Guides

How To Play Tourist In Sydney When You’ve Only Got A Few Hours

There are no shortage of incredible spots to explore in Sydney, but how do you pack the best of the best into just a few hours? Whether you want to see a bunch of the city as soon as you arrive, or you’re on a stopover before heading elsewhere, here are some fun things for you to check out, which shouldn’t take more than a few hours.

Catch the ferry to Manly

Searching for the greatest views of the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and wanting to check out one of Australia’s most famous beaches? Kill two birds with one stone and jump on a ferry over to Manly.

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If you’ve got some time to kill, you can hop on the commuter ferry – it’s cheaper, but takes around 30 to 40 minutes. Alternatively, jump on the fast ferry to zoom across in closer to 15 minutes for just a couple of dollars extra. Both will give you incredible views of Sydney’s Harbour Bridge and Opera House.

We’d recommend the fast ferry, especially since you’re already pretty strapped for time. Either way, you can pay with your load-and-go Opal card! Score.

Lunch at Hemingway’s

Hop off at Manly Wharf, then just a short, five minute stroll away is lunch at Hemingway’s, a spot right on Manly Beach beloved by the locals.

Hemingway’s is famed for its modern Australian-meets-French cuisine, and is a mix of café, restaurant and bar. It’s casual at all hours. Did you really go to Manly without getting stuck into some fish and chips or burgers, while overlooking Manly Beach?

Didn’t think so. If the weather is fine, take a dip on the beach and stretch out for a bit to start processing that food baby.

OK, no more time to waste! Once your bellies are full it’s time to jump straight back on that ferry and return to Circular Quay.

Explore the Quay

Circular Quay is the best place in Sydney to have a wander around and people watch. So, once you’re off the ferry and back on the mainland, take a stroll along the harbour and towards the Opera House.

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On your right, you’ll find a bunch of cafés, gift shops and restaurants, should you want a cheeky caffeine fix while looking at the view, or buy a tacky fridge magnet or souvenir to remember your time in town. On your left is the always-iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge in all its glory.

Check out the Royal Botanic Gardens

Once you’ve made your way up to the front of the Opera House, and have taken a few happy snaps, chuck a left, and head up the stairs to the Royal Botanic Garden.

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Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden is simply stunning. It first opened way back when in 1816, making it the oldest botanical institution in Australia, and one of the most important historical botanical institutions in the world.

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It’s open every day of the year, and entry is free, so feel free to explore its grounds whenever you like.

Get cultured at the Art Gallery of NSW

Keep on keeping on through the gardens, to the tippy top, and after a leisurely 20 minute stroll, you’ll find yourself at the Art Gallery of New South Wales – one of the most beautiful art museums in the world.

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Art fan or not, you’re guaranteed to have a good time wandering the many rooms and halls of the architectural marvel.

Its collection is enormous. Modern and contemporary works are displayed in expansive, light-filled spaces, while the Grand Courts are home to a distinguished collection of colonial and 19th-century Australian works and European old masters.

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There are also dedicated galleries celebrating the arts of Asia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. If you weren’t an art fan before entering the museum, you’re bound to have a newfound appreciation after leaving.

Entry is free, as is all of the museum’s permanent galleries, though some exhibitions and events require purchase of a ticket.

That’s all, folks! Who says you can do Sydney in just a few hours?

(Lead image: Christopher Burns / Unsplash)