3 days in Sydney will allow you to see a lot of this fascinating Australian city.
I spent the last few days of my time backpacking in Australia in Sydney. Although I got to see everything I wanted to see in three days, I would have liked a few more days to explore the city and see all it had to offer.
However, if you’re going to Sydney on a short itinerary, you can still see a lot in a short space of time.
I have devised a 3-day Sydney itinerary, which will allow you to see all the sights, such as the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, as well as some lesser-known places!
Without further ado, let’s get into it!
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Table of Contents
3 Days in Sydney Itinerary
My Experience in Sydney
I visited Sydney at the end of my working holiday in Australia before I went back to England.
That left me with five days to explore the city, and I enjoyed it despite the short time I had.
I was looking forward to seeing Sydney, as I’d spent all my year elsewhere in Australia and was eager to see some of the most well-known landmarks in the country.
I wasn’t disappointed.
The first time I laid eyes on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, I was blown away. It was much more impressive in person than I imagined and it’s funny to see it poke through buildings as you make your way down to Darling Harbour.
After spending most of my time in Adelaide and Melbourne, Sydney was a nice contrast. The beaches here are better than either city, while with the exception of Melbourne, it does feel like there’s so much going on here.
There’s not much more I can say about Sydney. The city is incredible and the attractions speak for themselves. You simply have to visit while you’re in Australia!
Here are a few things I like during my time in Sydney and a few things that weren’t so great:
- The Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. I don’t need to say much more than that. They are as incredible as they look in all the photos!
- The beaches in Sydney are the best of any city in Australia. It’s not just the quality but the quantity too. Somewhere like Shelly Beach in Manly would be the best beach in any other city, but in Sydney, it’s almost an afterthought!
- I don’t know if this was because I spent more time in Adelaide and Melbourne when I was backpacking in Australia, but I did feel like those cities were more fun. Maybe that’s because I lived in both and had a lot of friends, but Sydney did feel like a different vibe in that sense.
- The layout of Sydney with its harbour means it’s hard to walk around, almost impossible in some senses. I tried my best, but you’ll need to get an Opal Card to get around on the public transport network, as Sydney’s not the most walkable city.
What To Do When Visiting Sydney in 3 Days
If you’re wondering what to do during your Sydney itinerary, I have some sympathy for you. I was in the same boat when I visited.
I wasn’t sure what I could see, and whether I would see everything I wanted to in such a short space of time.
If you want to save money and time checking out Sydney’s attractions, I recommend getting the Sydney Flexi Pass.
This allows you to get free entry to several attractions and get discounts of up to 50% on Sydney museums!
The pass lasts for 3 months, which gives you ample time to see everything in the city if you’re staying for a while. It’s a useful pass that will save you a lot of time and money in the long run!
I’ve listed three of the best activities you should do while you’re in Sydney below. These won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but you’ll find at least one activity you’ll love, I guarantee it!
Below are a few things to do in Sydney, you absolutely must do during your time in this amazing city!
- Sydney Beaches – The most famous beach in Sydney is Bondi Beach, which you have to visit. But there are plenty of other great ones too, such as Manly Beach and Coogee Beach. These famous beaches have. to be visited during your trip, especially if it’s sunny!
- Sydney Opera House – The iconic Sydney Opera House is one of the most famous landmarks in Australia, never mind Sydney. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and will blow you away when you see it for the first time. You’ll understand why so many Sydney quotes reference it!
- Sydney Harbour Bridge -Another of the famous landmarks in Sydney, the bridge is an incredible sight. The closer you get to Darling Harbour, the more the bridge starts to poke out into the skyline, revealing how big it is. You can also do the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb, to get a different of it and the city!
- Sydney Tower Eye – The Sydney Tower Eye is the tallest building in Sydney and one of the first you recognise in the city. It’s not as famous as Sydney Harbour or the Opera House, but it’s worth checking out and is next to St Mary’s Cathedral. You can get a ticket to go to the top and get an amazing view of the city.
- Coogee coastal walk – The Coogee coastal walk was one of my favourite things I did during my time in Sydney. It’s a long walk as you go from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach, which is 6km and will take you around two to three hours to complete. It’s worth it, as the scenery here is amazing and a nice change from the city center.
- Blue Mountains National Park – Ok, so the Blue Mountains is outside of Sydney, but it’s still somewhere you should check out, even if you’re in Sydney on a long weekend. The sights here are incredible and the day trip is well worth it if you have the time.
I’ve included a Sydney map below for you to use to get around and see where all of the iconic landmarks in the city are.
Sydney Itinerary – Day 1
One of the first things I like to do when I arrive in a new city is walk!
