Travel Guide Oceania Australia New South Wales Sydney



Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge

© Scobie67

Sydney is Australia's largest and oldest city. It is the site of the first European colony in Australia, which was established in 1788 in what is now known as New South Wales. Two centuries later, 21st century Sydney is a multicultural city known for iconic structures such as the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. While Sydney is Australia’s most expensive city[1], it has Australia's highest quality of living [2], and Conde Nast Traveler readers have voted Sydney the best city to visit for 8 straight years.




Inner City

  • CBD is in the heart of the city. Home to major shopping centres, hotels, and national financial and business institutions. Set alongside the CBD are parklands including Hyde Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens. Within this parkland and overlooking the harbour is the Art Gallery of New South Wales, one of Australia's leading art museums.
  • The Rocks and Circular Quay was the area first settled by the English in 1788 and now an oasis of historic buildings in the city.
  • Darling Harbour was built for the Bicentenary in 1988. Great nightlife, bars and restaurants can all be found here as well as the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, The Sydney Entertainment Centre, The Australian National Maritime Museum, The Sydney Aquarium, The Imax Cinema, The Chinese Garden of Friendship and The Star Casino.
  • Kings Cross or simply "The Cross", is the Red light district of Sydney. Besides that, it does have some great clubs, bars, and restaurants and is great even if you only want to go people watching.
  • Chinatown was the original Chinatown of Sydney, though now most Chinese live in outer suburbs and you'll find more authentic Chinese food in places like Hurstville, Ashfield and Chatswood.
  • Leichhardt is sometimes called Little Italy, although Little Stanley Street in the city also claims that title. Leichhardt is a vibrant, cosmopolitan suburb in the inner west. The buzz centres around the cafes serving great Italian coffee and gelato, the bookshops and arthouse cinema.
  • Cabramatta is the place to go If you can't get to Vietnam because you'll think you're there when your in Cabramatta. A thriving Vietnamese community have created a true Little Vietnam in this suburb.

Outer Suburbs

  • Parramatta - From the aboriginal word meaning "the place where the eels lie down" Parramatta is Australias second oldest settlement and is geographically the centre of Sydney. However it is an outer suburb and is located approximately 26 kilometres from the city centre.
  • Cronulla - 45 minutes by train from the city centre and is the only beach in Sydney that is accessible by train. Cronulla was the home of TV drama series The Shire.



Sights and Activities

A good way to find out the free things to do in the city is to like the Sydney for Free Facebook group for daily updates on how to save money in the city.


From around 1850, Manly has been considered Australia’s favourite seaside resort. It is definitely a destination for all seasons and all ages. It is most famous for its beautiful natural beauty, scenic walkways alongside both the harbour and ocean beaches and it’s many cultural events. Manly is about 14 kilometres from the city centre and best reached by ferry from Circular Quay so you can fully appreciate Sydney's magnificent harbour. Named for the manly behaviour of the local Aboriginal tribe, Manly has beautiful beaches (both surf and family) and good shopping and restaurants on the Corso.

Bondi Beach

bondi beach

bondi beach

© doubledrtw

Not to be confused with Bondi Junction, Bondi Beach is approximately 9 kilometres from the city centre. Originally known as "Boondi" by the local aboriginals, it is probably the most famous beach in Australia, though not the best. The beach itself is just a large strip of sand - the main attraction is the matching strip of pubs, restaurants and shops, and its lively nightlife. Best reached by bus from Bondi Junction train station. For families, quieter beaches with parklands such as Coogee, Bronte, Neilsen Park or Manly are likely to be more appealing. A nice way to take in the views of the beautiful beaches is by doing the 7-kilometre Coogee to Bondi Beach walk along the coastline.

Other Beaches

  • Coogee Beach is one of Sydney's best beaches with fewer tourists and pretentious locals, but a thriving cafe culture.
  • Maroubra Beach is a stunning beach with great surf and is definitely off the tourist trail.

