Sydney - City GuideSydney is the Harbour City. It is the largest, oldest and most cosmopolitan city in Australia with an enviable reputation as one of the world's most beautiful and liveable cities. Brimming with history, nature, culture, art, fashion, cuisine, design, and set next to miles of ocean coastline and sandy surf beaches. The city is also home to the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, two of the most iconic structures on the planet. Sydney is a regional centre and one of the most important cities for finance in the Asia-Pacific. Sydney hosted the first Olympics of the new millennium, and continues to attract and host large international events. The city is surrounded by nature and national parks, which extend into the suburbs and right to the shores of the harbour.
districtsCentral Sydney districts City Centre The busy centre of government and finance, but also home to many of Sydney's famous tourist and cultural attractions. The Rocks Just to the west of Circular Quay, The Rocks includes the first colonial village of Sydney and the iconic Harbour Bridge. Darling Harbour An extensive leisure and entertainment area immediately to the west of the Central Business District (CBD). Restaurants, boardwalks, aquarium wildlife and the maritime museum. City South The Haymarket, Chinatown and Central Station area is home to markets, cafes, chinese culture and cuisine, and some cheaper accommodation and shopping. City East Kings Cross, Darlinghurst, Surry Hills, Woolloomooloo and Moore Park. Busy nightlife, and coffee shops, fashion and entertainment by day. City West An early morning trip to the fish markets, exploring the Powerhouse Museum, finding a maritime pub or hitting the Star City Casino.
popular destinationsIf you are in Sydney for a holiday, or to see the sights, the major attractions of Sydney outside of central Sydney are in: Bondi Beach - Sydney's world famous beach, for swimming, surfing, eating, walking, or to see and be seen. Manly - The Manly ferry leaves from Circular Quay out to the heads every 30 minutes. Sydney Olympic Park - The home of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, parks, cycling, and events. Parramatta - Sydney's "second" CBD, with history, shopping, eating, all just 30 minutes from the city centre.
peopleSydney is one of the most cosmopolitan cities on the planet, with one third of its population born overseas. European settlement largely displaced the Aboriginal peoples, and over the years, with the earliest colonists largely coming from England, Ireland and Scotland. The Australian goldrush attracted more immigrants, including a significant number of Chinese; with about one in four Australians with convict descent also having some Chinese ancestry. In the 20th century, Sydney has continued to attract immigrants from all over the world - mostly from the U.K. and Ireland, as the White Australia Policy prevented non-European peoples (and even Southern Europeans) from entering the country. Australia's immigration patterns, and subsequently, that of Sydney, changed significantly after WWII, when migrants began to arrive from countries as diverse as Italy, Greece, Germany, Holland, China, New Zealand, India, the Philippines, Poland, Lebanon, Iraq, Vietnam, Thailand, South Africa and the Pacific Islands. Sydney's culture, food and general outlook well reflect these contributions to the majority Anglo-Celtic institutions and social establishment. Sydney is recognised worldwide for its vibrant gay community. Every year, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is celebrated at the end of February, drawing people from all over Australia and the world for the celebrations. Sydney became the center of the world's attention in September 2000 when the city hosted the 2000 Summer Olympics - officially announced by the IOC Chairman at the closing Ceremony to be the "the best games ever"! The Olympics saw a major building and renovation program take hold of Sydney, positioning it as one of the great world cities of the 21st century and will continue to hold its world city status.