I never have a plan, I just leave my hostel, choose one direction and see where it takes me. This works for me, but it might not work for everyone.
However, I do feel walking around on your first day in a new place is a good way to gain your bearings.
There are several walking tours you can do in Sydney. I would recommend doing one of these to get a feel for Sydney.
The guides are highly informative, and you will learn a lot about the city and its history in the process!
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, once you’re finished with your tour, you can head to Sydney University. This is where you will find Sydney’s very own Hogwarts.
The architecture is remarkably similar to the real Hogwarts, and it makes it an interesting place to visit!
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Darling Harbour is the place to head after you’ve done your tour and the first stop is the amazing Sydney Harbour Bridge.
It’s one of the best places to visit in Australia and the first time you get a glimpse of the Sydney Harbour Bridge will blow you away. It’s much more impressive in the flesh!
An interesting fact about the Sydney Harbour Bridge is that it’s named ‘the coathanger’ due to its shape! It does look like one that’s for sure!
Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a fantastic way to spend the remainder of your day and presents you with a beautiful view across the harbour and of Sydney itself!
I didn’t climb it, but I did walk across the bridge, which I recommend if you don’t fancy the bridge climb. You’ll get amazing views of Sydney’s CBD, and an appreciation for the sheer scale of the bridge.
I also recommend walking around to Mrs Macquarie’s chair nearby so you can get a great shot of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House together!
Sydney Opera House
It’s a short walk across Darling Harbour to Sydney Opera House to see one of the most recognisable sights in Australia.
What I find fascinating about Sydney Opera House is that it was only opened in 1973, yet is held in such esteem for a relatively new building.
This goes to show how iconic it is, and you’ll see why when you get up close. It’s a truly magnificent building, that’s much bigger than you might think.
I’d recommend doing one of the awesome tours to learn more about the building and what goes on there.
You can also check out the Opera Bar if you want to get something to eat in one of the most iconic spots in the city!
Sydney Harbour Boat Tour
If you’ve had your fill of walking around Darling Harbour and Circular Quay, a nice way to finish off the first of your Sydney itinerary is to do a boat tour exploring Sydney Harbour!
The tour is a fantastic way to learn more about the area and its history. The guides are highly informative and packed full of juicy knowledge!
It’s also a great chance to see Sydney from a different perspective, which will help you understand why it’s one of the best places to visit in New South Wales!
You’ll get up close and personal with the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, allowing you to get some great views and shots of these iconic landmarks!
Sydney Itinerary – Day 2
Museum of Sydney
The Museum of Sydney was built on the ruins of the house of New South Wales’ first governor, Arthur Phillip.
It was also Australia’s first government house way back in 1788.
The museum itself has a lot of history and it houses a lot too!
The exhibits feature items from colonial and contemporary Sydney, providing useful insight into how Sydney developed into the city it is today!
The convict era is explored in great detail with showcases of various items that were uncovered on more than 25 archaeological digs!
If you want to learn more about the history of Sydney, this museum is the place to go!
Royal Botanic Gardens
The botanic gardens in Sydney are one of the best in Australia! The range and diversity of plant life are breathtaking.
It’s a great place to spend a few hours wandering around and relaxing in the beautiful surroundings!
There’s always a lot going on in the gardens. You can do yoga classes in the garden, and there is an open-air cinema during the warmer months too!
There is an Aboriginal Heritage Tour three days a week too, where you can learn more about the Aboriginals and their history.
A good spot to visit while in the Botanic Gardens is Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. From here, you get an excellent view of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House!
The perfect spot for an Instagram shot!
Sea Life Aquarium
The Sea Life Aquarium is an underrated place to visit in Sydney.
If you’re with your family in Sydney, it’s the perfect place to visit as your kids will love seeing all the marine life.
There are more than 700 species here, with many animals you’ll find in Australian waters.
The aquarium is located in Darling Harbour making it an easy place to find after you’ve been to the botanic gardens.
With so much marine life to see, it’s home to the world’s largest variety of sharks and rays, the aquarium is a great place to check out during your stay in Sydney.
Garigal National Park
Going outside the city, visiting Garigal National Park is one of the more intriguing things during your 3 days in Sydney.
It’s located 12km from Sydney CBD and is a great place to visit if you’re a nature lover!
There are many things to do here such as hiking, kayaking and relaxing in the beautiful surroundings!
Garigal National Park has a rich Aboriginal heritage with numerous art sites dotted around the park. It’s also an excellent place to spot wildlife.
The park is teeming with creatures great and small!
Sydney Itinerary – Day 3
You can’t come to Sydney without going to Bondi Beach. It’s perhaps the most iconic beach in Australia!
The beach is large, and often full of people, especially on the weekend. It’s worth visiting for a few hours, to soak in the atmosphere.
