“The party is a true art form in Sydney and people practise it a great deal. You can really get quite lost in it.” - Baz Luhrmann
Sydney is known as the Harbour City and with good reason as it is built around a magnificent natural harbour. It is the largest, oldest and most cosmopolitan city in Australia with an enviable reputation as one of the world’s most beautiful cities. It is full of history, culture, art, fashion, cuisine, design and within the city or a short distance from it are areas of great natural beauty, The city is set next to kilometres of ocean coastline and sandy surf beaches. Recent immigration trends have led to the cities reputation as one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse cities in Australia and the world. The city is also home to the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, two of the most iconic structures on the planet.
The Greater Sydney area is a vast sprawling metropolitan area with the suburbs spreading up to 100km from the city centre. The traveller visiting the suburbs will find less crowded beaches, parks, cheaper shopping, commercial centres, cultural festivals, and hidden gems. The Eastern Suburbs are between the City and the sea, and include the world-famous Bondi Beach and other city beaches, which are strong drawcards for visitors and residents in the city during summer.
The City Centre is the busy centre of government and finance, but also home to many famous attractions, fine restaurants, and shopping. Just to the west of Circular Quay, is the Rocks, the first colonial village of Sydney and the iconic Harbour Bridge, which are now a cosmopolitan and touristic area. Immediately to the west of the CBD is Darling Harbour, an extensive leisure and entertainment area. You can see restaurants, boardwalks, aquariums, wildlife, and museums by foot or from above by monorail. In the City South district is the Haymarket, Chinatown and Central Station, being an area home to markets, cafes, Chinese culture and cuisine, and some cheaper accommodation and shopping. In the City East region, are Kings Cross, Darlinghurst, Surry Hills, Woolloomooloo and Moore Park. It’s here where you can sample the busy nightlife, trendy coffee shops, fashion and entertainment. The City West area is best seen in early morning, with a trip to the bustling fish markets, and then exploring the Powerhouse Museum, finding a maritime pub or vistiing The Star Casino.
Southern Sydney is the area south of the CBD and north of the Georges River, including the areas surrounding Sydney Airport and Brighton Le Sands on Botany Bay. In the Inner West are Sydney’s original suburbs, which are now bohemian and a hub of cheap eats, shopping and inner-city culture. Also contains Sydney Olympic Park, the home of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, parks, cycling, and events.
In the Lower North Shore, over the Harbour Bridge are leafy residential areas stretching northwards. The North Shore also has major commercial and retail areas at North Sydney and Chatswood, many smaller boutique shopping areas, and many parks and gardens, and Sydney’s famous Taronga Zoo. The Upper North Shore includes leafy residential areas, national parks and waterways. The Northern Beaches stretch from Manly, North along the coast to Palm Beach. The North West contains the Northern Districts with includes Sydney’s Silicon Valley at Macquarie Park, the northern side of the western reaches of Sydney Harbour, and the largely residential area of the Hills District in the north-west of the city.
Parramatta is considered Sydney’s “second CBD”, with history, shopping, eating, all just 30 minutes from the city centre. Sutherland Shire is the district to the far south and east of the city centre including Cronulla and Captain Cook’s Landing Place. The South West contains the centres of Liverpool and Campbelltown, which are a large swathe of residential and commercial Sydney locales. In the Outer West is a vast area stretching from Parramatta out to the Blue Mountains. The Hawkesbury is a semi-rural area to the northwest of the city, centred around the Hawkesbury River. Its main towns are Richmond and Windsor.
If you are visiting Sydney and are serious about getting to know the greater metropolitan area, ensure you allow yourself plenty of time as there are numerous attractions, a huge area to explore and an immense variety of experiences ranging from the cultural to the consumeristic, options that take in natural beauty or the hustle and bustle of one of the great metropolitan centres of the world.