Tourist Guide to Sydney

So here I am with the tourist guide to Sydney I promised to make a few months back... better late than never. I'm going to write this post in English only, because there will be quite a lot of text so translating would be too time consuming and I think this post will benefit my non-Finnish readers as well. I don't even now where to begin because there is so much to tell about this amazing city, and so much I think people who come here should do and see. The things I list here will probably be quite different from the things the tourist guides might recommend you, but that's because this is not a guide from a tourist's perspective. Well enough intro let's just start!

To See and To Do:
Sydney is so much more than just circular quay and the shops in the city. Many tourists who come here just rush through the must see attractions such as the opera house, Harbour Bridge, Center Point Tower etc. but this is just a scratch from the things this city provides. Of course those things are worth seeing, but there are nicer ways for that than to stroll around Circular Quay as a mass with the other tourists.

The Rocks an Circular Quay
I love the Rocks. It's one of Sydney's oldest areas, located just around the corner from circular Quay. It's quite touristy but I still think the atmosphere is really nice. The Rocks markets (every Saturday and Sunday) are a popular place for souvenir shopping. Unlike Circular Quay there are some nice cafes located at the Rocks so if you make a trip to this are I'd recommend to for example try out the fine food store for brunch or lunch. Pancakes on the Rocks is also quite an experience.If you're in to art (or even if your not) you should definitely visit the Museum of Contemporary art in the same go. It's free entry for everyone, and from the rooftop cafe you have really nice views over the harbour. If you want to see the harbour bridge from a closer distant it's quite nice to make a walk across it, or even do the harbour bridge climb (which is quite popular so booking should be done beforehand) Talking about booking, if you're interested to go and see something at the opera house, it's quite easy to do the bookings online.

the Rocks

A trip to Manly always feels like a trip abroad to me. You catch the ferry from circular qua and in half an hour you find yourself from this really laid back beach suburb. The atmosphere is so different from the city. Manly has some nice beaches, shops, cafes etc. You can easily spend a day there, walking, swimming, eating and maybe even surfing (that's where I had my surfing lesson). Scandinavian people be sure to visit Swedish cafe Fika, a really cute new cafe that sells all sorts of Scandinavian foods from rye crackers to O'boy chocolate milk. The ferry to Manly leaves from wharf (I think) 3, and they go every half an hour. Tickets can be bought on the spot. Apparently Taronga zoo is another nice ferry trip destination. I Haven't been there myself but if I just had enough time I sure would, I've heard so much good things about it. Ferry trips give you a nice view on the harbour and again a new perspective for photographing the opera house ;)
Be sure to visit Shelly beach, the smaller beach on the right end of the big beach.

The center of Sydney is a good place for shopping. The lower level of QVB and Pitt street mall have the best shops in my opinion. Australia is quite expensive, so be prepared that this is not a shopping paradise. Clothes especially are expensive, but shoes again are quite reasonably priced. Some Australian shops you should take a look in are: General Pants, Sports Girl, Jay Jay's and Cotton on. Shops from other countries we have here and I really like are American Apparel and Topshop. The city also has some tourist attractions such as Center Point Tower in the pitt street westfield shopping centre. From up there you can see the city in again a different perspective. There's also a restaurant located on the top and on Wednesday mornings it's possible to do a yoga class there (only 25 bucks and breakfast inc!). Speaking about food... be sure you don't miss the food court on Westfield's 5th level and the David Jones food section on the ground level of the same building. If you are a chocolate lover you'll find yourself in chocolate heaven at Max Brenner's chocolate cafe (multiple shops around the city), or at Haigh's chocolate shop. After shopping you can walk to Hyde Park, which is a nice place to just sit and enjoy the city atmosphere. Especially on sunny days you will find lots of people just hanging with friends here.

To the beach
When you think about Sydney the first beach that comes into your mind is probably Bondi. Bondi is really popular, but not among the locals, no it's the kingdom of the tourists. Locals prefer the other beaches near Bondi that can be found when walking along the coast line towards Coogee (Bondi to Coogee walk is really a must!). My favorite of these beaches is Gordon's bay and I really recommend this small rocky beach that's just a five minute walk away from Coogee. Especially on a sunny day it's paradise on earth ♥. It's easy to get to the coast from the city by bus. It only takes about half an hour depending on the traffic.

