A Complete Guide to a 3 Days in Sydney Itinerary
Are you planning a trip down under and want some helpful info on what to do in the one of a kind city of Sydney? Well you have come to the right place. This 3 days in Sydney itinerary will go over some of the city’s best highlights and help you plan your time in the area. From the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the Opera House to some of the best Coastal Walks out there, this itinerary will cover it all and more!
1) Sydney Airport to Downtown
Unless you are driving in or taking a train from somewhere else in Australia you will be arriving at the Sydney International Airport. Located less than 15KM / 10 Miles from downtown Sydney, the airport is easily accessible to the city center. There are a few main transportation options here depending on your budget:
A) Taxi / Uber
Once you exit the airport you will find plenty of taxi and Uber options to get you down to the city. It should take about 20 minutes and cost $40 AUD. While not the cheapest option for a solo traveler, it probably is the most convenient option to get you door to door. If traveling with a group though, then it is probably the way to go!
Your next best option though is to take the super efficient Sydney transportation system to get you to your hotel. Located right at the airport is a train stop that will get you downtown in just 15-20 minutes depending on your stop. The train makes multiple stops including Central Station, Museum Station, and St James Station ending at Circular Quay.
Once at your stop you can choose to either walk or hop on a local line / bus to get you to where you are going. The cost of the train is $16.70 AUD and they run every 7-10 minutes or so.
2) Transport Around Sydney
The OPAL Card
Going off of the transportation topic, my advice here would be to purchase an OPAL card from the ticket counter at the airport (if you are taxiing in then you can purchase one at any train station in Sydney). The OPAL card is essentially a reloadable transportation card that can be used on most of the trains, busses, and lightrails around Sydney.
If using the bus at all, you are basically required to get an OPAL card (or use a contactless payment) as you cannot just pay the driver and you can’t buy a ticket at every bus stop. It is an extremely convenient option if you will be using the public transportation network in Sydney. You can learn more about the OPAL card on their official website.
The busses in Sydney run all around and out of the city center. You can really use them to get anywhere and everywhere you want to go around the Sydney area. They are a super efficient and cheap alternative to just taking a taxi or Uber everywhere you want to go. Like I mentioned above though, you will need an OPAL card (or contactless payment) to use the busses around the city, so make sure you purchase one of them before hopping on! Each route around the city will cost anywhere from $2 AUD – $6 AUD depending on how far you go.
On top of busses, you can also take the Sydney metro to an extent around the city. This includes the same line that you can take directly from the airport down into the city center. The metro is not as expansive as the bus system but it can be quite convenient depending on where you are going / where you are staying around Sydney.
At the end of the day my advice here though would just be to input your destination into Google Maps or any other navigation app you may use and follow the route from there. Whether it be the metro, bus or combo of the two, you should be at your destination in no time.
Sydney Itinerary 3 Days
Alright then. Now that you have a better idea on how to get to and around Sydney, it is time to dive a bit into the attractions themselves. I have listed out below 3 days in Sydney – one of which is basically a do it yourself walking tour, while the other two are coastal walks, where you can enjoy some beach time and views. Feel free to move around the days as you see fit!
3) Day 1 – Explore Sydney
You can’t visit Sydney without making your way to some of the city’s most iconic landmarks. Your first of this 3 days in Sydney itinerary will bring you all around the downtown / CBD / waterfront area as you head off on a do it yourself walking tour of the city. I listed out the below in order from west to east but feel free to mix things around as you see fit. If you are staying around the area, then all you need to do is walk out your front door and begin the day!
A) Observatory Hill
The first stop on the list is Observatory Hill. Located just west of the Circular Quay (the main waterfront) area is an observatory building perched up on a hill overlooking the water down below. You can explore the inside of the observatory and learn a bit more about the history of the place. And once done there feel free to take some time to walk around the outside and take in the views.
B) Sydney Harbour Bridge
As you are walking back from Observatory Hill you can make the walk to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. At 440 feet high and 3,770 feet in length, it is one of the most iconic bridges in the world and you can decide how you would like to visit it. You have a few options here to choose from:
1. Walk the Bridge
The simplest and cheapest of options is to just head up on the pedestrian pathway and take your time walking the length of the bridge to the other side. You will get some great views of the waterfront down below, alongside the Opera House and downtown Sydney. Walking one way across should take about 20 minutes as you enjoy the views.
2. Climb the Bridge
The more ambitious and adventurous option here is to actually climb up the 1,390 stairs of the bridge. You will be strapped into a harness, hooked onto the ropes, and begin to walk up and along the Sydney Harbour Bridge. While it is an incredible experience to have, it does come at the cost of $268 AUD for the main option. You also have options to do a sunset climb, with the price point of $374 AUD. time. You can book your Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb tickets through Viator and learn more about the different options.
3. Pylon Lookout
Lastly, if you want a good medium between the two options above, you can head up to the Pylon Lookout. The 200 steps to the top of the tower on the south side of the bridge, will get some awesome surrounding views. It will be higher than just being on the pedestrian pathway but lower than being on the top of the bridge. At $19 AUD, it is a great option if you want to get a bit higher up.
