What to do in Sydney?

This summer 2017, my husband and I went to Australia for holiday. Yes we are so happy that another continent is checked now ✓ and as my husband said, the only continent we have not visited is America. So here we go, I would like to share to you our activities while we are in Australia. We mainly only visited two cities: Sydney in New South Wales and Cairns in Queensland. Here is our itinerary:

Day 1: London – Sydney

Day 2 – 5: Sydney – Cairns

Day 5 -10:  Cairns – Sydney

Day 11: Sydney – London

I wish we travelled longer as the flight journey was too long. We fly using Etihad Airways with Abu Dhabi transit. London to Abu Dhabi is about 8 hours and Abu Dhabi to Sydney is about 14 hours.

Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport
Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport
Etihad Airbus A380
Etihad Airbus A380

I will divide the post into 2 parts: ‘What to do in Sydney’ and ‘What to do in Cairns’. So please also check my other post about Cairns here.

Anyway, here are my tips of what to do in Sydney:

  1. Visit the Museum of Sydney

Getting to know Sydney history is the best bit. The Museum of Sydney is built on the site of the First Government House.

Museum of Sydney
Museum of Sydney, 37 Phillip St.

You can see the model of the First Government House. It carries historical story of the New South Wales as an English colony.

The First Government House
The First Government House

The house was built at the end of the 18th century and you can see how it is evolved.

First Government House
First Government House

You can also see the First Fleet: a group of ships that comes from Britain. Some of the ships carry the convicts off to Botany Bay.

English Colony in the New South Wales
English Colony in the New South Wales

It is incredible that you can see the model of the 18th century English ships.

Model of The First Fleet
Model of The First Fleet

2. Visit the most famous Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour
Sydney Harbour

The harbour is a lovely place to stroll around. We were there during winter, so it was cold and windy, but the panoramic view of the harbour is just mesmerising. It is also beautiful to stroll around during the evening. It is very touristy during the day. And you will see a lot of seagulls too.

Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House: see the seagulls in the picture?

We did not see inside the Opera House. We just take a picture of it from the outside. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is fantastic. According to Wikipedia, the construction of the bridge was started at 1923.

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge

3. Take a Ferry to visit Watsons Bay

On Circular Quay, there is a ferry to go to Watsons Bay. I recommend to visit Watsons Bay because it is a little tranquil place. You can relax with the view of ships. During sunset it is beautiful.

Dusk at Watsons Bay
Dusk at Watsons Bay
Watsons Bay, New South Wales
Watsons Bay, New South Wales

4. Browsing the Antique Shops in Sydney

We visit about three antique shops in Sydney. I would say that the antique shops are expensive. And they mostly sell non-Australian antiques such as English and other European antiques. There are very little Australian antiques on sale. Though I understand that Australia is a new English colony that barely established before the Victorian time, so the amount of antiques must be rare. Some of the shops selling English antiques at a very high price. Small English silver for example, can be around AUD$500 where you can buy similar item here in the UK at around GBP£100. Imagine the mark up! We also visited a couple of antique shops inside the Queen Victoria Building (QVB), again the price is staggeringly high. But still antiquing in Sydney is recommended, because you never know what you will find.

Victoria & Albert Antique
Victoria & Albert Antiques, The Strand Arcade, George St.
Victoria & Albert Antiques
Victoria & Albert Antiques at George Street

My husband bought a vesta case where it is advertised at around AUD$250 and he negotiated it to lower it down to AUD$100. Again, imagine the mark up! Although I understand these antique shops are in prestigious streets in the exclusive area of Sydney, so the rent must be high. I joke to my husband that we should open an antique shop in Sydney and selling English antiques at sky-high price too!

Tresors Antique Shop Sydney
Tresors, The Strand Arcade, George Street

5. Experience Sydney Hospitality

During our time in Sydney, we stay three nights at Travelodge Hotel Sydney Wynyard and one night at Sofitel Sydney Wentworth.

Our room at Travelodge Sydney Wynyard
Our room at Travelodge Sydney Wynyard

The room at Travelodge Sydney Wynyard is pretty basic but adequate. All that you need is provided. I like the shower room; it is neat, clean, bright, and tidy.

The shower room at Travelodge Hotel Wynyard
The shower room at Travelodge Hotel Wynyard

The breakfast is delicious. Not too many selection, but the hot food and the chilli ham is tasty.

Travelodge Sydney Breakfast
Travelodge Sydney Breakfast

On our last night before we went back to London, we stay for a night at Sofitel Sydney.

Sofitel Sydney Lobby
Sofitel Sydney Lobby

I love the hotel. It is luxurious and grand. The lobby presents it all.

Our room at Sofitel Sydney Wentworth
Our room at Sofitel Sydney Wentworth

Our bedroom has everything inside it, including a minibar. The shower room looks very lush with marble. Only that it has only shower, and not a bath. I am wondering why there is no bath in Sydney hotels? Is this true for hotel in Australia (in general) that no bath is provided? Because our hotel in Cairns does not have a bath either.

Sofitel Sydney Wentworth shower room
Sofitel Sydney Wentworth shower room
With an information that this is one of the oldest hotel in Sydney
With an information that this is one of the oldest hotels in Sydney

I love the breakfast room at Sofitel. It is overlooking a garden. It was winter when we were there so it was cold to go outside, but I can imagine during the summer it is a lovely place to eat in the garden area.

Sofitel Wentworth
Lovely court garden outside the breakfast area
Sofitel Sydney breakfast room
Sofitel Sydney breakfast room

The selection of the breakfast is lovely. It even has dimsum and nasi goreng. However my husband is wondering why there is no croissant. Maybe it was finished as we were coming late.

Our Sofitel breakfast
Our Sofitel breakfast

6. Enjoy Sydney Culinary

On the Circular Quay, not far from the Sydney Opera House, there is a cool Italian restaurant called Eastbank. The food is delicious and the price is not making your purse empty compares to other restaurants near the Opera House. We went there for lunch as well as for dinner. I had chicken avocado salad and my hubby had a pepperoni pizza. They are tasty and reasonably priced.

Eastbank Sydney Italian Restaurant
Eastbank Sydney Italian Restaurant

We also went to a coffee bar at the entrance/exit of the Queen Victorian Building, I think it is called QVB Jet Bar Caffe. My husband really loves the coffee. He said it is the best coffee in Sydney he ever tasted! We also had a walk around the Sydney CBD, didn’t try any restaurant there apart from our breakfast at Travelodge Wynyard and Sofitel Wentworth.

Sydney CBD
Sydney CBD
St Andrew's Cathedral
St Andrew’s Cathedral – it’s next to the Town Hall

Continue walking towards the town hall and not far from there you will get into Chinatown. I discover a very nice Indonesian restaurant called Shalom Indonesia. I am so much liking the food! I think the food is authentic and delicious. And the price is very accommodating too! We had a chicken satay and tongseng soup with emping (melinjo cracker). As for drinks I had an avocado juice and my husband had a Teh Kotak. All came to about (only) AUD$33.

Indonesian food in Sydney
Shalom Indonesia, Sussex St

Don’t forget to try the Australian Rutherglen Muscat. It is a lovely, sweet and delicate wine.

Rutherglen Muscat
Rutherglen Muscat wine

That is it my tips of what to do in Sydney. I hope you enjoy it. Please also read my forthcoming post about my tips in Cairns – Queensland!

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