Sydney Opera house HDR Sydney Australia
photo by Hai Linh Truong

Sydney is the Harbour City. It is 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, and set next to miles of ocean coastline and sandy surf beaches. The city is also home to the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, two of the most iconic structures on the planet.

Sydney is a major global city and one of the most important cities for finance in the Asia-Pacific. Sydney hosted the first Olympics of the new millennium, and continues to attract and host large international events. The city is surrounded by nature and national parks, which extend into the suburbs and right to the shores of the harbour.


Sydney has a compact city centre surrounded by sprawling suburbs, forming a vast metropolitan area.

Central Sydney

  • City Centre - The busy centre of government and finance, but also home to many of Sydney's famous tourist and cultural attractions.
  • The Rocks - Just to the west of Circular Quay, The Rocks includes the first colonial village of Sydney and the iconic Harbour Bridge.
  • Darling Harbour - An extensive leisure and entertainment area immediately to the west of the Central Business District (CBD). Restaurants, boardwalks, aquarium wildlife and the maritime museum.
  • City South - The Haymarket, Chinatown and Central Station area is home to markets, cafes, chinese culture and cuisine, and some cheaper accommodation and shopping.
  • City East - Kings Cross, Darlinghurst, Surry Hills, Woolloomooloo and Moore Park. Busy nightlife, and coffee shops, fashion and entertainment by day.
  • City West - An early morning trip to the fish markets, exploring the Powerhouse Museum, finding a maritime pub or hitting the Star City Casino.

If you are in Sydney for a holiday, or to see the sights, the major attractions of Sydney outside of central Sydney are in:

  • Bondi Beach - Sydney's world famous beach, for swimming, surfing, eating, walking, or to see and be seen.

  • Manly - The Manly ferry leaves from Circular Quay out to the heads every 30 minutes.

  • Sydney Olympic Park - The home of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, parks, cycling, and events.

  • Parramatta - Sydney's "second" CBD, with history, shopping, eating, all just 30 minutes from the city centre.

Inner Suburbs


  • The Eastern Suburbs - Between the City and the sea, includes the world-famous Bondi Beach and other city beaches, which are strong drawcards for visitors and residents in the city during summer.

  • Southern Sydney - The area south of the CBD and north of the Georges River, including the areas surrounding Sydney Airport and Brighton Le Sands on Botany Bay.

  • The Inner West - Sydney's original suburbs are now bohemian and are a hub of cheap eats, shopping and inner-city culture.

  • Lower North Shore - - Over the Harbour Bridge are leafy residential areas stretching northwards. The North Shore also has major commercial and retail areas at North Sydney and Chatswood, many smaller boutique shopping areas, and many parks and gardens, and Sydney's famous Taronga Zoo.

Outer Suburbs

Sydney is a vast sprawling city, and the suburbs in the city metropolitan area spread for up to 100km from the city centre. The traveller visiting the suburbs will find less crowded beaches, parks, cheaper shopping, commercial centres, cultural festivals, and hidden gems.


  • Sutherland Shire- Is the district to the far south and east of the city center including Cronulla and Captain Cooks Landing Place.

  • The South West centers of Liverpool and Campbelltown are a large swathe of residential and commercial Sydney.

  • The Outer West stretching from Parramatta out to the Blue Mountains

  • The North West contains the Northern Districts with includes Sydney's Silicon Valley at Macquarie Park, the northern side of the western reaches of Sydney Harbour, and the the largely residential area of the Hills District in the north-west of the city.

  • Hawkesbury Richmond and Windsor.

  • Upper North Shore includes leafy residential areas, national parks and waterways.

  • The Northern Beaches and Forest - From Manly stretching North along the coast to Palm Beach.



Sydney is the oldest European settlement in Australia, having been founded as a British penal colony on 26 January 1788 (now celebrated as Australia Day, the national public holiday, with major festivities around the city and the Harbour).


Sydney is one of the most cosmopolitan cities on the planet, with one third of its population born overseas. European settlement largely displaced the Aboriginal peoples, and over the years, with the earliest colonists largely coming from England, Ireland and Scotland. The Australian goldrush attracted more immigrants, including a significant number of Chinese; with about one in four Australians with convict descent also having some Chinese ancestry. In the 20th century, Sydney has continued to attract immigrants from all over the world - mostly from the U.K. and Ireland, as the White Australia Policy prevented non-European peoples (and even Southern Europeans) from entering the country.

Australia's immigration patterns, and subsequently, that of Sydney, changed significantly after WWII, when migrants began to arrive from countries as diverse as Italy, Greece, Germany, Holland, China, New Zealand, India, the Philippines, Poland, Lebanon, Iraq, Vietnam, Thailand, South Africa and the Pacific Islands. Sydney's culture, food and general outlook well reflect these contributions to the majority Anglo-Celtic institutions and social establishment.

Sydney is recognised worldwide for its vibrant gay community. Every year, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is celebrated at the end of February, drawing people from all over Australia and the world for the celebrations.

Sydney became the center of the world's attention in September 2000 when the city hosted the 2000 Summer Olympics - officially announced by the IOC Chairman at the closing Ceremony to be the "the best games ever"! The Olympics saw a major building and renovation program take hold of Sydney, positioning it as one of the great world cities of the 21st century and will continue to hold its world city status.


Sydney is comfortable for travellers to visit any time of year. The city enjoys over 300 sunny days each year.

  • Summer (December to February) is the best time to enjoy Sydney's beachside outdoor lifestyle. Temperatures usually reach around 26°C but it can be very hot, with temperatures climbing to over 40°C for a few days each summer. Summer days can be humid, and sometimes have searing dry winds, but they frequently end with a "southerly buster", a cold front sweeping up from the south, bringing a clearly noticeable drop in temperature. Within hours, the storm can pass and the evening continues cooler. Hot windy days can close national parks, walking trails, and ban fires because of the fire risk. Rain is usually in the form of afternoon thunderstorms, that can be intense but usually pass quickly. Occasionally low pressure systems drift down from the tropics, giving periods of more unstable weather. You won't need to pack much more than T-shirts to visit Sydney in summer, but remember your hat and sunglasses.

  • Autumn (March to May) March and April, especially, tend to have clear, warm days with mild nights. There can be good days for the beach in March, but you can't count on it. It is a good time for visiting attractions, going to the zoo, catching ferries around the harbour without the summer crowds. You may need a sweater for the evenings, especially for May.

  • Winter (June to August) is cool, not cold. Average July maximum temperatures are 17°C, and daytime temperatures rarely drop below 14°C, but night-time temperatures can fall to below 10°C. Most rain falls as a result of a few off-shore low pressure systems, which usually result in two or three rainy weeks during winter. The Icebergs will be in the ocean doing their morning laps, but most of Sydney will be well away from the beach. It does not snow in Sydney, and unless you intend spending long periods outside, you can usually get by with just a sweater. Sydney is a year-round city, and only the outdoor water-parks close for the winter. If the beach isn't your scene, and you don't like the heat, winter may be your time to visit.

  • Spring (September to November). September is Sydney's driest month, and Spring days are great for exploring Sydney's attractions, bushwalking, cycling, and the outdoors. Beaches are generally patrolled from the end of October, and Sydneysiders start flocking to the beaches in November.

Sydney's Western Suburbs that lie away from the coast tend to be hotter during the day and a little cooler during the night. They miss the afternoon sea breezes, and the night-time warming effect of the ocean.

Sydney has air conditioning in all public buildings, and on some public transport. It is common to catch a bus or train without air conditioning on hot days. Carry water during summer. Remember sun protection year round, as the UV exposure risk can be extreme at any time of year.

Sydney Climate and Weather information is available online at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology .


Sydney’s skyline is large and widely recognizable. Sydney also possesses a wide array of diversity of modern and old architectural style. They range from the simple Francis Greenways Georgian buildings, to Jorn Utzon’s Expressionist, or the 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 such as the Sydney Tower, which dominates the Sydney skyline.

There are also pockets of architecturally significant housing dotted around Sydney's suburbs. The inner-eastern suburb of Paddington is known for its terrace houses, while several inner-west suburbs contain streets lined with so-called federation houses (built around the time of Australian federation in 1901). Probably the best preserved example of federation houses in Sydney is in the Inner West suburb of Burwood. Appian Way is a circular street built around a lawn tennis courts complete with pavilion house. The large houses are all architecturally unique and built on large expanses of land featuring old trees and lovely gardens. Further away on the lower North Shore, Castlecrag is a unique suburb, being planned by the architect Walter Burley Griffin in the 1930s.


  • Walking tour of Sydney. Please see separate listing for more information.

Get in

By plane

Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport (SYD) is Australia's busiest airport and is the main gateway to Australia. It is located only 8km from the City center in Southern Sydney on the northern shores of Botany Bay. Sydney Airport is the oldest continually operated commercial airport anywhere in the world.

Over 35 airlines fly in and out of Sydney Airport with daily flights linking Sydney to key destinations on every continent. The Asian-Pacific transport hubs of Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Tokyo and Seoul have several daily flights, as do various European centres (especially London) via Asia or the Middle East. North America is connected via Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver. Direct flight links also exist with many destinations within New Zealand.

Travellers from Europe and the Middle East tend to travel into Sydney via Asia. Travellers from South America can fly direct from Buenos Aires or via North America or New Zealand.

You can fly to Sydney directly from all other Australian capital cities and from many major regional airports. Otherwise, you need to fly to the state capital and transfer to a Sydney flight. Sydney can be reached within an hour and a half from Melbourne and Brisbane, 45 minutes from Canberra and just under four hours from Perth and Alice Springs

There is a curfew between 11PM and 6AM, and if you arrive late in the evening with a view of connecting to flight departing early the following morning, you cannot easily spend the night in the terminal. T1 closes except for a small transit area with few facilities. The domestic terminals, T2 and T3, close entirely after the last flights are cleared.

Airlines and terminals

Check the terminal that you are arriving at or departing from carefully.

International terminal (T1) handles all international flights and some domestic flights. Check your itinerary and flight number as connections, customs etc 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 Qantas & Qantaslink (Qantas flights 1600 and above), Aeropelican, Regional Express (Rex), Jetstar, Tiger and Virgin Blue.

Domestic terminal 3 (T3) handles only Qantas flights from 450-1599, which are mainly the inter-capital services. Qantas Cityflyer flights use Terminal 3.


T1 (International terminal) has food and shopping both before and after immigration and security. There is an open air beer garden and bistro by check in Bay A on the departures level. There are cafes on both departures and arrivals level. Good coffee and food can had for a reasonable price, but it is easy to buy bad overpriced coffee and food too. Departures has cheaper prices than downstairs at arrivals. There is a better and cheaper choice of food before going through security, although food hall before security is boxed in, and the eating area beyond security has the full-height glass windows. An ANZ bank, and a Travelex exchange is available before security in departures and downstairs in arrivals. A Travelex desk is also available airside. Exchange rates in the airport are worse than in the city so don't believe the $6 flat commission; look at the rate carefully. Two free showers for both males and females are available by check in bay 'A on the departures level. There is also an open air observation deck, with the entrance next to Bay B on the departures level, through the bistro and up the elevator. A post office is in the check in area, but it is only open business hours. Post boxes are available after customs. There is a small kids play area after security. There is a large duty free shop selling alcohol, cigarettes, perfume and electronics available when departing and arriving. There are some free Internet terminals in departures, even a few before security. There are paid Internet terminals too and downstairs in arrivals. Trolleys cost money landside of security. Pick one up airside where they are free, or out in the carpark where they have been left by previous users.

