Most holidays to Australia start in Sydney, where the famous harbour and Opera House are show-stoppers.
But there’s so much more to the cultural capital.
Here are 50 tips on how to make the most of one of the finest cities on Earth.
1. High and mighty
Head for heights: Hair-raising climbing tours of Sydney Harbour Bridge cost from £145 with a safety briefing included
Hair-raising climbing tours of Sydney Harbour Bridge cost from £145 with a safety briefing included (bridgeclimb.com). But if you just want to see great views – and get your bearings – ascend one of the support pylons for £8.20. pylonlookout.com.au
2. On the Rocks
Afterwards, go for a drink in the heart of Sydney, where settlers first stepped foot in 1788. The Glenmore pub is situated up a small hill in the Rocks neighbourhood. Most tourists stick to the waterfront, so it’s quieter here – and perfect for an afternoon tipple. theglenmore.com.au
3. Bridge picnic
Feel jet-lag evaporate at Bradfield Park, next to Sydney Harbour Bridge on the north bank – it’s fantastic for a quiet picnic with views of the Opera House.
4. Pool with a view
Make a splash: North Sydney Olympic Pool has 50-metre open-air lanes and old-fashioned locker rooms
How about a city swim? Next to Bradfield Park is North Sydney Olympic Pool, which has 50-metre open-air lanes and old-fashioned locker rooms. Entry £4.50. northsydney.nsw.gov.au
5. Contemporary art
The Museum of Contemporary Art in the Rocks – not far from the Glenmore pub – has free exhibitions with a focus on new Australian works, plus a great little gift shop. mca.com.au
6. Art for all
Is the Art Gallery of New South Wales home to the most important art collection in Australia? More than 33,000 works are here – and they’re free to see. Plus there are the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens next door. artgallery.nsw.gov.au
7. Opera house tour
The architecture inside the Sydney Opera House. Don’t forget to have a drink or a meal at the Opera Bar
Hour-long behind-the-scenes Sydney Opera House tours are £23. Add a meal at the Opera Bar and it’s £37. sydneyoperahouse.com
8. Top coffee
Wharfside Celsius Coffee, in the neighbourhood of Kirribilli facing Sydney Opera House, is a marvellous pit stop after walking across Sydney Harbour Bridge. celsiuscoffeeco.com.au
9. Aboriginal tours
Dreamtime Southern X offers incredible 90-minute tours, led by Aboriginal guides, of indigenous people’s history in Sydney Harbour for £24. dreamtimesouthernx.com.au
10. Take in a show
The State Theatre on Market Street in the Central Business District is home to the Sydney Film Festival and is a glittery, golden treat. Book ahead. statetheatre.com.au
11. Ocean pools
It’s £4.40 to go to the Icebergs pools by Bondi Beach (above) but free to swim at the quieter Bronte Baths, just one-and-a-half miles away
The city has more than 40 seawater pools. It’s £4.40 to go to the Icebergs pools by Bondi Beach but free to swim at the quieter Bronte Baths, just one-and-a-half miles away.
12. Don’t get sunburnt
Make like a Sydneysider and buy a tube of factor-50 suncream produced by Cancer Council Australia, widely available (£8.15).
13. Super seafood
North Bondi Fish restaurant serves first-rate oysters, sashimi, scallops and fish tacos. About £40 for two courses. northbondifish.com.au
14. Street art
Wall murals on the southern end of Bondi Beach are like an open-air gallery with Aboriginal works.
15. Bondi to Coogee
Bondi to Coogee beach is about a four-mile walk and passes the sandy cove at Bronte Beach, where there are free outdoor gas barbecues.
16. Opal cards
Get an Opal card (which works like London’s Oyster card) for cheaper travel on ferries, buses, trams, trains and metro. transportnsw.info
17. Hit the surf
For great surfing, catch the 30-minute ferry from Circular Quay to Manly Beach. It costs £5.20
For great surfing, head for Manly Beach. Catch the 30-minute, £5.20 ferry from Circular Quay. transport.nsw.info
18. Uber Down Under
The city is swarming with Ubers. Sydney is brilliant for both Ubers and regular taxis for easy sightseeing.
19. Rock ’n’ pizza
Let your hair down at Frankie’s pizzeria, a lively music venue just off Circular Quay. frankiespizzabytheslice.com
20. Cool cocktails
The Baxter Inn serves whisky cocktails in a dimly lit basement on Clarence Street. Open till 1am Monday-Saturday. thebaxterinn.com
21. Comedy nights
The Sydney Comedy Club holds events at Luna Park. Shows are £16.50. sydneycomedyclub.com.au
22. Kangaroo steaks
Try skewered kangaroo steak (£21) at the Meat and Wine Co’s Bangaroo restaurant, also near Circular Quay. themeatandwineco.com
23. Croc and emu
Foodies rave about the crocodile and emu pizzas at the Australian Hotel pub/restaurant in the Rocks; £12.60. australianheritagehotel.com
24. Learn to shuck an oyster
Tours of Sydney Fish Market in the Pyrmont district – where 55 tons of seafood are sold each day – start at 6.40am on weekdays, last just under two hours and cost £24. sydneyfishmarket.com.au
25. Delicious dumplings
Eastern promise: An impressive variety of Asian specialities is available in the Chinatown diners
Still peckish? Nearby Chinatown is where ten dumplings are to be had for £6. Try the Chinese Noodle Restaurant on Quay Street.
