The Ultimate SYDNEY Guide | Important Tips, Places to See, Things to do

In total, I spend almost one month in Sydney. Living in Bondi Beach for 2 weeks and the rest in the City centre, so I would say I can give a good overview on places to see, what to do and tips for an awesome time in one of the most liveable Cities on the planet.

And because Sydney (and Australia in general) is a healthy/vegan/pretty Café and Food heaven there will be a Food Guide coming soon as well!

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I can definitely say that Sydney is one of my favourite cities now. Especially living in Bondi Beach (or Manly), but I could not choose between Melbourne or Sydney (if we cut out the weather fact :D ) cause both have such different personalities and I really love them both for different reasons.

That’s why I would highly recommend visiting both when you plan to go to Australia. Here you can find my Travel Guide for Melbourne with all the essential tips and places to go and see.

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Important things you need to know!

  • If you arrive at the airport in Sydney, avoid taking the tram to the centre (if you are on a budget). They are really expensive (about 20$ one way). Either take an Uber if you are several people that share the costs or take the Bus 400 to Bondi Junction and go from there to your destination (if you have the time, cause it takes longer).
  • On Sundays, you only pay 2,80$ for the whole day of using public transport (usually the daily maximum limit you could pay is 13$) so make sure you make use of it and take the Ferry or other long/expensive routes.

Things to Do

Opera House. See a show or a ‚behind the scenes‘, we watched the behind the scenes of the ballets Spartacus and the Nutcracker and it was amazing to see the ballet dancers in their training, it was only 29$.

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See the Opera from many different perspectives. From the Harbour Bridge, the Botanical Garden, the Ferries that go to Manly or from the other side of the harbour.

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Botanical Garden. The Botanical Garden of Sydney is huge and shows many different plans from all over the country and the world. You can explore different sections with plants of different parts of Australia. The place is ideal for a nice picnic in the shades of palm trees and from the waterfront walk and Mrs. Macquarie’s Point you have a beautiful view over the Harbour, the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and the Downtown Skyline.

 

National Art Gallery of New South Wales. The Art Gallery located in The Domain is definitely worth a visit showing beautiful Aboriginal Art as well as modern Australian artists and exhibitions.

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Museum of Contemporary Art. Another very nice museum with beautiful exhibitions and a great view from the Skydeck over the city and Harbour Bridge.

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Walk on Harbour Bridge. When you walk on the Bridge you have a beautiful view over the Harbour, the Opera and the waterfront houses. There is also a Skydeck on one of the towers. The entry price is pretty high, but the view is for sure great.

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Darling Harbour. This vibrant place is best to visit in the evening when everyone is out for drinks and dinner or at lunchtime when you can see the real Sydney-business people coming out of their Skyscrapers for a quick bite to eat and a chat with friends and colleagues.

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Shopping. Great places to check out for shopping are around Town Hall and the Queen Victoria building.

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At the Queen Victoria building, there is also the Jet Café & Bar that I can highly recommend to eat Carrot Cake. I went there every time I was nearby and it is the best carrot cake I’ve ever had and for the location definitely not overprices.

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Peddy’s Market and Chinatown are also good to check out. It’s not as big as in Melbourne for example, but in the Peddy’s Market there is a section of fresh fruit & vegetables that are fairly cheap and good quality and the IGA upstairs is super interesting because they mostly sell Asian food and you can find some cool stuff to try out.

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Once a month there is also a completely Vegan Market with lots of street food and great brands. For more information have a look at their Instagram @sydneyveganmarket. I am super sad that I never made it there…

Newtown. This part of the city reminded me a bit of Melbourne with all the street art, Vintage and Second-Hand shops and the people that walk around. Very hipster and cool. There are also many vegan restaurants and cafés located here like Gelato Blue, Golden Lotus, Lentils as Anything, Buddha Bowl Café, Gigi’s Pizzeria and more.

