City guide: Sydney, Australia | Private jet charter
Sydney – a not so hidden history
To say this city, home to more than five million people, has character is something of an understatement. This a destination that’s so rich in history it spills out of every pore.
Close to the Blue Mountains and the sprawling Royal National Park, this modern marvel still bears the stories and the scars of a history steeped in colonialism, as the first European settlement in Australia.
Today you can read those stories and more besides as you find your way around a city that has hosted Olympic games, established the first university in Australia and is home to the famous Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
Get to know Sydney, a city that’s as diverse as anywhere in Europe and always a joy to visit
Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport is one of the oldest continually operating commercial airports in the world, handling more than 42 million customers every year. Located just five miles to the south of the city, it’s a convenient destination to fly into.
The airport is a hub for Qantas and receives international flights from across the globe, so finding flights shouldn’t pose too many problems. It’s also possible to fly to this airport with a chartered private plane. You will find various options for layovers depending on your starting point and route.
Getting to the city from the airport is as easy as taking a 13-minute train ride on the Airport Link service. Get an Opal ticket from WHSmith or Relay or tap through the gate using your credit or debit card. Trains are found on the Arrivals level and leave every ten minutes.
Buses are also readily accessible, and you’ll need to pick up an Opal card to access these services too. Taxis are another option and Uber is also available, so download the app to your smartphone.
What to do, places to go
Yes, you absolutely should go and take a look at the Opera House, both inside and out and the Sydney Harbour Bridge but why not see it from the sea with a ride on the Manly Ferry. There’ll be plenty of locals taking the ferry to work but this is also a fantastic way to see these iconic Sydney staples plus a lot more, including the zoo and beautiful coastline.
If you’re looking for some other great ideas, try the following:
Guringai Aboriginal Tours
Aboriginal owned and operated, this tour invites you to walk through the Ku-ring-gai National park, 45 minutes from Sydney’s CBD area.
You’ll explore the park and discover how its original inhabitants used it to learn and live, creating artwork and caring for it. The tour takes around 3.5 hours and includes a lunch stop and chance to chat with your guide. It’s accessible for both wheelchair users and children.
Sydney by Kayak
If you’re still feeling energetic this unusual way to see the city is the perfect start to the day. Meet early morning for the Sunrise Kayak and Coffee tour which has you out on the water before the rest of Sydney is barely awake. Your coffee is delivered to your kayak before you paddle off for a tour of the coast and the chance to go under Sydney Harbour Bridge if the weather conditions are favourable.
Museum of Sydney, Corner Phillip and Bridge Street
It’s hard to pick just one museum from the city’s impressive list. Head to the Justice and Police Museum for some gore or here to the MOS for a glimpse at Sydney past, present and future.
The building stands on the spot of the first Government House built in 1788 and visitors can still see some of the original architecture inside.
With exhibitions including a history of the indigenous people who lived on the land before the First Fleet arrived in 1788, the museum brings the story up to date with sculptures and art reflecting Sydney’s artistic and bohemian residents.
Go here for the views and the chance to soak up a bit of surf life enjoyed by the lucky residents of Sydney. Early morning, the sunrise is spectacular and later on in the day there’s plenty of scope for a cocktail or two at one of the beach bars.
You can get to the beach by bus or train, a 30-minute trip from the Town Hall station stop.
Where to eat and drink
As you’d expect from a city where more than 250 languages are spoken, your dining options are plentiful. Taking inspiration from Asian culture and with a love of meat and fresh seafood, you can’t go wrong in this fusion of cultures. Just make sure to nod and agree when told the classic meringue dessert Pavlova originated in Australia and not close rival, New Zealand.
Spice Alley, Kensington Street
With a nod to the hawker centres of Singapore, this is Asian street food done beautifully. Meander through the covered street of eateries where you can choose from traditional Singaporean classics such as chicken and rice or stop off at Thai or Vietnamese stalls to sample the best these countries have to offer.
You’ll be back again with so much to choose from at this relaxed hangout.
Café Sydney, Customs House, Circular Quay
Ride up to the 5th floor of Customs House and you’ll be greeted by a spectacular view of the city, and that’s even before the appetisers are on the table.
As you might expect given the location, the menu is seafood-heavy but there is plenty of meat with pork belly and beef options. There is also an extensive vegan menu, including vegan wine.
The fabulous wine and cocktail menu make this restaurant a popular destination for locals and tourists alike so make sure you book in plenty of time for your visit.
Ramblin Rascal, Corner of Park and Elizabeth Street
As the website puts it, “get fat and drink like a champion”. This fun, cosy bar offers great cocktails, leather-seated booths and characterful exposed brickwork. Burgers and fried chicken are available from open to close to soak up the cocktails at this basement bar, a stone’s throw from the Town Hall station. There are also weekly live music slots.
