Many travelers mistakenly think that Sydney is the capital of the Land Down Under — and who can blame them? Sydney is Australia’s largest city and sees the most international visitors per year. It’s also the city most referenced in pop culture whenever Australia is portrayed.
If you find yourself in this cool, coastal city for just one day, here are all the shenanigans you should get up to. Be sure to pack your walking shoes, this itinerary will have you clocking heaps of kilometers on your fitbit.
Morning at the Beach
Start your day in Coogee, a quiet beach town with a sandy shoreline, park, and plenty of cafes to spend money at. Get your caffeine fix and breakfast at The Little Kitchen, a small cafe where you’re sure to find avocado on toast, the signature breakfast dish for trendy Australians (and millennials worldwide). Or, opt for the ricotta pancakes topped with fresh berries and vanilla ice cream.
Rest your tush on the shoreline before walking down Sydney’s famous coastal path, the Coogee to Bondi Coastal Walk. If you’re legs feel tired or you simple want to cool off in the water, Bronte, Tamarama (nicknamed “Glamarama”), and Gordon’s Bay make for worthwhile resting points.
Afternoon in Sydney CBD
From there, you should head to Sydney’s CBD, the downtown area packed with bars, restaurants, and boutiques. The main draw, however, is the Sydney Opera House that overlooks Sydney Harbour. The Sydney Opera House is one of the only instantly recognizable buildings in the world. The building was designed by Jorn Utzon, the winner of a contest where architects from all over the globe submitted their designs for Sydney’s new opera house. When it came time to build Utzon’s design, local architects and engineers were stumped. There had never been a building similar to the whimsical, sail-like structure of the Sydney Opera House ever successfully built before. Original estimations concluded that the opera house would take just over five years to build and cost seven million dollars. In reality, it took sixteen years to complete and cost over one hundred million dollars.
So while the Sydney Opera House is often skipped by those who turn their noses at the most mainstream things to do or see in a city, the Sydney Opera House is one structure that is worth visiting considering the odds it had to overcome to be built in the first place.
After perusing the Sydney Opera House, walk to the Royal Botanical Gardens. You can also spend this time strolling across the Sydney Harbour Bridge to see panoramic views of the city and sea. Adrenaline junkies can get their heart pumping by climbing to the top of the bridge with Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb during sunset.
If you’re feeling hungry, venture to the CBD for an Australian meat or veggie pie from Pieface — one of the country’s most delicious pie franchises. Another favorite junk food stop is Lord of the Fries, a fast food joint where you can get vegetarian burgers, mock chicken Parmesan, and poutine.
Evening in Surry Hills
There are many cool cafes and restaurants in Surry Hills to dine at after a big day spent on your feet. Try Toko for modern decor and Japanese food, Chin Chin for Asian fusion, or Bodega for Spanish-style tapas. Arrive early, almost all restaurants worth visiting will have long wait times on the weekend.
If you want to drink and dance during a big night out, Kings Cross is where you’ll find some of the city’s liveliest bars. Be warned, though, this neighborhood is known to get so rowdy, the New South Wales government instated a curfew known as the Sydney lockout law where patrons cannot enter a bar after 1:30 a.m. or order drinks past 3:00 a.m.