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How to Spend Two Days in Sydney: An Ideal 2-Day Itinerary

How to Spend Two Days in Sydney: An Ideal 2-Day Itinerary

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With sun, sea, sand, and a ton of amazing attractions, Sydney is one of those places that you never want to leave! So if you’ve only got two days here, then you’re probably wondering where to start and how to fit it all in. 

But don’t worry because we’ve spent a ton of time in Sydney and are clued in on all of the must-dos. So, let us reassure you that you can see a lot of the city’s top sights in just two days. 

Of course, you’re going to want to see Sydney’s famous landmarks like the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, and the Tower Eye. However, New South Wales is also known for its rugged natural beauty, so you’ll want to fit some of that in, too! 

We’ve crafted this two-day Sydney itinerary to make sure that you get to experience the best of the city and its surrounding wilderness. It really is possible to fit it all in, and in this blog post, we’ll show you exactly how. 

Don’t have time to read the full article? If you only have two days in Sydney, you’ll need to plan ahead. On day one, stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens, tour the Opera House, and take a scenic harbor cruise, followed by dinner with epic views at the Sydney Tower Eye. On day two, explore the rugged wilderness on this Blue Mountains tour.

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!

There’s only one right way to kick off the morning in Sydney – with brunch! 

We personally love heading to Newtown for brunch, and you can easily catch the train there. It’s a 16-minute ride from Circular Quay to Newtown Station, or 13 minutes from Wynyard Station in the CBD, so you can be there in no time. 

Once you get to Newtown, you’ll be greeted by one of Sydney’s trendiest neighborhoods. This area is popular with students, hippies, and artists, so it’s got a really cool vibe. There are tons of independent shops around and some amazing vintage boutiques, so we also recommend taking a stroll through the area before or after you eat. 

And speaking of eating, you’re spoiled for choice in Newtown. Rolling Penny Newtown is our favorite, though, because it’s got such an amazing menu. Some of our favorites include smoked duck breast and poached eggs on focaccia toast and halloumi and egg ciabatta. They’re open daily from 7:30 am – 3 pm and located right on King St.

Flour Drum is also a popular choice, and if their breakfast dishes don’t tempt you, their amazing cakes certainly will! They’re also located on King St. and are open for breakfast and brunch every day but Wednesday.

If you don’t feel like catching the train to Newtown, you can also stay more central and head to Two Good Eggs Cafe. They’re open for brunch every day and located near Hyde Park, which is close to where you’ll be heading afterward on this itinerary. This cafe has amazing pancakes and super-friendly service, and the portions here are generous, so they’ll set you up nicely for the day. 

Edes near Circular Quay is another great spot. It’s a light, airy cafe that serves breakfast till 11 am, as well as delicious Italian fare later on in the day. It’s simple and unpretentious, and the food is always a hit! 

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 Botanic Gardens in Sydney Australia

Once your stomach is full, it’s time to head to Sydney’s most famous viewpoint: Mrs Macquarie’s Chair

You can get there by strolling through the Royal Botanic Gardens, which are free to enter and definitely worth seeing. This is the oldest botanical garden in Australia and we always enjoy strolling through on a sunny day. 

Then, before long, you’ll reach Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. This is an iconic viewpoint with amazing views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, and it’s totally free to visit. The chair itself was carved out by convicts for Elizabeth Macquarie, the wife of the Governor of New South Wales, who used to love coming to this beautiful vantage point. When you see the views from here, you’ll understand why she was so enamored with it!

After admiring the Opera House from afar, it’s time to stroll down towards it, which should take you about 20 minutes.

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!

Now, it’s time to explore Sydney’s crown jewel: the Opera House! Visiting the Opera House is a must in Sydney, and you can actually explore inside it by taking a tour.

Our absolute top choice for a 2-day itinerary is this guided tour. This tour is a must-do because it’s so interesting, and we loved getting to explore behind the scenes.

On the tour, you get to check out areas that are usually closed off to the public and, better yet, hear some very juicy behind-the-scenes stories! Our guide also told us about the current shows at the Opera House and the lengths that the staff have to go to to make these performances happen. Pretty much everyone on Earth recognizes the iconic Opera House building, but relatively few get to learn what really goes on inside!

