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Cheap Hotels Sydney | Cheap Flights Cheap Hotels

Sydney

It’s the largest Australian city, in many ways the most expensive, the first European city Down Under and with its spectacular harbour, Sydney can boast the best location, not just in Oz, but in the world. It’s a cosmopolitan city with many cultures, languages and lifestyles. It has a vibrant mix of the wealthy and the battlers. The architecture in parts is unique and steeped in history. It has some great and not-so-good public transport, some of the best road-traffic gridlock routines in peak hour and an international airport which shuts down every night because of its location. At least the city commute is short.

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A guide to Sydney

Unlike its Southern neighbours, Sydney is a rugby league town and because local TV and newspapers have a huge financial stake in rugby league, the game gets saturation coverage.

Sydney has world class surf beaches on its doorstep and often the best weather in the land. The winters are mild and the summers not too hot. There are tourist spots such as the Bridge, Opera House and the Rocks all within boomerang-throwing distance of each other.  The stunning Blue Mountains are but a short drive from town.

Culture in Sydney is more art and museum than theatre although the performing arts are certainly out on show. Sydney has what painters might call a ‘lovely light’ and with its sandstone buildings evokes certain English settings such as Cornwall.

Sydney has almost captured the market as far as shopping centres or malls are concerned but for less traditional fare and far more excitement, there is an abundance of farmers’ or flea markets in Sydney.

Eating out in Sydney offers a wide range of quality dining. Seafood in Sydney is outstanding and many eateries throw in the bonus of a view of that harbour. In a word, Sydney is cosmopolitan. While many compare Sydney and Melbourne claiming one to be better for this or that reason, Sydneysiders can’t be bothered. They know they have a marvellous city beside a stunning stretch of water. Enough said.

 

History

It makes for a fascinating tale. Indigenous Australians strolled around what is now Sydney for thousands of years. They fished and swam in that harbour and had no time for fireworks on New Year’s Eve. When the Europeans arrived, it was with a specific purpose. They came looking for a jail. There were too many inmates in English prisons so the excess crims were sent packing. The first European Sydneysiders were convicts.

Once there were many modern-day Aussies who were ashamed of their convict ancestors. Today it’s a badge of honour to have a criminal in your family tree. You can see parts of the first European settlement in The Rocks area.

 

Ten Must See or Do Things in Sydney

#1 The Bridge. Known as the coat hanger, Sydney Harbour Bridge dominates the city. You can drive across, walk across, sail under, fly over and even climb over. The latter’s the hardest but the views and experience are unique. Great photography of the coat hanger can be had from the Rocks or Milsons Point.

#2 Royal Botanic Gardens. Most major cities have a special park or garden area and Sydney is no exception. Apart from the plants there are added benefits. You can enjoy a free guided tour, you get spectacular views of that harbour and a stroll at dusk allows you to meet the wildlife. If you BYO tucker the whole experience is free. Australia is a BYO [Bring Your Own] country.

#3 Bondi Beach. Millions of Northern Hemisphere residents shiver at home over Christmas watching television showing Australians enjoying the surf at Bondi. It’s one of the world’s best-known beaches and is as good as in the centre of town. Bondi is easy to get to with lots of eateries nearby. The sand, sunshine and surf are free. You can learn to surf at Bondi.

#4 Sailing. That famous harbour is not there to be looked at and millions have floated on it. You could slum it in a cruiser or do the real thing and board a proper sailing vessel. You get a great new look at the landmarks like the Opera House, you see where the rich and famous live and the geography including the famous Sydney Heads is top drawer.

#5 Taronga Zoo. It even has a mini zoo set up for little humans. You can get there by car, bus or ferry. The animals are the usual interesting, fascinating and amusing creatures. Some people visit the zoo because it offers the best views of that harbour, the Bridge and Opera House.  Many people take more photos of the surrounds than the inhabitants of the actual zoo.

#6The Manly Ferry. Sydney Harbour separates vast numbers of the locals from their place of work so the ferries are the water taxis of Sydney. Climb aboard at Circular Quay and cruise/sail/ride for 30 minutes to Manly. Go to the front or rear of the ferry for the best photo opportunities. The Manly Ferry Wharf and surrounds has many fine eateries to delight your taste buds.

