One Epic Day in Sydney | Itinerary + Local Tips

How to spend 1 day in Sydney. An extensive itinerary written by a local

This extensive 1 day Sydney itinerary takes you to many of the locations and attractions that make Sydney the exciting place that it is. From stunning sprawling beaches to hustling suburbs and amazing nature reserves all within reach.

Prepare yourself for an epic 1 day in Sydney itinerary!  Read on to find out all top things to do, where to eat, sleep and so much more. 

THINGS TO DO IN SYDNEY 

Before I will show you how to spend the perfect 1 day in Sydney I will show you some of the best things to do in the city. 

Darling Harbour is a harbour adjacent to the city centre. It offers waterside dining, encounters with Australian wildlife, a maritime museum, star encounters at Madame Tussauds Sydney and much much more.

The Rocks is a neighbourhood of historic laneways in the shadow of Sydney Harbour Bridge. The area has some of Sydney’s oldest pubs and many of the upscale restaurants that have stunning harbour views.

The Museum of Contemporary Art is also located in the rocks and is solely dedicated to exhibiting, interpreting and collecting contemporary art, both from across Australia and around the world.

Sydney Opera House. A must see when in Sydney

Circular Quay is the world-famous harbour where you find the Sydney opera house as well as the Sydney harbour bridge.  

The Royal Botanic Garden is located next to the opera house and offers spectacular city views. What an absolute delight these gardens are, they are a real breathing space in the city of Sydney. At all times of the year there are plants and features of interest, special activities on offer for children and adults alike, exhibitions of plants with an educational theme and a booth manned by volunteers who provide answers to visitors’ queries, as well as free maps and lists of featured plants for the month.

Kings Cross is THE GO-TO party suburb of Sydney. It is home to hip bars and cafes, stylish restaurants, food markets, and intriguing history. Two Sydney landmarks are in The Cross, the dandelion-shaped El Alamein Memorial Fountain, and the giant neon-lit Coca-Cola billboard.

Walk through Hyde Park –  Hyde Park is Australia’s oldest park and the city’s central open green space. The park is home to St Mary’s Cathedral as well as numerous monuments and statues and an impressive fountain.

Bondi Beach in Sydney. Perfect place to check out in a 1 day Sydney itinerary

Bondi Beach + Bondi  – One of Australia’s most famous beach, guarded by some of the best lifeguards in the world, a visit to Bondi beach is a must. The hip suburb of Bondi is also a visit worth. It is filled with cute little cafes, restaurants, and second-hand shops. 
If it isn’t beach weather, then do the Bondi to Coogee walk. This coastal walk is 6 kilometres and takes you along some of Sydney’s best and most iconic beaches.

Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge – Climbing one of the most famous bridges in the world is a once in a lifetime experience. Take either a dawn, day, twilight or night climb and take in the breathtaking views. Visit BridgeClimb.com for more information.

Milsons Point is a suburb on the Lower North Shore of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. The suburb is located 3 kilometres north of the CBD.
It is home to Luna Park, a small amusement park that still contains traditional midway games and rides. Entree to the park is free as a spectator. 
Milsons point also offers amazing city views of the Opera House and of Sydney Harbor Bridge.

Sydney by night – Don’t forget to wander the streets after sunset. With some of the most unique buildings in the world and a stunning harbour, the city stays just as amazing at dark.

Taronga Zoo  The zoo is situated on Sydney Harbour in a natural bushland setting with absolutely spectacular views out over the harbour. With a wide variety of animals from around the world.. with daily live shows, keeper talks, and animal encounters – This zoo will keep you entertained for most of the day. 

WHERE TO SHOP IN SYDNEY? 

Pitt street mall is a large shopping mall in the CBD.  The mall has stores that cater to all walks of life. If you are looking for high-end luxury stores or just everyday shopping such as Nike, Myers or David Jones they are all here. One can easily spend an entire day here if you are so inclined. If you are a shopaholic then this precinct is perfect for you.

