If, like me, perfect to you is a big city vibe with golden beaches at your fingertips, then Sydney is your bliss. Australia’s largest and most famous city, the capital of New South Wales is often the main entry point into Australia, and so it should be – even better if you fly in with a window seat!
Over the years I’ve visited Sydney numerous times and, while there’s always plenty to discover, if it’s your first time visiting the city I think three days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Sydney. Here’s how I recommend spending it:
Day 1: Explore the Harbour
It’s unavoidable to visit Sydney and not fall in love with its sparkling, sprawling harbour. Spanning 150 miles of shoreline, the harbour is often seen as Australia’s world stage and the picturesque setting for some of the country’s most famous icons; the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.
As such a scenic spot, most of the city’s best accommodation options line the harbour, namely in the areas of Darling Harbour and Circular Quay. From both these areas you can easily spend a morning walking along the shoreline, underneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge and around to the Sydney Opera House. Between the two icons you’ll find the Circular Quay ferry terminal where you can join a ferry or Captain Cook Cruise to explore the harbour further.
The best ways to see Sydney Harbour
- For adventure: If you’re not afraid of heights, our Experts can add the Sydney Harbour BridgeClimb to your itinerary, giving you the chance to walk up 1,332 stairs to take in panoramic views at the top, 134 metres above sea level.
- For relaxation: Cruising the harbour is a fantastic way to take in the sights at a glacial pace. Our Experts can add one of the Captain Cook Cruises to your itinerary, where you can choose from a range of options, including a hop-on hop-off pass or a romantic dinner cruise.
- For something special: For something unique, our Experts can arrange for you to enjoy a scenic flight over Sydney Harbour in a sea plane, where you’ll land at a private bay for lunch before flying back.
- If you’re short on time: Catch a ferry from Circular Quay to Bangaroo, where you’ll cruise under the bridge. All in the ride takes around 15 minutes.
Top tip: Sydney Harbour is home to plenty of fantastic restaurants and bars. If you’re near the Circular Quay Ferry Terminal, a street back you’ll find Gelato Messina which has a cult local following – I love the mango and salted coconut flavour! For a scenic drinking spot, head up to level 36 of the Shangri-La to find Blu Bar, which boasts views as far as the Blue Mountains.
Day 2: Bask at the Beaches
It might be Australia’s largest city but Sydney also enjoys some of Australia’s most famous beaches as well. For the quintessential introduction to the city’s scenic coastline, be sure to make your way to Bondi to do the Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk. The famous walk follows the rocky coastline from Bondi Beach all the way along south to Bronte Beach. All in all the walk covers 6 kilometres and takes around two hours to walk there and back.
The best places to swim
- Bondi Beach: Australia’s most famous beach, Bondi, is quite large spanning over half a mile of sand. As beautiful as the stretch of beach can be, the surf can be temperamental so always be sure to swim between the flags.
- Bondi Icebergs Pool: If you’re not up to swimming in the surf, you can always opt to paddle at Bondi’s famous Icebergs Pool, my absolute favourite Sydney swimming spot. Entry to the pool costs AU$6.50, with lockers and showers also available on site.
- Tamarama: Bondi’s trendier neighbour, Tamarama, enjoys a smaller stretch of beach which is often favoured by locals over the touristy Bondi.
- Bronte Baths: The perfect place to take a dip at the end of the Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk, the scenic rock pool allows you to swim in the ocean without having to battle the waves.
Top tip: Bondi is one of the best places in Sydney to experience Australia’s famous brunch culture in all its avocado-covered, coffee-soaked glory. I can personally vouch for the on-trend menu at Lox, Stock and Barrel, while other recommendations include Brown Sugar, and Porch and Parlour. Be sure to book ahead if you’re going on a weekend.
Day 3: Wine and dine in the Hunter Valley
Once you’ve seen the city, the harbour and the beaches, I recommend exploring some of Sydney’s scenic surrounds, namely the popular Hunter Valley wine region. Location an hour and a half’s drive from Sydney, the region is best visited with a tour guide (and designated driver), like AEA Luxury.
A small group tour which picks you up from your hotel and drops you off afterwards, I completely loved AEA Luxury’s Tasting in the Hunter tour for its absolute ease, knowledgeable guide and of course, the wine on offer! The Hunter Valley is home to 150 wineries, so it pays to know exactly which ones to visit.
The best wineries to visit:
Mount View Estate: One of the oldest and most picturesque wineries in the Hunter Valley, we enjoyed a wonderful al fresco tasting at Mount View Estate while overlooking rolling hills covered in vineyards. In addition to its scenic spot, Mount View Estate is also beloved for its Semillon, which, along with their award-winning Verdelho, was a standout at the tasting.
Leogate Estates: The second biggest winery in the Hunter Valley in terms of size, Leogate is also one of the region’s most glamorous estates, complete with helicopter pad and chandelier-topped restaurant. Upon our visit we were treated to a tour of the winery, followed by a generous tasting (my favourite drop was the Pinot Gris) and delicious lunch, complete with cheese and meat boards, pasta, salad and seafood.
Top tip: Joining an AEA Luxury tour of the Hunter Valley also means you can skip a visit to city’s main zoo, Taronga Zoo. On the way to the valley the tour stops by the Australian Reptile Park for morning tea, complete with a meet and greet with a koala as well as the opportunity to see a giant crocodile (from a distance), see Tasmanian Devils and hand-feed some very hungry kangaroos, which I absolutely loved.
Dreaming of Sydney? Our Sydney, Rock and Reef holiday includes three days in Sydney. Our Experts can also add a range of experiences to your itinerary including the Sydney Harbour BridgeClimb, Captain Cook Cruise or the Tastings in the Hunter tour with AEA Luxury. Make an appointment to start planning your Sydney holiday with an Expert today.