At a Glance
When to Go
Kingsford Smith is Sydney’s only airport, located just four miles from the city center. Direct flights run from Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Dallas—currently the world’s longest flight. The Sydney airport is well-connected to the city’s various neighborhoods by train and bus. And there’s an efficient taxi stand out front for those with a little too much luggage.
Sydney has a good train, bus, and ferry system, but you pay for it. Expect to drop about $2.20 per bus ride (there are currently no transfers) and at least $3.80 for a single train trip. (It’s cheaper if you buy round-trip—“return”—tickets). If you plan to ride public transit often, consider buying a 10-ride bus pass or a weekly “My Multi” pass, which covers unlimited bus, train, and ferry travel within a defined zone.
Food and Drink
Home to the world’s most famous opera house as well as volumes of convict lore, it’s no surprise that Sydney is well-loved for its cultural attractions. On top of opera and classical music, Sydney is renowned for dance and theater. And art—you can find touring international exhibitions as well as local stars at the Museum of Contemporary Art. For Aboriginal Australian art, head to the Art Gallery of New South Wales or the Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery. If you’re more interested in the avant-garde, try Carriageworks and White Rabbit. And don’t miss the Hyde Park Barracks Museum or Cockatoo Island for prison history.
Parties might be what Australians do best, and Sydney features a full lineup of festivals, from the huge to the obscure. Start with the famous New Year’s Eve fireworks, and continue summer with the Sydney Festival, Australia Day, and the Big Day Out and St. Jerome’s Laneway music festivals. Early fall sees Gay Pride Mardi Gras, winter comes alive with Vivid Ideas lectures and light shows, and spring features favorites like Sculpture by the Sea, the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, and the Night Noodle Market. Every season has a film festival, or four. Check out Tropfest, Flickerfest, and all the outdoor cinemas that pop up in summer.
What the Locals Know
Serena Renner is a journalist and editor whose work focuses on travel, people, culture, and the environment. Her writing has been featured in magazines including VIA, the Intelligent Optimist, San Francisco, Australian Traveller, International Traveller, and AFAR—where Serena worked as an editor for two years. In October of 2013, Serena moved to Sydney’s Bondi Beach neighborhood, where she’s currently mingling with surfers, travelers, and artists and planning several years’ worth of Australian adventures.