Sydney travel guide is a cosmopolitan city surrounded by iconic beaches, world heritage sites, and acclaimed wine regions. Besides being Australia’s largest city, Sydney is also its’ most visited. (And, contrary to popular belief, not the country’s capital!) With an incredible variety of attractions and sights to see, including the very famous Bondi and Manly beaches, it’s easy to see why people come here and stay a while—try to stay at least a week if you can. As you will see from this travel guide, there is a lot to do in Sydney. It’s worth a long stay.
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Sydney
1. Hang out at the beachesFrom Palm Beach and Manly to the famous Bondi and Coogee, Sydney has a beach for everyone. All the beaches are easy to get to via public transportation and there are tons of restaurants and surf shops around. My favorite beaches are Manly (wide and beautiful) and Bronte (small and quiet).
2. The Blue MountainsOver the millennia, the sandstone here has been weathered into gorges lined by steep cliffs and narrow ridges. See the magnificent rock formation the Three Sisters or hike the many trails for excellent views of sheer rock walls, tumbling waterfalls, and magnificent forests. The park is free and you can get there by train from Sydney (90 minutes).
3. Visit Wild Life Sydney ZooThe Wild Life Sydney Zoo is set up with highly detailed, “natural” environments for birds, wallabies, reptiles, and more. There are various guided tours and animal feedings all day. This is a good family activity. Admission costs 40 AUD, but save 12 AUD when you buy ahead of time online. It’s open daily from 9:30am-5pm.
4. Sydney Opera HouseThe Opera House is famous for its white-shelled roof. As an architectural delight and feat of engineering (getting the roof to stay up took the creation of a complex support system), guided tours (40 AUD) give you an appreciation for just how challenging the building was to design.
5. Sydney Harbour BridgeThe bridge was built in 1932 as a government employment project during the Great Depression. Its steel frame has become an iconic symbol of the city. While tours that climb the bridge are expensive (160 AUD), it is free to walk or bike across it for panoramic views of the harbor and Opera House.
Other Things to See and Do
(Click the title to expand the text)
1. Visit The Rocks
2. Botanic Gardens & Mrs. Macquarie Chair
3. Ferry to Manly Beach
4. Take the Town Hall tour
5. Go to the museums
6. Learn to surf
7. Visit the Hunter Valley
8. The Tower Sky Walk
9. Take the Trike Way
10. Do a coastal walk
11. Attend a Cultural Event
12. Party in King’s Cross
Accommodation – Hostel dorms average 18-30 EUR per night while private hostels rooms range between 50-100 EUR a night for rooms. Most hostels offer free linens and WiFi. You should expect to spend around 50 EUR per night for the most basic of rooms. For something a little nice and more spacious, look closer to 70 per night. A much better alternative to hotels is Airbnb, where a shared room in someone’s house typically costs around 20 EUR a night and an entire apartment start at about 40 EUR.
Italy is known for its cuisine – fresh pasta, bread, tomatoes, pizza, gelato, and wine. It’s easy to have a great (and expensive) meal anywhere in Italy, but it’s also easy to eat for less than 15 EUR a day if you make the effort. Most restaurant meals with wine will cost around 25 EUR per person. In tourist hot spots, add about 10 EUR to that. Quick eats like pizza by the slice, paninis, and light snacks will cost between 2-7 EUR. Fast food (i.e. McDonalds) will cost 9 EUR for a value meal.
At most restaurants, add 3 EUR for the “coperto” (sit down fee) that covers service and the bread at the table. If you’re feeling ambitious and staying somewhere with a kitchen, consider cooking your own food for between 50-70 EUR per week. If you find a discount grocer like Eurospin, In’s Mercato, LD Market, Lidl or Penny Market, you’ll pay less.
The best way to get around Italy is via their extensive train network. Fast trains (Eurostar) cost between 35-65 EUR per trip. The slower regional trains cost between 6-25 EUR per trip. (Take them!) For long distances when you are short on time, Ryanair and EasyJet have cheap flights throughout the country. Florence to Rome via train is 29 EUR and takes 95 minutes and by bus, it’s 17 EUR and takes nearly 4 hours. Pisa to Milan via train is 35 EUR and takes about 3.5 hours and by bus, it’s 17 EUR and takes 6.5 hours.
Public transportation is reasonably priced with most buses and subways costing at most 2 EUR for a single ticket. Uber is available in six cities in Italy, including Rome, Milan, and Florence.
Most attractions and museums in Italy cost between 13-20 EUR to enter. Expect more if you’re hoping for a guide in places such as the Vatican or Colosseum. When booking guided tours, some companies will give discounts if you reserve multiple experiences with them. Also, if you are going to do lots of sightseeing, city cards will give you discounts to the top museums, tours, and attractions.
They are priced to save you money when compared to buying separate tickets. Wine tours will cost between 60-75 EUR. Cooking classes can be upwards of 100-300 EUR a person depending on how many courses (and how much wine!) is included.
Suggested daily budget
50-70 EUR / $60-80 USD (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating and cooking, and using local transportation. Using the budget tips below, you can always lower this number. If you stay in fancier accommodation or eat out more, expect this to be higher!)
Money Saving Tips
Skip the bread –
In the Lazio region, many restaurants will offer you bread when you sit down only to charge you for it once your meal is done (and you’ve eaten it all). If you’re in the region and don’t want to pay for the bread, send it back so you won’t be tempted! Outside of this region, the bread is included in the price.
Drink the tap water
– Ask for tap water or you will automatically get expensive bottled water included on your bill. Moreover, you can refill your bottles of water at any of the drinking fountains throughout Italy. The water is fine to drink, and you’ll feel like a local as you drink from their ancient Roman city monuments.
Buy lots of wine –
You can buy a great bottle of wine for 4 EUR. It’s a lot cheaper than drinking at the bar.
- Go on a free walking tour –
This is a great way to learn the history behind the places you are seeing and to avoid missing any must-see stops.
Eat a panini –
Eating out every meal in the popular cities of Italy is an expensive affair. Buy paninis and pizza by the slice for just a few dollars, and save a lot of money.
Accommodation is quite expensive in Italy, even in the hostels. Use Couchsurfing to stay with locals who have extra beds and couches for free. I use the service a lot and find it not only saves me money, but I meet great people too.
- Rideshare – If you’re flexible in your schedule, use the ridesharing service BlaBlaCar and catch rides with locals between cities (or countries). I used this service and, not only did I save a lot of money, but I got to meet interesting people to and learn about local culture and life. Drivers are verified and it’s perfectly safe (though sometimes rides don’t show up, which is why you need to be flexible).