Sydney has the most beautiful beaches, brunches and accents in the whole world. As the capital of New South Wales and the largest city in Australia, Sydney is known for their great culture and even better coffee.
This laid-back city is the perfect place for exploring and people watching and the public transportation system is AMAZING making getting around a sinch.
What to Expect in Sydney
Language: English is the dominant language spoken in Sydney.
Currency: The Australian Dollar. ($)
Credit/Debit Cards: There are plenty of ATM’s all over the city and most places accept Visa and Mastercard. AMEX is usually only accepted at larger retailers.
Weather: The weather in Sydney is usually pretty mild year round, with warmer summers. Their warm months are November-February and colder months are June- August.
Sydney has previously been ranked 2nd most expensive city in the world so expect prices to be a little higher. Planning a trip on a budget is definitely doable, but be prepared to pay a little more on your visit.
Budget Friendly Accommodation:
- Base Backpacker Hostel: *Based on experience in other cities* Dorms, Privates, Wi-Fi, Kitchen, Free walking tours. $25-$35 per night. Base Backpacker Hostel is one of Sydney’s most centrally located hostels. This is a true backpacker hostel so you might have to compromise personal space and quiet time for a budget stay.
- Sydney Central YHA: *Recommended from The Blonde Abroad* Dorms, Privates, Wi-Fi, Swimming Pool, Great Location. $35-$45 per night. Central YHA is a 5-star hostel for budget travelers and is located right next to Central Station.
Sydney Luxury Style:
- Hilton Sydney Hotel: The Hilton is located in the heart of the city with a great breakfast buffet and happy hour appetizers.
When I planned my trip, I bought an iVenture Pass because it comes with entry to all the main attractions in Sydney. You end up saving lots of money and get the chance to do almost everything!
iVenture has a bunch of different options of passes. Whether you want a 3-day, 5-day, 7-day unlimited pass or a 3-attraction 5-attraction 7-attraction pass that you can use within 31 days, you can customize your pass to suit your travel needs!
I was there for 5 days by myself so I bought the 3-day unlimited pass which allowed me to do any attraction on their list for 3 consecutive days and then I did all the stuff I could do for free on the other 2 days so I could maximize my pass for the things that would otherwise cost money.
I saved about $400 with my iVenture pass instead of purchasing individual tickets to each museum/attraction I wanted to see.
Sydney Explorer Hop on Hop off Bus Tour: This is a great way to get to all the main attractions in Sydney and is included in the iVenture Pass. It includes 2 routes and takes you to Bondi Beach.
Captain Cook Hop on Hop off Cruise: This tour is AMAZING. It’s like the hop on hop off but on a boat and takes you to Taronga Zoo, Manly Beach, Watsons Bay and Luna Park.
Taronga Zoo: An amazing zoo with views of Sydney Skyline.
Manly Beach Bike Tours: I thought I would take advantage of my 2 hour bike hire included on my iVenture pass and am so glad I did!! Biking was such a fun way to see the city and the views of Sydney were amazing.
Luna Park: An old vintage theme park situated in Lavender Bay that was featured in Mary Kate and Ashely. Free of charge to walk around!
Watson’s Bay: Get off at the stop on Captain Cook hop on hop off and walk to the Gap.
Sydney Tower Eye SKYWALK: See Sydney from the sky!! The Observation Deck has an incredible 360 view of the city and if you’re feeling adventurous, take it to the next level and walk around the the perimeter of the building outside!
Opera House Tour: No explanation needed, it’s incredible. An hour long, guided tour is included in your iVenture Pass! (seriously you need to get this pass!)
Oz Jet boating: This jet boat ride is WILD. Be prepared to get wet as you zoom, twist and turn through Sydney Harbour.
Things you can do for FREE:
Royal Botanical Gardens: SO BEAUTIFUL! Start at Circular Quay and walk all the way along the water to the Opera House and you can enter the Gardens from there.
The Government House: A walk around the Governor of New South Wales castle-like residence is worth taking a look at if you’re roaming through the Botanical Gardens.
Walk across Sydney Harbour Bridge: A lovely walk with great views of Sydney. There’s also a bridge climb for the adventurous spirits!
The Gap: This stunning walk will let you look across the Harbor at North Head on Manly Beach. It’s at Watson’s Bay. (Get off at this stop on Captain Cook hop on hop off) takes about 20 minutes to walk the whole thing.
Australians are coffee snobs; in the best way possible!! All drinks are espresso based so get used to ordering a short or long black, flat white etc. They are also professional brunchers so make sure you experience one of the wonderful Aussie brekkie places.
The Rock’s Cafe: I went here twice because the food was so good. They have full menus for breakfast, lunch, dinner and of course dessert featuring avocado toast, gourmet burgers, pasta, risotto and much much more. Try the kangaroo burger!
The Australian Hotel: Some restaurants are called “hotels” there. It’s not a hotel. I was confused, but holy YUM. I had the kangaroo pizza and it was divine.
Pancakes on the Rocks: This restaurant offers a variety of foods from salads, crepes, pizzas and nachos, but you have to try their famous, loaded pancakes. Chocolate pancakes with coconut, cream, vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate sauce and raspberry coulis?? iHop, you better watch out.
Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe: A little on the pricier side, but worth it if you love chocolate. Stop here for some delectable desserts.
Nick’s Seafood Restaurant in Darling Harbour: Dig into some tasty seafood as you soak in the breathtaking views of Darling Harbour. This restaurant on the water has live entertainment and will give you the perfect taste for high quality Sydney seafood.
Stanley Street: Stanley Street is kind of hidden behind the Australian Museum but it’s filled with great restaurants.
Opera House Kitchen: Sit next to the iconic building as you enjoy a delicious lunch and look out into the Harbour. If you do the Opera House tour you get a discount! You also get a discount to a show so check to see what’s on!
Best Ice Cream (you knew it was coming):
Gelato Messina: This place will knock your socks off. If you’re doing the Hop on Hop off bus tour, its just a 5 minute walk down from the Kings Cross Stop.
Movenpick: Corsi street at Manly Beach
Copenhagen Ice Cream: Circular Quay or The Rocks
Sydney is very spread out so sometimes it might be more convenient to use public transportation. Luckily, the public transportation system is simply and easy to use.
If you’ll be there for more than 1 day, I would recommend purchasing an Opal Card. This pass will allow you to take the train, ferry or bus anywhere in the city. All you have to do is load up and swipe!
With the variety of activities covering the whole range of the price spectrum, Sydney is a great travel destination for budget and luxury travelers alike. The vibrant culture, city life, and relaxing beaches will rejuvenate your system and make you want to come back the second you leave.
Headed to New Zealand while you’re on that side of the world? Check out my travel tips and guides to help you plan your trip!
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xx Nicole #DoStuff