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Essential things to do, places to see, things to eat in Sydney

by Skylerh Online Now Mar 20, 2012 at 6:58 PM

Hello,

I will be doing a study abroad trip to Sydney in May this year and I'd like to know what is ESSENTIAL to see, eat, and do in Sydney. I have three afternoons and one full free day, but travel is limited to what I can do on foot (e.g. no trips outside Sydney, please!). I don't want the "touristy" experience- I want to live and breathe being an Australian.
That being said-
Where are the best restaurants?
What are the most fun things to do in Sydney?
What should I be wary of when I am traveling around Sydney?
Where are the best places to shop?

Any information anyone would be willing to offer would be phenomenal!

Thanks!

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14 Answers
  • angiebabe's Profile Photo

    Re: Essential things to do, places to see, things to eat in Sydney

    by angiebabe Online Now Mar 20, 2012 at 7:11 PM

    hi, well you probably have found yet that we have travel pages here in VT as well as the forums info...if you have go to Travel guides above or put in Sydney etc into destinations above right and then from there there are links to vters travel pages with their tips and pics - on the travel guide page there is a link to top rated pages and to newest made pages. in additions to categories of tips on the Travel guide pages.

    There is some excellent info amongst the tips put together by well travelled vters and a rating system that most appreciate as recognition of being some help.

    As for restaurants my opinion, and many of the Chinese population in Sydney, is that the best restaurants are in China Town....theyre worth checking out anyway - having dim sum in Sydney is a delicious way to enjoy some of the best Chinese cuisine outside China.

    In addition to all the must sees you will find over and over I reckon are the Blue Mountains....which is outside Sydney. and the train trip down is not that expensive.
    ...bearing in mind it doesnt sound like you have much time to live and breathe being an Australian if you only have 3 afternoons and a day!
    some tough prioritorising to do!
    but Sydney is a lovely city on a lovely harbour so I guess make sure you get out and do some harbour stuff - eg down to Rose Bay - thats a lovely boat trip. The boat trip over to Taronga zoo is nice and walk back over the harbour bridge. the view is nice from the Botanic garden area.
    A visit to Bondi beach could be nice - but depends on the weather. May can be chilly.
    The national art gallery could be good to see some fine Australian art/artists work.
    The trip up to Manly by boat is a good trip but i think the Rose Bay trip is better.

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  • colin_bramso's Profile Photo

    Re: Essential things to do, places to see, things to eat in Sydney

    by colin_bramso Online Now Mar 20, 2012 at 7:43 PM

    Hi, welcome to VT.

    What your interess are, what food you like, what kind of shopping and your budget are all things we need to know before we can make good suggestions for you.

    First stop, as suggested, is our Sydney pages here on VT, where there's a huge amount of information, tips, sights, restaurants etc. Have a look through some of them and th3en come back if you have specific questions.

    To try to answer in general:

    There are literally thousands of restaurants in Sydney with just about every type of cuisine, from budget to very pricey.

    Shopping ranges from markets to high-end designer brands.

    Fun things depend on what you think of as fun - a ferry trip across the hatbour, a walk across Sydney Harbour Bridge, a show at the Opera House, a swim in the ocean, an hour or two in a coffee shop...

    Nothing special to be wary of, just the usual common sense you'd use in any big city.

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  • peteyjim's Profile Photo

    Re: Essential things to do, places to see, things to eat in Sydney

    by peteyjim Online Now Mar 20, 2012 at 9:26 PM

    Okay Sydney based, and only a few arvos and a day to spend right?
    Here's a few off the top of my head.
    1. Best Restaurants? That's open to debate, but I reckon Newtown gives you a great choice of restuarants of any cuisine you like, and great bars to hang.
    2. Catch a ferry to Manly and walk through the esplanade to Manly Beach.
    3. Just be wary of weirdos. Don't walk through Hyde Park at night.
    4. Sydney Wildlife World (Darling Harbour) will give you a chance to get close to a kangaroo & koala. You can do it in an hour which is great when you're pressed for time.
    5. Relax in one of the bars in Darling Harbour, Cockle Bay, or King St Wharf in the arvo. Enjoy the sun.... another hidden Gem is the rooftop bar of the Glenmore Hotel on Cumberland St, in the Rocks. (there's some stairs up from Argyle St). Good for a view of Sydney Harbour.
    6. A walk across the Harbour Bridge on the footpath (it's free compared to climbing the top.)
    Enyoy