#7 The movies. Only operating from October to April but the open-air cinemas in Sydney are unique with the venue in the Royal Botanic Gardens highly recommended. You may have to book and it ain’t cheap but the views are sensational. You get all the Sydney landmarks plus the native wildlife plus the movie. The Moonlight Cinema in nearby Centennial Park is pretty good too.

#8 The Sydney Opera House. New York has the Statue of Liberty, Paris the Eiffel Tower and London has Big Ben. But Sydney has its own icon, a building used to inform viewers of films, photographs and postcards exactly where they are. It looks like a series of sails and why not, because it’s by that harbour. There are different performing spaces inside if you want to catch a show. But you are free to walk around the unique construction and marvel at its million or more self-cleaning tiles.

#9 Kings Cross. It’s a popular spot for a wide cross-section of Sydneysiders particularly the night life revellers. Yes it has its seedy side but there are plenty of quality clubs, bars and restaurants. You won’t see the same wildlife at the zoo but there are characters galore. Be careful late at night and don’t wander down any dark alleys.

#10 The Blue Mountains. No, they’re not in Sydney but many residents of this mountainous area commute to work every day. If you fly into Sydney you can catch a train to the city and then a double-decker train to the Blue Mountains. Travelling by car is more convenient but for a one-day no-car trip, this popular region awaits. Mind you to do justice to the Blue Mountains you really need a few days.

 

Where to stay in Sydney

If you want the best of the best, staying in the area of Circular Quay or The Rocks is ideal. With a balcony room in some hotels you are literally above that harbour with a grandstand view of the iconic bridge, opera house, etc. Harbour front accommodation is expensive but stunning with simple access to many Sydney attractions. Mind you there are many venues in this area and prices do vary often in line with the views.

Elsewhere the Sydney CBD offers a wide range of hotels and apartments with all budgets catered for including backpacker accommodation. Darling Harbour is easy to access by ferry or monorail and even by foot and it’s only five minutes from the heart of Sydney. Serviced apartments and family accommodation are in good supply at Darling Harbour.

Other close-in suburbs offering excellent accommodation can be found in Darlinghurst, Kings Cross andPotts Point. The beauty of the CBD in Sydney is that it is very well serviced with hotels and apartments and many attractions are all so close at hand.

If you prefer to be out of town but not far out, staying near one of Sydney’s famous beaches is great for many things. Bondi and Coogee are great examples of locations in which to find hotels and apartments and yet be so close to a wonderful surf beach and much more. Here you are ideally placed to visit such fascinating suburbs as Clovelly and Double Bay always with the knowledge that it doesn’t cost anything to look. With so much of Sydney, the views are free.

Sydney’s North Shore is another ideal location depending on your needs and interests. North [obviously] of the Harbour Bridge there is a mini CBD and if your business activities are here then staying in this part of Sydney makes sense. It also saves cents as being that little bit out of town sees plenty of accommodation at a somewhat cheaper rate. And you’ll have the PM and GG as neighbours when they’re at home around Kirribilli Point. Public transport by train is quick from the North Shore.

If you prefer to be out of the hustle and bustle of the CBD there are many hotels in the Olympic Park area about 15 kilometres from the CBD. Here you’ll find some 5 star rated hotels as well more budget-minded hotels and motels in and around the famous Olympic site.

Finally there is plenty of accommodation around Sydney’s Kingsford Smith airport. If you need to make an early start to your journey, there are some twenty hotels, apartment complexes as well as youth hostel and backpacker venues all within a few kilometres of the airport. And all of these venues offer a shuttle service to and from your accommodation.

Sydney lists many types of accommodation with a considerable range in price. Just where you stay in Sydney depends not only on your bank balance but also on what you want to do while in Sydney. Finding the ideal location to maximise your stay is the way to go. Know your itinerary and park your luggage accordingly.

