Book a window seat for your flight to Sydney: day or night, this city sure is good-lookin’. Scratch the surface and it only gets better.
National parks ring the city and penetrate right into its heart. Large chunks of the harbour are still edged with bush, while parks cut their way through the skyscrapers and suburbs. Consequently native critters turn up in the most surprising places. Great clouds of flying foxes pass overhead at twilight and spend the night rustling around in suburban fig trees, oversized spiders stake out the corners of lounge room walls, possums rattle over the roofs of terrace houses, and sulphur-crested cockatoos bleat from the railings of urban balconies. At times Sydney's concrete jungle seems more like an actual one – and doesn't that just make it all the more exciting?
After a lazy Saturday at the beach, urbane Sydneysiders have a disco nap, hit the showers and head out again. There's always a new restaurant to try, undercover bar to hunt down, hip band to check out, sports team to shout at, show to see or crazy party to attend. The city's pretensions to glamour are well balanced by a casualness that means a cool T-shirt and a tidy pair of jeans will get you in most places. But if you want to dress up and show off, there's plenty of opportunity for that among the sparkling lights of the harbour.
Defined just as much by its rugged coast as its exquisite harbour, Sydney relies on its coastal setting to replenish its reserves of charm; venture too far away from the water and the charm suddenly evaporates. Jump on a ferry and Sydney's your oyster – the harbour prises the city's two halves far enough apart to reveal an abundance of pearls. On the coast, Australia ends abruptly in sheer walls of sandstone punctuated by arcs of golden sand. In summer they're covered with bronzed bodies making the most of a climate that encourages outdoor socialising, exercising, flirting and fun.
Brash is the word that inevitably gets bandied around when it comes to describing the Harbour City, and let's face it, Sydney is one hot mess! Compared to its Australian sister cities, Sydney is loud, uncompromising and in-your-face. Fireworks displays are more dazzling here, heels are higher, bodies more buffed, contact sports more brutal, starlets shinier, drag queens glitzier and chefs more adventurous. Australia’s best musos, foodies, actors, stockbrokers, models, writers and architects flock to the city to make their mark, and the effect is dazzling: a hyperenergetic, ambitious marketplace of the soul, where anything goes and everything usually does.
Why I Love Sydney
By Peter Dragicevich, Author
My visits to Sydney were becoming increasingly frequent before I decided to up sticks and move to the city in 1998. Sure, it was the glitzy side that first attracted me – the sense that there was always something thrilling going on somewhere, and if you turned the right corner, you could be part of it. That sense remains, but I've discovered much more to love: the lively food scene, endless days at the beach and the way Sydney's indigenous and convict history is so often hidden in plain sight.
Best places to stay in Sydney
Sydney city guide
Australia’s best musicians, foodies, actors, writers and architects flock to Sydney: a hyperenergetic, ambitious marketplace of the soul, where anything goes and everything usually does.
Island-hopping in Sydney Harbour
Sydney’s gobsmackingly gorgeous harbour needs no introduction. While the harbour hums with activity, its eight idyllic isles are surprisingly quiet. Mid-week, you may even have their million-dollar views all to yourself. That’s not the case come New Year’s Eve, though...
Sydney's Circular Quay and the Rocks
Sydney Harbour by ferry
Canberra may be the capital, but Sydney is Australia’s first city. The nation’s birthplace, it’s exuberant, sassy and stacks of fun. Brash and shallow? Whatever… Sydney’s sunny self-confidence is reinforced by its famously picturesque harbour...
20 free things to do in Sydney
You don't need a fat wallet to enjoy the glamour and chic of Sydney. These 20 attractions, activities and icons won't cost you a cent. Walkers on the Bondi to Coogee Walk approaching Waverly Cemetery. Image by Lindsay Brown / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images...
Sydney's beaches and ocean pools
Sydney - Plan your trip (Chapter)
Your journey to Sydney starts here. You’ll find the tools to plan your adventure: where to go, how much to budget, plus in-depth info on the best places to eat, as well as the very best beaches to lounge on.
Blue Mountains and Jenolan Caves Motorcoach Day Tour
Enjoy a trip through the scenic Blue Mountains and admire the otherworldly beauty of the Jenolan Caves on a day tour from Sydney. Pass through the mountain township of Katoomba and take in panoramic views of the Three Sisters pinnacles at Echo Point. See the stalactites and dramatically lit chambers of the Jenolan Caves, and photograph the stunning waters of the Blue Lake.
Sydney Harbour Dinner Cruise by Catamaran
Sydney puts on the magic after dark, especially on the harbor. Take a three-hour dinner cruise by catamaran on Sydney Harbour and enjoy true waterfront views from your table as you dine on a deluxe harbor buffet. Combining dinner with a sightseeing cruise is a fantastic way to spend an evening in Sydney.
Sydney’s top speciality drinking spots
It’s hard to know where to start in a city that sparkles with entertainment options after dark. There’s no shortage of clubs, pubs, big bars and, these days, small bars in Sydney. But if you’re looking for something a little niche, here is our pick of the best. All are conveniently located in the inner city...
East Coast Australia - Sydney & the Central Coast (Chapter)
Sydney is special. The city's spectacular harbour setting, gorgeous climate and sophisticated sheen make it unique among the Australian cities, and its fun-loving local population endows it with a confident charm that every city yearns for but...