Pretty much every traveller to Australia will find themselves in Sydney during their Australian travels. For many travellers, Sydney will be one of their travel highlights. And even for those who want to focus on other areas of Australia, it is almost inevitable that you will pass through Sydney as it is one of the countries largest international airports.
Sydney is Australia’s largest city, and it has plenty to offer for all travel styles. It will not be hard to fill your 24 hours in Sydney. However, this guide will help make sure you see all the main sights in just 24 hours.
24 Hours In Sydney
There is a dearth of good quality budget accommodation in central Sydney, so with a little luck you should already be staying close to the city centre, and that is where we will start our tour. Lauren and I stayed at the Base Backpackers in Sydney, which is located near China town, however for more options check out the HotelsCombined blog for their favourite hotels with harbour views.
Art Gallery of NSW
Start your morning out with a dose of art at the Art Gallery of NSW. This gallery is also a budget travellers dream as it is free admission at all times to the public. The only thing you may have to pay for is entry to some of the major temporary exhibitions, and of course, your morning coffee from the cafe.
The Art Gallery of NSW is Australia’s most visited art gallery, and if your only going to go to one Australian art gallery, this one should be it. Also from some of the rooms you will get fantastic views over the Sydney harbour – a taste of what will come later in the day.
Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens
The Art Gallery of NSW is located in the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens, so you will already find yourself at your next destination when you leave the building. If you manage not to dally at the art gallery, you may be able to catch one of the free guided walks that leaves each day from the Information Centre. The walks depart at 10:30 am and last for about an hour.
Otherwise, you can always pick up a map, and explore the gardens at your own pace. The tranquil setting will make sure your brain doesn’t start suffering from art gallery overload, and the gardens also showcase many different varieties of Australian plants. This is also the perfect spot to stop for a picnic if you have packed your own lunch for the day.
Sydney Opera House
Welcome to Australia’s most recognizable man made structure. The Sydney Opera House was built from 1957 – 1973 by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, and is now recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site. The opera house is located at the waterfront in the city centre. You will actually be able to exit the botanic gardens almost right at the steps of the opera house.
If it is getting close to the golden hour (the time of day when the light makes everything photograph better), then why not stop at the Opera bar and grab yourself a drink or a cocktail and soak in the views.
Sydney Harbour and Harbour Bridge
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is located across the harbour from the opera house and is another great Sydney landmark. As you walk along the harbour front, keep your eyes out for interesting art installations that are ever changing along the harbour. Also, make sure to occasionally look over your shoulder, as there are many great vantage points of the opera house along this walk.
When you do eventually reach the bridge, why not fully experience it, and walk across to the other side…..
Luna park is the large amusement park located at the other side of the harbour bridge… where you are now just exiting. The reason I directed you here as the sky begins to darken is that Luna Park at night offers some fantastic photographic opportunities. The entrance to the park is marked by a large brightly lit face, and you entre through the mouth, how could that possibly not make a great photo?
Check the opening hours of the park before visiting. The park is often closed during the week, but on Friday’s and Saturday’s it can be open as late as 10 or 11 pm. Fancy a ride on the iconic ferris wheel?
24 Hours In Sydney
That concludes our whirlwind tour of Sydney in 24 hours. This tour has taken you to some of the main landmarks of the city, as well as the famous Botanic Gardens, and Australia’s most visited art gallery.
As I said before, you can get to all of these sights on foot, making it a great way to get your bearings of the city.
Got more than 24 hours in Sydney? How about going on a 2 hour hike from Coogee to Bondi beach, along the Sydney Coast. Or fancy a bit more of a nature escape? Check out our review of guided walks in the Royal Sydney National Park.
During our time in Sydney we stayed at the Base Backpackers in central Sydney. The hostel was extremely clean and the hostel bar had fun events planned for almost every night. We used our base jumping cards to pay for our stay, which were kindly provided complimentary by Base Backpackers.