We had a blast on this tour, and at $43 AUD per person, we thought it was good value for money, too. This price is for the tour-only option, which has several start times throughout the day. It only lasts for an hour, so it’s easy to fit in, even when you only have two days in Sydney. 

You seriously can’t miss the Opera House in Sydney! And if you’re only here for a couple of days, you’ll want to secure your time slot in advance.


Bailey enjoys a drink at the Canteen of the Sydney Opera House with views of the Opera House
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

When you’re short on time in Sydney, then lunch with a view is a must! Fortunately, there are plenty of places to do just that in Circular Quay, which is the area between the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. 

If you’re in the mood for something fancy, then Q Dining is one of our favorite places to go. It’s a chic, airy restaurant that serves gourmet contemporary Australian cuisine. The beautifully plated food is second only to the amazing views that you get through the restaurant’s giant glass wall! It really is an amazing place to treat yourself to a nice lunch, which is served Wednesday to Sunday from 12 pm – 3 pm. 

Alternatively, you could even have lunch in the Sydney Opera House itself. In fact, when you book the Opera House tour, you can upgrade to include lunch and a drink. This costs $80 AUD, and you can choose to eat at either the House Canteen or the Opera Bar. 

The House Canteen serves Asian fusion cuisine, but the real draw here is the epic view of the Sydney Harbour. Meanwhile, the Opera Bar serves light bites and refreshing spritz cocktails. Here, you can sit right on the water’s edge as you admire the famous Harbour Bridge.

Related Read: To see the city while also getting exercise, try one of these Sydney walking tours!

Early afternoon – Go on a scenic cruise

Daniel and Bailey pose for a photo on the Journey Beyond the Cruise Sydney lunch cruise
Lunch was good, but dinner was better!
Our Sydney Harbour cruise sails towards the Sydney Opera House
Oh Sydney, you are beautiful!

A scenic cruise is one of the best things to do in Sydney, and we never get tired of them! It’s a great way to sightsee, but you get to chill out at the same time, so it’s perfect when you’re trying to pack a lot into a single day. 

One of the best things about scenic cruises on Sydney Harbour is that they’re very affordable. You also get to see a lot in a short space of time. We particularly like this harbor cruise because it’s the only one that still includes onboard commentary. You learn a lot about Sydney as you sail past city highlights like the Harbour Bridge, Luna Park, and Fort Denison. 

The commentary is available through a smartphone app, so you get to choose whether you want to listen or not. Plus, you don’t get that poor sound quality that often plagues onboard PA systems.

The cruise is available Wednesdays through Sundays. It departs from the wharf at 2 pm and lasts for 1.5 hours. It costs $45 AUD per person, or $65 AUD if you want to upgrade to include a cheese board and a complimentary welcome drink. That’s probably not necessary straight after lunch, though! 

However, with only a couple of days in Sydney, you won’t want to wait till the last minute. Choose your cruise option and reserve your date ahead of time.

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

We also love the Journey Beyond Cruise in Sydney. This tour is longer at 2.5 hours, and it’s a lunch cruise, so you get a gourmet plated meal included, as well as complimentary beer and wine. It’s a really nice way to enjoy lunch in Sydney.

Of course, if you want to do this cruise, then skip the lunch section above because you’ll be eating on the boat! Trust me, you’ll want to save your appetite. From our experience of the Journey Beyond Cruise, they serve everything from steak to fresh seafood and have fantastic wine options.

The Journey Beyond the Cruise lunch tour costs $152 AUD per person, so it’s pricier than the first cruise that we mentioned, but you do get lunch and lots of drinks, as well as extra time on the boat. It’s really up to you which way you want to do it – either way, you’ll get lunch with a view and a fantastic sightseeing cruise! 

Tours are offered every day but Monday and depart from the King Street Wharf at 11:55 am. If you’re seeing the Opera House beforehand, make sure to schedule enough time to get here. And again, you’ll want to reserve your Journey Beyond the Cruise in advance.

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 big waterfront playground! Sydney locals and tourists alike love it because there are so many attractions here, from amazing bars and restaurants to Madame Tussauds and a wildlife park!

