During our four days in Sydney, my goal was to capture the iconic symbols of this city, the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, at sunset. Thankfully, my family was very patient with me, as we watched the sunset over and over again while I captured the drama on my camera.
We did more than just watch the sunset, of course, visiting Taronga Zoo, walking from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach, shopping, and enjoying Vivid Sydney, a two week long laser and neon show illuminating the main sites in the city. I took tons of photos, as always, so here is my photographic tour of Sydney.
The Queen Victoria Building, or QVB, has been labeled as one of the most beautiful places in the world to go shopping. Inside were coffee shops and upscale shopping stores.
Just across the street is Sydney’s Town Hall and a man warning of the end of the world.
Sydney Opera House
From the QVB we walked down to the Circular Quay, Sydney’s hub for ferry transportation and our first look at the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. The Opera House is not one large building, it is actually several venues all at one location.
The Rocks, one of Sydney’s famous neighborhoods, almost looks colonial. This is a great place to grab a bite to eat or go shopping at the market.
The Taronga Zoo
The Taronga Zoo, located across the harbor from the Circular Quay, is wonderful. Here they have a huge range of Australia animals as well as lions, tigers, komodo dragons, and Asian elephants. The best part of the zoo is the ferry ride to get there and the view back to Sydney.
The view from the zoo
Sunset from Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair
For one of the best sunset views, we paid a visit to Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, a famous viewpoint of the Sydney Harbor. Here I felt like a true photographer, equipped with my camera, tripod, and timer, making my very patient and understanding family wait in the cold for almost two hours while I filled my memory card with photos of the sunset. I think it was worth it. I am not so sure if they do.
Walking from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach
Walking from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach was a highlight, escaping from the city for a walk along the beaches, a chance to watch the surfers, and a view of a pool that we wished we could have swam in. If only we had brought our swimsuits!!
The View from the South Pylon
One of the best ways to get a bird’s eye view of the city is to walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Pay just $15 AUD and you can have a spectacular view from the south pylon. It may sound like a lot to pay, but it’s just a fraction of the cost of the Harbour Bridge Climb with a very similar view.
Sydney Sunset from Luna Park
I got another chance at photographing Sydney (and another chance to test my family’s patience), this time from Luna Park. This is my favorite perspective of Sydney.
For almost two weeks, Sydney is aglow in neon lights and laser shows, a part of Vivid Sydney. Every night a lightshow plays on the Opera House and here is just a quick example of how this Australian icon is lit up at night.
Vivid Sydney usually takes place from the end of May into the first half of June.
The Sydney Opera House Cafe
Our time eventually had to come to an end. We spent our last night at the Sydney Opera House cafe, playing cards, drinking wine, and watching the sunset.
Where We Stayed
If you would like to know where NOT to stay in Sydney, then do not go to the Central Railway Hotel. This hotel, one of the few that were cheap enough to fit into our budget, was loud, dirty, and cramped. We were constantly checking the windows, thinking they were open, since so much noise was coming in from the streets. Almost every night a group of loud, drunk people would return to their rooms, waking up the rest of the hotel. The wifi here rivaled Nepal’s it was so bad. The only good thing was its location, being a five minute walk from Central Station, a major hub of Sydney. Look elsewhere!
More Information about Australia
PLACES TO GO IN AUSTRALIA: Go wine tasting in Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale, explore Uluru and the Red Centre of Australia, visit Melbourne, go snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, and don’t miss Tasmania, one of our favorite places in Australia.
MELBOURNE: Melbourne is our favorite city in Australia. Learn about the Best Things to Do in Melbourne and get a recap of our experiences here.
SOUTH AUSTRALIA: In our Guide to McLaren Vale, get recommendations for 18 exceptional wineries to visit. We also have a recap about our visit to McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley from our first visit to Australia.
TASMANIA: In Tasmania, hike to Cape Raoul and Wineglass Bay, explore the Tasman Peninsula, spend some time on Bruny Island, visit Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, and cruise to Tasman Island.
GREAT OCEAN ROAD: Driving the Great Ocean Road is one of the most scenic drives in the world.
TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY: For more information about the camera gear we carry, check out our Travel Photography Gear Guide. And tips and tricks for taking great photos in our article How to Take Better Photos while Traveling.
Planning a trip to Australia? Read all of our articles in our Australia Travel Guide.
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Your photos are so beautiful…I have loved looking at your adventures. My husband and I are going to Sydney, Australia in March and then heading over to New Zealand. Is it doable to go from the North Island to the South and only spend 8 hours? Just curious about your thoughts.
Hello DeeAnn. You will need a lot more time than just 8 hours to visit the South Island. With 8 hours, you will only have time to see one place on the northern tip of the South Island, so I don’t think that it is worth it. However, the South Island all by itself makes a great 10 to 14 day trip (or even longer) as a future trip idea. Cheers, Julie
Fabulous photos- I’m sure it was hard to decide which to share!
Great job… I have not been there, but now I want to go 🙂