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Sydney by Foot

A Step-by-Step Guide to the Harbour City
  • Sydney

    Sydney

  • Blue Sydney

    Blue Sydney

  • Sydney Opera House

    Sydney Opera House

  • Royal Botanic Gardens

    Royal Botanic Gardens, Photo: Royal Botanic Gardens & Domain Trust, Jaime Plaza

  • ARTBAR event at the Museum of Contemporary Art

    ARTBAR event at the Museum of Contemporary Art

  • Diamant Hotel Sydney

    Diamant Hotel Sydney

  • String Theory exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art

    “String Theory” exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art

  • Harbour Bridge

    Harbour Bridge

  • Sydney Hilton

    Sydney Hilton

CHEAT SHEET
WHERE

Along the southeast coast of Australia, Sydney is the country’s largest city, with over 4.5 million residents. Greater Sydney encompasses more than 400 suburbs, all connected by an extensive transportation system.

WHY GO

With more than half its residents born outside Australia, Sydney is a remarkably cosmopolitan place. And the city’s incredible diversity has been a force behind everything from its ascendent culinary scene to its art and fashion.

HOW

Although direct flights to Sydney Airport are available throughout Europe, North America, Africa, and Asia, be prepared for the long haul; flights can range anywhere from 10-21 hours.

TABLET TIP

One of the best ways to see the city is by getting on the water. Circular Quay serves as the major harborside hub, connecting travelers to iconic attractions, stunning harbor views and picturesque beaches.

Sydney, October, 2013

Like Rio or San Francisco, Sydney is a city defined as much by its underlying topography as by anything that’s been built atop it. Its coastlines are an amoeba-like mess of squiggles, as if the outlines had been drawn by a child with no particular shape in mind — resulting in endless peninsulas and little coves, bays within bays and a smattering of islands, all with a city of four and a half million sprouting from every spot where it managed to put down a root.

And so it’s no surprise to find a hotel like Blue Sydney, sitting atop a wharf that juts straight out into a fingerlike cove, with a fat dollop of green — the Royal Botanic Gardens — closing in from across the water. Though there are plenty of iconic Sydney views to take in from the hotel itself, Blue makes a fitting base from which to see the city by foot, set as it is between the typical tourist sights and some less-trodden neighborhoods.

Starting with the former, a climb up the Harbour Bridge makes a nice introduction to the city, allowing you to take it all in with a few turns of your head. At four hundred and fifty feet high, the bridge demands a certain level of fitness. A thousand steps up bring you to some jaw-dropping views. It’s not cheap — a climb costs several hundred dollars — but this is one of the most memorable experiences you’ll find, and a perfect way to set the scene for the days ahead.

Closer to the hotel, the Botanic Gardens are a must-walk, whatever the weather. They’re open twenty-four hours a day, with signs that encourage visitors to walk on the grass, not keep off — a pretty good symbol, actually, of the city’s attitude toward its green (and blue, and sandy) spaces. There’s a dizzying array of rare flora, and even a bit of fauna, but perhaps most impressive of all are the ancient water gum trees with their twisted car-sized trunks.

A five-minute walk from the Gardens takes you past the Opera House, a modern marvel that needs no introduction, and one that’s virtually impossible not to be impressed by. Continue past the Opera House and there’s a choice to make: walk up George Street to enjoy some of the city’s best shopping, or head to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA).

Back outdoors, a short walk on the Quay from the MCA brings you to the ferry, en route to the Northern Beaches. The thirty-minute ride is pleasant enough in itself, and at the end you arrive directly on the sands of Manly Beach. There you can grab a coffee at Barefoot, maybe try some yoga at the Qi Health Centre (perhaps not in that order), or just keep it simple and head straight to the beach. A walk around the headland offers views over the magnificent Shelley Beach, the overlook being the perfect spot for a picnic with some people-watching. Back at the wharf, the seriously dedicated walker can continue from Manly to Spit. The route is about five miles long, so you may want to jump a bus back to the city when you arrive at Spit Bridge.

Returning from Manly, the ferry drops you off just a few blocks from the Rocks — convenient, as it’s the right place to be come dinner or cocktail hour. Enjoy some chilled champagne and oysters by the dozen near the water, or balance all the outdoor time with some culture at the internationally renowned Sydney Theatre. The Rocks is a lively area, and after an active day, it’s full of places to sample the outstanding food and wine that Sydney is so famous for.

If you’re up for more after a good night’s sleep at Blue, a short walk up a set of steep stairs will take you to Potts Point, where diners indulging at the neighborhood’s Italian eateries exchange glances with power-walking mummies in stretch pants. Nearby Rushcutters Bay is a beautiful park and marina full of kookaburras, pelicans and parakeets, and if you continue a little farther, the windows of the gorgeous boutique shops on William Street, in Paddington, provide plenty to ogle, too. Jac + Jack covers fashionable basics; the Corner Shop stocks the best from the likes of Kenzo, Helmut Lang and Acne; while Pelle is a vintage gold mine. You could spend hours strolling the stores — we’ll just call it another form of exercise.

Hattie Collins

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CHEAT SHEET
WHERE

Along the southeast coast of Australia, Sydney is the country’s largest city, with over 4.5 million residents. Greater Sydney encompasses more than 400 suburbs, all connected by an extensive transportation system.

WHY GO

With more than half its residents born outside Australia, Sydney is a remarkably cosmopolitan place. And the city’s incredible diversity has been a force behind everything from its ascendent culinary scene to its art and fashion.

HOW

Although direct flights to Sydney Airport are available throughout Europe, North America, Africa, and Asia, be prepared for the long haul; flights can range anywhere from 10-21 hours.

TABLET TIP

One of the best ways to see the city is by getting on the water. Circular Quay serves as the major harborside hub, connecting travelers to iconic attractions, stunning harbor views and picturesque beaches.

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