Other Sights and Activities

  • Sydney Opera House - Sydney Opera House undefined is an Australian icon of modern architecture, Sydney's Opera House commands a formidable reputation as a modern wonder of the world.
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge - Just look at it in awe or, if you feel up for it, climb it. There is a terrific history museum in the pylon closest to the city, and entry to just this is very cheap and you can climb up to the top of the pylon for amazing city views. This is a much lower cost than doing the bridge climb, which includes free entry to the museum.
  • Art Gallery of New South Wales - Art Gallery of New South Wales is Sydney's leading art museum, with impressive collections of Aboriginal, Australian, European, Asian and contemporary art. The late opening until 9:00pm every Wednesday is popular with locals, with free events.
  • Sydney Tower - Great 360-degree views of Sydney from its tallest building, in the heart of the City.
  • The Australian Maritime Museum - Home to a range of vessels and displays, including the HMB Endeavour, a replica of the ship used by Captain James Cook, believed to be the first European to encounter Australia's eastern coastline. Free entry on the first Thursday of the month outside of school holidays. Address: 2 Murray Street, Darling Harbour, Hours: 9:30am - 5:00pm daily (6:00pm in January). Closed on Christmas Day (25th December)
  • Sydney Olympic Park - Sydney Olympic Park was the home of the Sydney 2000 Olympics. There is a regular schedule of events and a variety of other activities you can do here as well.
  • Taronga Zoo - "Taronga" an aboriginal word for waterview. The zoo is located just 12 minutes by ferry from Circular Quay. Taronga Zoo is a great place to become accustomed to our unique wildlife as well as enjoy some of the best views of Sydney and the harbour. Hours: 9.00am-5.00pm (including Christmas Day). Closes at 4:00pm on New Years Eve., Price: Adults: $44, Children (4-15): $22, under 4: Free
  • Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens - Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens is located in the city. The Botanical Gardens are a real oasis from the rat-race of the city outside it's gates. Address: Mrs Macquaries Road, Phone: +61 (0)2 9231 8111, Hours: 24 hours a day, Price: Free unless there's a special event
  • Sydney Aquarium - Sydney Aquarium is located in Darling Harbour, and has impressive travelators through glass tunnels in the tanks. Address: Darling Harbour, Phone: +61 (0)2 8251 7800, Hours: 9:00am - 8:00pm daily. Closes at 6:00pm on Christmas day and 5:00pm on New Years Eve., Price: Adults: $35, Children (4-15): $20, Family (2+2): $110
  • Sydney Wildlife World - Sydney Wildlife World is a great place to visit if you don't have the time for a day at the Zoo, and offers close encounters with koalas.
  • Paddy's Markets - Paddy's Markets is Sydney's largest markets for almost everything. It is a great place to pick up a bargain.
  • Harbour Cruises are a great way to see what is often considered one of the most beautiful harbour's in the world. Typical cruises allow great views of The Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, Fort Denison and City Skyline. Check with companies like Captain Cook, Magistic Cruises or Matilda.
  • Baha'i Temple - Baha'i Temple, located in Ingleside a northern suburb, is a stunning structure and the Mother Temple for the Bahá'í Faith in Australia. For people looking for spirituality there is actually a hostel on the premises.



Events and Festivals

Sydney offers a wide array of events and festivals. An official list can be found on the City of Sydney website. Below are some of the major annual events.

