I waited to vacation in Sydney until I was 27 years old for a reason: I knew that once I stepped foot in the city, I’d never want to leave. Upon touching down there last summer, my suspicions were quickly confirmed.
My flight to Sydney arrived at 7am, and as tired as I was after 12 hours overnight in a plane, I checked into my hotel room and got moving: I only had two full days in this glorious city and didn’t want to waste a moment.
I had been to Australia once before, about a year and a half prior for the launch of the Best Job in the World campaign in Queensland, but this was my first brush with New South Wales. And oh what a beauty she is.
What to Do in Sydney
Sydney is a mathematician’s dream: a dazzling display of geometry where patterns, architecture, and people collide in a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes. Nowhere better showcases these motifs than Circular Quay, the hub of Sydney Harbor. At Sydney Opera House, millions of diamond-shaped tiles make up much larger, concentric sails that jut out over the water’s edge, reinforcing the city’s nautical core. Nearby, the steely arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge provides a thoroughfare between Milsons Point and the Rocks—a favorite climb for adventuresome souls. Outside the harbor, what could be a suburban sprawl is blissfully interrupted by the city’s serpentine coastline. Visit hot spots like Bondi Beach or traverse the Great Coastal Walk. Whatever your tourist appetite, this playground is Australia’s answer to the Land of Opportunity.
Sydney has a reputation as a bustling beach town, but that’s not all it has going for it. In fact, due to the inclement weather, I never so much as saw a stretch of sand. (Bondi Beach and Manly Island, I’ll be back for you, my friends.) That was fine—we have enough beaches in California after all. It just gave me more of an excuse to explore Sydney’s other offerings.
I was staying in the trendy neighborhood, the Rocks, so much of my time was spent wandering the waterfront area of Circular Quay.
I can’t help it: I’m a sucker for geometry, a subject in which the Opera House scored an A+.
While I stepped foot inside the impressive edifice briefly, one thing on the to do list for my next trip to Sydney will be actually observing a concert.
I know I wasn’t there long enough to form a lasting relationship, but if I were to have a formal list of Cities I Have Loved, Sydney would hover around the top regardless.
When to Go to Sydney
Cloudy days in Sydney are few and far between; after all, the city enjoys 300 days of sunshine a year. But summer—from October through February—is arguably the most pleasant time to visit. Increased daylight means long afternoons spent soaking up the city’s coastal ambience and even longer nights making the most of the cosmopolitan nightlife. The beaches are teeming with sunbathers and surfers alike during this period.
Kicking off the summer months is Crave, the city’s international food festival that runs throughout October. Participants can taste the freshest fare Sydney has to offer, watch celebrity chefs in action, attend the night noodle markets, and even have breakfast on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
But perhaps one of its finest celebrations takes place on the last day of the year: The city’s liveliest party envelops Sydney each New Year’s Eve as the harbor is set ablaze by one of the biggest fireworks displays in the world. An estimated 1.5 million spectators come down to the waterfront for the annual Harbour of Light Parade and the pyrotechnics show of a lifetime.
March through May is the shoulder season. Days tend to boast clear skies and warm temps, with cooler nights. Bring a sweater for evenings out. The upside is that most of the crowds have cleared and the attractions are more accessible.
Crisp winter mornings from around June to August are punctuated by bright, clear, blue skies. Temperatures are cool but certainly not cold, lingering around 50 degrees, with an average of ten wet days per month. The Alpine Winter Festival runs in four Australian cities, hitting Sydney around late July or early August. Snow is brought in to form an outdoor ice-skating rink for dance performances, hockey games, and free skating with the family.
In my mind, Sydney is the total package: amazing cuisine, bustling waterfront areas, beach scene, architectural marvels. Who wouldn’t want to live in Australia’s most vibrant city?
I even did a little house-hunting while there. Because what I’m really missing in my life is a wrought-iron balcony. Add that to the equation, and I’ll be a happy girl.