Anyway, when I first started to bring teams to the enchanted land Down Under back in the 1990s, I was smitten with Sydney. This gritty New Yorker found himself telling people back home that it was as if San Francisco and Seattle had a baby and raised it in Southern California!
The place was magical to me. To see a full-on cosmopolitan city that was both on a harbour and a gorgeous ocean lined with beautiful beaches and even more beautiful people . . . and no apparent pollution. It was stunning.
So, without further adieu, my favorite things to do in Sydney -- hope it doesn't reveal too much about what makes me tick!
Sydney Harbour Cruise - an absolute must do for any visitor that I highly recommend you do what we do with our teams: take the afternoon cruise on the day you arrive. It's comfortable, informative, gorgeous, gets you oriented with the city, and is so stimulating that it will keep you awake to assist in your time zone acclimation. We don't receive anything for this, but we are loyal customers of the Captain Cook Cruises.
Circular Quay - a former working port that is now the central transportation hub in the heart of Sydney. A delightful precinct where cruise ships put in, it has a bustling public piazza and heritage area, and perfectly links up Sydney's ferries, trains, and buses. Awesome spot for people watching!
The Sydney Opera House - simply iconic. It's the international symbol of the city, right? That architecture, boy-howdy is it stunning! In nearly 20 visits Down Under, I've never been inside! Not being the theater and opera fan that my twenty-something daughter is, that's not what does it for me. Don't know it to be true, but some say that it actually does not have such great acoustics. Ever the jokesters, the Aussies have a hilarious saying about it: "Australia has the best opera house in the world, mate. The outside is in Sydney and the inside is in Melbourne!"
The Rocks - the old-tyme neighborhood where modern Sydney began, it is simply the funkiest and funnest place to wander around shopping and gawking at the architecture and the residents. The bars, cafes, and restaurants seem endless, and they range from gourmet to budget all within a few blocks.
The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel - another iconic albeit less well-known place. It is the oldest hotel in Sydney and, for my money, the best. Oh, I should say that the word hotel here is synonymous with pub. It seems that in the early days drunken sailors were so rowdy that the city passed a law that only hotels could sell alcohol and only to their own guests. Honoring the working-class roots of the neighborhood, The Lord sells good beer and hardy food for a fair price. When you walk in, ask how the Admiral's doing...you'll have just ordered your first round!
Featherdale Wildlife Park - seriously, petting a koala? feeding a kangaroo? Oh the Instagram posts!! Ever see a crocodile eat? Yet for so many (me included), the highlight is the feeding of the Tasmanian devil...if they're particular hungry, watch out!!
Darling Harbour - there is nothing not to like about Darling Harbour! Oh my gosh, so much to do here: shopping, dining, Sydney Aquarium, Madame Tussaud's, the Star Casino, museums and so much more! Spend a full day here and more.
Bondi Beach - one of the single most famous beaches on earth...and it's inside the city limits! What?? It served as the beach volleyball venue for the Sydney Olympics and, you won't believe it, Baywatch is a sport here! Oh and did I mention that our hotel is less than two miles away? :-)
The Glenmore Hotel - the bottomless lunch on their rooftop is staggeringly cool! Overlooking magnificent Sydney Harbour and the Opera House with some of the best pub food, beer and wine in all of Sydney. Wow, just wow!
The Blue Mountains - tough to squeeze in this incredible day-trip if you don't have four or five days or more in Sydney, but talk about stunning natural beauty. It is so worth it!