Originally the answer to Britain's burgeoning prisoner problem, Sydney has become one of the world's most liveable cities, and the Jewel
in Australia's crown. A cosmopolitan city of shopping, restaurants, beaches and iconic landmarks, the city attracts millions visitors annually.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge and The Opera House are familiar sights to us all, but Sydney has more on offer - the narrow streets of the historic "Rocks' area, the Sydney Cricket Ground, the beautiful Queen Victoria Building, amazing beaches just minutes from the city and fine restaurants throughout the city and Darling Harbour.
Famous for its beach culture, Sydney coast is a stretch of golden yellow sand, beautiful bodies, lifeguards and surfers. The well known Bondi and Manly beaches offer bustling atmospheres, great views and the chance to learn the great Aussie pastime of “catching a wave'.
For a day out of the city, Sydney is a short drive from some of Australia's natural landmarks including the 3 Sisters rock formation at Blue Mountains National Park, best seen from the Katoomba Scenic Skyway cable car. Alternatively, taste some fine wines at the Hunter Valley, Australia's oldest wine-making region and a wine buff's delight with shirazs and semillions a plenty.
Sydney has taken to cruising like a duck to water, its popularity as a port growing rapidly and only limited by the height of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. There are two main piers within Sydney; Darling Harbour is home port for many of P&O's vessels, with views of Star City Casino and a short walk to cafes, restaurants and the aquarium. Larger ships tie up at the Overseas Passenger terminal, in the hub of the city and within in view of two of the most spectacular sites in the world, the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.
What to See and Do:
For first time visitors to this beautiful city what would a visit to Sydney be if you did not see the icons that are renowned all over the world, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. Located at Circular Quay they are in close vicinity of each other, an easy walk around the waterfront. Tours of each allow you to get inside, or on top and hear about the remarkable history of this relatively new city. Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge or take a bike ride across to the North Shore, for the Opera House, see a play, theatre production or take a short tour.
If just in port for the day there are a lot of highlights to be seen in a short period of time. The historic Rocks area, full of hidden laneways, great cafes and restaurants and arts, crafts shops galore and on the weekend the Rocks markets. Alternatively, take the opportunity to see one of the world's most famous beaches Bondi Beach. Take a swim between the flags, enjoy the people watching or do the popular Bondi to Bronte coastal walk. A private tour will provide you with the options to see the inside of the Bondi Surf Clubs and the beautiful homes of the Eastern suburbs where many Australian Hollywood stars live.
For those who would like to experience the Australian bush the Blue Mountains is a great option. With plenty of sites and a 90 minute drive out of the city, it does make for a full day, but Three Sisters is a great picture in the middle of beautiful eucalpytus forests, there are plenty of walking opportunities, antique shops galore, the steepest railway in the world (it's true!) and the scenic Cablecar. Many tours, both private and group will include the famous Featherdale wildlife park so that visitors have a chance to get up close and personal with the unique Australian animals including kangaroos, koalas, wombats, Tasmanian devils, parrots and lots more.
For those who prefer a less active day, Hunter Valley is one of Australia's famed wine regions, pefect for a day of food and wine tastings, else find a cafe or restaurant overlooking the harbour and enjoy some fine cuisine.
Or for some other unique experiences head out to the northern beaches for some surfing lessons, take a ferry to Taronga Zoo or cruise the Harbour in a tall ship from the 1800's.
Sydney really is a city for everyone!
What NOT to Miss:
1) Cocktails at the Opera Bar - with views of both the Opera House and Harbour Bridge
2) Cruising Sydney Harbour - do it in luxury on a private yacht, or on a ferry
3) Sydney's beautiful beaches - take your pick from Manly, Bondi, Tamarama, Bronte, Coogee (blue water, golden sand, lifeguards & bikinis everywhere)
4) Fish & Chips by the water
Currency: The Australian Dollar ($AUD)
Language: Official language is English, however most hotels will have staff members that speak a variety of different languages.
Top 5 Restaurant Choices from a Local's Perspective:
1) Trio Cafe
- Bondi Beach - This actually is my local and in my opinion the best place in Sydney for breakfast. The mango pancakes with lemon curd and double cream are phenomenal as is everything else on the menu! On Campbell Parade, the main strip of Bondi Beach they have lovely views of the water and you can walk it off with a walk along the beach or the Coastal walk after!
2) Opera Bar
- Circular Quay - The Opera Bar has the best views in the city that even the locals still get memorised - although not the cheapest place in the world to have a drink, if you get the view included and a bit of sunshine then it doesn't seem so bad. Tasting plates and lovely cocktails are a fantastic way to pass the afternoon.
- Circular Quay - If I was able to pass on this recommendation with first-hand knowledge I would be a very happy person. Quay restaurant is the Jewel
in the crown - the ultimate location, three chef hat rating and exquisite food. With stunning views of the harbour, silver service and white linen tablecloths, the food is as pretty as a picture too!
4) Watson's Bay Fish & Chips (Doyle's)
- Doyles are well-known for their fish and chips and have a few venues throughout the city. My recommendation - skip all the highbrow and go for their budget option Doyles on the wharf. Take a ferry to Watson's Bay and either eat in or get a takeaway pack and lounge in the park, then it's either a lovely ferry ride back to the harbour or you can take a bus from there and head over the Bondi.
5) Odyssey Wine Bar
- Anywhere wine is on tap definitely is a place of interest, but Odyssey do it so well! With a focus and intention on educating about Australian wines, one must spend some time in the tasting room first before sampling their unique menu all paired with Australian wines. Located in the Rocks area it's the perfect spot for lunch or dinner between shopping, arts galleries and sighseeing the harbour.
Cruise Lines and Ships Visiting:
Royal Caribbean: Rhapsody of the Seas
, Radiance of the Seas
, Voyager of the Seas
Celebrity: Celebrity Century
, Celebrity Millennium
(2012 - 2013), Celebrity Solstice
(2012 - 2013)
Carnival: Carnival Spirit
(home port from mid 2012)
Princess: Diamond Princess, Dawn Princess
, Sea Princess
, Ocean Princess
Holland America: Volendam, Amsterdam, Oosterdam, Zaandam (2012 - 2013)
P&O Australia: Pacific Jewel
, Pacific Sun, Pacific Pearl
Saga: Spirit of Adventure, Saga Ruby
Silversea: Silver Shadow
Classic Cruises: Athena
Crystal: Crystal Serenity
Seabourn: Seabourn Odyssey, Seabourn Quest (2012 - 2013)
Costa: Costa Deliziosa
, Costa Romatica II (2012 - 2013)
Regent Seven Seas: Regatta, Seven Seas Voyager, Seven Seas Marina
(2012 - 2013)
P&O: Oriana, Arcadia, Pacific Dawn
Cunard: Queen Elizabeth
, Queen Victoria, Queen Mary 2
(2012 - 2013)
Residensea: The World
Fred Olsen: Black Watch, Balmoral (2012 - 2013)
Special Thanks to Hope at ShoreTours.com.au
(Member Profile: shoretours.com.au
) for compiling and writing all of this great information. Feel free to add your suggestions and we'll incorporate them into this constantly growing Port Guide to Sydney, Australia.
Questions about Sydney, any of the ships listed above or other regions in Australia - don't hesitate to ask!