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Sydney: An International Destination with an Australian Soul

Sydney is, undeniably, on the bucket lists of travelers the world over. Whether you’re visiting for the iconic sights or to indulge in some retail therapy, you will discover a city that is easy to navigate, cosmopolitan and generally benefiting from warm weather year-round. Sydney’s big city sophistication is complimented by a well-developed surf culture, so you can attend a performance at the Opera House one night and ride the waves at Bondi Beach the next morning. Needless to say, holiday homes of all shapes and sizes are available to Sydney visitors, from luxe beach houses in exclusive residential enclaves to apartments only a street corner away from bustling Kings Cross bars.

Sydney Sightseeing 101

If you are visiting Sydney for the first time, you can’t miss Circular Quay, at the end of which lies the world-famous Sydney Opera House. High-end restaurants line the quay. During the day, tours of the Opera House are organized. If you are pressed for time, hop on a tourist cruise leaving Darling Harbour or Circular Quay, which will take you out on the water past the Opera House and under The Harbour Bridge, affording uninterrupted views of Sydney’s CBD. The Harbour Bridge is one of the planet’s most photographed pieces of human engineering and features a lookout so you can snap shots of Sydney from every angle. Pylon Lookout also acts as an information centre, where you can find out all about the bridge’s past. In addition to sightseeing and soaking up local history, travellers can climb The Harbour Bridge with the aid of a trained guide.

Beaches and Surf Culture in Sydney

After you’ve been sightseeing, hit the beach: go surfing, swim or simply do some people watching as you sit down at one of the cafes lining Sydney’s stretches of sand. Internationally-known Bondi Beach is just a short drive or bus ride from the CBD and provides 1km of waterfront action. Surfers will prefer the rougher waves on the south side, whereas families with small children are likely to head to the northern end for its calmer waters. Bondi Beach is patrolled year-round. Beyond the sand, you’ll find a series of cafes and boutiques selling surf and swim gear.

To escape from the tourists, head to Coogee, a family-friendly beach surrounded by grassy parklands with a playground, picnic tables and BBQs. The quieter beach is also home to sea baths. A waterfront walking trail links Bondi and Coogee. Alternately, hop on a ferry to Manly and spend the day at Manly Beach. This equally family-friendly beach offers an ocean pool and the option to partake in surf lessons. Next to the beach, you’ll be able to refuel at vintage-style ice cream parlours and European-inspired cafes.

Museums and Culture in Sydney

The capital of New South Wales features a number of museums, where you can learn all about the city, state and country’s heritage. Stroll through Hyde Park to access the Australian Museum, which focuses on the region’s natural history and Aboriginal culture. To find out about Sydney’s past, visit the heritage-listed Hyde Park Barracks, which began as a prison 190 years ago before turning into an immunization centre and, finally, a court of law. Then, there’s the Nicholson Museum, which showcases over 25 000 ancient artifacts, the largest collection in Australasia, with an emphasis on Ancient Egypt as you’ll be able to gather from the mummies. Admission to the museum is free.

Sydney’s Shopping and Dining Scene

From designer purchases at the historic Queen Victoria Building to unique finds at Sydney’s weekend markets, travelers can shop ’til they drop in New South Wales’ capital. The central business district is home to large international retailers like David Jones and Myer as well as speciality boutiques. The Queen Victoria Building is a true temple to retail therapy, literally built to emulate a cathedral in the late 1800s. The Strand Arcade, exemplifying late Victorian era architecture, pays homage to Australian fashion and is home to a series of cafes and restaurants. When it comes to wining and dining, Sydney’s options are endless, from sleek waterfront establishments to grungy but trendy bars in Darlinghurst and Kings Cross.

Getting to Sydney

Sydney’s International Airport sees daily flights come in from around the world, as far away as North America and Africa. Of course, a multitude of local flights connect Australian cities with Sydney. If you don’t wish to fly, you can take the train or drive to Sydney from Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth or Canberra