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Surry Hills. Another lovely part of the town with many nice lunch spots and restaurants, shops and little boutiques. I lived there for one week in an Airbnb with my cousin and it is definitely the best place to live in the city centre because it is located very central, near the Centra Station that takes you basically everywhere and it’s not too far to walk to the Harbour and it’s still very quiet and calm and nice.

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Manly. The ferry ride from and too Manly is already worth going. You have the most amazing view over the skyline, Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. But Manly in general is a super cute part of town you shouldn’t miss. The beach is really nice and the pedestrian streets are great to stroll around, shop and eat some yummy food. I can also highly recommend doing the walk along the water and West Esplanade. You can see some beautiful houses, lovely views and pretty birds. I would check out Shelly Beach if you have the time as the walk is beautiful to get there and the beach is supposed to be one of Sydney’s best beaches.

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Rose Bay Beach. I went there several times when I was in Sydney in January because it is a beautiful beach. Not very busy and mostly locals going there, you have an amazing view and can see the city centre and Harbour Bridge in the background and the beach is a dog beach so you see many cute puppies playing in the water.

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Bondi Beach

I lived in Bondi for 2 weeks, so I definitely know my way around and have checked out many places. I would always recommend staying in Bondi Beach for a few days if you have the time or at least visit the are of Sydney for one full day (or more!).

If I would have to choose a place to live in Sydney, I would pick Bondi Beach. I just really love the vibe: health, fitness, summer, surf and motivated people. Everywhere you look there is people working out, going for walks or surfs, enjoying the sun, healthy vegan cafés, smoothies and acai bowls and walking around in only a bikini and barefoot is no problem.

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I stayed at Surfside Bondi Beach Backpackers twice and I can highly recommend it. Super great vibe, not such a big hostel, the owner and workers are really nice and it is located perfectly: 2 minutes to the beach and right near the main street.

You obviously can’t miss the famous view over the Icebergs Bondi Pool at the ocean just like the beach promenade and the lovely sunset colours over the ocean.

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There is also a Coastal Walk along the beaches that is worth walking to see the best ocean views, nicest beaches and prettiest (and most expensive) houses of Sydney.

Shopping. I liked shopping in Bondi better than in the city centre because it is more casual and less stressful. Great shops to check out are Nimbleactive, Playa, the Vintage store on Hall street and all the nice boutiques and shops on Hall Street, Campbell Parade and Gould Street. There is also a big Westfield Shopping centre in Bondi Junction.

I will also share my food favourites of Bondi with you soon in an extra Sydney Food Guide so stay tuned!

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Have you ever been to Sydney? What were your favourite places? Do you want to visit Sydney one day?

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Celebrating New Year’s in Sydney – Watching the Fireworks at the Harbour at Campbells Cove

This year was a very special New Year’s Eve because we started the year with fireworks at the Harbour Bridge and Opera House in Sydney!

You might have seen the famous fireworks on TV several times already because they show them every year. Not just because Sydney is the first big City celebrating into the new year every year, but also because the scenery of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House makes an amazing location.

I was not just lucky enough to have my family over for three weeks in Australia and not having to be without them for Christmas, but we also got to end our road trip from Cairns south to Sydney on New Year’s Eve to see the fireworks at the harbour.

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Our New Year’s Eve Day

We already arrived in Sydney on the 30th and stayed the last night in our camper at Burwood Park where it wasn’t prohibited to stay overnight.

The next morning we checked into our rooms in Burwood at Boronia Lodge, left our camper and went straight into the city centre. Luckily Burwood is only 20 minutes away from the city centre.

We had lunch in the city and walked to The Rocks where we had tickets for a cordoned area with a great view over the Harbour Bridge and the Opera that where FREE! You only need to be quick.

All the areas with the best views are cordoned for New Year’s. For some, you have to pay lot’s of money (the cheapest were around 400$ including food), for the Campbells Cove you just need to be quick to get the tickets (we already got them in September).

