A big city lifestyle
Laid-back Australian mentality
Cruise ships of all lines dock in Sydney at two locations, each of which can accommodate one vessel at a time. There is the Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay which is mainly for tall ships that won’t fit beneath the Harbour Bridge and there is also White Bay which has been in operation since 2013 replacing the former Darling Harbour location.
In addition to the two berths listed, occasionally cruise ships dock at the naval base at Garden Island, a little to the east of Circular Quay, especially for very large ships.
Although it is a modern city strongly influenced by British roots and current American popular culture, Sydney’s real character is derived from its exotic location and brash beauty. Walking through the glass and concrete downtown, known as the Central Business District, you could be in any other Western-culture metropolis - until a fluorescent red and green lorikeet parrot swoops overhead or an unexpected flash of the brilliant blue harbour appears between the skyscrapers.
Any proper visit to Sydney must begin in the harbour, which is both the birthplace of the city and its current iconic centrepiece. The area is called Circular Quay (pronounced "key" by locals). It is hard to imagine a more picturesque setting for a city’s heart than this, with the Opera House and harbour Bridge displayed against the inlet’s bright water.
Sydney spreads across a massive geographic area, but the majority of its most interesting areas can be found near the ocean coast, in the area known as the Eastern suburbs. Oxford Street, the main thoroughfare running east from downtown to the ocean beaches is popular because of its upscale shops and cafes.
Take a tour of the world-famous Sydney Opera House. There are a handful of varieties (backstage, historic and what is called the "tour de force" for travellers with special interests in architecture, engineering or the arts). Guided tours are conducted between 8:30 a.m. - 5p.m. daily. Of course, schedule permitting, travellers can also take in a show.
The best way to see the harbour is to get a bird’s eye view from the top of the harbour Bridge on a Sydney harbour Bridge Climb - not your ordinary stroll across a bridge and not just for the young and crazy. The 3.5-hour trek up and down the famous landmark is safe, slow and suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels; you’ll don a bridge suit and wear a bridge harness along the ladder-like stairways and narrow catwalks.
The climbs are guided tours and are offered during the day as well as at night. There are lots of rules and regulations, including: no kids under 10 (and children aged 10 to 16 must be accompanied by an adult), no women more than 24 weeks pregnant, climbers must wear rubber soled shoes, and all climbers must pass a breath-test (for a blood alcohol limit of less than .05 percent).
From the bridge, visitors can walk around the inlet to tour the always-crowded Opera House. It is easy to continue from there through the Royal Botanical Gardens, a collection of flowers and trees overlooking the water, where it is possible to see some of Australia’s unique flora without having to leave the city.
If you are in need of some retail therapy then you will find a great selection of shopping in Sydney. Head to central areas like Pitt Street Mall, downtown and Castlereagh Street (from Hunter Street to Goulburn Street) for chi-chi designer stores. Also include the aforementioned Rocks and Darling harbour, Oxford Street and Five Ways in Paddington. Sydney also has an excellent collection of weekend outdoor markets. Glebe holds its version every Saturday, while Bondi hosts a market each Sunday.
Shops and services are generally open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and until lunchtime on Saturday. In cities and larger towns, many shops stay open late on Thursday or Friday evening - usually until 9pm - and all day on Saturday. Shopping malls are often open on Sundays as well.
In remote country areas, roadhouses provide all the essential services for the traveller and, on the major highways, are generally open 24 hours a day. In tourist areas, even ones well off the beaten track, tourist offices are often open every day or at least through the week plus weekend mornings; urban information centres are more likely to conform to normal shopping hours.
Tourist attractions such as museums, galleries and attended historic monuments, are often open daily, though those in rural communities may have erratic opening hours.
Sydney is a destination in itself, full of cultural diversity and heritage along with a fantastic choice of things to do for all the family. So be inspired on your arrival there and discover the delights this great place has to offer.