climateSummer (December to February) is the best time to enjoy Sydney's beachside outdoor lifestyle. Temperatures usually reach around 26°C but it can be very hot, with temperatures climbing to over 40°C for a few days each summer. Summer days can be humid, and sometimes have searing dry winds, but they frequently end with a "southerly buster", a cold front sweeping up from the south, bringing a clearly noticeable drop in temperature. Within hours, the storm can pass and the evening continues cooler. Hot windy days can close national parks, walking trails, and ban fires because of the fire risk. Rain is usually in the form of afternoon thunderstorms, that can be intense but usually pass quickly. Occasionally low pressure systems drift down from the tropics, giving periods of more unstable weather. You won't need to pack much more than T-shirts to visit Sydney in summer, but remember your hat and sunglasses. Autumn (March to May) March and April, especially, tend to have clear, warm days with mild nights. There can be good days for the beach in March, but you can't count on it. It is a good time for visiting attractions, going to the zoo, catching ferries around the harbour without the summer crowds. You may need a sweater for the evenings, especially for May. Winter (June to August) is cool, not cold. Average July maximum temperatures are 17°C, and daytime temperatures rarely drop below 14°C, but night-time temperatures can fall to below 10°C. Most rain falls as a result of a few off-shore low pressure systems, which usually result in two or three rainy weeks during winter. The Icebergs will be in the ocean doing their morning laps, but most of Sydney will be well away from the beach. It does not snow in Sydney, and unless you intend spending long periods outside, you can usually get by with just a sweater. Sydney is a year-round city, and only the outdoor water-parks close for the winter. If the beach isn't your scene, and you don't like the heat, winter may be your time to visit. Spring (September to November). September is Sydney's driest month, and Spring days are great for exploring Sydney's attractions, bushwalking, cycling, and the outdoors. Beaches are generally patrolled from the end of October, and Sydneysiders start flocking to the beaches in November. Sydney's Western Suburbs that lie away from the coast tend to be hotter during the day and a little cooler during the night. They miss the afternoon sea breezes, and the night-time warming effect of the ocean. Sydney has air conditioning in all public buildings, and on some public transport. It is common to catch a bus or train without air conditioning on hot days. Carry water during summer. Remember sun protection year round, as the UV exposure risk can be extreme at any time of year.
architechtureSydney’s skyline is large and widely recognizable. Sydney also possesses a wide array of diversity of modern and old architectural style. They range from the simple Francis Greenways Georgian buildings, to Jorn Utzon’s Expressionist, or the Sydney Opera House. Sydney also has a large amount of Victorian buildings, such as the Sydney Town Hall and the Queen Victoria Building. The most architecturally significant would be the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, among many others. Skyscrapers in Sydney are also large and modern such as the Sydney Tower, which dominates the Sydney skyline. There are also pockets of architecturally significant housing dotted around Sydney's suburbs. The inner-eastern suburb of Paddington is known for its terrace houses, while several inner-west suburbs contain streets lined with so-called federation houses (built around the time of Australian federation in 1901). Probably the best preserved example of federation houses in Sydney is in the Inner West suburb of Burwood. Appian Way is a circular street built around a lawn tennis courts complete with pavilion house. The large houses are all architecturally unique and built on large expanses of land featuring old trees and lovely gardens. Further away on the lower North Shore, Castlecrag is a unique suburb, being planned by the architect Walter Burley Griffin in the 1930s.
commuting to Sydney
by carIt is possible to drive to Sydney from Brisbane or Melbourne in a full day, around 9 hours non-stop to Melbourne or 11 hours to Brisbane. A comfortable drive would allow two days from Melbourne or Brisbane, and three to Adelaide. The Melbourne drive is mostly dual carriageway high quality road. The same can't be said for the Brisbane drive, which while it has high quality sections, it also has some very narrow winding sections, carries high traffic volumes, and has many stoppages from roadworks. There are tolls applicable to all motorways coming into Sydney, and not all routes accept cash. See "Tolls" section below.
by busCoach companies operate to Sydney from all capital cities, and many New South Wales regional centres. The Sydney coach terminal is located adjacent to Sydney Central train station in the City South. Follow the signs. Coach travel to Sydney is usually quicker, cheaper and more frequent than train travel. Online and advance booking specials are usually available. Greyhound Coaches  has the most extensive bus network in Australia, but there are a few others.
by trainThe New South Wales long distance train service CountryLink, (13 22 32 within Australia)  runs at least daily services to Sydney from Brisbane, Melbourne, Canberra and many regions of New South Wales including the Mid-North Coast, New England, the Central West and the Southern Highlands. It also services Broken Hill weekly. Travelling time from Melbourne and Brisbane is around 12 hours. Fares range between $30 and $100 for standard class seats, and reservations tickets can be purchased online, by phone, or at the station. The long distance trains between Melbourne and Sydney, and Brisbane and Sydney can be a less stressful alternative to driving, but they do not average particularly high speeds and take longer than flying. It is often possible to get a discount airfare around the same price or cheaper than the adult train fare.
commuting around Sydney
by carYou can drive around Sydney reasonably freely, and outside of peak times travelling by car is usually at least as quick as any method of public transport. Congestion can be expected on roads to the city from 6:30AM until 9:30AM, and roads away from the city from around 4PM until 6:30PM. Congestion is considerably worse heading away from the city during Friday afternoon peak. Roads are generally well signposted to the next major suburb or suburbs along the route. Only a handful of cross-city met-roads are signposted by number. Congestion can be expected around Bondi Beach, and the other eastern suburbs beaches on summer weekends. Travel times from the CBD to the Sydney outskirts can take around 45 minutes in good traffic.
