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Arriving at 6:10am, depending on custom’s queues you can expect to be out of the airport by 08:30am-09:00am.
Getting from the airport to the city, train is easiest, however you will need to obtain an Opal card and be aware there is a “station access fee” of AUD15 per person on top of the train fare. The opal readers now accept credit cards however I’m not certain if Russian credit cards will work as when I was in Russia my Australian card could only be used in certain ATM’s.
If you’re serious about saving money, there is a local bus #420 which goes from the airport to Green Square station. This avoids the “Airport Station Access Fee” however you will need to have an opal card for this as many buses are pre-paid tickets only. You can then catch the train from Green Square to Milson’s Point.
Otherwise a taxi to Kirribilli would be approximately AUD70-80 depending upon traffic (tell the driver to go via Redfern) as it’s usually quicker than the eastern distributer road and there is no tolls.
As for luggage storage, if you can arrange to leave your bags with your Airbnb that would be ideal. There is luggage storage at Central Station for a fee but it would mean having to go back to Central station to collect them at the end of the day.
After a long flight, and being December it will be hot; a refreshing way to start your trip (close to your accommodation) will be a visit to North Sydney Pool (entry $8.50pp or $13.50pp for a Sauna/Spa/Swim). It has stunning views of the Harbour Bridge, it’s saltwater, you can shower and change and afterwards, Ripples Restaurant would be a nice place for lunch overlooking the Harbour.
After this, depending on how you feel, there’s a couple of options.
Head to Luna Park which is next door to North Sydney Pool.
Tickets range from $53 per person (unlimited rides all day) to $37 per person (Unlimited rides AFTER 6pm only). NOTE: Purchasing an unlimited rides pass at Luna Park also gives you FREE entry to North Sydney Pool (same day only).
Also be aware you can often find discounted Luna Park Tickets here (voucher will need to be shown on a phone).
After lunch, if you’re up to it, you could take a ferry from Milson’s Point to Circular Quay and wander round to the Opera House.
From the Opera house, there’s an easy walk around the harbour to Mrs Macquarie’s chair which gives a perfect view of the Opera House in-front of the Harbour Bridge; perfect for a photo. This is ideal at sunset. However if you’re too tired you can easily do this on another day.
From here, (if you do the walk) you’ll need to wander back towards Circular Quay or Head through the Botanic Gardens to St James Station in order to get home to Kiribilli.
Walking to St James Station takes you past the Art Gallery of NSW (free entry) and makes a nice stop to escape the heat. There’s lots of Aboriginal artwork and Australian artists if you’re interested in local culture. There’s also a nice cafe with views over the harbour.
If you are in the city near Martin Place, Romeo’s Supermarket has lots of ready to eat options, perfect for a cheap lunch. They even have a table and chairs inside the supermarket and cheap but good coffee.
The Rocks Markets are a wonderful place to meander through the historical part of Sydney. There’s unique souvenirs, food stalls and buskers (even if it’s just window shopping). Surrounding the markets there’s interesting shops and galleries.
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) offers free entry and is located in the Rocks, between Circular Quay and the Rocks markets.
There’s lots of hidden historical laneways and whilst you can take a self-guided walking tour it’s the stories of what happened in that part of Sydney that make it come alive. I did a ghost tour which was fascinating.
After this head back to Circular Quay to take a ferry to Darling Harbour.
I always take international visitors to Sydney Wildlife World over Taronga Zoo because it features only Australian animals (including koalas, wallaby’s, crocodiles, platypus, and wombats as well as snakes, spiders and birds), it’s easy to navigate in 1.5-2 hours and it’s more hands-on. Keeper’s are often walking around with snakes and other cuddly creatures. They can get a photo up-close with koalas however in NSW they’re not allowed to hold them as it’s illegal (they can hold them in Queensland and I’ve included options for this)
Plus you can also get a multi-attraction pass which includes Sydney Wildlife World, the aquarium (includes a Barrier Reef exhibit, Manatees, sharks and penguins), Sydney Tower (360 degree views over Sydney) and Madame Tussauds (wax models of celebrities).
You don’t have to choose all attractions, you can just have two and it doesn’t have to be used the same day either.
Alternatively there’s the Sydney Explorer Pass which offers entry to multiple attractions and can work out cheaper, if they plan on doing them.
Taronga Zoo takes almost a day to navigate and last time I was there, it was mostly Australian animals, no big cats, no orangoutangs or bears. However I realise it’s also close to your accommodation but the quickest route is to catch a ferry to Circular Quay then back out again to Taronga Zoo.
Darling Harbour has plenty of eating options on both sides (restaurants and bars on the eastern side or fast-food in the Harbourside shopping centre on the western side).
From Darling Harbour it’s an easy walk to Chinatown (head towards Paddy’s Market). Along the way you’ll pass the Chinese Gardens ($6pp entry) which is a quiet and beautiful garden set around ponds and waterfalls.
Paddy’s Market (open till 6pm) is great for cheap Aussie souvenirs. Above it is a shopping centre with outlet shops. Dixon St food court in Chinatown offers a huge choice of budget and tasty asian cuisine (Lots of small shops, with a central eating area). Otherwise there’s lots of Asian eateries down the main street of Chinatown.
To get back to Kirribilli you’ll need to head to Town Hall Station.
Take the train, to Bondi Junction, then a bus to Bondi Beach. At the Northern end of the beach (in the public school) is Bondi Markets. These are famous for new and vintage clothes, books, unique jewellery and local souvenirs.
Opposite the markets is the famous Bondi Beach. Make sure they know to swim between the flags and lather up in sunscreen as the Australian sun is much hotter than European sun.
If the beach is too rough, at the northern end, there is a rock pool (free) or at the southern end is Bondi Icebergs Ocean Pool ($8pp).
Along the street (opposite the beach) there’s loads of shops, bars, eateries plus a Woolworths Metro supermarket if you want to have a picnic at the beach.
I’ve been snorkelling at the Northern end of Bondi. There’s no coral but there is some fish. You are best off buying your own snorkelling gear from Decathlon so that whenever you want to go, you have it rather than trying to find a hire shop each time. If you spend over $80 you get free delivery.
If you are up to it, I love the Bondi to Clovelly cliff-top walk. It’s a well marked path, not too difficult, there’s water drinking fountains along the way. Most importantly it has spectacular views over the ocean and it’s full of locals (opportunity to chat along the way).
There’s toilets at each beach and cafe’s, then at Clovelly beach it’s great for snorkelling and safe. If the conditions are good, the next bay around, Gordon’s Bay is well known for snorkelling too (I learnt to dive here).
There’s a bus from Clovelly that will take them back to the city to then catch a train back to Milson’s point/Kirribilli.
If you get tired along the way, there’s also a bus from Bronte back to the City.
End of sample itinerary
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