The Only Guide You Need to Sydney — Great Eats, Idyllic Beaches, and Luxury Hotels Included

Visit Sydney for an unforgettable adventure. Discover the best hotels, restaurants, and things to do with this Sydney travel guide.

Aerial view of Sydney harbor
Photo: Courtesy of Crown Sydney

Famously photogenic Sydney is Australia's largest city and the capital of New South Wales, the country's most visited state.

The traditional home of the Gadigal people of the Eora Aboriginal Nation, Sydney has evolved from a humble British penal colony founded in 1788 to a thriving port city.

Today, nearly half of Sydney's residents, known as "Sydneysiders," were born overseas. The city’s rich cultural makeup is now reflected in its diverse food scene, where just about every major international cuisine is represented in increasingly creative ways.

Among the city's most recognizable attractions are the iconic Sydney Opera House, with its distinctive white "sails," and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, affectionately known as the "coat hanger." But there is plenty more to love about this showstopping waterside metropolis.

Sydney's moderate climate and variety of beaches and parks make it ideal for outdoor activities, and an ever-expanding roster of luxury hotels offer plenty of options to lay your head at the end of each day.

Time Zone

Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) UTC/GMT +10 hours
From approximately October through March — Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT) UTC/GMT +11

Best Time to Go

Australia is located in the Southern Hemisphere, with opposite seasons to the Northern Hemisphere. Among the best times to visit Sydney for weather are the months of October and November (late spring) or March and April (early autumn) when temperatures are comfortable and the humidity is lower.

The peak times for tourism and the warmest weather are the summer months of December through February. Crowds peak between Christmas and the end of January during the summer school and university holidays. Naturally, prices are higher during this season, but it's ideal  beach weather, with popular festivals and events including the month-long Sydney Festival in January, and the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade in February.

The low season — May through August — is chillier and prices are lower. It's still a pleasant time to be in Sydney, and the excellent Vivid Sydney festival lights up the city with creative energy in May and June. The Sydney Film Festival is held in June, and the Bondi Festival in July

Things to Know

Currency: Australian Dollar AUD

Language: English

Calling Code: +61

Electricity: The plug is Type I, with three flat pins in a triangular pattern. Australia uses 220-240 volts (U.S. is 120 volts), so a converter may be needed for certain devices.

Sydney's long-running obsession with artisan coffee makes it easy to find a perfect brew. Some claim the flat white (espresso with steamed milk and only a thin layer of cream) was first served in Sydney.

In general, visitors will find that prices are high in Australia compared to the U.S. (outside New York City, at least), including in Sydney. However, tipping is not customary or expected in Australia where tax and service are included in the bill by law, and minimum wages are higher than in the U.S. For excellent service in restaurants, taxis, hotels, and tours, you may wish to add 10-20 percent as a "thank you."

Retailers that sell alcoholic beverages in Australia are called "bottle shops," and a standard glass of beer is called a "schooner." Smoking is banned in all indoor public spaces and certain outdoor areas, including beaches, national parks, and public transport stops.

Sydney has some of the world’s best tap water; plastic bottled water is available, but frowned upon.

Currently being redeveloped into Australia’s premier destination for all things seafood, the Sydney Fish Market (due to open in 2024) remains operational, featuring seafood retailers, restaurants, and cooking classes.

How to Get Around

The Opal card can be used on all public transport, including trains, ferries, buses, and light rail.

Sydney Buses: Buses connect all areas of the city, including those without rail or ferry transport. NightRide services replace most train routes between midnight and 4 a.m.

Sydney Trains: Six of Sydney’s eight trains run through the city center, including the line to Sydney Airport. The main terminus for local and regional trains is Central Station at Railway Square. Maps and timetables are available at Transport NSW.

Regional Trains: Departing from Central Station, regional trains and coaches service destinations that include the NSW South Coast, Blue Mountains, and Central Coast.

