Explore Sydney Like a Local
This guest post about Sydney, Australia has been written by Shane as a part of “Explore Like a Local” series. Explore Like a Local is an initiative by Drifter Planet to help you get insider tips about destinations all over the world. Want to write about your hometown? Contact me!
Ah, Sydney, Australia. It’s not all quirky accents and deadly animals! Bask in the weather, the beaches, the friendly people, and the laid-back lifestyle. With a unique diversity in people, food, and nature. You find the urban metropolis and the ocean at the same time. From lush, rain-forests to the dry, red outback. A chill cafe scene and a vibrant night life. What’s not to love?
Suggested reading: Explore Sydney in a weekend
Where to stay in Sydney on a budget
Eco is a green, earth-friendly option with hip art-deco vibes and just across the street from Bondi Beach!
The hostels here are clean and well kept. I’ve had several friends stay in them with no problem. Stay right in the middle of the city, close to all the action at Sydney Central YHA Hostel for just $36 AUD/night. AirBnb is another budget-friendly option I’ve had great success with!
Things to do in Sydney
Sydney boast over 200 beaches, each offering their own unique spin. With at least nine warm months out of the year (October to May) and easy accessibility via ferry or bus from the city, you have plenty of time to explore them all and find a favourite of your own!
Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk– 2.5 hours. This six kilometer walk reveals five Sydney beaches (Coogee, Clovelly, Bronte, Tamarama, Bondi) and stunning views of cliffs, waves, bays, rock pools, and even a 19th century cemetery. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes and expect to spend 1.5-2.5 hours depending on how many pictures you stop for along the way.
The Blue Mountains are a gorgeous sight which you can reach by train or coach bus. Be sure to leave early and plan for an entire day as it’s 2-2.5 hours out of the city.
If you are a wine-o like myself, you will love the Hunter Valley region. Two hours from the city, it is worth the trip to see the beautiful rolling hills and try the boutique wines you won’t find at a supermarket!
One thing I really regret missing is the fireworks over Sydney Harbour for New Years Eve. If you aren’t here during that time, a beautiful firework display is put on every Saturday at 8pm over Darling Harbour.
If you visit at the end of May or beginning of June. you can’t miss Vivid, a unique festival that lights up the entire city in vivid colors for three weeks a mesmerizing free public exhibition of outdoor lighting sculptures, a cutting edge contemporary music program and the spectacular illumination of the Sydney Opera House sails.
Not a huge fan of museums, but the street art tucked into the suburbs is amazing! Check out Newtown, Erskinville, and Sydney University Graffiti tunnel.
What to eat in Sydney and where
Looking for dinner with a view? The Boathouse offers several beach side locations with a bit of everything – fresh market flowers,, deli style food + cheeses, delicious breakfast, good coffee with quirky designs.
O Bar and Quay offer charming views of the harbour but prepare to pull out your wallet.
Looking for a taste of Australia? Visit The Australian Hotel for the Coat of Arms Pizza topped with kangaroo and emu. Australia is the only country which eats their national animals!
Looking for a sweet treat? Cow & Moon Gelato in Newtown You must try this award winning mouth-watering almond affogato gelato! It combines caramelised almonds sourced from Italy with single origin coffee on a Madagascan vanilla base. A salty sweet dream.
King Street in Newtown is filled with ethnic foods galore. Try Thai at Thai Patong, Turkish at Yenikoys, Italian at Pastizza Bar. With over 100 restaurants including Japanese, Vietnamese, soul food and more, you’re sure to find a favorite!
What to avoid in Sydney
To blend in with the locals, I recommend strolling through the suburbs of Newtown, Surry Hills, and Darlinghurst and steer clear of Kings Cross at night (the red light district)
There are great markets in Bondi, Paddington, Glebe, and the Rocks on a weekend filled with food, clothing, and more!
The ultimate tourist activity is to Sydney from above with the Harbour Bridge Climb (warning, it runs around $250 but you can do the sample version by climbing the bottom arch to save a buck)
Best way to get around in Sydney
Sydney has an amazing public transport system. Grab an Opal card (for free!) at a local convenient store to get discounts on fares. Expect each trip to be $2-4 AUD. Ferries are $6 each way. After 8 trips in a week, the rest are free. This can be used on trains, buses, ferries, and light rails!
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