Stopover Guide: 24-Hours In Sydney

15 April 2015
Read Time: 3.8 mins

Words by Rachel Surgeoner

Sydney really is a show-off — it’s got the best of the city and the sand within an arm’s reach; it’s home to award winning bartenders and a thriving seasonal food movement; it’s Australia’s fashion capital and it has a healthy retail mecca enough to sate the severest of shopaholics. It pulls all this off with a warm, laid-back persona and 236 days of sunshine every year, so there’s a pretty good chance your 24 hours in Sydney is going to be a sunny one.

Touchdown in Sydney airport and you’re no more than a 15-minute taxi ride from the city centre, although best to allow up to an hour in peak times. Trains depart the airport regularly and are one of the fastest ways to reach the city with just 13-minutes travel time from the international Airport Station to Central Station, or just 10 mins from the Domestic Airport Station, with fares starting from $17 each way.

Throw on some flats or lace up your trainers and get ready to hit the ground running in Sydney.

Markets and Shopping

If you’re in town on a Friday head to The Rocks Foodie Market to sample wide ranges of Australian-made gourmet produce. For up-and-coming designer goods, head over to the Saturday only Paddington Markets along the fashion-forward Oxford Street. This is where successful Australian brands such as Dinosaur Designs and Zimmerman first started out. If you find yourself in sunny Bondi on a Sunday, the beachfront Bondi Markets are great for eclectic vintage finds, handmade jewellery and arts and crafts.

If you’re based in the city centre and need some quick retail therapy, Pitt Street Mall is Sydney’s fashion hub. You’ll find hundreds of specialty stores inside Westfield Sydney. The city centre is also home to Australia’s two largest department stores, Myer and David Jones, who offer an excellent selection of brands as well as personal shopper and stylist services.

Attractions and Galleries

‘Beyond the obvious’ must-sees — Circular Quay, Opera House and Harbour Bridge — there are some lesser-known attractions worth making time for. Get in the Sydney spirit by hitting the beach and taking a walk or jog around the coastline on the picturesque Bondi to Tamarama walk, a short 1.2 kilometre, or continue further on to Bronte or even Coogee Beach. If the season is right, you’ll want to take a dip in the ocean too.

Another scenic way to see the city from the water is to hop on the Manly Ferry at Circular Quay and head across the harbour to the Northern Beaches suburb of Manly. This round trip will take you 30 minutes each way.

Wildlife lovers can find sanctuary in the inner-city Taronga Zoo or take some time out at the Sydney Aquarium. Those looking to find an oasis in the city, stroll through the Royal Botanical Gardens’ 30 hectares of green space in the heart of the city.

Arts and culture lovers will find reprieve indoors at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, enjoying the gallery’s extensive collection of Australian Art. This includes one of the largest exhibitions of Aboriginal art in the country. Located at The Domain, the gallery is just a stone’s throw from Sydney Harbour.

For cutting edge exhibitions, take a trip to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). Located at The Rocks on the edge of Sydney Harbour, the MCA hosts many renowned exhibitions from local and international artists. The building itself is a fine example of late Art Deco architecture, housed in the city’s former Maritime Services building.

Overlooking Bondi Icebergs

Food and drink

Sydney is a diverse and sophisticated city and its food and drink scene can rival that of any well known international city, any day of the week.

American chef David Chang knows Sydney is worth its salt, setting up an outpost of his New York City based Japanese inspired restaurant, Momofuku, in Sydney’s The Star hotel. Bookings recommended.

NOMAD restaurant and cellar door, tucked away in Surry Hills, offers an exceptionally fresh and local menu for fine food and wine in a relaxed setting. The menu draws on flavours of the Mediterranean using local Australian ingredients to craft a seasonally driven menu. The Chicken Liver Parfait comes highly recommended.

Consider dropping by Kitchen By Mike in Roseberry, just one suburb over for the airport, on your way inbound or outbound from the city. Open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week, with coffee and sweets on offer until 4pm. Mike is a former Rockpool (fine dining restaurant) Executive Chef; in his restaurant Mike specialises in a striped down dining approach where the menu is ever evolving based on what’s on offer at local markets.

For a meal with a view you’ll never forget, head to Bondi Icebergs. Perched overlooking the ocean and the iconic Bondi Icebergs lap pool, Icebergs Dining Room celebrates regional Italian cuisine with the freshest produce Australia has to offer.

Melbourne might have its reputation for the best coffee in the country; however, you’ll be pleased to know Sydney holds its coffee standard high and you can readily grab a quality caffeine hit from a number of specialists cafes. Look out for anywhere serving Sydney-roasted Mecca or Reuben Hills beans. If you’re looking for a quality pastry to pair with your coffee, head straight to the well-loved Bourke Street Bakery, which now has eight locations around the city.

When it comes to a nightcap, the city is teeming with hip-bars, cosy pubs and classy cocktail venues. Go underground for a night in the American-styled salon, Shady Pines, or grab a spritzer at This Must Be the Place on Oxford Street. Or visit the Time Out Sydney 2014 Best Bartender winner, Charlie Ainsbury, at Eau de Vie in Darlinghurst and have him whip you up a cocktail then sink into one the bar’s comfy leather chairs.

QT Sydney's Art Deco exterior (Credit: QT Hotels)


When it comes to boutique stays in the city, QT Sydney has you covered. The flagship hotel for the hip QT brand, you’ll find the hotel in prime central position on the corner of George and Market Streets in the city centre. The hotel blends Gothic and Art Deco architecture and prides itself on its quirky design and luxurious fit out. 

A stay at Park Hyatt Sydney means you’ll wake up marvelling at the view of the Opera House. Located dockside at The Rocks, Park Hyatt Sydney is a 5-star hotel that celebrates the Australian landscape through its intimate surrounds and distinguished design.

Sir Stamford at Circular Quay and The Grace Hotel on York Street in the CBD offer Flight Centre Business Travel clients a number of SmartSTAY benefits from complimentary WiFi, free breakfast and room upgrades. 

Images courtesy of Getty (unless noted otherwise)