Last Updated on September 16, 2020 by hungryoungwoman
One of the most attractive cities in the world, Sydney in Australia is the capital of the state of New South Wales. It is the most populated city in Australia and, while expensive, has been rated one of the most livable cities in the world.
Fret not, if you want to keep a track on your spending, see Australia on a budget here.
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I got in touch with Holly, a Sydney local to tell me how someone should plan Sydney places to visit and she was lovely to plan a Sydney trip itinerary for us!
Sydney Itinerary 3 days:
There are plenty of things to do in Sydney to fill a longer stay, but it is possible to tick off the main icons in a whirlwind 3 days in Sydney. Read on to see how you can fit it all in.
Click here to view discounted rates to Sydney here.
Where to Stay in Sydney
Driving in Sydney can be challenging even for the locals, traffic can be heavy and parking options, limited. Three locations offer the best proximity for this itinerary; The Rocks, Circular Quay, and Darling Harbour.
There are plenty of hotels to choose from including The Novotel in Darling Harbour, The Marriot in Circular Quay and The Holiday Inn Old Sydney. All of these will enable easy access to public transport options or are within an easy walking distance of this Sydney itinerary.
For luxury accommodation in Sydney, here’s a nice guide about picking the right Airbnb so your stay is located in some of the most picturesque locations in the city!
If you also happen to be in Sydney in late May or early June during the Vivid lights festival, these are also the areas where there will be the most to see.
Public Transport in Sydney
It should be noted that the public transport system in Sydney is now cashless, so in order to use trains, buses, or ferries you will require an Opal card. Opal cards can be obtained from a number of locations in the Sydney CBD – look for Newsagents and 7-11 stores displaying the Opal flag.
If you haven’t yet had the opportunity to get your Opal card, some transport locations will offer a single ticket option. This isn’t a guarantee, however, so you are best off to get an Opal card if you can. There is no cost for the card, only the credit which you load onto it.
Places to Visit in Sydney
Sydney Harbour Bridge
As your first day dawns in the city of Sydney, it’s time to grab some breakfast and head to one of Sydney’s most famous and iconic sites, The Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Opened in 1932, the heritage listed steel bridge crosses the Harbour, connecting the Sydney CDB with North Sydney.
The daring and non-budget conscious traveler might choose to undertake the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. Prices range from AU$263 – $403 and there are four timeslots to choose from.
However, a great and significantly cheaper alternative to the bridge climb is to walk across the Sydney Harbour bridge itself.
You can access the Sydney end of the bridge from the stairs on Cumberland Street in The Rocks. On this side of the steel structure is the Pylon Lookout. The pylon is open from 10 am daily and costs AU$15 for an adult ticket. As you climb up the pylon you will walk through a number of exhibits detailing the building and history of the bridge. The views of the Harbour from the top rival those from the top of the bridge itself.
Depending on your pace, your walk across the bridge should take under an hour where you will arrive in North Sydney. From here walk down towards the water to another famous Sydney icon, Luna Park. Built in 1935, even if you don’t go in it is worth stopping for a photo in front of the giant face at the entrance to the park.
From Luna Park, hop on a Sydney Ferry to return you to Circular Quay.
Lunch at the Opera Bar Sydney
A short 5-minute walk from Circular Quay is the iconic Sydney Opera House. Since you have probably worked up an appetite with your morning walking, head downstairs to the lower level where you will find a number of food options. I recommend Opera Kitchen, it is one of my favorite places to eat in Sydney with good quality meals that are not excessively expensive. You can sit and eat while taking in the views of the Harbour and Bridge. If you don’t mind splashing out there is also a restaurant in the Opera House itself.
Click here for a special tour of Sydney Opera House
After your lunch, take a stroll around the Opera House, it is interesting to see up close how the individual panels fit together.
On the other side of the Opera House is Australia’s oldest scientific institution, The Royal Botanic Garden. Offering views of the Opera House with the Harbour Bridge as a backdrop the Sydney gardens often have events on throughout the year you might catch, and are equipped with wifi throughout.
After your afternoon stroll through the Botanic Gardens, head back to your hotel to freshen up for the evening.
