Destination of the Week: Sydney
Where can you find a world-class harbour, sun-drenched beaches, fascinating historical monuments, glamorous night life and an internationally renowned arts, culture and fashion scene? Sydney, Australia, is the nation’s party hot-spot, home to Bondi Beach, The Sydney Opera House and a cutting-edge atmosphere that gives the Pacific Ocean a run for its money, in terms of ‘sparkle’.
What to do
When you first arrive in Sydney, one of the best ways to explore the stunning harbour is by taking a Sydney Harbour Cruise. You can jump on a jet boat, take a romantic sailing trip, try a vintage tall ship or take a dinner cruise to see the twinkling city lights on dusk. If you’re visiting between May and November, take a tour to see whales during their annual migratory season.
Visit the Sydney Tower Eye to get a true sense of the huge scale of the city and spectacular views of the waterways. Head to Circular Quay and Darling Harbour for shopping, activities, restaurants, cinemas and non-stop action. Oxford Street is home to the infamous Mardi Gras in March each year and it’s also a fabulous strip of shops and restaurants, from the CBD to upmarket Paddington.
Of course, a trip to Sydney isn’t complete without visiting the Opera House and doing a Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. When nothing but the sand and sea will do, you’re spoilt for choice in Sydney. Take the Coogee to Bondi coastal walk to get a taste of turquoise coves surrounded by pristine white sand and panoramic cliff top views, or catch a ferry to Manly to sunbake among the beautiful people.
When you need a break from the big smoke, take a trip to the Blue Mountains. Rugged scenery combines with quaint houses, shops and village markets. Discover the beauty of The Three Sisters and explore the ancient limestone wonders that are the Jenolan Caves.
Where to stay
The Shangri-La Hotel (£££)
Located in the historic Rocks area, The Shangri-La is a luxury hotel boasting the very views you want when you visit Sydney; The Harbour, The Opera House and The Harbour Bridge. It’s a short walk from the city centre and, while you’re onsite, you can enjoy an indoor pool, a spa and restaurants.
Travelodge Sydney (££)
When you’re looking for a hotel in a fantastic, central location but with self-catering facilities and good-value prices, the Travelodge is a perfect choice. It’s located steps from popular Hyde Park and Oxford Street and all the rooms have fridges and microwaves.
Sydney Habour YHA (£)
The Sydney Habour YHA really does take backpacking to a whole new level, Sydney style. If you can imagine a modern hostel with spacious rooms and an unbelievable view of the Habour from the rooftop for you to enjoy, this is it.
Where to eat
In Sydney, no matter what you feel like, you can get it, from celebrity chef menus to cheap eats in China Town, every conceivable fast-food outlet and a delightful blend of multi-cultural options such as Vietnamese, Turkish, Italian, French and Lebanese.
Popular for its pre-theatre menu, Aria sits right on the harbour at Circular Quay, home to spectacular views and a menu designed by celebrity chef, Matt Moran. Take your pick from an extensive wine list and try Sashimi of yellowfin tuna with white soy, fennel cream and caviar, or miso baked eggplant with hazelnuts, braised mushrooms and green shallots.
Blackbird Café (££)
Right in the heart of Darling Harbour, the Blackbird Café has it all; views, a mouth-watering menu, funky music and a vibrant bar. You can get anything from garlic bread to salt and pepper squid, pizzas, fish, pasta and cocktails.
Organic Republic (£)
For that perfect bakery treat after a day at the beach, pop into Organic Republic at Bondi Beach. Luscious sandwiches, breads topped with nuts and seeds, coffee, scones and delicious treats await.
Featured image source: (c) istock/thinkstock