The Best of Sydney in 24 Hours

Having lived, laughed, and loved in Melbourne I had been craving to see more of what Australia had to offer. Having heard of the great debate of which city is better, Melbourne or Sydney, I knew that I had to see for myself. My time in Sydney was part of a longer, one month plan, to seeing the beaches of the East Coast as part of a great Greyhound expedition (which I can’t wait to share with you!), therefore I had limited time to see what Sydney had to offer.

Sydney Bridge and Opera House

It might seem overwhelming to see the best of the best in such a short time, but for me I still managed to spend very little and see a lot, and had a fantastic day doing it!



I would recommend the hostel that I stayed in if you’re on a budget, and it has a fantastic location for the itinerary here. Central Backpackers was so cheap in comparison to other hostels in Sydney that we were able to get a private room, with a sink, and a shower only shared with three other rooms. It’s in a questionable area (I saw a woman chase a man with a kitchen knife), but its cheap and near an underground station, and isn’t that all you need?

sydney skyline

Get up and ready to tackle the big city, then take the underground to Town Hall, a station only two stops from Kings Cross if you do stay at my hostel of recommendation. Remember, to travel in Sydney you need to pick yourself up an Opal Card, and put around $20 on it to cover you from getting off your Greyhound coach, to getting back on it.

From Town Hall you’re ready to start, and head over to the Queen Victoria Building for some retail therapy and breakfast in some of the darling cafes that they have there. Even if shopping isn’t your thing, it’s worth going to for it’s nineteenth century architecture!

When you’re done, head in the general direction of the river, which takes you through most of the main streets of the CBD, and pop in and out of the shops at your leisure.


sydney harbour

About half an hour later you’ll come to the Sydney Harbour Bridge with it’s beautiful views. Unfortunately you won’t have time to fit in a bridge climb, but you can save yourself a lot of money by doing the Bridge Pylon Lookout.

The Pylon Lookout should be the first Plyon you come to, the first one on the right as you come across the bridge, and I hope you brought some comfy shoes because you have 200 steps in between you and an amazing view!

sydney plyon lookout sydney plyon lookout

From here you get a full 360 degree view of the harbour, and it’s a fantastic alternative to the bridge climb coming in at less than $10 a person. Along the way is some posters that give you an interesting look into the history of the bridge, and put it’s significance into perspective.



After the Pylon head down to The Rocks, which can be found easily by doubling back on the way that you came and locating some stairs down the harbour. The Rocks is an old suburb that has plenty of historical charm, and the streets have a feeling unique to anywhere that I had visited in Australia.

the rocks sydney

the rocks sydney

the rocks sydney

Grab some food here because you’re going to go on a boat ride! You’ve already used your Opal card once so you might aswell pay a little bit more on it and take the public ferry over to Manly Beach.

Bondi may be Australia’s most famous beach, but Manly ranks well up there. There’s a bit of rivalry between which one is best, but for such a short time Manly is going to have to do, and it’s well worth a visit.

The ferry ride alone is an attraction to itself.

ferry to manly ferry to manly ferry to manly

What better way to see Sydney than a harbour ride? When you finally reach your destination about half an hour later it’s time to head to the beach!

Along the way is some of the best names in swimwear and surfboards, so I hope that you brought your credit card.

manly beach manly beach

I found that Manly beach was actually a great place for people watching and window shopping; it had the atmosphere that I expected that an Aussie beach would have and for that reason it was one of my favorites to visit on the entire East Coast.

It’ll be hard to drag yourself away, but after an hour or two its time to head back to the ferry for a return trip to the harbour.



Now this is why I recommended Central Backpackers. Exit the ferry and walk forward until you see a lift that takes you to the road above. Take it to the main road and go left for about two minutes and you come to the Royal Botanical Gardens.

I had taken to Twitter to ask what I shouldn’t miss when I was in Sydney and overwhelmingly I was recommended the RBG and I can see why. Abundant with colourful birds and native plants, it makes for a peaceful walk after a day in the city.

sydney gardens


Head towards an exit on the opposite side and walk across the hill until you see more water and a large marina that looks like this.

sydney marina

You can have a little rest here and admire the boats of the rich. I liked to play a game of ‘guess the worth of the boar’, but gave up when I saw one with a chandelier in it.

Follow the building around and you can reward yourself for all of your working with a world famous hot dog. When I had a quick flick through of my guidebook I had saw that a hot dog van had been recommended on there, but without reading it I wasn’t sure why it would be in there.

Once I’d found it I realized why. Harry’s Cafe de Wheels has become a bit of a celeb hot-spot in it’s 75 years, and the whole van is plastered with photo frames of the famous. The one that caught my eye was a photo of Jason Biggs, and I had gone over to see why they had a photo of him, and that’s when I saw Richard Branson, Pamela Anderson, Chris Hemsworth…

Well, if it’s good enough for them, then it’s good enough for me.

Once you’re feeling brave, continue for a few minutes until you see some tall and scary looking stairs, climb them, turn right and walk for about 2 minutes and the hostel is on your left.

Collapse into bed, welcome to Sydney!


Recap: Town Hall station to the Queen Victoria Building, a walk through the CBD to the Bridge Plyon, down the stairs to discover The Rocks, jump on a ferry to Manly Beach, walk back to the hostel via the Royal Botanical Gardens and somewhere that I can confirm Chris Hemsworth has touched with his bare hands.

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The Best of Sydney in 24 Hours