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The First-Timer’s Guide to Sydney

big waves crashing at bondi beach

Lately, it’s been no secret how Sydney has crept up to be one of my favourite cities in the world. And safe to say, my new favourite destination for solo travel.

The city is usually mistaken as Australia’s capital, but unless you mean surfing…Then that’s Canberra. Lol

Anyway, because there’s so much to see and do whilst in Sydney, it can be difficult to choose which suburb to stay at or explore, which sights to see first, and even where to go for a day trip.

Hence my new love affair to try writing step by step guides for you!

grass right in front of the ocean at bronte rock pool

What to expect:

In case it hasn’t caught your attention (it certainly didn’t catch mine at first), Sydney is home to the best beaches in the world. And with that said, many people in the eastern suburbs really dress for it too. Here you’ll find Bondi, Coogee, and Bronte being one of the coolest traveller hotspots with streets of restaurants and pubs to hang out in.

I went around the month of March-April and thus experienced lots of rain but otherwise, it’s perfectly sunny all year round.

There are also tons of solo travellers in these areas as opposed to the southern suburbs like Rockford, which in my experience, doesn’t have as much to see or do.

Plus, I’ve met so many people during my trip here — from the young boy on the bus, to the generous tita on the train, they’ve all been so friendly in helping me out with directions, recommendations, and conversations!

Don’t be afraid to walk up to someone whilst here, many Sydney-siders are happy to help. Especially if it includes the train system.

Also, be wary as many suburbs are far from each other, making a 30-minute to one hour commute seem like the most normal thing in the world.

Where to stay:

Personally, I’d recommend staying at either Bronte, Coogee, or the Newtown area as you won’t run out things to do or people to see while you’re here.

I wouldn’t really tell you to stay within CBD (Central Business District) since it’s where many offices are and can often be too crowded. Plus, it’s a big thing when majority of these people also come home to their own respective suburb!

During this trip, I rented an AirBnb at Bronte and enjoyed getting the whole local feel. Plus, I didn’t mind the commute as much as I initially thought since its close to Bondi, Coogee, and Paddington — all are burbs which were high on the priority list!

girl holding big glass of caramel delicacy ice cream from movenpick

Where to eat:

Grounds of Alexandria – A homey garden in the middle of Alexandria which serves homemade, specialty food that’s both healthy and sinful at the same time.

My personal recommendation: Waffles

Nelson’s Road Tuckshop – Founded in Bondi Junction, you’ll love how all your favourite food is made with a healthy twist.

My personal recommendation: Avocado Toast

Out of the Blue Takeaway – A staple for many partygoers and surfers, this easy to order place is located in Coogee. They’ll have all the yummy eats such as burgers, shakes, and more!

My personal recommendation: Fish and Chips

far photo of the opera house with big ferry at the middle taken from wide angle

What to see:

As we all know, everyone’s going to divulge in the basics like: The Opera House, The Harbour Bridge, and probably Bondi Beach.

But what about other places that are just as representative of Sydney as any other?

The Rocks and Circular Quay – With tons of authentic coffee shops and restaurants aligning on both ends of the ferry, you don’t only have to stroll around but also feast on the beautiful history that surrounds it.

Manly Beach – Everyone knows it’s cousin, Bondi, but a short trip to this secluded beach can prove why it’s also one of the coolest places to hang out at.

The University of Sydney – One of my favourite memories on this trip was accidentally meeting a physics professor at the University and pretending to be a student to enter (haha, okay). I ended up spending an afternoon reading, writing, and basking in the academe here.

Note: I also really wanted to see the University because I got accepted to a grad program here many moons ago. But alas, Sydney is an expensive place to live in.

Read: Sydney ranked world’s second most expensive place to live in

What to do:

Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art – Located at The Rocks, it’s one of the coolest museums you’ll find in Australia. Even better if you love design.

Stroll around Paddington’s Saturday Market – And eat a crossbun! Paddington has one of the biggest markets in the entire state and is considered to have the best quality in items as well. I can’t disagree at all.

Have coffee down at Surry Hills – Can’t stress this enough. Hands down, the best coffee shops are located in this burb alongside the most eccentric yet totally cool people you will meet here.

Read: The Sydney Bucket List

waves crashing through icebergs cafe at bondi beach

Over to you:

Are you planning on visiting Sydney any time soon?

And was this guide helpful for you?

The First-Timer's Guide On Exploring Sydney | Via Isabelle


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  • Sydney looks like such a vibrant and great city. I’m pretty sure when I visit I will have a blast. I’ve always been around the beaches and water so it seems like the perfect city for me, besides the once in a while shark passing by. Also, I loved how you mentioned the great places for food as well, I definitely have to remember these ones.

    • Kiara Mijares

      Thanks! Be sure to wait for next week as I give you a more thorough guide on food places I’ve found in Sydney! Also, so glad you’ve thought of visiting this city — it really is as beautiful as it sounds!

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