Sydney 2019 Travel Guide

Published October 1, 2019
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Sydney is a place to visit if you want a modern city with easily accessible nature spots. Famous surfing beaches are a short ride away, and walking trails are all over just outside the city. You can have a hike in the morning and be at the cinema in the afternoon. And when you thought you’ve already seen a lot in Sydney, you discover more things and places to enjoy every day.

View of Sydney Harbour on a ferry to Watsons Bay

Getting Around

The transportation to and from Sydney Airport is easy but quite expensive. You can take trains or buses but, it’s pretty much the same price for an Uber or Ola. Taking a taxi or ridesharing can even be cheaper if you’re a group of 4 travelers. Especially that Ola is offering coupons for new users.

To get around the city, you need an Opal card. You can get one at convenience stores, train stations, and Opal retailers. We got ours at the WHSmith shop at the airport. An Opal card is free but of course, you have to top it up for at least 10 dollars I think. That wouldn’t really take you anywhere so I’d recommend around 40 dollars for a 4-day stay.

Within the city, Google Maps is pretty accurate in checking routes and directions. It even says the actual time a bus or train arrives/leaves at a station.

Also, make sure to make the most out of your Sunday because it only costs AUD 2.80 for the whole day. That includes ferries, trains, buses, and lightrail! You can do a DIY Blue Mountains tour or a day trip to Manly Beach. There are also Daily and Weekly Caps, click here to see the full list.

Sydney Central Station

Money Exchange

Sydney is a pretty much cashless city. Taking AUDs with you is perfectly fine. But if you happen to forget to exchange money, you don’t have to worry. You’ll survive without touching a single bill in a day, and just tap or swipe or scan. Just make sure your card is allowed for international transactions. Some banks (like BDO) need a call a week before your trip so they would know that you’ll be using it abroad. But some banks (like Metrobank) only need a call once, and you don’t have to remind them every time you travel (which is very convenient for me).

On our trip, we bought AUDs from Czarina Foreign Exchange and got a very good rate at that time. But, I also used my PayMaya contactless card which was hassle-free and easier to keep track of.

Maya of PayMaya accompanying us at the Sydney Opera House


For me, the best area to stay in Sydney would be within the CBD. There are a lot of choices for any budget so you don’t have to worry if you want a dorm or a one with a pool. I’d recommend looking at Agoda or Booking because they always have the best rate for me. And it’s easy to earn points that you can use for future bookings.

We stayed at Maze Backpackers which is more on the cheaper side. Our room only had a bunk bed and we shared a bathroom with other travelers. Surprisingly, the bathroom was never fully occupied even though there are more than 2 dozen rooms (or more!!) on the floor. Probably because it’s winter and it’s cold, but I’m not really sure. It’s a good thing though!

Places to Visit

Sydney CBD

Sydney Opera House

What is a visit to Sydney without going to the Opera House? It’s a must because of the level of how iconic a landmark it is. When you think of architecture in Australia, you think of this place.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Once you get to the Opera House, you can’t possibly miss this bridge. Its beautiful arch design is great as a backdrop for your golden hour portraits and selfies. But if you’re feeling a little adventurous, you can literally climb to the top of the arch (with an expert and a harness) and see the city from a whole new perspective. We just crossed the bridge on foot because we were going to Milsons Point anyway!

Me at the Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Rocks

Just beside the Harbour Bridge, The Rocks is a neighborhood with laneways filled with cafes, pubs, restaurants, and more. It’s a beautiful place to visit after sunset with street lights glowing up the laneways and walls.

Luna Park & Milsons Point

From the Opera House across Sydney Harbour Bridge is the suburb of Milsons Point. It’s a nice little place with great views of the harbor and the CBD. It’s also where you can find the small but iconic Luna Park. 

Luna Park at Milson’s Point

Royal Botanic Garden

If you want a chill and free place to explore, go here at the Royal Botanic Garden. It offers the best view of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

Pitt Street Mall

You don’t have to leave this place to survive a day in Sydney. You could shop, eat, walk, sightsee, and still have lots left to do. Throughout the day, street performers are all over from magicians, singers, even mimes.

Darling Harbour

A place for yacht sightseeing and early morning stroll. There are attractions around the area like the Sydney Aquarium, the Chinese Garden of Friendship, and Madame Tussauds. There are also souvenirs at the Harbourside Shopping Center.

Darling Harbour at Nights

Paddy’s Market

The best and cheapest place in Sydney for souvenirs! It’s only open from Wednesdays to Sundays so plan accordingly!

Inside Paddy’s Market

Bondi Beach

The most popular beach in Sydney. It’s easily accessible from the CBD so it always gets a crowd from surfers to tourists. Even during our winter visit, there were people enjoying the waves, the sun, and the cold.

Bondi Beach

One popular activity at Bondi Beach is the coastal walk to Coogee Beach. It’s 6km long with changing landscapes from rocks, cliffs, upscale homes, and even a cemetery. It’s the best nature walk we’ve done during our stay in Australia.

Watson’s Bay

This is a harbourside suburb with beautiful small homes you’d want to live in. Spending a whole afternoon here could take you to The Gap lookout, a couple of beaches, a small nude beach, and a lighthouse. The highlight of our visit here was looking over The Gap which is a tall cliff with views of the Tasman Sea.

Blue Mountains National Park

About 2 hours by train from Sydney is this mountainous region full of sightseeing spots and hiking trails. If you’re visiting Sydney and you want a day away from the city, this is the place to unwind and breathe in the fresh air. You can start at Echo Point and start any of the trails from there. We did the Prince Henry Cliff Walk because it’s one of the easiest. You can also go to Scenic World and explore deeper areas of the park through walkways, a cableway, and a railway. There are also more lookouts beyond the Scenic World entrance, like the Eagle Hawk and Malaita Lookouts. We ended our visit with a feast at the Yellow Deli in the town of Katoomba.

Featherdale Wildlife Park

This park specializes in Australian native animals in an outdoor bush setting. This is a great place to visit before or after Blue Mountains because they’re in the same way from the city. There are even Blue Mountains group tours you can join that includes a visit to this park.

Manly Beach

Manly Beach is another famous surfing spot in Sydney. There are also diving and kayaking spots in the area. To get here, you have to take a 30-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay, which makes it more exciting to visit.

Taronga Zoo

Looking for animals in the wild is difficult especially if you’re close to the city. So why not see them all in one place that’s committed to the preservation of wildlife in Australia!


For a comprehensive guide on Sydney Food and Snacks, click here!

Sydney Opera House at Night

Sydney was a fun place to visit. At first, I thought it was just a boring city with business people. But while planning our trip, I discovered there are so many activities and interesting places we could go to. Our stay in Sydney was short but fulfilling enough for us to have a grasp of life there. We can’t wait to go back, soon hopefully, and explore more of this beautiful city!

Read more about our DIY trip to Australia by clicking here!