 

Walking in Sydney

It’s cheap, good exercise and you really get to see things. Paddington and The Rocks are two areas where the houses, cafes and shops are not your run of the mill buildings. If you want to see fabulous houses and get up close and personal to that big blue harbour then Rushcutters and Elizabeth Bay offer great walks.

 

Dining in Sydney

Yes there are some superb dining experiences but Sydney is also renowned for its pubs, cafes and lesser-known restaurants. Italian, Thai, Chinese and Japanese are freely featured on menus with ‘modern Australian’ being super popular. Within the city area there are many restaurants and you could dine in a different venue every day and night in and around Circular Quay. The 360 Bar and Dining venue in the heart of town offers fine food and wine and something extra. The restaurant sits high above Sydney and revolves giving the diner breathtaking views.

 

Public Transport in Sydney

Like all major cities, road traffic can be a somewhat hectic at peak times. Sydney once had some 2000 trams with even the expression that someone could, “shoot through like a Bondi tram”. Alas no more. Why so-called leaders would close a hugely successful public transport system was easy to understand. The car in the 1960s was becoming a god. Today Sydney has trains, buses plus light rail and mono rail. The international airport is close to the city - hence the curfew - and easily accessed by train. Buses run almost 24/7 and Circular Quay and Central Station are popular destination and departure points as well as information centres. The ferries are a popular mode of travel and offer great sight-seeing en route.

Where it all began

The first Europeans in 1788 were not blessed with architects and town planners hence Sydney’s early buildings didn’t have a style as such. The Rocks is an important, useful and historical area. It’s close to Circular Quay, Bennelong Point [the Opera House] and of course the Bridge.  Some historians argue that The Rocks was once ‘owned’ by the indigenous Australians but was ‘stolen’ by the Europeans in the late 19th century.

Some of Sydney’s oldest buildings are in this area including Cadman’s Cottage, the oldest building in Sydney. Australian history is alive and well in The Rocks. It was once a notorious locale but today is gentrified for the tourists. And while you’re drinking in the past you can drink in the present at the many cafes, bars and restaurants in this famous Sydney spot. If you like antique shops then you’ll have plenty to explore as well. There is even an annual Aroma Festival in The Rocks where coffee, tea, spices and much more are available to sniff and savour.

Events in Sydney

New Year’s Eve is spectacular in Sydney. Vast crowds line the harbour with some bagging a spot hours or even days beforehand. The fireworks get worldwide attention and the coat hanger bursts into flame.

The Sydney Biennale is held every two years. It’s a free event showcasing contemporary art. It runs for about 7 weeks starting in July and is held in various venues around town. It’s big.

Sydney’s Mardi Gras is billed as the world’s most colourful and outrageous LGBTQI festival in the world. It’s now in its fourth decade, it attracts tens of thousands of spectators and participants and runs for about three weeks every February and March. It is a major tourist event and run like a business because it has become so successful.

Markets in Sydney are major events. When you find a market with a thousand stalls selling everything from fashion to pets to arts and crafts and all manner of fresh food, you’ve got a serious activity. Paddy’s Markets at Haymarket and Flemington are typical of these popular attractions. They’re open on weekends and sometimes on Thursdays and Fridays with plenty of time to browse.

Downsides with Sydney?

Getting around on public transport has its moments. Going anywhere in Sydney by train when it’s 37 degrees in the shade and the humidity is here to stay is not a fun experience. The elderly and disabled are often seriously challenged.

Souvenir shops may appear to be the ideal spot to snaffle that unique Orstralyian memento. Perhaps but you may pay through the nose. High Street shops often have the same material at a far cheaper price.

The Monorail looks impressive but doesn’t exactly cross the continent. You could walk the route in almost the same time.

 

And in conclusion

If you want a taste of Australia, you’ll get a king-size serving in Sydney. It is a destination you can visit at any time of the year because it has good or terrific weather on tap. You’re in a massive city, forever being extended, but in the CBD you are close to so many fabulous attractions. You can base yourself in Sydney and push out to fascinating areas such as Palm Beach and the Blue Mountains and all in a day or less.

Sydney has culture, sport and great wining and dining. It has history, nature and a superb climate. Sydney is a shopper’s paradise. And did I mention is has that harbour?