I recently had the wonderful opportunity to visit Sydney, Australia! It has been on my travel list for a long time. The city is rich and diverse in topography. I spent a total of 4 days in the country, but wish I could’ve stayed longer. Although it was Australia’s winter time (70 degrees Fahrenheiht with the sun out), it did not stop me from enjoying my time and exploring as much as I could. As a bonus, it was their annual light festival called “VIVID” in which prominent buildings around the city are lit up with colorful light show displays (including the famous Darling Harbor and Sydney Opera House).
Some of the highlights of my trip included:
City Center and Queen Victoria Building – We stayed at The Westin hotel in the center of downtown Sydney. It was a great location because it was walking distance to most of the main attractions in the city (The Harbor, Opera House, Capitol Theater, Queen Victoria Building and Hyde Park). On our first day there, I explored all of downtown. There are a lot of high end malls and shopping centers filled with charming outdoor cafes.
Hyde Park – On the second day there, I walked through Hyde Park which can in some ways be compared to New York’s Central Park on a much much smaller scale. However, it is beautiful to grab a coffee or tea and stroll through the park on a warm afternoon.
Bondi Beach and Bondi to Coogee Trail – This was listed as the #1 activity to do when visiting Sydney on TripAdvisor.com and it’s reviewers were spot on. This was my favorite day on our trip. Bondi Beach is about 20 minutes by train and another 5 minutes by bus from downtown Sydney. The bus will drop you off right at Bondi Beach and the trail will start from there. Reviewers say it takes 1 hour, but if it’s your first time, you’ll probably want to stop at all of the scenic locations and take pictures. It ended up taking us a leisurely and relaxing two hours.
Blue Mountains – We decided to book a day tour to the Blue Mountains which was recommended to us by friends. The day tour included a trip to the Sydney Olympic center, the Blue Mountains, Featherdale Wildlife Park and a trip on the ferry back to the harbor at night. Not to mention we had a phenomenal tour guide! Usually, I’m not one to book tours because I prefer to explore myself, however when you’re on a time crunch, it truly is one of the best ways to see everything and not worry about transportation and time.
The Blue Mountains are considered the “Grand Canyon” of Australia and are filled with many Eucalyptus trees which is what the Koala’s love to munch on.
Featherdale Wildlife Park – A visit to the wildlife park was a part of our tour and I was not disappointed. Since we were unable to make the famous Sydney Zoo, this was a nice alternative to see the wildlife that Australia is known for. Also, you get up close and personal interaction with the Koalas and Kangaroos.
Contemporary Museum Art – The museum is located in “The Rocks” area of Circular Quay. The museum is modern, quick and worth passing through! Oh and did I mention it’s free?! It also has one of the best views of the Sydney Opera house at the cafe on the top floor.
The Food and Nightlife – Australia is known for it’s beef, hence “Outback” steakhouse so it was one thing we definitely had to try while we were out there. I love a good steak and have had my fair share of contenders while living in LA (STK, Mastros, Capital City Grill, etc.). We ordered one of the best cuts on the menu (ribeye) and unfortunately, the Aussie steaks didn’t live up to their hype!
One Aussie meal that did meet my expectations was the Aussie pie! It’s basically their version of a chicken pot pie. I’m actually craving one right now…We went to a local bakery and tried a pie with mashed potatoes and minced beef and one with curried lamb. Both were delicious and filling!
Ivy Night Club – A beautiful tri-level nightclub in city center. It’s no-cover on Thursdays and has a mixed crowd. Most of the music they played was house and Top 40. It was a fun way to experience the young crowd in the city and see what they like to do for fun on the weekends. PS. Everyone dresses REALLY nice!
Les Miserables at the Capitol Theater – At night, we enjoyed the show Les Miserablés at the Capitol Theater. **Traveler tip, if you purchase tickets AT the venue after 5:30pm on the day of the show, you can get your tickets for almost 1/3 of the online price on Ticketmaster IF there are extra seats available (which you can check online). Example, my fiancé and I got tickets for $45 each instead of the $165 price they were showing online. The best thing to do, is to purchase the ticket, find a restaurant close by and grab dinner before the show!
Darling Harbor , The Rocks and Sydney Opera House in Circular Quay – Last, but not least…of course the Sydney Opera House! Before seeing it, I honestly expected to be underwhelmed as I was the first time I saw the Eiffel Tower. But somehow it was even more prominent than I pictured it to be. I couldn’t believe how easily accessible it was to get there. Although we did not see a performance here, it was so fun to be in the area and watch the beautiful light display.