T2 has a large food and shopping area, with a large selection of food outlets located to the right after you go through security. There are also gift shops, bookshops and some clothing stores. There are nice views over the tarmac from the eating area. There are ATM's before and after security. Everyone is able to go through security, whether travelling or not.

T3 (Qantas Domestic) has a food hall with a variety of food and coffee. Nice Thai is available for around $15 or Hungry Jacks for normal prices. The food hall is airside of security, but you do not need to be a passenger to pass through. Most food and drink places and the security checkpoint close 30 minutes or so before the last departure. Don't expect to be able to get anything at all if you are arriving on a late flight. Don't expect people to be able to get to the gate to meet you on a late arrival as they will have to wait at baggage claim if you arrive after the last departure. There are Wi-Fi and Internet terminals available for $5 per hour.

For accommodation around the airport, see the Southern Sydney article

Transfer between terminals

Transfer between domestic terminals T2 and T3 must be done on foot. Follow the signs either via the railway station underground, or across the car park.

Transfer between T1 and T2/T3 is 4 km by road, as the terminals are on opposite sides of the airport tarmac. You will have to use one of the following methods to transfer.

  • An Air-side shuttle is available free of charge if you are connecting through with Qantas or a One World partner airline, or between Virgin Blue and a codeshare flight or other international Virgin Flight (for example United Airlines).

  • T-bus ($5.50) outside the terminal building. The T-bus is a dedicated terminal shuttle and uses the normal roads. It will take around 10 minutes but can be stuck in Sydney traffic at peak times. Runs at a 10-20 minute frequency and you pay the driver on boarding.

  • Catch the train ($5), which is part of the Sydney suburban train system, not a terminal shuttle train. It is a 2 minute journey with around 10-15 minute frequency. Follow the train signs from the terminal. Make sure you are going the right way and stay on the train only a single stop. This method is faster and more frequent than the T-bus.

  • Taxi ($10). A taxi driver may not be happy transferring you between terminals, as he/she would have been expecting a trip to the city or farther and may have been waiting in a queue for an hour or so. Still, you want to get between terminals, so load up your luggage in the boot, sit firmly in the seat, close the door, tell the driver where you want to go, and ignore everything else. The trip will take around 10 minutes. It is a legal requirement for the taxi driver to take you there but unfortunately not a legal requirement for them to smile while doing so. This problem has been slightly reduced by a new system that allows the driver to tell the taxi controller that they received a short fare and so are then allowed to jump the queue.

  • Walk. If you have little luggage and some time to kill, the walk will take around an hour. There is a footpath the whole way, and has good views of planes taking off metres above your head, and of the Alexandria Canal. From T1 walk across the car park, across the crossing, under the underpass, and follow the Airport Drive footpath/cycleway to the right, keeping the canal on your left, and airport on your right. From T2/T3 follow the road out of the airport, and turn left onto Qantas drive, and keep the airport on your left. The route is not covered.

Sydney airport is world class in many respects, but terminal transfers are clumsy, and will surprise those who are used to terminal shuttles in other developed airports worldwide.

Between the airport and the city

Sydney Airport is only 13 km from the city centre. Although driving, taxi or the train may seem like the only options to get to the city when you're at the airport, there are cheaper ways to get there if you're not already hiring a car. It is worth considering what your travel arrangements will be while in Sydney before purchasing a public transport ticket to the city as many multi-day and tourist tickets include some or all of the travel cost to to the city.

  • A train service known as Airport Link connects Sydney Airport and the CBD. The Airport railway line is part of the CityRail commuter rail system and shares a ticketing system, but the airport stations are privately owned and require a hefty surcharge on top of a normal fare. Single fares from the International Terminal station to the city are $15.20 for an adult or $10.20 for child and $14.60/$9.90 from the Domestic Terminal station. At the airport you can buy a ticket directly to any Cityrail destination. The trains can be busy weekdays during the morning peak (07:30-09:30) as trains that service the Airport also carry commuters to the City. It is always possible to fit on but, sometimes, you may need to stand. If there are three or more people travelling together, a taxi will usually be cheaper and just as quick outside peak hours.

  • Mini-bus operators will drive a group of passengers to the city and deliver them to their hotels--a typical charge is $13 per passenger.

  • Taxis to the city centre should cost approximately $30 (including tolls), and more to other Sydney destinations (The Rocks $35-40.00, North Sydney $35, Manly $50, etc.) You can expect to pay a $2.50 airport taxi levy and a $5 Eastern Distributor toll on top of the metered fare. If you are arriving on a Friday evening, it is possible to face long queues for taxis. Asking the driver to take O'Riordan Street is a little slower but shorter and cheaper than the Eastern Distributor tollway.

  • Vehicle rental is available at all Sydney Airport terminals from a variety of rental companies (see Sydney Airport website for current list ).

  • Local Buses. The only local bus route is 400 bus running between Bondi Junction and Burwood via Rockdale and Banksia Station. The 400 bus to Rockdale and/or Banksia Train Station($2.90/International $3.90/Domestic) then train to the city ($3.40) is the cheapest way to get to the city. The 400 bus runs every 20-30 minutes, from outside T3 and T1. If you are at T2 you have to walk to T3 to catch it. The bus destination sign will show "Burwood". The Bondi Junction bus is going the other way. # Alternatively with bus route 400 to "Bondi Junction", ask the bus driver to drop you off at "Mascot Shops" in Botany Road($2.90 Intl/$1.80 Dom); then get off the bus and go across the street to catch another Bus Route 309 or 310 or similar bus destination to Circular Quay which is end of CBD($2.90). There is no luggage space on the bus, but a backpack or suitcase won't be a problem if you can manage it yourself. If you purchase a "Red" bus/train/ferry travelpass for $35 it lasts for 7 days and covers this entire bus and train route to the city, and most bus and train travel in and around the city and the ferry to the zoo and Watsons Bay. You need to purchase the travelpass from Newslink newsagent in T1 or T2 arrivals, as they are not sold on board the bus. If you want to get the train from the airport station a $10.80 surcharge (gatepass) is payable.

  • Having someone pick you up. At T1 (International), a private car can not stop legally at the arrivals area to pick up someone from the curb. Each car has to park at the short term car park for $7 per half hour. At T3 (domestic terminals), cars can stop at the pickup area only if there is someone already at the kerb. At T2, there is a pick up area inside the paid car park. Follow the yellow stenciled signs outside the terminal. Car park charges apply if you stay longer that 10 minutes. Fines apply for waiting at the arrivals areas or for picking up at the departures areas. Leaving your car is out of the question. The parking officers can photograph your car and licence plate and fine you without warning you to move along.

  • Walk and Train from T1 T1 (the international terminal), is less than 2km from Wolli Creek Station, from where a train is $3.80 to the city and you can use a travelpass with no surcharge. The walk isn't signposted and not recommended after dark. It is all surfaced, has only one set of three steps (in the airport, near the customs building), and takes in some nice scenery by the Cooks River. Exit straight from the international terminal (T1) follow the path under the multistory car park and exit on the undercover path on the far side, and follow the path on the left of the customs building to the pedestrian crossing (follow the green sign, marked Marsh Street). Then go under the road using the underpass (lots of mirrors), until you run into a green fence with the canal directly in front of you. Follow the path up to your right around and back over the path you just walked on up to the Marsh Street bridge. Cross the Cooks River on the footpath on the right of Marsh St and then proceed along the cycleway next to the Cooks River (signposted to Tempe), keeping the river on your right. When you reach the Princes Hwy (6 lane road), cross at the pedestrian crossing lights, and continue straight on, past the apartment blocks, shops, to the end of the road, then turn right up to Wolli Creek Station. The walk will take less than half an hour, and save you $11 on the train fare. Trains from Wolli Creek are faster and more frequent than trains from the airport.

  • Walk and Train from T2 & T3 The Domestic terminals (T2 and T3) are about 1.7km from Mascot train station. The walk takes about 20 minutes and is along suburban pavements that can be uneven at times. Follow the road out of the domestic terminal and on to O'Riordan Street. Follow O'Riordan Street and then veer left onto Bourke street. Cross Coward Street and then John Street, Mascot train station is on your right. An adult fare to the city (Central) from Mascot is $5.80 or $1.80 for a gate pass if you have a travelpass.

  • Walk and Bus from T2 & T3. Mascot shops has a few bus options to the City and surrounds. Sydney Buses 309/X09/310/X10 run from Mascot Shops to the City. The 303 bus from Mascot shops to the University of New South Wales. Metrobus 20 (prepay only - buy ticket from newsagent) also runs frequently from Mascot Shops to Redfern, the City and on to North Sydney and St Leonards, with next stop indicators, etc. It is just over 1km and 15-20 minutes easy walk to Mascot shops from the domestic terminals. To get to Mascot shops, follow the road out of the domestic terminal through the big intersection and on to O'Riordan St. Take the right at the next lights on Robey Street opposite Airport Central. Follow Robey St to the end and the bus stop is just on your left. Bus services run every 10 minutes and cost $3.20 to Central, $4.20 to the CBD. You can also get the 400 bus towards Bondi Junction to Mascot Shops from T2 & T3 ($1.80), or from T1 ($3). All these bus trips are included if you buy a travelpass or a daytripper but don't forget you must buy one from the newsagent at T2 or Mascot before boarding the bus.

By car

It is possible to drive to Sydney from Brisbane or Melbourne in a full day, around 9 hours non-stop to Melbourne or 11 hours to Brisbane. A comfortable drive would allow two days from Melbourne or Brisbane, and three to Adelaide. The Melbourne drive is mostly dual carriageway high quality road. The same can't be said for the Brisbane drive, which while it has high quality sections, it also has some very narrow winding sections, carries high traffic volumes, and has many stoppages from roadworks.

  • Melbourne - Sydney = 862 km via Albury-Wodonga (Hume Highway).

  • Adelaide - Sydney = 1422 km via Mildura or 1659km via Broken Hill (National Highway 32).

  • Brisbane - Sydney = 938 km via the coast (Pacific Highway) or 961 km via Armidale (New England Highway). The Pacific Highway passes through more towns, attractions, and has more facilities compared with the New England Highway, but it can get congested moving through the towns around holiday times. Although the Pacific Highway route follows the coast, you won't see the ocean except for some brief glimpses. There are rivers all the way up the coast, and the river mouths are wide, causing the road bridges and the towns to be a little inland. If you have time, look for the tourist route diversions to see more of the Mid-North Coast and Northern Rivers on the way down (the beaches will be less crowded than Sydney!).

If you are renting a car, check the daily distance allowances and any one-way charge that may apply. Cars may be rented at the airport and elsewhere from major rental companies, or at smaller, less conveniently located, cheaper companies such as Airport Car Rental at Sydney Airport or Bayswater Car Rental in Kings Cross.

