Sydney is the loud and ambitious capital city of New South Wales, home to dazzling man-made landmarks that are an architectural delight.

Beyond the dramatic misty mountain ranges and world-famous coastal drives, New South Wales’s dreamy capital city is the life and soul of this state’s year-round appeal. Draped around a wow factor of a natural harbour, Sydney is both dynamic and uncompromising; a boisterous but stress-free urban haven of gorgeous beaches, standout icons and personality-rich neighbourhoods.

Sydney is a city that dazzles with iconic sights – and they’re best seen when you have the time to explore on your own. Start with the big tickets; take a stroll across the Harbour Bridge (add a climb if you’re feeling the views), wander down historic cobbled lanes on a walking tour of The Rocks, or catch a show beneath the sails at the Opera House. Outside of these classic superstars, a trip to Bondi Beach is a must – this is one of the world’s best beaches, so just lie back and watch as surfers of all levels take over the waters en masse. It’s easy to head out of the city for a day, too. Travel west to see the misty Blue Mountains or head north for the sprawling vineyards of the Hunter Valley.

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Sydney Hotels

Our recommendations for the best places to stay in Sydney

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

This elegant luxury hotel puts Sydney Harbour’s world-class attractions right on your doorstep.

Harbour Rocks Hotel Sydney

150-year-old heritage listed boutique hotel

Rydges Sydney Harbour

This popular hotel sits right in the heart of Sydney, with a rooftop pool and harbour views

Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney

With views over the spectacular Sydney Harbour, this is one of Sydney’s most popular hotels.

Adina Apartment Hotel Bondi Beach

Comfortable apartment-style living in Bondi Beach

InterContinental Sydney

Set within the beautifully restored Treasury Building of 1851

Ovolo Woolloomoolloo

Wake up to harbour views in Sydney's trendiest area, Woolloomooloo Wharf.

PARKROYAL Darling Harbour Sydney

A quality hotel in a convenient location

Bondi Local Tour & Surf Experience

Discover the joys of surfing on famous Bondi Beach. Learn how to safely get out and up onto your first wave, with plenty of hands-on help. Your instructor will provide lots of feedback and specific instruction, helping you to surf at your best possible pace. Once you’ve built up your confidence and technique, hit the surf and have fun! This half-day experience also includes a tour of Bondi with your instructor, with a visit to a surf life-saving club and a casual beachside lunch

• Duration: 4 hours
• Start time: 10am
• Daily departures
• Operates year-round
• Group experience

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The Rocks Walking Tour

Local guides and skilled narrators will tell you all about the past and present of Australia's oldest neighbourhood on this fascinating tour. Hear entertaining accounts of Sydney’s colourful past, discover the narrow alleyways and cobblestone lanes, and view some of Sydney’s oldest dwellings. Visit the gothic Garrison Church, George Street, the Suez Canal and Rocks Square, as well as pubs once frequented by locals, sailors and rogues!

• Duration: 1½ hours
• Start time: 10.30am or 1.30pm
• Daily departures
• Operates year-round
• Group experience

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Sydney Harbour Experience

You’ll board a Captain Cook Cruises vessel for a Harbour Experience cruise to catch some incredible views. Over 90 minutes, you’ll hear anecdotes and stories that bring the history and culture of Sydney alive.

• Duration: 1½ hours
• Start time: Midday or 1.30pm
• Wednesday to Sunday departures
• Operates year-round
• Group experience

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Sydney Secrets Seaplane

Soar over Sydney’s famous coastline in a helicopter, heading north to Palm Beach of Home and Away fame. You’ll return over the waterways of Pittwater for a final circuit over Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House before landing at the Seaplane Terminal in Rose Bay.

• Duration: 30 minutes
• Start time: 10.15am
• Wednesday to Sunday departures
• Operates year-round
• Group experience

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The Sydney Opera House Tour

You’ll meet at the Welcome Centre on the Lower Concourse of the Opera House to start your one-hour Sydney Opera House Tour. During the tour, you’ll explore the iconic theatre and foyers that bring to life over 1800 performances yearly. Hear inspiring stories of the Opera House artists and performances from a knowledgeable guide who will take you through the building and explain how Jorn Utzon's vision came into existence against impossible odds. You will also get the opportunity to take photos from rare vantage points that are off-limits to the public.

• Duration: 1 hour
• Start time: 9am or 10.30am
• Departs daily
• Operates year-round
• Group experience

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Bridge Climb Summit - Day Climb

The Summit BridgeClimb is an iconic Sydney experience for those with a head for heights and a penchant for great views. You’ll get geared up and listen to a briefing from your expert Climb Leader before following the Opera House side of the upper arch to the bridge’s 134-metre-high apex. Then it’s time to soak in those 360-degree harbour and city skyline vistas before heading back down the west side of the arch and returning to Climb Base.

• Duration: 3 hours
• Timings vary
• Daily departures
• Operates year-round
• Group experience

Good to know
All climbers must be at least 1.2 metres tall and 8 years old.

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Get to know Sydney and those important practicalities when planning your perfect holiday.


GMT +9 hours


Australian Dollar


Approx. 21 hours (not including stopover time)


Majority Christian


Australia has no official language but the majority of people speak English as their first language. Approximately 250 indigenous Australia languages are spoken.

