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World-class dining and entertainment against a spectacular harbor backdrop
Sydney has come a long way since its early days as Australia’s first penal colony. Now the capital of New South Wales and the country’s cultural epicenter, this cosmopolitan city is as famous for its dining and cultural scene as its stunning harbor and beaches. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re an epicurean or an adventure seeker.
Sydney’s most iconic landmarks can be found in Darling Harbour, where the white sails of the Opera House and the arched silhouette of the Harbour Bridge dominate the skyline. If you have a head for heights and a desire to view “the Coathanger” from its most memorable perspective, sign up for the dizzying BridgeClimb.
Directly beneath the Harbour Bridge is Sydney’s oldest neighborhood. The Rocks was once a place of ill repute. Today, the area draws locals and visitors with its restored historic architecture and lively weekend market – arguably the best place in the city to find artisan crafts.
Other places to shop include Paddington, where independent boutiques and up-and-coming Australian designers thrive on Oxford Street, and in the Romanesque Queen Victoria Building with its collection of high street and designer fashion stores.
Sydney’s myriad gourmet restaurants offer tastes of Australia and the world. Virtually every cuisine is represented, from Indonesian and Vietnamese to Turkish, Indian and Greek. Farm-to-table menus take center stage in the city’s many gastropubs, pairing premium local meats and seafood with wines from nearby Hunter Valley. After dinner, check out the trendy bars of Surry Hills and Darlinghurst.
If you prefer culture of a more artistic kind, you’ll find it in Sydney’s many galleries and museums. We love the Art Gallery of NSW for its collection of European old masters and works by Aboriginal and Asian talent. At the National Maritime Museum, families can explore a replica 18th-century tall ship. For exceptional opera, ballet, concerts and plays, head to the inimitable Sydney Opera House.
Sydney is as much about its natural spaces as its urban delights. Walk the coastal path from the surfer’s paradise of Bondi Beach to calmer Coogee with its historic ocean pools. Seek out exceptional harbor views from the Royal Botanic Garden, or ride the ferry to Manly Beach for a plethora of water sports. The Blue Mountains and Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park are both within easy reach, offering spectacular bushwalking and Aboriginal rock art.