When I lived in Sydney, I spent a lot of time in Darling Harbour and I always come here for a stroll whenever I return to the city. It’s a great free activity in Sydney that helps balance out other expenses. Plus, the views are so beautiful along the waterfront, and it’s really calming to watch the boats go in and out. 

Also, there are tons of great activities here for tourists! Darling Harbour is a very family-friendly area, too, so there’s a lot to do here that kids will love.

For example, it may be cheesy, but I think that a visit to Madame Tussauds is always fun. You can snap selfies with waxwork versions of Aussie celebrities like Chris Hemsworth and Nicole Kidman and even recreate scenes from famous films. Tickets typically cost $48 AUD for adults and $36 AUD for kids, and you’ll need about 1.5 – 2 hours here. You can purchase an afternoon ticket online, which allows you to explore anytime between 1 pm – 5 pm.

Alternatively, the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium is always a lot of fun. Here, you can see king and gentoo penguins, dugongs, jellyfish, sharks, and an amazing array of tropical fish. There are also daily feedings and interesting keeper talks where you can learn more about some of the fascinating creatures housed here.

Tickets cost $41-$51 AUD, and kids cost between $30-$38 AUD. You can buy afternoon tickets in advance and visit from 1 pm – 5 pm.

Meanwhile, if you’re keen to see native Australian wildlife, head to Wild Life Sydney to say hello to kangaroos, koalas, crocodiles, and more! I especially love the butterfly exhibit here, and you can also visit the Dreamtime Cave to listen to talks on indigenous Australian culture. I learned so much about the relationship between the Aboriginal people and the country’s native wildlife.

Tickets cost $39-$48 AUD for adults and $29-$36 AUD for kids. Just like the other activities we mentioned, buying afternoon tickets for Wild Life Sydney allows you entry between 1 pm and 5 pm.

Sunset/dinner – Head up the Sydney Tower Eye

Sydney CBD as seen from the Sydney Tower Eye, Sydney, Australia
Sydney CBD!

Visiting the Sydney Tower Eye is the perfect way to end your day in Sydney. Not only can you enjoy amazing views of the city from the observation deck, but you can also enjoy a fantastic dining experience with a serious view up here! 

So first things first: The Sydney Tower Eye is an indoor observation deck that offers visitors 360-degree views of Sydney. The first time that we went, we were a bit disappointed to discover that you can’t actually see the Opera House, but you still get great views of the Harbour Bridge. Plus, on a clear day, you can even see as far as the Blue Mountains, which are an hour’s drive away. 

We strongly recommend that you book your tickets for the Sydney Tower Eye in advance. We did this, and we were able to breeze past the queues. And when you’ve only got two days in Sydney, time is of the essence! 

Tickets cost $27-$38 AUD, and you can choose between the morning or afternoon option. However, you’ll want to come later in the day if you want to enjoy dinner in the sky!

After you’ve soaked in the beautiful views of Sydney from the observation deck, you can head to the Skyfeast on level 2 of the Tower Eye. Here, you get to enjoy a meal in a rotating restaurant high above the city, so you’ll enjoy panoramic views without having to move a muscle! 

Skyfeast is a gourmet buffet experience that lasts for about 1.5 hours. The restaurant has huge windows, and the food options include freshly shucked oysters, antipasto, a variety of local dishes, a meat carvery, and tons of cheeses and desserts. Dinner here is an amazing way to round off an epic day in Sydney.

The buffet is available for 1.5 hours, and you can choose from multiple start times. It costs $105 – $120 AUD, depending on the day of the week that you go.

Also, we just want to make it clear that your Skyfeast ticket does not include admission to the Sydney Tower Eye. You’ll need to purchase tickets for both experiences separately – but it’s definitely worth it! 

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.
  • 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, read our complete Viator review to learn more about what we think about Viator.

Day 2 – Blue Mountains Day Trip

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

The Blue Mountains is a gorgeous wilderness area that’s about an hour outside of Sydney. It’s known for the blue haze that hovers over the landscape, which is a result of the eucalyptus oil from the forest. It’s quite a sight to see!

