbour 🙂 Once again, Damien was right and I didn’t regret going up on it! You’ll get some amazing views from 120 meters above the Harbour and it offers a totally different perspective. I also enjoyed how the homes built across the harbour from the Opera House have something of Southern France. Maybe it’s the water, maybe it’s the interesting architecture, but then it made sense when I found out the French actually tried to invade Sydney but failed!
Visiting The Rocks, the oldest part of Sydney
Going down from the Sydney Harbour Bridge will take you right in this place. Filled with so much culture and architectural masterpieces, this place made me think of another part of Southern France, and that’s Lyon. The interesting architecture, mostly in earthy shades, the small streets, street artists and the fact that it’s the oldest part of Sydney, make this place another attraction you can’t miss! It’s best to visit this place on Sunday, when there’s the weekly market, if you want some interesting souvenirs for home!
Watsons Bay on the Ferry
After wandering the streets of the Rocks, we went back to Circular Quay where we took the ferry(again) towards Watsons Bay. I found it fascinating that you can end up basically anywhere just by taking the ferry! The journey was a bit less than 20 minutes, time that we god to indulge ourselves gazing at the wonderful homes built across the harbour, and the numerous sail-boats around. Arriving at the Watsons Bay, once again we got amazed by the beauty all around Sydney! We relaxed here having a beer next to the harbour and then left for our next destination!
From Watsons Bay we took an Uber, which is way more practical than taxi in Sydney, and ended up just one street away from the beach. This place is not famous for nothing, it’s literally packed with bars, restaurants, shops and surfers! Our time on the beach was short, since a storm was picking up, but it was enough to get the colourful vibes of Bondi Beach: graffiti walls, surfboards and an open concert on the beach not to mention the immense beach. We ended the night at VUE Bar, where I had the best espresso martini in Australia! It’s not called VUE Bar for nothing, this place has an amazing view over Bondi.
Westfield Tower – Sydney from above
As I mentioned before, our hotel was located very close to the Westfield Shopping Centre and Tower, so first thing in the morning we visited the luxurious shopping centre and made our way up in the tower! The entry ticket is 20 AUD but it’s totally worth it! The view is way better than Eureka Tower in Melbourne (see my experience at Eureka Tower here ) You’ll get up at 250 meters, which is lower than Eureka Tower (300 m), but it seems Sydney is just more beautiful from above! We gazed for more than one hour at the city so take your time when you visit this, as it’s truly an astonishing experience!
A tour of the Opera House
As always, keeping the best for last, this is the ultimate thing not to miss when you find yourself in Sydney! The entrance fee is around 37 AUD, but once again, totally worth it! I found the tour to be very modern, we each had our headphones and sound controller for the guide, so that’s a life-saving option when there’s a big group, so you don’t have to squeeze in front of the guide every time. We found out about the story of the Opera House, and its danish architect, Jørn Utzon. As all masterpieces in this world, The Opera House did not have a happy history: the architect was fired and he never got to see his work. Along the tour, we visited several venues, including the Concert Hall, where Mary J. Blidge was having rehearsals for her concert later that day! Needless to say, you’re not allowed to photograph when there are rehearsals. All together, the tour really left me fascinated, so if there’s one thing to include in your Sydney trip, this is The One!
As you can see, we managed to include a lot of attractions around Sydney in a short time, so if you find yourself on a road-trip / flight-trip? 🙂 around Australia, a weekend is totally fine to get a hold of this city! I hope I managed to inspire you with my stories and definitely hope I captured the beauty of it with my photographs!
If you liked this and would like more than just a wanderlust pill, you can subscribe to my blog, there’s still a lot of adventures to come! As some of you may know, my time in Australia is coming to an end, but the story is not over yet! We’ll be continuing our wanders through Romania, UK and some countries in Europe in the months to come, so stay tuned!