How to Spend 24 Hours in Sydney

Stunning Sydney – Some love it for the opera house, the impressive harbour bridge and other architectural wonders. Others know it for its culinary reputation, trendy bars and coffee to die for.

For all the 90’s and 00’s kids, it’s the home of P. Sherman, that dentist guy who stole Nemo. The city has stolen hearts worldwide, and with so many reasons to visit, it can be hard to fit everything in. A launching pad for some of east coast tours, if you’ve only got a day in Sydney, we’re here to help you squeeze in as much culture as humanly possible in 24 hours.

Bondi Beach, Sydney
Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and with so many delightful, trendy brunch options it would be rude to eat porridge at your hostel. Head down to Darling Harbour for a classic millennial style brunch (smashed avo on toast). We recommend Simplicity Café for casual waterfront views, or The Grounds of the City for a totally Instagrammable experience from start to finish.

While you’re down there, indulge in your first free activity of the day (woohoo), sightseeing! From the harbour you’ll have an epic viewpoint of both the world-famous Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. As you wander around the harbour, it’s likely you’ll be provided with more free entertainment from buskers along the way. Head to the Opera House for a closer look – you can see some of the inside for free!

Harbour Bridge, Sydney
Sydney Harbour Bridge. A picture postcard of the city.

Once you’ve had your fill of these two bad boys, jump on a public bus heading for Bondi. If you grabbed an Opal Card when you arrived in Sydney (which we recommend if you’re catching the airport train), you can use this to pay for your bus fare. The bus ride itself will show you a slice of life – artists wielding empty canvases on the bus, rich and famous looking people shopping up a storm in open air malls, a busker playing guitar on a busy corner… oh the romance of this city! If you’re there on a Saturday, you can hop off early and check out the Paddington Markets, Sydney’s original arts and crafts marketplace.

Paddington Markets, Sydney
Have a browse around Paddington Markets on a Saturday

You’ll know you’ve arrived in Bondi when you start to see tanned supermodels walking around the streets. Australians are gorgeous (The Hemsworths, need I say more?). You can choose whether to jump off in North or South Bondi, but our next highly recommended (also free) activity begins in the south. The people watching on Bondi Beach is next level, and you could lose hours sitting on the perfect white sands admiring the life around you. When you’re ready, head toward the Bondi Icebergs – a fancy name for the pretty public pools that perch above the sea. You can swim here for $7AUD, or just take a couple of snaps and admire the view.

Bondi Icebergs, Sydney
Swim over the ocean at Bondi Icebergs

From the public toilets near the icebergs, look for signs of the Bondi – Coogee Walk. This 6km walk is a showcase of impressive limestone formations, and Sydney’s most beautiful beaches. Each one is more secluded than the last. If you have the time and the weather is right, find the beach that speaks to you and set up with a good book for a while. Along the way you’ll see plenty of wildlife. Keep your eyes out for noisy rainbow lorikeets and the infamous Australian Ibis (known affectionately by the Aussies as a bin chicken).

Bondi to Coogee walk
Walk from Bondi to Coogee

Arriving in Coogee, take one last dip in the sparkling Pacific Ocean before you head back toward the bus stop. You’re heading to the city, but we’ve got a slight detour – Centennial Park. This sprawling park east of the city is a lovely place to chill, but there is something spectacular to see here – flying foxes!

A massive colony of these gentle giant bats has resided here since 2010. They’re completely harmless and keep to themselves, although watch for sticky bat poo when you’re walking around their home. You can find the bats in the Lachlan swamp lands. If you time it right and arrive around dusk, they’ll all be waking up and taking flight for the night – a truly mesmerising sight.

Imagine seeing thousands of bats swooping noiselessly through the air in twilight… ok that sounds like the start of a horror movie but we promise it is really cool. The bats can be up to 30cm long with a wingspan of 1 metre! They are also orange and fluffy and cute.

Flying Foxes - bats in Centennial Park, Sydney
Flying Foxes – large bats in Centennial Park, Sydney

Once you’re well acquainted with these famous residents, head out of the park and back towards the city by bus. With the sun gone for the day, it must be dinner time. Head down to ‘The Rocks’ precinct to get a side of sightseeing with your dinner – the area is home to many historic buildings, delicious restaurants and cafes, markets and street eats.

If you have more time in Sydney, we recommend checking out Sydney’s Royal National Park, home to the famous Figure Eight Pools, a cool geological formation on the coast. For an escape from the heat of the city, take a day tour to the Blue Mountains? It’s an action-packed day full of jaw dropping sights, wildlife, and hiking.

We hope this helps you to make the most of your time in Sydney. For more information, take a look at our Destination Guide and check which Stray Tours start from Sydney here.

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Emily is a native creative nerd. This creative crew member's favourite stop is Bay of Islands.

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