Things to see and do in Sydney

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From time to time friends who are planning visits to Sydney ask what’s worth seeing. Here is my incomplete, idiosyncratic, entirely unrepresentative list of places, and things worth seeing/doing:

  • Bondi Beach is one of Sydney’s icons. There are various things to see or do, and plenty of cafes to laze in. I once lived a few blocks back from the beach.
  • If you’re into walking, then the waterfront path from there to Clovelley or Coogee is excellent. A swim at any of the above is worthwhile, if only to appreciate Australian surf temperatures (you probably don’t want to swim in July).
  • The Sydney Opera House is another icon. If you do decide to see a performance there, find tickets by starting at sydneyoperahouse.com rather than with a search; scammers periodically fleece tourists with fraudulent ticket offers.
  • One of my favourite breakfast spots is perhaps 100m away: Portobello Cafe (roughly here). I have on occasion flown overnight to Sydney, taken a direct train from the International Terminal to Circular Quay and had breakfast at Portobello looking at the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Beware the seagulls!

  • Although it’s years since I’ve done it, a walk or cycle across the Bridge is excellent. I’ve yet to do the climb to the top of the Bridge, but friends tell me it’s worth doing (yes, it’s expensive to do the climb).
  • Dozens of km of harbourfront is open to the public and worth walking/running along.
  • Going onto the Harbour is also worthwhile, perhaps a ferry from Circular Quay to Taronga. A visit to Taronga Zoo to see Australia’s unusual animals at close range is worth doing at least once. (There is a new – somewhat smaller – zoo in Darling Harbour; I’ve not been inside.)
  • Another way to see some of the Harbour is the Manly ferry, also from Circular Quay. Manly isn’t quite as well known as Bondi, but still a great place to visit and in particular to eat (Hugo’s Pizza, Manly Wine, more others than I can remember).
  • When I’m in Sydney I’m often working during the day, which requires a cafe that will cope with my setting up to work all day, Blackbird Cafe at Cockle Bay Wharf (Darling Harbour) has been remarkably tolerant of my habits in this respect for several years. I am reliably informed that cool people don’t go there any more, however I continue because (a) I like the place and (b) it’s in sight of the Goldsbrough building which was home when I finished studying.
  • A few minutes walk away is Medusa’s Greek Taverna which, if you share my appreciation for Greek food, is worth a trip in its own right. You’ll need a reservation and a big appetite.
  • Moving out of the centre of town, the walks to North Head and/or South Head (take public transport as far as it will go and then walk the rest) are well worth doing.
  • Moving away from Sydney City completely, the Blue Mountains and in particular Jenolan Caves are popular (again, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen either).

At least 10 other places came to mind while writing this but the above should give you a flavour.

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