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How to Spend 5 Days in Sydney – The BEST 5-Day City Itinerary

How to Spend 5 Days in Sydney – The BEST 5-Day City Itinerary

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Planning a 5-day trip to Sydney, and aren’t sure where to start? I understand where you’re coming from – Sydney is Australia’s most iconic city after all! 

As long-time travelers and Australian locals (Bailey was even a Sydney resident for a bit) we know how overwhelming it can be to plan an itinerary in this city. That’s why we’ve made one for you!

Five days is the perfect amount of time to settle into Sydney’s bustling culture. We’ve packed this itinerary with classic Sydney sights (like the Opera House – duh!), visits to our favorite neighborhoods, bucket list experiences, and even some epic day trips. 

Either follow this itinerary exactly or pick out your favorite activities – you’ll hit the highlights either way!

Day 1

Morning – Go for brunch

Meal at Rolling Penny Newtown Cafe in Sydney
Meal at Rolling Penny Newtown in Sydney
Two coffee at Rolling Penny Newtown in Sydney
Mmm, coffee!

Today we are going to explore Sydney’s top sights, so a good breakfast is essential to keep your energy up! There are a few areas of the city to go for brunch, but we think Newtown is the best. Newtown is a quirky neighborhood full of art, trendy restaurants, and vintage stores. It’s super fun to check out and the perfect way to start your 5-day Sydney itinerary. 

You can get to Newtown pretty easily by train, it’s only a 16-minute journey from Circular Quay or 13 minutes from Wynyard Station in the CBD.

There are tons of tasty restaurants in Newtown, but we recommend Rolling Penny! We always start our Sydney trips here, the food is just too good. I get the smoked duck breast and poached eggs on focaccia toast, and Bailey goes for the halloumi and egg ciabatta (but it’s all good). The Rolling Penny Newtown is open from 7:30 am to 3 pm every day of the week. 

Just down the road is another tasty option at Flour Drum. This is great if you have a sweet tooth as they are well known for making the best cakes and cookies. Wait until you see the monster cookie, it might spoil your breakfast! Flour Drum is open every day except Wednesday. 

Depending on where you’re staying, Newtown might be a bit out of the way, so you can always head towards Hyde Park (which is our next stop). Two Good Eggs Cafe is another great breakfast option. Their egg dishes are on point (no surprise from their name) and I also love the pancakes. 

Last but certainly not least, if you’re staying in Circular Quay, we enjoy Edes! Their breakfast menu goes until 11 am, and after that, they have a fantastic Italian menu. It’s worth a stop at any time of the day, and the airy, natural light of the cafe is really lovely.

Late morning – Royal Botanic Gardens and Mrs Macquarie’s Chair

Bailey enjoys the view from Mrs Macquarie's Chair in Sydney of the opera house and harbour bridge
Mrs Macquarie’s Chair
Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney Australia
Royal Botani Gardens in Sydney Australia

Let’s start exploring the city by checking out Sydney’s most iconic viewpoint – Mrs Macquarie’s Chair! Located in the Royal Botanic Gardens, the journey to reach the viewpoint does not disappoint. This is actually the oldest botanical garden in the country, and the greenery with the harbor breeze is simply gorgeous. 

After strolling through the gardens for a bit you’re sure to stumble upon Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. Sydney is full of amazing views, but people love this specific spot because it perfectly frames the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. In fact, this viewpoint became famous because a former governor’s wife, Elizabeth Macquarie, loved this spot so much that they carved a chair for her to enjoy it!

You’ll understand how beautiful this viewpoint is once you’re here, and we love starting our mornings with this scenic walk. After gazing at the Opera House across the harbor, take the 20-minute walk to explore it for yourself.

Midday – Tour the Sydney Opera House

Bailey on the steps of the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia
Bailey on the steps of the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia
Daniel and Bailey take a selfie inside the concert hall at the Sydney Opera House on a tour
Inside the Opera House!

I’m not mean enough to put the big-ticket Sydney item at the end of this itinerary. No way – we are visiting the famous Sydney Opera House on day one! After visiting the Opera House multiple times ourselves, I’m happy to report that it lives up to the hype and is definitely a can’t-miss attraction. Before you go – check out our guide on visiting the Sydney Opera House here!

The only way to visit this iconic place is to take a guided tour. We went on this 1-hour guided tour and were blown away by all the facts, details, and juicy performance stories we learned.

Our guide took us to backstage areas that are usually closed off to the public, and they showed us the crazy logistics it takes to pull off shows. There are over 1,600 performances at the Sydney Opera House every year, so you can imagine how many people it takes to pull these off. 

There was even more fascinating history we learned on our tour – but I won’t spoil all the details for you! It’s such a legendary location in Sydney, that it was well worth booking a tour. I’d recommend it to anyone visiting the city (that’s why it’s on this itinerary!).

This one-hour walking tour is $45 AUD. There are multiple departure times throughout the day, but it’s best to reserve your preferred time in advance, as they are known to fill up. 

Lunch

Bailey enjoys a drink at the Canteen of the Sydney Opera House with views of the Opera House
Cheers!
A meal and drink from the House Canteen at the Sydney Opera House
A meal and drink from the House Canteen at the Sydney Opera House

This first morning of the itinerary flies by, and it’s already time for lunch. There are a lot of tasty options around Circular Quay (the area of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge) but I have a few recommendations. 

