On the 8th of May, 7am to be precise, our flight to Sydney took off. This was the second time we were visiting Sydney. This time however, we were tight for time and only had two full days in hand, well one and a half really. One thing to know about Sydney, is that it is a big city. There’s lots of things to do all over. From the Harbour Bridge and Opera House to Bondi Beach and much more. Whilst the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House are located in the CBD in close vicinity to each other, Bondi beach, however, is away from the city.
If you are visiting Sydney for the first time, and are in a similar situation in regards to time i.e. you are there for only 1-2 days then you really need to plan out your trip out extensively down to getting your time right. There are quite a few things that can cause delays which might mean that you do not get to see all the attractions you planned, which can be disappointing. For example, if you plan on hiring a car in Sydney, you should know that the traffic is very unpredictable and can pick up at any time. The trains seem to be well connected, however, some locals have said that you really do need to plan your trip if you plan on using public transport.
Now to give you an idea of what we got up to in our two day visit to Sydney. We were staying at The Westin, which is conveniently located in the CBD. It’s roughly a 10 minute walk from Circular Quay. This is where you want to go if you want to:
· Check out the Sydney Opera House
· Visit the Royal Botanical Gardens
· Take the ferry to Taronga Zoo or Manly beach or Q station or one of the other spots.
· Get a perfect view of the Harbour Bridge
If you are on a shoestring budget, you’re in luck, as walking down to Circular Quay and spending some time in that vicinity won’t cost you a cent. However, it will cost you to eat some food and/or if you want grab a drink. The cafes/restaurants here can be a bit pricy as it’s a prime tourist location.
You can easily spend a good 3-4 hours here. The reason being, if the weather is nice and sunny, you can sit by the wharf or on the steps going up to the Opera House. If you are tired of walking and would like to take a little break, a nice shaded spot at The Royal Botanical Gardens is for you. This is located right next to the Opera House. Last but not the least, the wharf is a popular area for street performers. For the first time, I saw a contortionist do a street performance, and I was completely amazed by her act. I was disappointed with the fact that by the time we’d got to where she was performing, she was already on her last act. Watch her final act in the video below.
If you are interested in visiting the Royal Botanical Gardens I suggest you take a ride on the Choo Choo Express (www.choochoo.com.au). It costs $10AUD for adults and it’s cash only. The crew are very friendly and impart vast knowledge about the different parts of the garden. Beware you might encounter some creepy crawlies.
Adjacent to Circular Quay, is The Rocks. What’s there to do here, you may ask. Well, The Rocks is basically a street full of cafes, souvenir stores and other small shops. On the weekends, they have weekend markets that are set up here and on Fridays they have the foodie markets. For those who are keen to walk across the Harbour Bridge, it is a very short walk to get to the Harbour Bridge from The Rocks. The directions are clearly marked leading you to the stairs going up to the Harbour Bridge. You have to climb up three flights of stairs. So please be prepared if you are travelling with people who might need some time and assistance to walk. Sydney CBD means you will have to walk a decent amount.
If you happen to be staying at The Westin or at a hotel in the vicinity, Cockle Bay is roughly another 5-10 minute walk. So when you’ve spent ample time at the Circular Quay, you can head back to your hotel get some rest and then head to Cockle Bay. In my opinion, I feel Cockle Bay is more suited at night whilst Circular Quay is a place you want to visit during the day. If you happen to be spending time in Sydney over a weekend, my recommendation will be to go to Cockle Bay on a Saturday evening. The reason being, on Saturdays, there’s a fireworks display which runs for about 10-15 minutes. In the cooler months it begins at 8.30pm and in summer it begins around 9.00pm, but it’s always best to check times before you head there and you can do so here. If you plan on having dinner here and want to schedule it in time with the fireworks display, I would suggest pre-booking a table at your choice of restaurant and requesting a table that gives you a good view of the display. Alternatively you can also settle for dinner after the display. Cockle Bay is also in close vicinity to Darling Harbour.
A great attraction to visit is the Taronga Zoo. If you are travelling with kids, this is a must do! It is a fun activity for both adults and children. If you are travelling with little kids, this is easily an entire day’s activity or atleast majority of the day, but if it’s just adults, and you are tight for time as we were, then 2-3 hours at max does the job. The best and most effective way to get there is to hop on a ferry from Circular Quay, and within 15 minutes you are Taronga Zoo. There is a stop specially for this zoo. The best deal we found was with EcoHopper. It cost us $55AUD per person and this included tickets to the Zoo (including the cable car ride), the ferry tickets to get to Taronga Zoo and back. A suggestion made by one of the staff members at Eco Hopper, which was really helpful was to try and finish the zoo trip early and enjoy a Ferry ride going around the harbour. This ticket allows you hop on and hop off at stops, if that’s what you prefer or alternatively you can sit on the ferry and enjoy the cruise around the harbour. However, I don’t want to pressure you in doing so, because the zoo is a really nice attraction as well. The zoo opens at 9.30am and they have various shows, feeding sessions throughout the day. The video below is a walkthrough of the zoo. You can also choose to do Taronga Zoo and Manly beach on the same day, as the same ferry takes you to both the stops. If you do wish to do so, I cannot reitirate enough, that you really need to plan your day so you are able to enjoy both these attractions, stay there for as long as you need to enjoy what they have to offer and not rush anything. Another stop that the ferry makes is at Q station, which as per the staff members at Eco Hopper, has become a very popular tourist spot. We did not go there so I cannot go into much detail about this.
This brings my blog on seeing Sydney in two days to an end. As I said Sydney is a big city and there’s a lot going on. I do recommend visiting Sydney for at least 3 to 4 full days as that will give you the chance to go to places away from the CBD like Bondi beach. To finish off the blog I’ll leave you with my review of The Westin Sydney. I hope the videos and photos do a good job of capturing Sydney for you.
Until next time,