How to Spend 1 Day in Sydney, Australia

Updated August 11, 2020.

Whether you’re there on a long layover, tack on an extra day to a business trip, or you’re just passing through before exploring the rest of the Australian continent, Sydney is a perfect place to spend a day. You can see and do so many iconic things in a short time here because its all close together, and it’s almost always sunny in Sydney! Here’s an itinerary to help you make the most of your one day in Sydney!

* Times listed below are mere suggestions, with plenty of cushion to allow for sidetracks and stops for photos along the way!

Stop 1: Gardens and Iconic Photo Op!

Start Time: No Later than 8:00am
Admission: FREE

Start with a walk (or if you’re like us, a refreshing morning run) around the Botanical Gardens, then wind your way over to Macquaries Point for that iconic shot of the Opera House with the Sydney Harbor Bridge in the background. You’ll get all the beauty with far fewer people by ticking these off your list in the morning rather than later in the day! Grab breakfast and a coffee at one of the many cafes along Circular Quay or just a few streets beyond either before or after your walk.

Take in that morning view!
Read on: Instagrammable Sydney

Stop 2: Sydney Opera House Tour

Start Time: 10:00-11:00am (tours available every day 9-5)
Admission: Standard Tour AUD$40

Do not miss this tour! If you’re at all interested in history, architecture, the arts, or conflict, the Sydney Opera House Tour is for you! This was definitely a dream of mine—I mean, it’s one of the most iconic places in the entire world. I had no idea there was so much drama in the construction of it, and our tour guide was enthusiastic and entertaining! Plus, who doesn’t love listening to that Aussie accent?

In the middle of enjoying our Sydney Opera House tour!
This is certainly one of my 10 Favorite Reasons to Visit Sydney!

Stop 3: Sydney Harbor Bridge Views

Start Time: Noon (Museum in the First Pylon Open 10-5 daily)
Admission: FREE to walk across the bridge; AUD$15 for the museum

If you want a different vantage point of Sydney, take a stroll across the Sydney Harbor Bridge. The pedestrian side faces downtown and the Opera House, while the other side is strictly for cyclists (both pedestrians and cyclists, rejoice!). You’ll get incredible views and more photo ops from the bridge itself, and if you want to learn more about the Bridge itself, you can go up inside the first pylon. There you’ll find history and fun facts about the Bridge and its long road to construction, and you can get an even higher view from the top! You may even see some bridge climbers making their way up.

More interested in the Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb? Check it out to see if it’s for you! Prices range from AUD$168-$403, depending on your chosen experience.

The view from the top!
More here: What to Know Before You Visit Sydney

Stop 4: Lunch

You’ll find plenty of lunch options on either side of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, so just keep an eye out. Whether you want to grab a little something to go from a food truck or prefer to relax and have a sit-down meal experience, you’ll find what you’re looking for. Want the maxiumum number of options? Check out Circular Quay and the surrounding area!

What’s for lunch? Check out What to Eat in Sydney!

Stop 5: Ferry to Manly Beach or Ferry to Taronga Zoo

Start Time: 2:00pm
Admission: Manly Ferry: 30 minutes; AUD$7.51
Admission: Taronga Zoo: 12 minutes; AUD$6.01

With all that walking you’ve earned a ferry ride! Want a world-class beach experience to relax and reflect on your day? Take the Manly Ferry to Manly Beach (for real, it’s called the “Manly Ferry”). Feel like you need to see a koala while you’re in Australia? Take the ferry just across the harbor to Taronga Zoo! Either is a quintessential Sydney experience, and you can spend 2-3 hours in an afternoon enjoying either one!

Cuddliest naptime ever. Look at that sweet koala!
The view from Manly Beach
Sunset from Manly Beach
Read on: Solo Travel: Sydney

Stop 6: Supper

Sydney does not fall short when it comes to food options. Whether you choose to dine around Circular Quay, Darling Harbor, or Downtown Sydney, you’ll be in for a treat! No matter your budget, you won’t be left hungry. Here’s a shot of my Aussie Surf ‘n Turf from one fo the restaurants at Darling Harbor:

Aussie Surf ‘n Turf: The biggest prawns you’ve ever seen, plus kangaroo steak!
Don’t forget this! How to Get an Australian Tourist Visa

Think you can’t possibly see Sydney in a day? Think again! I hope this itinerary helps give you the quintessential Sydney experience! For more about food, things to do, and what to know before you go, checkout my Australia Page!

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2 responses to “How to Spend 1 Day in Sydney, Australia”

  1. […] love Sydney. You can see all the iconic sites in just a day, and their electronic passport system (which we just experienced for the first time on our trip in […]

  2. […] any length and any destinations within the country. Much to my surprise, I only had one itinerary: One Day in Sydney. Whoops! Steve’s and my first trip together was to Sydney and Cairns, and this is the first […]

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