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The view from the Botanical Garden over the Harbour is amazing, but the tickets for that venue that includes a dinner where crazy!

After we checked how the land lies because we didn’t know how many people are going to be there / if the view would only be good from specific places that you need to save early etc. we went to get an afternoon snack and some sandwiches for dinner to take away as there weren’t that many food options on the venue area.

From around 4pm we started waiting… because we didn’t have that much information about how the afternoon/evening in Sydney will take place, we had to be there early and wait a lot – but you will be lucky enough to have some more knowledge after reading my blog post and you can improve from our mistakes/experiences!

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Unfortunately, it started raining very hard at around 7pm and we couldn’t stay seated. Luckily there was a bridge on our venue location where everyone looked for shelter from the rain and storm. We also were very lucky that it was still warm because we were not prepared at all and only improvised a rain cape from a garbage bag that kept us dry and warm.

At 9pm there was the first fireworks for the kids which was already amazing and some families also left afterwards.

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We had a few more rain showers and at around 22pm it started to get fuller because they close the gates for the area at 22.30pm. But there was still enough space to sit down and walk around comfortably.

From our place, we could see that that the streets leading to the Harbour through the Rocks where packed. Like really packed. So we were very thankful for our safe space and also the bridge saved us a lot.

All the hours of waiting were very exhausting because there wasn’t a lot of distraction and if we would have known how things work before, we for sure wouldn’t have arrived that early.

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Then it was FINALLY 12pm and the amazing firework started. The firework locations are spread over the whole water area in Sydney and there are no private fireworks allowed (obviously), but the Harbour and Opera view, of course, is the prettiest. It’s just a great show and location!

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After the fireworks, EVERYONE is trying to get to the tram stations as quick as possible and you can’t believe how many people are there. All the streets are packed with people walking in the same direction. It is insane and you can only be thankful that glass bottles and alcohol is prohibited – otherwise, it wouldn’t work out as relaxed!

You can’t really do something to get home quick. It’s just not possible. Everything is crowded and even though there are lots of trams departing they can’t bundle off these millions of humans fast.

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There are lot’s of places you can celebrate the New Year in Sydney with amazing views: rooftop bars, restaurants, at the botanical garden or from a boat – it’s just a matter of how much you want to spend :D

Things you need to know before

  • get lots of information and tickets for the events/locations at sydneynewyearseve
  • in the whole city centre area, glass bottles and alcohol are prohibited and the police (that is very present the whole evening) is allowed to check your bags
  • the streets of the CBD, as well as the Harbour Bridge, are blocked for vehicles from the afternoon on until late at night
  • around 2 million people watch the fireworks at the harbour in Syndey (even more than in New York!) and they all want to leave after the show – don’t even think about getting a taxi/uber or the tram at Circular Quay right away (as long as you don’t stand next to the station while watching the fireworks. When you are close to the Harbour, everyone else behind you will get there before)
  • restaurants and bars might close earlier to prepare for their evening dinners (prebooked way in advance and pretty expensive)

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Celebrating at Campbells Cove

  • more info!
  • they start selling the tickets about in September and you need to be really quick. You can sign up for their e-mail newsletter and be the first to tell when they start selling
  • arrive by tram and walk to the Campbells Cove from Circular Quay – driving by car is just way too stressful when everyone wants to go home and also lots of streets are closed
  • when the weather is supposed to be bad/rainy, lot’s of people that got tickets look for different options or only arrive at around 22pm, but when the weather is good the venue is reaching its capacity at around 5pm, they close the entry at 22.30pm
  • they say they have food and drinks for sale, but there were only 2 stalls and you are allowed to bring your own food and unalcoholic drinks
  • take reusable non-glass bottles to refill so you don’t have to buy their expensive water
  • take blankets, card games, snacks, jackets to survive all the waiting
  • don’t arrive too late (besides that you won’t get a good place) but it also will be hard to get through the crowds to the entry of the venue

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It was an amazing experience and I would never want to miss it, but I have to say that it was also very exhausting and I would not want to do it the same way every year. I am more a person for a chilled dinner with friends and watching the fireworks from distance.

