Often proclaimed as Australia’s unofficial capital city, the city of Sydney is a true metropolis of coastal beauty, urban innovation and rich Australian culture. Sydney’s perfect weather makes it hospitable for visiting all year round.
Although keep in mind that Australia’s sunshine can be brutal, so pack lots of sunscreen, sleeved shirts and a good hat to protect yourself from the UV rays. Another plus side to this fabulous city, is Sydney’s uncontainable natural beauty, meaning that there’s an activity for every budget and interest.
From breathtaking beaches to extraordinary culinary experiences there is so much to see and do.
Not sure where to start? Plan your trip with this complete 1-day Sydney itinerary…
Table of Contents
- 24 hours in Sydney: A complete 1-day itinerary
- Bondi to Coogee Coast Walk
- Brunch in trendy Alexandria
- A trip to Sydney’s lesser known beaches
- Enjoy Lunch at the Tower Eye
- Museum of Contemporary Art
- Taronga Zoo
- Have an afternoon drink at the Opera Bar
- Explore Sydney’s Inner Western Suburbs arts culture
- Enjoy dinner in Surry Hills
- Head to karaoke in Chinatown
- Where to stay: The best hotels for 24 hours in Sydney
- Beyond Sydney in one day: More Australia itineraries
24 hours in Sydney: A complete 1-day itinerary
Like many of our time-crunched city itineraries, with only 24 hours in Sydney it can be difficult to choose what to do and where to go.
Enjoy a drink overlooking Sydney’s famous Harbour Bridge and Opera House, jump on a ferry to Taronga Zoo, embrace the known and unknown beaches scattered around, or make a trip to one of the many acclaimed museums and galleries.
Discover that great Australian hospitality and explore the diversity and culture in the city and city fringes. This complete 1-day itinerary has all the answers for your next trip to Sydney.
Bondi to Coogee Coast Walk
There is no better way to start your morning than to breathe in that fresh Aussie air along a gorgeous coastal walk.
Tipped as possibly the best thing to do in Sydney; the Bondi to Coogee Coast Walk embodies all that is right with the city into one winding ocean track.
Extending over six kilometres in length the walk should take you around three hours to complete, and is suitable for walkers of most ages and fitness levels.
There are reasons as to why this is possibly the most celebrated coastal walk in Australia. Begin at the beautiful golden sand Bondi Beach, grab a coffee at one of the many artisan cafes along the way and finish with a cool down swim at Coogee Beach.
The walk weaves in and out of some of Sydney’s most celebrated beaches, including the likes of Clovelly, Gordon’s Bay and Bronte Beach, with each offering spots for swims, surfing and sunbathing.
PRO TIP: Want to get around Sydney with ease? See the city conveniently on your own pace with the Sydney & Bondi Big Bus Open-Top Hop-On Hop-Off Tour!
Brunch in trendy Alexandria
You’ll be hungry after all that walking, and you’ll need to fuel up for the big day ahead. Once the industrial heart of Sydney, the suburb of Alexandria has ditched the trucks and tradies for turmeric lattes and hipsters.
The inner-city suburb has become famous as a foodie mecca- perfect for brunching. These old school industrial warehouses have been converted into cosy, trendy coffee shops boasting specialty coffee, organic foods, local produce and culinary masterpieces.
Check out the new brunch on the block, Baby Coffee Co, located on the outskirts of bustling Alexandria, with an exclusive coffee bean and a deliciously colourful and creative menu, curated by a secret chef. Wet the baby’s head with their brunch cocktail menu boasting bottomless mimosas and pick up some cool branded merch as a momento.
An absolute must-see in Sydney is The Grounds of Alexandria, one of Australia’s most Instagrammed locations. The grounds we speak of refer to an old pie tin factory, which has been transformed into an artsy, vibrant foodie community space, complete with petting zoo and markets.
Source: flickr, The Grounds of Alexandria
The Grounds of Alexandria hosts three different eateries, one cafe, one restaurant and one canteen. The Grounds decor is comprised of well-manicured gardens, pastry and lolly vendors and quirky art pieces including a telephone booth and an old farmers truck full of freshly harvested local produce.