A night in The Rocks
The Rocks is easily my favorite part of Sydney. It is one of the oldest, having been established shortly after the colonization in 1788, and many beautiful old stone buildings and structures remain.
A free walking tour runs every day commencing at 6 pm meeting in front of Cadman’s cottage and runs for 90 minutes.
The Rocks has a bloody history, as do many convict settlements in Australia, so if you’re brave and don’t have any kids to factor in, I recommend checking out the nightly Ghost Tour. Tours commence at either 6.45 pm or 7.45 pm depending on the season.
No visit to Sydney is complete without a trip to one of the most famous beaches in Australia, Bondi. It’s been made particularly famous by shows such as Bondi Rescue and Bondi Vet. The lifeguards are usually more than happy to pose with a photo while keeping a watchful eye on the surf.
How to get to Bondi Beach:
You won’t be able to walk to this one, as Bondi Beach is the final point of one of Sydney’s best-known fun runs, the City to Surf, a 14km route from the Sydney CBD. The more direct route is less, but still not one you want to waste half the day walking. You will still need your walking shoes though.
Uber is fairly well established in Sydney so it is definitely an option, however subject to traffic congestion so it is likely to be a quicker and easier trip by public transport.
From Circular Quay bus routes 380 and 333 will take you to Bondi via Bondi Junction, or route 389 will take you to North Bondi which is a few blocks from the beach. Buses have their own lanes in much of Sydney so are able to bypass traffic.
What to do in Bondi:
If the beach is your thing, spend the morning in the surf or lazing on the sand, or even check out the skateboarders doing tricks on the permanent ramps installed near the sand. There are plenty of places to choose from for lunch along the main drag. I’m a fan of grabbing fish and chips to eat on the beach.
If you happen to be at Bondi on a weekend, stopping by the weekly markets are a must! They run from 10 am – 4 pm every Sunday in the grounds of Bondi Beach Public School. Saturdays are the Farmers Market.
Bondi to Coogee Walk
If the beach isn’t your style, Bondi Beach also happens to be the start of the Bondi to Coogee walk, a meandering 6 km of clifftop paths along the stunning coastline. If you happen to be visiting from the last week of October through the first week of November, it is also the setting for the annual Sculptures by the Sea exhibition. Plan to visit on a weekday if so, as the crowds are prohibitive on a weekend.
The Bondi to Coogee walk will take you past Bronte and Tamarama beaches, offering a less crowded swimming spot than Bondi, before winding around to Clovelly, a popular snorkeling spot. If you don’t want to do the full distance, it is worth walking to the heritage listed clifftop Waverley Cemetery, a distance of about 2.5kms from Bondi, before heading back.
Bus routes 373 and 374 will take you from Coogee back to Circular Quay.
Return to your hotel mid-afternoon to freshen up for your evening ahead!
CLICK HERE to view cheap flights to Sydney
Sunset Dinner Cruise
Tonight you will see a different side of Sydney Harbour!
If you are visiting Sydney during Winter or Autumn, Captain Cook Cruises run a Sunset Dinner Cruise departing Darling Harbour at 6 pm. Tickets are AU$99 per adult and the cruise will run for 90 minutes. Click here to look at more details.
During Summer and Spring, sunset times will be later and another cruise choice may be more suitable. I recommend gauging a rough idea of the sunset time for when you want to go and booking one that will give you some cruising time while it is still light to give you the best views of the Harbour. Captain Cook offers a number of cruise options, as do other providers.
If you’re more interested in a Breakfast tour, head to Wild Life Zoo at Darling Harbour and get the chance to have breakfast with cute Australian koalas! Click here to see the updated price of the tour.
For your final day in Sydney, it is time to check out another famous Sydney icon, while checking out some of Australia’s native Fauna, Taronga Zoo.
Opened in 1916, Taronga Zoo has only been closed twice since and is open every day from 9 am. The Taronga Zoological Society is a leader in conservation and environmental education. There are various special events run at the zoo all year round. Grab your skip the line tickets to Taronga Zoo here.
How to get to Taronga Zoo:
Head on back down to Circular Quay, from which Taronga Zoo is a 12-minute ride on the Ferry.