What was your craziest New Year’s experience? How do you like to celebrate the new year? How did you this year? Would you like to see Sydney’s fireworks for New Year’s one day?

The Most Livable City in the World?! One Week in SYDNEY | Diary 008

After a wonderful week in Bondi, I now had another week to fully experience Sydney together with my cousin that just arrived from Germany to visit me for three weeks and be my travel buddy.

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Sunday 28/10

Sadly, it wasn’t just Lisa’s first day in Down Under… it was also Meikes last day and I had to say goodbye to a wonderful travel mate, that I spend a lot of time with over the last month. Three days on the Great Ocean Road, one week in Adelaide and then we met again in Bondi.

But that’s also what makes travelling and backpacking so amazing! You meet so many great people and we will probably stay in touch forever and meet again for sure back in Germany!

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So it was our first day in Sydney and it kind of was a special feeling to walk through its streets – I mean it’s Sydney!

As you only pay 2,70$ for the whole Sunday on the Opal Card (a prepaid card you need, to use the public transport in Sydney – in Melbourne it’s called Myki) we decided to go to Manly by ferry to make the most of the cheap fare.

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The ferry drive was already a spectacular thing hence I really would recommend to take the ferry at least once from the Darling Harbour! We saw the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge from the water as well as the city skyline and it was an amazing view!

 

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In Manly itself, we did the coastal walk along the shore which was truly beautiful and we saw so many colourful birds, flowers and lovely houses. Manly is really a great place to live in Sydney!

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We went to the main beach and there were markets and lots of the popular shops in the pedestrian precinct.

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For lunch we had super delicious sushi rolls with brown / black rice that I had for the first time and I completely fell for the black rice! It tastes so so good and I’ll for sure always eat that now when it’s available. It has so much more flavour (and it’s super healthy as well!).

We walked to Shelly beach as it’s meant to be the most beautiful beach in Sydney (I’m not sure if that’s really true tho :D )

 

Then we found these crazy Nutella filled Bombolinis and my cousin still declares them as the highlight of her whole vacation :D

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After 28.000 steps we were completely exhausted when we came back home in our little apartment back in Surry Hills, but it was a wonderful first day!

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Monday 29/10

On Monday we walked to the Royal Botanical Garden. There are so many different and beautiful parts and we probably didn’t even managed to see just half of them.

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From the Mrs Macquarie point, we had a stunning view over the city, the harbour and the Opera House with the Harbour Bridge in the back.

It was crazy how many joggers were in the park and used their lunch break to run along the Botanical Garden – but I also have to say that this view even tops my running view in Bondi Beach!

 

 

We went to the Opera to see it from close up, but I have to say that it’s definitely more impressive from far away. We bought tickets for a behind the scenes ballet training for Spartacus and Cinderella which I was so so excited about! I really wished we would have been able to see one of them (or both) in a real performance, but sadly the tickets are super expensive…

For lunch, we had Sushi Hub (they sadly don’t have brown or black rice – you need to change that Sushi Hub!), which is always the cheapest and most delicious choice when it comes to eating out.

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Afterwards, we walked over the Harbour Bridge and had a great view over the Sydney Opera and the skyline of the city.

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Tuesday 30/10

Tuesday we went to Newtown and walked through the two big shopping streets there. I feel like you could compare Newtown to Fitzroy in Melbourne as both are very hipster and cool with a lot of vintage stores and many famous vegan restaurants, that I already knew from one of my YouTube favourites Bonny Rebecca, like Gigi’s pizzeria, Golden Lotus, Gelato Blue, Soul Burger and Lentils as Anything.

I really want to go back, to at least try one or two of them and have some more epic vegan food. Sydney hast (just like Melbourne) so many great options and places – I’m in heaven!

