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Experience one day in Sydney

Sydney Harbour and the Opera House.

VroomVroomVroom has compiled a quick guide aimed to provide both domestic first-time visitors and those from overseas the best possible one day experience in Sydney. Make sure to follow this itinerary to help you explore the city with a rental car so you won’t miss some of Sydney’s most popular attractions, including Bondi Beach, the Sydney Tower Eye, the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, the Art Gallery of NSW, and Manly Beach.

Sunset over Sydney.

Highlights of one day in Sydney

Amazing day on Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia

Early in the morning: Bondi Beach

Start your day right by heading to Bondi Beach, recognised as one of Australia’s most famous beach destinations. Driving early to Bondi is a good idea because the traffic tends to gets busier as the day wears on. Enjoy a morning coffee at Sensory Lab Cafe, which is popular for their “coffee nirvana” and then choose your next destination.

With a rental car, you aren’t limited to Bondi Beach. If time allows, consider exploring more of eastern Sydney’s beautiful coastline. Close to Bondi you’ll find Tamarama, which is also a popular beach with locals, and from the nearby cliffs you can enjoy terrific views over the ocean. If you continue south along the coast, stop by the picturesque Coogee Beach, or, further south again until you reach one of Sydney’s most photogenic locations — La Perouse.

10 am: Sydney Tower Eye

Just a 25 minute drive from Bondi Beach via New South Head Road will take you to the highest viewpoint in Sydney city. At the summit, you can treat yourself to a 360-degree panorama of the city and enjoy wonderful views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge — on a good day you can see all the way to the Blue Mountains.

The Sydney Tower Eye is located at the corner of Pitt and Market Streets, is open from 9 am to 9 pm, and it is a good idea to book your tickets online in advance to save time. If you’re driving a rental car, the Sydney Tower Eye provides special discounted parking rates at any of the Wilson’s Parking locations. These include the Citipark Car Park, Darling Park Car Park, Darling Quarter, 383 Kent Street Car Park and 321 Kent Street. See their website for more information.

The Sydney skyline.
View from the Botanic Gardens towards the Sydney Opera House.

11 am: The Art Gallery of NSW

Only a 10 minute drive from the Sydney Tower Eye, a visit to the Art Gallery of New South Wales should not be missed if you’re searching for a bit of culture. Cited as one of the best attractions and leading art museums in Australia, it attracts over one million visitors annually and consists of five different levels. Visitors will love the collections of Aboriginal, Asian, European, Australian, and contemporary art.

If you are on foot, the gallery is only a five-minute walk from Macquarie Street and ten minutes from the Botanical Gardens, both are easily reached by walking across the Domain. It is open every day (except for Good Friday and Christmas Day) from 10 am to 5 pm.

Lunch: Circular Quay

Explore the waterfront and have lunch at Circular Quay, which serves as a stepping stone for top attractions around the harbour. Enjoy a delicious meal at the Opera Bar while enjoying the breathtaking views of the famous Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Meals here usually range from $20 to $40, and no reservations are needed.

Find out why climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge is deemed to be one of the city’s all-time great tourism experiences. If you want to sample the BridgeClimb, prices vary from $268 to $408 for an adult and $149 to $209 for a child. Note that a bridge climb can last from two and a half to three and a half hours depending on the package you choose.

Continue your city exploration by heading along to the iconic Sydney Opera House. Certainly one of the most photographed landmarks in Australia, the Sydney Opera House is located on Bennelong Point just to the east of Circular Quay. There are a few tours available should you wish to dig deeper and learn more about the history of one of Australia’s best known buildings, and if you have the time, check their schedule to see if there is a performance you might enjoy.

Circular Quay from the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Waves breaking on Manly Beach.

3 pm: Manly

You have many options when it comes to renting a car in the Sydney area, and Manly, one of the city’s most beautiful beaches, is a great location to explore, especially as it is only a 45-minute drive from Sydney City via the A8. Facing onto the Pacific Ocean, and thanks to its golden sand and clear waters, Manly is considered an iconic site by the surfing community, both in Australia and internationally. You could easily spend an hour enjoying some water sports or, if you’d rather stay dry, why not wander the restaurants, boutiques and shops.

It is easy to park alongside the beach from where you’ll be walking distance of plenty to do. From here, you can also get to the Fairy Bower and Shelley Beach. Within the centre of Manly there are four council-run paid parking stations: two are located on Central Avenue, one on Whistler Street and the other is on Wentworth Street.

7 pm: Sydney CBD

The fun never ends as Sydney comes alive when illuminated at night. Wander around the CBD and follow a path through the Spanish Quarter and Chinatown, as well as Sydney’s main street — George Street. The city boats all you would expect to see in a lively CBD, so take a walk and discover why vibrant Sydney is one of the most multicultural cities in the world. If you have time, wander down to the waterfront to enjoy one of the most beautiful harbours on Earth lit up against the night sky.

Beautiful view of Sydney Harbour Bridge with a sunset sky.
Darling Harbour at sunset.

9 pm: Darling Harbour

Finish your night at popular Darling Harbour, where you can find plenty of bars that are within walking distance of some of the best clubs in the city. If you still have some energy left — or simply prefer shopping — visit the Queen Victoria Building for the best shopping experience. Whichever you choose, it will be an ideal way to cap off a busy one-day visit in Sydney.

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