There are tolls applicable to all motorways coming into Sydney, and not all routes accept cash. See "Tolls" section below.

By bus

Coach companies operate to Sydney from all capital cities, and many New South Wales regional centres. The Sydney coach terminal is located adjacent to Sydney Central train station in the City South. Follow the signs.

Coach travel to Sydney is usually quicker, cheaper and more frequent than train travel. Online and advance booking specials are usually available.

  • Greyhound Coaches has the most extensive bus network in Australia, but there are a few others.

By train

The New South Wales long distance train service CountryLink, (13 22 32 within Australia) runs at least daily services to Sydney from Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra and many regions of New South Wales including the Mid-North Coast, New England, the Central West and the Southern Highlands. It also services Broken Hill weekly. Travelling time from Melbourne and Brisbane is around 12 hours. Fares range between $30 and $100 for standard class seats, and reservations tickets can be purchased online, by phone, or at the station. The long distance trains between Melbourne and Sydney, and Brisbane and Sydney can be a less stressful alternative to driving, but they do not average particularly high speeds and take longer than flying. It is often possible to get a discount airfare around the same price or cheaper than the adult train fare.

The Indian Pacific (13 21 47 within Australia or +61 8 8213 4592 internationally) train service runs from Perth to Sydney via Adelaide and Broken Hill. Adult fares from Perth are $1250 for a sleeper cabin and $513 for a seat. Children's fares are $805 for a sleeper cabin and $139 for a seat. The train departs from Perth on Wednesdays and arrives at Sydney on Saturdays. Note that these fares are much higher than return plane fares to Perth, this journey is really for train journey enthusiasts who want to see the interior of Australia. It also gives you the ability to take your car on the train for an additional fee.

All long distance (Countrylink and Great Southern Railway) trains to Sydney terminate at platforms 1-3 of Sydney's Central Station in the south of the CBD area. Travellers can transfer to Cityrail trains, the light rail service to Darling Harbour, city buses, as well as taxis. It is also easy to transfer to other long distance trains and coaches. There is free short term parking up the ramp in front of the station, and you can meet the trains on the platform. There are ATM's, a choice of food outlets, cafes open until late, and a railway heritage society display and bookshop in the terminal.

The Cityrail network runs services several times a day from close regional cities: Newcastle via the Central Coast (New South Wales), Goulburn via the Southern Highlands, Nowra via the South Coast and Lithgow via the Blue Mountains.

By ship

Cruise ships generally dock at the International Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay or at Darling Harbour.

Circular Quay is a spectacular place to dock, right by the Harbour Bridge, and you can walk off the ship into the centre of the The Rocks.

Darling Harbour passenger terminal at Barangaroo seems a little more remote when you disembark, but it is still easy walking distance to the main attractions, Wynyard Station, and Darling Harbour itself. The terminal is immediately adjacent (north) of the King St Wharf precinct, at Darling Harbour, but immigration makes sure you exit away from the water where you can't see it. Just turn right and follow the road, it is only a short walk. It is less than 15 minutes walk to the city centre and The Rocks. It is a 5 minute walk to Wynyard station. There is also a Sydney Explorer bus stop in Sussex St nearby.

White Bay in the Inner West is being developed as a new wharf for passenger arrivals, to replace Darling Harbour as Barangaroo is re-developed. Currently it is only used if their are already two passenger ships in the harbour. White Bay is not easy walking distance to anywhere. You could potentially walk up to Victoria Road and get a bus to the city, or you could walk over the Anzac Bridge into Darling Harbour. Expect the walk to take about an hour. Probably best to rely on the shuttle buses supplied arranged by the cruise company unless you are keen to save a few dollars.

Get around

By car

Travel times and routes

You can drive around Sydney reasonably freely, and outside of peak times travelling by car is usually at least as quick as any method of public transport. Congestion can be expected on roads to the city from 6:30AM until 9:30AM, and roads away from the city from around 4PM until 6:30PM. Congestion is considerably worse heading away from the city during Friday afternoon peak.

Roads are generally well signposted to the next major suburb or suburbs along the route. Only a handful of cross-city met-roads are signposted by number.

Congestion can be expected around Bondi Beach, and the other eastern suburbs beaches on summer weekends.

Travel times from the CBD to the Sydney outskirts can take around 45 minutes in good traffic.


Some motorways, tunnels and bridges in Sydney charge tolls.

The M4, M5 and Eastern Distributor Motorway northbound have tolls that can be paid in cash, between $2.50 and $5.

The Harbour Bridge and Tunnel, Cross City Tunnel, Lane Cove Tunnel, M7 and the Falcon Street northbound motorway entrance use electronic tolling only and if you use these you need to decide how you will pay the toll. You can easily avoid the Lane Cove Tunnel, M7 or Falcon Street on-ramp if you like. It is hard to avoid the harbour crossings if you are going to Manly, or the Northern Beaches or the zoo by car.

The choice is to have a temporary pass or a pre-purchased tag.

  • Visitors can purchase a pass (also called an e-pass) up to 48 hours after travelling on a toll road. A pass involves registering your licence plate number and credit card on the website, and when your licence plate is scanned on an electronic toll road, your credit card is charged. The Sydney Motorways website provides links to pass providers. You can get a visitor e-pass that lasts for up to 30 days. The cost is $1.50 to register online, and 75c on top of each toll as a processing charge. You can't use an e-pass on motorways that accept cash.

  • A tag (also called an E-tag) is an RFID transponder stuck to the inside of your windscreen, and linked to a account you set up. You can purchase a visitor's tag from any motor registry before travelling on a toll road for $5 and set up an account linked to your credit card. It is worthwhile considering if you are staying in Sydney for a while, or if you are using other tollways interstate.

A capital 'E' marked on the lane indicates it accepts a tag and a lower case 'e' indicates it accepts a pass.

If you are in a rental car and do not pay the toll, the rental car company may charge an administration fee in addition to the toll and the fine to your credit card if you do not make the effort to pay. Take care to cancel your pass account if it is linked to a hire car registration number. The RTA will allow you to specify start and end times for the e-pass period to avoid these problems.


Parking your car in the City Centre is always possible but expensive. Expect to pay up to $70 per day or $25 per hour at some central parking lots, and around $25 even with specials. Reduced parking charges are made for early bird parking, where you must enter and leave within prescribed times. For example you can park all day at the Opera House for $16 provides you enter before 10AM and leave between 3PM and 7PM. There is no grace period, so you can't get out even one minute before 3PM, and you will be charged the day parking rate of $42 if you are 10 seconds late. Most city parking lots offer reduced flat fees (around $15-$25) for evening and weekend parking.

City hotels invariably charge for parking for the guests.

Similar prices are charged in North Sydney.

Parking in many major suburban centres and beaches can be a matter of spending time cruising and searching for parking spots. All day street parking is rare around the city suburban shopping centres.

Some train stations have all day free commuter parking. A major stations this can be full by 8AM. Smaller stations with less frequent train service tend to have better parking availability. On weekends it is easy to find a spot in the commuter parking lots. The stations will commuter parking are marked on the Cityrail maps.

Parking at some beaches on summer weekends can often be near impossible. Some beaches are in suburban neighbourhoods, without large car parking facilities. Check the appropriate destination guides for more information.

Parking fines in Sydney are $80 if you exceed the allowed parking time. Reloading the meter, or moving your car within the same parking zone will not get you out of a fine. If you park illegally and wait with your car, you may find you have the licence place photographed and fined before you have the chance to move on, don't expect a warning. If you park illegally in a disabled spot, the fine is $375. If you do get fined for exceeding time, you will not be fined again the same day--so enjoy your parking spot.

Clearways, which are no stopping zones on main roads during peak periods. Fines will be around $400 to reclaim your car after it is towed away. However, clearways also offer parking opportunites if you want to park just after 10AM or 7PM when the clearway periods end.

Sydney driving speeds

Speed limits can change frequently even when following the same main road. Speed limits drop for areas of pedestrian activity, schools, as well as driving conditions. Every road in Sydney has a signposted speed limit, and in every case you will need to read the signs, as you cannot tell the speed limit just by looking at the road. The speed limit is usually 50km/h on residential streets, 60km/h or 70km/h on main roads, and 80km/h and above on freeways or freeway sections.

Some speed limits vary throughout the day. School speed zones (40 km/h) are enforced between 8.00 AM to 9.30 AM and 2.30 PM to 4.00 PM on school days. Some have flashing lights, and some just a sign. It is up to you to check the time and know if it is a school day or not. Some other roads have variable speed limits that drop during busy traffic times. Variable speed limits also drop for road maintenance. These areas are signposted, and you need to read and obey the signposted speed. Speed cameras monitor school zones, and enforce variable speed limits. For example, if there are roadworks in the Lane Cove Tunnel, the variable speed will drop, and the speed camera in the tunnel will enforce the lower speed. By law stationary "Fixed" speed cameras must be signposted before their location to warn motorists, but the signs can be easy to miss. The law says that the sign must be infront of the Camera - it doesnt say how far infront of the camera - or the size - so the sign is often a piece of metal the size of an A3 peice of paper, that is located at the rear of an unmarked police car stopped on the side of the road.

By taxi

Taxis are a convenient way to get around Sydney. They can also be the only transport option available to some locations late at night when the trains and regular buses stop.

It is usually easy enough to flag a taxi down at the kerb in the CBD, or catch one at taxi ranks located in most suburban centres. A taxi is available if its light is on, and engaged if its light is off.

Beware the 3PM change over and the Friday evening rush. It can be near impossible to get a taxi between 2:30PM and 3:15PM, and similarly between 2:30AM and 3:30AM, as almost all of the drivers changeover their shifts at the same time. They are similarly scarce on a Friday and Saturday evening. Booking in advance is no guarantee, as these jobs are simply offered electronically to drivers, who will usually reject telephone jobs if there is plenty of work at the kerb. It is easily possible to wait an hour or more for a taxi booked 24 hours in advance on a Friday and Saturday evening. Ringing the taxi company back and complaining will often help (if the operators can relate to your problem they have the ability to offer a taxi driver an incentive to take your fare). Canceling your job and ringing another taxi company in frustration never helps as the taxi companies have handover systems which would have seen your job handed over if another company had more capacity. You will just end up at the back of the queue again. Evenings other than Friday and Saturday are usually fine.

During busy times it is also not uncommon for a taxi driver to leave the door locked and ask where you are going through the window and drive off if the destination is too close or not on their way home, even though this is illegal.

There are two meter rates: a day rate (rate 1) with a flag fall of $3, a distance rate of $1.79 a kilometre, a "waiting" rate of $0.77 a minute and a booking fee of $1.50; and a night rate (rate 2) which adds a 20% surcharge to the distance rate. The night rate applies for journeys commencing between 10PM and 6AM. You can check the rate your taxi is using by looking for a 1 or a 2 next to the current charge: if it's set to 2 it is using the night rate. The so called "waiting" rate is charged whenever the speed drops below 25km/h. For trips in congested traffic it is possible for large amounts of the trip to be charged at the "waiting" rate. All Sydney taxis are metered and taxi drivers will always charge the metered rate, adding the charges for tolls manually. Silver Service taxis are more luxurious vehicles, but they are charged at the same rate as standard white taxis.