parkingParking your car in the City Centre is always possible but expensive. Expect to pay up to $70 per day or $25 per hour at some central parking lots, and around $25 even with specials. Reduced parking charges are made for early bird parking, where you must enter and leave within prescribed times. For example you can park all day at the Opera House  for $16 provides you enter before 10AM and leave between 3PM and 7PM. There is no grace period, so you can't get out even one minute before 3PM, and you will be charged the day parking rate of $42 if you are 10 seconds late. Most city parking lots offer reduced flat fees (around $15-$25) for evening and weekend parking.
speed limitsSpeed limits can change frequently even when following the same main road. Speed limits drop for areas of pedestrian activity, schools, as well as driving conditions. Every road in Sydney has a signposted speed limit, and in every case you will need to read the signs, as you cannot tell the speed limit just by looking at the road. The speed limit is usually 50km/h on residential streets, 60km/h or 70km/h on main roads, and 80km/h and above on freeways or freeway sections.
public transportSydney public transport consists of an extensive rail network, multiple buses and ferries, a single light-rail line and a tourist-oriented monorail. It can get you to nearly all of the city's main attractions, especially in areas closer to the city. The further away from the city centre you travel, the less frequent and comprehensive public transport services will tend to be.
see & do
landmarks* The Sydney Harbour Bridge crosses the harbour from the The Rocks to North Sydney. There are many different experiences centred around the bridge. You can walk or cycle across, picnic under, or climb over the Harbour Bridge. * The Sydney Opera House. The Sydney Opera House is simply one of the most famous structures ever built. It is in the city centre. * Darling Harbour is a large tourist precinct and includes a range of activities, restaurants, museums and shopping facilities. * Sydney Olympic Park. Home of the 2000 Olympics and now parklands and sporting facilities. * Luna Park, 1 Olympic Dr, Milson's Point, tel. 02 9033 7676. Is a large theme park situated near the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It's mouth-shaped entrance can be seen from many areas of Sydney as well as the large Ferris Wheel. * Sydney Tower also called Centrepoint Tower or AMP Tower. The tallest structure in Sydney, the tower contains a buffet, cafe and a rather large restaurant and attracts many visitors a year. The tower is in the City Centre. * St Mary's Cathedral. Sydney's main catholic cathedral. Corner of St Mary's Road and College St. The cathedral is in the City Centre.
historical* The Rocks has sites preserved from Sydney's early settlement. * Parramatta to the west of Sydney is the site of many of Sydney's oldest buildings from colonial times. * Macquarie Street in the City has a string of historical sites, from the first hospital in the colony, to the Mint to Hyde Park Barracks, to the Conservatorium which was the original government house stables. Sydney Hospital was first known as "The Rum Hospital", it was the first major building established in the colony. * La Perouse, near Botany Bay, in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs contains the grave of an early French explorer, museum, and old fort. * The walk from Manly to Middle Head passes many coastal artillery fortifications built into the cliffs of Sydney Harbour during the late nineteenth century. * Mrs Macquarie's Chair and walk near the Botanical Gardens in the City.
museums & galleries* The Australian Museum is much the old style natural history museum. Usually a special exhibition on as well. The museum is near Hyde Park in City Centre. * The Australian National Maritime Museum has inside and outside exhibitions - much of the history of Australia is a maritime one, and much of it is in this museum in Darling Harbour. * The Art Gallery of NSW has mostly classical, but some modern and Aboriginal art. Near the Botanical Gardens in the city centre. * The Powerhouse Museum has some buttons to push, some technology, but some interesting displays of Sydney in the 1900s, in the City West in Ultimo, right on the boundary with Darling Harbour. Exhibits designed for children also. * The Museum of Contemporary Art in the city centre, near Circular Quay. * The Museum of Sydney, in the city centre.
