Highlight Travel Guide: Sydney, Australia

21 Aug

Sydney, like any major city, has no shortage of unique experiences and unmatched options. I want to highlight a short list of best things I experienced during my time down under that I think you would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.

I am sure it is a given, but I would be remiss not to mention it. Go for a show, go for a tour, go simply to admire the architecture, or to check it off of your bucket list. I don’t care why you go to the Sydney Opera House, but go.

Sydney Opera House Sails Up Close Australia

Sydney Opera House AustraliaUntil I was right beneath it, I didn’t realize that the sails are tiled.

Sydney Opera House Sails Up Close Sydney AustraliaSydney Opera House Sails Sydney Australia.jpgAnthony and I bought tickets in advance, packed our Sunday best and went all in. Before heading into the concert hall, we snagged a few seats at the Bennelong bar and grabbed a drink and a few delicious small bites.

Bennelong Menu Sydney Opera House AustraliaOne of the first things we did in Sydney, was headed to the Quay (pronounced like “key”) and hopped on a ferry. Regardless of where you go, the the panoramic views of the Opera House and the harbor were worth the price of admission. Anthony was intent on seeing Koalas and Kangaroos in Australia so we took the ferry to the Taronga Zoo. Entering the zoo from the ferry was a whimsical experience: after disembarking we were whisked up the top of the hill to the entrance of the zoo via gondola.

Taronga Zoo Sydney Australia.jpg

We opted not to do the Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb and enjoyed the perfect view from our first hotel instead. We also walked across the bridge. If you decide to walk across it, check the opening times for Pylon lookout. Sydney Harbor Bridge.jpg

Park Hyatt Sydney from Syney Harbor Bridge Australia

Early one morning, we hopped on a bus and headed to Bondi Beach before the crowds.

Bondi Paviliion.jpgThe ocean was (hyperbolically) freezing, so we opted for a dip in the slightly less chilly pool at Iceberg’s instead. Watching surfers from the oceanside pool was as cool as it sounds.

Icebergs Oceanside Pool Bondi Beach Sydney Australia.jpg

Icebergs Bondi Beach Sydney Australia

Take the stroll to Mrs Macquarie’s chair. The site itself is filled with some unique history, but the view along the way is possibly the best of the Sydney skyline.

Mrs Macquarie's Chair Sydney AustraliaSydney Skyline copy.jpg

If I could only point you to one restaurant in Sydney I would emphatically tell you not to miss the Grounds of Alexandria.  It is unlike any restaurant I have ever been to.  It’s a farm to table restaurant, patisserie, craft coffee roastery, flower market, and garden all in one. It is a casual place of the highest quality. From the coffee menu, I would highly recommend the affogato with house made tiramisu ice cream and pop rocks. Be sure to meet the animals on the property like Kevin Bacon the pig, and Russell Crowe the rooster.

The Melbourne based chocolatier, Koko Black sold me the best truffle (hands down, no contest) I have ever eaten: their liquid caramel truffle was heaven in a bite. Stop by one of the two Sydney locations in the Strand Arcade or the Queen Victoria Building (pictured below).

Stained Glass Queen Victoria Building.jpgA few other noteworthy places we ate:

If you’re look for fine dining, Quay has ranked in the top 50 restaurants in the world for eight years running. Anthony and I opted not to spend the approximately 225 USD per person, so I cannot speak to the value or experience.

My favorite Louis Vuitton city guides pointed me to Eau de Vie, recommending the Aviator, so I ordered just that. The pink cocktail is served with a blue “cloud” of cotton candy and a paper airplane on top. All the other drinks looked just as fun. When you walk into the small, award-winning bar, you will feel like you stepped back in time 100 years.

I do not like apples, and I do not like whisky, but I ordered a pressed apple and rye at the Baxter Inn, and found a new favorite drink. They juice the apples after you order and pour you a tall, frothy, green glass mixed with Tennessee Whisky. The Baxter Inn is tucked away down an alley which just so happened to be on the same block as our second hotel. When you finally find the basement bar, you’ll feel like you stumbled on Sydney’s the best kept secret hideout.

If you’re looking to go a little further off the beaten path, I loved venturing to Precinct 75. Society Inc. by Sibella Court and InArtisan are great local shops for a non-touristy souvenir. There is also a darling print shop whose name is escaping me next door to Society Inc. A ginger IPA at local brewery Willie the Boatman was a surprisingly delicious first. We also got a kick out of people watching at Maniax, an axe throwing bar (because drinking about yielding sharp weapons are the perfect pair?)

Home Decor Shop Sydney Australia

HELPFUL HINT: Before arriving in Sydney I heard nothing but sarcasm and negativity surrounding their public transportation. Coming from Austin, Texas where we have nothing more than Uber and city buses, I found it to be fantastic. Once we arrived at our hotel, Anthony and I got everywhere we could dream of going without once hailing a cab (though we do tend to walk more than the average traveler).


If you want a more comprehensive list of places we went or wanted to go, head to my Sydney Map. If you have specific questions or want to share your memories of Sydney, please chime in in the comments below.


One Response to “Highlight Travel Guide: Sydney, Australia”

  1. mylastvacation 23 August 2017 at 6:59 AM #

    Nice! Its all really neat, clean and stilysh, a very refined post 🙂

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