If you’re feeling a bit fancy after touring the Opera House, Q Dining is just the place for you. We enjoy treating ourselves here once in a while. It’s an upscale restaurant with a huge wall of windows overlooking the harbor. They serve modern Australian fare, and everything I’ve had is not only delicious but beautifully presented. Lunch is available Wednesday to Sunday from 12-3 pm. 

However, if you’re looking for good views that won’t break the bank, you can conveniently dine at the Sydney Opera House! It’s easy because you can book lunch with your Opera House Tour. This experience is $80 AUD and you can dine at the House Canteen or the Opera Bar. 

We love House Canteen, which makes incredible Asian fusion cuisine – and the views of the Sydney Harbour are certainly no slouch either. But if you’re not super hungry yet, you can enjoy the Opera Bar’s light bite menu and grab a mid-day drink! You are on vacation after all!

Early afternoon – Go on a scenic cruise

Daniel and Bailey pose for a photo on a Sydney Harbour cruise
We loved it!
Our Sydney Harbour cruise sails towards the Sydney Opera House
Oh Sydney, you are beautiful!

You’ve spent nearly all morning gazing at the Sydney Harbour, now it’s time to explore it up close and personal. We had a blast on our cruise along the harbor, dare I say it was the best tour we took in Sydney? (Check out our other favorite Sydney tours here!).

There are a handful of cruise options available, so if you’re looking for the most informative tour, check out this 1.5-hour sightseeing cruise. It provides onboard commentary, so you can learn all about the city and its iconic sights, like the Harbour Bridge, Luna Park, and Fort Denison as you cruise along. 

We particularly liked that the commentary is through an app on your phone, so pop in those headphones and enjoy the sights! It made for a lovely afternoon on the water and it’s pretty affordable. This sightseeing cruise is $49 AUD, but you can also upgrade the cruise to include a welcome drink and a cheese board for $69 AUD. Which is a yummy treat if you’re not full from lunch! 

This tour is offered Wednesday through Sunday and departs from the Circular Quay Wharf at 2 pm – don’t be late!

Views of the Sydney harbour Bridge from a Sydney harbour cruise in Sydney, Australia
You get plenty of amazing views!

We’ve also been on this Journey Beyond Cruise, which is a lunch cruise! This tour is 2.5 hours, so we love the extra time on the boat, and the gourmet lunch and free beer and wine were certainly a nice touch.

The staff were really welcoming and accommodating, and always made sure we were taken care of. The food menu was amazing, with steak, seafood, and locally sourced wine. Read about our whole experience on the Journey Beyond Cruise before you go (they also have a luxurious dinner cruise option!).

This lunch tour is $152 AUD, and while it’s more expensive than the previous cruise, you’re getting a lot more! We loved having more time to enjoy the views from the boat, and the food was so incredibly tasty. But, if you’re traveling on a budget, you can still have a lovely experience on the sightseeing cruise!

The dates offered vary by season, so be sure to check the schedule before you book. This cruise departs from the King Street Wharf, which is about a 10-minute drive from the Opera House. Be sure to leave enough time to get there by 11:55 am when the cruise departs!

Afternoon – Walk Darling Harbour

Bailey poses for a photo while on a walking tour through Darling Harbour, Sydney
Darling Harbour!
Walkway in Darling Harbour Sydney, Australia
Walkway in Darling Harbour Sydney, Australia

Darling Harbour is one of the most popular areas in Sydney, and for good reason! There are so many unique things to do around here, such as Madame Tussauds, a wildlife park, and tons of great bars and restaurants. But my favorite thing to do is simply stroll around, enjoying the waterfront views and atmosphere! This was my go-to spot when I lived in Sydney, and you’ll see tourists and locals hanging out in Darling Harbour – everybody loves it. 

If you’re looking for a good free activity in Sydney, exploring this area is a great option. There’s a lot to take in as you wander around, and it’s super relaxing to watch the boats go in and out of the harbor. 

But if this is your first time in Sydney and you’re looking to make the most out of it, there are plenty of unique attractions – even if you’re traveling with kids!

Madame Tussauds is a fun (albeit slightly corny) waxworks museum! If you’ve never been to one, you have to give it a go, the sculptures and scenes are actually quite impressive. Grab a photo with iconic Aussie actors like Chris Hemsworth and Nicole Kidman, or pretend you’re part of the E.T. or Superman movie set. Book your admission tickets in advance here to skip the line, prices range from $39-$48 AUD depending on what day you go.

But if you’re more keen to see living creatures rather than wax figures, check out the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium. This is a truly impressive aquarium, full of jellyfish, turtles, sharks, king and gentoo penguins, and my favorite – dugongs! The daily feedings are very popular and there are specific times when the keepers give informational sessions that are really interesting. You can buy your afternoon tickets in advance here for $41-$51 AUD, depending on the day.

To dive even further into the Aussie animal kingdom, be sure to visit Wild Life Sydney in Darling Harbour. You’ll find kangaroos, koalas, wombats, reptiles, and even a butterfly exhibit. This is a great option if you’re a bit pressed for time and want to see some of that classic Australian wildlife. There is also an impressive Dreamtime Cave that gives a beautiful display of Indigenous culture and the Aboriginal people’s relationship with the native wildlife. 

Tickets for Wild Life Sydney range from $39-$48 AUD by day, and you can snag afternoon tickets which allow entrance from 1 to 5 pm.

Sunset/dinner – Head up the Sydney Tower Eye

Sydney CBD!

