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Sydney is known as the Harbour City. It's the largest, oldest and most cosmopolitan city in Australia with an enviable reputation as one of the world's most beautiful and liveable cities.
Brimming with history, nature, culture, art, fashion, cuisine, design, Sydney's set next to miles of ocean coastline and sandy surf beaches. Longterm immigration has led to the cities reputation as one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse cities in Australia and the world. The city is also home to the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, two of the most iconic structures on this planet.
Sydney has a compact city centre surrounded by sprawling suburbs, all coming together to form a vast and diverse metropolitan area.
The busy centre of government and finance, but also home to many famous attractions, fine restaurants, and shopping.
Just to the west of Circular Quay, now a cosmopolitan area, The Rocks includes the first colonial village of Sydney and the iconic Harbour Bridge.
An extensive leisure and entertainment area immediately to the west of the Central Business District (CBD). See restaurants, boardwalks, aquariums, wildlife, and museums by foot.
The Haymarket, Chinatown and Central Station area is home to markets, cafes, Chinese culture and cuisine, and some cheaper accommodation and shopping.
Kings Cross, Darlinghurst, Surry Hills, Woolloomooloo and Moore Park. Busy nightlife, and coffee shops, fashion and entertainment by day.
An early morning trip to the fish markets, exploring the Powerhouse Museum, finding a maritime pub or hitting The Star Casino.
Sydney’s skyline is large and widely recognisable. Sydney also possesses a wide array of diversity of modern and old architectural style. They range from the simple Francis Greenway's Georgian buildings to Jorn Utzon’s Expressionist Sydney Opera House. Sydney also has a large amount of Victorian buildings, such as the Sydney Town Hall and the Queen Victoria Building. The most architecturally significant would be the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, among many others. Skyscrapers in Sydney are also large and modern. Sydney Tower just rising above the rest of the Sydney skyline.
Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport (SYD) is Australia's busiest airport and the main gateway to Australia. It is located around 9 km south of the City centre in Southern Sydney on the northern shores of Botany Bay. Sydney Airport is the oldest continually operated commercial airport anywhere in the world.
Airlines and terminals
Check which terminal you are going to.
International terminal (T1) handles all international flights and some domestic flights. Check your itinerary and flight number because check-in, connections and customs will take longer when arriving or departing from the International Terminal, even on a domestic flight. You do not need a passport when travelling domestically, just hang on to your boarding pass.
Domestic terminal 2 (T2) is the largest domestic terminal. Airlines using this terminal include Qantaslink (Qantas flights numbered 1600 and above), Aeropelican, Regional Express (Rex), Jetstar, Tiger and Virgin Australia.
Domestic terminal 3 (T3) handles Qantas domestic flights numbered from 400 to 1599, which are mostly services to larger cities and towns.
Between the airport and the city
Sydney Airport is 9km from the city centre and reaching the city centre or other suburbs is easy, whether it be by suburban rail, bus or car. If you're going to the city centre the following methods are your best bet:
By public transport
The public transport system consists of commuter rail, bus, ferry and light rail. Combined, they can get you virtually anywhere in the metropolitan area.
Public transport in Sydney has historically been poorly integrated and the ticket system can be confusing, though this has been alleviated somewhat with the introduction of the Opal Card.
Sydney has a vast suburban rail network operated by Sydney Trains, covering 882km of track and 176 stations. The train network will take passengers to most of the metropolitan area, with the exception of the north-west and northern beaches. Trains service every station in the metropolitan area at least every 30 minutes.
Sydney has an extensive bus network, including a some free shuttle loop buses in the Sydney CBD and Parramatta and other centres. Some buses run from distant suburbs such as those on the Northern Beaches and North West all the way to the city, but there are also shorter feeders to suburban rail stations from surrounding suburbs.
What to see
Sydney is one of those cities that invites tourists to custom-design their sightseeing. Unlike many cities throughout the world, Sydney is not a city where people come to see "X" or experience "Y." That's because Sydney is home to museums, cafes and restaurants, shopping and historical sites. It can be explored both on foot and via the water. While all of Sydney has sights worth visiting, much of its glory is housed in the City Centre.
