3 Days in Sydney

28 January 2014
Read Time: 3.2 mins

Illustrious, iconic Sydney needs little introduction. The Harbour City is legendary for its glitzy outer shell and postcard landmarks, but there’s much more to this sprawling city beyond the trappings of the high-rise laden CBD. Three days in Sydney is all you need to sample Australia’s most populous city, including a pilgrimage to its sun-kissed beaches, a sneaky serve of retail therapy and a few cultural endeavours. A 72-hour stint in this cosmopolitan capital is really only enough time to scratch the surface, but our handy three day guide is here to help, highlighting some of the best things to do in Sydney on a snug schedule.

 Sydney: so much to love, so little time!

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Day 1

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Morning

If Saturday is the springboard for your short break in Sydney, make your way down to the quay and swing by the renowned Rocks Markets. Set amid convict-era sandstone facades and cobbled laneways, The Rocks precinct is bursting with personality and is at its best on the weekend when some 200 market stalls set up shop. Vintage fashion, souvenirs without the tacky factor, locally made jewellery and plenty of food stalls will easily whittle away your morning.

Afternoon

The Rocks boasts some pretty impressive spots for a nosh including my personal favourite, Pancakes on the Rocks. Tracing Circular Quay you will find an impressive array of eateries, from the awarded Aria and Cafe Sydney to the indulgent Guylian Belgian chocolate cafe. The eastern edge of the quay is also home to the Sydney Opera House and awards great photo opportunities in front of the grand building itself, or of the Sydney Harbour Bridge across the water.

An alternative route from The Rocks is a scenic half-hour walk across the Harbour Bridge to Sydney’s north side, where you might consider popping into Luna Park for a little nostalgic fun or sneaking a peak at the prosperous Kirribilli Point.

Evening

Fancy dinner and a show? While you’re hanging around Sydney's inner-city, your options for stage-based spectating include the Sydney Theatre Company near The Rocks, the Sydney Opera House and the Capitol Theatre just moments south of the CBD – now playing the multi-awarded Lion King musical and soon to host Wicked when it returns to Australian shores. When you feel sufficiently cultured, enjoy a discreet nightcap at one of Sydney’s secret rooftop or basement bars like The Rook, the Baxter Inn or Palmer & Co.

 The classic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House combo shot

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Day 2

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Morning / Afternoon

After discovering Sydney’s cultural heart, enjoy some respite with a day trip to one of the city’s world-famous beaches. Rub shoulders with the glitterati on the golden sands of Bondi Beach, about 20-minutes southeast of the CBD, or take a dip in the famous Icebergs baths before meandering along Campbell Parade in search of a fish and chip lunch. If you’d rather work up a sweat than hit the surf, a six-kilometre cliff-top path from Bondi to Coogee winds its way to the quieter beaches of Bronte and Tamarama with brilliant coastal views en route.

For a seaside jaunt at the northern end of town, jump on the Manly ferry from Circular Quay where a 30-minute trip will have you feeling worlds away from the big city commotion. Manly is a favourite among families and outdoor enthusiasts, laden with cycle-friendly pathways and the extensive Manly to Spit Bridge walking trail. Home to 4 Pines Brewing Company, countless hole-in-the-wall coffee shops and restaurants of every ilk from pizzerias to tapas cantinas, Manly is also a foodie mecca and does “al fresco” to a tee.

Evening

After a well-deserved disco nap, scour the local guides and street press to see what’s got the city abuzz. Sydney’s diary is chock-a-block with festivities: January welcomes the annual Sydney Festival, the cultural highlight of the events calendar, with 18 days of music, theatre, opera, circus, cabaret, family-friendly fun and free shows galore. The city also goes all out for Chinese New Year in late January / early February, Mardi Gras in March and, of course, the fireworks spectacular on New Year's Eve.

 Surf's up at the always beautiful Bondi Beach

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Day 3

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Morning

For your last Sydney hurrah, spend some time getting to know the distinct charms of the districts that frame the city. If upmarket boutiques interspersed with galleries piques your interest, follow the trendsetters to Paddington. The hipster crowd will tell you Surry Hills is the place to go for designer bars and the best coffee in town but for something a little edgier, try Newtown. Newtown’s main drag of royal proportions, King Street, boasts an eclectic range of new and old retailers, familiar cafes and vibrant live music venues.

Afternoon

The golden late-afternoon glow is the perfect time to visit the picturesque La Perouse peninsula and the northern headland of Botany Bay. The serene site is home to Bare Island, a historic military fort now popular for diving, fishing, landscape photography and even weddings. Set in the Kamay Botany Bay National Park, the green hills of La Perouse are ideal picnic terrain with Sydney Airport also conveniently close by if you're setting off on an afternoon flight.

Evening

As your holiday in Sydney draws to a close, treat yourself to one last lashing of luxury at one of Sydney’s themed bars. The Roosevelt in Potts Point will take you back to the jiving Jazz Era with a bespoke Liquid Nitrogen Trolley and cocktails served in hipflasks, glass guns and wooden crates. Sydney’s bars aren’t limited to a tipple, however. Satisfy your sweet tooth at a late-night dessert bar, like the celebrated Gelato Messina in Darlinghurst or Adriano Zumbo’s dessert train at The Star in Pyrmont.

Ashton Rigg

When I'm not at home in Brisbane, you’ll find me wanderlusting around hipster bars, eclectic boutiques and arty nooks. From bagels in Brooklyn to strudel in Salzburg, I believe the best way to experience a destination is by taking a bite! Tweets & 'grams at @AshtonRigg