Australia is BEAUTIFUL! I'm so glad I finally visited after putting it off for years due to its distance from New York City. Now that I live in Southern California, Sydney is a 14 hour nonstop flight from LA International Airport.
When visiting Aussie, Sydney should be your first stop. There is so much to do and see here. Take a walk on the Sydney Harbour Bridge while enjoying splendid views of the Sydney Opera House. Walk along Darling Harbour and Circular Quay (pronounced key). Spend a day to visit the Blue Mountains, and wildlife park to see the kangaroos and koala bears. It's definitely something everyone should experience.
If I had to compare Sydney to a US city, I would say it’s a cross between New York City and Los Angeles. The famous landmarks of Sydney and being able to get around on foot reminded me of being in New York City. On the other hand, palm trees along the waterfront, and the friendly, laid-back attitude of Sydneysiders reminded me of Los Angeles.
Just like both NYC and LA, Sydney has a thriving culinary scene with various cuisines, however Asian food dominates the food scene in both Sydney and Melbourne. The Asian food in both cities is amazing, but Melbourne is a culinary delight! Although I was in Australia, I didn't muster up the courage to try some local Australian cuisine which consisted of Kangaroo Burgers, Crocodile Spring Rolls, and Meat Pies. After speaking with a few locals, I understand these items are for the tourists and not so much for the locals. With that said, Barramundi is a popular fish in Australia and I ate plenty of it. Without further ado, here is my 5 day, 4 night itinerary for Sydney.
Where To Stay in Sydney
Los Angeles International Airport - Sydney Airport
Uber from Sydney Airport to the hotel.
We stayed at the Radisson Plu Plaza Hotel Sydney. The hotel is centrally located in the Central Business District of Sydney. Radisson Blu Sydney is a 10 minute walk to Circular Quay, 15 minute walk to Darling Harbour, and a 7 minute walk to the shopping area near Pitt Street.
Between the two main areas, I preferred Circular Quay more because the views were spectacular. The difference - Circular Quay is where you'll find the major landmarks of Sydney such as Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, whereas Darling Harbour is where you'll find all the bars and restaurants with views of the harbour. At night, Darling Harbour is more lively.
Our stay at the 5 star Radisson Blu Sydney was very comfortable and the hotel staff was extremely helpful. During our stay, we had access to the Business Class Lounge where we enjoyed appetizers and cocktails before dinner. I especially loved their veggie finger sandwiches featured below. We also had an extensive buffet breakfast included in our room rate featuring American, Asian, and European cuisines. Since we had breakfast and club lounge access, we didn't venture out much for food during the day. Needless to say, my husband was in heaven!
Star: ****** (more like 4.5 star)
Pros: Great Location | Outstanding Customer Service | Free WiFi | Complimentary Treats provided by Room Service | Comfortable Beds | Housekeeping | Complimentary Tea/Coffee | Complimentary Water | Restaurants at Hotel | Spa | Access to Business Lounge Goodies when staying on Business Floor
Cons: Not a 5 star, more along the lines of a 4.5 star | No Views from Rooms
Location: 27 O'Connell Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia
Other Hotel Recommendations:
The hotels in Australia aren't too expensive (relatively speaking), however since we visited during the Australian Open and Australia Day, the prices were higher than usual.
Shangri-La Hotel Sydney (hotel with the best views)
Four Seasons Hotel Sydney (classic, harbourfront views)
Park Hyatt Sydney (serious splurge)
Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour (pretty views of darling harbour)
What To Do in Sydney
5 nights/4 ½ days
- Walk on the Sydney Harbour Bridge
- Walk along Circular Quay enjoying views of Sydney Harbour
- Check out Sydney Opera House
- Stroll along the lively Darling Harbour. Fireworks every Saturday at 9 PM
- Visit the Royal Botanic Garden - it's free!
- Day Trip to Blue Mountains. Visit the Wild Life Sydney Zoo along the way to see the kangaroos and koala Bears too. Book directly with your hotel.