Darlinghurst’s Oxford Street is probably Sydney’s most famous shopping street, offering designer brands including upcoming Australian designers, funky boutiques, retro, vintage clothing and amazing little gift stores. 

The Queen Victoria Building (or QVB), is a late nineteenth-century building designed by the architect George McRae. The Romanesque Revival building was constructed between 1893 and 1898 and offers nowadays a variety of fashion brands. You should visit the QVB for just the building itself, simply amazing. 

Paddies market – Paddy’s has held a central place in Sydney’s history for over 150 years. Paddy’s Markets, Sydney’s biggest markets have a wide variety of stalls; food, electronics, clothing, make-up, and cheap souvenirs. 

Paddington market – Is a local market with heaps of local arts and crafts stores. This market has more than 200 stalls of Australian-made goods. Open every Saturday starting at 10 am. Paddington also offers a showcase for up-and-coming Aussie designers. Great place to get your hand a designer bag. 

DAY TRIP FROM SYDNEY | EXPLORE THE BLUE MOUNTAINS

The Blue Mountains
1 day sydney itinerary | Epic day trip to the Blue Mountains if you have a bit more time

With just a 90-minute drive west of Sydney, these mountains are a must-see and an ideal day trip!
Pick a bushwalk route, check out some of the famous sights like The Three Sisters rock formation in Katoomba, enjoy stunning views over Govetts Leap at Blackheath or check out some unique caves in the Jenolan Cave district. 

1 DAY SYDNEY ITINERARY  | HOW TO SPEND 24 HOURS IN THIS CITY

1 day in Sydney. The ultmate itinerary
1 day Sydney itinerary | How to spend 24 hours in this beautiful city

If you are only in Sydney for 24 hours, then you can still see most of the sights. Here is what I would do when I would only have 24 hours in this amazing city.

07.00 | BREAKFAST TIME 

An early start of the day is important to see as many sights as possible. But starting off with some decent fuel is just as important.

I can give you some examples: but depending on where your hotel or B&B is, there will be loads of little bakeries in your area. Just follow the locals, they know where to eat.

08.00 | MOST IMPORTANT STOP: CIRCULAR QUAY 

Wander around Sydney’s most iconic duo, The Sydney opera house as well as the Sydney harbour bridge.  Wander around Circular Quay, take loads of pictures and also wander to The Rocks, the oldest suburb of the city. 

09.00 | ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS 

Right next to the Opera House, there are the stunning Royal Botanic Gardens. These offer another great photo opportunities. These immaculate gardens are home to lorikeets, parrots and the ibis. They are lovely to wander around in, and have a bit of peace and quiet. 

10.30 | HOP-ON  ->  BUS TO BONDI BEACH 

Next, hop on a bus to Bondi beach. This journey will take about 20 minutes from Sydney CBD.  

11.00 | HELLO BONDI BEACH

Bondi Beach in Sydney is a must-see in Sydney when visiting for 1 day.
1 day Sydney itinerary | Bondi beach is a must-see

When you arrive at Bondi wander along the promenade and enjoy the beautiful Bondi Beach and all it has to offer. It the weather is nice, spend some time sun baking and take a quick dip. Of course, make sure you swim between the flags. 

12.30 | LUNCH AT BONDI BEACH 

Grab a bite to eat at one of Bondi’s delicious little restaurants. There is plenty of choices for everyone. 

13.00 | DO THE BONDI TO COOGEE WALK 

If it is not too hot I suggest you do the walk next. This amazing walk takes about 2.30-3 hours and takes you along some of Sydney’s most famous beaches and cliffs. 
Make sure to bring plenty of water along the way, because it is quite a hike. 

15.30 | HOP ON -> BUS TO CITY 

Taking the bus back to the city CBD will take you about 25 minutes. Get off at Hyde Park. 

16.00 | SKY TOWER

Wander to the sky tower – Sydney’s tallest structure and the second tallest observation tower in the Southern Hemisphere. Here you can see the ultimate view of Sydney and beyond. Enjoy amazing panoramic views stretching 80km in all directions.

