I wish I was able to use a title a bit more positive about Sydney… Like for example: “Sydney, the most popular city in Australia”. But it wouldn’t reflect our experience there, the timing was just wrong. We had our next few months of travel already planned ahead, and a couple of friends who lived in Sydney told us the city was not so impacted. The Government was debating whether or not to go ahead with the NYE fireworks, creating controversy… I should have known 2020 was going to be a shit year by the way it’s been celebrated! We were initially excited to be in such a cool city for NYE but at the end it was a bit underwhelming.
At that time, Australia’s Black Summer due to the unprecedented bushfires was all over the news. It did prevent us from exploring outside of Sydney as it was really not recommended or safe to do so. But even in the city the sky was smoky… It’s not like we could enjoy our accommodation either, it was by far the most expensive and at the same time the smallest room we booked in our entire trip! We couldn’t breathe in, we couldn’t breathe out, we felt a bit like we were suffocating in this city and it was difficult for us to fully enjoy our stay. That being said, we couldn’t let that jeopardize our chance to be there so we tried to make the most of it anyway. Who knows when we will go to Sydney again.
Coming from a family of musicians, I’ve been immersed in classical music since a young age, so I was pretty happy to see the most famous opera house in the world other than on a picture. It needs to be heard too, not just seen, so we went inside… The theatre we saw “La Boheme” in didn’t look as impressive as we expected, but the acoustics were brilliant. Sydney Opera House offers 7 performance venues which seat between 210 and 2,679 people.
Sydney Opera House on one side, the Harbour Bridge on the other, and in between lots of ferries coming in and out: Circular Quay is a busy area. From there, you can go to many places but you better not be sea sick as most options require taking a boat. We also saw several big cruise ships stopping there. Due to the shape of Sydney, it’s often quicker to take the ferry to go pretty much anywhere.
If you take the ferry and go to Manly, you’ll have a choice of plenty of nice little beaches where Aussies seem to go for a chill. We went there for the scenic walkways and ended up doing 3 hours of hiking along the cliffs. It was a bit steeper than expected but the view was so beautiful that we didn’t really feel the pain. We even met a water dragon on the way.
A few km East of Sydney CBD, Bondi Beach is a worldwide famous ocean beach which features Sydney’s most famous pool: the Icebergs. Waves from the Pacific ocean regularly fill it in and it’s quite entertaining to watch. I imagine it must be quite cold (hence its name?). I’m not a good swimmer so I didn’t really fancy trying it but it was fun to watch people regularly being taken out by strong waves! No wonder why this swimming pool is the most photographed in the world…
Finally, the cat lovers go-to place would be the Catmosphere Cat Cafe… They offer cinema sessions where you can watch a movie surrounded by cats. When we were travelling and needed our cat fix, this was the solution for us! It’s pretty much like a therapy session, you get comfy, you watch a nice movie, plenty of cats come to cuddle or play with you and they also offer a very good variety of drinks. If you also love cats, then trust me and go.
As usual, I’ll add below some extra points worth mentioning if you’re thinking of visiting Sydney. These only reflect my personal opinions:
- The first thing that blew our mind when we first took public transport in Sydney was the interchangeable seats in trains… You can move them one way or another, depending which way you want to face. Brilliant! Why don’t we have that system everywhere in the world?
- Chinatown is a very interesting place to go. There is Paddy’s Market where you can buy literally anything (1,000 stalls selling all sorts of things at good prices). Above it, we found a great arcade hall where we played plenty of games and had good fun. Finally, the Street Food Night Market is the place to go for food! I really liked the vibes there, I even had a roti canai prepared in front of me.
- The Sydney Tower Eye is the highest point of the city. We like seeing panoramic views of cities from above so of course we went there but it’s not that impressive. Sydney’s icons already stand out even from the ground. It’s so popular that the queue is always big so not ideal if you don’t have much time.
- The Royal Botanic Gardens are only a few minutes walk from the Opera House. It’s super nice to wander around there!
- In my opinion, don’t waste your time at the Taronga Zoo. It’s only a short ferry away from the city centre but if you’re not staying a long time you should definitely prioritise other things. We found animals didn’t have much space and compared to wildlife parks we visited in Asia, it did not compare.
To conclude, I would say Sydney is worth the visit if you dream of going to the Sydney Opera House (UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007), you want to see friends who live there or if you just want to tick that big city off your travel list. Whatever your reason is, you need to have the budget for it though! If we ever go again, I think we’ll try winter instead.
Big Girl x