If you’re short on time and looking for a jam-packed adventure in Sydney, you have come to the right place.
Recently I travelled to Sydney with my partner for work, although I did not do any work. Instead, I discovered the best Asian food, shopping precincts and tourist adventures, so you do not have to.
We were in Sydney for five days, and this was my itinerary.
We arrived in Sydney and checked into the Meriton Suite Hotel. There are many Meritons in Sydney. However, we stayed at the Meriton on Kent Street. It’s a family-friendly apartment-style hotel with spacious rooms, and you have a kitchenette, laundry, and even a balcony to relax on. The hotel features an indoor pool, spa and gym for those looking to burn their holiday calories. We took our one-year-old, who handled her first vacation away from home like a well-seasoned traveller. Because I did not want to travel with all of her bedding, booking a portacot through the hotel made our travels a little lighter and made room for more shopping. This hotel is situated in Haymarket and near all your necessities, such as groceries, restaurants and pharmacies.
Dinner was a very generously sized Korean BBQ at Myung Jang Obaltan. If you love Asian food especially Korean, ticking this experience off your Sydney bucket list is a must-do. I was unsure where we would end up, so we took a few turns and walked down a dark alleyway before arriving at our destination. The restaurant was bustling, and the smell of marinated bbq meat had our mouths watering from the moment we walked in the door. The waiter who served us was accommodating and very hospitable, the food was amazing, and the overall experience was so much fun and an interactive way to enjoy a meal.
After a busy day of travel and full tummies, we returned to our hotel before the following day’s adventures.
Waking up and needing a coffee was first on my list of to-dos. If, like me, you appreciate a good coffee, you will do your research to avoid disappointment. So with a quick Google search, I found the reviews for the best coffee in the Sydney CBD. Gumption Coffee, situated in The Strand Arcade, was listed as the hub for coffee drinkers. It was a ten-minute walk from the hotel and did not disappoint as I got in my morning steps and got caffeinated all in one go. Once my coffee had kicked in, we walked down to Circular Quay, where we booked our tickets to Taronga Zoo. We boarded the ferry at Circular Quay, which took us on a scenic tour of the Sydney Harbour before disembarking at the Zoo entrance. You catch a sky cable to get to the zoo entrance from the ferry terminal. This is a very scenic and exciting journey for children and goes over the zoo so you can view all the animal enclosures from above. Going to the Taronga Zoo was eye-opening for little miss A as she could see these beautiful animals up close and was mesmerized by the bird and seal show. If you go to Taronga Zoo, make sure you pack a lunch as the prices at the cafe are hefty, and the food is very average.
After finishing our animal adventure, we decided to catch a regular ferry back to Darling Harbour, where we could get another perspective of the city. Walking down George Street bought us to magnificent architecture, where boutiques and luxury shopping awaited us. The Queen Victoria Building was highlighted by its stained glass windows, tiled floors and beautifully curated shop front windows. I splurged at Haigh’s, gourmet chocolate, and miss A agreed that the milk chocolate frogs were indeed the best; I bought some gorgeous outfits from Sheike and did some window shopping of all things sparkly and bank account-depleting.
It was an exhausting day of walking, so returning to the hotel and having a Chinese takeaway from the little arcade below our hotel was a must. The food is tasty, reasonably priced and probably full of MSG, but hey, with some wine and a hot bath, it was all I needed to end the day.
I walked with my partner to work and grabbed a coffee from Gumption along the way. Then it was off for some sight-seeing and pampering.
It is spectacular to get photos of Sydney, and seeing it from the Sydney Tower Eye is the best way to do this. You can have lunch, dinner or even high tea here. With the 360-degree views of Sydney and surrounding suburbs and bays, it’s the best way to capture breathtaking photos whilst on your CBD holiday.
You catch an elevator to the viewing floor at your allocated time slot, so it’s never overcrowded, and when finished, you get your included photos with different attractions as your background to have as a keepsake from the experience.
Nearby the entrance to the Sydney Tower Eye was a perfectly located nail spa, so I took up the opportunity to get a pedicure and manicure, which was very relaxing, even with a one-year-old in tow.
