Rajlakshmi is a military brat hailing from Assam. Most days you would find her reading about Parallel Universes, trying her hand at Zentangles or watching the world upside down – in hand stands. A Software Engineer by profession who loves traveling, writing and more often than not, end up setting off the fire alarm while cooking. She strongly believe in Karma – what goes around, comes around. And therefore, no matter how small, she avoids negativity.
Flanked by never-ending coastline on the east, and picturesque Blue Mountains range towards the West, Sydney is a haven for adventure, history and nature lovers alike. Be it basking at the beach or climbing steep cliffs, bird watching or canyoning, strolling in the park or cycling through the city, Sydney is so much more than Opera House or popular beaches. Here’s a list of top 10 of my favorite things to do in Sydney.
1. Hiking in the blue mountains
The Blue mountains range start about 50 km from Sydney, spreading across numerous suburbs, covering around 96 km in length in the state of NSW. Inhabited by over 400 different forms of animals, rich in both flare and fauna, hiking in the Blue Mountains is an excellent way to appreciate the biodiversity of this region and connect with nature.
One of the finest (and my favorite) trails in Sydney is the National Pass Walking Trail at Wentworth Falls. A grade 4 bushwalking circuit that takes around 4-5 hours complete, taking you along steep staircases, magnificent waterfalls, slippery narrow cliff lines and some of the most exquisite view of the Blue Mountains.
As you explore the Blue Mountains area, you will come across a number of shorter and quicker walking trails in Leura, Katoomba, Mount Wilson, and Blackheath, each presenting a unique and beautiful view of the mountains.
If you are not up for a hike but still want to enjoy what nature has to offer, there are a number of lookout points with picnic and bbq facilities, toilets and car parking area. Ideal for large groups with aged family members or young kids. My top most favorite lookout that still mesmerizes me is called the Pulpit Rock Lookout in Blackheath.
One of the most popular spots in the Blue Mountains is called the Echo point which presents a wonderful view of the Three Sisters Rock. But I prefer a quieter location called Cahill Lookout. And if you stay a little longer, you can watch the sun going down the hill.
3. Coastal walk
Sydney provides excellent options for a coastal walk, not only great for health but also will satisfy the wanderlust in you. Spit to Manly is one of the popular walks in Sydney, covering a distance of 10 km, involving board walks and few gentle ascents, meandering around the eastern coastal region of Sydney. You will come across 16 gorgeous beaches, and watch the spectacular ocean views.
Bondi to Coogee is another extremely popular walk, a bit crowded on a sunny weekend, but beautiful nonetheless. One of my favorite things to do is to drive to Clovelly Beach to watch the sunrise, and then walk until Bondi beach and back.
4. Nan Tien Temple
Also called Southern Paradise, Nan Tien Temple is the biggest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere. An hour drive from Sydney CBD, in the city of Wollongong, is this serene temple, isolated from the hullabaloo of the city. As you drive towards the temple, a sight of tangerine Pagoda rising above the city welcomes you. Using traditional techniques and materials from Chinese craftsmen, the temple was constructed in the year 1992. There are two main temples and one pagoda where you can light incense sticks, pray or meditate. You can also climb up a hill and ring the gratitude bell.
5. City walk
One of the best ways to appreciate the cultural, historical and modernist architecture of Sydney is to explore on foot. One can either book a tour or simply grab a map and explore on their own. From Martin place to Darling Harbour, Town Hall to Chinatown, Circular Quay to the Rocks – all you need are good sneakers and a bottle of water.
6. Sydney harbor bridge walk
Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of the iconic landmarks of the city. But don’t just admire it from afar. Climb up the steps and walk across this through arch bridge that connects North Shore to Sydney CBD. It is a short walk from one end to the other, but the views are going to make to stop at every single step. Through the barbed wire, you can admire the ferries sail pass another iconic landmark – the Opera House.
How can I not write about the beaches? Bondi, Coogee, and Manly are the hotspots where you can swim, surf and body board. They can get pretty crowded too. If you are looking for a quieter beach, you can find them on the coastal walk between Coogee and Bondi.
8. Chinese Garden of friendship
A peaceful garden in the heart of the city with gushing waterfall, serene lake and flowing cascade where willows are caught in the wind and large Koi swim endlessly. Nestled between tall buildings, you will be surprised by the serenity that dwells in this lovely place, especially in a busy place like Darling Harbour (nearly 10 minutes away from Town Hall station). A secluded place to spend great quality time with family and friends.
9. Cockatoo Island
Cockatoo Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located at the junction of Parramatta River and Lane Cove river. The island was a convict penal establishment between 1839 to 1869, a secondary establishment for convicts who had offended in the colonies. The island provides a good picture of the life of the prisoners, and how later the island turned into shipbuilding facility and naval dockyard. It also accommodates outdoor activities, night tours, and sunset watch. The journey starts with a beautiful ferry ride from Circular Quay takes around 20-30 minutes. Cockatoo Island is a great place to understand history and how it played a significant role in the development of Sydney.
10. Events in the City
There’s always something going on in the city, so don’t forget to lookout for upcoming events. In the month of February to celebrate Chinese New Year, huge lanterns are placed in different spots around the city and it is fun to find all of them. May-June is the time for 3 weeks long Sydney Vivid festival when the whole city lights up – laser shows on Opera House and other important buildings in Sydney, stunning light installments, photography workshops, seminars etc.
Towards the end of August, you can admire some beautiful Cherry Blossoms in Auburn Japanese Garden. If you love art and sculpture exhibition, Oct-Nov is the time for Sculpture by the Sea, a free public open exhibition along the coast. In addition, night markets, food festivals, fireworks, and exhibitions are held around the year.
So there you have it folks! I hope you enjoyed this amazing photo tour of Sydney that Rajlakshmi took us on. We would love to hear your thoughts on this post 🙂 If you enjoyed this post, then perhaps you would like to check out this one of mine about a vineyard
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And here is myy guestpost on Rajlakshmi’s blog about top 5 things to do in New Delhi