wildlife* Taronga Zoo Large zoo whose animals have the best view in the world, a short ferry trip from the City on the North Shore. * The Koala Park Sanctuary in the Outer West. * Sydney Aquarium in Darling Harbour. * Sydney Wildlife World' adjacent to the aquarium in Darling Harbour. * Featherdale Wildlife Park in Western Sydney. * Australian Reptile Park, about an hour north of Sydney, has kangaroos, wallabies, dingos, and more. * Whale Watching see whales migrating the Pacific coast. There are boats from Darling Harbour or Circular Quay. * Bats (Flying foxes) nest next to the fernery in the Botanic Gardens in the city, and fly to feed over the city buildings and Harbour Bridge at dusk, you can see them on the eastern side of the Opera House at sunset. * Rainbow Lorikeets swarm around the trees in many suburbs at dusk, making a tremendous chatter Sulphur Crested Cockatoos are commonly seen in the leafier suburbs all day. * Ibis are an unusual water bird, that has made its home in the suburbs, especially in Hyde Park in the city. * Possums are a native marsupial at home in the urban environment. Look up carefully in tree lined streets, or in Hyde Park after dark. * Kangaroos. Wallabies, and Rosellas. These can be spotted with patience in most of the Sydney National Parks, including the Royal National Park, ask the local rangers where they tend to be seen in the late afternoons. This is a great way to experience Australia’s native wildlife in their natural habitat compared to seeing these amazing animals confined in zoos, but requires considerably more time and patience.
Sydney HarbourSydney's large natural harbour was the reason that the original penal settlement was established in the area, near what is now known as Circular Quay. It is now well developed, with skyscrapers, highrises, and houses all around its shores, but it is still very beautiful. The harbour is served by ferry services that transport passengers around the harbour. An excellent way to see both the harbour and Sydney attractions is to take a ferry east from Circular Quay to Taronga Zoo or Manly or west under the Harbour Bridge towards Parramatta. These are reasonably priced and a favourite for tourists. If time is short, for a shorter route, the ferry between Circular Quay and Darling Harbour will let you ride under the Harbour Bridge and see the central part of the harbour. Sydney Harbour can be viewed from the city or from on of the many walks next to it, most of which are easily accessible by ferry or bus. You can arrange a guided tour of the islands by contacting the Sydney Visitors Centre at Cadmans Cottage, 100 George Street, The Rocks, ph 02 9247 5033. fax 02 9241 3303. The world famous Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race begins every year on Boxing Day, on Sydney Harbour. Thousands of spectator craft take to the water to farewell the yachts as they set off on their grueling journey to Hobart. Seaworthy craft can follow the yachts through the Sydney Heads into the open ocean. You can also see the race from a harbour vantage point like Watsons Bay. where you can see them sail towards you across the harbour, and then cross to the gap to see them sail down the coast.
more to do* Swim at one of Sydney's many surf beaches. Try Bondi, Manly, Coogee, Cronulla or Wattamolla, or get off the tourist trail at one of the other beaches in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs or Northern Beaches. * Take a cruise on Sydney Harbour. There are many cruises to choose from and they depart from Darling Harbour or Circular Quay. For a bigger adrenalin rush, try the jet boats that zip around the harbour  at breakneck speeds. * Swing by the Royal Botanic Gardens  and the Art Gallery of New South Wales  on the edge of the gardens. While you're in the area visit Mrs Macquarie's Chair for a picture postcard view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House in one picture. You may have to compete with the numerous wedding couples on weekends. * Explore the Museums and Galleries. at the Australian Museum or the Museum of Contemporary Art in the City Or one of the smaller chic Art Galleries in East Sydney. * Cycle around Centennial Park in the Eastern Suburbs or Bicentennial Park at Sydney Olympic Park. * Visit the IMAX Theatre, which provides a movie experience with one of the largest cinema screens in the southern hemisphere in Darling Harbour. * Drive a dodgem car at Luna Park in North Sydney. * Go to a football match. Sydney's most popular winter sport is Rugby League (or football to the locals). Nine teams from the National competition are based in Sydney and the sport is an important part of the city's culture  (March to September). Other sporting teams based in Sydney are, the Sydney Swans (AFL), Sydney FC (Soccer), the NSW Waratahs (Rugby Union), the Sydney Spirit (Basketball)and the Sydney Swifts (Netball). * Catch a ferry from Circular Quay to Manly. Before returning to the Sydney CBD, walk from the Manly ferry wharf along the Manly Corso to famous Manly Beach. A great day, afternoon or evening out at a fraction of the price of a commercial harbor cruise. * You can get guided tours of Sydney by coach, bicycle, foot or boat. See the local articles for details. * Scenic Flights Adventures and Flight Training, +61 2 9791 0643 (firstname.lastname@example.org) . A fantastic way to see Sydney Harbour is from the air. Red Baron Adventures do scenic flights over Sydney Harbour and the Northern Beaches most days of the year (weather permitting) in an open cockpit Pitts Special bi-plane. They also have heart stopping Aerobatic Flights available for the more adventurous (note: these are not done over Sydney Harbour). Flights range from $440 to $660 and go for between 45 min and 80 minutes.
