Sydney Opera House

The Perfect 4-Day Sydney Itinerary

Are you planning to visit Sydney? Are you wondering how much you can see in 4 days in Sydney? Ideally, 7 days are perfect to see Sydney without rushing it, but, with our 4-day Sydney itinerary, you will be able to see the major highlights of our stunning harbour city. We are so passionate about our home town and we know you will be as well.

Sydney skyline
Sydney Skyline

In our 4 days 3 nights Sydney itinerary, we will cover the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, a visit to Manly on the Manly Ferry, wandering the historical Rocks area, Darling Harbour, Bondi Beach and Taronga Park Zoo. These are the most popular hot spots that all visitors dream of when travelling to Sydney.

You can use our Sydney Australia itinerary for as little as a day or up to a week depending on how much time you have.

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How To Get From Sydney Airport to Sydney CBD

Sydney Airport is just 8 km from the Sydney CBD. Flights are available to Sydney from all over the country and many regional centres. Sydney is the top destination for international travellers and flights are available to Sydney from all corners of the world.

Public transport is a cheap and efficient way to travel around Sydney, so you won’t need to hire a car.

From either the Sydney Domestic or International Terminal you can catch the Airport Link and be in the city within 13 minutes. You can purchase an Opal Card at the Airport. You can use the Opal Card on trains, buses, light rail and ferries. You will have to put $20 on the card when you first purchase it and $10 for children. On the Airport Link, you can also use Visa, Mastercard or American Express card to tap on and tap off.

Current prices as of July 2022 for the Airport Link are:

Adults Off Peak $18.39

Children Off peak $15.41 (children are from 4 – 16 years of age, children under 4 travel free)

Adults Peak $19.53

Children Peak $15.98

Taxis and Uber are available from the Airport.

Car rental is available from both terminals but if you are staying within the city limits it is not necessary. Parking is expensive in the city.

Travelling Within the Sydney CBD

Sydney is easy to discover by foot. The new Light Rail has made travel even easier for visitors.

If you want to get a feel for Sydney before you start exploring on foot or by public transport consider using the Hop on Hop off Bus especially if you want to visit Bondi Beach.

Inclusions, when you purchase the Hop on Hop off bus:

  • 2 hop-on and hop-off routes around Sydney
  • 1-day validity or 2-day validity (depending on the option chosen)
  • Sydney Harbour cruise (included in the Deluxe ticket)
  • Digital commentary in a choice of 8 languages
  • WiFi on board

Day 1 of Your Sydney Itinerary

If you are staying in the Rocks area and you are on a budget we can recommend the best budget accommodation with the best view in Sydney staying at the YHA Sydney Harbour. Not only do they have dorm rooms but you can stay in a double room with ensuite, just as we did. You must check out their archaeological site at the entrance and their rooftop for panoramic views.

If you want to be close to Darling Harbour we can recommend the Vibe Hotel Darling Harbour with its rooftop bar and swimming pool with great views over the city. As you can see we love roof top bars and views, especially in Sydney with its harbour and iconic bridge.

Either accommodation or location mentioned will have you staying in the heart of the city and perfect for Sydney sightseeing.

Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House

Every visitor wants to head down to the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge on their first day. If you have time you can book a Sydney Opera House Guided Tour which includes the Entrance Ticket.

The tour lasts an hour and includes:

  • Step beneath the sails and discover what makes the Sydney Opera House so inspiring
  • Explore the building with passionate and knowledgeable guides
  • Step inside iconic theatres and foyers
  • Capture photographs from rare vantage points, off limits to the general public
  • Uncover insider secrets and stories

Good to know: The Opera Bar is open from 11 am and is the perfect venue for a meal or a cocktail or two with its backdrop of Sydney Harbour. It is our favourite venue to bring family and friends when they visit Sydney.

Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens

Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens
Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens

The Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens were created in 1816. They are a beautiful part of the city and many visitors and locals come to relax and enjoy their beauty. They are a popular spot to enjoy the fireworks at New Years Eve. There are 30 hectares to enjoy and can take you up to 2.5 hours to explore. There are places to eat and enjoy the ambience of the gardens.

The gardens are open from 7 am daily but during the year they close at various times. You can check on their website here.

There are local tours available:

Aboriginal Heritage Tour

Free guided walk

Bespoke heritage tours

All can be booked online.

The Rocks

The Rocks area of Sydney
Visit the historical Rocks

The Rocks area of Sydney is where the first settlers arrived back in 1788. We enjoy coming to the Rocks area in the afternoon and wandering through the lanes before heading to a local pub for dinner and drinks. You can also visit the Rocks Discovery Museum or the Museum of Contemporary Art. Entrance is free to both museums.