On Sundays, The Grounds of Alexandria also hosts a market for local craft makers to sell their goods. Take the train to Green Square Station, just a few stops from Central, the Airport and Circular Quay. Green Square Station is close to the hub of eateries and homewares boutiques. The development of Sydney’s light rail is also well underway due for completion in 2020.
A trip to Sydney’s lesser known beaches
Although Sydney is mostly known for its star studded lineup of famous beaches, including the likes of Bondi and Coogee Beach, if you dig a bit further you’ll find a wide range of ocean hotspots that give you the true local experience.
Begin with a trip to Milk Beach in the chic suburb of Vaucluse. The beach is small in size, but is a lot quieter than most and is protected from the elements as it’s located within the harbour.
Next up on Sydney’s lesser known beach list is Gordon’s Bay. Located just north of Coogee, Gordon’s Bay is a snorkeling paradise as it’s protected by an offshore reef. Gordon’s (as the locals call it) offers calm waters for bathing and expansive rock ledges for catching some rays.
Other hidden beach gems off the tourist trail include Little Bay, Chinamans and Store Beach.
Enjoy Lunch at the Tower Eye
After exploring Sydney’s secret locations, head to the biggest tourist attraction of them all and make your way to Circular Quay for lunch.
Soak up Sydney’s best city views from 275 metres high at the iconic Sydney Tower Eye, 360 Bar and Dining. This experience is truly exceptional and unique to Sydney, offering an extraordinary culinary experience with an even more extraordinary view.
The main attraction of this restaurant is held in its name, boasting 360 views of Sydney’s city and harbour surrounds, in a rotating restaurant so you can’t miss a thing. 360 bar has an extensive menu of specially designed cocktails to match the extraordinary array of fresh local produce.
Elton Inglis, the Executive Chef, has over 15 years experience in the industry working in some of the most renowned kitchens around the world. Furthermore, the Tower Eye is located just above Pitt Street Mall, Sydney’s best shopping location.
PRO TIP: Want to skip the line-up? Grab a Sydney Tower Eye Fast-Track Entry before your arrive to save time on your one-day Sydney itinerary!
Museum of Contemporary Art
Whilst in Circular Quay check out the unmissable Museum of Contemporary Art. For those eager to explore the thriving art and cultural scene within Sydney, this is definitely the place to go.
The Museum finds that perfect blend between exhibitions supporting both local and international artists with an emphasis being placed on contemporary art. For those on a shoestring budget the museum is an ideal thing to do in Sydney as admission is completely free.
Enjoy getting lost among the galleries, and finish off the trip with a coffee/bite to eat on the rooftop cafe overlooking the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House.
PRO TIP: Interested in visiting other museums in Sydney? Get the iVenture Sydney Attractions Flexi Pass! It offers free entry for your choice of either 3, 5, or 7 attractions, tours, and encounters in Sydney.
Ready to view Sydney Harbour from a unique perspective? Catch a short ferry from Circular Quay to the famous Taronga Zoo in Sydney’s North, letting you enjoy panoramic views of Sydney harbour and towering cityscape.
Taronga Zoo is home to an entire range of native and international animals, including such fan favourites as the Koala Bear and African Lion.
The Zoo isn’t the cheapest attraction in Sydney, however booking your Taronga Zoo entry tickets online gives you a discounted price if you’re travelling on a budget.
What’s most unique about Taronga Zoo are the sweeping views of the city in the background at a large chunk of animal enclosures. Quite bizarrely watch Giraffes enjoy their lunch overlooking the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Taronga Zoo is a must on your list of things to do in Sydney.
PRO TIP: Get up close and personal with Australia’s native animals on the Sydney Taronga Zoo Wildlife Experience! On this two-hour you’ll join a knowledgeable zookeeper who’ll teach you all about Australian wildlife and what makes it so unique.
Have an afternoon drink at the Opera Bar
No trip to Sydney would be complete without heading down to the famed Circular Quay, home to Sydney’s most iconic structures; Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House.