eatPrices in Sydney's restaurants vary. A main meal in a mid-range restaurant is around $25 - $35. Upper mid-range averages around $35 - $45. For the more budget-conscious, go for the "multicultural" restaurants, especially the Asian ones. Many restaurants also offer "lunch specials". For example, a good Korean "set lunch" can be found for less than $15. Cafés serving breakfast start opening at 6AM and breakfast is usually served until 11AM, or occasionally all day. Orders for lunch start at about noon and continue until about 3PM. Many cafes will start closing late afternoon, although a few may remain open for dinner. Restaurants usually open for dinner around 5PM-6PM and while there are exceptions (usually concentrated in areas with active nightlife), last orders for dinner are typically taken around 10PM. Restaurants in business areas open for lunch as well. It is common for restaurants in suburban locations to sometimes be closed on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday nights. For those who are after authentic multicultural culinary experiences, there are unique "food districts" scattered around the greater city. The range of food available is huge and isn't necessarily expensive. It is usually possible to find a restaurant of any nationality, specialising in almost any cuisine. Just about every suburb of Sydney will have a restaurant or two, a cafe or coffee shop, and a place that sells takeaway food. However, there are are a number of places in Sydney where you can window shop through many restaurants, and take your choice. All of Darling Harbour is like this, there are restaurants of every variety all along the waterfront. East Circular Quay in the City Centre is similar, along with the International Passenger Terminal on the west of Circular Quay. On the Lower North Shore Willoughby Road at Crows Nest, has honest and consistently good Indian, Thai, and other choices. Parramatta has a eating strip, many with alfresco options.
drinkSydney has an enormous number of places to drink and party. A limited number of venues have 24 hour licenses, however the majority close before 3AM and some as early as 11PM, particularly if there are nearby residents. Most venues will have door staff checking photo identification to determine that you are over 18. Admission is also commonly refused to those who seem visibly drunk. More popular venues have discriminatory door practices, the most common of which is refusing entry to groups of men who are not accompanied by women. Most places have at least a basic dress code. If you're not sure where you're headed and want to get into most generic pubs and clubs you come across, men should wear a collared shirt, neat full-length pants (not jeans) and business-style shoes. Cheaper pubs have looser requirements, and of course different groups follow different fashions. This recipe won't work for entry to a goth club. In almost all cases, women can dress more freely, but a small number of places require closed shoes. There is a taxi shift change at 3AM, and it is notoriously difficult to catch a taxi anywhere between 2:30AM and 3:30AM. Also beware that there is currently a government enforced lockout at many establishments between 2 and 5AM - which means that you need to stay inside or you won't be able to get back in - even if you go out for a cigarette (smoking is illegal inside). Ask the bouncers or some locals if you're unsure and they will tell you which places are affected by the lockout and which aren't. Backpackers drink near the hostels, and will find a lot of fellow budget travellers in pubs in the Eastern Suburbs Beaches like Bondi Beach and Kings Cross in the City East In some ways Irish pubs are a global phenomenon, but they've certainly taken Sydney by storm. Irish pubs are concentrated in both The Rocks area and the southern area of the city. They are outrageously popular on the 17th March for St Patrick's Day. Business pubs also cater to the city crowd: lawyers, financiers and brokers and are very busy Friday nights when the city workers are let loose for the week. Large nightclubs are concentrated in the Darling Harbour area. Sydney's large gay scene is concentrated on Oxford Street in City East although it still has a large range of pubs and clubs for all ranges of sexuality and is a prominent nightspot for many party-goers. Sydney's students drink in the Inner West. Some nightclubs and Sydney's younger party-goers are found in North Sydney. There are many great nightclubs in Sydney, unfortunately they are very spread out so it would be a good idea to get an idea of were you want to go. Check guides in Friday's newspapers, or the free guides available in music stores and youth clothing stores.
stayThere are types of accommodation to suit anybodys needs. From budget to splurge, you will find it here.