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What to Do in Sydney If You’re a First-Time Visitor




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One of Australia’s largest and most popular cities, Sydney is a city that has it all. Few can rival it when it comes to natural beauty, activities, culture and culinary offerings. There are so many things to see, do, taste and experience that it can be overwhelming finding where to begin. Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Australia is establishing travel bubbles and currently looking at lifting its international ban soon, so it’s a great time to start planning. Here’s what to do in Sydney as a new visitor!

1. Explore The Rocks

what to do in sydney - the rocks
Photo credit: vizts.com

This is the oldest part of Sydney and the first to be settled when the British arrived in 1788. It used to be bigger, but most of it was torn down in the ‘70s to make space for high rise buildings. Thankfully, the citizens were successful in preserving what little was left of its cobblestone streets and 19th-century buildings. Today, the shops, pubs, restaurants and galleries make it one of the coolest parts of the city. Plus, its prime location next to the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge makes this extremely convenient for tourists.

2. See the Sydney Opera House

what to do in sydney - sydney opera house
Photo credit: headout.com

Search for ‘what to do in Sydney’ and every article out on the world wide web will tell you to visit the Sydney Opera House. This is perhaps the most iconic symbol of Sydney, if not Australia. You could just come to marvel at its beauty and snap a few photos for the ‘gram, but for the incessantly curious who want to learn more about its history and go behind the scenes, check out this walking tour! If you have the money to spare, another great way to experience the Opera House is to, of course, attend a music concert or opera performance!

3. Climb Sydney Harbour Bridge

what to do in sydney - sydney harbour bridge
Photo credit: unsplash.com
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Yes, this is a very touristy activity (at least when there were tourists), but the sight of the Sydney Harbour Bridge is quite a sight to behold. If you’re short on time, the Insider climb is a little shorter and takes you up along the lower arch to the Summit. However, we recommend going all-in with the Ultimate climb. In 3.5 hours you’ll conquer the entire Bridge from south to north and back again. You’ll witness the best views of Sydney from all angles, 134 metres above the Harbour, as well as earn bragging rights of conquering the full scale of this famous icon.

4. Hop on the Manly Ferry

what to do in sydney - Manly Ferry
Photo credit: thedcn.com.au

Locals use it for their commute to work, but taking the Manly Ferry voyage is also one of top things to do for a visitor. It’s just 30 minutes, but it’s a very picturesque ride with sweeping views of the harbor, Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the Opera House. Manly is famous for its beach, surf, and nightlife. It has a completely different vibe to the central city and there are also some incredible coastal walking trails. We suggest exploring part or all of the Manly to Spit walk (more on this later) for spectacular views of the north and south headlands.

5. Experience the beach culture

sydney beach
Photo credit: cntraveler.com

Apart from its iconic structures and buildings, Sydney also has a very unique beach culture. On the weekends (or many weekdays for that matter), locals flock to the beach to surf, suntan, or crack open a beer. From Manly in the north to the world-famous Bondi in the south, there are over 100 beaches in Sydney to suit everyone. They are incredibly convenient to get to via public transport or car. Swimming is very enjoyable during the summer months (but make sure to stay between the red and yellow flags!) You can also take a surf lesson, or stroll along the beachfront promenade and stop at the shops and restaurants.

6. Hike the Bondi to Manly walk

bondi to manly
Photo credit: broadsheet.com.au
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The Bondi to Manly walk is a 80-kilometer coastal walk that connects Sydney’s beaches together. The entire walk is on public land and the vast majority of it is on well-made and well-maintained bush walking tracks. You can do the walk over as many or as few days as you like, or pick specific sections for day trips! The Spit to Manly leg is well worth a trip. Make sure to be on the lookout for Aboriginal rock engravings and heritage sites! There are also many beautiful viewpoints along the way, such as Arabanoo Lookout, Reef Bay and Delwood Beach.

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