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.

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  • Sydney- Things to do

    Sights

    Museum of Contemporary Art

    A slice of Gotham City on Circular Quay West, the stately art-deco MCA has been raising even the most open-minded Sydney eyebrows since 1991. Constantly changing controversial exhibitions from Australia and overseas range from the incredibly hip to in-your-face, sexually explicit and profoundly disturbing. Impressive. There’s a cool cafe and a museum shop here, too.

    Alternative Name: MCA.
    Latitude
    : -33.8600458632000 / Longitude: 151.2089370800000
    Sub-Type: Museum
    Telephone Number: +61 2 9245 2400
    Opening hours: 10am-5pm.
    Pricing: admission free.
    Address: 140 George St.
    Transportation type: train. Details: Circular Quay.
    Website: www.mca.com.au

    Sydney Harbour Bridge

    Whether they’re driving over it, climbing up it, rollerblading across it or sailing under it, Sydneysiders adore their bridge and swarm around it like ants on ice cream. Dubbed the ‘old coathanger’, it’s a spookily big object – moving around town you’ll catch sight of it in the corner of your eye and get a fright! Perhaps Sydney poet Kenneth Slessor said it best: ‘Day and night, the bridge trembles and echoes like a living thing.’

    Vital statistics: 134m high, 502m long, 49m wide and 53,000 tonnes. The massive bridge links the CBD with North Sydney, crossing the harbour at one of its narrowest points. The two halves of chief engineer JJC Bradfield’s mighty arch were built outwards from each shore.

    In 1932, after nine years of merciless toil by 1400 workers, the two arches were only centimetres apart when 100km/h winds set them swaying. The coathanger hung tough and the arch was soon completed. In 2007 the bridge turned 75 – 250,000 people celebrated by walking across the great span. The best way to experience the bridge is on foot – don’t expect much of a view crossing by train or car (driving south there’s a toll). Staircases access the bridge from both shores; a footpath runs along its eastern side.

    Latitude: -33.8531498021660 / Longitude: 151.2101554870610
    Sub-Type: Bridge.
    Opening hours: pylon lookout: 10:00-17:00.
    Pricing: pylon lookout: adult/under-13/under-8 A$9/A$4/free.
    Address: Bradfield Hwy, Milsons Point.
    Transportation type: Train Details: Circular Quay, Milsons Point.

    Sydney Opera House

    Overcome with admiration for the Sydney Opera House, famous architect Louis Kahn said, ‘The sun did not know how beautiful its light was until it was reflected off this building.’ Danish architect Jørn Utzon’s competition-winning 1956 design is Australia’s most recognisable icon. It’s mused to have drawn inspiration from orange segments, palm fronds and Maya temples, and has been poetically likened to a typewriter stuffed with scallop shells and the sexual congress of turtles. While viewed from any angle it’s architecturally orgasmic, the ferry view approaching Circular Quay is hard to beat.

    The predicted four-year construction started in 1959. After a tumultuous clash of egos, delays, politicking, death and cost blowouts, Utzon quit in disgust in 1966. The Opera House finally opened in 1973. Unembittered, Utzon and his son Jan were commissioned for renovations in 2004, but Utzon died in 2008 having never seen his finished masterpiece in the flesh.

    Inside are six auditoriums where dance, concerts, opera and theatre are staged, plus the left-of-centre Studio for emerging artists. The acoustics are superb; the internal aesthetics like the belly of a whale. Most events (2400 of them annually!) sell out quickly, but partial-view tickets are often available on short notice.

    The free monthly What’s On brochure has upcoming listings, including info on Kids at the House – a pint-sized entertainment program with music, drama and dance (including introductory ballet with Australian Ballet dancers). There’s also a shop and the artsy-craftsy Opera House Market on the concourse.

    One-hour guided tours depart half-hourly (you’ll save a few bucks if you book online). Tours employ archival video footage to help tell the story of the iconic building’s construction. A highlight is the Utzon Room, the only part of the house to have an interior designed by the great man himself. For a more in-depth nosy around, the two-hour early-morning backstage tour includes the Green Room and stars’ dressing rooms. Disabled access is pretty good, although some sections require staff assistance (call in advance).

