Locals Guide to Sydney: Top Tips for Things to See and Do
Every year more than 30 million tourists visit Sydney, and quite often I am one of them. The first couple of times I had pretty much the same experience as those 30 million people.
Upon arrival, I have visited the Opera House, taken a stroll to the Harbour Bridge, then down to the Circular Quay and Darling Harbour, after I toured the Queen Victoria Building and Sydney Tower and caught some sun at the Bondi Beach. As beautiful as all of those places are, after some time they tend to become a bit boring, and they don’t really give you the opportunity to experience the true spirit of Sydney. For that to be possible you need to find some Sydney-siders to guide you. Forget the recommendations of tourist agencies and enjoy Sydney as a local. Trust me, it is totally worth it.
Greet the Sydney Morning
Sure, travelling someplace can be exhausting and getting up early in the morning can be the last thing you wish to do. However, there is nothing quite like greeting the morning in this beautiful metropolis.
You will avoid the crowds of tourist who usually go sightseeing somewhere around noon, and have the chance to get a clear look of the city. Take a power walk down the George Street and join the locals for brunch around 11am. Make sure you visit some of the brunch institutions in Sydney, such as Three Blue Ducks, Bill’s and FourAteFive.
Head to the Beach (Not Bondi)
Bondi Beach is amazing, but it is not the only one in the city. And, if you don’t like crowds at all, it would be best to avoid it.
I have a few of Sydney-sider friends who showed me a couple of fascinating spots to catch the sun and freshen up in pleasantly warm sea. During my previous visits to Sydney, I’ve had the chance to check out Readleaf Beach, Shelley Beach, Milk Beach, Palm Beach and Long Reef Beach, and I fell in love with every one of them.
Hotels can take away much of the charm of a place, not to mention the money out of your wallet. Especially in cities as big and as expensive as Sydney.
Fortunately, there are a lot more affordable and more cosy accommodation options to try out. Every time I plan to go to Sydney, I first check if there are any free house sitting deals.
When I get lucky, I manage to save a lot of money I would otherwise spend on a bed & breakfast accommodation or a hotel room. Besides, this way I have an opportunity to meet some amazing neighbors who usually give me some great firsthand advice on where to go and what to do in Sydney.
Sample the City’s Exquisite Cuisine
So, what do I do with all the money I save? Well, I usually splurge on dining, since I find Sydney’s restaurant scene to be fascinating.
There are dozens of famous world-class chefs working in numerous restaurants in Sydney. And, it would truly be a shame not to stop by and treat yourself to delicious meals at Apollo, Bridge Room, FourFourteen, Tetsuya and Felix.
Clear Your Palate with Wine
Australia is famous for some of the best wines around the globe. Truly, it can stand toe-to-toe with Italy and France in this area.
Since Sydney-siders are no strangers to city escapes, not only should you taste the wines at the local restaurants, but you should also rent a car or take a bus to the nearby Hunter Valley and visit several vineyards and tasting rooms. A must-try when in this region is the wine made of the signature grape of Hunter Valley – botrytised Semillon.
Spend Sunday as a Sydney-Sider
If you happen to be in Sydney on Sunday, don’t spend it wandering around the city. Hop onto a ferry like a true Sydney-sider and visit the Cockatoo Island.
It is the place where locals go to take a break from the crowded and noisy city and enjoy the wonderful nature. You can spend your day underneath the clear sky or try out the newest city craze – glamping. It is the same as camping, but with a luxurious feel.
Spend Your Dollars in Surry
The Queen Victoria Building is not the only shopping hotspot in Sydney. In fact, if you are up for some quality spending, there is no better neighbourhood to do that than Surry Hills.
Here, you can find everything from vintage jewellery to local designer shops. Also, there is a number of charming cafes that allow you to sit in front of them and observe the people passing by.
Visit the Rocks
Look beyond the Darling Harbour and explore other Sydney’s neighbourhoods that are equally – if not even more – fascinating. The Rocks might just be the most unique part of the city with old colonial buildings, narrow lanes, old pubs in the country, sandstone churches, weekend markets, beautiful views of the harbour and art museums.
This is actually the place where Sydney was born when the British first landed, and that’s why most of that old world charm is very well preserved. It’s almost like visiting Europe.
Step Inside the Opera House
We all like to marvel the Opera House from outside, but have you ever entered this staggering building? It is just as breathtaking on the inside, as it is on the outside.
You can take a guided tour of the Opera House for about $40 AUD like a true tourist, or try a more local approach and go see a show. You would be surprised just how affordable the tickets are.
Go See the Blue Mountains
Located just outside Sydney, the Blue Mountains are a national park full of tumbling waterfalls, magnificent forests, excellent views of the valley and sheer rock walls. You can take a casual trip and go sightseeing, or opt for a hiking trip along the mountain paths. If you have more free days on your disposal, you can even spend the night.
Sydney is a marvellous city which has a lot to offer to tourists and even more to locals, so why wouldn’t you take the best of both worlds and live like a local in Sydney for at least a couple of days?
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