Sydney, Australia is the capital city of New South Wales. With a population of 4.5 million people, Sydney is also Australia‘s most populated city. The city and its metropolitan area cover over 4,000 square miles of the country that ranges from sandy beaches to green hills to rocky mountain terrain. The heart of the city lies on the coast of the Tasman Sea at Port Jackson, which is generally referred to as Sydney Harbor. Sydney enjoys a temperate climate year round, with temperatures ranging between 40 and 80 degrees on average. There can be extreme highs in temperatures, though – due to climate changes. The city has also been prone to wind stores, hail storms and brush fires in the past.
The attraction that residents and tourists have to the city isn’t new. In fact, carbon dating shows that Sydney has been inhabited by various groups of indigenous people for 30,000 years. Today, Sydney’s population is made up of a great mix of immigrants from all over the world, which only adds to its cultural allure. Recent census data shows that just under 200,000 UK-born citizens have made Sydney their home as have just over 100,000 Chinese. This cultural allure is part of the reason Sydney hosts so many tourists each year. In 2008 alone, nearly three million people visited Sydney – almost as many as its entire population! We’re going to highlight some of the best places to visit while in Sydney and learn a little bit about what it is that brings tourists back there year after year.
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Bondi Beach is the most popular of the 40 beaches near Sydney.. It’s home to the oldest life saving club in the world and is very popular with surfers. On any given weekend, Bondi Beach attracts some 40,000 people, partaking in the variety of activities it offers. Aside from surfing, sunbathing and other watersports, Bondi Beach also has a very active nightlife with clubs, restaurants and a beachfront pavilion that hosts a variety of events throughout the year.
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One visit to Sydney’s Chinatown and you will completely forget you’re in Australia. The area is dedicated to all things Asian and features a number of shops and restaurants from a variety of Asian cultures – like Cambodia, Laos and Malaysia. In the same vicinity as Chinatown, there is also a Spanish Quarter that features a variety of venues dedicated to the Spanish cultures.
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The Rocks is one of the most historically significant locales in all of Sydney. It is the location where British captain Arthur Philip landed with 1400 settlers to establish an outpost far from the rest of the British territories. There are lots of historical markers and displays telling the history of the area and its significance yet today. On location at The Rocks there is a market full of stalls where local vendors peddle everything from farm fresh produce to clothing and crafts they’ve made themselves.
Sydney Harbor Bridge
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Sydney Harbor Bridge is one of those tell tale landmarks that makes Sydney highly recognizable around the world. The bridge is the largest and widest steel arch bridge in the world. It was opened to the public in 1932 and has been an Australian icon ever since. You can choose to drive across the bridge, like most people do. However, if you’re a thrill seeker and really want to experience the bridge in all its glory, there are hosted climbing tours of the bridge where knowledgeable guides will lead you up to the summit of the bridge where you can get an awesome 360 degree view of the harbor and the city. There’s also a museum on site that showcases the history of the bridge and its importance to Sydney.
Sydney Opera House
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The Sydney Opera House is another Australian icon that is instantly recognizable in the city’s skyline. Built on Sydney Harbor, the opera house was designed in 1957, but not completed or opened to the public until 1973. In 2008 the Sydney Opera House was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was named one of the top 20 most distinctive buildings in the world. The venue hosts a variety of performing art troupes and entertainers throughout the year and nearly seven million visitors pass through its doors every year. A concert hall, a drama theater, a playhouse, cafe, recording studio, bars and retail outlets are just a few of the venues that are a part of the Sydney Opera House complex.
Sydney Tower Eye
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The Sydney Tower Eye, looming prominently some 1,000 feet over the city, is the second tallest observation tower in the Southern Hemisphere. There are three levels of the tower and each one is completely glass-enclosed. There’s a skydeck, a moving viewing platform and two rotating restaurants with a capacity of 120 patrons each. The tower can hold just over 900 people and a trip to the top takes 40 seconds via the lifts.
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The Blue Mountains on the outskirts of Sydney are an important piece of its history. The mountains were one of the original places that the Aboriginal people (Australia’s earliest natives) settled, worked, farmed and lived. The area is full of history as well as natural beauty. Your options of touring the area are many. You may chose from taking a guided walking/hiking tour with one of the local companies, opt for a four wheel drive excursion or just drive along the perimeter of the mountains via a rented car.
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Because Sydney Harbor plays such an important role in the city’s infrastructure, history and outline – a visit to the city is not complete without a boat tour of the harbor. As you might have guessed, your tour options are wide an varied. A number of tour companies offer a wide schedule of harbor tours. Some of them are all inclusive with food and drinks, while others are more focused on giving relevant information to pertinent significant sights around the harbor. If you get the chance, opt for the night time tours when the harbor is lit up with hundreds of beautiful lights from the bridge and surrounding venues.
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Luna Park is a great place to visit for tourists of all ages. It’s a restored 1930s amusement park – sort of like an Australian version of New York’s Coney Island. Aside from the amusement rides and games, guests can hold birthday parties, weddings and other events at a number of buildings on side. Sydney Harbor makes the perfect backdrop to this nostalgic blast from the past – a truly must see for any Sydney tourist.
- With an average of 340 sunny days out of the year, it’s a good bet you’re going to experience the Australian sun, which is very strong and emits harmful UV rays. Sunscreen and hats are a good idea if you’re going to venture out in it between the hours of 10a and 3p. The elderly and children are especially susceptible to those harmful rays so pay special attention to those age brackets.
- You won’t need any special driving permits if you choose to rent a car in Sydney, so long as your normal driver’s license from your home country is in English. Be advised, though. You drive on the left side of the road in Australia, as opposed to the right side like in most places in the world. Many accidents are caused by drivers inexperienced with this lane change so be very certain of your abilities before you attempt it.
- Visitors visas, although free, are required to enter the country. Other immigration documentation and proof of citizenship status, identity and paperwork may be required, depending on your country of origin. Make sure you investigate this and prepare yourself thoroughly with any documentation that you may need for your travels before you depart.