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  • wise23girl's Profile Photo

    Re: Essential things to do, places to see, things to eat in Sydney

    by wise23girl Online Now Mar 21, 2012 at 12:42 AM

    Copy and paste this link for The_Downunder_Mob in your browser...The official VT group page for Australia.

    "Official VirtualTourist Australian Local Chapter" - The_Downunder_Mob's Profile

    Go to the page marked The Younger Mob and you will find a section on places to eat. The Sydney suggestions come from Leon...so have a look

    Marg

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  • margsch's Profile Photo

    Re: Essential things to do, places to see, things to eat in Sydney

    by margsch Online Now Mar 21, 2012 at 12:52 AM

    The Queen Victoria building is right in the centre of the city, it is an upmarket arcade on 6 levels, the shops are boutique types and there are lots of cafes. Even if you don,t want to shop there the building is worth a visit just for the stunning architecture.

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  • sheherezad's Profile Photo

    Re: Essential things to do, places to see, things to eat in Sydney

    by sheherezad Online Now Mar 21, 2012 at 3:41 AM

    Agreed @margsh! I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was restored by a Malaysian company from my home town! :-)

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  • sheherezad's Profile Photo

    Re: Essential things to do, places to see, things to eat in Sydney

    by sheherezad Online Now Mar 21, 2012 at 4:11 AM

    I suppose some of the answers to your questions would depend on where you will be living in Syndey? ;-) I lived in the Randwick area of Sydney for 3 months and there's great food in Randwick, a nice old cinema and then there's nearby Coogee Beach! ;-)

    I did take a trip to Manley by Ferry, after first being graciously taken there by Lynnehamman and her husband, Richard, by car! :-) It was a different experiences getting there by Ferry vs by road - both good! Esp since they took me to Manley Park which I would not have been able to do by foot! But doing the Manley Ferry gave me a great shot of the Sydney Opera house from the waters! :-)

    FYI the bus transportation was excellent imho and I tended to shop at David Jones at Elizabeth St, upon the advice of a local I met on the bus as to where to shop in Sydney.. I didn't do the touristy things like go up the tower etc. Hate being a tourist where I live (even for 3 months)! LOL! But the QE Building is a must for its glorious architecture!

    Enjoy Sydney - one of the world's most beautiful cities! With extremely friendly people! :-)

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  • sirgaw's Profile Photo

    Re: Essential things to do, places to see, things to eat in Sydney

    by sirgaw Online Now Mar 21, 2012 at 6:09 AM

    I'd agree with a ferry trip and seeing that Sydney is built around one of the worlds great harbours, a ferry trip to/from work is what many Sydneysiders do every day. I like the Watsons Bay trip as well as the Manly Ferry.

    Dixon Street is China Town and lots of great food at reasonable prices. I liked the Chinese Gardens next to China Town. The Rocks is where Sydney started and although "touristy" is none-the-less worth visiting.

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  • Re: Essential things to do, places to see, things to eat in Sydney

    by Skylerh Online Now Mar 21, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    Thank you all so much for your responses!! It definitely sounds like I should try to enjoy some of the coffee shops, bars, and DEFINITELY the beach! I'll make those essential parts of my Sydney experience.
    My budget is about a thousand dollars for those afternoons and my free day. I want to get as much of an Australian experience as humanly possible. In regard to shopping, I'm not at all picky. I don't want the chintzy "3 dollar shot glass!" tourist experience that you see here in the States, but otherwise suggest away!
    Foodwise, I don't want a single bite of anything American. I'm not going over to another country to NOT be as adventurous as I can possibly be!

