To say this trip was spontaneous would be an understatement. When my sister called me in May telling me how she booked a plane ticket to Auckland and had no idea how long she was staying, I knew I didn’t want to miss this opportunity. Thankfully I had some sky miles and was able to get the flight cheap(er) than usual…
There were a few unexpected aspects of traveling to Australia and New Zealand that we wish people would have told us when preparing—so if you plan to head “down under” make sure before you leave, you have/remember
(1) You have to go through Australia to get to New Zealand
(2) You need a travel Visa to get into Sydney
(3) We flew out from Atlanta, so there was about 24 hours of plane travel (so rock those compression socks like it’s your JOB)
(4) Their seasons are backwards from ours, so keep that in mind while planning ;)
Because you have to stop in Sydney, we decided to spend a few days in the city. Sydney is basically like if you took all the people from Whole Foods, the coolest hipster coffee shop you know, and the girls who work at anthropology, and stuck them in one city and gave them cool accents. Everything and everyone was super fit and healthy—even the McDonalds seemed somehow not as bad for you as it is here ;)
Not letting jet lag get the best of us, we headed out to the Sydney Opera House, The Royal Botanic Gardens, the Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art, and Zumbo’s Patisserie (as seen on the Netflix original “Zumbo’s Just Desserts)
The Opera House is located in Circular Quay which is a great place to chill and grab a cocktail. The Opera Bar serves famously fancy cocktails that make you feel like your on the set of Gossip Girl—but watch out for the seagulls (they are a little extra).
Right in the same area is an amazing contemporary art museum. Most of the artwork is inspired by Asian and Aboriginal culture. The best part about this museum is that they have a rooftop cafe that is the perfect spot to grab a cup—or gallon—of coffee to get you through the rest of the day.
Before you head home for the day, take a walk along the Royal Botanic Gardens. You can take a short walk or spend an hour walking to a nearby beach for a quick dip in the Pacific. The trees in this garden are outrageous and make for a great picnicking spot.
Because we only had 2 days in the city, we had to pack a lot in. The second day, though locals said we couldn’t do it, we wanted to see the famous Blue Mountains, and the Sydney Zoo (because I mean come on…kangaroos!) all in the same day.
The Blue Mountains are an hour train ride into the outskirts of Sydney, tucked away in this cute little mountain village. We decided to take this double decker tour bus that would drop you off at each of the National Park sites. The bus starts the tours at 8am and runs until 5pm, so If you can, get there early so you don’t miss anything! Since we had limited time, we decided to choose three spots to spend our time on—(the Three Sisters, the famous Hot Chocolate Cafe, and the Scenic Railway). I would recommend doing this bus tour because all of these excursions cost money, and not all of them are in walking distance, so it was way more convenient to drop a few dollars on this all-inclusive ticket.
Unfortunately, the best time to visit the Taronga Sydney Zoo is when it is warm outside, but it didn’t stop us from seeing those sweet koalas! The best (and cheapest) way to get to the Zoo is to buy a ticket at Circular Quay that includes the ferry boat ticket as well. The ferry gives you one of the best views of the harbor and only takes about 20 minutes.
The Zoo is shaped sort of like a slanted pin-ball machine, so they take you on a a ski-lift to the top, and you basically just work your way back down to the entrance. The map was a little confusing, so just accept the fact that you’ll need to ask people where to go haha.
To finish Part 1. of this travel guide, I’ll list some of our favorite food spots in throughout our shot stay in Sydney, as well as our cute little AirB&B that you should all check out:
Fav Food Spots: