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Sydney, Australia

A local’s guide to the Harbour City

Hi, I’m Steve and I’m Sydney’s local ambassador for Not in the Guidebooks. I’ve lived in and around Sydney for 20 years and call me biased if you like, but I truly believe it to be the best city in the world! Being a part of Not in the Guidebooks gives me the opportunity to showcase my city and my home, in the best way possible. With my local knowledge I can promote fantastic experiences that really aren’t in the traditional travel guides – things I like to do with my family.


Sydney has a fascinating and colourful story to tell. Its indigenous local history spans 40,000 years, whilst the colonial influences date from the late 18th century. Both parts of Australia’s culture provide inquisitive visitors with much to learn and experience; from Aboriginal rock art through to architectural wonders like the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

Sydney is a multicultural melting pot with residents from all over the world, speaking upwards of 250 languages. Visitors will quickly feel the international atmosphere, and participating in one of the many ethnic food tours available is a great way to find out more about Sydney’s immigrant communities whilst sampling fantastic new flavours.

There is always lots going on in the biggest city down under, with free festivals bringing the streets to life year-round, many of which celebrate the country’s diversity. Sydney is also known worldwide for its nightlife scene – there is entertainment to suit all tastes and the city has a world renowned gay culture.

There is obviously a lot to explore in this huge city and the surrounding regions, but here are a few of my highlights.

Harbour Bridge

It’s one of the world’s most iconic landmarks, and makes Sydney instantly recognisable. The Harbour Bridge is a sight to behold, and if you want to get up close and personal with it you can – book the Sydney Bridge Climb experience. Beware this isn’t one for those scared of heights!

Hyde Park Barracks Museum

Sydney is home to many fabulous museums, but my personal favourite is the Barracks Museum which focuses on Australia’s convict history. The building dates back to the early 1800s and is one of the most significant convict sites in the world.

Take a Boat Around the Harbour

The city sits on one of the most fantastic harbours in the world, so a trip on the water is a must for every visitor. Wherever you are heading you’ll see Sydney’s beautiful seascape with a backdrop of dramatic cliffs and beautiful beaches.

Blue Mountains

To the west we have the stunning Blue Mountain region, which I encourage all tourists to go and marvel at. As a World Heritage area, the Blue Mountains attract hikers and climbers from all over the world, and the views are simply spectacular.

Drinks at the Rocks

Sydney’s nightlife expands across the city but one of my favourite areas is known as The Rocks. Here you’ll find Sydney’s oldest colonial pubs, and you’ll have chance to interact with locals on a night out.

Whatever you decide to do while you’re here, I’m sure you’ll find plenty to keep you occupied for the duration of your visit. In fact the most common thing I hear from tourists is that they wish they had allowed more time to see the city. So if you are thinking of coming to visit Sydney, allow us to make the most of your time by putting together an exciting itinerary for you.

I have put together some ‘insider thoughts’ on things to do in Sydney which gives an overview of what Not in the Guidebooks can offer, as well as lots to enjoy on your own. If you need any help feel free to contact me on [email protected] – enjoy your trip!

When is the best time to go?

There is never a bad time to visit Australia! You can’t beat summer in Sydney – which is why December-February is the high season, with great sunny weather. However the city is busy and prices sky rocket during this time, so I recommend planning your trip outside of the high season (either September to November in spring or March to May in autumn).

Autumn is a great time to visit the surrounding wine regions, while spring brings beautiful blooms to the suburban streets. If you’re into cultural activity then you shouldn’t rule out winter either as this is Sydney’s festival season.

Temperatures in Sydney can range from 8˚C in the winter to the mid 30s in summer, so the weather can vary. Pack lots of options!

NotintheGuideBooks Tips

  • Walk along the Bondi-Coogee trail for stunning views (about 3.7 miles)
  • Climb to the top of Harbour Bridge
  • Take a tour of local Aboriginal rock art dating back thousands of years
  • Visit Chinatown for great local cuisine
  • Sunbathe and watch the surfers at Bondi, one of the city’s most eclectic suburbs
  • Visit the famous Opera House and go backstage, or book a show
  • Explore the nearby Blue Mountains which feel like a complete different part of the world to the hustle and bustle of Sydney

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