48 Hours in Sydney, Australia
When I was assigned to work in Sydney, Australia, for a month, I traveled further than I ever had before. Sydney is where I let go of all of my fears of traveling solo as a woman. It is where I learned to be alone – and be comfortable with it – in a country other than my own.
As a first-time solo traveler, I was worried about getting lost so I planned my trips in advance. I did a Google search of the best places to visit in Sydney and then mapped out nearby spots so I could easily visit them all. I was fortunate enough to have officemates who gave me helpful suggestions and even traveled around the city with me. But I also felt proud that I was able to explore Sydney on my own and discover places that were not famous tourist spots. These were the places I ultimately appreciated the most.
Looking for ideas for your trip to Sydney? Here’s a snapshot of one of my fantastic weekends in Sydney.
48 Hours in Sydney, Australia: Day One
Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Getting around Sydney is made easy by its reliable transport system. You can buy a day pass ticket that gives you full day access to all trains, buses and ferries. I downloaded the TripView app on my mobile phone as suggested by an officemate. The app was really helpful since I was able to check for train, bus and ferry departure times. I did this even without an internet connection since the app includes a full offline timetable viewer.
I started my day at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Entrance is free and they have free guided tours. I decided to explore the museum’s modern art collections and exhibits on my own pace with the help of their mobile app. I enjoyed the interactive exhibits, which included audiovisual and sensory art experiences.
The Rocks Markets
I took the museum’s back exit and turned right onto George Street. I walked further and then turned left on Argyle Street which had various stalls selling clothes designed by the stall owner, hand-made jewelry, original artwork, food and a lot more. At the Rocks Market, which is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am until 5pm, I shopped around for trinkets for myself, as well as pasalubong (souvenirs) to bring back home. Giving pasalubong is a tradition in my home country, the Philippines. We bring home local delicacies or native artifacts from wherever we travel and give it to family and friends. They are always grateful that you thought of them and that somehow, they were a part of your travels.
The Royal Botanic Gardens
My favorite place in Sydney is The Royal Botanic Gardens. I entered through the Palace Garden Gate at Macquarie Street and made sure to pick up a map. I started with the Rose Garden and then walked through the other gardens. I sat on benches scattered around and took pleasure in the spacious lawns and various plants and flowers in different stages of their lives: some new and blossoming, others old but standing strong.
When I reached Farm Cove, I turned right and walked to Mrs. Macquarie’s Point, which offers a beautiful view of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. When I had my fill, I headed back to Farm Cove and walked to the Sydney Opera House. The Royal Botanic Gardens opens at 7 a.m. and entrance is free. There are also free guided walks and a trackless train with several stops across the garden.
Sydney Opera House
No trip to Sydney is complete without visiting the iconic Sydney Opera House. Dusk is a good time to drop by for views of the Sydney Harbour and the sun setting over the Harbour Bridge. This was a perfect way to end my day.
I spent the day exploring with my officemates. We took the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly. The ferry ride itself was a treat with views of Sydney’s North Shore. We walked along the shores of Manly beach and soaked up some Vitamin D.
From Manly, we took a short boat ride to Watsons Bay and had lunch at Doyles on the Wharf. Lines were long but their fish and chips were worth the wait. We took a seat outside the restaurant for a relaxing al fresco dining experience.
After lunch, we walked to the Sydney Harbour National Park. From there, we took in the beautiful views of the city of Sydney, the suburbs around Watsons Bay and The Gap, an ocean cliff facing the Tasman Sea.
48 Hours in Sydney, Australia.
Guylian Café at The Rocks
We took a ferry from Watsons Bay back to Circular Quay and then dropped by Guylian Café on George Street for their Belgian hot chocolate. They served us two pieces of chocolate: one inside the cup and another on the side. I was instructed to pour the hot liquid into the cup for the chocolate to melt and mix with the liquid. The chocolate on the side was meant to be a second serving but I decided eat it and indulge myself after a long day.
Sydney Observatory Park
The Sydney Observatory, Australia’s oldest observatory, was a place I discovered on my own. I walked from George Street to Argyle Street and then turned left when I saw Watson Road, a road going uphill. The Observatory Park has a gazebo and benches scattered around it. I sat on a bench in front of a tall old tree and enjoyed unobstructed views of the city and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
On one of my first weekends in Sydney, I took a free Sydney walking tour, which included visits to famed landmarks around the city, as well as great lessons about Sydney’s history.