GMT +10 hours
An abundance of Australian sights and activities
An enchanting combination of fascinating history and natural splendour, New South Wales is Australia at its most vibrant and accessible. One of the country's smaller states, it nevertheless offers an abundance of enchanting landscapes from glorious beaches to rugged mountains, national parks to world-class vineyards, and an exhilarating range of things to do.
- The iconic sights of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House are not to be missed
- Enjoy Sydney's world-class dining and visit Darling Harbour and The Rocks district
- Head to the Blue Mountains on a day trip from Sydney, or stop over for two or three nights, for some bush walking trails and spectacular views
- Whale and dolphin spotting near Port Stephens and relax on the beaches near Coffs Harbour en route between Sydney and Brisbane
- If you're on a self-drive, we'd recommend stopping at Byron Bay to learn to surf and for the arts and cafe culture
Best time to visit Sydney & New South Wales
New South Wales is mainly warm and temperate with sunshine through much of the year, however the coast can experience humidity in the summer months (December to February) and the snowy mountains region has snow and frost in winter months (June to August). Peak season is June to August, as well as Christmas and New Year – when Sydney holds a huge-scale firework display over the harbour.
Sydney & New South Wales holiday highlights
Draped around a natural harbour, New South Wales' capital city is filled with vibrancy and life, a glittering gem on the country's south-eastern coastline. The iconic Opera House, Harbour and Bridge make Sydney instantly recognisable from land and water. Over 140 different cultures, world-renowned chefs, cuisine and wine, pulsating nightlife, great shopping and an urban beach lifestyle make this beautiful and vibrant city like no other place on Earth.
Most visitors head straight for the city centre, comprising Circular Quay – home to the famous harbour, Royal Botanic Gardens and Opera House on the harbour at Bennelong Point – as well as the Sydney Tower, Queen Victoria Building and various shopping malls, museums and galleries. To the west of Circular Quay, The Rocks District has an atmosphere of its own, with pretty narrow lanes, markets, boutique shops and cosmopolitan cafés. And Darling Harbour hosts an array of attractions and is lined with restaurants and al fresco bars.
Circular Quay is the city's cruise port, with many ships departing here for voyages along the Australian Coast, across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand or visiting as part of an epic round-world voyage with Cunard. There are plenty of options for a stay and cruise holiday, for example combining a cruise with a stay in Sydney, or even a Red Centre adventure.
Sydney’s beachside suburbs were made for chilling out and making a splash in the surf. Catch the 30-minute ferry from Circular Quay over to Manly Beach in Sydney’s northern beaches – one of Sydney’s favourites, with its buzzing atmosphere, pedestrianised plaza and range of restaurants, cafés and bars. Popular Bondi Beach lies just four miles east of central Sydney, with its laid-back beach vibe, reliable surf, pristine sands and eclectic café culture. At the tip of the northern beaches is Palm Beach – the filming location for Home & Away.
While there’s no denying that Sydney is New South Wales’ major attraction, the surrounding region has so much to offer. Travel just two hours north or west and it feels a world away, with sprawling fertile vineyards, dramatic hazy mountains and epic desert-like sand dunes. Spend an entire day exploring the Hunter Valley, sampling its fruits as you go; stop for abundant photo opportunities of unique rock formations in the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains; and spot marine life in the glistening waters off the coast of Port Stephens. Then head further north along the Pacific Highway on a scenic road trip to discover laid-back coastal towns and stunning beaches.