Sydney Light Rail: Sydney’s three light rail lines run through the city center, providing easy access to Circular Quay, Darling Harbour, and beyond.

Sydney Ferries: From Circular Quay ferry terminal in the CBD, ferries offer a scenic and convenient option for traveling to Manly Beach, Taronga Zoo, and attractions beyond.

River Ferry: The river ferry travels up the Parramatta River, from Circular Quay to Parramatta, with stops that include Sydney Olympic Park.

Taxis and Ride-share Services: Silver Service taxis offer premium rides, and Uber and Ola operate ride-sharing services in Sydney.

Best Hotels

The Langham, Sydney

the langham sydney
Courtesy of The Langham

Address: 89-113 Kent St., Millers Point NSW 2000, Australia
Phone: +61 2 9256 2222

Set in the heart of The Rocks district among historic cobbled streets, this romantic property features an indoor pool, spa, and several dining venues. Some rooms even offer expansive terraces and views of the harbor or city skyline. Pets also receive five-star service, with dog walking and pet sitting available.

Capella Sydney

Address: 35-39 Bridge St. Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Phone: +61 9071 5090

Sydney’s first major hotel opening of 2023, Capella has transformed the CBD’s historic Department of Education building into one of the city’s finest luxury hotels, its golden sandstone facade now complemented by the elegance of 192 guest rooms and suites across eight levels. Anchored by three ground-level food and beverage offerings, including signature restaurant Brasserie 1930, the hotel also gives guests exclusive access to its dreamy Auriga Spa. 

Ovolo Woolloomooloo

Ovolo Woolloomoolloo Hotel, Sydney
Courtesy of Ovolo Hotels

Address: 6 Cowper Wharf Roadway, Woolloomooloo NSW 2011, Australia
Phone: +61 2 9331 9000

Located on the historic Finger Wharf in Sydney’s inner Eastern Suburbs, this luxury hotel embraces color and convenience in equal measure, with a long list of complimentary perks such as breakfast, the first round of sunset drinks, all-day snacks, and self-service laundry. Even the in-room minibar is included. An attractive range of perks are on offer at the brand’s similarly modern Darling Harbour outpost, The Woolstore 1888.

InterContinental Sydney

Address: 117 Macquarie St., Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Phone: +61 2 9253 9000

Reopened in 2022 following a major refurbishment, this elegant hotel set in the Circular Quay area’s former Treasury Building isn’t only worth staying in for its superb Sydney Harbour and Royal Botanic Garden views. Freshened up with a palette of soothing marine tones, its 509 rooms and 28 suites are chic, complemented by a club lounge and an array of new drinking and dining options.

Ace Hotel Sydney

Address: 47-53 Wentworth Ave., Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Phone: +61 2 8099 8799

The urban-cool hotel brand’s first property south of the equator, the 18-story Ace Hotel Sydney opened in 2022, occupying a historic former brick factory on the eastern fringe of the CBD. A warm color scheme plays into the property's nostalgic vibe and gives a sense of coziness to its 257 rooms, replete with ochre-toned carpets paying homage to the Australian outback. Edgy art pops in public spaces — among them a rooftop bar and restaurant Kiln, which boasts stellar Sydney skyline views.   

Pier One, Sydney Harbour

Address: 11 Hickson Rd., Walsh Bay NSW 2000, Australia
Phone: +61 2 8298 9999

Right on Sydney Harbour near the southern pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, this dog-friendly hotel offers a front-row seat to the action on the harbor as ferries and yachts zip past at close range. A major renovation completed in 2019 celebrates the historic building’s heritage with its stylish maritime theme. The hotel’s 189 rooms include the luxe Admiral Suite, complete with a private deck and a freestanding tub with water views.