    Latitude: -33.8568714966000 / Longitude: 151.2149576880000
    Sub-Type: Architectural, Cultural.
    Telephone Number: +61 2 9250 7111 Type: Information.
    Telephone Number: +61 2 9250 7777 Type: Bookings.
    Opening Hours: box office: Mon-Sat 09:00-20:30, Sun open 2.5 hrs prior to performance (performance times vary).
    Address: Bennelong Point, Circular Quay East.
    Pricing: performance prices vary; tours: A$26.00/A$18.00 adult/concession - cheaper if book online; two-hour tour including breakfast A$140.00 (pre-booking essential)
    Transportation type: train. Details: Circular Quay.
    Website: www.sydneyoperahouse.com
    Email
    : infodesk@sydneyoperahouse.com

    Powerhouse Museum

    A short walk from Darling Harbour, Sydney’s hippest and most kid-focused museum whirrs away inside the former power station for Sydney’s defunct tram network. High-voltage interactive demonstrations wow school groups with the low-down on how lightning strikes, magnets grab and engines growl. Look out for the Strasburg Clock replica located on level four and a guitar once owned by AC/DC’s Angus Young on level two.

    Grab a map of the museum once you’re inside (you’ll need it), and a free copy of the Sydney Morning Herald on your way out. Disabled access is good.

    Latitude: -33.8788074164000 / Longitude: 151.1998954290000
    Sub-Type: Museum.
    Opening Hours: 10am-5pm.
    Pricing: admission adult/child/family $10/5/25, special exhibits extra.
    Telephone number:+61 2 9217 0111
    Address: 500 Harris St, Ultimo.
    Transportation type: tram Details: Paddy’s Markets.
    Website: www.powerhousemuseum.com

    The Rocks

    Old Sydney town in the heart of CBD, the once much rockier Rocks is now a sanitised tourist precinct. Its narrow cobbled streets and fine colonial buildings are still evocative and its tea rooms make the perfect lunch stop before an afternoon of souvenir browsing. If you ignore the kitsch, The Rocks can be delightful. Attractions include the weekend market, the Sydney Observatory, and numerous craft shops and art galleries.

    It's the old buildings, alleyways and historic facades that attract most visitors. Try exploring the less developed areas in the contiguous suburb of Millers Point, which has not sacrificed its community life to the tourist dollar. Check out the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel and The Hero of Waterloo, two of Sydney's oldest pubs.

    Latitude: -33.8592662677920 / Longitude: 151.2088009715080
    Sub-Type: Neighbourhood.
    Address: The Rocks, 2000. Extras: btwn Circular Quay and the foot of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
    Telephone Number: +1 415 981 1280.
    Opening Hours: 10:00-17:00 Sat & Sun.
    Transportation type: ferry. Details: Circular Quay.
    Transportation type: bus. Details: Circular Quay.
    Website: www.therocksmarket.com
    Email: market@shfa.nsw.gov.au

    Eat

    Rockpool

    Chef Neil Perry’s innovative take on cooking results in modern seafood creations that consistently wow the critics. Even those on a budget can enjoy his work: grab a seat at the bar and order the Moroccan fish burger ($15) or half a dozen oysters.

    Latitude: -33.8597651881259 / Longitude: 151.2085032463070
    Sub-Type: Modern Australian.
    Telephone Number:+61 2 9252 1888
    Opening Hours: dinner Tue-Sat.
    Price Range: High.
    Pricing:mains $52-59.
    Address: 107 George St, The Rocks.
    Transportation type: train. Details: Circular Quay.
    Transportation type: bus. Details: Circular Quay.
    Transportation type: ferry. Details: Circular Quay.
    Website: www.rockpool.com
    Email: enquire@rockpool.com

    Café Sydney

    A roomy dining hall on the Customs House roof with outrageous harbour views, an outdoor terrace, a glass ceiling, a cocktail bar, friendly staff, Sunday afternoon jazz and superchef Nino Borgo; the list of Café Sydney’s pluses is as long as your arm. Seafood and wood-grilled dishes prevail.

