Top Things to see (and some you can skip) in Sydney

by - March 30, 2020

Sydney is truly an unexpected and unique tourist city, where the best thing to do is just roam around, eat well and walk around the harbor. Some things are truly overrated there, while others are extremely underrated. Here's my take on the following:

1. Animals (and places to see them)
The one thing that is well....underrated in Australia is the diversity of flora and fauna. You will feel like a child if you visit the zoos there, with the range of marsupials. Forget about koalas, there's plenty more to see actually.

There are lots of options when it comes to seeing animals. One is the Taronga Zoo which is in the city center and houses more than 4,000 animals from various exotic and native species, including gorillas, tigers, leopards, chimpanzees, giraffes, Australian sea lions, kangaroos and koalas. We ended up going to Featherdale Wildlife Park, which has something like 1,700 native animals. The animals here are all native or Australian, so you don't see the typical stuff. The park also has cassowary and quoll breeding precincts that allow visitors to see these endangered and beautiful animals up close. Some of the park’s other animals include wombats, echidnas, bilbies and owls.

For both these zoos, I would suggest checking Groupon or some other site for deals. These can be extremely pricey otherwise, with tickets going up to $60-70 and then for pictures with koalas, another $25. You'll see that a lot in Australia. They really want to mint their wildlife.

2. Botanical Garden

Another must see is the "Royal" Botanic Garden - which is certainly quite impressive. The garden is a whopping 30-hectares of heritage and beauty and the entrance is free. Opened in 1816, this Garden is the oldest scientific institution in Australia. The entire Garden is divided into four major precincts called the Lower Gardens, the Middle Gardens, the Palace Gardens and the Bennelong precinct. Within the four major precincts are many smaller gardens and features as well as large amounts of lightly wooded lawn areas. There's plenty of history, recreation and nature in this place.

3. Food.
One thing that is certainly quite underrated in Australia is the food. Yeah, we all hear of places like Italy and India having the most flavorful food, but Australia - woah. Food is great, and also great value! There's a huge population of Italians and Greeks in both Sydney and Melbourne so these cuisines are some of the best. However, since I really liked the food a lot there, it did deserve its own post, so you can read about the food here

4. Sydney Opera House
Ok, its way overrated. Yes, I know that it is a masterpiece of 20th-century architecture, but the opera house is not a pretty building. In fact, I'd say the entire harbour is gorgeous but the opera house looks like this weird building with toilet tiles.

5. Beaches

Every site I saw spoke of the Bondi to Coogee coastal trail and for some reason, I thought it would be breathtakingly scenic. I'll be honest. I did not love the Sydney beaches. Now, I haven't been to Cairns, but just because sand is yellow doesn't make a beach great. It's the surroundings etc. that also matter.
I've visited both Manly and Bondi, and despite the comments and reviews, I didn't find them remarkably different, or remarkably memorable. To be fair, it was chilly both days I went, but still, the beachfront activities were limited compared to any South east Asian country or even Korea (Yes, Busan's beaches have paddling, jetskis, and canoes which you can do on the spot). Anyways, I would still suggest a walk from Bondi to Coogee because it's still a beach which is always fun.

The trail begins at Bondi Icebergs pool, goes past some cool Aboriginal rock carvings and you pass by the other beaches as well as Bronte. There's a nude beach lurking around there somewhere too. So if you have young ones, close their eyes.

6. Sydney Harbour 
Now, this is a breathtaking harbour, no jokes. Sydney really has one of the most beautiful waterfronts with the amazing harbour bridge, nicknamed “The Coathanger”. If you want to walk over it, you can book a BridgeClimb, which is a bit steep but great views!

7. Blue Mountains and the Scenic Walkway
Certainly worth it! Blue mountains can be reached by metro, and has a canyon feel. You can see the famous rock formation known as the Three Sisters – along with quaint hotels and charming townships.

There's a nice walkway going around that provides you the view of the canyon, called the Scenic Walkway. The 2.4 kilometre walkway is not tropical but provides some nice views. You need to bring water if you want to venture the entire 2.4 kilometre walkway.

There's more you will encounter in the area - including a cable car, glass bottom skyway, cafe among other things. But one thing  to have a look at are the Katoomba falls, a segmented waterfall that is located close to what is known as "Echo Point". You will see signs for it.

8. Shopping
Avoid at all costs. This is not the place for shoppers because it is not the land of capitalism. Sure, there are some cool trinkets you'll find, but the best bargains are best left to the capitalist capital of the world - the U S of A.

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