Some of our biggest highlights of Sydney, like Bondi and Manly Beaches, the Sydney Opera House, and the Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb, were already featured in their own blog posts. However, there were a few other things that we were able to see in the city over the course of our time there. We spend a few days there at the start of our trip and ended up back there three other times to catch connecting flights, leaving little chunks of time that we tried to fill with worthy sights.
The very first sight we saw? That would be the Royal Botanical Gardens, which we walked through on our way to the Sydney Opera House and again on our way back from Mrs. Macquarie’s Point. The gardens span almost 75 acres and are flanked by the public parklands of the Domain. You can enjoy huge trees, unique plants, pretty pathways, and quaint cafés as well as stunning views of icons like the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbor, and Sydney Harbor Bridge. The flowers were in full bloom in this summer month, and even in the heat we enjoyed strolling around. Of course we did not get to walk the entire park, but we did get to see many of the beautiful areas.
Another pretty park that we visited (though much smaller than the Royal Botanical Gardens) was called Hyde Park, centered by a gorgeous fountain spraying a very welcome cool mist on us as we walked past. This park was more of a thruway, with tons of people like businessmen, tourists, groups of kids, and moms with strollers crossing it every which way. It provided a great way for us to get to St. Mary’s Cathedral, a beautiful Catholic church. It was first built in 1851 and is best known architecturally for its very long design. We explored both the exterior and interior, taking photos and lighting a candle before moving on.
We got some pretty neat views of the city from the top of the Sydney Tower Eye, a tall and touristy viewing tower. One thing was noticeably absent from the scene- the Sydney Opera House was blocked by tall buildings! We still enjoyed seeing other things from up high though, like the ANZAC Memorial (Australian & New Zealand Army Corps) and Sydney Harbor Bridge. I imagine the view up here at dusk is probably magical, but we visited in the afternoon and enjoyed the sunshiney vista. There was also a 4D movie included in our viewing tower tickets that featured a colorful bird taking viewers on a tour of the city from a truly unique perspective.
One evening brought us to the truly stunning Queen Victoria Building. It was built in the 1890s and currently houses a shopping mall, but in the early to mid-20th century it fell into disrepair and had to be restored extensively in the 1980s. The inside is vast and airy, with four floors filled with stores of every kind. We wandered through at a very late hour so we were only able to window shop, but that also meant it wasn’t crowded and we could really take in the enormity of the space. The décor is opulent and grand, and the Christmas decorations really added to the atmosphere. Even the stairways in the corners were intricate.
The final stop that we made in the city on our trip was to a bar called Fortune of War, which touts itself as the oldest pub in Sydney. It is located in an area called The Rocks, which was a really cool part of the city filled with restaurants and bars and atmosphere. We had two pints at the interesting, wood-accented bar before wandering through the area on the way back to our hotel.
Though our time in the city was slightly chopped up thanks to all of those different connecting flights, we got to see quite a bit of it and I’m glad that we made the most of our little layovers. Good food, friendly locals, warm beaches, beautiful buildings… Sydney has it all! It is another city on a long list of many that I hope I get to visit again!