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Things You Can Do in Sydney in a Day

— November 21, 2022

With over 12,000km2 of space, there’s no way you’d see all of Sydney in a month, let alone in a day. So if you’re limited on time and are only in the city for a day, the following itinerary will keep you busy.

In the morning

Prepare yourself for a great day exploring Sydney with a delicious cup of coffee. Visit Market Street and nearby surrounds, head into one of the cafes for a takeaway latte and a quick bite to eat, then hit the department stores for a quick shop. 

You’ll find David Jones, H&M, and much more, as well as some high-class brand stores and arcades. Explore what the rest of Sydney has to offer.

From here, take a walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens. You’ll pass the Art Gallery of NSW on the way, so if it’s looking like rain, you might want to stop here instead. Otherwise, keep going for a fantastic walk through the beautiful gardens. 

The Botanic Gardens were originally farmland for the convict settlement. As the colony grew, the farmland was turned into gardens. Enjoy the aromas of thousands of flowers and explore plant and animal life. 

Circular Quay is well worth a visit as it’s here you’ll step into the heart of the harbor. Circular Quay includes an international shipping port, a tourism precinct, and a public piazza. It’s a great place to enjoy a spot for lunch.

Nearby, The Rocks are one of the oldest neighborhoods in Australia. If time permits, you can explore heritage-listed buildings, cafes, restaurants, bars, Customs House, and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

The afternoon

With a belly full of delicious local food, head to the Opera House — a must-see for any visitor to Sydney. This is one of Australia’s most famous icons, and you can take a tour for an in-depth look inside or grab a few selfies outside as you marvel at this amazing architecture. Be sure to book any tours online so you don’t miss out.

Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia, at sunset; image by Keith Zhu, via
Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia, at sunset; image by Keith Zhu, via

Following this, you might like to take a cruise through the harbor. Most of these will leave from Circular Quay, and cruises ranging from 30 minutes to 90 minutes will fit in well with your time constraints. A jet boat is a great alternative to get the heart racing if you prefer something a little riskier.

The evening

Head to the Sydney Tower Eye to enjoy great views of the entire CBD. Located on the corner of Pitt Street and Market Street, the Tower opens at 9 am, and you’ll be able to see the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House. 

You might even see as far as the Blue Mountains on a good day. The maximum viewing distance is 80km. There are tours every hour from 12 pm to 6 pm. It’s also a great place to take a date if you want to impress them.

Once you have your fix of views, take a 15-minute scenic stroll or a ferry to Darling Harbour for dinner. Darling Harbour has many award-winning restaurants and cafes, and there are so many to choose from you’ll satisfy even the fussiest eaters. 

Enjoy views of the city while you dine, and you might also want a taste of the nightlife after you eat. Head to one of the nightclubs to dance the night away before retiring to your hotel.

If you have extra time

If you’ve decided to stay longer, or you want to spend the rest of your visit exploring outside the CBD, plenty of options are also available. Spend a few hours exploring Taronga Zoo, which was first opened in 1883, or head out further to explore Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach, hit the surf at Manly Beach, or explore the beautiful Blue Mountains and Royal National Park.

Whether you’re limited time or have all the time in the world, Sydney is a great city with plenty to offer visitors. Just remember to enjoy yourself, and don’t stress if you don’t see everything at once. That’s a great reason to plan a return trip.

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