26. Little Hanoi
The western suburb of Cabramatta is home to a Vietnamese community – and excellent Vietnamese restaurants (naturally).
27. Market life: Saturday
Carriageworks Farmers Market is held on Saturdays in a former train carriage factory in the Eveleigh district. Stalls sell pies, juices, wines, herbal teas and Vegemite muffins. carriageworks.com.au
28. Market life: Sunday
Foodies make a beeline for Marrickville Organic Markets on Sundays, where there are also clothing stalls. marketsandfairs.com.au
29. Inner-city tour
Culture Scouts offers two- to three-hour tours of Redfern and neighbouring Chippendale inner-city districts (£54). Redfern has strong Aboriginal ties and vibrant community spirit among old terrace houses, while Chippendale is home to avant-garde galleries. culturescouts.com.au
30. Acai juice
Sydneysiders love acai berry smoothies. Sip a glass at Pride of Redfern cafe by Redfern Station.
31. Into the future
Check out cutting-edge art at the White Rabbit Gallery on Balfour Street in Chippendale then the futuristic apartments in Central Park.
32. Spice Alley
Around the corner from Central Park, Spice Alley is a warren of Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian and Singaporean food. Wok-fried Singaporean chilli chicken with rice is £8.70. spicealley.com.au
33. Hang out with hipsters
Hang out with hipsters in Newtown, a bohemian suburb with vintage clothes shops, cafes and rooftop bars
Newtown is a bohemian suburb three miles west of the Central Business District with vintage clothes shops, cafes and rooftop bars.
34. Artisan ales
Young Henrys in Newtown, a cool microbrewery that opened in 2012, produces ales, ciders and lagers on Wilford Street. younghenrys.com
35. For Veggies
Lentil As Anything, also in Newtown, gets the thumbs-up from vegetarians and vegans. Pay as you can policy; £7 is a guide price. lentilasanything.com/newtown
36. It’s a scoop
Gelato Messina ice cream stores offer apple pie, tiramisu and chocolate-chip cheesecake flavours; £2.90 a scoop. gelatomessina.com
37. Secret garden
Wendy’s Secret Garden, an oasis with ancient trees and hidden terraces, has views of Sydney Harbour from Lavender Bay. Wendy Whiteley began transforming the garden as therapy after her artist husband died in 1992. Free entry. wendyssecretgarden.org.au
38. Best for books
Enjoy an espresso, a glass of wine or excellent poached eggs on toast (£5) at the little cafe of Berkelouw bookshop in the Paddington neighbourhood. A Sydney literary institution with rare second-hand books. berkelouw.com.au
39. Hip hotel
On the edge of the super-cool Surry Hills neighbourhood, Paramount House Hotel recently opened in the former Paramount Pictures HQ. There’s a cinema, rooftop gym, hip cafe and urban-chic rooms from £110. paramounthousehotel.com
40. Brilliant breakfast
Around the corner, Cuckoo Callay offers super-sized breakfasts including ‘Return of the MacDaddy’ croissants with macaroni cheese, bacon and poached eggs for £11. cuckoo-callay.com.au
41. Retro guesthouse
The nearby Little Albion guesthouse has vibrant, retro rooms inspired by the 1920s and 1970s in the heart of Surry Hills; from £111 B&B. i-escape.com
42. Sleep at the zoo
Wild: Taronga Zoo offers ‘Roar and Snore’ packages in a luxury tent with views of Sydney Harbour and the lion enclosure
Taronga Zoo offers ‘Roar and Snore’ packages in a luxury tent with views of Sydney Harbour and the lion enclosure. From £618 a night for a family of four. taronga.org.au
43. Sydney’s best brew
Pablo’s Vice is a lovely little cafe on Crown Street in Darlinghurst – close to Surry Hills – with an open window into a sunken room where some of Sydney’s best coffee is brewed each morning.
44. Home and Away
Palm Beach is where soap opera Home And Away is filmed. See Alf’s Bait Shop and the Summer Bay Diner from the series.
45. Bush walking
Explore: A breathtaking view of Garie Beach in the Royal National Park
Head to Royal National Park for a seven-mile walk through the bush, taking in magnificent Garie Beach, waterfalls, rocky outcrops and swimming and picnic spots. nationalparks.nsw.gov.au
The Monster Skate Park is a complex of ramps for skateboarders and BMX bike riders in Sydney Olympic Park.
Sydney Harbour Kayaks offers rental kayaks from £11 an hour. sydneyharbourkayaks.com.au
Join Sydneysiders for a morning run in the Royal Botanic Gardens.
49. Skiing and surfing
It’s a five- to seven-hour drive south-west to the Thredbo and Perisher ski resorts. Plan it right and it’s possible to ski and surf from Sydney in a single day. thredbo.com.au, perisher.com.au
50. Catch the light show
Vivid Sydney is an annual May- to-June light show when the Sydney Opera House is a blaze of artily choreographed lights
Vivid Sydney is an annual May- to-June light show when the Sydney Opera House is a blaze of artily choreographed lights each night, with many other bright displays in the downtown area. There are accompanying cultural talks, workshops and music gigs. vividsydney.com
T. D. Isacke was a guest of Destination NSW (destinationnsw.com.au) and Vivid Sydney (vividsydney.com). This is the city’s annual May-to-June light show with accompanying cultural talks, workshops and music gigs. Emirates (emirates.com) has return flights from Gatwick to Sydney via Dubai from £630 this month.