Requiring little in the way of an introduction, Sydney is the undisputed jewel in Australia’s crown; a sprawling metropolis whose historic harbour has grown to become one of the world’s busiest and most prosperous cruise and shipping hubs — not to mention one of its prettiest.
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But while you’re probably all too aware of Sydney’s most-famous sites — think the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge — there is more to the city than its touristy landmarks. With plenty of well-kept secrets, the area has its fair share of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered.
If you’ve booked a cruise departing from Sydney, why not arrive one or two days early to spend some time exploring the sights and sounds of our second city? Here, we’ll provide some tips and advice on what to see, do and eat during your pre-cruise trip to Sydney.
Things to see and do in Sydney
With so much to experience, seeing everything Sydney has to offer might be difficult, but getting around the city to see its tourist highlights is easy. Grab an Opal card to get around on its extensive Transport NSW bus network from morning to night, or hop on its tram system and see the city at a more leisurely pace. If you’re looking for taxis, they’re a breeze to flag down and all companies charge the same. For a more novel way of transportation, take a water taxi for a ride around the harbour.
We’d advise against driving in central Sydney. It can be confusing to newbies because of its confusing one-way street system, the parking can be expensive and parking inspectors definitely aren’t in short supply.
Royal Botanic Gardens
Opened in 1816, Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens is famous for being the oldest scientific institution in Australia and the world’s most prestigious botanical site. Aside from its rich history, the garden is the perfect place to while away a sunlit afternoon, it being within a stone’s throw from the city’s famous harbour front.
Located in the heart of Sydney’s bustling city centre, The Rocks is the city’s historic quarter, home to an array of independent shops, cafés and restaurants. With charming architecture and retail opportunities aplenty, The Rocks is a must visit area during your Sydney stopover.
If you want to fit all of Sydney Harbour’s famous landmarks into a single photograph, Circular Quay is the place to go. Located between Bennelong Point and The Rocks, this picturesque wharf is flanked by restaurants and cafés, and remains the best place to snap a picture of Sydney’s photo-worthy waterfront.
Visit the Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art buff? Get yourself to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, which is housed in a beautiful building in Sydney’s Domain district. Chock-a-block with famous works from many of Australia’s best-loved artists, the gallery also contains an interesting Asian exhibition space which regularly features works from new and emerging Asian artists, sculptors and designers.
Skywalk at the Sydney Tower Eye
If you want to get to grips with the Sydney skyline in one fell swoop, pay a visit to the city’s Tower Eye — famous for being the second tallest observation tower in the Southern Hemisphere. For a paltry fee, it’s possible to take a lift to the top of this towering structure, from which you can enjoy a full, 360° panorama of the city below.
Stroll from Bondi to Coogee Beach
Escape the bustle of the city by taking a coastal stroll from Bondi to Coogee Beach. Of all Sydney’s beaches, Bondi is easily its most famous, making it an essential stop-off on your tour of the city. Go beyond the surfer-lined bay, and it’s possible to walk along the beautiful Pacific coast to Coogee Beach, whose backdrop is equally as alluring.
Best kept secrets
Looking for something that’s a little off the beaten track? Sydney’s stacked up with plenty of hidden spots and secluded areas to check out.
Bring back more than memories from your time in Sydney with one of these authentic souvenir ideas.
Famed across the country, but done particularly well in Sydney, opals make for a superb souvenir whether it’s for you or a loved one. Whatever item it’s set in, the shimmering, iridescent colours bring a new dimension whichever angle you look at it.
Gold-Plated Eucalyptus Leaf
Delicate and impressive, ancient eucalypt forests surround Sydney, where the remnants of their leaves are collected before being gold plated to create beautiful jewellery. Head to Bush Art Australia for a selection of necklaces, brooches and earrings that’s sure to put a smile on the face of your friends or family.
Penfolds Grange Wine
For the wine connoisseur, a bottle from one of the world’s finest wineries is well worth raising a glass to. One of the country’s oldest vineyards, Penfolds Grange much-feted wines continues to impress, with hints of five spice, blackberry, and dark chocolate combining to create a wonderfully intense flavour. Head to Oxford Street Vintage Cellars for a bottle to bring home with you.
Must Try Dishes
Sydney is hugely popular with the foodie set, and it’s easy to see why when you sample some of the fantastic eats they’ve got on offer.
It might seem unoriginal and Mary’s itself looks a tad run-of-the-mill but trust us, the burgers here are incredibly good. So good in fact, that the burgers here have surpassed Mary’s reputation as a bar. Queues are long, but well worth the wait.
Things really don’t get much simpler than this dish served at the Apollo, but when it’s melted cheese, what’s not to love? Comparable to halloumi but distinctly different, this Greek cheese is cooked with high-quality honey, a pinch of Greek oregano and the juice of a lemon before being served to you in the same pan it’s cooked in. Bask in its gooey glory.
Pork Spare Rib Ramen
Ramen’s a delicious dish all on its own, but this version of the classic improves upon its origins by including a whole pork rib within its salty broth. Tender and juicy, with all the usual ramen favourites you’d expect, this monster bowl, served at Gumshara Ramen, is ready for even the hungriest of diners. Good luck polishing it off!
So, there you have it – the perfect way to spend a 12-hour stopover in Singapore. If you’re interested in booking a cruise through South East Asia and feel Singapore could be the perfect port destination, visit the Cruise1st Australia website and use the search bar on the left to browse a complete range of upcoming cruises departing from Singapore.