If you’re planning a backpacking trip to Australia, Sydney is probably at the top of your bucket list. But since more and more backpackers decide to spend less time in cities and more time experiencing the ‘real’ Australia, just how much of Sydney can you see in a day?
Armed with a city map, your journey through Sydney should start and finish at Central Station; it’s the most convenient place for inbound and outbound links by train and coach. Walk north up Elizabeth St, which takes you to the humble Hyde Park. Grab a coffee and snack from the park café and visit the imposing Anzac War Memorial, which also houses a poignant (and free) museum.
A short walk to the north-east side of the park along the fig-tree lined avenues takes you to St Mary’s Cathedral (free), Australia’s largest cathedral (just the first in a long list of Sydney superlatives).
After a quick look around inside this Gothic Revival building, walk up Art Gallery Rd behind the cathedral to the comprehensive Art Gallery of NSW (free) and spend an hour looking at the Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Australian art collections.
Those Famous Sights
Carry on up Art Gallery Rd onto Mrs Macquaries Rd, follow the footpath up to Mrs Macquaries Point; a panoramic viewing point for the famous Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Dodge the many sweaty joggers and stroll along Farm Cove promenade to the Opera House; take a few minutes to appreciate you’re standing next to one of the most iconic buildings in the world.
From there, walk through the bustling Circular Quay to the historical maritime settlement of The Rocks. Here you’ll get the chance to see the industrial underbelly of Harbour Bridge before having a bite to eat at The Vintage Café. Visit the small (but perfectly formed) The Rocks Museum (free) and purchase a souvenir or two from the various independent shops.
The Tallest Building and… Dinner!
Join the chaotic George St and walk south towards the CBD; about halfway down and two blocks in you’ll come across the country’s tallest building, Sydney Tower, standing at 1,104 feet high. If you have time, it’s worth spending the AUS$20 or so to go up to the top, as there are not only views of the city, but also the coast to the east and on a clear day, the Blue Mountains to the west.
Back onto George St and just a short distance south you’ll come across the Town Hall and St Andrew’s Cathedral, Australia’s oldest cathedral (that’s the last one, promise!). Depending on what time of the year you visit, if it’s dark these two buildings will be majestically lit up.
By this point you’ll realise two things: that your train or coach leaves in the not-too-distant future and that you’re hungry. Between the Town Hall and Central Station is Chinatown, the best place to experience the multi-cultural heritage of Australian cuisine.
Paddy’s Market, despite its name, is a lively Asian shopping mall with a food court where you can eat in or take away a cheap, delicious meal before walking the final five minutes back to Central Station.
What do you think of Francesca’s guide to Sydney in a day? Would you add anything to it, or do you think she’s got it spot on?
Want to travel to Australia? Check out our guide to the type of work you can find in Australia or GD member Jonathan’s pick of accommodation in Sydney…