Whilst exploring the truly remarkable location make sure to grab a drink/bite to eat from the Opera bar, beautifully perched on the waters edge overlooking the glistening harbour, bridge and expansive city skyline.
Opera Bar is reasonably priced for such a fantastic location, meaning you don’t have to fork out half of your daily budget on one drink. As you soak up the vibrant atmosphere of the bar it’s obvious to see as to why this is a visitor favourite for things to do in Sydney.
PRO TIP: Interested in Sydney’s beer scene? Hop onto a Sydney Craft Beer & Breweries Tour for a taste of some of the city’s best brews!
Explore Sydney’s Inner Western Suburbs arts culture
The day has been jam-packed of luxury activities and sightseeing in Sydney’s world-famous Harbour, City and Eastern Suburbs, now we want you to jump on the train and head west, to the Inner West, including the suburbs of Glebe, Newtown and Surry Hills to finish your evening on a cultural high.
Once the home of Sydney’s working class families, Sydney’s Inner West has been redesigned into an expressive collision of Sydney’s diverse cultures and subcultures. The renewal of this area has made way for a burgeoning food, arts and music scene, complete with historic pubs, old and new boutique and vintage stores and culinary experiences spanning a world of flavours.
Train from Circular Quay to Newtown Station where you will find yourself at the beginning of Newtown’s arts and foodie hub, King Street. Here you will experience a bohemian culture stemming from the region’s blue collar roots, which has remained true to their eccentricities throughout the generations.
PRO TIP: Interested in Sydney’s street art scene? Book yourself onto a Sydney Street Art Tour to see some of the best in the city in the neighbourhoods of Enmore and Newtown!
Enjoy dinner in Surry Hills
Next stop, Central Station and a menu of cuisines to explore on the city fringes. From the lantern strung lanes of Spice Alley to delicious boutique wine bars, Surry Hills is your one stop destination to foodie heaven.
Source: Nikki To via Broadsheet, Firedoor Surry Hills
From the British-born, Michelin star chef, Lennox Hastie, Surry Hills presents Firedoor. As the name suggests, this restaurant exclusively offers smoked foods and meaty cuisines. The menu includes smoked and hung blue-eye trevalla and 184-dry aged steak valued at $176. This restaurant will tease and tantalise your taste buds. Other honourable mentions go to Bang, Gogyo and Chin Chin.
PRO TIP: Want to experience the best foods in Surry Hills? Hook yourself up with Sydney’s tastiest dishes on the Surry Hills Dining Walk Tour! Includes a four-course set menu at four popular local venues.
Head to karaoke in Chinatown
After a filling up on dinner, get back on the train at Central and head to Haymarket, where you will be welcomed into Sydney’s Chinatown. Once a rabbit warren of opium dens and gambling lairs, Chinatown is now a cultural hub embracing Chinese community and culture.
Peruse the shops of knick-knacks and pick up some authentic Chinese desserts under the neon lights and lanterns. After exploring the area, head to K1 Karaoke bar to take out the night. K1 is opened until 4am daily and specialises in Green Tea and Hennessy.
PRO TIP: Want to make the most out of your time in Chinatown? Taste the neighbourhood’s most mouth-watering delights on the 3-hour Taste of Chinatown Food Tour!
Where to stay: The best hotels for 24 hours in Sydney
As with any city of its size and stature, choosing where to stay in Sydney isn’t always easy. If you’ve only got a quick layover in Sydney, the best areas to stay are the CBD (Central Business District) and The Rocks just to the north. Here are a few ideas to start your accommodations search…
- The Ultimo: An excellent value modern hotel located in vibrant Chinatown and housed in a lovely heritage building. The Central Train Station is just minutes away by foot.
- Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour: A centrally-located mid-range hotel fitted with modern rooms and a chic ambiance. Guests will love the tasty modern Australian cuisine served at the on-site restaurant, Lo Lounge!
- The Langham Sydney: One of the top luxury picks in the city, this 5-star hotel pulls out all the stops for a memorable stay on your Sydney layover. Besides the city & bay views from the rooms, guests will love the top-notch amenities here including a luxurious pool, hot tub, tennis court, an elegant on-site restaurant, and a bar.