A city full of hidden gemsSydney Australia. The capital of New South Wales. What is the first thought that comes to mind when you think about Sydney? Probably the world famous Sydney opera house, or perhaps the Sydney Opera bridge.
Sydney has much more to offer in addition to the main tourist attractions. This wonderful city I have explored on my own as a female traveller as well as on a vacation with my husband. Like any city it is important to remember your safety, keep your belonging close to you at all times, use the hotel safe for your passport and belongings or lock them away in your suitcase but I have to say I have found Sydney to feel one of the most safest cities I have had the pleasure of exploring as a solo female traveller and I did not once feel unsafe, in fact the opposite, not only did I feel safe I found the people to be extremely warm, friendly, helpful and quite chilled. I can’t wait to return.
Here my aim is to give you a small insight into Sydney, a few personal recommendations of places, food and things to perhaps consider doing on your next trip. If it is your first time in Sydney, of course, I highly recommend seeing the major attractions but I would also recommend getting out and about and off the beaten track where you can and explore the local food, talk to the locals, get a real feel for the place you are visiting. I hope you enjoy it and of course if you have any questions about your travel experiences I am happy to help answer them where I can. Just drop me a message.
A brief overview
As I mentioned above and you probably already know, Sydney is the capital of New South Wales in Australia and is popular for the Sydney opera house, Sydney harbour bridge (which you can walk across by the way, a fun experience if you have a head for heights) and many modern skyscrapers, stunning views and a wonderful nightlife (trust me, you will never get bored in this city) there are many fun hidden spots to discover and do try the local cuisines. There is also plenty of shopping to be done should you wish, from high street stores to designer top end brands, Sydney is a great place for this and i’d recommend putting some time aside if shopping is your thing.
Top four hidden gems that you can visit (I haven’t included photos here as I feel you should perhaps experience these for yourself and not be bombarded with too many photos at one go)
This is a fabulous place if you wish to escape for a while and want to enjoy the pool with fabulous views across the harbour. A turquoise pool with a picket fence and timber deck, it is hidden away on the harbour. This is noted as one of the best spots in the city that you will be able to take Instagram worthy pictures and I am sure you will fall in love with the green lawns and the shaded huge trees. A wonderfully serene setting.
Paddington Reservoir Gardens
This was once Sydney’s water supply and it is known as Walter Read Reserve. A heritage listed public park located 255a off Oxford Street in the eastern Sydney suburb. The garden was transformed into a sunken garden and park in 2006. The garden features a rare gem of rustic bricks, timber and iron which is mixed with modern design and natural beauty
Wendy’s Secret Garden, Lavender Bay
This is such a wonderful place for a stroll and to take some family photos. It was a derelict public area that was transformed into stunning magical gardens by Wendy Whiteley after her husband, the Australian artist Brett Whiteley passed away in 1992 where his ashes are buried.
Wendy had treated her garden as if it were a magnificent painting and in doing so has allowed nature to do it’s own work too and you can really get a feel for this. This garden is the perfect place to go on a stroll or have a picnic, with random benches in quiet spots and secluded pathways, not forgetting the unbelievable spectacular views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Wendy has also been awarded the Medal of Order of Australia for her service to the community and establishment and for maintaining this beautiful garden. It is worth taking some time out for a visit, something a little different.
Arthur McElhone Reserve, Elizabeth Bay
Harbourside of the Eastern district you’ll find Elizabeth Bay. A small picturesque reserve. The reserve features a small garden, a bridge and a stunning (all be it a small) pond, here you can find magnificent views of the harbour from the reserve. Have your camera ready.
Arthur McElhone Reserve, Elizabeth Bay
This is located in front of Elizabeth Bay House and this is a small picturesque reserve. The suburb takes it’s name from the bay on Sydney harbour “Elizabeth bay”. The reserve features a small garden, bridge, stunning little pond and you will get a magnificent view of the harbour from the reserve. It is worth a stroll, you will get some interesting photos and there are lots of historic areas to explore. Do check it out.
Things to see and do in Sydney
* Visit the Opera House (You can get a tour of the opera house, inside and out but book in advance as places fill up fast, especially during high season)
* Visit and perhaps walk across or even over the top of Sydney Bridge (there are many tours offering a walk across the top should you wish, weather depending)
* Explore the Rocks (worth a visit, you can get here on your own without a guide but most tours tend to stop here) It has wonderful sea views, a place to chill. It does have a bit of a dark history in recent times but don’t let that put you off, it is a lovely place and you can walk along the pathways and rocks, i’d recommend good footwear)
* Stroll along Darling Harbour
* Have fun at Bondi beach
* Have a fabulous dinner at Circular Quay
* Go for a walk and explore the Royal Botanical Gardens
* Get a mind-blowing view of the city from the Sydney Tower Eye
* Visit Barangaroo Reserve
* Visit Taronga Zoo
* Visit Sydney fish marketThe Zoo, not to be missed, you’ll see animals you wont perhaps see anywhere else
Forget burgers and smoothies … Try these foods whilst in Sydney
Lamington: This is a sweet (I mean sweet) filled with jam and is dipped in chocolate and coated in coconut. The dish actually has a national day devoted to it and it is named after Lord Lamington who created it. A fabulously tasty treat if you have a sweet tooth.
