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A glittering harbour with famous landmarks and major attractions, manicured parks, sun-drenched beaches, an extensive nightlife and foodie scene: Sydney is a multifaceted city that offers something for everyone.
You'll be hard-pressed to fit everything into one day, but if you've landed in the Emerald City and have just 24 hours before moving on to another part of Australia, here's our one-day itinerary to ensure you don't miss a beat.
Kicking off bright and early to fit everything that Sydney has to offer in one day, it's best to start with a coffee and breakfast. There are plenty of places around the harbour that offer good food and great views, so you won't struggle to find somewhere at the Sydney Harbour Bridge. There's a place just north of the harbour in Kirribilli called Celsius that boasts unrivalled views of the water and with wooden interiors and huge surrounding windows this cute café is flooded with natural light. Australians are big on healthy food and Celsius doesn't disappoint. Fuel yourself up for the day ahead, Sydney-style.
After breakfast, grab another coffee to go and submerge yourself in the street art as you head west to Lavender Bay to lose yourself in Wendy's Secret Garden. Perhaps Sydney's worst-kept secret, Wendy's Secret Garden is a well-known, not-so-hidden gem. When Wendy Whitley lost her husband (a renowned artist) in 1992, she channelled her energy into transforming a disused train yard space and, in turn, transforming herself and her grief. Well worth a visit, the stunning space also has views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background that not everyone will have a picture of, so it's one to stay ahead of the curve of many tourists.
Before heading over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, pop into Bradfield Park to take in iconic views (and pictures) of the harbour, the bridge, Circular Quay and the Sydney Opera House. This beautiful location is a good way to round off the slow-paced morning before heading south. Next, head over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, taking centre stage at the most famous harbour in the world. Opening in March 1932, six years after building began, the steel bridge, locally known as 'the coat hanger', contains six million hand-driven rivets. While you're here, take part in the bridge climb for jaw-dropping, panoramic views of Sydney. The Sydney Bridge climb has been on many bucket lists since opening in 1998.
A view to rival that from the Sydney Harbour Bridge is Tower Eye 13. At an eye-watering 309 metres high, this is the city's tallest building. If you're feeling brave, you can also do an open-air skywalk. Though if you'd rather keep your feet on solid ground (or at least solid building), stay in the parameters of the tower and take in the views from here; they are well worth it.
There are many markets for you to peruse and pick up a souvenir from your trip to Sydney. Paddy's Market may well be the biggest, but there are many markets across the city, including the Rocks Markets, which are nestled next to the central business district (aka the CBD). There are also Paddington Markets, offering authentic, unique local arts and crafts and showcasing a range of small businesses and brands. You will be spoilt for choice for lunch options at any of the markets with plenty of fresh produce and food stalls to satisfy your hunger.
When you think of Sydney, you're likely to conjure up images of the Sydney Opera House. Taking centre stage around the world, the landmark - with its easily-recognisable sails - has now been added to the National Heritage List and the UNESCO World Heritage List. Situated on Bennelong Point, the iconic building has over 40 shows a week and amasses more than 8.2 million visitors each year. This is definitely one not to be missed.
Board your Captain Cook Cruises vessel at Jetty 6 Circular Quay to commence an afternoon Harbour Story Cruise. Discover the stories of Sydney Harbour under the spell of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. This sightseeing cruise includes a fun and personalised commentary of the sights, people, land, history and development of the world's most beautiful harbour city. Self-serve coffee, tea and biscuits are included.
After the harbour and all it has to offer, stretch your legs again with a stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens, a place to find serenity in a busy, fast-paced city. There's more than just foliage in these gardens, though. There's Mrs Macquarie's Chair, an exposed sandstone rock cut into the shape of a bench perched on a peninsula in Sydney Harbour, this is the perfect spot to view the spectacle and capture some impressive shots, looking back on the areas you've explored all morning.
Known as 'the lungs of the city', Centennial Parklands are considered to be some of the most historical urban spaces in Australia. While you're here, you can enjoy horse riding, bicycle hire or continue to increase your steps by walking the circumference (though this could take a while!). There's a café within the park that serves coffee, so pick up an afternoon flat white to blend in with the locals.
Second to the industrial landmarks, sandy white shores, crashing waves and surfers everywhere you look are synonymous with Australia. Your itinerary so far has showcased Sydney's lush landscapes and its urban jungle; now it's time to get some sea air in your lungs and pay a visit to Australia's most famous beach: Bondi. Not far from the city centre in distance, but hugely different from the rest of Sydney, Bondi Beach is home to some fantastic restaurants, cafés, sights and street art. Why not take a stroll along the Bondi Beach graffiti wall - a Bondi beach institution that reflects Bondi's vibrant identity and close relationship with street artists. Alternatively, take a dip in the world-famous and historical turquoise ocean pools, known as The Icebergs. Or, take in the range of fantastic art installations dotted throughout Bondi.
After you've refreshed at Bondi, take to the coastal paths and explore Sydney's cliff-side with one of the best short walks in the city. The walk will feel worlds away from Sydney's Central Business District and it's hard to believe that they're in the same city, but enjoy this iconic stretch, offering scenic views with the South Pacific Ocean as a stunning backdrop to your early evening stroll. This walk can take a few hours, so if you only want to sample some of it, drop off points could be Mackenzie's Bay, Tamarama Rocks or Tamarama Beach. If you're visiting in summer, the temperature would have cooled by this point to make this an enjoyable, early evening walk at golden hour to work up an appetite for dinner. Towards the end of your walk, head inland on the 333 bus.
Time for something to eat and Sydney does not disappoint with its eatery options. Try Chin Chin, set inside a trendy industrial space at Surry Hills' iconic Griffiths Teas building and offering spectacular South East Asian fare - something that Sydney is known for - this is a surprisingly affordable restaurant. Chin Chin's trademark taste is a careful blend of spice, heat and herbs, offering a sensory dining experience. If you want to sample some other foods, Surry Hills is bustling with places for you to dine at.
After dinner, pay a visit to The Grounds of Alexandria. This Sydney institution is a stunning location and offers more than just a post-dinner drink. It's a café, restaurant and bar with a striking garden that also boasts a bakery and patisserie, as well as markets and florists. It's jaw-dropping and Instagram worthy at any point in the day, but if you pop in after the sun has gone down, you will be in awe of the foliaged archway adorned with fairy lights.
Tucked down a cobblestone alleyway in the heart of Sydney's CBD is cocktail bar PS40. This much-loved bar and soda factory avowals its own soda production set up and it approaches its drinks with hints of delicacy and a big ol' slosh of creativity. Flavours include wattle cola, smoked lemonade and bush tonic. They are served in a light, airy, studio-style bar that's quaint in size but big on substance.
Sydney's bar scene is ever evolving, so if you're up for a late night, there are plenty of haunts to visit. Embrace the mad craft of cocktail experimentation at one of Sydney's many specialist cocktail bars, be enamoured by the niche pubs that line the streets of Darling Harbour, Darlinghurst and Surry Hills, and dance the night away. Or, equally, rest your legs and head back to your accommodation - it's been a very long day and jet lag is sure to be lingering...
GMT+10 (Oct to Apr - GMT+11)
UK nationals must apply for a free visa before holidaying in Australia and can stay for up to three months.
Australian dollar (A$ - currently around A$1.50 to the GBP)
Summer (Dec to Feb) reaches late 30s, winter (Jun to Aug) is sunny but chilly.
Flights from London to Sydney take approximately 23 hours, but could increase significantly with a stoppover.