Today has been full of impressive Sydney views, and we are going to squeeze in one more epic sight to finish off day one! The Sydney Tower Eye is a gorgeous tower in the city’s skyline that also has an observation deck 250 meters (820 feet) off the ground. Even more impressive is the restaurant in the tower, so you bet we are having dinner up here tonight!

Before we get to dinner though, take in the views from the Sydney Tower Eye observation deck! This viewpoint gives full panoramic views of the city below, and it’s best seen at sunset in my opinion. I will warn you so you can avoid disappointment, you can’t see the Opera House from the tower – but the other sights are seriously worth it!

I suggest reserving your tickets for the Sydney Tower Eye before you go. We were able to walk right by the long entrance line and get right up to the views when we did this! Tickets range from $27-$38 AUD, and you can select morning or afternoon tickets. Obviously, for this itinerary, choose the afternoon tickets!

The best part about this evening is that the views don’t have to end when you finish at the observation deck. You can head to level 2 of the tower and enjoy dinner at the Skyfeast, which is a rotating restaurant with giant windows! As you enjoy a delicious dinner, you can see the entire city as the restaurant makes its rotation. 

Skyfeast is a huge gourmet buffet, I was truly impressed by the options! Fresh seafood, antipasto, a variety of international cuisines, a meat carvery, and two dessert stations – we were stuffed by the end. One drink is included, and of course, you can purchase more at the bar. The buffet is available for 1.5 hours, and trust me you’ll get your money’s worth!

Tickets for the Skyfeast range from $105 to $120 AUD, depending on the day of the week. There are multiple start times when booking your tickets, so you can give yourself plenty of time at the observation deck before you head to dinner. 

It’s important to note that you have to book your Skyfeast separately from your admission to the Sydney Tower Eye. But, booking them both ahead of time will save you time in the long run, so it doesn’t feel like that big of an inconvenience. It’s certainly worth it – this is one of the best ways to see Sydney!

Related Read: Read our full guide to visiting the Sydney Tower Eye here so you have all the details and info before you go!

Day 2 – Blue Mountains Day Trip

Scenic Skyway in Blue Mountain National Park, Australia
Scenic Skyway in Blue Mountains National Park, Australia
The Three Sisters in Blue Mountain National Park, Australia
The Three Sisters in Blue Mountains National Park, Australia

The Blue Mountains is a stunning national park, iconic for the blue haze that hangs over the mountain tops. It’s only an hour from the city, so it’s a can’t-miss day trip with 5 days in Sydney. 

They get the blue haze from the mass amounts of eucalyptus oil in the forest, it’s pretty impressive. I think this area is even more beautiful because it’s contrasted by impressive rock formations, such as the Three Sisters. Additionally, there is Aboriginal rock art, tons of viewpoints, a wildlife park, and even an adventure park with rides that boast the natural beauty of the Blue Mountains!

With limited time in the city, a day trip will have to suffice (although you could spend longer if time allows!). We recommend taking a tour of the Blue Mountains from Sydney, it simply makes the day easier. Check out all of our favorite Blue Mountain tours here, but I also wanted to highlight the specific tour we went on!

We loved our experience on this small-group tour. It was a jam-packed day, but our guides made it fun and informative, and we loved having a smaller group to travel with. We met our group at a selected meeting point around 7 am, and since the Blue Mountains aren’t terribly far, we quickly reached our first destination – the Three Sisters! As you can see from the photos above, this is a beautiful natural rock formation and we learned all about its history and significance for Aboriginal Aussies, making it even more impressive to see.

Next up, we visited Scenic World, which is a park focused on showcasing the natural beauty of the Blue Mountains. We rode on the scenic cableway, the world’s steepest railway, and the skyway which stretches across a canyon – yikes! It was all fun and a great way to see the Blue Mountains from above. 

Scenic Skyway in Blue Mountains National Park, Australia

On our full-day tour, we also stopped at numerous scenic viewpoints, and were glad to have our guide with us because some of the viewpoints were hidden gems! Then we took a break from sightseeing for lunch and were blown away by the chef-prepared feast that was included on this tour. 

We continued exploring by checking out Featherdale Wildlife Park to see koalas, kangaroos, and other Australian wildlife. My favorite part was seeing the quokkas, they are too cute!

The last part of the tour was a scenic boat ride back into Sydney Harbour. As if this day couldn’t get any more epic, this was the perfect way to end it. It was so relaxing and a completely different perspective of Sydney’s natural beauty, plus sailing into Sydney Harbour is iconic!

There’s a reason this full-day Blue Mountains tour is our favorite. It was truly all-inclusive, our guides were fantastic and took care of every detail, and we learned so much along the way. The Blue Mountains are just so pretty that this made for one of our most memorable days in Sydney. This tour is a great deal at $275 AUD because it covers all entrance fees (and there were numerous), a gourmet lunch, transportation, the river cruise, and our guide over a full 11-hour day trip!

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

Day 3

Breakfast

Joe Black Cafe in Sydney
Photo credit: Joe Black Cafe in Sydney

We are back in the city today exploring more of Sydney’s epic sights. If you travel like we do, I always need a good cup of coffee to start my day, so Joe Black Cafe is the first thing on the agenda! This place has some of the best coffee in the city, whether you like a perfectly brewed pour-over, or something a little fancier. 

And as amazing as the coffee is, they have a fantastic breakfast menu. I love the eggs benedict with salmon and the avo toast is a classic. They also have bolognese mince on toast, which is a spin on an American sloppy joe – it’s tastier than it might sound! 