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For lunch, I took my cousin to Lentils as Anything as I was so so in love with it when I was there in Melbourne. We had yummy vegan food and the great thing about it is, that you only pay as much as you want to. But I have to admit that the food in Melbourne was much better when we ate there for dinner… but it was still good!

 

Later on, we shared a Macadamia Brownie that was amazing, as well as three scoops of super delicious ice cream! It’s sad that the ice cream is so freaking expensive here, but it is also so so good!

When we came back home we just cooked some food and chilled in bed as our feed were completely exhausted again from walking so much.

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Wednesday 31/10

On Wednesday we went to Paddy’s Market in Chinatown. They have a lot of souvenirs and other knick-knacks for very cheap prices but also fruits and veggies stalls that are super fresh, delicious and cheaper than in the supermarket.

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I also bought some nuts for my porridge in the morning (nuts are so so expensive here!) and some apricot and strawberry squares with shredded coconut (they are a bit similar to bliss balls but without the nuts and much cheaper – a great healthy treat that is not too expensive).

 

 

 

 

 

In the shopping centre above Paddy’s Market, they have an IGA supermarket that mostly sells Asian food so we had a look around and I for sure buy tofu, rice, rice pasta or soy sauce in Asian markets only in the future as it is so much cheaper!

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We bought some vegan Mango Ice Mochis that where made with coconut milk and they were so so delicious! I have never eaten Ice Mochis before and they were just amazing! If you don’t know what Mochis are: they are rice dough and filled with savoury or sweet stuff and in this case, they are filled with ice cream.

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Afterwards, we had a lunch salad at TheSandwichShop which was super good! They also had amazing looking sandwiches but I craved some greens!

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We walked past the Chinese Gardens and to the Darling Harbour into the city centre to stroll around the Queen Victoria Building and ended up at Jet- Bar Café where I’ve already been last week that have super yummy carrot cake for a fairly cheap price. Nevertheless, I tried their cheesecake which was amazing as well and as Lisa also loved the cake, it wasn’t the last time we went there!

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For dinner, we bought frozen Dumplings at the Asian supermarket as we never had them and wanted to change that. I got mixed veggie ones and mushroom, pack-choi ones and they were super delicious! They basically are Asian Ravioli / Tortellini :D

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Thursday 1/11

The Blue Mountains are located in the west of Sydney, only one-and-a-half-hour drive away from the city and very famous for the citizens as a near nature-hiking-weekend-place and for tourists because of the beautiful nature and the famous Three Sisters.

 

We booked a Sunset Tour to go a bit hiking, learn something about nature and the wildlife there, have some amazing views over the mountains and see the Three Sisters for sunset. It was a great tour, even though it was very short, but it was still worth it as we really wanted to see that place.

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Friday 2/11

On Friday I took my cousin to my favourite place in Sydney: Bondi Beach! We enjoyed the hot 37 degrees (Yep! It was HOT and it’s only spring :P ) at the beach with literally whole Sydney – it was so crowded!

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For lunch we had sandwiches at ‘Cali Press’ and I ate the yummy Avo Smash Toast.

 

We also had the best Ice Cream at Gelato Messina and strolled through the shops for a bit.

For dinner, we had poké bowls that were very delicious and healthy. As you can already tell, my cousin and I share the love for good food so we ate out and spend a lot of money on food when we were together those three weeks :P

 

Saturday 3/11

Saturday was our last day in Sydney for the moment and we went to the National Art Gallery of New South Wales which was great. I really enjoy going to museums here and there, even though I believe that you shouldn’t go to every sight and every museum as a tourist and better experience the city by walking through it and doing things that locals do.

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In the afternoon we took the Premier Hop-on-Hop-off Bus to drive north to Port Macquarie. The Premier buses are basically the same as the Greyhound buses, but they are cheaper and less travelled (because they are not that popular for backpackers).

We arrived late at night and went straight to bed the hostel we booked for two nights.


What an amazing week in Sydney! Have you ever been in this beautiful city? Do you want to go?