17.00 | DARLING HARBOUR

From the sky tower, it is only a short walk to Darling Harbour (10-15 minutes) and enjoy the views of this inner harbour. 

18.30 | DINNER CRUISE 

From Darling Harbor, there are several cruises that depart from Darling Harbour. Enjoy the sunset whilst eating some delicious food and enjoy some amazing onboard entertainment. 

20.00 | HAVE A FEW DRINKS IN THE CROSS 

After this dinner cruise, I suggest grabbing a taxi to Kings Cross. Here you can enjoy a couple of drinks until you want to go home. 

And there you have it if I had 24 hours in Sydney this is how I would spend it.

1 day sydney itinerary

BASIC INFORMATION ON SYDNEY 

Sydney's best viewing points. Lavender Bay

LANGUAGE English
TIME ZONE UTC+10.
ELECTRICITY Flat three-pin plug. Electrical power in Australia runs on a cycle of 50hz, and a voltage of 230 Volt.
CURRENCY Australian Dollar ($).
TIPPING In Australia, you don’t have to tip – ever. But you can if you want to.
NICKNAME The harbour city

MONEY

Australia uses The Australian Dollar ($).  In pretty much all places will accept credit card. Some stalls at the markets do not though, so I do advise to carry some Australian Dollars with you just in case. There might also be a couple of smaller stores that do not have an EFTPOS machine.

As stated above, tipping is not expected, though it is customary to round up your restaurant bill to the nearest Dollar. At more expensive restaurants, it is normal to leave a 5-10% tip.

LANGUAGE  

English is the official language of Australia. Underneath you can find some handy English/Australian phrases as well as some handy travel phrases that might come in handy during your time in the country. 

Australian English
G’day Hello
How are ya Greeting, warm welcome
Arvo Afternoon
Catch ya later Goodbye
Good on ya Good job
Dunno I don’t know
Barbie Barbecue
Bloody oath That’s true
Beaut Fantastic, wonderful, the best
Buzz off Go away
BYO Bring your own grog/alcohol (Often seen at Restaurants) 
Crikey! Astonishment, disbelief
Fair dinkum True, real, honest
Fair go To give somebody a reasonable chance at something; to treat them fairly

THE BEST TIME TO VISIT SYDNEY

I would say the best time to visit Sydney would be in October, November or late February and March. These months generally offer sunny weather, while avoiding the heat of mid-summer and school holiday crowds.

The heat and humidity can be difficult during the summer (December to February). If you are after a chill beach holiday, then these months are probably the best time to go. As mentioned, do keep in mind of school holidays and the holiday season is during this time. Because of the school holidays, the accommodation rates will be higher than normal. Some hotels in the city centre are cheaper on weekends, but always busy during the numerous festivals and sporting events.

HOW TO GET FROM AND TO THE AIRPORT OF SYDNEY

You have landed in Sydney and now the adventure begins. Luckily the city has a good infrastructure when it comes to the airport. The airport is located 9 kilometres from the city centre, and it can be reached a couple of ways:

TRAIN

There is a train station located underneath the airport. At the peak, trains run every 7 minutes, and off-peak every 10.  It will only take 12 minutes to get to Central Station.

Because you get on at the airport station, the trip is quite expensive for the short trip that it is, costing $17.39.

If you are not staying in the CBD then getting into an Uber might be cheaper.

UBER + TAXI

The designated pickup areas are located outside the terminal on the Arrivals level. The pickup area where you meet your driver will depend on the terminal you’re requesting from and the ride option you select.  It is pretty easy to find, and no hassle to find your uber ride.

There is a fee, which I think is only a couple of dollars. Alternatively, you can use one of the taxi ranks out in front of the airport. A taxi, however, is a whole lot more expensive (pretty much double)

AIRPORT SHUTTLE

You can get a shuttle direct to your hotel (not all hotels), either buying from an information desk at the terminal for around $18 or booking in advance for $12. Often you can book these airport busses when booking your hotel (They sometimes come included, so make sure to check when booking your accommodation)

Local buses are also available, but luggage space is limited.