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

View from a living room at the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney
Geoff Lung/Courtesy of Four Seasons

Address: 199 George St., Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Phone: +61 2 9250 3100

Conveniently located in the CBD at the gateway to The Rocks and Circular Quay, this 517-room hotel has also been freshly renovated; its uncluttered, contemporary-classic upgrade playing a chic supporting role to superb city and Sydney Harbour views. The Four Seasons Hotel Sydney also has a gym, outdoor pool, and an Endota Spa. Dining options include a decadent afternoon tea served at the property's modern Australian signature restaurant, Mode Kitchen & Bar.

Best Restaurants

Lankan Filling Station

Interior of Lankan Filling Station
Nikki To/Courtesy of Lankan Filling Station

Address: 58 Riley St., Darlinghurst NSW 2010, Australia
Phone: +61 2 8542 9936

This casual Sri Lankan restaurant is beloved for its fragrant curries, spicy sambals, and signature hoppers — a type of bowl-shaped pancake, perfect for dipping. Book ahead for the crab curry feast on the last Sunday of every month, served with a lip-smacking selection of sides. Walk-in tables are available.but it’s worth making a reservation to avoid disappointment.


Address: 23-33 Mary St., Surry Hills Sydney NSW 2010
Phone: +61 2 8204 0800

Fine dining fueled by fire is the name of the game at Firedoor, one of just four Sydney restaurants awarded three hats (Australia’s version of the Michelin star) in 2023. A five-course, daily-changing affair, the menu could feature anything from kangaroo to coral trout, with top-shelf Australian produce cooked to perfection using only a wood-fired oven, grill, or wood-burning hearth — there is no gas or electricity in the kitchen. The drinks list is also infused with smoky flavors


A dinner setting form Porcine
Marcus Coblyn/Courtesy of Porcine

Address: 268 Oxford St., Paddington, Sydney NSW 2021, Australia
Phone: 0423 015 032

As its name suggests, this lively bistro located above a neighborhood bottle shop celebrates pork in every way, with a menu revolving around an entire Berkshire or Duroc pig broken down into an array of French-inspired dishes. However, a raft of other proteins — from seafood to duck — are also featured on the daily-changing menu, complemented by a French-leaning wine list. It's open Thursday through Sunday (lunch on weekends only), and reservations are recommended.


Address: 1 Temperance Ln., Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Phone: +61 2 9062 8565

A delicious fusion of Latin flavors and Australian produce, this moody, subterranean restaurant carries Mexican food into date-night territory with its menu of share-style dishes, from local salmon ceviche tacos to melt-in-your-mouth NSW lamb shoulder parrilla. Fresh and fruity cocktails are elevated by one of Australia’s largest collections of tequila and mezcal.

Mr. Wong

Address: 3 Bridge Ln., Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Phone: +61 2 9114 7317

Some of the city’s finest Cantonese food isn’t found in Chinatown, but in the heart of the CBD at Mr. Wong. That the 240 seats at this restaurant are rarely bare is testament to its enduring popularity, particularly at lunchtime, when beautifully crafted dim sum are the go-to for foodies and the power-lunching set alike.


Address: Shop 3 2-12 Angel Pl., Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Phone: +61 2 8964 3062

When only pasta will do, tiny, tucked-away Italian diner Ragazzi hits the spot with its daily-changing menu of delectable handcrafted pasta dishes, which might include a perfectly executed spaghetti cacio e pepe or a fragrant conchiglie with mussels, white beans, fennel, and saffron. Snack on starters such as 'nduja and mozzarella croquettes and stay for dolci and a digestivo.

Things to Do

Sydney's National Parks

A man standing on a cliff in the Royal National Park during sunset
Simon Strupath/Getty Images


Sydney is surrounded by some of the state’s most spectacular national parks — notably the coastal Royal National Park to the south and Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park to the northwest, both laced with walking and biking trails and dotted with Aboriginal rock engravings and remote beaches. To the west is the UNESCO-listed Blue Mountains National Park, where hiking trails weave past gushing waterfalls, while Sydney Harbour National Park protects the islands and foreshore of Sydney Harbour.

