Sydney is the capital city of the Australian state of New South Wales, and Australia’s largest city. A week in Sydney will help you see many of the sights of Sydney and its surrounds, and understand the city and its culture.
- This article is an itinerary.
The following itinerary illustrates a few ways to spend a week in Sydney. These assume that you start from and end your trip where you are staying; These activities, including morning, afternoon and evening itineraries, are designed to be mixed up and changed around to your likings. They do not require you to have a car.
All price estimates here do not include the prices of food, drinks, or transport between your lodging and the location of the first and last destination stated in each itinerary – for convenience, fares and travel to and from starting points is listed as if you were travelling from somewhere in the CBD and will be more expensive if you are travelling from outside that area. However, if you follow the suggestion below about the MyMulti ticket, you should not have to pay for any extra Government-run public transport at all if it is within the area of your ticket.
Travelling in Sydney is very easy, however, a good map will not go astray, especially when walking around the CBD area. As Sydney can get very hot and humid during late spring, summer, and early Autumn (from October-March), sufficient sun protection is advisable during these times, including SPF30+ sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. This is a good idea even during winter as you can still get sunburnt at those times, depending on the weather. It is also advisable that you carry a bottle of water around with you. Tap water in Sydney is very safe to drink and has no bad taste; alternatively, large bottles of water (1L or more) can be bought from any supermarket, usually for less than $2, and will be a lot cheaper than bottled water sold in restaurants or food outlets.
Sydney has a smartcard ticketing system known as Opal which is similar to Oyster in London or MyKi in Melbourne. Although Opal’s pricing is a little more complicated, if you follow the below itinerary, you maybe able to save money through the various caps, and possibly unlock free travel from day 4 onwards. You can also buy single tickets at stations.
To begin your itinerary in Sydney, we’ll begin by taking a walking tour of the eastern side of the Central Business District to see the sights. As you have a long day ahead of you, start early, although most attractions won’t open until 9am. You won’t have time to visit everything here in detail, so read through here first and take your pick of attractions.
Take the train on the City Circle to Museum Station ($3.40 from anywhere in the CBD). Wait on the platform until the train has departed and admire the view – the station was built in the 1920s and was designed like a London Underground station, and is kept in the old-fashioned style, even down to the advertisements on the walls. Take the exit to Elizabeth/Liverpool Street and walk around to Hyde Park, a green area in the middle of the city. Head towards the ANZAC Memorial (which is free). You can enter the building via the side entrance at the ground level. There is a small museum to the right and ahead is a statue of a dead soldier being carried by the grieving women left behind in his life. Read the explanatory plaque, then head upstairs to the main chamber where the eternal flame burns. Exit the Memorial and walk around to the reflecting pool.
Walk down the path towards Park Street, which cuts through the middle of the park. On your right across College Street, in the sandstone building on the corner, is the Australian Museum ($12 adult/$6 children, $30 family (2+2)). This museum, which focuses on natural history, is worth a visit in its own right if you have more time in Sydney and will take a couple of hours to explore. It is a great museum for children. Otherwise, continue down the central path of Hyde Park and cross Park Street. Note the amazing canopy of trees as you walk towards the Hyde Park Fountain. This is a beautiful place, especially on a sunny day when rainbows form in the spray from the fountain. Head east towards the Cathedral and cross the road.
Enter St Mary’s Cathedral (free), which is the largest cathedral in Australia via the main stairs off the plaza, and have a look around. The layout of the cathedral is unusual in that it runs north-south, rather than the usual east-west. You need to purchase a photography permit from the cathedral shop before you can take photos of the interior. The crypt underneath is especially beautiful and well worth a look. You can exit the Cathedral via the shop on the left side. Head north until you reach Macquarie Street (at the north end of Hyde Park), which runs down the eastern side of the CBD.
The first building you will come to is the Hyde Park Barracks ($12 adults, $8 concession, $30 family, children under 5 free) which was built in 1817 and was the principal male convict barracks in New South Wales until 1848. The museum is a fascinating insight into Australia’s early history and will take around 45 minutes to an hour to look around. Guided tours are available. If you don’t want to pay the admission fee to the museum, you can still enter via the front door and have a look at the first room on the left, which shows some of the historical uses of the building over the years, and have a look at the museum shop.
Exit back onto Macquarie Street. Directly across the street is Queens Square. On the left of the square is St James Church (which is open to the public during the daytime (free)) and on the right is the Supreme Court of NSW. The square is fronted by a large statue of Queen Victoria, facing a matching statue of Prince Albert in front of the Barracks. Look south for a magnificent view along Hyde Park’s esplanade of trees, past the Archibald Fountain, towards the ANZAC Memorial. The next building as you head north along Macquarie Street is the Sydney Mint, built in 1816, in which you are free to look around and contains a nice cafe, followed by Sydney Hospital.
Across the road from the Hospital is Martin Place, one of Sydney’s pedestrian plazas within Sydney. It extends right down to George Street in the west of the CBD; halfway down is the fountain featured in the “woman in red” scene in the film The Matrix. The white marble building at the top of the street on the left is the Reserve Bank of Australia, Australia’s chief bank. There is a free museum on Australia’s monetary system, accessed via the building’s main lobby.
For a spot of lunch, there are a couple of cafés on Macquarie Street; alternatively, head down Martin Place to find some cheap eateries. Attached to Martin Place station (underneath the street) are the Colonial Centre and the MLC Centre, both of which have a food court. If you have your own lunch, head to The Domain to eat it. You can cut through from Macquarie Street by the walkway between the Mint and the Hyde Park Barracks.