Taxis all accept all major credit cards. They charge an extra 10% on top of the fare for this.

Passengers are required to pay all tolls for their trip. In addition, passengers who are taken north over the Harbour Bridge, for which there is no toll, are required to pay the driver's southbound toll for the return into the city (currently $3). Drivers will usually take the toll roads unless you ask them not to. If you are unsure why they are asking for an amount above that shown on the meter, just ask.

Passengers have the right to control the air conditioning and the radio--don't be afraid to ask the driver! Whilst most taxi drivers behave acceptably, there have been reported incidences of taxi drivers behaving inappropriately towards women--it is always safer to sit in the back of the car.

Tipping is not required or generally expected. However, rounding up a taxi fare the next dollar (or five or ten dollars, depending on the base fare) is fairly common. On the other hand, don't be surprised if the driver rounds the fare down to the nearest dollar - accept with grace and good cheer.

By public transport

Sydney public transport consists of an extensive rail network, multiple buses and ferries, a single light-rail line and a tourist-oriented monorail. It can get you to nearly all of the city's main attractions, especially in areas closer to the city. The further away from the city centre you travel, the less frequent and comprehensive public transport services will tend to be.


The ticketing system for Sydney's public transport is antiquated and poor. There is no comprehensive system, and there is no stored value card. There are well over 20 ticket types in common use. It can be worth spending a little time understanding where you will be travelling, as some of the tickets can save considerable amounts over multiple trips, especially if you are going to be taking ferries. Bus drivers will check you buy or validate a ticket on entry. Ferry hands will check tickets. Trains have ticket barriers at city and major suburban stations. Minor suburban stations are open. Inspectors are renowned for their intimidating behaviour and will generally not accept any excuses. They issue a ticket on the spot and post you a reminder to pay.

Children aged 15 years and under are entitled to a discount, except on private buses, where they must be 14 or under. Also, on ferries (except private ferries), buses (except private buses) and trains, you pay for only the first child when accompanied by a parent or grandparent, the other children in the same family allowed for free. Usually, no family identification is ever required, so anything that resembles a family unit will have to pay for only the first child. Children 3 years and under travel free.

Cityrail train tickets allow you to make as many transfers as required but you may not break your journey (i.e. leave a station), or your ticket will become invalid. Other forms of transport do not permit any forms of transfer, and you will need a ticket for each trip or some form of pass ticket (described below).

  • Single tickets are generally available for all forms of public transport, covering a single trip (one bus, one ferry, or until you leave the train station). Fares are distance based, and you have to nominate your destination when purchasing. You can buy tickets for cash on all services except prepay-only buses, for which there is usually a cash alternative (i.e. a slower bus). Single bus tickets are also available at newsagents and convenience stores near bus stops. All bus stops within the Sydney CBD are pre-pay only on weekdays between 7AM and 7PM. If boarding a bus at any of these stops you will not be able to pay on the bus and will need a pre-pay ticket.

  • Ten bus or ten ferry tickets are available at a 20% discount over normal fares, these are called travelten or ferryten. You can use them for multiple passengers travelling together, i.e 5 trips for two people. Tickets are distance based, so all the trips taken on the ticket must be for the same ferry zones or number of bus sections. There is no equivalent on the trains. You can buy travelten tickets at newsagents or convenience stores near bus stops, or at train station ticket windows (even though you can't use them on the train). The tickets do not expire.

  • Return tickets on the trains after 9AM in the morning or on weekends are considerably cheaper. There is no discount before 9AM on weekdays. The return trip can be made anytime up to 4AM the following day, or on a nightride bus the next morning. There are no return tickets on buses or ferries. The off-peak discount is not available for single tickets. Children pay a maximum of $2.60 to for a return trip in Sydney on the trains off-peak (plus the airport gate fee for airport line stations).

  • For unlimited use of Sydney Buses (not private buses), trains and Sydney Ferries (not private ferries) you can purchase a single day unlimited use daytripper ticket (adults $17, children $8.60).

  • If you are considering purchasing daytrippers for more than three days, consider a travelpass, which is valid for 7 days. These are based on colour and zones. A red one ($38) will cover everything within 10km of the city--which is pretty much all the average tourist needs. A green one ($46) covers everything the red one does and includes also Manly and Parramatta by ferry and Olympic Park by train; a yellow one ($50) will get you to Parramatta by train; a purple one ($60) will get you all the way to Palm Beach and Royal National Park for 7 days. Purchase after 3PM and you get the remainder of that day and the next 7 days. Daytrippers and travelpass tickets cannot be used on private buses, which operate further away from the city centre; very few average tourists would ever need to worry about those.

  • A cityhopper ticket covers unlimited train travel around the city centre stations, including Kings Cross and North Sydney for $8. At $3.20 for a single train ticket, you really need to be making more than 3 train trips in the city centre to make this worthwhile. Take the free bus instead if travelling after 9AM and before 3:30PM.

  • A SydneyPass tickets, allows unlimited travel for up to 8 days including tourist services. . Consider this only if you want to take the tourist Sydney Explorer services.

  • A Family Funday Sunday Ticket. These tickets are to encourage family travel on public transport on Sundays. They are $2.50 each and allow unlimited travel across a wide area of central and suburban Sydney including Newcastle and Wollongong on buses, trains and ferries. Most private bus companies also accept this ticket. The group must consist of at least 1 adult and child related by family. Children under 4 years of age travel free. Tickets are available from ticket sellers and bus drivers. Better value than most other tickets on Sundays. Although there are many opportunities for unlimited exploring with this ticket on a Sunday take care if planning to use outer suburban or regional buses, many of which run extremely infrequently or not at all on a Sunday.

Transport Infoline , 13 15 00, 24 hours, Information on fares and route planning for all public transport in Sydney. Available online and by telephone

TransitShops, Circular Quay (cnr of Loftus & Alfred Sts) or Wynyard under Wynyard Park, Information on fares and route planning for all public transport in Sydney, all travelpass and travelten sales, accepts credit cards

By train

Sydney has an extensive suburban rail network operated by CityRail . Sydney trains are often very crowded in peak hour, but a CityRail train may be the fastest way to get to the CBD. Expect severe congestion around Town Hall at peak hour. The complex rail network sometimes experiences delays, especially during rain.

The majority of Cityrail's suburban trains are not equipped with destination displays on the train and announcements are often non-existent or inaudible. The displays on the platform are usually clear, but you need to make sure you know where you're going and keep track of the station stops.

Cityrail operates with at least a 30 minute frequency to all metropolitan stations (apart from the (dark blue) Carlingford Line and stations between Riverstone and Richmond on the (yellow) Western Line). There are usually 15 minute frequencies to major destinations and transit hubs such as Chatswood, Bondi Junction, Hurstville, Parramatta, Bankstown, Blacktown, and Liverpool. The Cityrail timetable has a weekday service and a weekend and holiday service.

Cityrail also operates lines to regional cities such as Newcastle and Wollongong and into the Blue Mountains at hourly frequency. This allows you to sit back and enjoy the journey rather than suffer the hassle of driving in foreign conditions, but offers less freedom upon arrival.

All stations are equipped with CCTV and trains at night have designated NightSafe carriages and station areas with emergency intercoms and security patrols, making catching trains at night a viable (and cheaper) alternative to taxis.

Outside of operating hours, between 12AM (1AM on Fridays and Saturdays) and 5AM, NightRide buses are available on most routes within Sydney. Any CityRail train ticket is valid for the equivalent NightRide bus except a single. If you don't have a ticket, you'll need to buy a NightRide single from the driver, which is more expensive than a single for the train. NightRide buses stop at most CityRail stations and a few additional stops, but they don't travel on the same routes. If you intend catching a NightRide bus home, check the NightRide route map on the back cover of each timetable or at the station while you are waiting for your train.

On weekends check for trackwork before leaving for the station; CityRail will transfer passengers to buses if lines are closed for trackwork, and the process will add about half an hour to a typical journey. Trackwork will be advertised at the station for about a week before it begins. Train tickets, single, return or travel cards are valid on trackwork buses between the same stations.

You must always purchase a ticket for the entire journey before boarding a train from either the ticket office or from the ticket machines that are located on most stations. There is no opportunity to buy a ticket onboard or at the destination. Ticket offices have limited opening hours at suburban stations, and outside of these hours you will need to use a machine. The ticket machines accept up to $50 notes but will give only $19.90 in change (in coins). They will also accept only 10 coins. Ticket offices accept Visa or Mastercard for a total ticket value over $20. A handful of ticket machines also accept Visa or Mastercard at major stations.

If you are caught travelling without a ticket the on-the-spot fine is $200. If you are found with a student or pensioner ticket and you don't have the appropriate authorisation card, the same fine applies. Ticket inspectors will not hesitate to fine you and generally don't accept any excuses--unless if you say the ticket machine was broken at the station which you boarded the train, and then they will check that!. If you accidentally buy the wrong ticket or forget to buy a ticket, honesty is not necessarily the best policy.

Within the city area there is a light rail system run by Metro Light Rail . It connects Central station to Darling Harbour, Star City Casino and the inner western suburbs.

By bus

Sydney has an extensive bus network, including a free shuttle buses in the Sydney CBD and Parramatta.

Sydney buses (Government Buses)

Most of the buses in the inner city and inner suburbs are run by the government owned Sydney Buses The rest of the commuter network (primarily around the outer suburbs) is run by private bus companies. These services do not compete so you will usually only have one way of getting somewhere by bus.

You must flag down buses with an outstretched hand if you want them to stop for you--they will not automatically stop unless they need to pick someone off or drop them off.

A Sydney bus fare depends on many sections you are travelling, measured in sections of about 1.6 kilometers. Tickets can often be bought in cash when boarding the bus, in which case you can just state your destination to the driver and pay the fare. n the CBD, at Bondi Junction Interchange, and on prepay-only routes, tickets must be pre-purchased from a ticket agent, usually an newsagent, convenient store, or a transit shop. All types of tickets, including multi-ride, single-ride and travel passes, are available from these agents. Discount tickets (10-ride Travelten or 7-day Travelpass) must always be purchased in advance and are not available from drivers.

If you have to buy a single or multiride ticket from a newsagent you have to know how many sections your journey will be. Section ranges correspond to a colour of ticket. You can find out how many sections your trip is by calling the transport infoline , asking at a transit shop at Wynyard, Circular Quay, or the QVB, or by looking at the route map in the timetable (printed or online). Every section you travel in counts as a section. So to travel from Wynyard to North Sydney Station is 2 sections, because you travel in sections 2 and 3. If you boarded one stop before Wynyard, and exited one stop after North Sydney Station, you would have travelled in sections 1, 2, 3 and 4, so you would need a 4 section ticket. 1-2 section tickets are blue, 3-5 brown, and 6-9 are red. Blue will cover any journey within the CBD.

Drivers may be able to give change for a $20 note, but it pays to use lower-denomination coins and notes.