Annual Events

Sydney's New Year celebration

Sydney's New Year celebration

© magdabis

  • Australia Day (26 Jan 2014) - Australia Day on January 26th is when celebrate what it is to be Australian.
  • New Years Eve (31 Dec 2013) - New Years Eve is the biggest public event in Sydney attracting thousands of famillies to the harbour foreshore for a spectacular fireworks show.
  • Chinese New Year Festival - Sydney celebrates Chinese New Year in a big way each year with lots of activities and events across the city for a week.
  • Mardi Gras - Mardi Gras is Sydney's Gay and Lesbian parade. It started as a gay pride event about 30 years ago and has been growing in size and popularity ever since. It is now more than just a parade and spans a couple of weeks.
  • Sydney Film Festival - The Sydney Film Festival was established in 1954 and runs for several weeks in June.
  • The Archibald Prize - The Archibald Prize is Australia's most prestigious and popular art prize, featuring portraits of famous Australians and an air of controversy. Price: Adult: $10, Family: $28
  • Biennale of Sydney - The Biennale of Sydney is an international showcase for contemporary art run every two years. The 18th Biennale of Sydney will be held in 2012.
  • Sydney Festival - The Sydney Festival is a major cultural celebration showcasing theatre, dance, music and the arts that spans a few weeks in January. The first day of the Sydney Festival is always full of free entertainment.
  • City2Surf - The City2Surf is Australia's greatest fun-run with around 60,000 people of all ages running the 14-kilometre course from the centre of the city to Bondi Beach.
  • Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race (26 Dec 2013) - Even if you're not a yachtsman, the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, is a spectacular sight. The race starts in Sydney Harbour every year on December 26 around 1:00pm.
  • Open Air Cinema - The Open Air Cinema is located on the side of Sydney harbour showing the latest films in a unique open air environment with the Opera House and Harbour Bridge in the background. Book early. Occurs every year in Jan / Feb.
  • Moonlight Cinema - The Moonlight Cinema is an open air cinema screening latest release, contemporary, cult and classic movies on the lawns of the picturesque Belvedere Amphitheatre, Centennial Park. Runs Dec-Mar.
  • Outdoor Music Festivals - Outdoor Music Festivals are extremely popular in Australia over summer. Find out more about the Outdoor Music Festivals in New South Wales happening in and around Sydney.




Sydney enjoys a temperate climate, with mild winters and warm summers. The hottest month is January when on average the city has 14.6 days over 30 °C. The hottest day on record was 45.7 °C at the 18th of January, 2013. Winters are much cooler, although temperatures rarely drop below 5 °C. July is the coldest month of the year. Average daytime temperatures between 17 °C (July) and 27 °C (January), and between 9 °C (July) and 19 °C (February) at night. The average annual rainfall is 1,215 mm, falling at least 1 mm on average 100 days a year. [3] Rainfall is fairly consistent throughout the year, with slightly more rain during the first half of the year.

Avg Max26.5 °C26.5 °C25.4 °C23.3 °C20.6 °C18 °C17.4 °C18.9 °C21.2 °C22.8 °C23.8 °C25.5 °C
Avg Min19.6 °C19.7 °C18.1 °C15.3 °C12.5 °C9.7 °C8.7 °C9.7 °C12 °C14.4 °C16.3 °C18.3 °C
Rainfall96 mm128.6 mm111.4 mm140.5 mm119.8 mm116.8 mm79.8 mm94 mm70.1 mm82.7 mm104 mm79.2 mm
Rain Days12.312.713.51112.310.



Getting There

By Plane

Sydney Airport (SYD) with almost 33 million passengers in 2009, is Australia's premier airport, servicing flights from Europe, Asia, North America, South America, South Africa, and other parts of Oceania. The international terminal is currently undergoing renovations which are due to be completed mid 2010. The airport has curfews during the night and is busiest in the morning with the arrival of more than 20 international flights in the space of 2 hours, leading to long queues to go through both immigration and quarantine.

NOTE: Australia has very strict quarantine laws designed to protect the unique flora and fauna. Check HERE to see which items you can, and cannot bring into the country.

From Sydney, you can fly domestically to Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Darwin, Melbourne, Perth, and other airports across Australia.
Domestic services to/from Sydney are offered by:

There are a few options for transferring between the international and domestic terminals:

  • T - Bus - This is a shuttle bus service between T1 International and T2 Domestic Terminals which costs $5.50 (one way, per person).
  • Taxi - Taking a taxi will cost around $10.
  • Train - The Airport link will cost $5.00 for a single transfer.
  • Seamless transfer - Qantas and Virgin Australia passengers can use the Seamless transfer option when transfering to flights with the same airline. This service does suffer from overcrowding and long wait times during peak periods.
  • Walking - the least preferred option but it is the cheapest. Clearly marked and a distance of only 1.5 kilometres between terminals.

Getting to the city from the airport is quick and easy:

  • Taxis will cost between $20 and $30 for the 20-minute ride to the city;
  • Train services to the city cost around $15.80 and take 13 minutes;
  • Shuttle buses can drop you at the door of your hotel/hostel and cost a flat rate of $12 and can take up to 45 minutes.

