With its dazzling harbor and dreamy surf beaches, Sydney is a supermodel of a city. Throw in sun-kissed weather, fragrant frangipani, and seductive outdoor pools and parks, and you’ve got a recipe for a perfect holiday. Our Sydney travel guide illuminates the city’s timeless must-see attractions, exciting new developments, local favorites, and off-the-beaten-path activities.
Sydney perennially occupies the upper ranks of our readers’ favorite cities. And why not? Impressively cosmopolitan, almost embarrassingly handsome—but as breezy and casual as any sunsoaked harbor town—Australia’s largest city and the capital of New South Wales could win any visitor over on looks and climate alone. It's best known for the striking Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, as well as for its access to nature at Bondi Beach and along the water. Coastal walks, scenic ferry rides, and cooling dips are all highlights, but there’s more to Sydney than just the great outdoors. You’ll also find a surfeit of cultural riches, from first-rate museums to colorful ethnic enclaves and places to learn about Australia's Aboriginal heritage. Cutting-edge restaurants, bars, and cafés showcase creative Aussie food and wine, with breakfasts playing a starring role. The city’s nightlife scene is the best on the continent, with everything from all-night ragers on the beach to intimate craft cocktail bars. Independent shops will introduce you to inspiring local fashion and design labels, and you’ll find galleries, museums, theater, and festivals to tickle your cultural taste buds.
When you visit Sydney, you find a wealth of first-rate hotels from classics like the Park Hyatt Sydney, which has appeared on annual World’s Best list for the past twenty years, to newcomers like the uber-chic Old Clare Hotel in up-and-coming Chippendale, which appeared on our coveted It List of editors’ picks for the best new hotels on the planet. The city’s hoteliers are constantly upping the ante, opening stylish properties suited to every taste. Whether you’re drawn to the quirky, dramatic flair of the QT hotels (there’s one in the CBD and one at Bondi Beach) or the more understated, bespoke elegance of the eight-room Hotel Palisade with its nautical murals and rose-hued rooftop bar, our guide will point you in the right direction.
Keep in mind that Sydney is a city of villages too, so be sure to wander elegant Potts Point, alternative Newtown, or artsy Chippendale, as well as hit the historic city center and Bondi’s blissful beach. To stay in-the-know about the latest and greatest hotels, restaurants, bars, and things to do, look no further.
Best Time To Go
To dodge peak season (around Christmas, New Year, and early January), visit from late September to early December or February to April. You’ll still enjoy sublime weather, but with fewer crowds. Sydney’s winter low season (June-August) brings cooler days but hotter hotel deals.
Sydney has user-friendly public transport spanning trains, buses, light rail, and ferries. Pick up a free Opal smartcard online (opal.com.au) or at newsstands. Fares are calculated by distance, but on Sundays you can travel all over the city for just $2.
January is the hottest month, with an average temperature of 73ºF (23ºC). July is the coldest month, with an average temperature of 55ºF (13ºC).
Know Before You Go
Time your visit to catch one of Sydney’s fabulous festivals. Prices and minimum-stays spike at hotels for the city’s famous New Year’s Eve fireworks, but Vivid Sydney’s outdoor illuminations (late May to mid-June) or the Biennale art show (March to June, even-numbered years) are equally inspiring.