When people think of Australia and must-visit destinations, Sydney often pops to mind. It’s a melting pot of food, culture and history, a fascinating mix of old and new. In the same day, you can sip a pint in a pub from the 1820’s and dine in a cutting-edge restaurant, pushing the boundaries of modern food. You can explore an iconic city and it’s immediately recognisable landmarks then take a short drive and be standing on the shores of a very beautiful beach. With so many things to do in Sydney, it can be hard to plan the perfect itinerary. If you’re visiting Sydney and only have one day to make the most, here’s our guide on how to spend an incredible 24 hours in Sydney.
If you’re only in Sydney for a short amount of time, it doesn’t make sense to lose precious sightseeing time cooped up indoors. Instead of heading to a pricey cafe and having breakfast indoors, I recommend grabbing a couple of takeaway coffees and a freshly cooked pastry and heading down to Circular Quay. Grab a seat in the soft morning sunshine with a full view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House. It’s a great way to kick your sightseeing off early, make the most of your time and have a unique Sydney-only experience. Try coffee from The Little Marionette and pastries from La Renaissance Patisserie Francais.
View this post on Instagram
On the blog: Sydney on a budget… Your luxe for less guide! 🤑 Need to do your SYD trip on the cheap? These are my tips on where to stay and what to eat, as well as cheap & free things to do around town. Visit www.littlegreybox.net – link in bio! @holidayinnoldsydney #Sydney
Now you’ve seen the Harbour Bridge and Opera House it’s time to head out to Bondi, another iconic, must-see part of Sydney. Once there, snap a shot of the famous Bondi Baths or jump in for a swim at Bondi Beach. If you’re keen to soak in the sun and stretch your legs, the Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk takes you along 3km of cliffs and some of the most beautiful ocean views you could hope to see. Bear in mind, if you are keen to do this walk, it may make more sense to start at Bronte and take the walk to Bondi. If you find yourself visiting on a Sunday, be sure to visit the Bondi Markets.
View this post on Instagram
Feel like diving into this pool? We don't blame you! This is the #Bondi @icebergsclub, which is located at the southern end of the famous #BondiBeach in @sydney. This iconic venue is one of #Sydney's many ocean pools, which means they're filled with seawater from the adjacent ocean. At Icebergs, waves often crash onto the rock wall and spill over into the pool, which can make for an extra-invigorating experience! Photo: @elisaeves #ilovesydney #travel #explore #wanderlust #travelphotos
After a lighter start to the day, you’ll no doubt be hungry. Time to grab lunch at one of Bondi’s best spots. If you’re in the mood for fancy bites and fresh seafood try Icebergs or Blanca Dining. For a cheap bite, try Bonditony’s Burger Joint or The Bucket List.
If lunch in Bondi doesn’t quite feel right and you want to see more of the city, head over to Newtown, home to craft breweries, galleries, vintage boutiques, live music and more. Grab a burger at Mary’s or pizza and pasta at Rosso Antico and, if you’ve got a sweet tooth, be sure to take your taste buds over to Buttercream Bakery.
Now you’re familiar with Bondi life, you might like to get familiar with another famous Sydney neighbourhood or two, depending on your time and energy levels.
Head to The Rocks where you can look at stunning indigenous artworks at Aboriginal Art Galleries, the Ken Done Gallery and explore the Museum of Contemporary Art. Visit the Susannah Place Museum and discover the fascinating history of the heritage-listed terrace houses. Visiting on a weekend? Peruse the famous Rocks Markets, up and running each Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 5pm, or take your tummy on a tour of the Friday Foodie Market, on from 9am to 3pm or grab a pint at The Australian Heritage Hotel, built way back in 1824.
Or, take a trip to Paddington and Surry Hills, famous for great local eateries, fantastic shopping and those unique Sydney-only vibes you’re probably craving. For fashion, head directly to Oxford Street and The Intersection. Visiting on the weekend? You’ll find the famous Paddington Markets up and running each Saturday from 10am to 4pm. Wander the streets of the neighbouring suburbs and you’ll find plenty of hidden spots, emerging designers, fantastic op-shops and so much more. If you love baked goods, be sure to visit the infamous Bourke Street Bakery.
As the day starts to wind down it’s time to wine down! Cosy up to a cocktail at the Opera Bar, where you’ll be treated to more of those unbeatable, iconic views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. If you prefer a cocktail lounge with breathtaking views, look no further than Henry Deane. If you didn’t quite get enough vitamin sea, head back out to the coast and grab a seat at the Coogee Pavilion Rooftop. Soak in the sunshine and those unbeatable views of the water while sipping on a cool drink and taking in a spot of people watching.
Your biggest problem is going to be deciding which one of Sydney’s many incredible restaurants to dine at. Thankfully, there’s something to meet every craving! For dumplings and beer head directly to Dumplings and Beer, their menu is well-priced and absolutely delicious. You’ll find more must-try cheap eats on offer at local favourite Mamak. Kick things up a notch at Billy Kwong or go straight-up iconic at Quay.
Not quite ready to call it a day? I hear ya. End your time in Sydney at Venue 505, a fantastic live jazz joint in Surry Hills. Doors open 6pm Monday to Saturday with performances kicking off around 8:30pm. You’ll find them pumping out best live jazz, roots, reggae, funk, gypsy, latin, instrumental and vocal entertainment in Sydney.
If you start your day early enough, you may be able to hit every hot spot and activity mentioned. Sydney is known for its incredible sights and delightful restaurants, so pick and choose the things best suited for you and enjoy the beautiful weather Sydney will offer!
Complete your Sydney experience by staying at one of these 23 Popular 5-Star Sydney Hotels with Unbridled Luxury compiled by HotelsCombined.
Useful travel resources for your trip to Australia
As always, our guides are completely free. If you found this post (or anything we do) useful, we’d be grateful if you considered using the affiliate links below. We’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Rest assured, these are the services we love and use ourselves. Thanks for your support! XO Phoebe and Matt.
Agoda – for booking hotels
Airbnb – for booking apartments
Booking.com – for booking hotels
Motorhome Republic – for booking RVs
RentalCars.com – for car rentals
SCTI – for travel insurance
Skyscanner – for booking flights
Surfshark – for online security and VPN
TourRadar – for booking tours
Uber – for ground transport