Sydney Opera House

Address: 110 Elizabeth St., Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Phone: +61 2 9250 7111

Fresh from a multimillion-dollar renovation to celebrate its 50th birthday in 2023, this unique building hosts music, theater, dance, and opera performances. First opened in 1973, the UNESCO World Heritage Site can also be visited on a range of tours. There are also several dining options here, including the lauded fine-dining restaurant Bennelong.

Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

A general view of InBloom at The Calyx at The Royal Botanic Gardens
Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Address: Mrs. Macquaries Rd.
Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Phone: +61 2 9231 8111

The oldest botanic garden in Australia, the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney was founded in 1816 and showcases more than 8,600 species from Australia and beyond within its 74 acres of gardens. Restaurants include the recently renovated Botanic House, with picnic boxes also available to enjoy alfresco.

Sydney Harbour Bridge


The iconic bridge straddling Sydney Harbour is one of the world's largest steel arch bridges. Admire it from a distance, walk across it for free, or climb it to savor a bird's-eye view of Sydney.

Indigenous Experiences


The story of Sydney goes back tens of thousands of years before British colonization, and visitors will find plenty of opportunities to connect with this rich heritage. Ascend the Sydney Harbour Bridge with an Indigenous storyteller guide on the Burrawa Climb, or step back in time on a walking tour of The Rocks with Dreamtime Southern X. Learn about traditional uses for native plants on an Aboriginal-guided tour of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, or gain more insight into the Australian Museum’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collections during a tour with a First Nations guide. All of these activities form part of Discover Aboriginal Experiences, a flagship suite of immersive Indigenous-guided activities.

Museums and Galleries


Sydney is packed with excellent museums and galleries — notably the Art Gallery of NSW, which opened a major extension in late 2022 that has almost doubled its exhibition space. In Circular Quay, the Museum of Contemporary Art is Australia’s leading space dedicated to the genre, while the Museum of Sydney preserves the stories of the city’s colonial heritage.

Sydney's Beaches

A general view of Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia.
Jenny Evans/Getty Images


Bondi might be the best known of Sydney's beaches, but more than 100 strips of sand line the city’s coastline and harbor. Cross Sydney Harbour to dive into popular Manly Beach, and enjoy some of the city's best coastal views on the 3.7-mile Bondi to Coogee walk. Be mindful that Sydney’s beautiful beaches can be deceptively dangerous; stay safe by swimming between the flags on lifeguard-patrolled beaches.

Best Shopping

Westfield Sydney

Address: Corner Pitt St. Mall and Market Street Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Phone: +61 8236 9200

Westfield Bondi Junction may be larger, but most visitors will find Westfield Sydney to be a more convenient place to shop for designer and high-street fashion, beauty, sportswear, and tech, with brands such as Chanel, Miu Miu, Nike, and Zara, as well as Australian labels like Aje, Zimmermann, Scanlan Theodore, and Aesop. The sleek shopping center, also home to a handful of dining options, spills out into the Pitt Street Mall retail area.

David Jones

Address: 86-108 Castlereagh St., Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Phone: +61 133 357

Connected to Westfield Sydney is the flagship store of Australia's leading premium retailer, which first opened its doors in 1927. Browse clothing, shoes, accessories, and jewelry by international and Australian designers, as well as homewares, food, personal care products, and more.


Address: Oxford St., Paddington Sydney NSW 2021, Australia

In Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, the Paddington end of Oxford Street has long been a go-to destination for Australian designer fashion labels. Its main hub is The Intersection (of Oxford Street and Glenmore Road), home to brands such as Bassike, Camilla and Marc, Dion Lee, Rachel Gilbert, Zimmermann, and more. Other notable boutiques on the strip include Parlour X and resin jewelry and homewares specialists Dinosaur Designs.


Address: 1 Dalgal Wy., Forest Lodge NSW 2037, Australia
Phone: +61 2 9049 8885

This artisan produce and dining district, set in the former Rozelle Tram Depot dating to 1904, houses restaurants and food and drink vendors. It also hosts a boutique growers market on Sundays.

