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Highlights of Sydney

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Ireland
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Highlights of Sydney

Hi! I will be spending 3 nights in Sydney and want to make the most of my time there. What should I include in my itinerary? Also, can anyone advise me about hotels/ areas to stay in or avoid? I would like to stay somewhere that is central but also relaxing and in a safe area. Thanks!

Sydney
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1. Re: Highlights of Sydney

Anyone who signs herself (himself?) "all_about_eve" (my absolute, no reservations, without question, number one movie of all time!) deserves all the help I can muster..... however little that may be.

Three nights is a perfect time, as, if you use your time well, you can see just about everything that absolutely must be seen in Sydney. However, you haven't told us what time of year you will be coming, and this will make a difference to what I'd advise.... even the hotels/areas to stay might change with this information. As a golden rule, stay in the Rocks, because everything you want to see is either right there at your fingertips, or the transport to them is right there. MY own favourite place to stay inthe Rocks would undoubtedly be the Russell, but, then again, I like atmospheric old places which speak times long past, and I can't take the US "chain" hotels at any price. Maybe your tastes will be quite different. But, anyway, while you're giving us a bit more information to help us advise you well, do have a look at this website:http://www.australia.travelmall.com/content/hotel_info/Russell+Hotel+The+Rocks--code--54796.html. If nothing else, the Russell wins hands down as the best-located hotel in Sydney, and maybe in Australia. And it is often VERY cheap on www.wotif.com!

A few months ago I advised someone with only two days in Sydney how to use this without having to take any guided tours. If I can cut-and-paste an old reply, this is what I said:

""Although most tourists occupy themselves productively in Sydney for three, four, or even five days, the good news is that you can see a lot in this city in two days, as it is quite compact, with its best features all clustered around Sydney Harbour. It's certainly not like, say, Paris or London or Rome, where you need a day just to walk between essential features.

The important thing for you is, I think, to confine yourself to one area, and don't try to do anything as ambitious (and time consuming) as, say, a trip to the Blue Mountains (as much as I love the area). Spend your two days as follows: on the first clear morning you get, buy a Daytripper Pass for $AUD15 at any railway station, and spend a whole day on the harbour, cruising on the various public commuter ferries, which are not only cheaper than the commercial tours, but also better, as they go into every little nook and cranny to pick up passengers, and you can get on and off as often as you like (there's usually a bus to meet the ferries at every major stop; this will take you up the hill to the shopping areas of, for instance, Mosman or Balmain or Hunters Hill, and with your Daytripper Pass you don't even need to pay).

You MUST do the longest and best ferry ride -- to and from Manly -- but, apart from that, you can do whatever takes your fancy. I would recommend Balmain, Mosman, Watson's Bay (a good place to have lunch, at Doyle's, where Russell Crowe once worked as a waiter) and Woolwich. If you actually get off periodically and walk (or bus) around for a while, you will be surprised how fast the day will go and how much of Sydney you will get to see. At the end of the day, you may like to do, as your last trip, the ferry to Luna Park, and then walk back across the Harbour Bridge to Circular Quay; at that time of day the sun will be shining straight onto the Opera House and the Botanic Gardens, and you'll get some great shots. If you're willing to spend the money, this might be a good time to have a pre-booking for a 5 p.m. climb of the Harbour Bridge.... as you get across to the Sydney side, it's only a three-minute walk to the office where you have to "check-in".

Your other day should be done on foot. If you're interested

in the Opera House, you should get up early and take the 7 a.m. backstage tour, which everyone says is worth every cent of its rather-eyebrow-raising cost. It lasts two hours and will take you to places in the complex that even the locals have never seen. By 9 a.m. you are back outside and ready to do the Grand Sydney Walk. After taking some photos of the Harbour Bridge from the forecourt of the Opera House, turn around and walk into the back entrance of the Botanical Gardens (adjacent to the Opera House). Walk through this lovely area up past Government House (maybe open for inspection) and the Conservatorium of Music to Macquarie Street. This is the street of lovely old historic buildings: the Barracks, the Mint, the Mitchell Library, Parliament House. Some of these will be open for inspection. At the top of the street is Hyde Park -- this is not like Hyde Park in London, I regret to say, but you should at least walk into it as far as the Archibald Fountain and maybe the War Memorial. You'll see our best church -- St Mary's Cathedral -- on your left; behind that is the Art Gallery, if you're interested.

From Hyde Park you need to head down Market Street to the Pitt Street Shopping Mall and then head up George Street through the Queen Victoria Building, a good place to have a light lunch. This is Sydney's closest thing to a Belle Epoque Building, and, frankly, it wouldn't look out of place along the Champs Elysee; it has been very nicely restored, and could stand a forty-five minute walk-through.