    Latitude: -33.8621372471592/ Longitude: 151.2108421325680
    Sub-Type: Modern Australian.
    Telephone Number:+61 2 9251 8683
    Opening Hours: noon-11pm Mon-Fri, 5-11pm Sat, noon-4pm Sun.
    Price Range: High.
    Pricing: mains $32-44
    Address: 31 Alfred St. Extras: Level 5, Customs House.
    Transportation type: train Details: Circular Quay.
    Website: www.cafesydney.com

    Plan B

    Owned by the folks who run Becasse, one of Sydney’s finest dining establishments, is this shoebox cafe that serves incredible Wagyu beef burgers. It also offers gourmet panini, sausage rolls, pastries, cakes and muffins.

    Latitude: -33.8716426148956 / Longitude: 151.2057855133190
    Telephone Number: +61 2 9283 3450.
    Opening Hours: breakfast & lunch Mon-Fri.
    Pricing: light meals $6-10.
    Address: 204 Clarence St, Sydney.

    Entertaiment

    Govinda’s

    The Hare Krishna Govinda’s is an all-you-can-gobble vegetarian smorgasbord, including admission to the movie room upstairs. Expect mainstream blockbusters, art-house classics, incense in the air and cushions on the floor.

    Alternative Name: Govinda's Movie Room.
    Latitude
    : -33.8766042668015 / Longitude: 151.2214154005050
    Sub-Type: Cinema.
    Telephone Number: +61 2 9380 5155
    Pricing: dinner & movie $18, movie only $10.
    Opening Hours: 5.45-10.30pm.
    Address: 112 Darlinghurst Rd, Darlinghurst.
    Transportation Type: train Details: Kings Cross
    Website: www.govindas.com.au

    Argyle

    Wow! This place opened up in late 2007, and hasn’t missed a beat since. It’s a collection of five bars spread through the historic sandstone Argyle Stores buildings, with everything from a cobblestone courtyard to underground cellars resonating with chilled DJ vibes. The main bar is a displaced mod Moroccan cave, with leather booths, kooky abstract chandeliers and moody lighting. Great bar food, too.

    Latitude: -33.8590047200000 / Longitude: 151.2079608000000
    Sub-Type: Bar, DJ.
    Telephone Number:+61 2 9247 5500
    Opening hours:
    11am-midnight Sun-Tue, to 3am Wed-Sat.
    Address: 18 Argyle St, The Rocks.
    TransportationType: train Details: Circular Quay.
    Website: www.theargyle.biz

    Metro Theatre

    Easily Sydney’s best venue to catch local (Josh Pike) and alternative international acts (Stereolab, Ben Kweller) in well-ventilated, easy-seeing comfort. Other offerings include comedy, cabaret, music and theatre.

    Latitude: -33.8757469148080 / Longitude: 151.2066686153410
    Sub-type: Live Performance.
    Telephone Number: +61 2 9550 3666
    Opening Hours: box office 9am-6pm Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm Sat.
    Pricing: tickets $25-60.
    Address: 624 George St, City Centre.
    TransportationType: train Details:Town Hall.
    Website: www.metrotheatre.com.au

    Shop

    Strand Arcade

    With its stained-glass windows and iron-lacework balconies, this quirky centre makes for a truly atmospheric shopping trip. Built in 1892, this is the city's only Victorian arcade to survive in its original form and it rivals the QVB in the ornateness stakes. Three floors of designer fashions, Australiana and old-world coffee shops will make your short cut through here considerably longer.

    Top Australian designers commune and collude on level one: Leona Edmiston, low-cut, butt-hugger jeans from Bettina Liano, devilishly daring gear from Wayne Cooper, Sydney’s best swimwear from Zimmermann and fishnets and flounce from Alannah Hill. Jeweller Love & Hatred is also here.

    Latitude: -33.8693882177000 / Longitude: 151.2074581780000
    Sub-Type: Shopping Centre
    Telephone Number: +61 2 9232 4199
    Opening Hours: 8.30am-6pm Mon-Wed & Fri, to 8pm Thu, 9.30am-4pm Sat, 11am-4pm Sun. Extras: enter Pitt St Mall or 412 George St.
    Address: 220 Clement St.
    TransportationType: train Details:Town Hall.
    Website: www.strandarcade.com.au

    Paddy’s Markets

    Cavernous, 1000-stall Paddy’s is the Sydney equivalent of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, but swap the hookahs and carpets for mobile-phone covers, Eminem T-shirts and cheap sneakers. Pick up a VB singlet for Uncle Bruce or wander the aisles in capitalist awe. Market City (9288 8900; www.marketcity.com.au) shopping centre is upstairs.

