Perfect 3 Day Itinerary for Sydney, Australia
Visiting Sydney had been high on my travel list. I had heard such wonderful things about the city and there are countless day trips waiting to be explored. We also had the advantage of traveling off season so the crowds were definitely lower than we expected – though it was certainly chilly in May! We went with a little bit of everything so that is what you are going to find in this itinerary. Feel free to adjust based on your perfect Sydney vacation.
Know before you go
- Known locally as “upside-down America”, Australia in general is very easy to navigate and tourist friendly.
- Not only is the city exceptionally clean, but I felt completely safe. It is difficult to describe, but it is something that you do not often find while traveling to a new place and Sydney definitely has it. This is a city where you are encouraged and rewarded for exploring down alleys to find beautiful street art or the best café in the city.
- Credit cards are accepted everywhere as well and tours can be booked in advance online so your need for cash is limited but always have some for tipping.
- If you plan on keeping your trip to downtown, most destinations are very walkable. The public transit is great as it reaches almost everywhere you need to get to in the city and is affordable. In fact, we were able to use public transportation to reach not jus areas around the city but our day trip destination as well.
- Due to our short time here, we did not rent a car but I can see the benefit if you were staying for a long period of time. That being said, it is impressive how much is accessible without a car.
- Speaking of driving, remember they drive on the LEFT here – so please pay close attention and go slow, especially if this is your first time driving on the opposite side of the road. The mantra is “driver in the middle” especially when going to make turns to ensure you end up on the correct side of the road.
Where to stay?
There are so many fun neighborhoods to choose from and since the public transit is so great in Sydney, you are always connected. We have found that staying in a neighborhood outside the central business district (CBD) comes with lots of character as well as better dining spots so we were happy to exchange some proximity convenience. The Airbnb we picked was in the Surry Hills neighborhood, voted in 2021 as the top foodie destination in Sydney and one of the best spots for those living in the city. Highly recommend arranging accommodations in this neighborhood.
What is there to do?
There is so much to do in and around Sydney – Let’s break it down to build the perfect itinerary!
- A trip to Sydney would not be complete without a trip to see the icons at Circular Quay – the Sydney Opera House and the Harbor Bridge. Make sure to check the schedule of the Opera House for the chance to see a show. The Harbor Bridge has the opportunity to climb onto of it or you can simply climb one of the pillars. These icons photograph extremely well throughout the day so makes sure to visit at various times. For a great view of both in one shot, visit the Mrs Macquarie’s Chair located inside the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.
- There is must more to the city than just the Sydney Opera House and the Harbor Bridge at the harbor. Explore different parts of the city as each neighborhood is different. From Kings Cross to Surrey Hills, and Barangaroo to Pyrmont – there is endless options here. Sydney is a big city so take time to wander and explore. We used dining to take us to many of the different areas of the city and it was always worth it.
- The Blue Mountains are located two hours away from Sydney and make a wonderful day to immerse yourself in nature. Among the walks and expansive view points, there are also cute towns along the way to fuel up on food. If you do not have a car, there is also a train that goes here from downtown Sydney and takes the same amount of time as driving. We had planned on visiting here but at the time, much of the park was closed due to landslides and fires. Just check the status of the park whenever you visit.
- Hunter Wine Region is located just over two hours away from Sydney and is a well regarded wine region. There are only a few tour companies that leave from downtown Sydney but many that leave if you are located outside of Sydney. You can also do it yourself and self drive to various wineries. I had many wineries on the list to visit but since we did not have a car, we were unable to make it here. Here are some wineries I had marked to visit:
- Briar Ridge Vineyard
- Petersons Wines
- Iron Gate Estate Winery
- Hanging Tree Wines
- Harkham Wine
- Lake’s Folly Vineyard
- Scarborough Wine
- Oakvale Wines
- Krinklewood Organic Estate
- The ferry network around Sydney is remarkable, reliable, and inexpensive. When our plans to visit the Blue Mountains fell through, we hopped on a ferry to Manly Beach to enjoy cliff walks, the downtown area, surfing, the beach, and more.
- Bondi Beach is a must do when visiting Sydney and the best way to see it is to complete the Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach Coastal Walk. Then you get to see many beaches and enjoy the coast line. Bondi Beach has a great downtown area and we even had enough time to squeeze in a surfing session.
Where to eat?
The food scene is pretty hyped in Sydney and it did not disappoint. The coffee, pastry and overall café scene is unmatched and the creativity coming out of the kitchens is exciting.
- You must explore the cafe scene as I do not think we have found another city who has their coffee and pastry game on such a high level. Our favorites included Cupcakes on Pitt, Flour and Stone, Joe Black’s Cafe, and Paramount Coffee Project.
- Messina Gelato had the best ice cream of the trip! So much so, we even found it in Melbourne.
- It would be impossible for me to thoroughly cover all the food options. Since Sydney is such a melting pot of cultures, the cuisines around the world are well represented. So whatever you are in the mood for, you are going to find something. This city has an overwhelming amount of restaurants and I had to make some strict rules when searching for spots. We decided to focus on places that expressed local and regional cuisine. Our standout favorites were The Blue Door and Farmhouse Kings Cross.
Note that this three day itinerary is the express way to experience Sydney. If you have more time to dedicate to this trip, I would recommend it but for those of us with limited American PTO, you will still be able to see and do a lot in three days. This trip was certainly minimalistic on PTO but I would recommend if you have the time to explore there is tons to do or extending to explore other parts of Australia.
Here is how to experience the best of Sydney in three days!
|Day 0||Evening||Arrive in Sydney|
|Day 1||Morning||Explore Sydney – Circular Quay, Barangaroo, Pyrmont|
|Evening||Royal Botanic Garden Sydney for sunset|
|Day 2||Morning||Day Trip of Choice|
|Evening||Explore Sydney at night, book a nice meal|
|Day 3||Morning||Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach Coastal Walk|