Sydney has so much to offer for travelers with a thirst for adventure and excitement. Finding time to fit in so many popular activities is sometimes easier when going solo… just yourself, a backpack, camera and a positive attitude. Knowing where to start can be overwhelming so we have prepared a guide of the standout landmarks and attractions to kick start your itinerary. Add the items below onto your list of things to do to create a once in a lifetime Sydney experience.
A Weekend in the Blue Mountains
If you’re craving nature and escapism from the hustle and bustle of the city then head up for a weekend break in the Blue Mountains. Going by car takes around 90 minutes or there is a direct train service from Central to Katoomba station, which is approximately two hours. Don’t be put off by the journey time – it’s well worth it!
On arrival, take on a tour such as the Blue Mountains explorer bus for a friendly introduction to Katoomba and its surrounding areas with a local guide. You can hop on and hop off at any stop and you’ll learn a lot about the area that you wouldn’t have otherwise known. There are plenty of self-guided or guided hiking trails too.
If planning your own route, try and make time for the following places of interest: the three sisters rock formation which has deep ties to aboriginal folklore; the Waratah Aboriginal Centre to learn about indigenous culture in the area and even participate in their dance performances; view the endless Blue Mountains from the cableway or ride the steepest incline railway in the world; and the magnificent Jenolan caves. If you aren’t afraid of heights, scenic world is worth a visit.
Swim at North Sydney Olympic Pool
Escape the heat and pack some physical activity into your day by swimming a few laps at the historic North Sydney Olympic Pool. Can you believe 86 world records have been set here? Lanes are open seven days a week for casual and competitive swimmers, and spacious bathing areas on the rooftop are open for tanning and spectating. This iconic landmark is in a magnificent location that overlooks the Sydney Harbour Bridge and sits adjacent to Luna Park. There are even Lane 9 Gym classes such as aerobics, yoga, pilates and aqua aerobics to take advantage of. A casual visit to North Sydney Olympic Pool costs around $8 per adult. Refreshments are available on the premises.
Indulge in food and treats at the Rocks
Every Saturday and Sunday The Rocks district hosts a marquee event full of fancy foods, nibbles, local produce, and souvenirs to sample. The streets are a hive of activity from early morning til late afternoon, a certain fixture for your city event calendar and a satisfying thing to do if you have a free weekend to yourself in Sydney. Wander through the stalls filled with handcrafted jewelry, textiles, art and homeware. Continue on towards The Rocks Street Food at the northern end of George Street, right under the Harbour Bridge towards the smell of freshly baked bread or melt-in your-mouth lamb. Each stall has something to satisfy your taste buds. You’ll find homemade preserves, seasoned cured meats, mouthwatering burgers and traditional gozleme. Here you can choose from a variety of tasty offerings and have a picnic right on the harbour foreshore.
A day in Bundeena and the Royal National Park
The Royal National Park is truly a special place for any traveler with a wholesome appetite for nature and wildlife. This heritage-listed national park is always high up on the list of things to do for people of all ages and interests, so make a date in your diary for exploring this part of the world and you won’t regret it.
The Royal National Park spans 16,000 hectares from the Hacking River along the coast towards Wollongong. A direct train from the city to Cronulla and then a ferry from Gunamatta Bay to Bundeena is the route of choice for scenic views. The park is also accessible by road, ideal if you’re heading over with camping equipment or a trailer. Whilst in Bundeena you can hike many tracks including one to Jibbon Head and view the aboriginal engravings along the way, or to Wedding Cake Rock or Marley Beach.
A well-trodden coastal walk to explore is the 26km stretch from Bundeena to Otford. Look out for whales in peak season so keep your camera ready when by the coast. Other remarkable natural features include a gorgeous swimming reserve with waterfalls at Wattamolla, Eagle Rock, Garie Beach, the figure 8 pools, the rainforest. Trains operate from Otford back to the city.
Explore a hop on hop off habour cruise
Don’t leave Sydney without a scenic trip to the Harbour to uncover the local gems around the waterways. The harbour is a connection point for national parks, historic sites and hundreds of kilometers of shoreline just waiting to be explored. Satisfy your enthusiasm by booking a hop on hop off cruise to see these features from a truly unique viewpoint. Cruises operate daily and pick up at Darling Harbour, Luna Park, Circular Quay, Taronga Zoo. Highlights include the remarkable scenery and relaxed atmospheres of Watsons Bay and Manly Stop, and the historical sites at at Fort Denison and Garden Island, and Shark Island where there are many spots stop and enjoy some lunch.
Sydney Opera House tours
The Sydney Opera House is arguably one of the world’s most creative and busiest venues and hosts leading performances and events. For people visiting the city, taking a tour of this majestic landmark is a must-do activity. The venue is open to the public for behind-the-scenes tours where you will learn about its history and the positive cultural impact it has on modern Australia. Tours usually offer a glimpse behind the curtain to show where performances take place and what goes into making a world-class production. Stroll down and check it out when you have a fee day to yourself.
Marvel at Sydney’s museums
If you love history, culture and art then why not tick all three boxes in one swoop by completing a circuit of Sydney’s most celebrated museums. Not only it is a perfect rainy day activity, but an opportunity for learning and enriching your knowledge of history and art within Australia.
The Australian Museum is the oldest museum in the nation and has more than 10 million items in its collection and 10 complete dinosaur skeletons. Nearby, is the Hyde Park Barracks Museum which is one of Australia’s World Heritage listed convict sites. The Museum of Sydney is built on the site of the first Government House and you’ll learn plenty about the construction of the bridge and Opera House here. The Justice and Police Museum was the original settlement of convicts from the old world. The Rocks Discovery museum tells the story about the pre-European days to today.
If art, science and pop culture are more of interest, reserve an afternoon for the Powerhouse Museum or the Australian National Maritime Museum.
Tuck in to a traditional Australian dish
You’re never more than a stone’s throw from a mouth-water menu in the city. Food and drinks are a Sydney specialty – and there is no shortage of spots to check out, from elegant entrees, to gourmet meals, to desserts to die for. The influx of cultures and cooking styles makes for a unique melting pot of world class culinary wonders.
Australia has its fair share of signature dishes too: don’t leave town without trying a savory treat at Harry’s Café de Wheels, an internationally known eatery that is still going strong even after 70 years of business! Harry’s serves up specialists menu items such as pies’n’peas, crumbled sausages and more.
Animal encounters at Taronga Zoo
Unleash your wild side and get up close with the animals at one of Sydney’s most popular things to do for a fun day out. Taronga Zoo is just a short ferry ride from the city center and accessible by car from the main highways. This zoo is quite special in that the animals sit on some serious prime real estate and have some of the best views in Sydney. You can get a bird’s eye view of the harbour by entering the zoo through the cable car system. Walk through an African safari and be sure to check out the elephants. There is an Australian exhibit where you will find native wildlife. Watch the seals and sea turtles in the sea life exhibit. Be sure to check out the bird show! Fancy being a zookeeper for the day? Sign your name up for a morning or afternoon slot. You won’t be disappointed.
Explore Sydney Fish Market
Just a short walk from Darling Harbour and the Maritime Museum, check out the amazing display of freshly caught seafood at the Sydney Fish Markets. It may sound like just another fish market, but there is a reason that this location attracts large groups of locals and tourists every day. The wharf is an iconic representation of Australia with its fishing boats and stalls of seafood in all shapes and sizes. Enjoy fish and chips or have mud crab cooked up fresh. Take a behind the scenes tour or participate in a cooking class at the Sydney Seafood School.
For more fun and exciting ideas to try when exploring Sydney alone don’t miss out on iVenture Card’s night-time and free things to do guides.