    Latitude: -33.8797196110113 / Longitude: 151.2042063474660
    Sub-Type
    : Market.
    Opening Hours: 9am-5pm Thu-Sun.
    Telephone Number: +61 1300 361 589
    Address: 9-13 Hay St, Haymarket.
    TransportationType: train Details: Central.
    Website: www.paddysmarkets.com.au

    RM Williams

    Urban cowboys and country folk can’t get enough of this hard-wearing outback gear. It’s the kind of stuff politicians don when they want to seem ‘fair dinkum’ about something. Prime-ministerial favourites include Driza-Bone oilskin jackets, Akubra hats, moleskin jeans and leather work boots.

    Latitude: -33.8696093591671/ Longitude: 151.2067598104480
    Sub-Type: Accessories, Clothing.
    Opening Hours: 8.30am-6pm Mon-Wed & Fri, to 9pm Thu, 9am-5pm Sat, 11am-5pm Sun.
    Telephone Number: +61 2 9262 2228
    Address: 389 George St.
    Transportation Type: train Details: Wynyard.
    Website: www.rmwilliams.com.au

    Events Overviews

    Introduction

    Sydney loves to party, and any excuse is good enough. Events range from the bare breasts and butt cheeks of the Mardi Gras parade to the resolutely highbrow Sydney Biennale.

    Best Festivals & Events

     

    January

    Sydney Festival
    Throughout January, Sydney’s premier arts and culture festival (300 performances!) revolves around a central theme, expressed through musical, stage and street performance, visual art and ‘happenings’ around town. International and Australian performers run the gamut from opera to surreal gymnastics and water puppetry. Free shows aplenty. [tel] 8248 6500
    www.sydneyfestival.org.au

    All Tomorrow’s Parties
    Cockatoo Island, Sydney Harbour
    A spin-off of the Sydney Festival, this artsy (dare we say mature?) music festival kicks off on Cockatoo Island in the middle of Sydney Harbour.
    [tel] 1300 888 412)
    www.atpfestival.com

    Flickerfest
    Bondi Pavilion, Queen Elizabeth Dr, Bondi
    Bondi’s international short-film festival – shorts, docos, animation and workshops – runs over 10 days in mid-January. Tours nationally.
    www.flickerfest.com.au

    Australia Day
    Australia’s ‘birthday’ (the day the First Fleet landed) is 26 January, and Sydneysiders celebrate with picnics, barbecues, fireworks on the harbour and, increasingly, much nationalistic flag waving, drunkenness and chest beating. In less mood to celebrate is the Aboriginal community, which refers to it as Invasion Day or Survival Day.
    www.australia-day.com

    Ferrython
    Part of the Sydney Festival, this delightfully insane Australia Day contest sees a fleet of ferries, bespangled with balloons and streamers, race from Circular Quay around Shark Island and back to the Harbour Bridge.
    www.sydneyfestival.org.au

    Big Day Out
    Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park, Homebush Bay
    The biggest day on the calendar for Sydney music fans, this touring one-day alt-rock festival arrives on the Australia Day long weekend. It features a huge line-up of big-name artists from all over the world (past acts include Metallica, Kings of Leon and Neil Young) and plenty of home-grown talent. Much head banging, sun and beer. Tickets go on sale in October and are snapped up lickety-split.
    www.bigdayout.com

    February

    Chinese New Year
    Kung hei fat choy! Depending on the phase of the moon, this three-week celebration centred around Chinatown arrives with a bang (literally) in either January or February: fireworks, parades, dragon dancers, dragon-boat races and oodles of noodles.
    www.sydneychinesenewyear.com.au

    Tropfest
    The Domain, City Centre
    The world’s largest short-film festival is enjoyed from picnic blankets in The Domain on the last Sunday in February. In order to discourage cheating and inspire creativity, a compulsory prop appears in each entry (eg a kiss, a sneeze, dice). Free screenings and celebrity judges (such as David Wenham, Gabriel Byrne or Salma Hayek). It’s a big deal.
    www.tropfest.com

