By Lauren Jade Hill
As the first place many people associate with Australia, Sydney is undoubtedly the nation’s best known city. And for good reason; fusing iconic sites and world-class cultural venues with stretches of pristine coast, a smattering of islands and patches of national park, this is a city that warrants returning to time and again. From the world heritage listed Sydney Opera House to the beaches that prove to hold enduring appeal, here’s our pick of the best things to do in Sydney.
Designed to represent a ship’s sails through its sculptural white roof, Sydney Opera House is one of the most recognisable structures worldwide. Inside, tours are led of the Opera House and backstage, introducing visitors to its storied past, with a selection of dining venues and bars to discover, and most importantly, a full schedule of concerts and other shows. Sydney Harbour Bridge is another of the city’s most iconic sites, with many visitors taking on the challenge of climbing the arched structure with the experience provider Sydney BridgeClimb. To get to know the city center’s waterfront area more, along with its offshore islands, take a Harbour Cruise.
Art and Culture
Sydney abounds with world-class museums and galleries, hosting major arts events such as the Biennale of Sydney. The Museum of Sydney is a good place to start for an insight into the city’s colonial and contemporary identity through its exhibitions of objects, images and digital media. For exceptional showcases of Australian art, pay a visit to the Art Gallery NSW, which has as many as 29,000 items in its permanent collection, and for cutting-edge work head to the Museum of Contemporary Art; situated on the waterfront overlooking Sydney Cove, this expansive gallery exhibits the work of both national and international artists.
One of Sydney’s greatest draws is its long stretch of coastline and the beaches and bays to be found all the way along. With its vibrant surf scene and famous pool in the rocks, Bondi is the beach that most people make their way to, with the tree-lined Manly beach in the North coming in a close second. But by following coastal walking trails or heading further along the Northern Beaches, it’s possible to stumble on a number of pristine bays. Perhaps surprisingly, Sydney also encompasses areas of wild national park including Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, an area of bushland with protected Aboriginal sites. Without venturing away from the center of the city, it’s worth taking the time to stroll through parks such as the historic Hyde Park and in the famous Royal Botanic Garden.
WHERE TO STAY
Four Seasons Sydney
Affording views over Sydney Harbour and its landmark sites, this Four Seasons hotel boasts a particularly privileged setting. The hotel’s plush suites make the most of these views, with the pool-side restaurant La Cabana, stylish bar Grain and Endota Spa to seek out too.
Park Hyatt Sydney
Located in Sydney’s Harbour in The Rocks, a vibrant waterfront stretch overlooking the Sydney Opera House, this elegant five-star hotel is another of Sydney’s most visually impressive places to stay. Both the signature restaurant The Dining Room and relaxed dining venue The Living Room command views over the harbor.
The Langham Sydney
Also situated within The Rocks, The Langham is considered one of Sydney’s landmark hotels with light-filled interiors combining modern design with classic furnishings and a series of lavish facilities including an indoor heated pool, health club and spa, tennis court and dining venues such as the Palm Court which hosts the Afternoon Tea with Wedgewood.
Within the restored 19th-century Treasury Building that reaches up to 31 stories, InterContinental Sydney provides views across Sydney Harbour and the lush Royal Botanic Garden. Lavish interiors feature throughout, but it’s the Club InterContinental on floor 31 that impresses most with its wrap-around balcony terrace and selection of 27 champagnes.