By Train

If you are travelling around Australia, CountryLink offers long-distance services connecting Sydney to Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane, as well as regions of New South Wales not covered by the Cityrail network. The Indian Pacific connects Sydney to Adelaide and Perth, but tickets are not cheap. Expect to pay at least $680 for a one way trip to or from Perth, unless you're lucky enough to qualify for a cheaper rate (available to children, seniors, backpackers and students).

By Car

If you plan on driving to Sydney, it could be a long trip depending on where you are:

  • Adelaide to Sydney = 1,400 kilometres
  • Brisbane to Sydney = 1,000 kilometres
  • Cairns to Sydney = 2,400 kilometres
  • Canberra to Sydney = 300 kilometres
  • Darwin to Sydney = 4,000 kilometres
  • Melbourne to Sydney = 900 kilometres
  • Perth to Sydney = 4,000 kilometres

All distances are estimates.

By Bus

The Sydney Coach Terminal is located under Central railway station on Eddy Avenue. There are a number of coach services to Sydney from around Australia.

By Boat

Sydney has one of the most spectacular harbours in the world and nothing compares to arriving here by sea. The harbour has two dedicated passenger terminals servicing both local and international cruise ships. One is located in Circular Quay opposite the Opera House, the second is Wharf 8 located near darling harbour. Summer is the peak season for ships to visit Sydney. Check the Sydney Ports website for cruiseliners and dates.



Getting Around

By Car

Sydney is not a car friendly city (traffic can be very bad at peak times and finding a parking space isn't easy, or cheap) so if you plan on staying in or around the city area, forget about a car. If you have a car, the city has over 50 parking stations. Expect to pay between $25 to $50 per day. Most car parking station offer cheap rates at night and can start from $10. Car hire is often not available to drivers under 25, or if it is, it's more expensive for younger drivers.

Car hire is available at Sydney Airport and throughout the city. Available from:

By Public Transport

The city centre is easy accessed on the free CBD shuttle Free CBD Shuttle which will take you in a loop from Central station to Circular Quay via George and Elizabeth sts (note: this bus is not running in 2016 due to works on George Street for the new light rail. This bus may or may not be re-instated once the works are completed). Travelling further afield, Sydney has a an extensive network of trains, buses, and ferries to get you to just about anywhere you will want to go. Finally, there are also many options for travelling by ferry. For information on travel passes, timetables, and fares check Transport Info Line.

By Foot

Sydney's CBD is quite small, so it's pretty easy to get around by foot. If you're staying somewhere in the centre of town, harbourside attractions like the Darling Harbour and Circular Quay (where the Opera House is located) are within walking distance. One of the best ways to discover a city is on foot. There are guided tours available, some of them which are free and leave daily outside of the Town Hall. You can pick up a brochure from the Town Hall and follow a number of walking routes that will show you contemporary and historic Sydney.

By Bike

Increasingly, there are more and more cycleways being built giving safe access for cyclists to get around the city and suburbs. You can legally ride a bike on the road but you must follow the same road rules as other traffic and you must also wear a helmet. For more information check Road safety.




Prices in Sydney's restaurants vary. Breakfast at a standard cafe (food plus a coffee or juice) can cost anywhere up to $20 for a full English breakfast or other substantial meal. A main meal in a mid-range restaurant is around $25 - $35. Upper mid-range averages around $35 - $45. At the real top-end places a dinner for two with wine can run up to $400-500 and beyond.

For the more budget-conscious, Sydney's multicultural demography means plenty of quality ethnic cuisine for cheap eats, particularly Asian restaurants in Chinatown where rock bottom priced food (but no less tasty) can be found. Plonk down at a laminate table shoulder to shoulder with hungry locals for some bubble tea and a sizzling plate of delicious Asian food. Many restaurants in the city will also offer "lunch specials". For example, a good Korean "set lunch" can be found for less than $15. A bowl of noodles in Chinatown will run you $8 or $9. Some Thai curry with rice at any of the many restaurants all over Sydney will cost about $10.

