One of my favourite things about being back at my parents’ house at the moment is that my Dad buys a selection of newspapers on Saturday mornings. This means that there are tonnes of travel supplements for me to gawp at: daydreaming of holidays I can’t afford is one of my favourite pass-times.
In today’s Telegraph travel supplement was a question about how to spend six hours (!!) in Sydney, between flights, and the “expert” answer offered left a lot to be desired, in my opinion. During my time in Canberra, I spent many, many hours in Sydney, and none of the things that this expert suggested would have been on my list at all.
So how do you spend just six hours seeing one of the most vibrant, beautiful and exciting cities in the world?
Now, I am going to write this article as though I were writing the answer to today’s Telegraph question. The tourist in question was arriving at Kingsford-Smith Airport at 8:10 am and their departing flight left at 4:30 pm. They were flying in from the UK – and would presumably be jet-lagged out of their minds. Trust me: been there, done that.
Dealing with the logistics: to and from the airport
The best way to get in to the city from Kingsford-Smith airport is by CityRail. The journey from the International Terminal to Central Station (in the heart of the CBD and providing easy access to everywhere else) costs $31.80 return for adults, and takes around 24 minutes. Trains are regular and reliable.
For a flight leaving at 4:30 pm, check in is at 2:30 pm. Leaving the city around 2 pm is probably for the best – especially for these people, as their baggage will have been pre-checked on to the next flight.
Arriving off an international flight at 8:10 am, you will be hungry and groggy. Getting breakfast and waking yourself up is absolutely essential, and will make for a great start to the day.
Personally, I would head to Newtown, an inner West suburb which reminds me a lot of Camden or Shoreditch in London – or of literally half of Melbourne. Newtown is my favourite part of Sydney, and has some wonderful cafes and shops.
From Central, catch an Inner West Line train to Newtown Station and walk down King Street. On a morning, the sunlight is often glorious, and the further you walk from the station, the prettier the views become: at the end of the road is USyd, and the views across to the CBD and the Sydney skyline are perfection.
Newtown caters for literally everyone. Melbourne aside, it’s the only place in Australia where I didn’t feel awkward for being vegetarian, but I hear it has some delectable meat options, too. The breakfast pictured here is fairly typical – French toast with strawberries and marscapone – and set me back about $10, which isn’t bad, all told. Sadly, the cafe where I ate it (which was my favourite place in the whole city while I was there!) has now closed. Boo hiss.
The views you really need to see: Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Sydney Skyline
Heading to Sydney for such a short while, there are a few things you really need to tick off. After breakfast, hop on a bus towards Circular Quay: this will take you down past the University and George Street, the street where everything happens in Sydney.
At the bottom of this is Circular Quay station and ferry terminal, and the best location for seeing the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Tick.
More interesting (but still quick!) ways to see the sights
- Climb the pylon lookout on the Harbour Bridge. This is one of the two massive concrete towers at either end of the bridge, and for just $11 it offers panoramic views of the city and the bay. It really is stunning.
- Get on the Parrammatta River Ferry from Circular Quay and head out to Cockatoo Island. It’s a nice trip across the harbour on the ferry (which leaves every 20 minutes or so from Wharf 5) and offers beautiful views of the harbour and the Opera House. Cockatoo Island is gorgeous on a sunny day, and there are frequently exhibitions and activities available. If not, it’s always a fascinating piece of Sydney history and a lovely spot for lunch or a picnic.
A final snack before you leave
Getting on a long flight when you are already jetlagged requires sustenance that is not of an airplane variety.
There are obviously tonnes of places in Sydney that offer great lunches for before you hop back on to the train to the airport, and these clearly vary vastly by budget. But, whenever I went to Sydney with my Mirja, one of my very best friends, we would always head to the food court beneath The Galeries (yes, just one “l”) on George Street. (Get there by Monorail, or a twenty-minute walk from Circular Quay.)
Unlike food courts in British shopping centres (or most I found in Australia!), The Galeries foodhall has a beautiful selection, with things for everyone. In the picture, I am eating Turkish – I had halloumi and vegetable skewers with two types of salad, rice and a pitta bread for some ridiculously low price.
The time pictured, Mirja had Vietnamese phu, but there is also Japanese, Indian and Thai, as well as a Juice Burst, a Subway and an Oporto (a pretty good burger chain). Especially if you’re with a group, this is a great place to go because you can sate everyone’s hunger without forcing people to compromise on what they really want to eat.
And then hop back on the train to the airport!
Of course, there is so much else to do in Sydney – these are just my top few things with limited time. You get to see some of the tourist Sydney, but also some of the other stuff, which isn’t on all the tourist tracks.
PS: if you know Sydney, what would you recommend?Sy