Rocks Walking Tour

To learn more about the Rocks area a walking tour is the way to go. There are two available that we recommend:

The Rocks 90-Minute Walking Tour:

  • Take a walk off the beaten track through hidden alleyways, along cobbled lanes and into shady courtyards
  • Enjoy spectacular views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge across sparkling Sydney Cove
  • Hear stories of triumph over tragedy and be introduced to characters from the early convict settlement era

Check availability here

2.5 Hour Sydney Rocks Area – History and Convicts Walking Tour

Embark on a journey through time and space to discover the secrets of Sydney’s convict colony in the Rocks. Wind through cobblestone alleyways once home to Sydney’s most notorious rum dealers and street gangs. Discover the inner workings of heritage buildings and the unknown stories behind important sculptures, maps, models and relics. Check Explore unique sandstone structures, hidden ruins and the story of the infamous convict architect

Check availability here

If you are visiting on a weekend The Rocks Market is held every weekend from 10 am to 5 pm at George Street and Playfair Street. In December before Xmas Day they are also open on Friday evenings from 4 pm to 8 pm.

Some of our favourite places to eat and drink at the Rocks are:

The Glenmore Hotel – 96 Cumberland Street The Rocks. Travel tip: book the corner table in the Roof Top Bar for the best views of Sydney

The Australian Heritage Hotel – one of Sydney’s oldest pub located at 100 Cumberland Street The Rocks

The Endeavour Tap Rooms – brewery bar and restaurant located at 39/43 Argyle Street The Rocks

The Doss House – the heritage underground bar specialising in whiskey

Caminetto Italian Restaurant – great Italian food for breakfast lunch and dinner

Sydney Harbour Bridge

You can walk across the bridge to North Sydney. The access point is from the Bridge Stairs and it takes 20 minutes each way. The Bridge Stairs are located between the Glenmore Hotel and The Rocks YHA Sydney Harbour. This is a free activity.

The path takes you on the eastern side of the bridge so you will have great photo opportunities of the Sydney Opera House and Circular Quay.

Day 2 of Your Itinerary for Sydney

Taronga Zoo
Taronga Zoo

After a good breakfast at your hotel it is time to head to Circular Quay to take the ferry to Taronga Zoo. With the ferry ticket you can depart from Circular Quay and then in the afternoon return to Darling Harbour. The ticket includes entrance to Taronga Zoo and the Sky Safari Cable Car.

The Zoo is open daily from 9.30 am to 5.00 pm. I would suggest allowing 3 hours to visit the Zoo but you may spend longer as there are several shows at different timings throughout the day.

Good to know: A great photo opportunity at Taronga Zoo is the Giraffe Enclosure with its magnificent views across Sydney Harbour.

Travel tip: Take the Sky Safari Cable Car to the top on arrival at the Ferry Wharf. Then wander downhill visiting all the exhibitions and shows. It is an uphill walk from the ferry terminal if you don’t take the Sky Safari.

Day 2 – Afternoon

After visiting Taronga Zoo catch the ferry to Darling Harbour.

Apart from the many restaurants and bars available around Darling Harbour there are some major attractions as well.

Sea Life Aquarium
Sea Life Aquarium

Sea Life Sydney Aquarium – Book ahead here and reserve your entrance tickets

  • Visit one of the world’s most spectacular aquariums with over 12,000 animals from 650 different species
  • Key creature attractions at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium include Sharks, Dugongs, Platypus, Sting-rays, Penguins and Seahorses
  • Take advantage of the aquarium’s prime location in heart of Sydney at Darling Harbour
  • Walk underwater at Sydney’s world-class Aquarium

Good to know:

You can save money by purchasing a Sydney 4 Attractions Pass:

Single entry to 4 Sydney Attractions, WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, Sydney Tower Eye and Madame Tussauds Sydney.

SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

  • SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium is located on the city side of Darling Harbour, right in the heart of Sydney

WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo

  • WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo is located on the city side of Darling Harbour, right in the heart of Sydney

Sydney Tower EYE

  • Sydney Tower EYE is located in the Westfield Shopping Centre, at the corner of Pitt St & Market St, right in the heart of the Sydney CBD

Madame Tussauds Sydney

  • Madame Tussauds is located on the city side of Darling Harbour, right in the heart of Sydney

Some of our favourite places to eat in and around Darling Harbour are:

Nicks Seafood Restaurant – for the best seafood in Sydney. They are located at The Promenade Cockle Bay Wharf. To get the best tables we recommend booking in advance.

Cyren Bar Grill Seafood – Harbourside Darling Harbour. Great for happy hour, views and casual dining.

