It was time to enter a different continent, after covering the Asian, European & American ones. I expected it to be a different ballgame, not knowing what to expect. But it aced my expectations. I was in dreamy Sydney, one of the biggest & picturesque cities in Australia.
When you think about a fully developed city, what all comes to your mind? Skyscrapers, high-end stores, bars, cafes & busy streets laden with locals trying to reach their next destination.
But Sydney broke the stereotype. I have never seen a city so relaxed, calm, composed & easy-going. The vibe is infectious. I could tell you 10 different things to do, inside the city. But nah, let’s look at 12 different experiences, Sydney has to offer.
- Walk on the Darling Harbour Bridge: So, there are two ways to do it. Either you could climb the harbour bridge (with a harness that would cost you about 175 AUD). Or, you could simply walk on the bridge. For free.
The closest train station to the bridge is Milson Point. Once you get down at the station, cross-over & start walking on the bridge.
There’s a special path for pedestrians, so it is completely safe.
Picture this: Opera House surrounded by water on all sides to your left. And fast-paced cars & skyscrapers on your right. It was a walk to remember.
PS: when in Sydney, make public transport your best friend. The metro connectivity, as well as the bus routes, are superb.
2. Circular Quay/ Opera House: What’s the point of even travelling in Australia, if you haven’t seen the Opera House?
The area where Opera House is located is known as the Circular Quay. It’s the liveliest & the most beautiful set-up I have witnessed.
Just before the Opera house, you will see a series of open-air bars & restaurants offering the view of the Harbour Bridge & Opera House. I was riding high on plain good vibes!
PS: I did see Opera House- up, close and personal. However, the enigma of it lies from watching it from a distance.
3. Darling Harbour area: this is the place to be if you want to let your hair down. Right by the river, it has one of the most happening clubs & bars of Sydney. All you have to do is pay the entry cover charge, and dance through the night.
Note: Make sure you grab your dinner before 11 PM on weekends & by 9 PM on weekdays. Even in a massive city like Sydney, the kitchen closes early. Took a while for a Mumbaikar (like me) to digest this. But well, that’s how it rolls.
PS: the view at night, of the river basking under the reflection of the lights oozing out of those tall buildings, is mesmerising.
4. Star Casino: this is a literal heaven for people who love to gamble. This casino is open 24×7 & it is huge! It’s almost like the casinos you might see in an Oceans 11 movie. Make sure to clean up good, when you visit the casino.
PS: I did win a little something, felt like a small toddler, getting her hands on a chocolate bar for the first time!
5. Lindt cafe & Hyde Park: this area is basically called CBD (Central Business District) of Sydney.
While strolling aimlessly around the streets, I chanced upon Lindt cafe. Now, if you’re a chocolate lover like me, this cafe is bound to make you go bonkers.
I had the most delectable chocolate shake made on earth, EVER. Make sure to not miss it, for the chocolate gods will not forgive you.
Now, if you’re a Bollywood buff (just like me), you’re bound to be a fan of the iconic movie- Dil Chahta Hai. Or for that matter Heyy Baby or Bachna Ae Haseeno, Hyde Park is where you can go and re-live your Bollywood fantasies. All of these movies have been shot here, at some point or another.
If this isn’t a good enough reason, just go there for a stroll. The tree laden paths & the elephantine size of the park will give you enough reasons to visit.
PS: this is where the Mardi Gras parade, Sydney happened, and I was so fortunate to witness it! The city had come to life. People on the streets were singing, drinking, dancing and having a good time. Oh man, what a time to be alive.
6. Hunter Valley: for all those who want to explore beyond the city, venture a little outside, to get the Aussie experience. Basically, Hunter Valley is one of Australia’s major wine regions! Imagine my delight, when I figured, this place is just a 90 minutes drive from Sydney CBD.
Make sure you reach bright early in the morning, so you can hop-skip-jump vineyards. All the vineyards were so beautiful, especially the one at Roche Estate.
PS: these vineyards shut by 4 PM, so hurry up! Surprisingly, the Rose wines were delicious.
7. New Castle: what do the city dwellers of Sydney do, when they want to get away from the hustle-bustle of the city? They visit New Castle, duh! It’s a small little town (about 3.5 hours away), but it whisked my heart away.
I discerned the most beautiful sunset while sitting on the beach. Since many people may not take the efforts to travel all the way from Sydney to New Castle, it’s relatively empty and spaced out. I had fallen in love & never wanted to go back.
PS: again, everything shuts by 8 PM (at the most), so make sure you have your drinks & dinner beforehand.
Also, New Castle is known for its ocean baths. It’s right next to the beach. Go and experience this bath. For it gives you an ‘infinity pool’ kinda vibe.
8. Bondi to Coogee coastal walk: we’re all aware of The Bondi Beach. It’s one of Aussie’s finest beaches as well as around the globe. You could reach the beach directly by either bus or train. But then, what’s the fun in that?
For someone who loves to walk, a coastal walk from Coogee to Bondi beach excited me beyond my wits.
Because it’s a beautiful walk. A walk that features stunning views, beaches, cliffs, bays, rock pools & cafes to rest it out. What more could a humble traveller ask for?
You start at Coogee beach, and en-route you’ll come across Clovelly beach, Bronte beach. Tamarama beach, before you reach Bondi.
PS: there’s a charming cemetery, which comes in between the coastal walk, make sure you stroll around it. I know it sounds strange, but it is very alluring.
Icebergs Dining room: the setting of this place is in such a way, it feels like you’re being rewarded to finish the 6km coastal walk. This restaurant is situated exactly where the coastal walk ends. Make sure you grab a chilled beer over here, before hitting the beach.
9. Stanwell Tops/Bald Hill Lookout: another short getaway from the city of Sydney, is the Bald Hill Lookout. Barely a 60 minutes drive, this spot takes you on top of a mountain cliff. The view is worth the efforts. It’s quite windy and you will not find a lot of tourists around here.
So, take advantage of it. It’s the perfect place to get your solitude.
10. Sea-cliff Bridge: this bridge is just 10 minutes away (by car) from the Bald Hill Lookout, but it has been the most fulfilling 10 minutes of the entire trip. The drive is heavenly, with the ocean to give you company.
They’ve also made a pathway for pedestrians to walk over the sea-cliff bridge. I did both. It was an astounding affair, which I still lust after.
11. The Scarborough Hotel: now this is what I am truly proud to share with you guys. It’s a hotel, I discovered accidentally while driving around, hunting for food (post the sea-cliff drive).
Well, it looked quite ordinary at the entrance, but OH MY GOD. I skipped a beat. I actually fulfilled my wish of eating a cake, by the ocean (the Pacific Ocean, to be precise) This hotel is right by the water, with the most awe-inspiring view.
I’ll let the capture do the talking.
PS: you may not wanna go to Bald Hill Lookout or the Sea Cliff Bridge? But take those extra efforts & visit this hotel.
12. Stanwell beach: I would never leave Australia, without one last visit to its serene beaches. This was my third beach in New South Wales province, and it surely was a beach to remember. Again, not so touristic. Leaving me to myself, while I stroll around the empty beach & the waves crashing with my inner thoughts.
I have left yet another piece of my heart in Sydney with a promise to come back, as I am yet to explore the entire country! Here’s hoping, that my experiences help you fall in love with Sydney too.