Where is Sydney?
Set within a huge natural harbour about a third of the way up the coast of New South Wales, Sydney is Australia’s largest city – more than 5.2 million people live in its sprawling metropolitan area. This vibrant state capital, home to two-thirds of its population, has excellent connections to other parts of Australia and beyond. Its international airport is the country’s busiest, with regular flights to the UK as well as to domestic destinations including Perth (5hrs), Brisbane (1hr 30) and Tasmania (1hr 50). A destination in its own right, it’s also a jumping-off point for memorable road trips to Melbourne or Brisbane or epic transcontinental railway journeys.

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Where to stay
Australia’s largest city is also its most popular, so you’ll want to choose your base carefully. Stay in the vibrant city centre and you’ll find Circular Quay – the café-lined harbourfront that is home to the Royal Botanic Gardens and the famous Opera House. Further west you’ll find The Rocks, the colonial heart of historic Sydney – we love this quirky assortment of weathered warehouses and cobblestone streets. Darling Harbour is the city’s unapologetic tourist quarter and your go-to for upmarket restaurants and shoreline bars. For less of the city’s bustle, head out of the centre towards the areas of Potts Point and Woolloomooloo. These harbourside neighbours are known for their culinary treats and are buzzing with hip bars and old Art Deco-style buildings.

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The Harbour
Sydney’s glorious natural harbour – technically a drowned river valley – is not just a stunning setting for iconic buildings such as the Opera House, it’s also a fabulous watery playground. Hop on a ferry to the northern beaches, take a cruise on a tall ship or rent a kayak to explore the jagged coastline. On land, you can choose from a multitude of themed walks around its edge, delving into Aboriginal history, perhaps, or the area’s colourful native birdlife. For city buzz, the former dockside area of Darling Harbour has been transformed into a major tourist site. There are trendy waterfront restaurants, al fresco bars and the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium with its memorable shark tunnel.

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Parks & gardens
Sydneysiders are as outdoor-minded as their compatriots, and the city has plenty of green spaces for everyone to enjoy. The Royal Botanic Garden, founded in 1816, covers a thousand acres next to Circular Quay and the Opera House. People come to stroll through the different areas, from the fernery and palm grove to the native rockery and rainforest, and enjoy the knockout harbour views. Initially known as Sydney Common, the equally historic Hyde Park is another leafy urban retreat, known for its mature trees; its fig-lined avenues are particularly impressive. A more recent open space is Sydney Olympic Park, west of the centre, which has been redeveloped since 2000 and now features riverside parks, nature trails and tranquil cycle paths.

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If you like beaches, suburban Sydney has more than 100 to choose from, from surfing hotspots to sleepy coves. A 30-minute ferry ride away in Sydney North, the top destination is Manly, a long sweep of sand loved by surfers and sun-worshippers alike. Just to the south, tiny Shelly Beach is in a marine reserve and the snorkelling is fabulous, while the beaches north of Manly include Narrabeen, which was name-checked in the Beach Boys’ hit Surfin’ USA. In Sydney East, Bondi is the city’s most famous strip of sand, and there’s a lively beach scene to go with it. For those seeking a more tranquil experience, a four-mile coastal path gives access to Tamarama, Bronte, Clovelly and Coogee beaches, or check out tucked-away harbourside coves in upmarket Vaucluse, such as Parsley Bay and Kutti.

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City celebrations
New Year’s Eve is the peak of Sydney’s celebrations, and its midnight firework-fuelled harbour show is a must-see. Sort out your prime-time viewing spot, look out for any evening events and make sure to pre-book your chosen hotel – those with enviable harbour views can sell out almost a year ahead. If you’re here in May, you’ll see the city turned into a giant art canvas. The annual Vivid Sydney festival literally takes over the city – new exhibits rock up each year, but it’s something else to see the harbour dazzling in brilliant coloured light.

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Food & drink
Passionate and talented chefs, mouthwatering ingredients and a host of multicultural influences: there are plenty of reasons why Sydney’s dining scene is one of its major attractions. The sheer variety is staggering: you can feast on south-east Asian flavours in hip hawker markets, savour an upmarket take on the classic Aussie barbie in sleek harbourside restaurants or enjoy breakfast on the move at an enticing farmers’ market. In this food-obsessed metropolis, liquid refreshments are certainly not overlooked. You can mix your own spiced rum on a distillery tour, sample the products of various boutique craft beer makers or discover fine Hunter Valley vintages on myriad city wine lists.

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Coastal landscapes
You don’t have to go far from Sydney’s centre to discover the national parks dotted along the coast – there’s even one at the mouth of the harbour. For something more expansive, head to Kamay Botany Bay National Park, which covers the two headlands at the mouth of the natural harbour where Captain Cook first stepped ashore in Australia. Closer to town, the northerly La Perouse section has nature walks and family-friendly beaches, while Kurnell to the south offers Cook’s landing place, picnic spots and whale watching at Cape Solander. Further south, but still only 20 miles from central Sydney, the 40,000-acre Royal National Park – the world’s second oldest – is great for everything from rainforest walks to surfing and beach picnics.

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Sydney Weather

Nov - Mar