GETTING AROUND SYDNEY

Sydney is a massive city! There is no way that you can walk everywhere. Of course, you can hop in a taxi or Uber, but you can only do that if you are made from gold. Getting from the city to Bondi Beach, for example, will cost you (With Uber) $51,00. That is a waste of money if you ask me.

The most effective way to get around a foreign city is public transportation.  Sydney has an extensive and pretty reliable bus, train and ferry services which won’t cost you an arm and a leg.  In order to ride the public transportation system, you need to get yourself an Opal Card.

The card itself is completely free, when you get it you just pay for a credit to go on the card. These cards can be picked up pretty much everywhere, from Coles to 7-Eleven and the local Kathmandu convenience shop around the corner, they are everywhere.

The minimum credit that you can put on the card $10 and you can keep track of your balance using the Opal app.

A great benefit of the card is that you can always re-load at any convenience store or on the Opal app.

Additionally, the app is great to work out where to go and which buses to take, so I advise you to download the app if you are in Sydney for a while or even just visiting.

For any other information, here is more information on the Opal Card.

The city center is extremely walkable and for the most part flat. From Central Station to Circular Quay (where the opera house is) and back should take approximately 30-40 minutes. 

FREE BUS SHUTTLE |  free CBD shuttle (Route 555) runs every 10 minutes on a loop from Central Station to Circular Quay via Elizabeth and George Streets.

HOP-ON-HOP-OFF BUS | The Sydney Explorer offers commentary tours of the CBD and to Bondi at 34 different stops including all the major Sydney attractions.

CITY CIRCLE LOOP | The City Circle loop will take you around the CBD area with stops at Central, Town Hall, Wynyard, Circular Quay, St James, and Museum.

WHERE TO EAT IN SYDNEY

Sydney is filled with incredible dining, from cheap to very pricy. Underneath I will list a couple of my favourite restaurants.

  • Mr.Wong | incredible Cantonese-style food.
  • Ripples Chowder Bay | Elevated terrace with scenic harbour perspectives offing some amazing views whilst dining. It offers a Modern Australian menu.
  • Bourke Street Bakery | Not propper dining, but too amazing not to add to this list. For some irresistible pastries, cakes, and bread.
  • Spice I Am | Sydney’s Multi-Award winning Thai Restaurant

WHERE TO STAY IN SYDNEY

If you are travelling to Sydney for the first time, then I would suggest booking your accommodation in either Sydney CBD or Darling Harbor. These are the two prime locations within walking distance of the most popular tourist attractions like the Opera House, Tower Eye, the rocks and the Royal Botanic Gardens. From here you can also easily travel to places like Bondi Beach and the Blue Mountains.

If you wish to stay away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, then Surry Hills is also a great central location. If you are not bothered to travel a bit and want to be close to the beach, then Bondi Beach is the place to be.

Some cheap hostel in Sydney CBD

  • Base Sydney – The hostel just beside the Townhall station and make you easy to go anyway and also the airport. The location is therefore perfect because It’s right in the centre of the city and right next to Darling Harbour. Reasonably clean, a large kitchen area and plenty of laundry facilities to use. Being next to a bar that does good deals on meals is also a good bonus.
    From $57 per night (10-bed dorm) to $143 for a private room.
  • Maze Backpackers – Cheap budget accommodation in the heart of Sydney.  Proper international party hostel.
    From $27 per night (6-bed dorm) to $70 for a private room.

A bit fancier hostel and lodging

  • WakeUp Sydney – Great place to meet people, daily outings/events organized most of which are free if you are staying here. Great location, next to the train station and really close to opera house/harbour bridge/darling harbour so you don’t have to spend money travelling to these places as so easy to walk.
    From $38 per night (6-bed dorm) to $139 for a private room.
  • Central Perk Lodge – Decent accommodation for the budget-conscious. Good location, opposite Kings Cross station, less than 20 min walk to Hyde Park. And a short walk to Finger Wharf in Woolloomooloo.
    Private rooms from $100,-

Underneath a couple of the best hotels in the city.

