Top 5 Things To Do In Sydney

I spent 3 months living and working in Sydney before moving on to other areas throughout Australia, on my last visit to the city. In that time I managed to get a much more in depth view of what life was like from a local’s perspective there than I could have otherwise. Equally, I was still there as a backpacker, and I feel this has given me a unique perspective of the city from both a local and traveller’s perspective. Below are my top 5 things to do in Sydney, offering both a combination of tourist attractions, and things which offer an insight into life as a local in the city, all on a strict backpacker budget.

Have lunch at Circular Quay

Every time you see a picture or postcard of Sydney it usually has either the Harbour Bridge or Sydney Opera House in it (or both!) Usually when I see pictures of landmarks, and then see them in real life, they are a real let down and not much to write home about. Sydney however, was a real surprise for me in this aspect. Almost everyday of my time in Sydney, I would walk down to Circular Quay (where the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House is) I would sit down with my lunch and just wonder how I ended up half way across the world in such an awe inspiring place. When the sun is shining in Sydney, which is just about every day, this place is stunning. Sometimes it’s just the simplest things which make you’re trip special, and having lunch down here every day was one of them. It’s also costs no money to just come hang out here. I recommend to anyone to come down by the harbour at Circular Quay at least once. You really start to realise why everyone talks about these landmarks, and is just a cool place to hang out.

Hang out in Newtown, and go to the Newtown festival!

Newtown is a really cool district of Sydney which is kind of like Camden Town in London, only better! Everybody here dresses very alternative, and there is strong community of vegetarians and vegan’s, shown through the many great restaurants here geared towards this market. Newtown is actually one of the few places in the world where McDonalds had to close down due to lack of business, something which I quite like about the place! The best thing about Newtown however, other than the great cafes and restaurants (there is an amazing Italian on Kings St you should definitely check out), is the shops! Newtown is an alternative hub in Sydney, and as a result there are some amazing independent shops here. I absolutely love shopping in Newtown! Everybody you meet here seems to be an artist or a musician, and there is just so much to see and do for such a small area. If I ever decided to stop travelling and settle down it would be in Newtown. Other notable highlights include the little independent art house cinema, and the centre for promoting the rights of Indigenous Australians. If you are here from 7th – 22nd March, you should also check out the Newtown Festival. It is completely free to enter, has live bands playing, great little clothes & food stalls, and is generally just a cool, laid back place to hang out and meet like minded people. It’s one of my favourite festivals anywhere in the world in one of my favourite places, and I highly recommend it!

Go for a night out in Kings Cross

Kings Cross is one of those places that has to be experienced and accepted for what it is. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but is an interesting place to check out. It’s a huge centre for nightlife in the city, and is also home to a lot of prostitution and drugs on the streets. There is a strange combination of pubs and nightclubs here. If you stick to the main street you will find a lot of cheap trashy places (not that there is anything wrong with that), but you’ll also find a lot of really cool alternative hang outs round corners or nestled in places you wouldn’t expect. I ended up in a really cool place on one of my last nights there which was like an old town house that had been converted into an electro club. You would walk upstairs and into rooms where the décor was still as if it was someone’s house, except there was a DJ playing and a bar tucked away in a corner somewhere, and people were dancing on carpet. Equally, there were also a lot of bars and nightclubs in Kings Cross which offered cheap booze, but something that had an atmosphere more akin to a kind of hen/stag party night. It’s definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but you can get a cheap night out here, cheap food, and there are usually a lot of buskers playing music on the streets here which I liked.

Do the Coogee to Bondi walk

There is a really beautiful walk from Coogee to Bondi beach in Sydney which takes in lots of rugged coast line, a cemetery by the sea, peaceful sea views, and cool sculptures and artworks along the way. I never really use guide books, but this was one gem that a friend of mine discovered via the Lonely Planet that we went on, and was really stunning. At the end you get some views of Bondi and all the people on the beach, and although it would be terrible to sunbathe on such a packed beach, it was incredible to see the view from afar, with all the tiny dots of people. Sort of a bit like when you see the view of a city from high up. The view is incredible, but being down by all the concrete will eventually get you down!

Go for a surf!

Other than beer and BBQ’s, one thing that is intrinsically linked into the local Australian culture is surfing! Over 80% of the Australian population live on the coast, a large percentage of that situated around the New South Wales coast line, and Sydney. If you’ve never surfed before it’s probably best to go for a few lessons (you’ll see loads of advertisements for classes in the hostels). Alternatively, if you’re on a strict budget, you could always go body boarding instead. It’s sort of like the lazy mans surfing, where you just ride the waves in, belly down on a cheap body board. My top tip for going surfing in Sydney is to avoid Bondi beach like the plague, and head out to some of Sydney’s alternative beaches, such as Palm Beach or Narrabeen. These particular beaches are great for surfing, and are also much more secluded. Everybody goes to Bondi beach at least once on their trip, but during summer it is completely packed, and is really hard to get any space on the beach at all.

Sydney is one my favourite places in the world to be. It combines my love for the city, with my love for the beach, and the sun! The local Australian people are also some of the most laid back, and there is an eclectic mix of international people there. If ever I was to stop travelling, I would most likely be there…

One Response to “Top 5 Things To Do In Sydney”

  1. Alex Papa says:

    Amazing, I spent 3 months living and working in Sydney too, before moving on to other places on the east coast of Australia. And if I had to pick a place to live in Australasia Sydney would be the one. I lived in Double bay, which was only a few minutes from the places you mentioned in this post. Thank you for bringing up some nice memories!


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