There are two main bus termination points in the CBD, at Wynyard and Circular Quay. These two points are about 10 minutes walk from each other or a one-stop train trip. You will need to make this walk if connecting from buses arriving from north of the harbour bridge to buses heading east or west, or vice-versa. Bus information centres are located at both Wynyard and Circular Quay.

The red coloured Metrobus (route 10) which runs between Leichhardt and Kingsford via the city and Oxford Street is also operated by Sydney Buses, and accepts only prepaid tickets. This bus is visitor friendly, with electronic next stop displays. This bus runs frequently, with no timetable.

Bus stops are not numbered, and on the standard blue buses there is nothing on the bus to tell you which stop you are approaching or which stop you are at. There are no poster maps on the bus either. If you are not sure where you are getting off pick up or print out the timetable, which has a route map on it and watch for landmarks as you pass. Also make sure, if you take a bus marked "Limited Stops" or "Express" (the route number will start with an L or an X), that the bus stops where you want it to! Limited stops services stop only at major stops, so give can give you a bit of a walk if you miss your stop. Express services can run many kilometeres from the city express before resuming a normal stopping pattern. All normally numbered buses stop at all stops, so missing your stop or getting off one stop early is a manageable mistake.

From midnight to 5AM, most buses cease running with the exception of a few trunk routes that run at a reduced frequency including the 373, which runs 24 hours between the city and Coogee.

Private buses

Outside of the city and inner suburbs, private bus companies provide services to varying degrees of frequency and reliability (but generally significantly less frequent during off-peak periods and weekends). Expect many service to stop running around 9PM. They do not accept tickets from government buses or multi-modal tickets, although single fares cost the same.

Tourist buses

  • Sydney Explorer , operated by Sydney Buses. The conspicuously red Sydney Explorer visits 27 tourist destinations on a loop around the city. A day ticket (adult $39, child $19, family $97) allows unlimited rides for one day and services run every 20 minutes. Day tickets also allow access to the Bondi Explorer services. Two day tickets are also available.

By ferry

  • Sydney Ferries central hub is at Circular Quay at the north of the CBD. Ferries run up the Parramatta River via Balmain and Olympic Park, across to Luna Park, around to Darling Harbour, and out to Manly, across to the Zoo and to Watsons Bay. In addition, they also go to Garden island and Cockatoo Island. They only run within the harbour, so you can't get a ferry to Bondi. Ferries run to most destinations at least every hour, with additional peak services, and half hourly services to Manly and Darling Harbour.

More than just a utilitarian means of transport, the ferries are a great way to see the harbourside. The best ferry excursion for visitors is from Circular Quay to Manly. Be prepared to take a stunning photograph of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge as you leave Circular Quay.

Trips to Balmain and Darling Harbour offer other great excuses to take a ferry trip under the Harbour Bridge.

At peak periods the Parramatta River ferries can fill to capacity, and you should ensure that you have an alternative for completing your trip. Passenger counts are strictly enforced. Peak periods are weekends around 4PM-6PM at Parramatta and Circular Quay, and school holiday weekdays from 4PM-6PM at Darling Harbour (heading to Parramatta) (you are okay if you board at Circular Quay where the ferry starts from). The Manly and inner-harbour ferries can get busy, but very rarely do they reach capacity.

By light rail and monorail

The Metro Light Rail and Monorail may be useful for travelling between Sydney City and Darling Harbour, the casino, and Pyrmont.

  • The Metro Light Rail operates one route from Central to Lilyfield via Haymarket (Paddy's Market, Entertainment Centre), Darling Harbour, and Star City Casino. The Light Rail is rather small, yet it is very reliable. Combined tickets are available when travelling on Cityrail and the Metro Light Rail (from

  • The Sydney Monorail runs on a loop through connecting Town Hall, World Square and Darling Harbour. The monorail is really only for tourists, and is more a ride than it an effective means of transport. It is expensive, and if travelling to Darling Harbour it can be just as quick to walk as it is to catch the monorail.

The Metro Light Rail is cheaper, and goes further than the monorail.

By bike

If you are a fit and experienced urban cyclist, used to riding on multi-lane roads in heavy traffic, then just get on your bike. Cyclists are permitted just about everywhere on Sydney's roads, with the exception of some freeway tunnels where bicycle signs will usually direct you to the alternative route. Kerbside lanes are often narrow, so ride assertively, be seen, and take the full lane when you know there is insufficient room to be passed.

Central Sydney is not particularly cyclist friendly. Also, Sydney is not a flat city and you can expect regular hills but no marathon uphill climbs. The weather is, however, usually good for cycling.

If you are looking for a quieter ride, a number of quiet on-road and shared pedestrian/cycle paths are available, but can be hard to find. A good place to start is at Sydney Olympic Park where you can get your cycle legs on the extensive off-road trails, and then if you feel inclined you can follow off-road/quiet road trails out to Parramatta or following the Cooks River to Botany Bay in Southern Sydney. The Harbour Bridge has a dedicated cycle lane, suitable for all ages, but as soon as you get off the bridge you are back onto urban streets in Milsons Point.

It is illegal to ride bicycles on footpaths unless cycling with children under 12. In reality this is fairly weakly enforced out in the suburbs, but it is common for people to be fined for cycling through pedestrian malls in the city like Pitt St Mall or Martin Place. Bicycle helmets are required by law, as are lights and reflectors at night. Road rules applying to cyclists and maps of cycleways in the greater Sydney area are provided by the state government authority , but are not comprehensive, and indicated cycle routes can sometimes be busy roads with car-door lanes.

Bicycles can be taken on all Cityrail trains, but a child fare should be paid if any part of the journey is made before 9AM or after 3:30PM on weekdays. Check trackwork schedules on weekends , when buses replace trains and make taking bicycles more challenging.

Bike hire is available in many locations in Sydney. Unfortunately, bike hire for two bikes for a day usually costs more than hiring a small car and petrol for the day; however, for shorter periods some places may be reasonably priced (for example Sydney Olympic Park. In addition you have to consider the cost if the bikes are stolen or damaged. However, they are much easier to park, are greener and can be more fun. See the district articles for bike hire listings.


There are tours around Sydney offered by bus, hike, walking, motorcycle, and in a variety of other forms. See the district articles for listings.



  • 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 tourist 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.

  • Luna Park, 1 Olympic Dr, Milson's Point, tel. 02 9033 7676. Is a large theme park situated near the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It's mouth-shaped entrance can be seen from many areas of Sydney as well as the large Ferris Wheel.

  • 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.

Historical areas

  • The Rocks has sites preserved from Sydney's early settlement.

  • Parramatta to the west of Sydney is the site of many of Sydney's oldest buildings from colonial times.

  • Macquarie Street in the City has a string of historical sites, from the first hospital in the colony, to the Mint to Hyde Park Barracks, to the Conservatorium which was the original government house stables. Sydney Hospital was first known as "The Rum Hospital", it was the first major building established in the colony.

  • La Perouse, near Botany Bay, in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs contains the grave of an early French explorer, museum, and old fort.

  • The walk from Manly to Middle Head passes many coastal artillery fortifications built into the cliffs of Sydney Harbour during the late nineteenth century.

  • Mrs Macquarie's Chair and walk near the Botanical Gardens in the City

Museums and galleries

  • The Australian Museum is much the old style natural history museum. Usually a special exhibition on as well. The museum is near Hyde Park in City Centre.

  • The Australian National Maritime Museum has inside and outside exhibitions - much of the history of Australia is a maritime one, and much of it is in this museum in Darling Harbour.

  • The Art Gallery of NSW has mostly classical, but some modern and Aboriginal art. Near the Botanical Gardens in the city centre.

  • The Powerhouse Museum has some buttons to push, some technology, but some interesting displays of Sydney in the 1900s, in the City West in Ultimo, right on the boundary with Darling Harbour. Exhibits designed for children also.

  • The Museum of Contemporary Art in the city centre, near Circular Quay.

  • The Museum of Sydney in the city centre.


In captivity

  • 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

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.

  • Rainbow Lorikeets swarm around the trees in many suburbs at dusk, making a tremendous chatter Sulphur Crested Cockatoos are commonly seen in the leafier suburbs all day.

  • 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. Look up carefully in tree lined streets, or in Hyde Park after dark.

  • Kangaroos. Wallabies, and Rosellas. 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 Harbour

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.

The harbour is served by ferry services that transport passengers around the harbour. An excellent way to see both the harbour and Sydney attractions is to take a ferry east from Circular Quay to Taronga Zoo or Manly or west under the Harbour Bridge towards Parramatta. These are reasonably priced and a favourite for tourists. If time is short, for a shorter route, the ferry between Circular Quay and Darling Harbour will let you ride under the Harbour Bridge and see the central part of the harbour.

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.

You can arrange a guided tour of the islands by contacting the Sydney Visitors Centre at Cadmans Cottage, 100 George Street, The Rocks, ph 02 9247 5033. fax 02 9241 3303.

The world famous Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race begins every year on Boxing Day, on Sydney Harbour. Thousands of spectator craft take to the water to farewell the yachts as they set off on their grueling journey to Hobart. Seaworthy craft can follow the yachts through the Sydney Heads into the open ocean. You can also see the race from a harbour vantage point like Watsons Bay. where you can see them sail towards you across the harbour, and then cross to the gap to see them sail down the coast.

Aboriginal Sydney

Far from being confined to the inland areas, Aboriginal people extensively occupied the Sydney area prior to the arrival of European settlers.

  • Rock Carvings, can be seen in the Royal National Park - catch the train and ferry to Cronulla and Bundeena. There are extensive carvings in Kuringai National Park, near West Head that are accessible only by car. Closer to the city, there are examples at Balls Head and Berry Island, near to Wollstonecraft station. There is an interpretive walk at Berry Island.

  • Meeting of Civilisations. Interpretive centre is at the site of the landing place of Captain Cook, at Kurnell.

  • Bangarra Dance Theatre, is a modern dance company, inspired by indigenous Australian themes.

  • Aboriginal Art. A wander through The Rocks and you will find many places exhibiting and selling contemporary Aboriginal art. The Art Gallery of New South Wales the City Centre has an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Gallery, which is free to visit.


  • Swim at one of Sydney's many surf beaches. Try Bondi, Manly, Coogee, Cronulla or Wattamolla, or get off the tourist trail at one of the other beaches in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs or Northern Beaches.

  • Take a cruise on Sydney Harbour. There are many cruises to choose from and they depart from Darling Harbour or Circular Quay. For a bigger adrenalin rush, try the jet boats that zip around the harbour at breakneck speeds.

  • 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.

  • Explore the Museums and Galleries. at the Australian Museum or the Museum of Contemporary Art in the City Or one of the smaller chic Art Galleries in East Sydney.

  • Cycle around Centennial Park in the Eastern Suburbs or Bicentennial Park at Sydney Olympic Park

  • Visit the IMAX Theatre, which provides a movie experience with one of the largest cinema screens in the southern hemisphere in Darling Harbour.

  • Drive a dodgem car at Luna Park in North Sydney.