    St Jerome’s Laneway Festival
    Macquarie Pl, Circular Quay
    The evolution of a music fest that started in Melbourne’s inner-city lanes comes to Sydney. The ‘lanes’ around Macquarie Pl aren’t nearly as atmospheric as Melbourne’s, but the local and international musical talent is first rate (Augie March, The Panics, Holly Throsby).
    [tel] 1300 438 849
    www.lanewayfestival.com.au

    Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras
    A month-long festival and a fleshy (straight-friendly) Oxford St parade on the first Saturday in March. Gyms empty out, solariums darken, waxing emporiums tally their profits. Around 700,000 people like to watch; after-party tickets are gold. ([tel] 9568 8600)
    www.mardigras.org.au

    March & April

    St Patrick’s Day
    A large part of Sydney’s population, swelled by every backpacker in town, adds an ‘O’ to their surname (if they don’t have one already) and gets blotto on Guinness in The Rocks. Wearing green and funny hats is de rigueur – full marks if you can score a ‘Who’s your Paddy?’ T-shirt from one of the pubs.
    www.stpatricksday.org.au

    V Festival
    Centennial Park, Oxford St, Woollahra
    Yet another massive music-mosh-on-wheels comes to Sydney, the Virgin version studded with big international acts (The Killers, Kaiser Chiefs, Snow Patrol). Usually on a Saturday in late March.
    www.vfestival.com.au

    Golden Slipper Festival
    Rosehill Gardens, James Ruse Dr, Rosehill
    A month-long horse-racing carnival culminates in the world’s richest race for two-year-olds (with a purse of $3.5 million) on the Saturday before Good Friday.
    [tel] 9930 4000; [train] Rosehill
    www.theslipper.com.au

    Royal Easter Show
    Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park, Homebush Bay
    Ostensibly a kiddie-centric agricultural show, this wonderful Sydney tradition is a two-week fiesta of carnival rides, showbags and sugary horrors. Crowds are massive.
    [tel] 9704 1111; [train] Olympic Park
    www.eastershow.com.au

    Easter Carnival
    Royal Randwick Racecourse, Randwick
    Sydney’s biggest horse-racing carnival spans four glamorous race days, culminating in the Sydney Cup. Lawn parties attract former reality-TV contestants, arrogant princesses in big hats and drunken blokes in ill-fitted suits.
    [bus] 393
    www.ajc.org.au

    May

    Australian Fashion Week
    The gaunt, pert and pubescent tread the catwalk around Circular Quay and Walsh Bay wearing local designer duds. Expect plenty of skin, bitchy gossip and the usual round of ‘Australian fashion has come of age’ PR shtick…oh, and some beautiful clothes.
    [train] Circular Quay
    www.afw.com.au

    Sydney Writers’ Festival
    Readings and discussions with social, literary and political writers from Australia and overseas; runs for a week in late May. Not afraid of the big issues; fresh talent abounds. Venues across the city.
    [tel] 9252 7729
    www.swf.org.au

    June & July

    Darling Harbour Jazz & Blues Festival
    Darling Harbour
    Free jazzy jamboree over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June. Eclectic artists such as James Morrison, Frank Bennett and The Cat Empire take the stage.
    [ferry] Darling Harbour
    www.darlingharbour.com

    State of Origin Series
    Rugby league fanatics consider this series of three matches between Queensland (the Maroons) and NSW (the Blues) the pinnacle of the game. Scheduled any time from late May to July, either one or two games are played in Sydney, depending on who won the series the previous year. Expect dazzling displays of speed, strength and bloody-nosed aggression – the fans love it.
    www.australianrugbyleague.com.au/origin

    Sydney Film Festival
    State Theatre, 49 Market St, City Centre
    Held (mostly) at the magnificent State Theatre, this excellent, highly regarded film festival screens art-house gems from Australia and around the world. It starts in early June and runs for two weeks.
    [tel] 9318 0999; [train] St James
    www.sydneyfilmfestival.org

    Biennale of Sydney
    In even-numbered years this two-month international arts festival showcases the bold, the brilliant and the downright mind boggling. It’s held around a number of city venues, including the Art Gallery of NSW.
    www.biennaleofsydney.com.au