Newtown in Sydney's inner-west (approx 4 kilometres from the CBD) is renowned for its inexpensive cafes and restaurants on King St, in particular Thai food. It is highly popular among students from the nearby University of Sydney.




Sydney has an enormous number of places to drink and party. Thanks to recent changes in legislation, there is now a burgeoning scene for quirky and unique small bars, and the city's cultural life has enjoyed a refreshing growth in night-time choices. There's a litany of clubs and venues for entertainment, and as with most Australian cities, Sydney has a strong live music scene. The majority of pubs and smaller clubs close before 3AM and some as early as 12AM, particularly if there are nearby residents. A limited number of venues have 24-hour licenses.

You cannot enter any venue in the Sydney CBD (that is, East to Woolloomooloo and Kings' Cross, West to Darling Harbour, North to the bridge or South to Central Station) after 1:30am, and last drinks will be called at 3:00am. However, there are lots of bars outside the lockout zone.




Finding a place to lay your head once you are in Sydney shouldn't be a problem, if you booked ahead. When there are special events on it can be very hard to find a room at a price you're willing to pay, so book ahead. If that isn't an option, there is an information/reservations desk at the airport.

With 122 hostels around Sydney you're sure to find what you're looking for. The most popular areas are near Central Station, Kings Cross, Bondi Beach, and Manly.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)




There are a few key shopping areas in Sydney, depending on what kind of shops you would like to explore. If you are looking for big department stores, head to the Pitt Street Mall, where David Jones and Myer dominate the landscape. A short walk away is the Strand Arcade (412-414 George Street), which boasts an impressive collection of small (and usually expensive) shops. From here you can head underground to a long, undergound mall filled with stores which runs right through to Town Hall Station and directly under the QVB (Queen Victoria Building).

Looking for something a little different? Head down Oxford Street in Paddington. Close to the city, it offers plenty of second-hand and alternative styles.

If you're looking for a bargain, you cannot go past Paddy's Market in the Haymarket area, close to the Entertainment Centre and Central Station. Here they have souvenirs and your regular market gear and upstairs you have factory outlets stores.

Outside of the city, shopping centres in the Suburbs of Bondi Junction, Chatswood, Parramatta, and Miranda are huge and could easily fill a day.




With a strong economy and large central business district, finding work in Sydney is relatively easy. An extensive range of employment options exist for working holidaymakers, and Sydney employers often view backpackers as a great options for filling short-term employment gaps. An essential starting point for any job is to ensure your CV is up-to-date, correctly formatted for Aussie employers and tailored to suit the job / industry you wish to work in. A sample working-holiday CV can be viewed here. The next step is to construct a Cover Letter to accompany your CV. This must be directly relevant to the position advertised and must highlight to the recruiter that you are willing and able to begin work now, willing to travel to the job location if you're not already there, and willing to commit to the job for the duration required, usually 1-3 months for most backpacker jobs. Cover letters are essential for online and face-to-face applications. A guide to writing great cover letter can be found here.

Finding jobs can be tricky of you're not sure where to look. Useful resources include hostel noticeboards which are often packed with job advertisements, specialist backpacker job site such as and, generic job sites such as and

For many positions such as hospitality and retail, the best way to find job vacancies is to hit the streets. Armed with a handful of CVs and pre-written cover letters you should be able to uncover a range of job opportunities as you visit shops, bars and cafes across town. For best results, avoid the usual backpacker jobspots such as George Street, Darling Harbour, Circular Quay and Bondi. Instead, jump on a bus or train and head into Sydney's inner-city suburbs where jobs are plentiful and job-hunting backpackers are in much smaller numbers.

Typical recruitment agencies are generally not much use for working holiday travellers. Most employers employing through an agency will chose an Aussie resident over a backpacker, as backpackers have a tendency to work for a short period only and then move on to their next travel destination. Specialist backpacker recruitment agencies do exist and many offer jobs in Sydney and other areas across Australia. Travellers At Work located near Sydney's Central Station is the biggest of its kind.