Oaks Sydney Goldsbrough Suites is a stunning 4-star hotel centrally located in Darling Harbour. The building itself dates back to the 1800’s when it was used as a working wool store and now sits proudly as apartment-style accommodation, still with the historic charm of a heritage-listed building.

Another (pretty pricy) amazing hotel is the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney. The four seasons has some of the best harbour views available to them. Having the icon harbour just at their doorstep.

Lastly, Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney is a 5-star hotel set in the Central Business District, this 1850s Beaux-Arts hotel next to Wynyard Station is an 18-minute walk from Sydney Opera House.

SOUVENIRS TO BUY IN SYDNEY

Aboriginal artwork, Didgeridoo’s and boomerangs are an awesome souvenir to bring home and can be found in pretty much all the souvenirs shops and markets. 

Many visitors like to take home Ugg boots – do your research first if you don’t want to end up with a Chinese low-quality version (the price will give it away!). 

Jerky made from native animals or kangaroo balls as a lighter make for a quirky gift for a friend back home. 

EATING, DRINKING, AND NIGHTLIFE

Underneath are some of the costs that you can expect when going out for dinner, having a few drinks and going out.

Meal out: Around $26 per head including one drink. This is for a decent meal (Not Maccas)

Show/gig at theatre: The Oxford Arts Factory, in inner-city suburb Darlinghurst has a diverse array of gigs and events on regularly.
average ticket price is around $30. Another option is Capital Theather in Haymarket they often have large shows on, costs around $120.

Beer or house wine: a drink costs about $8 per glass (of course you can drink Goon for a lot less, but this is ‘normal’ wine)

So if you are thinking about going out on a Saturday with dinner, a drink and a show it will cost you around $100,-

If you just want a few drinks it will cost you around $40-50.

PAID ACTIVITIES 

Underneath some of the most popular activities in this Sydney and how much it would cost you to do them.  

  • Sydney Bridge Climb – $168,- 
  • Sydney – Bondi Hop-on Bus – $49,50 
  • The Rocks Walking Tour: The Original Guided Walking Tour of The Rocks = $32,- 
  • Blue Mountains Nature and Wildlife Day Tour – FROM $85,- 
  • Sydney Skywalk at Sydney Tower Eye – FROM $70,- 
  • Sydney Whale-Watching Cruise – FROM $69,- 
  • Madame Tussauds –  $33.60
  • Sydney Aquarium –  $42 at the gate $33.60 Online 
  • Sydney Wildlife Zoo –  $42 at the gate $33.60 Online 
  • Taronga Zoo – $47 at the gate or $42.30 Online 

FREE ACTIVITIES 

  • Do the Bondi to Coogee Walk 
  • Stroll the Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • Enjoy an afternoon at Luna Park (Entrance is free, rides do cost money) 
  • Experience tranquillity at the Royal Botanic Gardens
  • Get lost in the Royal National Park

The beauty of travelling is that you can do it precisely the way you like it. You can spend as little or as much money as you desire. Whilst one person doesn’t mind eating instant noodles for dinner every night, someone else might want steak for dinner

If you are a budget-conscious traveller then your daily budget for Sydney should be around $40 per day. This includes accommodation, food, and transportation.

If you want a bit more luxury (think better hostel and better food) then you should budget in about $60 per day.

And if you want extreme luxury, then you can make it as crazy as you’d like.

SAFETY IN SYDNEY

I have been living in Sydney for about 8 years now, and I have found Sydney to be very safe and welcoming. Sydney has remained a popular destination for solo backpackers and couples for years. Because of its save imago. There are strict lockout laws at night, making the city feel safe at night as well.

The Sydney Opera House, amazing weather and some of the beach beaches, you will not be disappointed. It is definitely a MUST visit when you are in Australia.

ADDITIONAL SYDNEY RESOURCES

If you have any questions about this 1 day Sydney Itinerary, let me know in the comments below!

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