A ‘G'day’ in Sydney is pretty much guaranteed! It’s no coincidence that the city has consistently ranked in global surveys as one of the top five best cities in the world, both to live in and to visit. Often mistakenly referred to as Australia’s capital city (it’s actually Canberra), Sydney is in fact the capital city of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia, boasting some amazing sights from the Sydney Opera House and Darling Harbour to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. But if you’ve already done Sydney’s most well-known tourist hotspots, or you’re a first-time visitor looking to go a little off the beaten track, we’re here to help you along the way. Here are our five suggestions to experience more of the city that was once voted as having the most "warm and friendly people".
Milk the beach for all it’s worth
With 70 sparkling beaches and coves – from the more secluded to the world famous Bondi and Manly – a trip to the beach is considered a must-do for visitors, even if one is allergic to sand! For those looking to avoid the crowds, Milk Beach located at the base of Hermit Bay is the ideal option. A short walk from Sydney Harbour National Park, the small, secluded beach offers a spectacular view of the city skyline and the iconic Harbour Bridge in the distance, and is ideal for swimming, sunbathing and snorkeling. Close by, there’s the historic Strickland House - built in 1854-6 and with extensive grounds and gardens that are open to the public during daylight hours. Meanwhile, the Hermitage Harbour Walk, which runs from Rose Bay to Watsons Bay, is also a great option for stretching the legs. The beach can be accessed via public transport or boat, and limited off-street parking is available.
Bathe in glory
Dating back to 1924, the unique old-fashioned North bridge Baths have been described as one of the “hidden jewels” on Sydney’s North Shore. Surrounded by native bushland, the saltwater tidal baths enjoy a great position in an enclosed area of beach and water set within the picturesque Middle Harbour. The family orientated Baths is home to the Northbridge Amateur Swimming Club, and is equipped with a BBQ, picnic area, change rooms, toilets, hot showers and parking - not to mention a 50-metre, eight-lane pool. It’s located off Widgiewa Rd, Northbridge and is open seven days a week. For a spot of glamour, meanwhile, head to the recently refurbished Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool, which offers an eight-lane outdoor heated salt-water 50 meter swimming pool, on the shore of Woolloomooloo Bay near the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. The Poolside Café is perfect for taking in the sights of swimmers and of the Sydney Harbour.
Sample some sake
While Sydney is well known to be a jumping off point for a visit to one of Australia's top wine-producing regions in the Hunter Valley, the city is also close to the only sake brewery in Australia - the traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage which is made from rice, similar to how wheat and barley are used in beer production. Just an hour’s drive from the city center, the nearly 20-year-old Sun Masamune Sake Brewery is located in Penrith at the foot of the Blue Mountains. Owned by Konishi Brewing - renowned in Japan for their Shirayuki brand - about 90 per cent of the Australian-produced Go-Shu (phonetically Australia in Japanese) sake produced is shipped to Japan while the remainder is bottled in Australia for local consumption and for export to other countries. Sun Masamune produces six sakes as well as Nama Genshu (undiluted fresh sake), Ume-shu (plum wine) using Australian-grown Japanese plum, oak barrel sake, Go-Shu Nigori (cloudy sake) and even skincare products. Visitors can experience private, party and joint wine tour through the brewery, and taste, and purchase sake and sake merchandise.
Discover the spooky side of Sydney with a ghost tour. Not for the faint-hearted, there are many options available to choose from - all of which delve into the history of the city which started life as a penal colony for prisoners who first arrived in 1778 from England’s overflowing jails. The Rocks Ghost Tours operate two-hour torch and lantern-lit-walking tours of the historical Rocks area, the birthplace of Australia. Q Station takes guests to the Quarantine Station on North Head where for 150 years until 1984, ailing immigrants were first sent. Sydney Ghost Tours offers several tours including one that modified to be family-friendly.
Take in a walking tour
The best way of taking in the many sights and sounds of Sydney is definitely by foot - even more so when you can do it at a time and pace that suits you. The City of Sydney website provides a wide range of historical and themed self-guided tours that are available for download to a mobile device. Printed copies of most of the tours are available from the City Host information kiosks, Neighbourhood Service Centres and libraries. Some of the digital guides in audio are available in English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean (PDF). Each tour typically takes one to two hours to complete. The Commerce Walking Tour of Historic Buildings will take visitors through the heart of the City's financial and retail district pointing out the architectural features and history of the landmarks featured. The City of Sydney's public art program, City Art provides several professionally curated tours to take in Sydney's public art including Walk on Water, a guide to the city’s water features, a Sculpture Walk, Aboriginal Art and Laneway Art. The Powerhouse Museum Walking Tours App for iPhone and Android has walking tours that cover old Sydney (The Rocks, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and George Street). Fancy a view of Sydney's harbour from above? Take a ride in the Ferris Wheel. It's is open from Saturday, 6 January, until Sunday, 11 March, and from Friday, 24 August, until Thursday, 27 December.