When you emerge you are at Sydney's Town Hall. Past that, going away from the harbour, is the tacky George St cinema strip, and beyond that is the colourful and aromatic Chinatown. The lower part of Chinatown lands you at the Chinese Gardens, which is the entrance to Darling Harbour, an area which is hardly picturesque, but contains, in addition to some appalling Miami-style hotels, some great museums: the Powerhouse, the Maritime, and the Aquarium.

The Aquarium is a good last stop, as there is a ferry wharf there, and you can catch the ferry back to Circular Quay, which is adjacent to the Rocks. This will be a good place to end up your day -- there are evening "ghost walks" if you're not too tired. After those two days, you will at least be able to say that you've seen the very best of Sydney."

Now, with at least one extra day, you could do the Spit Bridge to Manly walk, which is the best walk in Sydney (although it takes a good half-day.... more if you decide to go swimming at one or more of the various beaches en route. You will see aboriginal carvings and wild life on the way, and the end of the day is a trip across the harbour from Manly to Sydney by ferry. Pure magic!

I can give you instructions on how to get to the entrance to this walk from Sydney if needed.... there are quite a few posts about this walk on the forum.

Depending on what time of year you're coming, a day-trip to the Blue Mountains might be a nice way to use your fourth day.

Have a great time, and do write back with more details!

Ireland
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2. Re: Highlights of Sydney

Wow! Thanks AlanJ - there's loads there for me to work off! I will be in Sydney in early October. What weather should I expect? And is this a good time to visit the Blue Mountains?

Sydney
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3. Re: Highlights of Sydney

The weather will be brilliant -- as good as it gets -- and there is probably no better time to visit the Blue Mountains. You have chosen well. Try not to schedule the mountains trip for a weekend, however, as there are frequent rail closedowns.

Los Angeles
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4. Re: Highlights of Sydney

Alan, we did much of the spectacular Spit-to-Manly walk before the children lost steam, but I had some trouble accessing the beginning of the trail.

I took the bus across the Spit Bridge, where there is a bus stop on the west side of the street directly across from the commencement of the trail. However, there seems to be no way to cross the very, very busy street, and we waited over 10 minutes for a sufficient break in traffic to make a run for it.

Clearly I blew it. Where should Eve get off the bus to do this wonderful hike?

Sydney
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5. Re: Highlights of Sydney

One should leave the bus on the eastern side of the Spit Bridge, just before the bus crosses the bridge. There's even a public toliet in the park there, which is useful. Really, the bus driver should have twigged to the fact that you were going on the walk -- why else would you get off at the Spit -- and told you where to get off.

Then you walk towards the bridge, and you will find an underpass which takes you across the road to the little cluster of shops. From there you walk across the bridge, and the entrance to the walk is as soon as you get to the other side.

All of this takes about five minutes.

Thanks for btringing this up, MAM! That road on the other side is quite a scary one, isn't it? When I do the walk, I often have about forty children with me, and I certainly wouldn't like to navigate across the road with such a caravan!

Sydney
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6. Re: Highlights of Sydney

Just a quick note, AlanJ. Your lengthy bits of advice are always worthwhile, but this is a ripper. I have taken the liberty of taking a copy into my email archive for further use (only casually of course). I'll obviously credit you !! I'm going to do the same with some of the other sage advice from yourself and others so it is easily to hand.

Sydney
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7. Re: Highlights of Sydney

Hi, OnthePoint! I never noticed that photograph of your family before.... very nice! I have absolutely no idea how you can add that to a post on Tripadvisor; your knowledge of the technology amazes me (I have trouble enough even bgetting a sentence right!)

Ireland
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8. Re: Highlights of Sydney

Thanks again for all the advice AlanJ! And thanks also for bringing up about where I should get off the bus Almost-middle-aged. I've taken notes of everything... can't wait to get there now!!

sydney,aust.
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9. Re: Highlights of Sydney

AlanJ is a champion of the spit to manly walk and long may he do so but perhaps a little more convenient (albeit a bit more expensive) approach is...

1.get the ferry walks booklet at the back of wharf 4 at the quay..wonderful publication.

2.get the ferry to manly

3.walk across the road at the ferry wharf in manly and catch a cab to clontarf reserve (cost$12)

4.start your walk at clontarf .

5.in summer have a swim along the way.

6. have a beer/meal in manly

7.catch the ferry back to town at sunset.

8.have your camera ready as you round bradley's head.

Sydney & Bangkok
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10. Re: Highlights of Sydney

You can also catch a bus straight from Manly Wharf to Clontarf if you don't feel like paying for a cab, in my experience not a lot of cabbies know their way around the 'Tarf very well...