  • Go to a football match. Sydney's most popular winter sport is Rugby League (or football to the locals). Nine teams from the National competition are based in Sydney and the sport is an important part of the city's culture (March to September). Other sporting teams based in Sydney are, the Sydney Swans (AFL), Sydney FC (Soccer), the NSW Waratahs (Rugby Union), the Sydney Spirit (Basketball)and the Sydney Swifts (Netball).

  • Catch a ferry from Circular Quay to Manly. Before returning to the Sydney CBD, walk from the Manly ferry wharf along the Manly Corso to famous Manly Beach. A great day, afternoon or evening out at a fraction of the price of a commercial harbor cruise.

  • You can get guided tours of Sydney by coach, bicycle, foot or boat. See the local articles for details.

  • Scenic Flights Adventures and Flight Training, +61 2 9791 0643 ( . A fantastic way to see Sydney Harbour is from the air. Red Baron Adventures do scenic flights over Sydney Harbour and the Northern Beaches most days of the year (weather permitting) in an open cockpit Pitts Special bi-plane. They also have heart stopping Aerobatic Flights available for the more adventurous (note: these are not done over Sydney Harbour). Flights range from $440 to $660 and go for between 45 min and 80 minutes.


There are many picturesque and interesting walks throughout Sydney. The following are just a few of the better-known routes.

  • Across the Harbour Bridge in The Rocks.

  • Coogee beach to Bondi. Following the eastern coastline past several of Sydney's beautiful beaches. Stop off for a swim if you get too hot.

  • Manly to the Spit. Along the foreshore of Sydney Harbour, .

  • Circular Quay and surrounds. Start underneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge, then walk past the The Rocks, Circular Quay, the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Botanical Gardens and Mrs Macquarie's Chair. For an extended tour of the city center, covering these and other major sights, see Walking tour of Sydney.


Sydney has three indoor ice skating centers in the suburbs. The closest to the city centre is:

  • Macquarie Ice Rink. Macquarie Ice Rink is in the vast expanse of Macquarie Shopping Centre in North Ryde. Activities include training sessions, birthday parties and casual visits. Skates are available for hire (usually a bit worn and not necessarily sharp), or bring your own. Phone to enquire about public session times as the ice is shared between many other users (like hockey teams) and may not be available for the whole day. It is located within a 2 minute walk from Macquarie University railway station.

Performance Art

Sydney has three theatres which show major international productions, the Capitol Theatre in Haymarket, the Theatre Royal under the MLC Centre in the CBD and the Lyric Theatre in Star City in Pyrmont Bay. Usually one of the latest theatre blockbusters will be on show at these theatres. Slightly more on the cutting edge, with more locally produced drama can be found at the Sydney Theatre Company, in Walsh Bay in The Rocks, or occasionally at the Opera House Drama Theatre. Similar productions are often on at the Seymour Centre next to Sydney University just off Broadway on City Road. Smaller theatres, some with lesser known performers, featuring new and local writers can be harder to find. Try the Belvoir St Theatre in Surry Hills in City East, or the Newtown Theatre in the Inner West. Amateur theatre, especially musical theatre, proliferates in Sydney, with over 30 amateur musical theatre companies providing a fun night of theatre for around $20 per ticket in the suburbs. Check the Riverside Theatre in Parramatta, the Zenith Theatre in Chatswood on the Lower North Shore, or the Sutherland Entertainment Centre in Sutherland.

Sydney Symphony. Angel Place Recital Hall Conservatorium of Music .

Opera Australia. See a performance at the Opera House in the City Centre or a dinner and movie


Sydney has mainstream movies showing on multi-screen cinema complexes all around Sydney, including the City Centre and Moore Park. The two main operators are Greater Union and Hoyts .

For arthouse, or more obscure movies, try the Chauvel on Oxford Street in the City East, or the Dendy near the Opera House in the City Centre, or Cinema Paris at the Entertainment Quarter at Fox Studios at Moore Park in the City East.

Many of the larger cinema complexes offer premium seating and services for a premium price.

There is one drive-in movie left open in Sydney, at Blacktown in the Outer West.


Sydney is home to a number of major and minor festivals and calendar events each year. Listed chronologically these are:

  • The Sydney Festival is an arts festival held in January each year. It aims to be international in reach, inviting acclaimed international artists to exhibit their work or perform in Sydney. A number of free outdoor events are held alongside the festival including the hugely popular Jazz in the Domain, Symphony in the Domain, and Festival First Night. Concerts held in the Domain and Hyde Park in the City Centre. The Bacardi Latin Festival in Darling Harbour is held in early January as part of the Sydney Festival, and contains a week of Latin dancing and music.

  • The Sydney International Food Festival is due to start on October 1st, 2009. It will replace the long-running annual October Good Food Month, showcasing the city's best restaurants, established and up-and-coming young chefs, food and wine culture. Events which were part of the Good Food Month will still be held, including "Let's do lunch" (set-menu lunch specials at Sydney's notable restaurants at $35), "Hats off dinners", Night noodle markets and hands-on cooking classes.

  • The Field Day Festival occurs on January 1 of each year, attracting the infamous Sydney NYE party-goers, or well-rested Sydneysiders. The festival offers an exemplary cross section of leftfield bands, artists and DJ's for the true music lovers' delectation. Past artists have included The Presets and Kaskade.

  • The Big Day Out , an Australia-wide rock/alternative music festival with a side of dance, plays to up to 60 000 Sydneysiders at a time for one or two days in late January (normally on the January 26th public holiday). Past acts have included Nirvana, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against The Machine, the Chemical Brothers and Marilyn Manson from overseas, and Powderfinger, Regurgitator and Gerling from Australia. It normally sells out the day of ticket release.

  • The St. Jerome's Laneway Festival is alternative/indie music festival held in January/February each year (see website for upcoming dates), where bands play in laneways around the city, this this festival a rather unique vibe and atmosphere. The Festival attracts both international and domestic artists, which has included such artists like Feist, Architecture in Helsinki and Born Ruffians. If you're interested in getting involved in the Sydney 'underground' or alternative/indie scene, this festival is a good start.

  • The Good Vibrations Festival is a multi-genre festival held in February every year attracting major international acts like Fatboy Slim, Cypress Hill, Kayne West, Beastie Boys and Snopp Dog.

  • The Future Music Festival is held in late February every year, drawing in an enviable array of international and domestic artists like Paul Oakenfold, Basement Jaxx, N*ERD ft. Pharrell Williams, and CSS.

  • The Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is a festival organized by and for the queer community. It includes sports, cultural and arts events that run throughout February, culminating in the Mardi Gras parade in Darlinghurst on the first Saturday of March each year. The festival began as a street protest, and has grown into a huge celebration.

  • The Royal Easter Show is the major agricultural show in New South Wales, and is held around Easter each year at Sydney Olympic Park. Farmers from all over the state come to show their prize produce. But it isn't just an agricultural show: a huge number of amusement ride operators set up for the show as well, together with vendors of the worst kind of child baiting junk food: fairy floss and deep fried hot dogs (known as "dagwood dogs" or "pluto pups").

  • Chinese New Year is widely celebrated by Sydney's Chinese community, with the center of festivities being at Chinatown. Look out for Lion dancing, Dragonboat races at Darling Harbour, and of course plenty of good food.

  • The Sydney Fringe Festival runs from mid-January to mid-February each year, and features fringe art in the form of film, TV, performance and sport.

  • The "Sydney French Film Festival", or officially 'The Alliance Francaise French Film Festival occurs in March every year. The festival offers an impressive and ambitious panoramic view of contemporary French cinema, screening the films at Palace Academy Twin in Oxford St, Darlinghurst, Verona in Paddington & Norton Street in Leichhardt.

  • The V Festival is held in Sydney in March every year, showcasing a huge array of international and domestic musical acts. Previous artists have included The Pixies, Beck, The Rapture, Groove Armada, Phoenix and The Pet Shop Boys. The 2009 lineup can be found on the website and includes such artists like Jack Johnson, The Killers, Snow Patrol and The Human League.

  • The Cockatoo Island Festival is held every year on 25-27 March where lots of friendly people enjoy a fabulous mixture of music and culture while discovering one of Sydney's best kept secrets.

  • The "Sydney German Film Festival", or officially the Audi Festival of German Films in Australia occurs in Sydney during April, showing contemporary German films.

  • The Sydney Spanish Film Festival occurs in May every year, showcasing the best that Spanish cinema has to offer.

  • The Sydney Film Festival is held in June each year and shows over 200 movies in 16 days, including an enormous number of Australian movies, most of which will premiere at the festival.

  • The Biennale of Sydney is a contemporary arts and multimedia festival held in winter in even numbered years.

  • The Musica Viva Festival is Sydney's premier chamber music festival. The festival presents a rich feast of masterworks and musical treasures played by some of the world's finest practioners, interspersed with music of different cultures. It will be first held in October 2008.

  • The Lavazza Italian Film Festival is held between September-October, and showcases the finest that Italian cinema has to offer, picking contemporary films from the vibrant Rome International Film Festival to the more established events such as the prestigious Berlinale and the world-famous Cannes Film Festival; and a selection of Italian Classics from the archives of the Cinecittà Studios in Rome.

  • Sculpture by the Sea Join tens of thousands of Sydneysiders as they take a leisurely walk between Bondi Beach and Tamarama Beach to admire the numerous larger than life sculptures set up at both beaches and along the walk. Bring a camera to take snaps of the weird and wonderful exhibits. Free. Runs for 2 weeks mid October to beginning November each year.

  • The Homebake festival is a rock/alternative/dance festival featuring only Australian acts. It is held in the Domain in the city centre each year in December.

  • Carols in the Domain are held annually in the Domain in the city centre on the last Saturday before Christmas. 100,000 people with candles sing along as night falls.

  • New Year's Eve brings massive displays of pyrotechnics around Sydney Harbour and the Harbour Bridge (including fireworks shot from the bridge itself). There are two shows, a "family show" at 9PM, and the major fireworks display at midnight. Immediately following the 9PM Family Fireworks, the spectacular Harbour of Light Parade will begin. Over 50 vessels make a majestic passage on a 15km circuit around the Harbour, featuring illuminated emblems representing the Sydney New Year's Eve theme, glittering either on their hulls or masts. Many of the hotels and bars near the Harbour hold special parties with high cover charges, and boat cruises sell for a premium. Or get in early for the free alternative with some cheese, fruits, wine, picnic blanket and some friends on a warm summer night by the harbour. Save some sympathy for Northern Hemisphere cousins freezing in Times Square waiting for all the excitement of a ball dropping by a couple of metres.


You can take language classes, join a cafe book group, learn to draw, sign up for historical or foodie walks, or take computer or business classes at City of Sydney Library, where you can sign up to borrow books or just read magazines in their café as well.


See the Sydney District Pages for things to buy in the City, and other Sydney districts.


Those quintessential Aussie souvenirs- stuffed koalas and kangaroos, various "Australiana" knick-knacks, can be found in any souvenir store around the city. Authentic Aboriginal/indigenous arts and crafts, such as traditional paintings, hand-made didgeridoos, are expensive, and the range in Sydney is much smaller than in Alice Springs. For those who only wish to take home a replica, as a memento of their trip to Australia, head to Paddy's Markets in the Haymarket area of the southern end of the city. The markets also sell a huge range of souvenirs at much better prices than regular souvenir stores. Dollar shops (see "Food and Essentials" below) also sell souvenirs at bargain-basement prices, albeit at a much reduced quality.