However, I would recommend doing the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk and relaxing at either Tamarama or Bronte Beach instead.
They are quieter, and arguably more scenic. Plus, the walk itself is incredible and certainly worth doing.
I also recommend you check out Bondi Junction, before or after you visit the beach as it’s a hive of activity with lots of interesting shops and cafes.
You can also learn to surf at Bondi, which is a great spot to pick up this exhilarating sport!
Coogee Coastal Walk
If relaxing at the beach isn’t your thing, then the Coogee coastal walk is a decent activity you can do from Bondi to Coogee.
The walk is around 6km in length and will take you past the Bondi icebergs, and many other beautiful spots as you make your way to Coogee Beach.
You could spend all day doing the walk if you wanted.
There are plenty of beaches to stop off at along the way and you can grab lunch at numerous cafes along the way.
But, as this is a Sydney 3 day itinerary, it’s better to do the walk for part of the day, rather than all of it.
Of course, if you have more time, or you want to do it anyway, that’s up to you. It’s a great activity and one you’ll enjoy whether you do it all day or not!
Watsons Bay isn’t the most well-known part of Sydney, but it’s somewhere you should visit if you get the chance.
It’s home to some of the most underrated beaches in Sydney such as Camp Cove Beach, which is stunning and much quieter than the more famous ones in the city.
This part of Sydney is known as the South Head, as well as Camp Cove Beach, you’ll find Hornby Lighthouse, which is worth trekking to for some amazing views out into Sydney Harbour.
You can also walk the South Head Heritage Trail, which takes you along these beaches to the Hornby Lighthouse and also offers opportunities for whale watching too!
You’ll probably need to get an Opal card to travel to the South Head, as it’s a long walk without using public transport.
The Rocks are the first site of European settlement in Australia. If you enjoy history, this is one of the best places you can visit during your 3 days in Sydney!
It’s right next to Darling Harbour and has excellent views of the Harbour Bridge!
There are many dining options in the area and a few art galleries. The area has been transformed from its working-class roots!
It’s also home to Cadman’s cottage, which is the oldest residential home in Australia.
A visit to the rocks is the perfect way to end your Sydney 3 day itinerary, as you enjoy the views of the Harbour before you leave!
Other Places to Visit in Sydney
If you’re still about what to do in Sydney for 3 days, or if you’re there for a bit longer, here are a few more options for you to do during your trip!
- Blue Mountains – Technically not in Sydney, but visiting the Blue Mountainsis something you should do if you have a spare day A Blue Mountains day trip from Sydney will take you to a beautiful part of the country, with much to see! Click here to book your day tour now!
- Cockatoo Island – An Island located in the middle of Sydney Harbour, Cockatoo is an old convict precinct. It’s one of the most underrated Sydney attractions and forms one of 11 sites that are part of the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage Property. It’s an interesting place to visit if you want to learn more about the early European settlement of Australia!
- Manly Beach – This is one of the best Northern beaches in Sydney. There are several beaches in the North Head, each as spectacular as the last! A visit to Manly Beach is a good way to get out of the hustle and bustle of central Sydney for a few hours!
- Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) – If you’re a sports fan, you’ll want to check out the SCG! It’s a historic ground that has played host to numerous AFL, cricket and Rugby matches over the years. Even if you don’t like sports, it’s an interesting place to visit, especially if there is a match on!
- Sydney Observatory – If you love space as much as I do, a visit to the Sydney Observatory is a great idea. You’ll learn more about the universe and be treated to some incredible views of Sydney in the process!
Click the link below to discover more activities and tours you can do in Sydney during your trip:
Sydney Travel Tips
If you’re visiting Sydney for the first time, or you’re visiting again for the first time in a while, this section offers you practical advice about Sydney.
You’ll discover where to stay, the best time to visit, the lowdown on public transport and much more to help you plan your Sydney itinerary.
Where to Stay in Sydney
There are plenty of places to stay in Sydney. As the biggest city in Australia, the choices are endless when it comes to accommodation in the city.
I stayed at a few hostels in Sydney, during my time in the city. I particularly liked the YHAs near the Harbour and Central Station. They were clean, comfortable and the staff was fantastic.
If you want to get out of the centre, there are a lot of hostels located by the beaches at Bondi, Coogee and Manly.
