20 reasons to love Sydney, Australia

Sydney: a cosmopolitan city with a heady mix of business and buzz, nature and landscapes, and an impalpable sense of easy living. Blogger Helen Dubber believes this is a place to truly kick back and relax, and one you’ll fall for instantly
Bradfield Park in Sydney. Photo: Shutterstock
Bradfield Park in Sydney. Photo: Shutterstock

Bradfield Park in Sydney has unmissable views of the iconic Sydney Opera House. Photo: Shutterstock


Sydney has it all. It's little wonder why those who intend to visit for a few days often find themselves a permanent resident, says blogger Helen Dubber. Here she explains her top 20 reasons why you'll fall for this city Down Under


1. The beautiful architecture 

No trip to Sydney would be complete without a visit to the world-famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, which will no doubt impress. Visible from a huge number of vantage points, this is the cityscape that will make everyone back home just the right amount of jealous. Unbelievably, this structure is still less than a century old, but has secured its place firmly in the city's skyline. It’s an impressive sight, spanning 3,770ft in length, while the views across the harbour from the bridge itself are really something. 

You'll also find the iconic Sydney Opera House here; a historical building with an eccentric background. Taking over 16 years to build, this now globally-adored building was originally met with harsh public opinion. Spiralling costs and engineering problems caused huge rifts with the Australian people but once the building was finished, all was forgotten. Did you know the Opera House's exterior is self-cleaning? Made up of over 1 million tiles, it's a relief the sleek white finish doesn't need too much maintenance. 


2. The warm, welcoming people

As a clearly bewildered tourist on my second day Down Under, one experience put me at ease. A kind security guard asked if I was new to the city and began to reel off the Opera House's eclectic history (hence the house-keeping knowledge above) and where the top spots were. He took it upon himself to make me feel comfortable in this big city. This friendly nature permeates every area of Sydney and, where other cultures may reply to questions with a simple one-word response, Sydney's locals will give you a smile and a pretty considered reply. 


3. The outstanding nature... No, really! 

Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens offer a wonderful respite in this bustling city. The skyscrapers still loom beyond the greenery, but work to complement and not to overwhelm. As boats drift elegantly through glistening waters across the way, this is somewhere to get lost for a few hours. It's free to visit and a great spot to experience a whole host of Australian flora and fauna.


4. The cool, hipster haunts 

Chic Potts Point and aptly-named Darlinghurst are a haven for hipsters and there is a real sense that however you choose to express your personality, there is a place for you here. Top quality restaurants line the streets so you won’t be hard pushed for somewhere to break for lunch. Fratelli Paradiso and Yellow are the places to be seen, and offer food for a variety of palettes.


5. The raucous Kings Cross

Here you'll find one of the more vibrant parts of the city and a very friendly place. The juxtaposition of seedy clubs and bars alongside civilised restaurants, is the draw of King's Cross. Track down the world-famous Coca-Cola sign which, though laced with commercial connotations, rather dramatically reminds us of the global community we are all a part of.


6. The bountiful beaches 

Sydney is home to over 100 beaches. Only a short train and a bus ride away from the centre is Bondi Beach, which is everyone’s go-to. Though it is easy to stay here, lie back and enjoy the café culture shoreside, there are a wealth of cliff-top landscapes awaiting discovery. The Bondi to Coogee trail is a definite highlight, taking in multiple sandy stretches and ending with Coogee Beach, a just reward for the 6km walk.

Manly Beach is an equally beautiful area and is just a short ferry ride away from Circular Quay. The ferry ride itself is a perfect opportunity to view the harbour and takes only half an hour. You can take a faster ferry for a higher cost but in the land of laidback, why rush? This area has a more edgy, upbeat feel to it compared to Bondi Beach, but is very much a family environment as well.


A view of Bondi Beach in summer in Sydney; make you sure explore other beaches in the area too. Photo: Fotolia


7. The guilty pleasures... 

Take a train out to the suburbs of Sydney to try a 'sausage sizzler' at a Bunnings Warehouse outlet. Hear me out on this one. Sausage sandwiches never tasted so good, and this is an opportunity to explore the outer areas of Sydney away from swathes of tourists and selfie sticks.

Fairy bread (yes, really) deserves its place in this list too. This Aussie delicacy is simply white bread with a light coating of butter and generous sprinkles of hundreds and thousands. What more is there to say? Sydney is all about simple pleasures!


8. The posh nosh

If you have your stomach set on a more upscale joint, the CBD (central business district) offers plenty of restaurants that will impress. Mercado is a must visit; you'll find simple, fine food cooked with attention to detail, and which has received high acclaim. Walk the scenic route here through Angel Place, which has a barrage of cute, kitsch and quirky bird cages lining the street overhead. Don't forget to look up! 


9. The mouth-watering bakeries 

Near this area of plush restaurants is one of Sydney’s favourite sweet treat emporiums. Make sure you sample Bourke Street Bakery. The bakes, tarts and pastries in their Barangaroo Avenue branch will overwhelm your tastebuds (and your waistlines too). The now iconic brand has over 10 branches across the city and is a food destination in its own right. 


