3 Days in Sydney: The Definitive Guide

3 Days in Sydney

3 days in Sydney is not enough to see all of this beautiful Australian City.

I should know! I spent the last few days of my time backpacking in Australia in Sydney. Although I got to see everything I wanted to see, 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 itinerary for Sydney, 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!

3 days in Sydney

Quick 3 Days in Sydney itinerary
Day 1 – Walking Tour, Darling Harbour, Sydney Harbour Boat Tour
Day 2 – Museum of Sydney, Garigal National Park
Day 3 – Bondi Beach, Sydney Botanic Gardens, The Rocks

Getting to Sydney

Sydney is one of the main international hubs in Australia. If you’re flying from overseas, your flight will land at Sydney Kingsford airport. It’s only a short trip to the centre by train or bus.

If you’re travelling to Sydney from the rest of Australia, Sydney is easy reach to reach by bus or car. Greyhound has regular stops at Sydney, while driving to Sydney by car is enough despite the long distances involved.

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 less 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 does depend on what you want to do. 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!

Australia backpacking guide

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 were 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 choice! I’ve listed some of the best hotels in Sydney to stay at below!

Bondi BackpackersA beautiful hostel located right next to Bondi Beach.Book Now!
Sydney Central YHAA great hostel right in the centre of Sydney! Great staff and facilities!Book Now!
Sydney Harbour YHAHostel right next to Sydney Harbour. Need I say more!Book Now!
Wake Up! Sydney CentralA nice hostel in the centre of Sydney with its own bar and cafe!Book Now!

Some of the best things to in Sydney

If you’re wondering how to spend 3 days in Sydney, then I have some sympathhy with you. I was in the same boat when I visited. I wasn’t sure what I could I see, and whether I would see everything I wanted to in such a sher space of time.

Thankfully, you can see a lot in 3 days! Below are a few things to do in Sydney, you absolutely must do during your time in the city!

Sydney Beaches

Sydney is world famous for its beaches!

It’s not just Bondi, there are plenty of other fantastic beaches close to the city too!

Bronte, Coogee, Manly and Tamarama are close to the centre of Sydney, and worth checking out.

Sydney is blessed with some of the best beaches in the world for surfing, it would be a crime not to visit them during your time in the city!


Bondi to Bronte Walk

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Arguably the most iconic sight in the whole of Australia, you simply have to check out the Harbour Bridge while you’re in Sydney!

Glimpsing you’re first sight of the bridge is strange. You’ll notice part of the bridge poking through the skyline of the city, as you make your way to the harbour.

Once you see it fully for the first time, it’s an incredible sight! I highly recommend walking across the bridge to gain a perspective of how long and big it truly is.

Plus, you get an excellent view of the Opera House across the harbour!

Sydney Opera House

The other iconic image of Sydney is the Opera House. It’s a curious building, but beautiful nonetheless.

Up close, the tiles that make up the building, look a tad peculiar, but from a distance it all comes together to create an incredibly visually appealing building!

The architecture of the Opera House is astounding, and has to be admired up close!

If you wish, you can do a tour of the Opera House to learn more about its history and the building itself! Click here to book the tour now!


Sydney Opera House Rocks

Sydney Itinerary – Day 1

Walking Tour

One of the first things I like to do when I arrive in a new city is to go walking!

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 anew place is a good way to gain your bearings.

There are a number of walking tours you can do in Sydney. I would recommend doing one of these to get a feel for the Sydney. The guides are highly informative, and you will learn a lot about the city and its history in the process!

Darling Harbour

This the place that everybody wants to visit! At some point during your 3 days in Sydney, you’re going to go here, so why not head there on your first day!?

The main attractions in the Harbour are, of course, the Bridge and the Opera House. However, there is a lot more to see and do in the Harbour besides these two attractions.

There are numerous cafes and shops around to explore, plus interesting museums and exhibits which are worth exploring!

If you’re looking to climb the Harbour Bridge, click here to book your ticket. It’s a fantastic way to spend the remainder of your day and presents you with a beautiful view across the harbour and of Sydney itself!


Sydney harbour

Sydney Harbour Boat Tour

If you’ve had your fill of walking around Darling Harbour and Circular Quay, a nice way to finish off your day is to do a boat tour of 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! 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 is museum is the place to go!

Garigal National Park

Getting outside of the city, a visit to 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 the beautiful surrounds!

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

Bondi Beach

You simply can’t visit Sydney without going to Bondi Beach. It’s perhaps the most iconic beach in Australia!

The beach itself is large, and often full of people, especially on the weekend. It’s definitely 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.


Bondi beach

Sydney Botanic Gardens

The botanic gardens in Sydney are one of the best in Australia! The range and diversity of the plant life is breathtaking. It’s a great place to spend a few hours wandering around and relaxing in the beautiful surrounds!

There’s always a lot going 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!

The Rocks

The Rocks is 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 a number of 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 3 day itinerary of Sydney, 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 3 days in Sydney, 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 Mountains is a great day trip from Sydney, if you’re in the city for a bit longer! 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 been inscribed on the UNESCO world heritage list, as one of 11 sites that form 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 Northern Sydney’s best beaches. There are number of beaches in the vicinity, 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 down 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!


Sydney Cricket Ground

Concluding thoughts

3 days in Sydney is not enough to enjoy everything the city has to offer. However, if you’re strapped for time, you can certainly get a lot out of those three days!

I hope my three day Sydney itinerary has provided you with some ideas on how to get the most out of your trip. Have you been to Sydney? Do you agree or disagree with my itinerary? Is there anything I should have included in the itinerary that’s not there?

Let me know in the comments below!

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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.

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