Sydney is such an amazing city and there are a hundred and one different things you could do during your stay. The views and harbor are some of the best in the world, and it’s the perfect city for outdoor lovers and city slickers alike. If you only have 24 hours here, you definitely want to make the most of your time. This itinerary will take you from sunrise to late evening, packing in all the Sydney must do’s.
A Guest Post by Cat Smith of Walk My World
Sunrise – Dickson Street Reserve
Sunrises in Sydney are spectacular and there’s nowhere more iconic than Dickson Street Reserve. From this small park, you can watch the sun rise from behind the Sydney Opera House.
If the conditions are in your favor, you’ll have stunning color surrounding Sydney’s most famous building and the surrounding harbor.
Breakfast – The Rocks
The Rocks is a brief stroll from your sunrise point, so why not take in the oldest part of Sydney on your way to brekkie. You’ll notice Sydneysiders like an early start, either to surf or exercise in the coolest part of the day, so it’s unlikely you’ll be alone. There are loads of cafes to choose from and the menus are always extensive.
Walk Over the Bridge
After Brekkie, head up to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and walk across it and over to the North Shore. It’s not only an iconic structure, it also offers great panoramic views of Sydney Harbour. Unlike the bridge climb, these views come for free! With the early morning light, it is pure bliss. Don’t forget your camera.
Crossing the Harbour Bridge at Sunrise
Sydney Opera House from Circular Quay
Return to Circular Quay by ferry from Milson’s Point for a chance to see the harbor by water.
Harbour Bridge from Opera House
The ferry will cost around $6 and though it only takes 5 minutes, it is worth every dollar! Next, catch the 333 bus to Bondi Beach.
Can you visit Sydney without seeing Bondi Beach? Australia’s most famous beach is beautiful and it’s a great place for a dip or simply to people watch. If you prefer a more sedate swim (Bondi can be pretty wavey) you can swim at the famous ocean bath, Icebergs. Even if you don’t swim here you will want to walk up to the top of the grassy verge by the beach to get that iconic view.
Then head to our favorite beachside café: Lock, Stock & Barrell. It serves beautiful brunch and the best bagels in town. Make sure you have a flat white, Australia’s favorite coffee. Australians claim to have the best coffee in the world, and we aren’t arguing. If you are a real beach lover or keen walker then you could also add in the 5.5km easy walking track between Bondi and Coogee beach, and pick up our itinerary again with sunset at Mrs. MacQuarie’s Chair.
View from Mrs. MacQuarie’s Chair
This is the best walk in the city, and hugs the coast the entire way, passing several of Sydney’s finest and less well-known beaches. Look out for dolphins any time of year and for migrating humpback whales between May and October. The walk takes around 1.5-2.5 hours, depending on how many times you stop for photos or a paddle. You can then take a bus to the city center or to Bondi Junction train station, where it is a short journey back into the city.
Time to grab the 333 bus back over to Circular Quay again.
Also Read: The Top 10 Beaches in Sydney
Once you’re off the bus, walk along Circular Quay towards the Opera House. You can go up the steps of the Opera House to really take in the intricate detail on each sail. It’s also a stunning view of the Harbour Bridge from here. The Botanic Gardens are just a few minutes walk from the Opera House.
Sydney’s Botanic Gardens couldn’t be in a better spot. Right along the waterfront and in the heart of the city, you will see skyscrapers towering over gum trees and other native Australian plants. It’s also a great place to spot some of Australia’s cheeky birdlife. Watch out for sulfur-crested cockatoos and the laughing kookaburra. If you’re in need of a pick me up there is a café in the gardens.
Take your time to explore and head towards one of our favorite sunset spots: Mrs. MacQuarie’s Chair.
Sunset: Mrs. MacQuarie’s Chair
Mrs. Macquarie’s chair is one of the best views in town for sunset. From here you can see both the Opera House and Harbour Bridge with the sun setting behind them. So grab yourself a good spot and wait for the sky to light up.
If you’re a keen photographer bring your tripod and head down to the shore just in front of Mrs. MacQuarie’s Chair, the rocks there make a great focal point for long exposure shots.
Also Read: The Best Sunrise and Sunset Spots in Sydney
Drinks at the Best View in Town
There are lots of places to dine around Circular Quay. If you have a good budget then we would highly recommend Café Sydney, ask for a table on the balcony for a great view. If you are looking for something a little more affordable then there are plenty of good value Asian restaurants in the streets behind Circular Quay.
After dinner, head over to the Shangri-La hotel and up to the sky bar (Blu bar) for the best view in town. From the hotel you can see the whole of the city and harbor lit up, it’s a beautiful sight. The drinks are also great, although, on the pricey side, we think it’s worth it for that one in a million view.
If you’ve made it through the whole itinerary you’re probably ready to turn in about now, but if not it’s a short walk into the city center for another drink. Small bars (exactly what it says on the tin) are all the rage in Sydney and there are plenty to choose from along York or Clarence Street. If you don’t know what you are looking for they can be tricky to find, we’d recommend Uncle Mings (low lit, candles, cushions and Buddha statues) or Grandmas (crazy flamingo wallpaper and reggae music).
If you have more time in the city and are looking for some awesome destinations to getaways from the city, here are some top day trips from Sydney to experience more of the amazing things the country has to offer.