10. The deliciously soft ice cream

Gelato Messina, in the fringes of Darlinghurst, has a tongue-tingling selection of ice cream flavours to keep you cool on a hot summer's day. The apple pie gelato, is a game changer. Try it. You'll also find gelato-making classes on offer here, in case you want to whip up your own creations back home.


11. The artisan coffee

Think coffee and I doubt you'll think of Australia. I can assure you, however, the best coffee to be had is in Sydney. Campos Coffees stores are a firm favourite in the city; you'll find them dotted around. If you want to steer clear of the big chains, there are independent coffee shops around every corner. Stop for as many caffeine fixes as your day will allow and sample them all.


12. The "no worries" attitude 

The answer to most matters in Sydney is a simple 'no worries mate' (you just read that with an Australian accent, didn't you?) and this attitude pervades everything. It sounds like the perfect cliché but it’s these three words that make this place unique. Everyone has time for everyone else, and matters that would usually bother you elsewhere simply melt away. There's a feeling that each day is an opportunity to have fun, meet new people and make new memories.


13. The reliable transport

The transport system is brilliantly easy, and operates under the Opal card system, which is incredibly cheap and demands only an electronic top-up to keep you moving. The trains are nearly always on time, and run a regular service. There is also a shuttle service from both the International and Domestic airports, which is less than AUS$20 one-way.

The ferries deserve a mention here too. Using the Opal card, journeys are cheap and take you to the slightly more out-of-reach areas of Sydney, as well as servicing central areas regularly.


A koala in lazes around in Taronga Zoo, Mosman, Sydney. Photo: Shutterstock

 

14. The wildlife... Of sorts

This is Australia. The wildlife is, of course, lurking around every corner. You might think that Sydney city doesn't play host to the iconic koalas, kangaroos and kookaburras, but make a stop at Taronga Zoo in Mosman and you'll find them all there. Aside from the animals, the views across the bay are a sight to behold.


15. The scenic skies

Sydney has some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets in the world. A mixed palette of dusty pastels against fiery brights form the backdrop to Sydney’s iconic skyline, and each one is as jaw-dropping as the last. 


16. The welcoming sense of community

There is a real sense of community in Sydney. You really feel like you're part of a bigger picture. Wherever you stay during your time in the city, whatever your background, you are part of a family that is always welcoming new members. 


17. The creativity and art scenes

Not many art galleries can boast amazing views from their front door, but the Museum of Contemporary Art excels both inside and out. It has a distinctively cuboid feel, and the clean, straight lines extend inside to create a light and spacious floor. These clean designs put the spotlight firmly on the exhibits themselves, which is the beauty here. Make time to check out the rooftop café, the education centre and lecture theatre here too. 

A little further out of the centre is the Art Gallery of New South Wales, which is home to magnificent collections of Australian, European and Asian art. A stroll down the hill from the gallery, across The Domain, presents ‘Almost Once’ by Australian artist Brett Whiteley. Two gigantic 8-metre-high matches, one burnt and one unburnt, stand side by side prompting questions of modern lifestyles, the concept of burning out and the effects of living life to the full. 


Sydney Opera House is an unmissable sight during the Vivid Sydney festival. Photo: Shutterstock


18. The wild festival scene 

You cannot move for festivals in Spring and Summer, and in an outdoor setting with new friends, these are the experiences that are not to be missed whatever your age. Festivals here are not just for music fans and encompass every art form. Sydney Festival kicks off the New Year (running from 07-29 January) with various pop-ups designed around dance, music and theatre.

There’s a festival for every season with Vivid Sydney, the city’s biggest light festival, running from May to June. The biggest draw for many is the illumination of the Sydney Opera House, which is absolutely spectacular. 


19. The bars... All of them

Dotted around the city are wonderful boutique bars that quickly tempt you from having a swift drink into several more. Head over to North Sydney and dip into The Greenwood Hotel for drinks in an old sandstone school. Then head down to Lavender Bay to soak up amazing views of the bridge and the Opera House from the other side of the tracks.

If your taste is somewhere a little quieter and more reserved, enjoy an atmospheric drink in Darlo Country Club, nestled in Darlinghurst. This is as upmarket as the name suggests, and a quick bite is highly recommended here too.


20. The glorious weather

It's stating the obvious, but the weather in Sydney is just right. Winters carry a slight chill and a comforting reminder of British weather, but spring, summer and autumn display the best weather you can get.


It may sound dramatic, but Sydney really left its mark on me. It's a city unlike any other in the world. No traveller comes to Sydney and leaves thinking they have seen everything, most believe it's worth a second… third… or even fourth trip. What are you waiting for?


Fall in love more with Sydney with these 23 Popular 5-Star Sydney Hotels with Unbridled Luxury by HotelsCombined.

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