Joe Black Cafe is located super close to Hyde Park – which just so happens to be our first stop! It’s open on the weekdays from 6 am to 4 pm and on the weekends from 8 am to 2 pm. 

Morning – Explore Hyde Park

Anzac Memorial in Sydney, Australia
Anzac Memorial in Sydney, Australia
Huge trees above a path in Hyde Park, Sydney
Huge trees above a path in Hyde Park, Sydney

We are going to be exploring Sydney’s great outdoors today, starting with one of the most popular parks in the city. Hyde Park is a beautiful green space, you’ll nearly forget you’re in a bustling city! We always enjoy coming here on a beautiful sunny day to go for a leisurely walk, have a picnic, and people-watch. 

There’s more to do in Hyde Park than just wander around though. The Anzac Memorial is one of the top sights in the park. It’s a reflection pool that honors the Australians who served in the Defense Force, and there’s a ton of information about Australia’s military history. If you’re a history buff, you’ll really enjoy this memorial. 

Admission to the Anzac Memorial is free every day from 9 am to 5 pm. If you’re keen on learning more, they offer free hour-long tours on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday at 10:30 am and Saturday at 1 pm. 

Another one of Sydney’s top sights is the Australian Museum, conveniently located next to Hyde Park. This is one of the best museums I’ve ever been to – and I’m not even a huge museum person! There are some cool exhibits on nature, science, and ancient history from dinosaurs to Egypt and human evolution. It’s super fun for kids and adults, they have a nice balance of interactive and informative elements. 

The museum is completely free to enjoy and it’s open daily from 10 am to 5 pm. You can spend as much or as little time as you like here, it’s totally worth a stop while in Hyde Park!

Last, but certainly not least is St. Mary’s Cathedral. You don’t need a crazy long time here, but this is the most beautiful church in all of Australia, so it’s an essential stop! This is the seat of the Archbishop of Sydney, and the architecture is a gorgeous Gothic Revival style dating back to the late 1800s. This is also technically free to enter, but the church gladly accepts donations to keep the building as stunning as it is. 

Mid-morning – Scenic flight

View out the front of a helicopter on scenic flight over Sydney, Australia
Could you imagine anything more beautiful?
Views of the rocky cliffs of Eastern Sydney as seen from a helicopter flight
The coastline is incredible!

Ready for one of the most epic Sydney experiences out there? We’ve taken scenic helicopter flights all over the world, and I think this helicopter tour of Sydney Harbour was the most beautiful!

We took this 20-minute helicopter tour over Sydney, and even though it sounds quick, we got to see a ton of iconic sights. The Sydney Harbour from an aerial view was incredible, but I was more blown away by the views of the eastern coastline – as you can see in the photo above. We saw Bondi Beach, Coogee Beach, and Manly Cove, and the rocky coastline contrasting with the bright blue water was so memorable.

This experience stood out because of our pilot, who was entertaining and informative, making this epic flight even more immersive. Plus, the helicopter was new and top-of-the-line, so all of the bells and whistles (more like lights and buttons) were super cool to learn about!

Views out the front of a helicopter as it flys over the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour bridge
What a view!

All of this to say, this helicopter tour is one of the best things you can do in Sydney – even if it’s a short experience! This tour costs $240 AUD per person and includes transportation from your hotel. You can choose your start time between 10 am and 1:30 pm, so it can fit into your day’s itinerary easily! 

Read our full guide on taking a helicopter tour in Sydney here, so you’re prepared before you go.

Afternoon – Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia
Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia
Bailey takes a selfie at Bondi Beach
I love Bondi!

It’s time to relax at the beach, so I’m taking you to my favorite spot in Sydney – Bondi Beach! You’ve likely already heard of this famous beach, it’s the go-to spot for surfers, celebrities, tourists, and locals. It’s also been in many movies and TV shows, most notably, Bondi Rescue. 

This is my favorite spot to chill out and relax in the sun, maybe even go for a swim! But if you’re looking for a bit more excitement, you can also go surfing. If you’re a pro surfer already, dive on into the iconic surf scene. But if you’re a newbie, this is a great place to learn!

This 2-hour surf lesson is led by some of the top surf instructors in Bondi. With a small group of just 5 people, you’ll get great one-on-one attention – which can make all the difference when learning. This surf school is one of the most well-known because of its friendly and relaxed nature, it makes learning how to surf so much easier. This 2-hour lesson ranges from $99-$140 AUD, depending on the time of year. 

You can also stick to the land and get some exercise in by taking the Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk. This route is 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) each way, and it takes you from Bondi Beach to Bronte Beach, which is just south. Bronte is a smaller version of Bondi, and draws in way less of a crowd – we actually prefer this beach because of this!

The walk itself is really scenic as you pass by Tamara Beach and Mackenzie’s Bay. If you thought the coastline was stunning from the helicopter flight, wait until you explore it up close! The white sand, bright blue water, and rocky coastline are simply gorgeous. The walk takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour, and once we get to Bronte, we like to hang out here for a bit.

Bailey and her friend on the Bondi to Coogee walk in Sydney Australia
No walk in Sydney is more iconic!

Keep in mind that the waves at Bronte Beach are often stronger than at Bondi, so I don’t recommend swimming here. Instead, head to the Bronte Baths which are much safer for swimming. These are man-made rock pools right on the beach, and they are completely free to swim in. 