C) The Rocks
Once all finished up at the bridge, begin your walk a bit more east, where you will come across The Rocks area. This part of the city will definitely have a bit of a different vibe to it then the rest of Sydney. It is more of a historical district with small buildings, a variety of bars and restaurants, and even a great market to enjoy.
The CBD or Central Business District, is the main downtown area of Sydney. Here you will find the most shops and businesses of Sydney. You can walk along some of the main streets including George Street, as you take in the city life of downtown Sydney.
E) Hyde Park
Make the circle around to Hyde Park. A narrow but long park right in the city, The park begins with the Anzac Memorial and Pool of Reflection and makes it way down for several blocks. Along the way you will also pass the Yininmadyemi Memorial and Archibald Fountain.
F) Circular Quay
After you pass by Hyde Park, Circular Quay will be up next. This is basically the waterfront area where many of the ferries depart from and somewhat of a transportation hub of downtown. You can get some great views of the Sydney Opera House across the way as you walk all along the waterfront promenade.
G) Sydney Opera House
It is now time to head on over to the main attraction of Sydney – the Sydney Opera House. Located right on the waterfront, the Opera House can be seen from all over the harbour area with the Sydney Harbour Bridge out in the distance. You can spend some time walking around the area, grabbing some drinks at the Opera Bar, and just enjoying the view.
H) Royal Botanic Gardens
After taking in the Opera House, continue along the waterfront as you enter the Royal Botanic Gardens area. There is a ton to see and explore in the gardens – everything from ponds to fauna/flora to some special exhibitions. It is just a great open area to walk around and relax in.
I) Mrs Macquarie’s Chair
Finish off your walking tour at the tip of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. The promenade leading up to the chair is a perfect place to end your day and take in a Sydney sunset. You have the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, and waterfront all in view making one of the top places in Sydney to see the sun go down.
All the above is definitely doable in a day depending on how much time you want to take at each and every place (if you decide to do the bridge climb though, then you will probably need to leave some things out). If you do not have the time to finish it all, free to push things back to the next couple days too.
4) Day 2 – The Spit to Manly Coastal Walk
On day 2 in Sydney it is time to head off on one of two coastal walks that I would recommend taking part of during your time in the city. The Spit to Manly walk is full of beaches, bays, and viewpoints all along a 10KM stretch of trail north of the city. If you are looking to get some swimming in along with some beach time, while still getting some exercise then this walk is for you.
You can start the walk in Spit or in Manly but I highly recommend doing so from Spit. To get there, you will simply hop on a bus (or taxi/Uber), and head towards the Spit Bridge. Get off at the stop prior to crossing the bridge and start the walk from there. Once you complete the walk and arrive in Manly, all you need to do to get back to downtown Sydney is to take the ferry to Circular Quay that runs multiple times per hour.
» To learn much more about this day including logistics, trail info, and more, head on over to the Spit Bridge to Manly Walk Guide I put together.
5) Day 3 – The Coogee to Bondi Walk
On your last day in Sydney, you can take part of arguably the most scenic coastal walk in the world! The Coogee to Bondi walk is packed with never ending views of the coastal cliffs, plenty of natural swimming pools, and a ton of beaches to relax at. There is just so much to see and do during this coastal walk, and you can easily allocate a full day around the area.
Similar to the previous day’s walk, you can do it in either direction. I recommend starting in Coogee and walking your way up north to Bondi as the Bondi Beach area is a great place to end the day. To get to Coogee (and back from Bondi), you can utilize the Sydney busses to get you around.
» Be sure to check out the complete Coogee to Bondi Walk Guide to learn more!
If you want to extend the walk you can also start/end in Maroubra. I have a Coogee to Maroubra Walk Guide up on the site if you are interested in adding that portion of the coast into your day.
6) Blue Mountains Day Trip
While the above goes over what to do in Sydney, another potential add on to these 3 days would be a trip to the Blue Mountains. Located just 2 hours by train, the Blue Mountains are packed with hiking trails, viewpoints, and plenty of nature to enjoy. If this is something you are interested in, I highly recommend either adding an additional day in Sydney to take part of a day trip or just replacing one of the days mentioned above.
When I took part of a Blue Mountains day trip, I set off on a full day hiking trail all throughout the national park. It included trails such as the Furber Steps, Federal Pass, Giant Stairway, Three Sisters, Prince Henry Cliff Walk, among a few others. It was an incredible region to explore and a much different experience than just being in Sydney itself.
» Learn more about this day trip in the Blue Mountains Hiking Guide up on the site
7) Where to Stay in Sydney
There are a variety of different options to choose from when deciding where to stay in Sydney. One of the most popular options is to just stay within the Sydney Harbour / CBD / Downtown Area. There you will find plenty of restaurants and bars, easy public transportation access and of course be close by to some of Sydney’s best attractions. Below are some accommodation choices at different price points to better help you make your pick.
That about does it for 3 days in Sydney Australia! Whatever your plans are for the rest of the country, these three days are sure to be a highlight of your itinerary and I am sure you will enjoy every minute of it. For more Australia info, check out the Australia itineraries and guides up on the site. Also feel free to write in any questions or comments below. Have fun out there and safe travels!