Cruise ships dock at two locations in Sydney, depending on size. Circular Quay is for tall ships, that can’t fit under the Harbour Bridge. The terminal is in the best possible location, right in the city and there are lots of shops, cafes and restaurants, from which you can people watch and enjoy beautiful views of the Opera House. The Rocks – Sydney’s original Old city with lovely preserved houses, as old as 200 years is minutes from the terminal. It’s very well connected to central Sydney, bus number 431 stops just outside the Overseas Passengers Terminal. There is a train station and a ferry station minutes from the terminal, taxis and onsite parking are also available. The International Airport is only 20 minutes away by car, depending on traffic.
White Bay is the other cruise spot for smaller ships, operating since 2013. There is no public transport there, you would need a taxi or an organised transfer, and the Airport is 30 min drive away.
The official currency in Sydney and Australia is the Australian Dollar – AUD. All major credit cards are widely accepted. A few small shops and cafes would have a minimum spend for credit cards, and a very few street vendors would require cash. Exchanging money is easy and safe.
Opening hours and bank holidays. Most shops and shopping centres in Sydney are generally opened to 10 am to 6 pm, opened until late on Thursdays and only some of them are closed on Sundays. Traditionally most shops are closed for Easter, Christmas and New Year’s Day. There are number of National bank holidays as well and some shops will be closed, so do make yourself familiar with those, especially if your time is limited.
Tipping in Sydney is not as common as it is in Europe and the United States. There are jars for tips, but they are hardly used. You can tip if you are happy with the service, but you don’t have to. There are no service charges added to your bill at restaurants either.
The food scene in Sydney reflects the city’s heritage as well as its eclectic and contemporary present. Enjoy the delicious fresh produce, succulent sea food and world-famous wines. Although the Michelin star rating system is not yet recognised in Australia, these restaurants will most definitely be the top candidates – Brae, Ester, Tetsuya. For casual, beachside dining – the best way to dine according to locals, go to The Bucket List, Coogee Pavilion, Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, Hugos Manly. If you are eager to test Australians claims that their pub fare is the best in the world, head to The Unicorn Hotel, The Erko, Courthouse hotel. There are numerous budget eateries, producing delicious food, pared with some of the best wines, beers and cocktails, such as The Corner House, North Bondi RSL Club, Bondi Beach Hardware, The Grounds of Alexandria. Order a Pistachio Ginger Cream Brulee tart at Bourke Street Bakery Surry Hills, a Peanut Pretzel Brownie gelato at Gelato Mesina Darlinghurts and the best chai tea outside of Mumbai at the Porch and Parlour.
It is common knowledge that English is the language of Sydney, so you would have no problems being understood.
The local time in Sydney is GMT+11 and the International dialling code is + 11.
Things To Do
Without a doubt, an iconic image of Sydney is the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Walking through its steel construction that carries all types of road traffic across Sydney, inclining rail and pedestrians, has become a definite must-do, especially to first-time visitors. The walk reveals wonderful views of the Opera house and the picturesque coastline of Sydney. The bridge, lovingly nicknamed “coat hanger” by the locals, is the tallest steel arch bridge at 134 metres from its top the water level and it was built in 1932.
The second major landmark is the Sydney Opera house. Its intriguing design has been created by the Danish architect Jørn Utzon and would be the first building cruise passengers would see when docking in Sydney. It compromises of multi performance venues, which host performances, seen annually by more than 1.2 million people each year. During Vivid Sydney, the festival of Light, Music and Ideas that takes place in May and June each year, the Opera House becomes itself a display of invigorating lights. It’s a home to the show called Lighting the Sails, where international artists project lights directly on to the walls of the Opera House.
Don’t miss a visit to Taronga Zoo – the zoo of Sydney, home to over 4000 animals of 350 species, many of which unique for Australia.
Another great place to feel the spirit and soul of this unique city and immerse into the laid-back and yet active lifestyle is the Royal Botanic garden. It’s located right at Sydney Harbour, in the heart of the city and it’s a great place to hang out and easily spend a whole day, while spotting birds and butterflies. The garden is the oldest scientific institution in Australia, opened in 1816 and occupying 30 hectares of land.
Other places of interest in art and culture include the Australian Museum, Sea Life Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art and the White Rabbit Gallery.
The best shopping areas in Sydney are Pitt street, the Queen Victoria Building, Westfiled mall, Harbourside Shopping centre for high fashion, Paddy’s, Glebe, Carriageworks and the Rock’s Market for local organic produce, small independent fashion boutiques, arts and crafts, Birkinhead Point and DFO Homebush Outlets for bargains.
Sydney is a city in love not only of greenery and outdoor life, but also of water. The locals’ favourite activity on a weekend or public holiday is to go to one of over 100 beaches in and around Sydney to sunbathe, swim and surf. Bondi beach is the closest beach to central Sydney and the most popular one. Another landmark there is the Iceberg saltwater pool, located above the water and often voted one of the most stunning pools in the world.
Other popular beaches in Sydney are Manly beach, Coogee beach, Camp Cove, Bronte beach. Gordon’s Bay is the best spot for snorkelling and Shelly beach – best for sea life.
If you would like to keep in shape, while on a holiday, there are number of coastal walks that will reveal stunning ocean and harbour views, sea life and aboriginal art. They also vary by time needed and difficulty, but the most recommended ones are Spit Bridge to Manly beach, Bondi beach to Coogee beach, the Federation cliff walk.
There is so much more to see in Sydney, but if time allows, there is a lot to discover just outside of Sydney as well. Number 1 sight are the Blue Mountains, best seen from the world’s steepest railway or why not from a helicopter. Their mystic blue colour is due to the mist that rises from the eucalyptus forest beneath, after the oil blends with the sunlight. The Three Sisters rock formation is the most popular picture spot.
Hunter Valley – Australia’s oldest wine region is not far from Sydney. There are numerous ways to experience the vineyards, cellar doors and gourmet restaurants, often serving the produce of their own organic farms. You can take a scenic drive, train, tour, cycle, even ride a horse-drawn carriage or take a balloon flight! There are more than 120 wineries, where you can not only taste wine, but also join a masterclass to sample rare vintages, produce your own personal bottle of wine, pair wine with delicious cheese, chocolate and truffles.
The modern history of Sydney begins when the First Fleet of British ships arrived here in 1788 and the foundation of a penal colony was established. The city is named after Lord Sydney, who was British home secretary at the time. Australian aboriginal people have a much longer connection with the territory of the city, dating back in prehistoric times.
The colony’s first years were harsh. After four governors and a military revolt, known as the Rum Rebellion, governor Lachlan Macquarie was put in charge (1810-1821). His efforts to build a free city, rather than to rule a prisoners’ colony paid off. Some of the finest buildings from this early period were built during his tenure as governor. The transportation of British convicts ended in 1840, gold was discovered in 1851 and by the 1870s, Australia’s population had trebled. By the end of the 19th century Sydney was one of the largest cities in the Western world, with population of half a million people, with more than 180 nationalities calling it home. Today the city’s landmarks – Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House have made it instantly recognisable worldwide.
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