Adult tickets are AU$42.30, or family tickets start at AU$80.80
Roar and Snore
If you are so inclined you can also spend the night at the Zoo with a Roar and Snore ticket. Meeting outside the gate of the zoo at 6.15pm you will be taken to your campsite with the Harbour Bridge as your backdrop.
A buffet dinner and breakfast is included with your ticket, as is an exclusive Taronga night safari led by the keepers that gets up close and personal with some of the friendly residents by joining feeding time. Fall asleep to the sound of the wild.
Roar and Snore runs every night during School Holidays, and Tuesday through to Sunday the rest of the year. However, with adult tickets starting at AU$600, it is not an experience for the budget conscious.
If you choose to spend the night at Taronga, you may like to check out some day trip suggestions for your day. Otherwise, head on back to your hotel to freshen up for dinner.
Dinner at Sydney Tower
Another experience not to be missed during your 3 days in Sydney is a visit to Sydney Tower. Formerly known as Centrepoint, standing at 305 meters, the spire of Sydney’s tallest structure can be seen poking above the high-rises from most vantage points in the city. It is the second tallest observation tower in the Southern Hemisphere.
At the top of the tower are two revolving restaurants, perfect for getting those city-wide views as you enjoy a meal. You will need to make a reservation at both restaurants to ensure you get a table. Try having some unusual dishes like roast kangaroo and crocodile. Click here to book a table at the revolving restaurant.
The lower revolving level is a buffet restaurant. While the upper revolving level, 360 Dining, is order-from-the-menu fine dining, offering contemporary Australian options.
If this is out of your budget, head for the Observation Deck, open 9 am to 9 pm seven days a week all year round. Last entry is at 8 pm.
Click here to get skip the line tickets to the Observation Deck at Sydney Tower.
Check out a show
While no Broadway, Sydney does have some really lovely theatres, including the State Theatre and the Capitol Theatre. Once you know your dates check out what shows are running and snap up some tickets to have a great night out.
Day trips from Sydney
If these activities don’t take your fancy, or you end up with extra time, there is plenty you can see by taking a few Sydney day trips.
The Blue Mountains
About 70kms west of Sydney is the base of the beautiful Blue Mountains. You can take the train line up, but you are better off to either have a car or take a tour, as many of the sights are some distance from the train stations. Australia has some truly spectacular landscapes which are worth seeing and the Blue Mountains are a stellar example.
Featherdale Wildlife Park
Much smaller than Taronga, Featherdale has a focus on Australian wildlife. The kids will love petting and feeding the Kangaroos and Wallabies and you can have your photo taken with a Koala.
Situated about an hour out of Sydney is the setting for the Australian made Home and Away. Rent a kayak for the afternoon to paddle around Pittwater.
If you have a car, the Kangaroo Valley, two hours from Sydney, is a truly picturesque region.
These are just some of the road trips from Sydney you can take, there are more attractions you can fit in your planner if you are staying for longer.
Hope this Sydney travel guide has made your questions of what to do in Sydney for 3 days disappear! There are a lot of Sydney attractions to explore and ensure that you will return home with lots of happy memories.
If you are traveling to Sydney, here’s how you can create your very own customizable Travel Planner. Click here to get yours now!
If you’re in Sydney and craving Indian food, here’s where you should head to try the best Indian restaurants in Sydney.
Sydney to Melbourne
Melbourne is a great city and should not be missed when traveling to Australia, Sydney to Melbourne drive time is about 9 hours. This is why it is better to book yourself a flight if you are short on time. You can find affordable flights here that have flying time for only an hour and a half.
You will also find this guide to cheap things to do in Melbourne helpful for your visit!
About Holly from Globeblogging:
Australian born to British parents raised far away from extended family, Holly was lucky to travel extensively growing up, and when life didn’t quite go to other plans her passion to see the world was reignited. An avid writer and photographer, Holly honed her skills sharing her adventures with other sites, before deciding it was time to try doing this for herself. Globeblogging was launched in 2018 to share her passions for travel, writing, and photography with the world. Follow her adventures on Pinterest here.
Until then, happy traveling! xx
P.S. If you want to save and read later, here are some pinnable versions 🙂