Planar Restaurant – Ground Floor of the International Convention Centre – casual dining

Fireworks Darling Harbour

If you are visiting on a Saturday night there are fireworks from 9 pm.

Day 3 – Sydney itinerary visiting Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach
Bondi beach

It is now time to hit Sydney’s famous beach – Bondi Beach.

How to get to Bondi Beach:

By bus: You can catch Bus 3333 from Circular Quay to Bondi Beach which takes 45 minutes and departs from Stand B

By Metro: There is no direct train to Bondi Beach. You will need to catch a train from Central, Town Hall, Martin Place, Kings Cross, Edgecliff and Bondi Junction. The train ride takes 11 minutes from Town Hall to Bondi Junction. Then change into a 380, 381, 382 or 333 bus for a 15 minute ride to the beach.

Uber/Taxi: You can arrange for a Uber or taxi if there are 3 – 4 travelling together.

Things to do in Bondi

Bondi is famous for its surfing beach. You can take surfing lessons from the best at Bondi Beach whether you are a beginner or intermediate. You will be taught surfing basics in a group of 5 students or less–a great way to increase your surf knowledge, technique, and confidence.

If surfing is not your thing why not take a Bondi Beach Guided Walking Tour.

  • Enjoy a guided tour with Local Lifesaver & Surf Instructor
  • Get an exclusive inside tour of Australia’s oldest Surf Lifesaving Club while learning the history of Surf Life Saving and Australian beach culture
  • Get local knowledge of the area

Book your walking tour here

Take a Walk from Bondi Beach to Bronte or Coogee

Popular with everyone and all ages is this scenic beach and cliffside walk. You can choose to walk to Bronte which is 2.5 km or further on to Coogee 6 km. You should be able to complete the 6 km in 2 to 3 hours depending on how many times to stop for those perfect Instagram shots or if you decide to enjoy brunch along the way. Along the way you can visit Tamarama Beach, Bronte Beach, Clovelly Beach and Coogee. Along the walk you can see aboriginal carvings that date back 200 years – for more information click here.

If you happen to visit in the Spring look out for the Sculptures by the Sea which is located on the walk between Bondi and Tamarama.

As you know we love our rooftop bars, so, if you make it to Coogee head to the roof top bar of the Coogee Pavillion.

Address: 169 Dolphin Street Coogee

Bondi Beach has such an arrange of places to eat and drink you will be spolit for choice.

Day 4 – Visit Manly on the Northern beaches

Manly Beach
Manly Beach

One of the top scenic journeys on Sydney Harbour is the ferry ride from Circular Quay past the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House to the northern beaches town of Manly.

There are two types of ferries available – the Manly Fast Ferry which takes approximately 18 minutes and the Manly Ferry which takes around 30 minutes. The Manly Ferry is an icon and we recommend that you make at least one journey on your visit on this old girl of the harbour.

Manly is famous for its beaches, restaurants and the scenic walk from Manly Beach to Shelly Beach.

As you arrive at Manly Wharf there are some premier eating establishments – Manly Wharf Bar and Hugos.

If you make it to Shelly Beach enjoy brunch or lunch at the Boathouse.

Take a Snorkelling Tour

  • Snorkel in the protected Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve
  • Try to identify more than 200 fish species, invertebrates and algae
  • Learn about the coastal culture of Manly from your local guide
  • Search for endangered species, such as Blue Groper in their natural habitat

For more information and availability click here

Manly Beach Cycle Tour and Sunset Cruise

  • Experience this memorable Sightseeing tour of Sydney Harbour and Manly Beach by bicycle and ferry
  • Relax and take in the scenery as you cruise out to the famous Manly Beach
  • Enjoy learning about the city and its surrounds with our knowledgeable and friendly tour guide
  • Marvel at stunning views from the world-famous Manly beach, and experience coastal cliffs with city skyline views

Northern Beaches Brewery Tour and Tasting

Brewery tour
Brewery Tour
  • Visit 3 great breweries in Sydney’s northern suburbs
  • Have an amazing lunch
  • Enjoy transport in our air-conditioned buses

Check availability here

Manly Weekend Markets

Just 100m from Manly Beach Manly Weekend Markets are open from 9 am to 5 pm Saturday and Sunday. They have a great range of unique arts and crafts.

Visit the Q Station

On Manly’s North Head is the Q station. Once a quarantine station it now has accommodation, a restaurant, a cafe, a museum, its own beach and day and night tours. We recently spent a night staying at the Q Station. You can read our review of our accommodation, our history tour and dinner at the Boilerhouse here.

Conclusion

We hope you have enjoyed our sample itinerary for Sydney. As you can see there is so much to do and see in Sydney in 4 days. Let us know your favourite activities in Sydney when you visit.

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