DISCLAIMER: 36 hours is probably not enough time to “do” Sydney. That said, I can’t help but feel we did a fairly good job of it. We had such a short timeframe as we were only in Sydney on a layover on the way to New Zealand, and we were determined to make the most of it.
You don’t need me to tell you about Sydney, if you are reading this you already know about it. It is beautiful, full of great sights and world-famous landmarks. It is also really bloody expensive. Here’s what we did:
Simple really, fly into Sydney airport. There’s only one.
We were fortunate that our hostel offered a pick-up service from the airport. It was AU$30 for a return. There is also a train to the city centre which costs AU$17 one way.
We mainly walked around Sydney. The CBD is pretty small and you can walk to the Harbour, the Opera House, the Bridge and the Botanical gardens.
The bus network is pretty good too. One thing to note is to buy your tickets in advance at a newsagent – you can’t buy them on the buses themselves.
There are obviously thousands of hotels in Sydney. However if you, like us, are on a budget, hostels are much more limited. The WakeUp Hostel where we stayed – excellent though it was – was nearly AU$50 per night. AirBnb is another option, particularly if there is a larger group of you.
Things to Do
Do I really need to list these? I will just note that it is free to walk across the Harbour Bridge if you want to, and that the Darling Harbour – just round the corner from Sydney Cove – is worth a wander. We also thoroughly enjoyed Bondi, a half hour or so AU$7.50 bus ride away – it’s famous for a reason!
Food & Drink
Can be as expensive or as cheap as you like. If you go for an upmarket meal overlooking the Opera House you can pay, well, anything. However we went to Chinatown to a food court and had some of the best Asian food I have ever had (bearing in mind we had come straight from Thailand!) and it cost about AU$10 each. For comparison, a Subway is about AU$9 and a pub lunch about AU$20, with a beer.
Drinking can be pricey, and NSW has some of the strictest (and strangest) alcohol restrictions I have ever encountered. It’s worth being aware of these before embarking on a night out, especially as they are wont to change frequently. Essentially though, once you are in a venue after 1.30am that is you for the night – if you leave you can’t go back in or get in anywhere else – and not a drop of alcohol is sold after 3am.
A last note on drinking. Beer, confusingly, isn’t sold in pints except to obvious tourists ripe for a mugging. It’s sold in “schooners” (the “ch” is pronounced like the “k” sound in “school.”) They’re about 2/3 of a pint, and they are always sold ice-cold even if the beer would be (in my humble, British opinion) better served at slightly above Absolute Zero.
If you are visiting from the UK you need an e-visa. This is free but you have to apply online before you go. Somewhat ironically, if you have a criminal record they won’t let you into Australia.
Finally, free Wi-Fi is as rare as rocking horse shit. It can be found in McDonalds and… that’s about it. Even in the expensive hostel we only got 30 minutes of internet included!