If you are planning on visiting Sydney in the near future, this blog post is a must-read to ensure you get the most out of your trip!
Sydney is an incredible location, with so much to offer. From fun festivals and vibrant nightlife to the stunning beaches and abundance of culture, there is something for everyone.
These are 8 practical things you should know if you are visiting this Australian city as a tourist:
1. Sydney has no center
There is no city center in Sydney. Rather, it is a disparate mosaic, which is officially divided into ten distinct villages. Each village has its own character, and this is what makes Sydney truly unique.
You have Redfern, which is the heart of Aboriginal culture and history. You also have the upmarket Harbour areas, as well as the Central Business District (CBD), which is known for its soaring skyscrapers and fast pace. This merely scratches the surface, so you see why people say it is a city with so much to offer. Because of this, you will need to look for a car hire Sydney-based firm to make the most of the city. Not only will you be able to explore the different villages at your own will, but this will also enable you to incorporate plenty of other fun activities into your trip, such as a road trip to the impressive Blue Mountains.
2. Sydney’s public transport is far from perfect
Sydney isn’t the easiest city to explore. There is no metro and only a patchwork of trains, buses, ferries and the light rail.
Town Hall station, which serves the central business district, is a necessary evil: an intimidating number of elevators and platforms stacked on top of each other… It’s best to avoid Town Hall during rush hour, and to know in advance which platform you need if you’re connecting as well as which exit you want. The signage at the station might not correspond to your desired destination, and the wrong exit will take you several blocks out of your way.
Make sure to allocate plenty of money to pay for taxi fares, or get your walking shoes on to walk the long distances sometimes required. Uber has come to town as well and is gaining popularity.
And, whenever you can, take a ferry! The experience is much more pleasant than battling traffic or navigating other forms of public transport.
Sydney uses the Opal Card which is similar to London’s Oyster Card: a card you keep and reload with credit for trips. You can buy them at convenience stores and news stands.
Visit Transportnsw.info for a useful trip planner and further public transport information. Or download the free TripView Lite app which is a great app to help you navigate public transport in Sydney.
3. In Sydney you can ride shotgun
Where in cities like New York and London getting in the front seat with a taxi driver would get you a funny look, in egalitarian Sydney it’s considered normal. There is no official rule, but especially when riding solo people normally get in the front seat of a taxi.
4. You should think about when you want to visit
October to March is Sydney’s busiest tourism period, when the weather is most pleasant. This also means prices for flights are highest and accommodation fills up faster.
Airfares are cheaper for travel during Australia’s winter months (June until August), with spring and fall being shoulder season.
5. Sydney is not a cheap place to visit
Sydney is not cheap at all! Australia in general is one of the more expensive countries in the world and Sydney is no exception there. Be prepared to pay a lot for transport, accommodation and alcohol.
6. You don’t have to tip
Leaving a tip at a bar or restaurant or tipping your taxi driver is not customary nor is it expected. Australian minimum wage is relatively high which means Australians don’t have to rely on tips as heavily as people do in some other countries. Taxis in Sydney are metered and many do round up.
7. You don’t need to do it by the book
Of course, there are plenty of well-known tourist attractions in Sydney, but there are plenty of magical places that are a little off the beaten track and not as well known. Beare Park is a prime example of this. This is a great place to have a sneaky mimosa right by the water in Rushcutters Bay. Western Sydney is another place to consider. Here, you will find plenty of activities to enjoy, including indoor skydiving, aqua golf, a drive-in cinema, and Wet ‘n’ Wild.
Some of the best beaches are the small, secluded ones as well, especially in the Eastern Suburbs. Milk Beach is definitely one to visit if you have the time. It gets its name because the sand is very white. It’s easy to access, situated right next to Hermitage Bay, and the water is a beautiful, vibrant blue shade.
For something a bit different, head to the Inner West (the metropolitan area directly to the west of the central business district). The Inner West is great for delicious food and quirky shops and markets. Newtown is a popular suburb if you are seeking somewhere with a cool vibe. The University of Sydney is based here, and its gorgeous building is well worth checking out. Stop by Brewtown Newtown for delicious chai tea. On a Saturday, neighboring suburb Glebe has one of the best markets.
For more insider tips check out: Sydney, Australia: 10 Things Not to Miss – Insider Tips
8. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen!
Sydney offers beautiful beaches, great parks and a lively harbor. And thanks to its great climate and many sunny days you will want to spend most of your time in Sydney outside. But the sun in Australian isn’t like the sun in other places. Since the 1960s, Australia’s ozone layer has depleted between 5-9%. That means you’ll burn, even on a cloudy day!
So, bring some spending money plus plenty of sunscreen and I am sure you will enjoy this incredible city, which is one of my favorite places in the world!
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