Sydney is a backpackers paradise. Beaches, bars and bronzed bodies, what more could you want? The city has a lot to offer and you can very easily spend a couple of weeks here without seeing everything (or three years in my case). For those who only have one day in Sydney, here’s a quick guide for how to get the best out of 24 hours in Sydney.
Head to Circular Quay – Saturday Noon
Landing in Sydney the first place to head for is the train into the city. There are cheaper options than the train but none are as fast. The train will cost around $15 per person, so if you have two or three people a taxi is a better option. Head into the city and jump off at Circular Quay. Circular Quay train station opens up to take in a view of everything that makes Sydney famous.The Opera House and Harbour Bridge are imposing landmarks and this is a great place to take some pictures for Instagram. Don’t stick around too long.
Ferry to Manly – Saturday 1pm
Jump on the ferry heading to Manly. The trip to Manly crosses the entire harbour. Seeing the Opera House and Taronga Zoo from the ferry while taking in some sunshine. Take an outside seat if you can and you’ll soon see why Sydney is loved by travellers. The ferry takes around forty five minutes to get to Manly and once you step off it’s a short walk to the beach front.
Manly beach is the place to be seen on a Saturday. It’s where the beautiful people hangout. Roll out your beach towel or join a game of volleyball.
Wander along the edge of the beach and check out the Manly street markets. Local designers sell their gear here and you’ll find some cool stuff. Stop by Hemingway’s Cafe afterwards for lunch and a coffee or a beer.
Head to Barangaroo Park – Saturday 4pm
Head back to the city on the ferry. Take in the Sydney afternoon sky. Once you get back to the Circular Quay it’s time to walk off lunch. From Circular Quay head towards the Harbour Bridge and keep going. The newly built Barangaroo Park gives you a walkway all the way around to Darling Harbour. The walk takes about an hour and passes all the trendy cafes along the waterfront. Check out the Gelato cart in Barangaroo Park.
Once you arrive in Darling Harbour take the chance for a quick Instagram break. After all this you’re probably a bit hungry so time for dinner.
Dinner & a drink – Saturday 6pm
A short walk up King Street (from the King Street wharf in Darling Harbour) will take you to El Loco at the Slip Inn. El Loco is a great little Mexican restaurant and bar. Perfect place for food and a couple of drinks.
You’ll run into plenty of locals and backpackers here. Add to your team for the rest of the night.
Local Bar – Saturday 8pm
Time to check out one of Sydney’s hottest night spots. The Baxter Inn is a whiskey swilling speakeasy hidden away in the back alleys of Sydney. In true speakeasy style it’s incredibly difficult to find.
Head to the alleyway behind 152-156 Clarence Street and look for the stairs leading to what looks like a fire exit for the building. You’ll feel as if you’re entering a dungeon. But get through the door and you’ll find one of the best bars in Sydney.
Nightclubs – Saturday 10.30pm
A short distance from The Baxter Inn head to The Scary Canary on Kent Street – a backpacker favourite. Live DJ’s, foam parties, ‘Wet Wednesdays’… if you’re up for a good time head here. It’s also a bit more central than Kings Cross.
However if you want to head deeper into the Sydney night, take the train from Town Hall to Kings Cross. The Cross is a notorious nightlife spot in Sydney. Known as the Golden Mile, Kings Cross has a chequered past of streets being run by gangsters and drug dealers. The legends remain but the Cross has transformed into more of a backpackers mecca these days.
The streets are full of nightclubs and late night eating spots. Check out The World Bar to meet up with backpackers from all over the world and drink the night away with teapot cocktails. The Kings Cross Hotel is also a local favourite. If you’re looking for something a little more dressy The Butler takes in an amazing view of the CBD.
Heading home can be a challenge in Sydney if you’re out after public transport hours. I’d recommend paying the extra for an Uber to get home safe and sound.
The Rocks – Sunday 9am
If, and I mean if, you manage to drag yourself out of bed in the morning head to the Rocks precinct. You’ll find access to the Harbour Bridge at its base. Drag yourself up the steps and you’;ll be rewarded with some of the best views in the city by walking across the bridge itself. It has a free pedestrian walkway. You’ll leave the city on a high after taking this walk.
When you make it to the other side you’ll be able to jump on the train at Milson’s Point train station and head back to the airport.
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Author: Scott is a Kiwi expat living in Sydney. Came for the sun and stayed for three years. He spends his free time walking his two rescue puppies in one of Sydney’s many parks and grabbing a drink with friends at Uncle Mings or the Baxter Inn at night. Recently he’s been working late to start his local guides company https://verramente.com and falling in love with travel all over again.