If you want to learn more about Australia's past, present and future, you can visit the multitude of museums found in City Centre. Some museums are free to enter year-round while others charge admission.
The Sydney Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House are two of Sydney's famous landmarks that can be visited when exploring Sydney on foot. While these are two of the best-known landmarks, Sydney's City Centre has a host of less famous buildings and structures that are worth a visit.
For a different type of animal sighting, visitors can head to Sydney's Eastern Suburbs to find the famous Bondi Beach. This beach attracts thousands of visitors every year, making it a great place for people watching.
After exploring Sydney by land, stop by Sydney Harbor to explore it by water. Ferries, cruises and whale watching excursions depart regularly from this part of Sydney.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge crosses the harbour from the The Rocks to North Sydney. There are many different experiences centred around the bridge. You can walk or cycle across, picnic under, or climb over the Harbour Bridge. See the details in The Rocks.
The Sydney Opera House. The Sydney Opera House is simply one of the most famous structures ever built. It is in the city centre.
Darling Harbour is a large entertainment precinct and includes a range of activities, restaurants, museums and shopping facilities.
Sydney Olympic Park. Home of the 2000 Olympics and now parklands and sporting facilities.
Sydney Tower also called Centrepoint Tower or AMP Tower. The tallest structure in Sydney, the tower contains a buffet, cafe and a rather large restaurant and attracts many visitors a year. The tower is in the City Centre
St Mary's Cathedral. Sydney's main catholic cathedral. Corner of St Mary's Road and College St. The cathedral is in the City Centre.
Royal Botanic Gardens- The Royal Botanic Gardens were first established in Sydney by Governor Bligh in 1816. The gardens cover 30 hectares and adjoin the 35 hectares making up the Domain, there are over 7500 species of plants represented here.
Taronga Zoo Large zoo whose animals have the best view in the world, a short ferry trip from the City on the North Shore.
The Koala Park Sanctuary in the Outer West.
Sydney Aquarium in Darling Harbour.
Sydney Wildlife World' adjacent to the aquarium in Darling Harbour.
Featherdale Wildlife Park in Western Sydney
and just out of Sydney, the
Australian Reptile Park, about an hour north of Sydney, has kangaroos, wallabies, dingos, and more.
Symbio Park in Helensburgh.
In the wild
Whale Watching see whales migrating the Pacific coast. There are boats from Darling Harbour or Circular Quay.
Bats (Flying foxes) nest next to the fernery in the Botanic Gardens in the city, and fly to feed over the city buildings and Harbour Bridge at dusk, you can see them on the eastern side of the Opera House at sunset.
Ibis are an unusual wader bird, that has made its home in the suburbs, especially in Hyde Park in the city
Possums are a native marsupial at home in the urban environment.
Kangaroos & Wallabies. These can be spotted with patience in most of the Sydney National Parks, including the Royal National Park, ask the local rangers where they tend to be seen in the late afternoons. This is a great way to experience Australia’s native wildlife in their natural habitat compared to seeing these amazing animals confined in zoos, but requires considerably more time and patience.
Sydney Opera House
Yachts in Sydney Harbour; business district in background
Sydney's large natural harbour was the reason that the original penal settlement was established in the area, near what is now known as Circular Quay. It is now well developed, with skyscrapers, highrises, and houses all around its shores, but it is still very beautiful.
Sydney Harbour can be viewed from the city or from on of the many walks next to it, most of which are easily accessible by ferry or bus.
Swing by the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Art Gallery of New South Wales on the edge of the gardens. While you're in the area visit Mrs Macquarie's Chair for a picture postcard view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House in one picture. You may have to compete with the numerous wedding couples on weekends.
Sydney has a huge amount of green space, much of it beside the sparkling harbour or ocean, so walking is a great way to experience the city's parks, reserves and remnant bushland. There are also great walks through the more built-up areas, allowing you to check out the city's modern architecture and its colonial heritage. The following are just a few of the better-known routes.