Before you head off to Bronte Beach, grab lunch at Bondi – there are so many good options. I’m always starving after a few hours of surfing anyway! My top recommendation is The Depot, which is the perfect place to refuel with its healthy and sustainable food options. They are open for breakfast and lunch Thursday through Monday until 3 pm.

But if you’re really hungry (maybe even hangry after all that time in the sun!) a burger at Bonditony’s Burger Joint will set you straight. Almost everything here is made in-house, so the burgers are fresh and super satisfying. I also love the vibe here, it’s laid back and rock and roll themed, as the owner used to manage and promote some big-name bands. 

This is a local favorite spot, and I can tell you from my experience that a burger hits the spot after a full day of exploring. Bonditony’s is open Wednesday to Sunday from 12-9 pm, and Monday and Tuesday from 5-9 pm. 

Another Bondi favorite that’s a bit more upscale is Lola’s Italian & Bar. If you’re looking for a relaxing, high-quality lunch spot and have a bigger budget to spend, Lola’s is it. They serve Mediterranean food with lots of fresh seafood options, and some yummy cocktails. Treat yourself while you’re in Sydney, you will absolutely love the food and vibe here!

You can visit Lola’s every day of the week, from 5 pm Monday through Thursday, and 12 pm Friday through Sunday! 

Dinner

Pasta at Alberto's Lounge in Sydney, Australia
Alberto’s Lounge!
Inside of Alberto's Lounge in Sydney
Alberto’s Lounge is so cute!

After your afternoon at Bondi, I suggest heading back to your hotel to get cleaned up and relax for a bit. We are going to squeeze in a few more activities this evening because you can’t come to Sydney and not experience some of its amazing restaurants and nightlife!

I highly recommend Quay for your dinner! With astounding views of the Sydney Harbour and Opera House, it makes for a lovely romantic night out. They use the highest-quality local ingredients and have one of the finest chefs in Sydney, so it’s a full culinary experience. There was an intriguing White Coral dessert when we dined here! It’s necessary to make a reservation at Quay. They are open for dinner from Thursday to Sunday.

Another one of Sydney’s top restaurants is Alberto’s Lounge, but it’s not quite as swanky as Quay (we usually prefer a low-key vibe anyway!). We love Alberto’s Lounge because it’s got a welcoming and lively atmosphere, and the food is some of the best in Sydney. With an eclectic mix of vintage decor and oftentimes a live DJ, plus the friendly staff, this place knocks it out of the park. 

Of course, the wine and food pairings are the most impressive part and what keeps us coming back time and time again! They open every day at 5 pm and do accept walk-ins, but I recommend making a reservation if you can. Seating is limited and people LOVE this place!

Restaurant Hubert is another well-loved Sydney spot that has an eclectic vintage vibe. It’s an underground French restaurant that actually comprises three bars, but you can find live jazz music here every day of the week! It feels like you’ve stepped back in time to postwar Paris with the decor, menu, and music. It’s best to book a table in advance – they are open for dinner at 5 pm daily.

Night – Enjoy the nightlife

The Sydney Harbour Bridge lit up at night during the Journey Beyond the Cruise Sydney
The Sydney Harbour Bridge lit up at night

We are keeping this party going by checking out some of Sydney’s best bars! There are a handful of areas to check out, so depending on your vibe, certain ones will suit you better.

Kings Cross is one of the more lively areas of Sydney, full of dance clubs and eclectic cocktail bars. Spoiler alert: you’ll have dedicated time in this area on day 5 of this itinerary, but if you want to check it out today too – go for it! I recommend Dulcie’s for an amazing cocktail bar, and Jangling Jacks for some live jazz music.

Newtown attracts a bit of a younger crowd, but there are a lot of fun bars to check out. Courthouse Hotel has a super fun beer garden and a laid-back vibe, even some retro pinball machines! If you wander down Enmore Road, you’ll find heaps of bars, clubs, music venues, and quirky spots. It was actually voted as Sydney’s “coolest street”, so go check it out for yourself!

And if you’re feeling a little more low-key for the evening, I love strolling around Darling Harbour at night. The city lights are so pretty and there’s a lot going on in this area too. You won’t have any trouble finding a unique bar to stop off in, but if you’re feeling a bit fancy hit the Champagne Bar in the Sofitel!

Finally, you can test your luck at the Star Casino. This is one of the top casinos in Australia, located right in Darling Harbour. So if you like playing table games, like poker and dice games, or prefer to stick to slot machines, see if you can win big here!

Day 4 – Go on a wine tour in the Hunter Valley

Enjoying a glass of wine on the Hunter Valley near Sydney Australia
Wine anyone?

Did you know that one of Australia’s best wine regions is outside of Sydney? If you’re anything like us, you’ll love a day trip to Hunter Valley. It is the oldest wine region in the whole country, so they’ve been perfecting their craft since the early 1800s!

There are over 150 wineries here and they specialize in growing Semillion grapes, which makes Riesling and White Burgundy. Hunter Valley is about 3 hours from Sydney, so it’s a bit of a journey to reach, but totally worth it – it’s stunning and has amazing wine! If you can plan a few days to enjoy the area, that’d be great, but on this 5-day Sydney itinerary, you’ll be pressed for time. 

But, you can still experience this iconic region on a day trip from Sydney. In fact, we put together a whole blog about our favorite Hunter Valley wine tours from Sydney here, but we have a top pick that I think you’ll love!

We took this full-day tour and it included more than just wine tasting! We visited three wineries, had food and wine pairings, had a gourmet lunch, and visited a distillery. Not to mention the convenience of a designated driver, so we could indulge and really take advantage of our day in Hunter Valley!