Australia's health & safety laws are highly regulated and as a result, mandatory job safety training is essential for many industries. To work behind a bar you will need to obtain a Responsible Service of Alcohol certificate, often referred to as an RSA. Working in the construction industry will require a White Card (formerly known as a Green Card). Kitchen / food service work may require you to obtain a Food Hygiene certificate. For more information click here.

Tax & Banking

To work in Australia you will need a Tax File Number (TFN) and Australian Bank Account. TFNs are issued by the Australian Government and must be supplied to your employer when beginning work. Your employer will then pay tax on your behalf each payday. TFNs are sent to you by mail, so many travellers wait until they've found an apartment with a fixed address before applying. Many hostel will allow you to use their address, but mail can go missing, so be careful. If you don't have a fixed address, you can set-up a mail forwarding service and receive all your letters by email as you travel.

An Australian Bank Account is essential to begin work, as employers won't pay your wages into your overseas/home bank account. Upon arrival in Australia an account can be opened at almost any high street branch. Australia's top 5 banks are the ANZ, CBA, NAB, Westpac and St George. Many bank offer low-fee options suitable for working holidaymakers from around $4-$5 per month. Applying for an account before you arrive in Australia is also an option, allowing you to collect your ATM card when you arrive in Sydney. ATM fees are expensive, so always try and use those linked to your bank, saving withdrawal fees of up to $2.50 per transaction.

Australia's financial year runs July-June, and July-September is generally tax-refund time. Working holidaymakers who have been working in Australia for over six-months are usually entitled to a tax refund, and can claim back a large proportion of the tax they have paid whilst in Employment. Many tax refund agents exist and can make this process quick and easy, generally charging around 10% of your refund in fees. Applying for a tax refund direct with the Australian Tax Office is also an option, with no fees to pay.




Keep Connected


There is no shortage of internet cafe's in the city or in the most popular areas for visitors to stay in Sydney. If you're looking for free Wifi check here for locations right across the city.


See also: International Telephone Calls

Australia is on a GSM 900/1800 network, so if you have an unlocked phone that works on those frequencies, you will be able to buy a prepaid SIM-card and stick into your phone when you're in Australia. You will receive a new Australian phone number with the SIM-card.

To dial out of Australia use the prefix 0011, followed by the calling code of the country you are trying to reach, followed by the area code of the city/town (without the 0!) and finally the phone number.

Within Australia, it is necessary to add an area code to the phone numbers if you are calling from outside the area. Below are Australia's area codes:

  • 02 - New South Wales & Australian Capital Territory (Sydney, Canberra)
  • 03 - Victoria & Tasmania (Melbourne, Hobart)
  • 07 - Queensland (Brisbane)
  • 08 - Western Australia, South Australia & Northern Territory (Perth, Adelaide, Darwin)

000 is the emergency telephone number in Australia, but the international GSM mobile emergency telephone number 112 also works on mobile phones.


Australia Post is the government's postal service. Most suburbs will have at least one post office. Opening times are mostly from around 8:00 or 9:00am to 5:00pm though larger ones keep longer hours sometimes. A standard letter or postcard sent within Australia will cost $0.60. Internationally, it costs $1.70 to send postcards anywhere in the world. Letters cost $1.85 to send within the Asia Pacific region and $2.60 to anywhere else in the world.[4]. It is also possible to send things as parcels or by express mail. You can also use use private courier companies like TNT, UPS or DHL as they are competitive and reliable.


Quick Facts


  • Latitude: -33.867139
  • Longitude: 151.207114

Accommodation in Sydney

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Sydney searchable right here on Travellerspoint.


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Sydney Travel Helpers

  • Rhmyers

    Can help with the tour pass that include:

    o Airport to downtown
    o City on an off all day with 24 stops.. get on and off all day
    o Outlying areas -- Bondi Beach etc. Same on and off all day.
    o 3 Ferry rides.

    Know the Bridge, the Opera House, Darling Harbour, The Zoo, the Aquarium.

    Ask Rhmyers a question about Sydney
  • Muzza32

    Home town

    Ask Muzza32 a question about Sydney
  • cassiejo

    I lived in Australia for 8 months and spent about 6 of them in Sydney. I know practically everything you need to know, especially if you're on a budget!

    Ask cassiejo a question about Sydney

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