    Yulefest
    The Blue Mountains in July is about as close to a traditional northern-hemisphere Christmas as Sydney gets. ‘Tis the season when local hotels and restaurants cash in with pricey beverages, roaring fires, a carol or two and Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. The parade-focused Winter Magic Festival (www.wintermagic.com.au) happens in Katoomba on the weekend closest to the winter solstice (21 June).
    www.katoomba-nsw.com/yulefest.html

    August

    City to Surf Run
    On the second Sunday in August, 60,000 highly trained athletes, overfed pretenders and sundry fools run (or walk) 14km from Hyde Park to Bondi Beach. The fastest reach the beach in 40 minutes, their athletic seriousness counterbalanced by family fun and the odd cardiac scare.
    http://city2surf.sunherald.com.au

    September & October

    Festival of the Winds
    Bondi Pavilion, Queen Elizabeth Dr, Bondi
    Held on the second weekend in September, this festival brings spectacular kites shaped like animals and aliens to Bondi Beach. The kids will love it, and with the wind doing all the work it’s very ecofriendly.
    [tel] 8362 3400; [bus] 380

    Queerdoc
    Running over two weeks in mid-September, this is the only queer documentary festival in the world. The organisers also put on the Mardi Gras Film Festival in February and one-off screenings throughout the year.
    [tel] 9332 4938
    www.queerscreen.com.au

    Manly International Jazz Festival
    Za-ba-dee-bop: this finger-snappin’ event takes place on the Labour Day long weekend (early October). Music ranges from traditional and big band to fusion, bebop and contemporary.
    [tel] 9976 1430; [ferry] Manly
    www.manly.nsw.gov.au/manlyjazz

    Sleaze Ball
    Hordern Pavilion, 1 Driver Ave, Moore Park
    The Mardi Gras after-party is so fabulous that once a year isn’t enough, with its sluttier spin-off taking place on the Saturday of the Labour Day long weekend. Proceeds go towards staging the annual parade.
    [tel] 9568 8600; [bus] 339
    www.mardigras.org.au

    National Rugby League Grand Final
    ANZ Stadium, Sydney Olympic Park, Homebush Bay
    The culmination of the NRL season is this hyperbolic clash on the Sunday of the Labour Day long weekend. There are cheerleaders aplenty, big-name entertainment and a pumped-up crowd ready to see the big men collide. If you can’t get a ticket (they sell like hot cakes), repair to a pub, yell a lot and slosh some beer around.
    [train] Olympic Park
    www.nrl.com.au

    November

    Sculpture By The Sea
    In mid-November, the cliff-top trail from Bondi Beach to Tamarama transforms into an exquisite sculpture garden. Serious prize money is on offer for the most creative, curious or quizzical offerings from international and local sculptors. Bondi chefs cook gourmet barbecue edibles for sculpture fans. It’s a low-impact, ecosensitive event.
    [tel] 8399 0233; [bus] 380
    www.sculpturebythesea.com

    December

    Homebake
    The Domain, City Centre
    Held on the first Saturday in December, this one-day music bash is a showcase of the best Australian and New Zealand bands around.
    [train] St James
    www.homebake.com.au

    Bondi Christmas Bash
    Sydney’s international family of travellers has traditionally descended on Bondi Beach on Christmas Day. Because of out-of-control scenes in the past, alcohol has been banned on the beach and an organised party happens at the Pavilion instead. It changes every year; previous years have seen a pricey Gatecrasher dance party.

    Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race
    On Boxing Day Sydney Harbour churns with competitors and onlookers for the start of the world’s most arduous open-ocean yacht race (628 nautical miles!).
    www.rolexsydneyhobart.com

    New Year’s Eve
    Find someone with a penthouse or a yacht to watch the annual fireworks displays over Sydney Harbour. The bridge erupts with pyrotechnic bedazzlement.
    www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/nye

    Activity Overviews

    Introduction

    Who wants to be stuck inside on a beautiful sunny day? Certainly not most Sydneysiders. Give them any excuse and they’ll be stripping off any nonessential clothing and hitting the city’s beaches, parks and pools. Sydneysiders like to stay in shape, but you only need to head out into the suburbs to see that not everyone here is a Bondi lifesaver – plenty of people settle for watching rather than participating in the competitive collision of sporting life. Conveniently, the most popular spectator sports happen in the winter, not interrupting the beach schedule too much.

