24 Hours in Sydney

Posted by Lisa O'Brien on Friday, December 8, 2017

It’s Australia’s largest city and arguably one of its most stunning – have you seen that harbour?! But it’s not all style and no substance here. Along with the unbeatable views, Sydney also boasts year-round sunshine, a world-class dining scene, some serious retail therapy and a laid back, outdoorsy lifestyle. The problem is, with so much on offer, how can you possibly make the most of it if you’re only in town for a day?

We've put together an itinerary on how to spend the best day ever in the NSW capital. Jam packed full of places to eat, sights to see, and things to do in Sydney, consider your NSW getaway sorted.

Getting there

If you’re coming from the airport, the Airport Link train is the fastest way into the CBD – it’s just nine minutes from the domestic terminal to Central Station. If there are more than two of you a taxi is likely to be the most cost effective option (with the added bonus that it’ll take you straight to your door). If you plan to use public transport while you’re in Sydney, pick up an Opal card online or from an Opal retailer so you can just tap on and off on buses, trains and ferries.

Your Itinerary

1. Up and at 'em | 6am

The Bondi to Bronte walk, a 2km stretch of coastline between two of Sydney’s most famous beaches, isn’t exactly a secret, but there’s a good reason for that; it’s pretty incredible. However, in the middle of the day it’s also pretty packed, so locals know the best time to hit the track is early in the morning, before the tourist hoards descend. It also has some of the city’s best perches to watch the sun rise, so make sure you take a camera. If you’re feeling energetic, the walk continues all the way down to Coogee beach – but at 6km from end to end, you might want to catch the bus back if you get that far!

What to do in Sydney

Photography credit: Simon Rae on Unsplash

2. Breakfast for champions | 8am

If you're looking for the best breakfast in Bondi, you have a lot to choose from. Try the health conscious Harry's or Porch & Parlour for a hearty egg brekkie - with or without a Bloody Mary depending on your recovery needs. If you're more of a sweet tooth, you may want to try Bills, Bondi from well-known chef Bill Granger. It's said his fluffy ricotta hotcakes are almost as famous as the man himself.

3. Culture club | 9am

After you've filled up with fuel for the day, catch a bus directly into the city. Your destination? Two of Sydney’s top museums and galleries. Art lovers should head straight for the Art Gallery of NSW. Once you’ve had a good wander around, head over to the nearby Australian Museum to be inspired by the nature, culture and exploration. Boasting an impressive history of being Australia's first museum, the Ausralian Museum has been a favoured destination by culture vultures for 190 years. 

4. Ladies (and gents) who lunch | Noon

While the Sydney CBD has lifted its game in the food and drink stakes in recent years, many of Sydney’s best restaurants and bars are to be found in inner city suburbs like Surry Hills, Darlinghurst and Potts Point. After you’ve had your dose of Sydney galleries and museums, head up William Street to Potts Point, where you’ll find The Butler on leafy Victoria Street. Nab a seat on the balcony for stunning views back over the city, or if it's too busy outside, the light, airy interiors still make for a great summer lunch setting. Make sure you try the Floral 75 cocktail – Plymouth Sloe Gin with Cointreau, lemon and a dash of rose water topped with French sparkling wine.

5. To market, to market | 2pm

Sydney has no shortage of great markets – the only limitation is how far you feel like travelling after that Floral 75 cocktail! Glebe Markets (Saturdays, 10am-4pm) and Rozelle Markets (Saturdays and Sundays, 9am-4pm) are both stalwarts of the inner west, while the Kirribilli Markets (selected dates, see website) are popular north of the bridge. If you’d prefer to stay in the city, The Rocks Markets (Saturdays and Sundays, 10am-5pm), while slightly touristy, have been luring shoppers down to the harbour for years now.

6. Sundowners | 5pm

If you find yourself getting thirsty while you’re in The Rocks, you’re perfectly placed to take advantage of some of Sydney’s best bars with a view. Tourists and locals alike flock to Opera Bar which, as the name suggests, is smack bang under the Opera House overlooking the Harbour Bridge. To escape the hoards, The Theatre Bar at the End of the Wharf in Walsh Bay and the rooftop of The Glenmore in The Rocks offer slightly less crowded, but no less impressive, vistas of the bridge. Feeling REALLY fancy? At the Shangri-La Hotel’s Blu Bar on 36 (yep, it’s on the 36th floor), you can order the ‘Martini on the Rock’, a $10,000 cocktail that includes a diamond and a room at the hotel!

Quay Snow Egg

Photography credit: Quay

7. Choose your own dining adventure | 7pm

Ask any Sydneysider for a restaurant recommendation and you’re likely to be hit with a barrage of questions in return – what kind of cuisine are you looking for? Cheap or fancy? Inside or outside? North, south, east or west? Yep, Sydneysiders take their food very seriously and are completely spoilt for choice, so singling out just one or two eateries is nigh on impossible. The Dolphin Hotel run by Iceberg's owner Maurice Terzini specialises in natural wines and Mediterranean influenced dining. Monopole is a contemporary Potts Point wine bar and restaurant recently awarded two hats by the 2018 Good Food Guide. Automata has been touted as one of Sydney's best cutting-edge restaurants, located in the Old Clare Hotel in Chippendale, or for something really fancy; head to Peter Gilmore's Quay (for fans of Masterchef, maybe you'll order the delicate and complex snow egg dessert).

8. A night at the theatre | 8pm

Melbourne might be known as the events capital of Australia, but when it comes to theatre, Sydney can give it a serious run for its money. Discover the latest entertainment to grace the Capitol Theatre, or head over to the Lyric Theatre. Also check out the Opera House, State Theatre and Sydney Theatre Company to see what’s on when you’re in town.

Spicers Potts Point
Spicers Potts Point

9. Where to stay?

City chic: Larmont Sydney by Lancemore

Designer digs: Spicers Potts Point

Riverside Retreat: Calabash Bay Lodge

Mountain getaway: Spicers Sangoma Retreat

Hero Image: Dan Freeman