Emu: Emu has more iron than beef and is low in cholesterol and fat. The Emu native to Australia is tasty as a pizza topping or served smoked, you can even have an Emu pie. Something a little different perhaps if you have never tried it before.
Damper: Once a staple for the workers and bushmen a like it is now a popular food amongst many. It is basically a soda bread made from wheat, water and salt and then smoked over hot coals. I actually remember something very similar growing up and I found it not to dissimilar to the Irish soda bread I grew up with. You can get it cooked in various ways and it is a great food with a cup of tea (showing my English roots lol)
Salt and pepper Calamari: One thing you can be sure of is fresh fish in Sydney and you’ll be spoilt for choice. One of my favourites is Salt and pepper calamari, covered in salt and a pepper batter, it is deep fried so it might not be for the health conscious, but maybe give it a try anyway.
Fish and Chips: Whilst this might seem English to many, fish and chips by the beach in Sydney is one to try and beat, the fish is so fresh it makes my mouth water just writing this. Surely this is something to try beachside and wrapped in yesterdays newspaper, now that’s fish and chips. You’ll have many places to try out for this dish.
John Dory Fillets: A fish found in Sydney Harbour waters and elsewhere in Australia this is a very popular local meaty fish.
Vegemite: I’m not sure how Australian you want your breakfast but Vegemite is up there as one of the choices for breakfast, Vegemite on toast, you can get this in most hotels and be sure to try it, a bit like marmite in taste but very different or so I’m told, I didn’t taste much difference but locals tell me it is for sure, you can’t argue with the locals when it comes to local food, you’ll either love it or hate it but give it a try. Just spread it and eat it.
Grilled Kangaroo: Rare cooked meat, an Australian dish, Kangaroos are tasty cooked various methods but a word to the warning, it is almost always rare and hardly cooked at all, it’s a tender meat I am told and if overcooked will dry out so it is eaten rare. How more Australian can you get, Kangaroo. Not something I’ve tried myself but my husband has and enjoyed it, maybe you will.
Barramundi: A large-scale river fish served across Australia in many restaurants.
Chicken Parmigiana: Common Australian pub food. The dish mainly consists of chicken in breadcrumbs and topped with a tasty tomato sauce and melted cheese.
Burgers: The common everyday burger. Actually, you’ll find all type of burgers dressed with various toppings across Australia, topped with cheese, pineapple, bacon, tomato, lettuce and even beetroot ( if you’re into burgers you must try a burger with beetroot) A quick snack or lunch.
Veggie: If you’re not into meat and prefer a veggie alternative, you won’t be short of choice in Sydney, with various veggies and healthy alternative options to choose from.
There are many many things to see and do in this amazing city, these are just a few, I would highly recommend planning your trip in detail if you want to also visit the main tourist spots, if you want to get off the beaten track that is a great way to explore the real Sydney, you can take a helicopter flight over the city, a boat ride or ferry ride across the Harbour, you can even go Whale watching just outside of Sydney Harbour, I have had the pleasure of watching some amazing whale activity whilst in Sydney or perhaps take seaplane to a secluded spot for a romantic lunch and remember to have cocktails at the Sydney Opera house bar outside, under the stars.
A few final thoughts: Safety precaution
As I mentioned at the start, I felt extremely safe in Sydney. As a lone female, I never encounter any issues and everyone I spoke with I found to be super friendly and helpful. However, crime can happen in any major city and in tourists areas when you are perhaps off your guard, here are a few precautions to consider.
* Keep your belongings close to you at all times
* Keep your passport in your hotel room or locked in your suitcase with your valuables
* Keep a printed copy of your passport on you at all times, this way if anything happens you still have your passport details which will prove invaluable in a difficult situation. You can also use something like “Evernotes” to upload your information so you can access it online should you need to, this way you won’t misplace a bit of paper.
* As with any major city, avoid some neighbourhoods, some are better than others
* If you see a snake, spiders and the likes be-careful, do not get too close as Australia has some of the most harmful insects and reptiles in the world.
* Always carry a map, by map I mean a paper version. You never know when your electronic device might run out of battery.
* Take a guide when exploring out of the main tourist areas or tell your hotel where you are going and at what time you expect to return. Do not mess with the bush, you can easily get lost and if you do not mess with the wildlife, it won’t mess with you.
* Always check your own government website for travel advice and the latest travel information, no matter which country you are travelling to.
* Always be prepared and importantly, have fun, explore, take lots of photos and share your memories. There is a great photo sharing group on Instagram and Facebook, I will post the links below for you. Happy travels peeps.
A little about the author:
Andria runs a travel, photography, fitness lifestyle blog “A2BwithAB” and is an award-winning international freelance photographer. She writes for various travel and expat magazines and guest blogs across various sites documenting global culture. A keen traveller and cat lover she shares her thoughts, journey and experiences with you and hopes you enjoy her travel stories as much as she enjoys the journeys herself.