There are so many things to love about Sydney, Australia. It’s the type of place you can go back to again and again and find something new every time. But for the first-time visitor, there are some must-dos that stand out, get you out, and keep you moving.
I’m a big fan of bike tours when you touch down in new places. They help give you the lay of the land so to speak, and if you’re coming off a long flight, they can help get through that first day jetlag. Bonza Bike Tours runs two fun city introduction style tours. One is a bit longer than two hours, and another more comprehensive one that runs four hours. You’ll get all those views, along with some fun tidbits about Sydney’s history. You don’t need to be a hardcore cyclist to join in. I did the four-hour ride. It’s long, but not intense. For traveling families or anyone on the fence, the shorter ride is a great option.
Ferries are a huge part of daily life in Sydney. But don’t make the mistake of thinking they’re just for commuters. They’re great way to get out on the water and see Sydney’s amazing harbor. The ferry system is elaborate, so you’ve got plenty of options when it comes to choosing a destination, but one of the most scenic rides takes you to Manly Beach. With a bay beach on one side, a shop and restaurant lined main drag leads you to the main ocean beach. This is what you can expect on a fall Sunday. Quieter, on a weekday, when all those folks not on vacation have to go back to work.
Sydney has another famous beach you may have heard of.. Bondi beach is a huge attraction for visitors. If you’re the beach bum type, you could easily spend the day here, but an even better idea is to start at Bondi and beach hop along using the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Trail. If you don’t stop the walk is about two hours along the coast.
But you will stop. Over, and over, and over again. Have your swim suit on underneath your shorts. There will be surf-fed pools, quiet coves, surfers to watch, and stretches of sand to hunt for beach treasure. Have your camera fully charged. It is one of the most beautiful walks I’ve done anywhere in the world.
The stretch from Bondi to Coogee is a bit under four miles long, but you can leave the trail at any point if you get tired or have had enough. There will be stairs from time to time, but you’re not in any rush, and the views give you plenty of excuses to stop and catch your breath. There are also seaside cafes and restaurants along the way, so it’s really hard to go wrong with this one. This isn’t a tourist attraction. It’s a well-used and loved by locals, and visitors in the know.
You can check out the Sydney Opera House and get a few more steps in, 1,332 stairs to be exact, by climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Yes, climbing the bridge. I know. First reaction might be that I am crazy. That’s fair, but it’s an amazingly gentle, and entertaining climb, as opposed to the scary experience many people might automatically fear. All climbers wear a special jumpsuit so they blend in with the bridge, and a harness with cable that essentially clips you onto the bridge from the moment you step out on the span, to the moment you’re back on solid ground. The views are what make most folks gather up the courage to make the BridgeClimb, but you also wear headsets, you can hear your guide loud and clear along the way sharing stories about how the bridge was built.
If climbing the bridge is a bit more of an adrenaline rush than you’re looking for on vacation, you can climb the 200 stairs sheltered inside the Southeast bridge pylon. You get a bit of a different view of the sites and it puts you in a great location to watch the climbers as they make the trek to the top.
Dana’s time in Sydney was hosted by Destination NSW, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own.