Destination guide: Sydney, Australia

Located in New South Wales, Sydney (Oceania) is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world and has one of the best standards of living.

Some of its most recognizable landmarks are the Opera House (declared a World Heritage Site), the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the AMP Tower, which has incredible panoramic views of the city.

Fly to Sydney with LAN and discover the Museum of Australia, the Panasonic Imax Theatre with its giant screen, the Chinese Garden, beautiful Australian beaches and the neighborhood of The Rocks, where you’ll find the best in entertainment in Sydney.

  • Sydney - Practical Information

    Orientation

    Central Sydney is relatively small and easy to navigate, but the city does sprawl; Greater Sydney covers more than 1200 sq km from Botany Bay to the south, the Blue Mountains to the west and Pittwater to the north.

    At the heart of the city is Sydney Harbour (Port Jackson); the city centre runs from The Rocks and Circular Quay to Central Station in the south. The harbour divides Sydney into north and south, with the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Harbour Tunnel connecting the two shores. Immediately west is Darling Harbour, while to the east lies Darlinghurst, Kings Cross and Paddington.

    Head further southeast along the coast and you’ll find the archetypal beach suburbs of Bondi and Coogee. Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport is 10km south of the city centre. West of the centre are the gentrified suburbs of Pyrmont, Glebe and Balmain. The inner west includes Newtown and Leichardt. The suburbs north of the bridge are known collectively as the North Shore, with the sandy stretch of Northern Beaches running north from the suburb of Manly.

    Currency

    Australian Dollar

    Language

    English

    Timezone

    UTC/GMT +10

    Budget & Costs

    Sydney is not a cheap place to visit. If you bed down in dorms, eat takeaway and use public transport, you won’t get much change out of $60 per day. Sharing a double room at a budget hotel and sitting down for a restaurant dinner will kick this up to about $100 per person. Bank on $150 per person for a few more comforts (a shared three-star hotel room and three decent meals). At the upper end, the sky’s the limit. Most accommodation options have cheaper rates for stays of longer than a week, and you can reduce your daily transport budget with weekly or 10-trip bus/train/ferry passes. If you’ve got the kids in tow, look out for family rates on transport and attractions. And while some sights are downright pricey, there’s plenty to do for free.

    Sample Prices

    Coffee $2.80-3.50
    Stubby of bottled beer $3-5
    Toasted foccacia or wrap $7
    1L of petrol $1.15-1.50
    Metropolitan train ticket $3.50-6.50

    Visas

    Unless you’re a New Zealand citizen, who sheepishly receive a ‘special category’ visa on arrival, you’ll require a visa for visiting Australia. Citizens of Canada, the USA, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and a few others can easily get an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA; www.eta.immi.gov.au) online. It’s quick, costs only $20 and is valid for up to three months (and good for multiple three-month visits over 12 months). You must apply for it from outside Australia. Check the website to see if you are eligible.

    If you’re not from an eligible country, you’ll need to apply for a three-month eVisitor visa or a standard three-, six- or 12-month tourist visa (free to $100, depending on country of residence). For further details, contact the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC; [tel] 13 18 81; www.immi.gov.au).

    Regular visa application forms are available from either Australian diplomatic missions overseas or travel agents; you can apply by mail or in person. For the nearest consulate in your country check www.immi.gov.au/contacts/overseas/index.htm.

    Weights & Measures

    Metric

    Customs

    Entering Australia you can bring in most articles free of duty, provided Customs is satisfied they’re for personal use and that you’ll be taking them with you when you leave. There’s a duty-free quota per person of 2.25L of alcohol (if you’re over 18), 250 cigarettes (ditto) and dutiable goods up to the value of $900 ($450 if you’re under 18). Wads of more than A$10,000 cash must be declared. These values change from time to time – check current regulations with the Australian Customs Service ([tel] 1300 363 263, 6275 6666; www.customs.gov.au).

    Two issues require particular attention. One is illegal drugs – don’t bring any in with you. The second is animal and plant quarantine – be sure to declare all goods of animal or vegetable origin and show them to an official. Authorities are anxious to prevent pests and diseases getting into the country. Fresh food and flowers are also unpopular. If you’ve recently visited farmland or rural areas, it might pay to scrub your shoes before you get to the airport, and you’ll also need to declare it to Customs.

    Weapons and firearms are either prohibited or require a permit and safety testing. Other restricted goods include products made from protected wildlife species, nonapproved telecommunications devices and live animals.

    When you leave, don’t take any protected flora or fauna with you.

    Business Hour

    Most offices and businesses are open on weekdays from 9am to 5.30pm. Banking hours are from 9.30am to 4pm Monday to Thursday, and until 5pm Friday. Some larger city branches open from 8am to 6pm on weekdays.

    Most shops are open from 9am or 10am to 5pm or 6pm on weekdays, with hours extended to 8pm or 9pm on Thursday (known as ‘late-night shopping’). Many shops open all day Saturday, and while a lot of shops close on Sunday, Oxford St and city stores open from about 11am to 5pm.

    Restaurants generally open from noon to 3pm and then from 6pm to 10pm or 11pm Monday to Saturday. Cafes often open at 8am for day-long breakfasts.

    Telephone

    Useful phone numbers

    Australia’s country code is [tel] 61 and Sydney’s area code is [tel] 02. Toll-free numbers start with the prefix [tel] 1800, while numbers that start with [tel] 1300 are only the cost of a local call. Australia’s international access code is [tel] 0011 (used when dialling other countries from Australia). Drop the zero from the area code when dialling into Australia.

    Making phone calls

    Public telephones, which can be found all over the city, take phonecards, credit cards and occasionally (if the coin slots aren’t jammed up) coins. Local calls cost 50c.
    Most hotels will have services that allow you to send or receive faxes. Global Gossip has fax machines as well.

    Mobile Phones

    Phone numbers with four-digit prefixes beginning with 04 are for mobile phones (cell phones). Australia’s digital network is compatible with GSM 900 and 1800 handsets (used in Europe). Quad-band US phones will work, but to avoid global-roaming charges, you need an unlocked handset that takes prepaid SIM cards from Australian providers such as Telstra, Optus, Virgin or Vodafone. Mobiles brought from other Australian states work in the Sydney area.
    Sydneysiders seem glued to their mobiles at all times of the day and night. Despite having a reasonable grasp of phone etiquette – not in cinemas, not at the opera, not at funerals, many Sydneysiders will still answer hand-held mobiles while driving, despite it being illegal.

    Phonecards

    Local and international phonecards range in value from $5 to $50 – look for the phonecard logo at retail outlets, such as newsagents. There is a bewildering variety of cards available, with all sorts of deals aimed at visitors wanting to get in touch with loved ones in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Our advice? Shop around.

    Electricity overview

    Australian-style plug with two flat angled blades and one vertical grounding blade

    Electricity overview ( Japanese)