While cities such as London, Milan, Tokyo, Paris, and New York City are traditionally regarded as the fashion centres of the world, these days Australia's unique style and creativity means Sydney is also mentioned as 'must-visit' centers on the international fashion circuit. When it came to fashion, Australia used to be seen as isolated and out-of-touch. That notion is now out-of-touch itself, as designs from Australians such as Wayne Cooper, Collette Dinnigan, Akira Isogawa, Lisa Ho, and Easton Pearson are seen around the globe. In fact, around 60 Australian labels are currently exporting their designs to boutiques and department stores in Asia, Europe and the United States.

The greatest concentration of clothing and accessories stores are to be found in the northern half of the CBD, starting from the Town Hall precinct, neat the Queen Victoria Building.

  • Queen Victoria Building in the City Centre is a renowned, beautifully maintained, 19th century sandstone building, home to over 400 stores. The stores in the building are laid out in a hierachial style- literally. The basement level has cheap, casual-fashion stores with a food court, the street level mid-range brand-name chains and level 3 is where various Australian designers, some European labels and Italian shoe stores are located. It is one of Sydney's more photogenic pieces of architecture. Located on George St adjacent to Town Hall.

  • Castlereagh Street in the City Centre is lined by many of Sydney's most expensive European-label boutiques and jewellery stores.

  • Department stores. There are only two of these in the City Centre, Myer and David Jones , located practically next door to each other near the Pitt Street Mall, and joined by an above-ground covered pedestrian walkway. Both offer your standard department-store range of goods.

  • Pitt Street Mall is a pedestrian mall in the City Centre. It is one block long between Market Street and King Street and is one of Australia's busiest and most cosmopolitan shopping precincts. Despite the areas small size, it is home to many flagship chain stores. However, many of the stores along The Mall is currently closed (June 2009) as they undergo renovation/construction.

  • Oxford Street just east of the city is lined with shops, bars and nightclubs.

  • Westfield Shopping Centres Large shopping malls at Bondi Junction, Chatswood, and Parramatta. The Bondi Westfield offers the most upmarket experience, with many European fashion labels available. All are easily accessible by car and public transport, see the district articles for details.

  • Birkenhead Point - A multi-story factory outlet in Sydney's Inner West. Short bus ride from the City Centre. Also accessible from the city center by ferry from Circular Quay, though the usual trip time is far greater than the equivalent bus trip.

  • DFO is a place to shop for brand name fashions at discount prices. It is located near Sydney Olympic Park at the corner of Homebush Bay Drive and Underwood Road. By public transport, take the 525 bus from Strathfield Station to the last bus stop on Underwood Road.

  • Warringah Mall is a large cheerful mall on the Nothern Beaches on a sprawling complex that includes dolphin-featured waterfalls and sunny courtyards

Food and Essentials

For essential supplies or those looking to cook their own food, the main Supermaket Chains in Sydney are Coles , Woolworths , Franklins or Aldi .

Convenience stores are widely available, but prices are inflated, especially in Central Sydney it is worth seeking out the supermarkets for the range and prices. See the local guides for locations,



Prices in Sydney's restaurants vary. A main meal in a mid-range restaurant is around $25 - $35. Upper mid-range averages around $35 - $45. For the more budget-conscious, go for the "multicultural" restaurants, especially the Asian ones. Many restaurants also offer "lunch specials". For example, a good Korean "set lunch" can be found for less than $15.

Eating times

Cafés serving breakfast start opening at 6AM and breakfast is usually served until 11AM, or occasionally all day. Orders for lunch start at about noon and continue until about 3PM. Many cafes will start closing late afternoon, although a few may remain open for dinner.

Restaurants usually open for dinner around 5PM-6PM and while there are exceptions (usually concentrated in areas with active nightlife), last orders for dinner are typically taken around 10PM. Restaurants in business areas open for lunch as well. It is common for restaurants in suburban locations to sometimes be closed on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday nights.

It is more expensive to get a sit down meal in the evening, than it is for lunch.

Eat streets

Just about every suburb of Sydney will have a restaurant or two, a cafe or coffee shop, and a place that sells takeaway food.

However, there are are a number of places in Sydney where you can window shop through many restaurants, and take your choice.

All of Darling Harbour is like this, there are restaurants of every variety all along the waterfront. East Circular Quay in the City Centre is similar, along with the International Passenger Terminal on the west of Circular Quay.

On the Lower North Shore Willoughby Road at Crows Nest, has honest and consistently good Indian, Thai, and other choices. Parramatta has a eating strip, many with alfresco options.


Sydney is also home to some of the world's best restaurants.

If you are wanting to try Sydney's finest rated restaurants during your visit, make a booking in advance at Quay in the The Rocks; Tetsuya’s, Bilsons, or Est in the City Centre; Marque in the City East or Pier in the Eastern Suburbs.

Neil Perry is Sydney's celebrity chef, and runs Rockpool at The Rocks which has now been split into The Rockpool Bar and Grill upstairs, and Spice Temple downstairs.

If you want to splurge on the location, as well as the food, make an advance booking at Forty One, on the forty first floor of Chifley Tower in the City Centre, or Guillaume at Bennelong Restaurant in the Opera House. You may be lucky on a weekday and get a walk-up table at one of the restaurants in Campbells Cove in the .

If you want to have fine dining, away from the central Sydney, try Jonah's in the far Northern Beaches - go for lunch, the view is stunning.

Modern Australian

Thanks to Sydney's (or rather, Australia's) multicultural mix, "modern Australian" is usually characterised by a fusion of cuisines. Think entrees spiced with a Thai-inspired chilli dressing, mains with a hint of a Chinese-style ginger-based marinade or sunny Tuscan flavours- all in the same menu. Many of Australia's celebrity chefs are of ethnic backgrounds, and many have trained overseas, bringing with them a world of experience back home.

  • Visit the Sydney Fish Markets in Pyrmont (within walking distance of Darling Harbour) for a lunch of fresh seafood of almost any description.

  • Hit a steakhouse and try Australia's world-famous prime Angus beef. Easily accessible upmarket Sydney city steakhouses include I'm Angus at Darling Harbour and Kingsley's in Woolloomoolloo in the City East.

Alternatively, many CBD pubs offer $6 to $10 steak "meal deals", provided that you also order a particular alcoholic drink at the same time.


For those who are after authentic multicultural culinary experiences, there are unique "food districts" scattered around the greater city. The range of food available is huge and isn't necessarily expensive. It is usually possible to find a restaurant of any nationality, specialising in almost any cuisine.

  • Yum cha in Chinatown is very good, arguably even better than Hong Kong since many of their best chefs moved to Sydney in the 1990s. Yum Cha is an entire meal comprising many small dishes called "dim sum" (Mandarin: dian xin). It's similar to Spanish tapas in serving style- but the food moves in roving, heated trolleys around the restaurant.

  • Eat Chinese (Cantonese) in Chinatown Chatswood on the North Shore. "Noodle markets" are also held in Chinatown every Friday, starting from around 5:30PM. Many Chinatown restaurants hold open-air stalls, selling everything from finger food, to stir-fry noodles, to Chinese-style desserts. For more northern Chinese flavours, including Shanghainese and Pekingnese, head to Ashfield and Strathfield in the Inner West- both easily accessible via public transport. The outer suburbs such as Parramatta (west), Eastwood (north-west) and Hurstville in Sydney's southern suburbs also have clusters of smaller restaurants offering more home-style Chinese food.

  • Eat Uyghur on Dixon Street, Haymarket (Chinatown)- fiery, flavour-bursting food originating from the Turkic regions of Central Asia.

  • Eat Thai in one of the many low priced Thai outlets in Newtown's King Street in the Inner West.

  • Eat Italian in one of the restaurants in Leichhardt's Norton Street, or nearby Ramsay Street, Haberfield in the Inner West. Or in Stanley St in East Sydney - a walk from the CBD.

  • Eat Spanish in Liverpool Street in the city.

  • Eat Portuguese in Petersham in the Inner West.

  • Eat Indian in one of the many restaurants in the Outer West with all types of Indian cuisine (North Indian, South Indian, Vegetarian, meat, etc.)

  • Eat Korean in Liverpool & Pitt St in City, Strathfield, Eastwood and Campsie.

  • Eat Japanese in Neutral Bay or Crows Nest.

  • Eat Nepalese in Glebe Point Road, Glebe, in the Inner West.

  • Eat Turkish in Auburn (Outer West). Closer to the city, there try Enmore Rd Enmore / South King St Newtown in the Inner West. Get your Sucuklu and Pastirmali here.

  • Eat Lebanese in Cleveland Street. Baba Ghanouj, Lahem Begin and Baclawa here. Salam Alaikum.

  • Eat Vietnamese. The most authentic Vietnamese can be experienced in Cabramatta.

  • Eat Kosher in Bondi. Many great restaurants throughout the area.

  • Eat Indonesian in Anzac Parade, Kingsford & Maroubra.

Many of the areas mentioned above also sell produce related to the original nationality of the locals. CityRail also has a section for eating your way round Sydney by train. Organised by each train line, you will find a range of places to eat out often within easy walking distance of stations .

Take away

Take away food in Sydney can be as cheap as buying the ingredients and making it yourself, and many stores specialise in take-away food. There will usually be a picnic table, park or beach nearby to eat whatever you can select. Quintessential Aussie takeaways include the meat pie (minced beef with gravy sauce in a crusty pastry shell) and sausage roll (sausage mince in a puff pastry casing), usually topped generously with tomato sauce/ketchup.

Most restaurants will do take-away food as well, but almost certainly at a premium to the cost of buying food from a take-away. Outside of the city an occasional restaurant may offer a 10% discount for take-away.

Vegetarian and special diets

Vegetarians are well catered for. Every restaurant will usually have at least one vegetarian dish. Indian retaurants can be relied upon to provide a wider selection. The trendy East Sydney and Inner West suburbs are likely to give you a large choice as well.

There is an awareness of gluten-free and dairy-free diets in Sydney, and again the more trendier inner city suburbs are more likely to cater for these diets.

Food festivals

It seems every weekend, there is a food festival on in one of the suburbs of Sydney. Usually the idea is that restaurants take part, providing smaller portions of their signature dishes around $7-$12 a plate.

The largest good festival, the Sydney International Food Festival, which showcases Sydney's food culture is in October, which includes the night noodle markets operating in Hyde Park in the City Centre


The general rule on tipping in Australia is that it is not compulsory and generally not expected. This remains true for most cafes, and for counter service in Sydney. However for a full service restaurant in a tourist areas a tip would be expected by the waitstaff, Many Australians will still not tip, and you should feel free to follow their lead should you wish to. Nobody will follow you or give you a hard time. Otherwise a 10% tip added to the bill will usually meet their expectations. They may be expecting a little more if you have an American accent, as they are well aware of what Americans tip at home.