As well as the crazy blue haze, the Blue Mountains boast dramatic cliffs and valleys and incredible rock formations, including the Three Sisters! There’s also Aboriginal rock art, plenty of viewpoints, a wildlife park, and a park with rides that are designed to showcase the beauty of the area.

With so much natural beauty, this makes an awesome day trip from Sydney. But if you only have two days in the city, we recommend taking an organized tour of the Blue Mountains.

This small-group tour promises an amazing day out in the Blue Mountains. You’ll see all the highlights of this area while your guide shares the fascinating stories behind each. Plus, you won’t have to worry about any logistics or driving!

You’ll join your group at a designated meeting point around 7 am. Then, it’s straight to the wilderness! Your first stop will be the Three Sisters in Katoomba. Your guide will teach you all about the story behind this unique rock formation and its significance to Aboriginal Australians.

Then, you’ll visit Scenic World to enjoy the rides. We’re not talking about roller coasters and Ferris wheels here, either. There’s a scenic cableway, skyway, and railway, all of which give you amazing views of the area. I think Scenic World is awesome because it’s an amazing way to see this unique wilderness region and get a little dose of adrenaline while you’re at it!

Scenic Skyway in Blue Mountains National Park, Australia
It’s kinda scary!

This full-day tour will also take you to several other scenic viewpoints where you can admire the valleys and rock formations of the Blue Mountains.

I also love that this tour is all-inclusive, so you don’t need to worry about the details, and lunch is also included. This isn’t your typical tour-packed lunch, either. Oh no – it’s a chef-prepared spread! If you have any dietary restrictions, just let the tour company know when you book, and they’ll be happy to accommodate you.

Finally, you get to visit Featherdale Wildlife Park, which is one of the best wildlife centers in Sydney. Here, you’ll see lots of native Australian animals, including kangaroos, koalas, and (our favorite) quokkas! 

Finally, the day ends with a boat ride back to Sydney Harbour. You can enjoy some nice views of the scenery from the boat, but pulling back into the world-famous Sydney Harbour is just magical and the cherry on top of a fantastic day.

This tour is such a fantastic way to explore the Blue Mountains because you get to see the very best of what this wilderness area has to offer in just one day. The scenery is so striking, and there are so many fun activities involved. It lasts roughly 11 hours and costs $285 AUD, including all transport, entry fees, and food.

For an epic day outdoors, you can secure your spot on this Blue Mountains tour right here.

Related Read: Another city well worth visiting is Perth! Daniel is actually from here, and together, we’ve compiled this list of fun things to do in Perth, Australia.

Other Things to do While You’re in Sydney

View out the front of a helicopter looking down at the coastline of Sydney, Australia
Keep an eye out for whales!
Bailey walks down a row of vines in The Hunter valley
Just checking on the grapes in Hunter Valley!

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.

  • Helicopter Ride – Sydney is a beautiful city, there is just no doubt about it! And one way to take in all the sights is on a helicopter tour! We did this helicopter ride the last time we were in the city, and it was incredible! We got the most amazing views of the bridge and Opera House, not to mention the beautiful coastline. And to top it off, we even saw whales!
  • 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!
  • Take a wine tour – The Hunter Valley is one of Australia’s most famous wine regions, and it’s just a 3-hour drive from the city. I absolutely love the Riesling and White Burgundy from this area – and you can try both on this wine-tasting tour. It includes wine tastings, distillery visits, and a gourmet lunch. You won’t need to worry about driving, so you can enjoy the scenery all the way there.

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 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 historic 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

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 $230 AUD nightly when booked in advance with

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 or

Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!

We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!

SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.

They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.  

We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!

Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)

Thanks for reading!

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie while on the Journey Beyond the Cruise Sydney Harbour Australia
Thanks for reading!

There’s so much to see and do in Sydney, and if you only have two days here, you’ll need to maximize your time. As such, our 2-day itinerary might come in handy! We’ve tried all the activities on this list and had an amazing experience. So whether you follow our guide to a tee or pick and choose your top items, we hope you fall in love with this city just like we did!

To learn more about Sydney and the rest of the country, check out our blog about Australia here. We’ve also written loads about New Zealand and Fiji. To get started, just click on one of the links below. And as usual, thanks for reading!

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