After all the morning activity, our stomachs were churning, so it was time for some more Asian cuisine.
The next stop was Laneway Dumplings, where we feasted on the tastiest dumplings and enjoyed a cheeky beverage.
If you thought I was done with shopping, you were wrong. After all those dumplings, more walking was in order, so it was off to Zara in Pitt Street Mall. This season’s wardrobe is full of citrus and vibrant colour combinations, so I joined the hype and bought myself a citrus blazer that can be worn with so much of my wardrobe. My partner thought I looked like a walking traffic cone, but I honestly did not mind the extra attention.
Pitt Street Mall often showcases the latest beauty products and promotions. I jumped on the bandwagon as getting free samples, or anything for that matter, is my jam. Firstly we tried the new Prada Paradoxe perfume, which I love and will most likely add to my shopping cart in future, and secondly, we visited the Clinique pop-up store, where we were gifted hydrating face cream and the most deliciously creamy frozen yoghurt.
The day finished with a very easy dinner of burgers and fries from Grilled.
Today was the check-out day from our hotel and check-in day for our new accommodation. We stayed within Haymarket’s local vicinity and booked a night at Meriton Suites on Campbell Street. It was across the road from the Moulin Rouge Musical and in the heart of Chinatown. Which is perfect for me, but my partner did not think much of the atmosphere. Mostly because Chinatown does have a reputation for thieves, mugging and criminal behaviour. To me, it was no different to The Valley in Brisbane.
The morning started with coffee from Gumption and a filling bagel from Best Bagel Company on 67 King Street. The bagels are very much gourmet and feature a price tag to match. If you want an expensive bagel, I would recommend it, but honestly, nothing beats the bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato bagel you make yourself.
After my expensive bagel experience, I was off to search for the Opera House. You can not come to Sydney and not visit the beautiful landmark. This huge sail-shaped building is just a 15-minute walk from the city to Darling Harbour. Little Miss A and I took plenty of photos and took in the beautiful scenery from the surrounding parklands.
Then it was off to The Rocks for lunch, where we indulged in calamari and chips, and of course, I had a bellini cocktail. Seafood by the water is always a good idea, and the weather was perfect!
Our day finished off relaxing at our hotel before trying to get last-minute tickets to the Moulin Rouge. I would pre-plan for shows and events by buying tickets online before they sell out. Good thing the Moulin Rouge Musical is coming to Brisbane in 2023, so I was not so devastated when our last-minute plans did not go ahead.
How do you fix disappointment? With a delicious pub meal, of course. There was no fine dining here! The local pub at Haymarket offered a sumptuous menu of steaks, pasta, pizza, salads, seafood and all pub classics. I took a risk with an Italian Marinara dish and was delighted when I got one of the best seafood kinds of pasta I’ve ever eaten.
It was time to hit the pillow after another big day of sightseeing as tomorrow we were leaving Sydney and heading to Nelson Bay.
Whilst I left my partner to sleep in and make use of that late checkout, I got my obligatory coffee before going to David Jones at Pitt Street Mall. David Jones is an iconic Australian department Store, and Sydney’s city store takes the cake for its most luxurious feel, display, presentation and customer service.
I popped in to get a few gifts, and the cafeteria, food pantry and children’s department blew me away.
The pastries and petite cakes, savouries and bread products were all showcased in the most inviting manner. The children’s department is a whole floor of toys, clothing, and interactive activities such as face painting, story reading and crafts. It’s a must-do just for the seamless experience of dining and shopping.
Once we exhausted the shops, we headed to the airport to pick up our hire car. As a savvy shopper, I found a free car transfer from Sydney to Newcastle through www.transfercar.com.au. We picked up our hire car from Sixt car rentals and then drove in the opposite direction to Cronulla Beach to visit family. Visiting the Shire, as the locals call it, was a refreshing end to our Sydney experience and a great place to unwind and have some fish n chips before hitting the road and heading North.
In summary, my top five recommendations are:
- Taronga Zoo
- Sydney Tower Eye
- Sydney Opera House
- Shopping CBD
- Cronulla Beach