Flour and Stone, Riley Street
If there’s one culinary must you need to experience it’s eating a Lamington. This sponge cake is traditionally dipped in chocolate and covered in coconut but at this café, you’ll get a panna cotta-soaked version that might just be better than the original.
This small but hugely popular café serves mouth-watering breakfasts, sandwiches and of course cakes and if you can’t find a table then head out with your coffee along Woolloomooloo Wharf for a stroll past some of the hipper bars and restaurants in the area and a view of the water.
Where to stay
Sydney is a city made up of a great many suburbs and districts but there are several tried and tested areas that remain enduringly popular as places to stay. The city’s CBD and Darlinghurst areas are usually among the most popular, but you’ll find a spot that caters for all tastes – whether you’re looking for fabulous late-night entertainment or a quieter, more peaceful existence.
Manor House Boutique Hotel, Flinders Street, Darlinghurst
This surprisingly charming hotel has been offering accommodation since 1988 but has roots further back in Sydney’s history as a historical building dating back to the 1850s. It is close to many of the city’s more popular tourist attractions and offers a complimentary breakfast in the light, airy atrium dining area.
Rooms are simple but have everything you might need. A great, affordable option for a central location.
The Old Clare Hotel, Kensington Street, Chippendale
Home to the more artistic elements of Sydney, this area is awash with galleries, restaurants and bars. This 62-room hotel has just undergone some major renovation and is looking better than ever, especially considering the age of the two heritage-listed buildings it inhabits.
Rooms are tastefully and elegantly styled. Guests can enjoy cocktails poolside on the roof and dine in any of three onsite restaurants before heading out to explore what’s on offer for a fun night out in surrounding Chippendale.
Bondi 38 Serviced Apartments, Campbell Parade, Bondi
Located across the road from the beach these serviced apartments are comfortable and well equipped with kitchen and laundry facilities in each smartly decorated room. Book a beach-facing room with balcony for that little bit extra or choose interconnecting rooms if you’re staying with family or friends.
Close to everything you need in terms of bars, restaurants and of course the beach, these apartments offer a convenient alternative to hotel accommodation.
The Sebel Quay West Suites, Gloucester Street, The Rocks
These five-star suites come complete with kitchen and laundry facilities, a separate lounge and dining area and spectacular views of the Sydney skyline. You’ll find a reception that’s staffed 24-hours a day plus a French bistro and bar.
A swimming pool, spa, sauna, gym and sundeck complete the picture, making this a high-quality option in a vibrant and historical area of Sydney.
Sydney Park Hotel, King Street, Newtown
For a hotel with a whole lot of character, this is a great option. Located above a pub that prides itself on locally brewed beer, the eight rooms are uniquely decorated with original art and custom-made furniture. Book the terrace house accommodation for two king-size beds, lounge and kitchen and access to the courtyard.
Head down to the pub for classic pub food done simply but done well. The Newtown area is a mix of shabby chic and bohemian independence with a plethora of shops and bars that are known for their craft beers.
Little Albion, Little Albion Street, Surry Hills
Billing itself as a luxury hotel with the comfort of home, this accommodation fits in perfectly with the cool vibe of Surry Hills – an area that has seen large scale gentrification and is a world apart from its working-class roots.
Enjoy a glass of wine on the rooftop bar or stroll around the neighbourhood, the hotel is well situated in this quirky suburb.
Each room is individually styled and the whole house is available to hire if you’re travelling as a large group. Pets are also welcome.
Your first job is to get hold of an Opal card. This ticket to freedom allows you to use the train, light rail, bus and ferry networks. You can also use your bank card to tap in and out of many stations.
Trains run across the cities and into the suburbs, but you may need to add on a bus journey if you’re heading a little further out.
The light rail network is the equivalent to a tram service in many European destinations and runs to popular tourist spots throughout the city. Arriving every ten minutes or so it’s a convenient and easy way to get around.
Buses are a great option, especially if you’re heading to Bondi and other out of town destinations. The ferry is perfect if you want a bit of sightseeing thrown in for free and most lines take contactless payment, making it an easily accessible option.
Uber is also available throughout Sydney.
Best time to visit
Sydney rarely gets too cold, though temperatures do drop between June and August. December to February are often the warmest months reaching between 25 and 30 degrees with March to May, and September to November feeling warm and spring-like.
Peak tourism season is over the hotter summer months towards the end of the year, which is reflected in both the price of flights and accommodation.
You could spend a day exploring each of the many suburbs and districts of Sydney and still not cover half of what makes this such a great place to visit. A stunning coastline, modern dining trends and bars but all with that distinct character of a past built on colonialism. Enjoy the stunning architecture and spectacular beaches but take time to dig a little deeper and get to know a city that will charm you with its rich history and vibrant culture.
If you are looking at booking a private jet charter to and from Sydney contact us today.