The day started early, departing Sydney at 7:30 am, but keep in mind we had a three-hour drive ahead of us! The drive was super beautiful, and by the time we reached Hunter Valley, it was a more reasonable time to break into the wine. 

A road leads down a vineyard in the Hunter Valley Australia
What a beautiful region!

Our tour guide took us to three boutique wineries, and they were all pretty different. They change up the exact wineries each tour goes to, so your tour will be unique! I enjoyed taking a tour of the wineries, to see how the wine was actually made. But the best part was the wine tastings, our guide even organized pairings with cheese and chocolate – it was so yummy!

Lunch was at a local restaurant, which served an incredible gourmet lunch with more wine or beer to change it up! 

Our last stop brought us to the Hunter Valley Distillery. I thought this was a great addition to the tour in case anyone wasn’t a huge wine lover! The distillery uses local ingredients, so we loved tasting the vodka and gin they made. Learning about the distilling process was really interesting too.

We all had a pretty good buzz going by the end, so we were all thankful for our guide and driver! This tour was a good size at 16 people, so we made friends along the way but didn’t have to worry about an overly large tour group. Overall, we thought this tour was the best Hunter Valley wine tour from Sydney because it included everything in the day – all tasting fees, lunch, cheese and chocolate pairings, the distillery tour, and transport!

It was definitely a long day, as we got back into Sydney around 6:30 pm, but luckily we all had a nap on the ride home! This tour was well worth the price of $249 AUD. 

Related Read: Looking for more epic Australia adventures? Head south to Melbourne and explore with our 5-day Melbourne itinerary!

Day 5

Breakfast – The Fine Food Store

The Fine Food Store Sydney Australia breakfast
Photo credit: The Fine Food Store
The Fine Food Store Sydney Australia 2
Photo credit: The Fine Food Store

Just like that, we’ve reached our final day in Sydney! We have yet another fun day planned, but first – breakfast. Since your next activity is located in the Rocks area, stop by my favorite breakfast place here, The Fine Food Store!

They take their name seriously because everything we’ve had on the menu is truly fine! (It’s actually better than fine, it’s really tasty but I had to play on the words!). If you’ve got a sweet tooth, be sure to try the maple bacon croissant, and if you’re a savory person, I love the avocado and tomato toast.

Grab a cup of coffee too, they are famous for their high-quality brews. But the atmosphere is the perfect start to the day, with a friendly staff and trendy decor. You can’t go wrong here! 

The Fine Food Store is open daily from 7 am on weekdays and 7:30 am on weekends.

Morning – Sydney Bridge Climb

Bailey climbs the Sydney Harbour Bridge at night in Sydney, Australia
I did the climb at night because it was cheaper!

This whole 5-day itinerary has been about Sydney’s legendary views, but perhaps the most thrilling way to see these sights is by climbing the Harbour Bridge! That’s right, you can actually climb to the top of this massive, historic bridge and see the city from an entirely new angle. 

Bailey got to climb the Harbour Bridge when she lived in Sydney, and you can choose to do it at night or in the day. She did it at night because it was cheaper, but if you have room in the budget it’s much better during the day – so that’s what we recommend!

The bridge is an impressive 503 meters (1,650 feet) in length and is one of the longest steel-arch bridges in the world! It was built in 1932 and is as symbolic of Sydney as the Opera House itself (which you can see from the top of the bridge too!). The steel arches are called the “coat hanger” because of their shape, and this is the part you can actually climb.

And as intense as it sounds, it’s doable for anyone with a decent level of fitness. You also don’t need any previous climbing experience, just bring your sense of adventure! There are four different climbs to choose from and they range from 2.5 to 3.5 hours – check them out below: 

  • The Ultimate is the most intense climb, lasting for 3.5 hours. You’ll cross the entire coat hanger and reach the summit twice, it’s approximately 1,621 steps. Prices start at $374 AUD.
  • The Summit is the second most adventurous and over 3 hours you’ll reach the summit of the bridge! Prepare for 1,332 steps and great views. Prices start at $354 AUD for a daytime climb.
  • The Summit Insider takes you through the lower arch before reaching the summit peak over 2.5 hours. This is a 1,002-step climb and prices start at $354 AUD for a daytime climb.
  • The Burrawa Tour also follows the Summit route for 3 hours and starts at $364 AUD. This experience is unique because you’ll learn all about the Indigenous history and culture of the Sydney Harbour and portions of your ticket proceeds go to an Aboriginal nonprofit called Tribal Warrior. 

Before you start climbing, you’ll be outfitted with a jumpsuit, safety harness, and gloves, and also go through a safety briefing. Even if you’re scared of heights, rest assured this is a safe experience and the staff do everything they can to make you feel comfortable!

I recommend booking your tour in advance to get your preferred time slot (to stick with this itinerary!). This is an experience not to be missed and a great final-day activity in Sydney!

Lunch – The Pantry Manly

The Pantry Manly Sydney Australia burger
Yum! Photo credit: The Pantry Manly
The Pantry Manly Sydney Australia Aperol Spritz
We love drinks with a view! Photo credit: The Pantry Manly

You’ve probably worked up quite the appetite after scaling the Harbour Bridge! Luckily, lunch is just a short ferry ride away. We are heading to Manly for the afternoon, starting with a fantastic lunch stop. I’ll go over the details of catching the ferry next, but first, let’s talk about food. 