Queen Victoria Building

Shoppers fill the Queen Victoria Building
Torsten Blackwood/Getty Images

Address: 455 George St., Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Phone: +61 2 9264 9209

Set in an elegant 1898 building, thi CBD shopping venue includes high-fashion brands like Coach, Furla, and Bally, as well as toys, books, and homewares. Australian brands include Hunter's Cashmere Collection, Cue, and R. M. Williams for handcrafted footwear and accessories. Check out dining venues such as the Tea Room QVB, where you can channel your inner Victorian-era aristocrat over high tea.

Neighborhoods to Know

The Rocks and Circular Quay: Sydney’s first neighborhood, The Rocks still features cobblestone streets and plenty of colonial-era buildings, among them several characterful pubs. Adjoining this historic area, the buzzy ferry hub of Circular Quay is home to the Sydney Opera House and Museum of Contemporary Art.

Darling Harbour: This waterside neighborhood — home to the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, Imax, Madame Tussauds, Australian National Maritime Museum, and a variety of dining and entertainment options — is ideal for families. A number of Sydney Harbour sightseeing cruises depart from here, too.

Central Business District (CBD): Skyscrapers shoot upwards from the heart of the city, also home to the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and the lion’s share of Sydney’s art galleries, museums, theaters, and hotels. Previously not much of a culinary destination, the area’s bars and restaurants are now among the city’s best.

Eastern Suburbs: Stretching from the eastern edge of the CBD to the golden sands of Bondi Beach, Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs are dotted with some of the city's finest restaurants, with key dining and nightlife neighborhoods including Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Potts Point, and Bondi Beach.

Northern Beaches: The scenic 30-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay to Manly, at the southern tip of the city's Northern Beaches, is a quintessential Sydney experience (whale sightings are common during the winter months). Manly is also the dining and nightlife hub of the Northern Beaches, which stretches for more than 18 miles, ending at Palm Beach.


Sydney has a humid subtropical climate, with rain spread fairly evenly through the year for a total annual rainfall of about 47 inches. In general, the weather is mild.

Summer (December-February) temperatures reach the high 70s, with humidity in the 60 to 70 percent range. Autumn (March-May) sees less humidity and comfortable temperatures. In winter (June-August), temperatures fall as low as the mid-40s and rainfall is higher. Spring (September-November) becomes warmer with less humidity than summer.

July is the coolest month, and January is generally the hottest. August and September are the driest months of the year.

The following are average Fahrenheit lows and highs by month:

January 67°F - 80°F
February 67°F - 80°F
March 65°F - 77°F
April 59°F - 73°F
May 53°F - 68°F
June 49°F - 64°F
July 47°F- 63°F
August 48°F - 65°F
September 53°F - 70°F
October 57°F - 74°F
November 61°F - 75°F
December 65°F - 78°F

Apps to Download

Opal: The city's contactless smart card ticketing system for public transportation in Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, the Hunter Valley, and the Illawarra. Add value to the card and use it to pay your fares (or make contactless payments with your credit or debit card).
iOs | Android

AnyTrip: Lets you track public transport vehicles in real time with a live map. It also shows upcoming departures from a variety of stations.
iOs | Android

Citymapper: This multimodal trip planner checks nearby departures in real time and finds the fastest route combining metro, train, bus, ferry, light rail, taxi, car share, walking, or cycling.
iOs | Android

Transit: Plan a trip with real-time data and next departures from your current location, locate nearby Uber drivers, get pickup time estimates, and book through the app.
iOs | Android

Moovit: Combines real-time data from Transport NSW with live information from the user community, giving fastest routes, stops along the way, and alerts when your stop is approaching.
iOs | Android

Maps.Me: Download a map of Sydney to use offline. It's particularly handy for walking trails.
iOs | Android

Uber: For airport pickup, local rides, or 30-day advance reservations.
iOs | Android

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