    I'll definitely check out the travel pages on here for the tips. I was just hoping to get some experiences from people, as all of this info is REALLY overwhelming!! :)

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  • angiebabe's Profile Photo

    Re: Essential things to do, places to see, things to eat in Sydney

    by angiebabe Online Now Mar 21, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    thanks Skylerh. getting geared up for an excellent visit to Sydney!

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  • peteyjim's Profile Photo

    Re: Essential things to do, places to see, things to eat in Sydney

    by peteyjim Online Now Mar 21, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    I'll add, a bus trip down parramatta rd to The Annandale Hotel (Opposite Maccas! LOL) to check out a live band.

    Also, Glebe Markets on saturday morning is worth checking out.

    If you want a real taste of Australia, that pub I mentioned before, the Glenmore? 100 metres down the road is the Australian Hotel, where they do gourmet pizzas with kangaroo & crocodile, etc. Their thai Crocodile pizza is delicious.

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  • leffe3's Profile Photo

    Re: Essential things to do, places to see, things to eat in Sydney

    by leffe3 Online Now Mar 21, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    You're lucky/unlucky in that there are hundreds of pages from VT members for you to be able to check :)
    You'll get a confusion of ideas....

    Paddington Market on a Saturday morning is a good hang-out (designer and second-hand clothes, funky design products - no food) and can be combined with a trip to Bondi Beach (catch the bus).

    Personally, I prefer ferry to Watson's Bay and then walk to South Head with the open ocean one side and the waters of the harbour to the other, may be experience fish and chips at Doyles overlooking the harbour with the city skyline in the distance. But ferry to Manly and North Head is also good, but a different experience.

    A massive percentage of the shoreline of the Harbour is walkable, so you could also do a series of short walks from a ferry stop - Middle Head is glorious, or you can head to the stunning Balmoral.

    The Rocks and surrounds (bridge, Opera House, Botanic Gardens) are important to get a sense of the history of the city, but I find the new development of Darling Harbour too commercial and too 'anywhere in the world'.

    Darlinghurst/Paddington is a good place to hang out and kick back, people watching. Great coffee places on Victoria St and this strip alone is great for food - Thai, French, Austrian, Indian, Japanese, Italian, Fish, Cafes etc in a very short strip.

    Australian cuisine is very diverse - remember there are more sushi places than fish and chip shops and the Greek/Italian/Vietnamese populations in particular are huge, percentage wise. But you also need to go to Harry's Cafe de Wheels on Wolloomoloo Wharf - pies, pies and more pies for a real Aussie experience (warning, is is not a cafe:) It's an iconic kiosk that's been here just on the wharf for years and boasts just about anyone and everyone having visited, from pop stars to presidents.

    May also want to consider the Sydney Fish Markets - fantastic fresh fish and seafood, lots of places to eat it :)

    Surry Hills is also very good for kicking back, day and night, lots of restaurants and bars as per Darlinghurst.

    All the above are close to the city centre, so not a lot of travelling required:)

    Enjoy...you will be spoilt for choice.

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  • sheherezad's Profile Photo

    Re: Essential things to do, places to see, things to eat in Sydney

    by sheherezad Online Now Mar 22, 2012 at 7:51 AM

    And then there's Crow's Nest.. Malabar beach etc.. You can even get to Palm Beach by public transport! :-) I prefer the latter to Coogee anytime! LOL! Reminded me of Club Med Cherating's beach, minus the cold water! ;-)

    Trust me, I did not eat one American meal in Sydney! Like already said the food is so diverse and very good quality! The coffee some of the best I've tasted in the world!

    For live music, I was recommended The Basement..

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  • Re: Essential things to do, places to see, things to eat in Sydney

    by meworldwide Online Now Mar 30, 2012 at 10:51 AM

    I saw one article that is giving some tips of where to go and other stuff.
    More than that you should also read the commentaries, they have lots of tips too

    journeytown.net/2012/02/23/a...

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