Sydney has an enormous number of places to drink and party. A limited number of venues have 24 hour licenses, however the majority close before 3AM and some as early as 11PM, particularly if there are nearby residents. Most venues will have door staff checking photo identification to determine that you are over 18. Admission is also commonly refused to those who seem visibly drunk. More popular venues have discriminatory door practices, the most common of which is refusing entry to groups of men who are not accompanied by women.

Most places have at least a basic dress code. If you're not sure where you're headed and want to get into most generic pubs and clubs you come across, men should wear a collared shirt, neat full-length pants (not jeans) and business-style shoes. Cheaper pubs have looser requirements, and of course different groups follow different fashions. This recipe won't work for entry to a goth club. In almost all cases, women can dress more freely, but a small number of places require closed shoes.

Entry charges for live music or DJs are usual and range from $5 to $30 depending on clientèle. Entry charges are rare if you're going into a pub for a drink.

There is a taxi shift change at 3AM, and it is notoriously difficult to catch a taxi anywhere between 2:30AM and 3:30AM. Also beware that there is currently a government enforced lockout at many establishments between 2 and 5AM - which means that you need to stay inside or you won't be able to get back in - even if you go out for a cigarette (smoking is illegal inside). Ask the bouncers or some locals if you're unsure and they will tell you which places are affected by the lockout and which aren't.

Some types of nightlife are concentrated in particular areas:

  • Backpackers drink near the hostels, and will find a lot of fellow budget travellers in pubs in the Eastern Suburbs Beaches like Bondi Beach and Kings Cross in the City East

  • In some ways Irish pubs are a global phenomenon, but they've certainly taken Sydney by storm. Irish pubs are concentrated in both The Rocks area and the southern area of the city. They are outrageously popular on the 17th March for St Patrick's Day.

  • Business pubs also cater to the city crowd: lawyers, financiers and brokers and are very busy Friday nights when the city workers are let loose for the week.

  • Large nightclubs are concentrated in the Darling Harbour area.

  • Sydney's large gay scene is concentrated on Oxford Street in City East although it still has a large range of pubs and clubs for all ranges of sexuality and is a prominent nightspot for many party-goers.

  • Sydney's students drink in the Inner West.

  • Some nightclubs and Sydney's younger party-goers are found in North Sydney.

There are many great nightclubs in Sydney, unfortunately they are very spread out so it would be a good idea to get an idea of were you want to go. Check guides in Friday's newspapers, or the free guides available in music stores and youth clothing stores.


Most bars and clubs in Sydney will simply return your change, and no tip is expected. Some more upmarket bars will return your change on a tray. Most Sydneysiders will simply collect the change from the tray, however feel free to leave the coins on the tray if you would like to tip. Working out a percentage of the drink cost, or tip per drink is never required.


Sydney Accommodation Statistics

  • Total number of hotels: 353

  • 3 star and below price range: $23 - $189

  • 4 star price range: $63 - $304

  • 5 star price range: $74 - $428 Price in US Dollars. Statistics aggregated from 30+ major hotel reservations websites. Updated Aug 2008.

Sydney is such a large city that we've put individual hotel listings in the district pages-- here are some suggestions for districts to stay in


Sydney has a wide range of backpackers' hostels - popular districts for these include the southern half of the CBD and Haymarket , Glebe and Kings Cross, the Eastern Suburbs(Bondi, Coogee) and the Northern Beaches (Manly).


You find many mid-range accommodation providers within the CBD (mostly in the southern Haymarket end), and within a short distance of the city by public transport, including in North Sydney, the Inner West and the North Shore. Sometimes a cheaper motel style accommodation can be obtained on the roads leading into Sydney, particular in South Western Sydney


There are luxurious hotels that can be found all over Sydney. The most expensive hotels are generally located in the CBD and the Rocks district, near the business hub of Sydney, close to many restaurants, often featuring spectacular harbor views. Some other high quality hotels are located in Darling Harbour.You may check the list below for specific locations.

Please visit one of the various Sydney districts described in the Districts section above to see the accommodation listings.

Serviced apartments

Serviced, short-term apartments are widely available throughout Sydney and are available for stays as short as one night. Amenities typically include kitchen, washer and dryer, and separate bedrooms. A range of properties exist from budget to five-star.

Please visit one of the various Sydney districts described in the Districts section above to see the accommodation listings.


  • Robert Hughes, The Fatal Shore - The early chapters in this fantastically evocative treatment by a born and bred Sydneysider is a real eye-opener to Sydney's convict beginnings. Highly recommended.

  • John Birmingham, Leviathan, The Unauthorised Biography of Sydney - A history of Sydney from its beginnings as a penal colony to contemporary times. Non-fiction, it discusses incidents and themes in an anecdotal fashion. Definitely not your usual historical work.

Stay safe

The Australia-wide emergency number is 000, with the ambulance service, fire department and police being available through this number.


Sydney has similar crime issues to most large western cities. Be on the lookout for the usual big city petty crime problems.

Occasionally people begging may ask for money, but they are generally harmless. They will often make up elaborate stories about needing a train fare etc. Simply say "Sorry, no" and they will leave you alone.

Alcohol-fuelled violence

Take care walking around George Street, The Rocks or Oxford Street especially on Friday and Saturday nights as there are many drunk people around who can get into fights. Usually fights with drunks are not completely random, and start with some sort of engagement. Avoid trouble, and don't hesitate to call police if you feel threatened.

Other violent crime

There are few complete no-go areas in Sydney.

The Block on Eveleigh Street in Redfern, directly opposite Redfern station, is still to a certain extent an area demonstrating urban Aboriginal disadvantage. It is slowly being redeveloped, and the murals, vandalism, drugs and hopelessness being bulldozed. Common sense would tell you to avoid this area, unless you have a desire to see this side of Sydney, in which case take extra care.

Some areas of South Western Sydney, like Cabramatta, Lakemba, Liverpool, Hoxton Park have a reputation. The reality is that the risk of violent crime to travellers is no greater here than in the city, especially during the day, when they are busy, vibrant centres.

Be careful in the red light area of Kings Cross at night. Although the main street in this area has been cleaned up immeasurably by the police, crime does still occur and pickpocketing or mugging can happen to the unwary, especially in quiet laneways. Women should take extra care at bars and keep an alert companion at hand, especially in the central hostel area, and take precautions against spiked drinks.

Public transport after dark

After 9PM, smaller outer suburban stations can be very quiet, and many are totally unstaffed after this time. The trains can also be empty when they get towards the end of the line at this time. Don't expect a taxi to be waiting at every station--only the major ones will harive a well patronised taxi rank.

Travel in the carriage closest to the guard's compartment, which is the 4th carriage and marked with a blue light on the outside of the train. There are also blue nightsafe markings on the platform. Drunk people are common on trains late at night, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights. If you ever feel concerned for your safety on any Cityrail train, you can call 1800 657 926 to speak with Cityrail security, then can usually arrange for a transit patrol to board the train and provide assistance. In more modern trains, you can press the button in the entry area to speak with the guard. Every train station has an orange emergency help point monitored by CCTV that connects to Cityrail security, usually towards the centre of the platform.

Nightride buses, which replace trains after midnight, can arrange for a taxi to meet you when you get off. Ask the driver.


If you are going to the beach, take the same precautions as you do anywhere in Australia. See Beach going.

Sydney has no really dangerous jellyfish. Bluebottles (Portugese Man-Of-War) are blueish-purple stingers that hit the Sydney beaches a couple of days every summer, when the wind direction is right. They have an air-bladder that floats on the water, and stinging tenticles. Often the air-bladder can be no bigger than a coin. You will see the evidence of them with their air-bags washed up on the beach if they are present. They can give a painful sting - even when on the beach - but it won't keep everyone out of the water. Apply a heat pack if you can, or ice, or salt water. Vinegar is useless. Sometimes small transparent jellyfish appear in the harbour and estuaries. You can usually avoid any groups of them, but they are mostly harmless. More rarely larger purple jellyfish are in the harbour and other estuaries. If you see these in the estuaries, best to stay out of their way. Probably more of an issue to water skiers than to swimmers.

Sydney ocean beaches all have shark mesh nets around 100 metres out to sea, and are regularly patrolled by air for sharks. A shark alarm will sound if any are sighted, and you should get out of the water. The risk of shark attack swimming on a patrolled beach between the flags is virtually nil. Shark attacks are rare on Sydney beaches, but they have occurred, although there have been no fatal attacks for 45 years. Advice is to avoid swimming in murky water after storms, or at dusk or at dawn, and to swim in the netted enclosures within the harbour and other estuaries.

Other risks

Take note of the general issues regarding staying safe in Australia.

Stay healthy

If you need an ambulance, call 000.

Medical centers with general practicioners are available for minor ailments without an appointment around the city and suburbs. Expect to wait around an hour or so to see a doctor. Upfront charges are usually around $50 for a standard consultation, and most centres accept credit cards. Many medical centres remain open until 10PM or so, and a few remain open 24-hours. Those with an Australian Medicare card will find many medical centres in Sydney that "bulk-bill".

Most hospitals in Sydney have emergency departments, but check before attending as some do not. Those emergency departments are open 24-hours. See the Australia article for more details on health charges.

Many pharmacies stay open after normal business hours, often in proximity to medical centres, and there are a few that stay open 24-hours. You can call +61 2 9467 7100 to find the location of your closest after hours pharmacy.

Get out

There are a number of good one or two day trips from Sydney:

  • Drive across the Bell's Line of Road over the Blue Mountains to the Western Plains. Buy produce (apples, pears, chestnuts and berries) from the orchard vendors at the side of the road if driving over in autumn. A few of these orchards also offer pick-your-own. Towns to stop by include Lithgow, which is at the foot of the mountains; Bathurst, home to the Mount Panorama motor racetrack, and Orange (3 hours from Sydney), a beautiful rustic town with a great (cold climate) wine district and several fantastic restaurants by eminent chefs, and which is fast becoming a wine-and-foodie region of New South Wales to upstage the Hunter Valley.

  • Travel up into the wilderness area of the Blue Mountains. There are a number of good day walks in the Katoomba area, or you could tour Jenolan Caves. These are easily accessable on the Cityrail network to Katoomba.

  • Royal National Park, in the south of Sydney and accessible by train has nice 1 to 2 day walks.

  • Newnes Glen in Wollemi National Park.

  • Kanangra Boyd National Park.

  • Take a tour of the Hunter Valley wineries.

  • Wollongong is a lovely small city south of Sydney, accessible by driving down the F6 freeway or taking an hourly Cityrail train.

  • Head up to Gosford or Woy Woy for some quieter, but picturesque beaches. Both of these towns are accessible by the Central Coast and Newcastle Cityrail lines.

  • Head up to the regional city of Newcastle by Cityrail train and take in some of the victorian architecture and fantastic city beaches.

Or if you are moving on:

  • Travel to Melbourne, Australia's second city (although don't mention that when you get there).

  • Its 1000km closer and often cheaper to get to Auckland than it is to get to Perth.

  • 3000km drive to Alice Springs. At least a 3 night trip, stopping at Hay, Adelaide & Coober Pedy.


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