If hostels aren’t your thing, and you would prefer to stay in a hotel, you have a wealth of choices! I’ve listed some of the best hotels in Sydney to stay in below!
|Wake Up! Bondi Beach||A beautiful hostel located right next to Bondi Beach.||Book Now|
|Sydney Central YHA||A great hostel right in the centre of Sydney! Great staff and facilities!||Book Now|
|Sydney Harbour YHA||Hostel right next to Sydney Harbour. Need I say more?||Book Now|
|Wake Up! Sydney Central||A nice hostel in the centre of Sydney with its own bar and cafe!||Book Now|
Cost of Travel In Sydney
Sydney will be the most expensive place you visit during your Australia trip. No matter what you do, prices will be more than what you find anywhere else in Australia, even in Melbourne.
It’s important to set a budget during your three days in Sydney, otherwise, you could easily find a significant hole in your wallet!
Some of the Sydney attractions can eat into your budget. I recommend purchasing the Sydney Flexi Pass, as I mentioned above, to have a clear idea of which ones you want to visit.
That way, you can budget for them, and if you have any spare money, to spend on the numerous Sydney tours, for example, you can do so without breaking the bank!
Below are the average prices for the essential services you will use while you are in Sydney for three days.
They take into account what you need to visit the city comfortably and don’t include take extras such as tours, nights out, souvenirs/clothing. They are deemed as ‘non-essential’ extras!
Prices are in AUS dollars. Check out XE.com for the latest exchange rates.
Hostel: Dorm – $25-50; Private – $80-120
Rental Apartment: $60-150
Food and Drink
Takeaway meal: $3-7
Pint of beer: $5-10
Single Metro/Bus ticket: $2.00
Unlimited Day Pass: $15.40
Bus from airport to city centre: $11.50
Best Time to Visit Sydney
Undoubtedly, the best time to travel to Sydney is during the summer. From November to February, the temperatures are consistently above 30 degrees.
It can be hotter than this at times, but it’s rare for temperatures to creep over 40 degrees.
If you’re looking for cooler temperatures, it may be best to visit Sydney during the shoulder seasons of September to October and March to April.
The temperature will be in the 20 to 30 range, while there will be fewer tourists than during the summer too.
Winter is still a good time to travel to Sydney. However, you won’t be able to make the most of the beaches, and sights in the city.
I’d recommend visiting from September to April, to get the most out of your trip to Sydney!
The best time to travel to Australia depends on what you want. However, if you want to get the most out of your trip, going when the weather is at its best, is the best time to go!
How To Get Around Sydney
Getting around Sydney isn’t a daunting prospect.
It is a big city, but you can walk between places and there isn’t much need for public transport if you plan on staying in the centre.
Where public transport in Sydney becomes necessary is when you want to venture further afield into the suburbs.
You have several options available to you.
You can use the city circle trains which connect the city with its suburbs. Another option is the buses, there are many routes, so it can be confusing at times.
It’s best to ask at a hostel or consult the route maps before jumping on one.
Another option is to take a ferry from Circular Quay. From here you can go to Manly, Watson’s Bay and many other places. The jetties are clearly marked as to where the ferries dock and where they are headed.
To get around the city you can purchase an Opal card, which allows you to ride on all public transportation in Sydney.
It may not be worth getting one if you’re only in Sydney for three days, but if you plan on staying for longer, or returning, it’s a worthwhile investment!
If you’re arriving in the city or starting a road trip from Sydney to Brisbane, driving can be difficult and traffic is common.
Unless you’re doing a road trip, I would advise against driving in Sydney.
There are better ways to get around if you’re staying in the city long-term.
Your most likely entry point to the city will be Sydney Airport. The city has a few airports, but the main one is Sydney International Airport, which is most likely where you’ll fly in or out from.
It’s easy to get to and from the city centre from the airport, so you won’t have any difficulty getting there!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is 3 Days in Sydney Enough?
3 days in Sydney is enough to enjoy everything the city has to offer. You can see most of the city in this time, although you will be rushing somewhat as there is a lot to see in Sydney.
The Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge are the main sights but there are other great places too such as the Royal Botanic Garden and Australia National Maritime Museum that you should also visit!
How Many Days Are Enough in Sydney?
You’ll need three days at a minimum when visiting Sydney. It’s a big city and the central business district alone is huge.
My Sydney itinerary accounts for three days but if you can spend four or five, you’ll have more than enough time to see everything in the city!
Need Travel Insurance?
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Looking For More Travel Guides?
Famous Landmarks in New South Wales – Check out some more of the amazing places to visit near and in the same state as Sydney!
3 Days in Melbourne – Why not check out the second-biggest city in Australia after you’ve visited Sydney?
Melbourne to Sydney Road Trip – If you fancy driving between these two cities, here’s an itinerary for you to follow!
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Tom is a travel addict who first left England to spend a year Down Under. Not satisfied with this, he then went to New Zealand, about as far away from home as he could get. He is now planning his next adventures in Europe and Canada while maintaining this blog. Check out the about me page to learn more!