The Pantry Manly is a historic, scenic restaurant that serves up amazing food. You can’t go to Manly and not visit The Pantry Manly! The building itself dates back to 1919 and has served a variety of purposes, but today we know it for its oceanfront views. 

This is more of an upscale restaurant, but not too fancy. Due to its location, there are a ton of amazing seafood options. But if that’s not your thing, you can enjoy a Wagyu burger or lamb backstrap, and they also have some fantastic vegetarian options. Pair your dish with a cocktail and that view, and you’re in for a fantastic lunch spot!

The Pantry Manly is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I recommend making reservations, especially if you’re visiting on the weekend!

Afternoon – Take the ferry to Manly Beach

Bailey rides the public ferry from Circular Quay to Manly with views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House in the background
The ferry is a scenic cruise too!

Spending the afternoon at Manly Beach is always one of my favorite Sydney activities. There is honestly so much to do here, but first, you have to get here! It’s actually really easy, and you get to enjoy a scenic ferry ride, almost as if you’re on one of those cruises from earlier (there’s even a bar on board)!

The public ferry from Circular Quay is the easiest way to get to Manly Beach. It’s a 22-minute ride and only $8.92 AUD. You can purchase tickets at the wharf using the Opal transit card or a digital device to tap. Ferries leave regularly, every 5-20 minutes and you can check the most up-to-date timetable here!

Once you get to Manly the world is your oyster! One of my favorite things to do here is relax on the beach – Manly Beach is actually three beaches in one, so it’s huge. The water is nice and refreshing, but still warm enough to swim in and there are lots of lifeguards on duty. You can also surf or snorkel here, and gear is available to rent at Manly Surfboard Rentals located right on the beach!

The Manly to Shelly Walk is one of the best things to do in Manly. This 20-minute walk takes you from Manly Beach to Shelly Beach, and although it’s short, there are a lot of things to stop and check out along the way. If you need a pick-me-up along the walk, stop by Bower Manly Cafe for a coffee or beer before you continue exploring. Or the Boathouse Shelly Beach is my favorite spot for a sundowner, the views over the beach are simply gorgeous. 

We love Shelly Beach, it’s smaller and more protected than Manly Beach, so it feels like a hidden oasis and is even better for swimming and snorkeling. 

But an even better way to see the most around Manly is to rent a bike and explore! There are over 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) of bike paths around Manly, and it’s a great way to see more than just the beach (I know – it’s hard to pull me away from the beach too!). But Manly is so gorgeous and you can check out the Collins Waterfall, Shelly Beach, Cabbage Tree Bay, and the rest of Sydney Harbour National Park!

This self-guided bike tour includes your bike rental, helmet, and lock, then you have the rest of the day to explore on your own! It is $42 AUD for a full-day rental, so you can use it for as long as you want, so you can see all of Manly’s pretty sights. 

These are just a few of our top things to do in Manly – check out our full list here before you go!

Dinner – Friggitoria in Kings Cross

Friggitoria in Kings Cross Sydney Australia food 2
Antipasto starter! Photo Credit: Friggitoria in Kings Cross
Friggitoria in Kings Cross Sydney Australia food
Everything here is tasty! Photo Credit: Friggitoria in Kings Cross

Once you’ve made your way back from Manly, we are heading to Kings Cross to finish up the night! By the time I wrap up 5 days of city exploring, I’m usually pretty wiped. So dinner is more of a laid-back occasion tonight, but the food at Friggitoria is seriously good!

This place is quaint and cute and makes some of the best Italian food in Sydney. I know I say this about a lot of restaurants, but everything I’ve tried here is amazing! Maybe that’s because we love Italian food, but everything from the carbonara and arrabiata to the panzerotto and more. Of course, we finished our meal off with some tiramisu, how could you resist? 

Friggitoria is just an 8-minute drive from Circular Quay and they are open daily until 10 pm. You don’t need to be dressed up here, it’s very casual. But we are hitting Kings Cross to explore the nightlife after, so you might want to get cleaned up at your hotel before heading back out.

Night – Wander Kings Cross

We mentioned Kings Cross earlier, but if you didn’t get a chance to wander and party through this area, tonight is your time! 

As I said before, we love Dulcie’s for a cocktail and they serve Australian-made spirits exclusively. They put a unique spin on classic cocktails, and even though Kings Cross is known for its lively scene, Dulcies is a pretty chill environment. Jangling Jacks is another great option for a relaxed vibe, with low lighting and live jazz music – it’s a local favorite!

But if you’re looking for that wild night out in Sydney, you can definitely find it at Potts Point Hotel. This is a 4-story venue equipped with a rooftop bar (known for its great DJ and party scene), Boogie Mountain (a 70’s inspired night club), and an open stage on level one which can have comedy, burlesque cabaret, or live music. I was shocked to see how much was going on here the first time we went! There is an event literally every night of the week, and you can also visit for their yummy food and drink menu. 

Finally, we recently discovered The Roosevelt on our last trip to Sydney. This is a 1940s-inspired cocktail bar, and I love the vintage decor. They capitalize on that old-charming speakeasy vibe, so of course the cocktails are top-notch too!

There are even more bars and spots to dance your heart out in Kings Cross, so we always enjoy wandering through here and checking out the scene. You won’t be disappointed, that’s for sure, and it makes for a memorable end to your 5 days in Sydney!