Gordon's bay
Gordon's Bay
Gordon's Bay
Beach Weather!

 Suburbs you shouldn't miss:

Newtown: Newtown is a really nice part of the city, located towards the inner west suburbs (you could walk there from the city center, but it's handy to get there by train or bus). Newtown is a good place for shopping (maybe not for clothing, but it has really nice shops that sell those random kind of design things ;), has really good cafes (don't miss vargabar, with the best drinks menu in town, and the cozy cafe milk bar which is really good for lunch or afternoon drinks). The best ice cream in Sydney (IMO) can be bought from Gelato Blue. Oh and when you go there be sure to ask to try flavors before you decide, it's a part of the experience and makes your choice only harder, as all the flavors are so delicious!
With Elli at the Milk Bar
Varga Bar 

I'd say Glebe is the best place for going out for dinner. A street filled with nice cozy and quite reasonably priced restaurant that serve cuisines from all over the world. So rather than going out for dinner in the city catch a bus (or walk) to Glebe! :) Every Saturday morning Glebe has really good markets which are good for 2nd hand clothing shopping, but you also find nice new stuff there. Glebe has also lots of nice cafes (the best cafes are located out side of the city center ;) and a shopping center called Broadway which can be your rainy day savior.  Near Glebe there's a nice big park called Victoria park which is a nice place to have a picnic or just sit and look at students reading their thick books in the shades of the trees (Glebe and Newtown are popular areas among students as the unis of Sydney are located near them). Oh and back to rainy days (which we don't have that often here, but still) White Rabbit gallery (Chinese Contemporary Art) is also located near this area (in Chippendale). Again free entry, and a good place to have tea and dumplings as well as to see some art.

Tea and Dumplings at white rabbit

Paddington and Surry Hills
Paddington and Surry Hills are also lovely areas for shopping and visiting cafes (and having dinner). Padington has markets every Saturday morning, which I thought were really nice :)

Paddington Markets
The Botanical Gardens
Almost forgot! You should definitely go for a walk in the Botanical Garden's when your here. Perfect for a picnic and really good views on the opera house and harbour bridge (from miss maquarie's point).

 Aussie brekkie
In Australia cafes have really good breakfast menus, and it's really popular here to meet up with friends in the morning and to go out for breakfast together (this was a whole new concept for me but I love it). You should definitely try this out while here (although hotel breakfasts are good, I guarantee you don't want to miss this). Also be sure to try a Chai Latte (didn't have those in Finland last year, really hope they have them now!) and if your brave enough a vegemite sandwich (haha little chance you're going to like that on your first try but it's an experience).

When going out for dinner (especially to places like Thai, and Indian restaurants) you should now it's normal to as a group order mains to share. This was also a new thing for me, but it's a really nice concept as you get to try out different sorts of things. If you like Asian food, this is your chance there are loooots of really good Asian restaurants here! Also when going out for lunch or something, it's totally common here to share with a friend. You just ask and they'll make the dish on two separate plates for you (great if you're a student trying to safe money ;) )
The Fine Food Store

Typical Australian Breakfast
Other things
Hmm.. I'm sure I forgot to tell heaps of good things but I'm sure you'll already get far with this info. When you come here you should check if there are any events on. Especially in January and February there are lots of good music festivals here! Oh and concert tickets are quite cheap here so if you like going out to concerts you should check what's on in venues like the metro theater (in the city) and Enmore (in Newtown). Sydney is a big city so there's almost always something on.  I hope someone benefits from these tips, and oh for the girls who are about to go to Sydney and asked for this post can you link me your Sydney posts when you've had your trip. I want to hear about your experiences :)!!

I don't know if the links show on your computers but I put quite a lot of links to cafes and shops etc. in this post. I also linked some of my older posts to the texts that might give you a better idea of the place.

This took me two days! (thought I'd let you know)

Xx Emma


  1. Kiitos tosi paljon! Tää lista autto hirveesti matkan suunnittelua. Varsinkin tuo aamiaisvinkki oli ihana, pitää testata :)

  2. Anonymous17/11/13

    Kyllähän chai latteja nyt on Suomestaki saanu :D

    1. No ei ne niin suosittuja ainakaan vuos sitten ollu et ois jotenkin silmiin pistänyt :)