24 hours in any city is hard to do. There’s never enough time to do and see everything and when you’ve only got a day, there’s no point trying. But it’s surprising how much you can see in such a short period of time.
The most important thing to remember about this post is that it really is only a taster. It’s a bit like a trailer for a movie. It’s a snippet to give you an idea of how much more fun you’ll have the next time you’re here.
And believe me, you will be back.
Anyway, here’s our whip-crack fast 24 hours in Sydney. We have added a few more things to do for the following day – or you can chop and change to suit yourself.
24 hours in Sydney
First off, if you want to do this properly, you have to arrive the night before and have had a good night’s sleep.
We didn’t realise how important a good bed straight off a long flight was until we did it in LA recently. It also means you can be up and about early to make the most of your 1 day here in Sydney. The Establishment Hotel is pretty good.
Paramount Coffee Project – one of our favourite city cafés with an adventurous menu, great coffee and killer shakes.
Walk through the city down via Hyde Park and then down past the Art Gallery of NSW into the Botanic Gardens.
Check out the views of the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and Fort Dennison from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.
Carry on round the foreshore to the Opera House and then on to Circular Quay and join in the hustle and bustle of Sydney’s busiest ferry terminal.
Check out Customs House and the model of the city in the floor.
Pop into the Museum of Contemporary Art for some culture then grab a coffee in The Rocks.
Go back to Circular Quay and hop on a ferry to Watsons Bay (Wharf 4).
Enjoy lunch the Watsons Bay Hotel with a view of the harbour (Doyle’s Restaurant next door is more fine dining but skip the takeaway stall).
If you have the time (and energy), walk out towards the heads east at the end of Watsons Bay. Alternatively, go up to the cliffs where you can see The Gap, where the entrance to the harbour begins.
Catch the ferry back to Circular Quay then catch the city loop free bus (555) to the QVB (Queen Victoria Building) on George Street and explore the shops in this beautiful, historic building.
If you’re feeling fancy, book a table at Quay or Aria for modern Australian fair. Otherwise Mr Wong’s will serve you an amazing Chinese feast!
Check out some of the small bars popping up around the city for a slick after-dinner cocktail. Baxters has a remarkable whisky menu, Stitch Bar, the Barbershop or The Grasshopper are just a few serving very cool drinks and craft beers and spirits in the CBD.
If you want something a bit flashier with a killer view, go to the Shangri La’s Blu Bar cocktail lounge on the 36th floor overlooking the harbour.
Depending on how much time you have left, there are a few essential things you’ve got to do before you leave.
Catch the 373 to Coogee, grab a smoothie or a coffee (or both!) and do the Coogee to Bondi coastal walk. It’s iconic and gives you an incredible view of some of Australia’s most famous beaches.
If you’re short of time, get the 378 bus to Bronte Beach and walk to Bondi from there. The cafés at Bronte all do pretty good coffee.
But if you’re seriously short of time, catch the 333 bus straight to Bondi Beach.
If you’re here on the weekend, hunt out Bondi Hardware for a great morning feed. If you’re here midweek, try Porch and Parlour for an oh-so-Bondi experience.
Head back into town by catching either the 333 or 380 bus. If you have time, hop off in Paddington to explore one of Sydney’s prettiest city suburbs.
There’s so much to do here, you could be exploring for a year and still find new things to do. It’s a beautiful city with so much to offer.
Do you have any other tips for a 24-hour dash around the Harbour City? Where’s your favourite place to go in Sydney? Tell us in the comments!
Kat - The Organised Housewife
Ooh after seeing your post i just want to hop on a plane and visit Sydney! Such a beautiful place.:)
Thanks Kat! You know you’ve always got a bed for the night should you wish to stay over!
Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid
My favourite place to see Sydney is from 47 floors above the city at the revolving O Bar. It takes about an hour to travel all the way round so my tip is to get there early, grab a window seat and see the whole city in 60 minutes!
Awesome tip, Sammie! That revolving bar is so cool. Mrs Romance told me her mum and dad went up there ages ago and her mum put her wine down in the wrong spot. When she went to grab the glass for another sip, it’d vanished! Classic stuff!
Sonia from Sonia Styling
I loooove Sydney! I had such a blast hanging out with you guys in March and I can’t wait to do it again next week. x
It’s going to be awesome, Sonia! Can’t wait to have you back here!
Bele @ BlahBlah
Such a good round up! Looks like I have a few bars to catch up on. I can’t believe I still haven’t made it to Baxters x
Thanks Bele! There were so many places to go and things to do we wanted to include but realised it was taking us so far out of our 24-hour time limit. As it is I think we end up in Sydney for like a day and a half!
Yes, we need to remedy your lack of Baxters ailment. Soon!
It’s funny, but even though I live here I NEVER have 24 hours in Sydney… you’ve reminded me that I really ought to take a day out every now and then with my man. There are a couple of spots I reckon you missed, though – we ALWAYS take our guests to Newtown for a coffee and the vibe and we ALWAYS go for a wander around Balmain too. Both of these places beat Bondi / Paddington for me. x
It’s funny, isn’t it, Bron? Spending time in your hometown is often the last thing you do. Good point about Newtown – though we don’t spend that much time there. There’s so much going on there I have very little idea of. Lots to offer in such a small area. As for Balmain, I reckon you could have a whole week in that suburb and not see it all or get bored. I think I might have to do a ‘Another 24 hours in Sydney’ post!
Cheers for the extra tips.
There’s so much to see and do in Sydney it can be hard to know where to start but you’ve nailed it with this great round-up #teamwanderlust
Thanks Aleney. It’s so hard to bring it all in to 1 day – I think we went quite a way into the second day by the end of the post though! Whoops!
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[…] But if you’re only in town for a short while, here’s what you can do in 24 hours. […]