- Visit Bondi Beach - 30 minutes by car
Walking by the water in Circular Quay.
With my darling in Darling Harbour. 🙂
Darling Harbour at twilight - so pretty.
Since it was Saturday night, we got to watch fireworks at 9 pm. Apparently this happens every Saturday night.
Walked on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Views of the Sydney Opera House from above.
We are on the other side of the bridge at Milsons Point. We took the ferry back to Circular Quay.
The Opera House up close and personal.
Grab drinks at Opera Bar and enjoy the views.
Sydney Harbour Bridge from Circular Quay.
Walked around The Royal Botanic Garden.
Day trip to Featherdale Wildlife Park to see the kangaroos and koala bears. Feeding the kangaroos. Initially I was scared, but they're so cute and quite small for a kangaroo.
The koala bears were just soooooooooooo cute. They sleep 22 hours a day. Nice life!
We then headed to see the spectacular Blue Mountains. This trolley ride was so fun.
The Three Sisters.
And then us!
A low-key day. Walked around The Rocks neighborhood.
And another walk around Circular Quay.
Delicious gelato from Messina - located in Circular Quay.
Chocolate High Tea at the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney. It was just okay for me!
Checked out. Afternoon flight to Melbourne.
Where To Eat in Sydney
- Grab a drink at Opera Bar and/or Circular Quay Restaurant
- Check out Mr. Wong - slightly hyped up, but good food
- Dinner at Sokyo - fine Japanese cuisine and best meal on the trip
- Dessert at La Renaissance Patisserie and Cafe - garden-like setting and delicious pastries.
1. Sokyo (darling harbour)
Fine Japanese cuisine and the best meal in Sydney with outstanding service! It's a slight trek from Circular Quay and the Central Business District, but it's definitely worth it.
Cost: $$$$ | Cuisine: Fine Japanese | Location: 80 Pyrmont St, Pyrmont NSW 2009, Australia
Overall: 4.5 / 5
Favorites: Kingfish Miso Ceviche | Maguro Tataki | Eggplant Tempura | Dengakuman Miso Cod | Queensland Sushi Roll | Kingfish Sashimi (regular) | Nikka Caramel Macchiato
2. Mr. Wong (central business district)
One of the most popular restaurants in Sydney with rave reviews. It's good, but slightly overrated. Mr. Wong's special fried rice is hyped up and bland, the dish to order here is the King Crab Fried Rice (which I didn't try). Delicious steamed dumplings and hot & sour soup.
Cost: $$$ | Cuisine: Chinese | Location: 3 Bridge Lane, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia
Overall: 4 / 5
Favorites: Steamed Dim Sum Platter | Roast Duck Hot & Sour Soup | King Crab Fried Rice (I didn't order this, but it looked amazing and has good reviews online)
3. La Renaissance Patisserie & Cafe (the rocks)
A taste of Paris in Sydney! Beautiful courtyard seating in the back - it's a hidden gem. The pastries are beautiful and you'll be indecisive like me trying to figure out what to order. Perfect for an afternoon tea/coffee break.
Cost: $-$$ | Cuisine: French/Patisserie | Location: 47 Argyle St, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia
Overall: 5 / 5
Favorites: Goya (raspberry mousse cake with passionfruit center) | Latte | English Breakfast Tea | Almond Croissant (this is the famous item to order, however I didn't try it)
4. The Malaya (darling harbour)
Malaysian cuisine with harbour views... dine here at sunset. Menu is extensive so stick to the Signature Menu which features the best dishes. The food is delicious, however it's extremely rich and heavy since most items are either fried, oily, or coconut based. The Beef Rendang is outstanding! The Szechuan Eggplant is good, but overrated. Order wisely!
Cost: $$-$$$ | Cuisine: Malaysian | Location: 39 Lime St | King Street Wharf, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia
Overall: 4 / 5
Favorites: Kapitan Chicken Curry | Coconut Beef Rendang | Roti Canai (I didn't order this, but it's supposedly very good)