How To Spend 3 Days in Sydney, Australia

Sydney Opera House

Hey Guys! So we have just returned from an EPIC 6 week vacation touring through the Pacific. Our first stop was in Oahu, Hawaii. We decided to stop for a week to enjoy some warm weather (CA was in the middle of hurricane level winds + rain). Then we were off to Sydney! FYI, the flight from CA to Sydney was like $2,000 roundtrip! BUT our flight from Hawaii to Australia was $750 total for 3 people (one way). 

For reference we spent the entire month of February 2024 in Australia. Although this post is dedicated to Sydney, I’ll have posts on the other areas that we checked out too! Check them out if you’re traveling around Australia too and let me know if you found anything helpful.

How to Spend an Epic 3 Days in Sydney

If you’ve been to any of the major cities like Tokyo, London, Barcelona, New York, etc. then Sydney is going to feel similar. Of course there are unique areas with touches of local history here and there but Sydney is the big city in Australia and has a true metropolitan vibe. So if you’re looking to get out of the city center then I would recommend a few options further below. 

How to Get Around

Sydney has great public transit options including underground subways, light rail, buses, Uber, taxis, etc. Also depending on where you’re staying, the city is extremely walkable even in the heat. If you’re short on time like we were then I recommend spending a day on the Big Bus Sydney – Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour. We got on the first bus in the morning and got on the last bus to get back to our hotel and felt like we probably could have used more time so we definitely go our money’s worth!

Thanks to the tour we were able to see areas and landmarks that we probably would not have like Paddington neighborhood and Argyle St. We also go to Central Station, The State Library, and Australian Museum because the bus stop were so conveniently located. 

If you go during the summer months both the red line and blue line will be up and running. The red line circles majority of the downtown area and the blue line goes out the city center and towards Bondi Beach. 

Day 1 – Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour + Sydney Opera House

I mean the Sydney Opera House is a must see! You can’t go to Australia and not go to the Opera House and stare at its beauty. Its located right on the harbour and the views are gorgeous! There’s a big cafe located at the Opera House with bench seats located at the harbour. You can order drinks and lunch while you wait for your Sydney House Opera Tour. I definitely recommend it since its only an hour and won’t take up much of your day.

The Hop on Hop Off Bus drops you off right at the Opera House so you can easily do both. Matter of fact there is a ticket combo for the bus tour and opera house tour 😉 

The Botanical Gardens are also right next to Sydney Opera House and was a great place for us to take our toddler to run around and get some wiggles out. The bus will also pick you up on the other end of the botanical gardens so feel free to walk thru and catch your bus there. 

Day 2 – Bondi Beach

Make sure to dip your toes in the Pacific at least once while in Australia. Bondi Beach is located about 20 mins from the city center and has the vibes of a cute surf town. Thinking Sayulita in Mexico or Capitola in CA. There are shops, hotels, and restaurants along the boardwalk as well as a large grassy area for those that want to enjoy the vibes without getting sandy. The beach is actually fairly big and even though it was extremely crowded there was still plenty of space for us relax and play. 

***Getting to Bondi Beach can be a bit tricky. Parking is extremely limited and can be difficult to find so I would opt to take the bus (no trains go there) or an Uber. Uber can be a more pricey option so maybe take a bus one way and an Uber the other way? We saw people in cars for over an hour trying to drive down the road and find parking. Don’t let traffic ruin your vacation but also remember you didn’t fly half way across the world to sit in traffic. 

Day 3 – Free Day

If you are doing the hop on hop off bus tour ride then make some notes on some of the other neighborhoods that you might want to check out. As mentioned it goes through Paddington and other known neighborhoods throughout Sydney. I would spend a day exploring those areas or I’ll give you some other suggestions below. 

Other Notable Sights Around Sydney 

Darling Harbour – Have a toddler? Bring them here

One of my favorite areas that we happen to stumble upon was Darling Harbour. Our hotel was located in the Central Business District (CBD) which was great for eating and shopping but was very much in the city center and not best for me with my two year old. We walked to Darling Harbour a lot (15 mins from our hotel) and would have breakfast, lunch, or dinner there (depending what time of day we went). Its located on a another beautiful harbor and they have performances and fireworks on the weekends. There’s also an amazing children’s playground there which made it perfect for our family.

Australia Museum 

My husband and I love to learn about the local history wherever we go, so we typically will try to find a local museum on our travels. If that sounds fun to you then I would add the Australian Museum to your free day. You could easily spend the whole day here but I think a good 2-3 hours will cover majority of the “Australia” sections. The museum is free to the public unless you’re going into their special exhibition. At the time of this post they had a special edition of Ramses. 

They also have a great children’s play area that has a TON of great history on Australia including the people, the animals, etc. My son easily could have spent half the day there but it was a good spot for him to get his wiggles out and for us to take a seat.

Hop on Hop Off Cruise Tour or Sunset Cruise

I recommend either if you have some extra time and want to explore the city slowly. The sunset cruise is an nice option if you want to explore the city at night and don’t mind dinner on the cruise ship (if you get motion sick this might not be the best option for you). 

<3 Happy Traveling

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