Updated: Apr 21, 2020
G'Day Mate! From baby koalas and kangaroos to views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, Sydney, Australia (New South Wales or NSW) is one of the top destinations in the world for a reason.
Getting to Australia: I left the United States from San Francisco, California and flew directly to Sydney. The flight time was about 14 and half hours. United Airlines has direct flights to Sydney and Melbourne, Australia. I highly recommend taking a direct flight to avoid any through stops.
Travel tip: Make an itinerary before you go to plan out what you want to do and what you want to see. Sydney has a lot, so make sure you plan a diverse itinerary to make the most of your trip.
Lodging and Getting Around:
I stayed in an Airbnb in the Darlinghurst area of Sydney. Surry Hills and Potts Point are also great areas to stay in when visiting Sydney. Uber is available for getting around Sydney, you can also take the public bus but you'll need to purchase an Opal Card from a local shop to take public transportation. I recommend making a store run to the grocery store if you are staying in a place with a kitchen; the food is pretty inexpensive in Sydney but it would be cost-effective to prepare some of your meals instead of eating out every day.
Things to do in Sydney:
Taronga Zoo: Of course everyone goes to Australia to see koalas and kangaroos, but don't forget about the wallabies and wombats. The Taronga Zoo is the perfect place to go for a well-rounded experience: you can get up close and personal with the koalas, but since it's a conservation society, the koalas are protected here. Koalas have very strict diets (mostly eucalyptus leaves) and sleep schedules (at least 20 hours a day), so you are unable to actually pet them and pick them up at Taronga. For those types of experiences, you would have to travel outside of Sydney. It is actually against local regulations in Sydney for members of the public to cuddle koalas in Sydney. Try visiting a koala sanctuary, like the Lone Pine Sanctuary in Brisbane, Australia.
Sydney Opera House: A signature landmark of Sydney, the Opera House is a beauty inside and out. If you have seen Disney's Finding Nemo, then you are familiar with "P. Sherman 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney." This infamous line refers to an actual street in Sydney called Wallaga Way which is in close proximity to the Opera House. The Opera House is actually shown on the movie several times. This landmark is iconic and the structure can be seen on all of the post cards and memorabilia from Sydney. Located in the Circular Quay and surrounded by the beautiful blue water of the Sydney Harbour, the Opera House is one of the world's busiest performing arts centers. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is right next to the Opera House, making this the perfect photo op.
*Fun Fact: Did you know that rapper Ice Cube was the first rapper to perform live at the Sydney Opera House?
Sydney Ferries: The ferry rides are a must and are super easy to access. There are a lot of options for your ferry rides (I used Captain Cook Ferry), choosing which one depends on where you are planning to go. I took the ferry to visit the zoo and the ferry captain pointed out several significant landmarks along the way. You can board the ferries from Circular Quay and take one to the zoo, Manly Beach, or Rose Bay. The rides are inexpensive ($8.00 one way to Taronga Zoo); you can also purchase an Opal Card if you plan on taking multiple ferry rides. Ferries depart every 30 minutes.
Sydney Beaches: There are well over 100 beaches in Sydney. Some of the top-rated beaches in Sydney include Bondi Beach, Manly Beach, and Shelly Beach. during my visit to Bondi Beach, an amzing art exhibit was going on called Sculpture by the Sea: life-size pieces of art are placed all along the beach and you'll end up walking for miles trying to capture all of the pieces of art, This unique exhibit goes on annually at the end of October until early November.
Royal Botanic Garden: Although I didn't get a chance to fully experience the botanical garden, I highly recommend checking it out during your trip. The garden has the perfect ambiance of peace, as you walk through it, surrounded by hundreds of flowers and plants that bloom all year round.