When we flew into Sydney, Australia, we headed straight for Bondi Beach for a week of coastal living. In that time, my anticipation of exploring the sights of Sydney had built to the point of beyond ecstatic. The handy ‘Official Sydney Guide’ that I picked up from the airport outlined several self-guided walking tours that would show off the best of the city. In my “I want to see it all!” way, I created a one day itinerary for Sydney that covered the best sights. I merged the three walks into one, even adding a few sights not on the list, making my own self-guided walking tour of Sydney.
One day itinerary for Sydney: Darling Harbor to the Queen Victoria Buildings
Starting at the Pyrmont Bridge, we were welcomed to the vibrant Darling Harbor packed with tourist sights, museums, restaurants and boats. But, as hard as it tried to pull us in, we couldn’t tear our eyes away from the Sydney skyline. Using the Sydney Tower Eye (soaring 268 meters into the sky) as our compass, we took Market Street across the Central Business District and quickly came to the Queen Victoria Building (QVB), a Romanesque structure built in 1898 and filling an entire city block.
One day itinerary for Sydney: Hyde Park and St. Mary’s Cathedral
We continued to the north end of Hyde Park to the Archibald Fountain, a popular place for tour groups, photo shoots and locals. Just beyond the park is the magnificent St. Mary’s Cathedral. This neo-Gothic cathedral is Australia’s largest and is even more stunning from the inside, but no photos allowed.
One day itinerary for Sydney: The Domain to Woolloomooloo Bay
A stroll through The Domain – 84 acres of open, grassy space – led us to the Art Gallery of New South Wales and, although it is free, the sunny weather encouraged us to pass it by this time around and enjoy the outdoors. We wandered east to Woolloomooloo Bay and walked the length of the historic, wooden Finger Wharf, home to luxury condos and a swanky hotel.
One day itinerary for Sydney: Harry’s Cafe de Wheels
We were coming up on lunch time and just around the corner was a Sydney institution: Harry’s Café de Wheels serving up ‘pie ‘n peas’ since the late 1930s. We ordered up the recommended beef pie, tiger style: a three-inch, piping-hot beef pie topped with mushy peas, mashed potatoes and gravy goodness. We also ventured out a bit with the curry chicken pie…tiger style as well.
One day itinerary for Sydney: Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair and views of the Opera House and Harbor Bridge
Continuing our city tour, we returned to The Domain and headed north along the jogging path to Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair (carved from sandstone) and the famous views of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge, a.k.a. The Coat Hanger. I could almost hear the swell of music as we came around the corner and – ‘Taaa-daaaaa’ – there it was: the iconic vision of Sydney.
One day itinerary for Sydney: Sydney Opera House
Following the path that hugs the cove, we arrived at the impressive steps – nearly 100 meters wide – leading to the entrance of the Sydney Opera House, but circled it once from sea level before heading to get a closer look.
The two halls of ‘stacked shells’ that make up the award-winning structure come with amazing acoustics on the inside and have hosted world-known musical and theatrical talents. From the entrance level, you can see and touch the tiles (tiles that took three years to develop) that make up the exterior of the sailboat-looking building.
One day itinerary for Sydney: Circular Quay and the Rocks District
As difficult as it was to leave the marvel, we pressed on through Circular Quay, the main hub for ferries and harbor cruises on to the historic Rocks district. The Rocks has a storied past, beginning with the Aboriginal People with evidence of their presence dating back to the 1400s. In the late 1700s, it became home to convicts. In the mid-1800s, it was a port city full of debauchery. And in 1900, plague broke out and The Rocks fell to the slums. A government cleansing destroyed many homes which continued until the 1970s when residents took a stand and fought to keep their community.
One day itinerary for Sydney: Cadmans Cottage, Sailor’s Home, Mercantile Hotel and Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel
Several historic buildings still stand, including Cadmans Cottage House, Sailor’s Home and the Mercantile Hotel. Another historic site: The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel – and that is where we headed next.
Continually operated on the site as a hotel and pub since 1841 (adding the brewery in 1987), rooms at The Lord Nelson Brewery go for $200 a night, which is quite the price hike since its early days, but the pub is classic and the beer is fresh. The Three Sheets Australian Pale Ale is a refreshing beer after a long day of sightseeing.
One day itinerary for Sydney: Darling Harbor
It was time to make our way back to the light rail station to head home, but we simply couldn’t resist the tug from Darling Harbor, so we made a quick pit stop into one of the many cafes offering happy hour. We watched as boats came and went, depositing and collecting both tired tourists and business people done with their workday. It was dark by the time we made it across the bridge and glancing back at the city we saw it sparkle with light.
We want to know: What would you have added to a one day itinerary for Sydney, Australia?