    Health & Fitness

    With looking good such an obvious concern to many Sydneysiders, the city’s devised myriad ways to stay built, bronzed and beautiful. Oh, and healthy, too. When in Rome…

    Swimming

    Fancy a dip? Sydney has sheltered harbour beaches, saltwater beach rock pools, more than 100 public pools and crazy surf. Always swim between the flags on lifesaver-patrolled beaches, and avoid swimming in the ocean for a day and in the harbour for three days after heavy rains. Many outdoor pools close at the end of April for the cooler months and reopen in early October. See also Coogee Ocean Pools and Dawn Fraser Baths.

    Jogging

    In the city centre, the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Domain are ideal for a run. Running across Sydney Harbour Bridge or Anzac Bridge makes for a healthy commute. Centennial Park will spirit you away from traffic fumes, or hit Bondi Beach for a soft-sand shuffle. If it’s a hill climb you’re after, the Bondi to Coogee Cliff-top Trail is a scenic sweatfest.

    Cycling

    Sydney’s skinny streets and hectic traffic aren’t ideal for two-wheelers, but quite a few adventurous ecowarriors get about on their wheeled steeds. Some roads have designated cycle lanes, but these often run between parked cars and moving traffic (watch for opening doors). If you’re just cycling for fun and not commuting, opt for less traffic and looong cycle paths: North Head near Manly, Sydney Olympic Park and Centennial Park are pedalling hot spots.
    Bicycles can travel on suburban trains for kids’ rates during peak hours, and for free outside peak times. Bikes also ride for free on Sydney’s ferries.

    Gyms

    What do you bench? Most of Sydney’s bigger hotels have a small gym for guests’ use, usually for free. Casual sessions at Sydney’s top inner-city gyms can be pricey; combined gym/swim deals at public swimming pools are often cheaper – see Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre, Bondi Icebergs Swimming Club, Cook + Phillip Park Aquatic & Fitness Centre, North Sydney Olympic Pool and Victoria Park Pool.

    Yoga

    Most of Sydney seems to be looking through its third eye: yoga classes happen at gyms, pools and community centres.

    Other Activities

    If you’re getting bored trundling around the sights, Sydney offers plenty of outdoorsy opportunities to do something active. Don’t forget the sunscreen.

    Surfing

    Sydney has been synonymous with surfing ever since the Beach Boys effused about ‘Australia’s Narrabeen’ in Surfin’ USA (Narrabeen is one of Sydney’s Northern Beaches). South of the Heads, the best spots to carve up the green room include Bondi, Tamarama, Gordon’s Bay near Coogee and Maroubra. Cronulla and Garie Beach in Royal National Park, both south of Botany Bay, are also serious surfing spots. To the north, the best surf beaches are Manly, Curl Curl, Dee Why, North Narrabeen, Mona Vale, Newport Reef, North Avalon and Palm Beach. For updates on what’s breaking where, see www.coastalwatch.com or www.realsurf.com.

    Sailing

    An introductory sailing lesson is a brilliant way to get out onto the harbour, though it’s not for the budget-conscious. More experienced salts can skipper their own boat.

    Inline Skating Skateboarding

    The beachside promenades at Bondi and Manly are rollerblading hot spots, but Centennial Park is a better bet for a serious workout. There’s a decent skate ramp at the south end of Bondi Beach, and a skate centre at Sydney Olympic Park. In the city, there’s usually a gaggle of scruffy skater dudes popping ollies in front of St Mary’s Cathedral and dodging security guards in Martin Pl. You can even rollerblade across Sydney Harbour Bridge!

    Diving

    Sydney’s best shore dives are the Gordons Bay Underwater Nature Trail near Coogee, Shark Point at Clovelly and Ship Rock at Cronulla. For boat dives try Coogee’s Wedding Cake Island, around the Sydney Heads, and off Royal National Park. In Manly you can do a shore dive from Shelly Beach.

    Lawn Bowls

    Formerly the domain of septuagenarians, lawn bowls has become inexplicably hip a certain demographic in recent years with. Young folks have learned to appreciate the sports’ affordability, retro-kitsch vibe and the time-honoured traditions of drinking and smoking while the balls are rolling. Jack high!