Other Things to do While You’re in Sydney

Bailey walks the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in Sydney
Walking through the art gallery!
Bailey enjoys a drink at the Fortunes of War historic pub in The Rocks Sydney while on a historic pub tour
A pub tour in The Rocks is so fun – cheers!

If you can squeeze a few more items into your itinerary – or ideally, you can stay longer – you’re in luck. There are truly so many fun things to do in Sydney! To help you narrow it down, we’ve detailed some of our favorite options below.

  • Whale watching tour – Over 20,000 whales migrate through Sydney’s waters from May to November. We love this half-day whale watching tour that takes you into the Pacific Ocean to spot whales and dolphins, and learn all about it from the naturalist guides! Best of all, it has a whale sighting guarantee, so if you don’t see them this time, you can go as many times as you need until you do!
  • Check out a market – If you love shopping, head to one of the local markets! Paddington Market is open on Saturdays and has a very hip boho vibe, while the Bondi Markets are open on Sundays and are super laidback. Paddy’s Market is a huge indoor market with fresh seafood, produce, and Asian cuisine. Lastly, the tourist-favorite Rocks Markets has books, art, and yummy food every weekend. 
  • Go on a historic pub crawl – Sydney is home to plenty of historic pubs and taverns that date back to European settlement times. Some include the Fortune of War, Harts Pub, and the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel, all of which can be found in The Rocks neighborhood. Explore on your own or join a pub tour to meet fellow travelers and hear interesting historical facts and stories from your guide. 
  • Enjoy the Art Gallery of NSW – The Art Gallery of NSW is one of the best art galleries in the city and also one of the best free things you can do in Sydney! It’s located a 15-minute walk from the CBD and houses a huge collection of international artwork along with Australian art, including one of the biggest collections of Aboriginal art in the country.
  • Go skydiving – Tandem skydiving is available for both first-time jumpers and experienced skydivers, and you’ll get amazing views of the city alongside a huge adrenaline rush. We recommend this skydiving experience over Wollongong beach which gives you about 60 seconds of freefall before your parachute is deployed. What a way to see the city!

Where to Stay in Sydney

Get the best views of Sydney at Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, Australia
Photo credit: Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

If you’re planning a 5-day trip to Sydney, you’re going to need a place to stay. Luckily, Sydney has a huge variety of accommodations to fit every budget. If you’re overwhelmed with where to start, check out our top picks for places to stay, from luxury rooms to budget-friendly hostels. We’ve got you covered!

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney – $$$

For stunning views of Sydney Harbour and the iconic Opera House, book a room at the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney. You’ll have unobstructed views of the city from the comfort of your room. The hotel is located in the city center within The Rocks neighborhood – nice and close to lots of activities and restaurants.

Rooms here start at $400-$500 AUD per night and can be reserved with Booking.com.

Meriton Suites Kent Street Sydney – $$

Stay right in the heart of Sydney in a modern luxury apartment at Meriton Suites Kent Street. The suites are air-conditioned and have laundry facilities and either a kitchenette or full kitchen to make longer stays more comfortable. You’ll also have access to an indoor swimming pool, fitness center, and hot tub.

These full apartments are $200-$300 AUD nightly when booked in advance with Booking.com.

Sydney Harbour YHA – $

For a hostel with a view, head to the rooftop terrace at the Sydney Harbour YHA. Located in the historic Rocks district, you’ll have amazing views of the harbor and be within walking distance of all the major sights. You can opt for a shared dorm room or a private room here. There’s a communal kitchen, TV lounge, billiards, and a 24/7 reception desk.

Dorm rooms are around $70 AUD nightly and private rooms are more around the $180 AUD mark. You can check for the best rates and book on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.com.

Renting a Car in Australia

Driving through the outback in a rental car in Australia
Outback Australia!

With many must-see destinations in Australia outside city limits, one of the best ways to get around is in a rental car.

Australia is a huge country and traveling between cities or getting to some of the most scenic spots requires driving. While public transit is sometimes an option, it often adds a lot of time and planning. Plus, we love the freedom of a rental car to stop wherever we want and not have to stick to a set schedule.

Car rental in Australia is super affordable, especially if you choose a smaller vehicle. We use the website DiscoverCars.com. It’s a search engine that compares multiple car rental companies for you – saving you from visiting each website individually.

If you plan to be based in a main city like Sydney, Melbourne, or Perth and do a few day trips while returning your car to the same location, we’ve booked rentals for as cheap as $25 AUD a day! Full coverage insurance can be added for around an extra $12 AUD a day too. The price will vary depending on the time of year, type of car, and if you’re able to pick up and drop off at the same location.

Discover Cars also offers handy filters so you can search for cars that offer features like child seats, GPS, or let you have an additional driver. There are also free cancellation options if your trip changes. Read our honest review of Discover Cars here for more details!

Check out the selection and book your car rental online here!

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey pose for a photo in front of their helicopter tour in Sydney Australia
Thanks for reading!

That’s a full 5 days of exploring! Sydney is just that cool of a city, you can spend a full 5 days here and never be bored. We jump at the chance to visit this city whenever we can, so we hope you enjoy it as much as we do! We think that this itinerary will show you the best of the best and I have no doubt you’ll have a good time.

If you found this guide helpful, be sure to check out our other Australia articles. We’ve lived in various cities and have traveled to even more, so we have a ton of insight to share. Here are a few related blogs for some travel inspiration!

15 BEST Day Trips from Sydney

21 BEST Places to Visit in Sydney (including Hidden Gems!)

12 Things to Know BEFORE Booking a Sydney Dinner Cruise