Walking in the city of Sydney feels like a vacation already. Fabulous sunshine. Comforting harbor breeze. Relaxing city vibe. No wonder the city has continuously been voted one of the most livable and beautiful cities in the world. The city is so well-developed yet so close to nature. Sydney’s city center is merely 20-minute away from Bondi Beach and an hour away from the Blue Mountains. So here, I am sharing a few “Snapshots” of the city that visitor could do or experience during their stay in town. Let’s hop on the subway, a ferry of the Explorer bus and get around!
Sydney Opera House
Require no introduction; the Sydney Opera House is the most recognizable and well-known architectural wonder in probably the entire southern hemisphere, if not the world. Designed by the Danish architect, Jørn Utzon, Sydney opera house gained worldwide acclaim for its modern and bold design since the completion in 1973. The opera house looks like a sailboat in the center of Sydney Harbor from afar. In fact, the structure is the focal point of and could be seen in any angles of the city, from the air or the sea. So why not start your exploration of Sydney from here?
I always wonder how the opera house would look like up-close-and-personal. In fact, the building was very approachable as visitors are welcome to walk up to the platform and touch the white ceramic tiles that paved the roof of the entire opera house. For those who are not watching a show (that could be ballet, opera, concert, drama, play…), it is possible to see inside the performance halls joining a guided tour to learn more about the architectural facts and fascinating stories about the building.
I also recommend having drinks or even dinner at the Opera Bar. The place has a variety of choices from barbecue, seafood, to Asian-style fusion dishes at a reasonable price. Diners could feel free to sit by the water-side sofa, enjoy and relax in between the two signature landmarks of the city, the Sydney opera house, and the Sydney Harbor Bridge.
George Street, City Center
Behind the Sydney Opera House and Circular Quay is the business center of Sydney. Walkthrough Martin Place and discover the mix of old and modern. Pitts Street and Market Street are a stone-throw away from the business district, and it is an exciting shopping area with not only modern shopping arcades and the Apple Store, but also historical ones like Queen Victoria Building (QVB) and The Strand Arcade.
On the other side of the Pitt Street Mall stands the Sydney tower that is the tallest observation tower in New South Wales. It is one of the best ways to enjoy a panoramic view of the entire Sydney. Visitors might even see the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, and the Bondi Beach on a bright day! Daredevils could step onto SKYWALK and appreciate the stunning bird’s eye view of the bustling city beneath your feet!
For those who don’t like walking, or sitting on a tour bus – consider a bike tour to visit all the classic tourist spots in the Sydney city center. The Bonza Bike Tour offers different routes that take visitors to the main attractions along the waterfront and beautiful beaches. At night, explore the Rocks in a different way by joining The Rocks Ghost Tours which includes spooky, strange and mystery stories and antidotes wandering in various the streets of the oldest district in the city.
Oxford Road, Paddington & Surry Hills
Enjoy a day of the shopping spree in Paddington or Surry Hills as both neighboring areas that stretch along Oxford Street has lots of boutiques, cafés, and designer stores that are full of unique character and style.
Like bloggers, designers need time and a place to establish their names. A proper stage for startup designers helps them gain exposure until one day they become “somebody”! The Paddington Market, therefore, somehow is the cradle of local designers before they could open a boutique store on the Oxford Street, local designers like Collette Dinnigan, Lisa Ho, Von Troska…. started up in the market, so you would never know if you have discovered a future star in the fashion world.
The Paddington Markets open on Saturdays with about 200 stalls set up with fashion, accessories, artworks, paintings, home products that were produced with each designer’s heart and soul. Customers usually would get to “meet the designer” as they tried to explain their design concept behind their products.
Visit The Cupcake Bakery after your shopping spree – it’s a popular Cupcake bakery with freshly baked cupcakes in different flavors, from mint chocolate, lemon cheese, strawberry yogurt to carrot.
Darlinghurst Road, Kings Cross
What was once a shady neighborhood has turned itself to a range of small bars, art galleries, and respected theaters that making the exploration of the district full of surprises! It is an exciting area for the kooky and wicked. Along the Darlinghurst Road, there are tattoo parlors, nightclubs, lottery stores, old videotape rental places, and adult stores. One night we were walking along the street, and we headed to a burger place while later we found that there was a tranny bingo to get free drinks!
Dixon Street, Haymarket
Sydney’s Dixon Street is a funky Asian town (a.k.a. China Town) that was like Taipei’s night market or Hong Kong’s Woman’s Street. Here, bilingual street signs are up in Chinese and English. Hong Kong Diners, Asia Food Court, Chinese Hot Pot, Karaoke Lounge, Foot Massage, Nail parlors, Chinese Supermarket with all sorts of dried seafood, and Chinese sauces and condiments could be found in the area. The Taiwanese dessert and Thai food were exceptional, and it gets better during the weekends where food stalls are set up with Asian novelty snacks, small bites, and souvenirs, the funniest thing to me was the long queue outside the “Emporer’s puff”… selling Hong Kong-style egg waffles.