Sydney Travel Guide
City Sightseeing Sydney. This fleet of brightly colored double-decker buses (with open tops) operate have two routes: the Sydney route has 25 stops, and the Bondi and Bays has 10 stops. Both trips take 90 minutes. Sydney trips depart Circular Quay at 8:30 am daily (last bus departs at 7:30 pm), the Bondi bus departs Eddy Avenue, Central Station at 9 am daily (last bus at 7:30 pm). These days the operators are adding the Bondi and Bays trip at no extra charge—meaning the two trips will cost A$40 if taken in a 24-hour period, which is good value, and $60 if taken over a 48-hour period. 02/9567–8400. www.theaustralianexplorer.com.au.
Mount 'n Beach Safaris. Mount 'n Beach Safaris operates tours to the Blue Mountains and minicoach tours around Sydney, including the northern beaches and to NSW's North and South Coast areas. The Blue Mountains 4WD Canyon and Wildlife Discovery (A$246), the company's most popular tour, provides opportunity to see koalas and kangaroos; have morning tea in the bush; see the highlights of the Blue Mountains; and have lunch at an historic hotel in the area. 02/9439–3010. www.mountnbeachsafaris.com.au.
Oz Jet Boating. These bright red boats are the most distinctive of the jet boats operating on Sydney Harbour. The bow is painted with huge white teeth to resemble a shark. The 30-minute rides, at 75 kph (47 mph), zip past the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, and Clark and Shark islands, and perform 270-degree spins. Despite passengers being issued hooded raincoats, they always get wet. At least two trips run every day (at noon and 3) and more on the weekends and summertime. Rides are A$75, and occasional discounts (for Internet bookings) are offered in the winter and spring. 02/9808–3700. www.jetboating.com.
Aboriginal Heritage Tour. The Aboriginal Heritage Tour (A$36.50) is a tour of the Royal Botanic Gardens' display of plants that were growing before Europeans arrived on Sydney's shores in 1788. The tour, which operates Friday at 10 am (1½ hours duration) is led by an Aboriginal guide who explains the plants and their uses, and Aboriginal bush foods. 02/9231–8134 or 02/9231–8111. www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au.
Bass and Flinders Cruises. You can go whale-watching from Sydney Harbour with Bass and Flinders Cruise. Boats leave from mid-May to early December, venturing a few miles outside Sydney Heads. The two-hour cruise (A$60) aboard fast boat "Totally Wild" takes just 27 passengers; the half-day photo safari cruise (A$199) is limited to 20 keen amateur photographers. 02/9583–1199. www.whalewatchingsydney.net.
Bonza Bikes. Bonza Bikes lets you see the best Sydney sights without having to worry about heavy traffic. The half-day Classic Sydney Tour cruises past the Opera House, winds around the harbor, and cycles through the Royal Botanic Gardens. Trips start from A$119 for a half day (bike and helmet included). 02/9247–8800. www.bonzabiketours.com.
BridgeClimb. This unique tour affords the ultimate view of the harbor and city center from Sydney Harbour Bridge. The hugely popular tours take 3½ hours and cost A$198 per person (night climb); the day climb is A$235 and the dawn climb (with limited numbers) is A$308. Another option is the Discovery Climb, which takes climbers within the bridge's structure on their way to the top. Prices are higher during the peak season from December 25-January 14 inclusive. Tours depart from 5 Cumberland Street, The Rocks. 02/8274–7777. www.bridgeclimb.com.
Easyrider Motorbike Tours. Easyrider Motorbike Tours conducts exciting chauffeur-driven (you ride as a passenger) Harley-Davidson tours to the city's landmarks, the beaches, and rural areas. A 15-minute ride is A$35, a two-hour tour is A$190 per person; a six-hour trip taking in the Blue Mountains' best views is A$350, while an 8-hour trip to the South Coast and the lovely town of Berry starts at A$410. 1300/882–065. www.easyrider.com.au.
Sydney Pub Tours. This tour lets visitors drink in Sydney's history at five historic—and unique—pubs in The Rocks, and dine on some unusual pizzas during a 3½-hour jaunt. Operated by history-lover, Gary West—a man who relishes hand-crafted beers—the walking tour sets off from the Mercantile Hotel at 6 pm. It is designed for those who want to learn more about The Rocks' fascinating history (rather than party-types). Gary regales folks with tales of 19th-century rum smuggling and the quirky characteristics of each watering hole. There's a visit to one of the cellars, which is normally off-limits to the public. Adventurous diners might like to order the kangaroo or even crocodile pizza at the Australian Heritage Hotel. Non-beer drinkers are offered wine or a soft drink at each pub. Mercantile Hotel, 25 George St., The Rocks, Sydney, NSW, 2000. 0419/669–832 Gary's mobile. www.sydneypubtours.com. A$125. Tours depart Mon.–Fri. 6 pm.
Sydney Seaplanes. A flight on Sydney Seaplanes is a wonderful way to see Sydney's sights and soar over beaches. Short flights taking in the harbor, Bondi Beach, and Manly cost from A$200 per person. The seaplanes take off from Rose Bay. 02/9388–1978 or 1300/732752. www.seaplanes.com.au.
Sydney By Boat
Aboriginal Culture Cruise. Former Sydney tugboat the Mari Nawi is owned by the Tribal Warrior Association, an organization committed to empowering disadvantaged Aboriginal people. They operate cultural cruises year-round, showing passengers the sights and telling stories associated with tribes including the Eora, Cadigal and Wangal who inhabited areas around Sydney Harbour. After departing from Circular Quay, the cruises head to Clark Island for a traditional welcoming ceremony and dance performance. Back on board, passengers are shown cultural landmarks, fishing spots, and ancient rock carvings. The two-hour cruises cost A$60 per person and depart Wednesday to Sunday at April–September 1 pm and October–March at 3 pm. The cruise departs from Eastern Pontoon, Circular Quay. Eastern Pontoon, Circular Quay, Sydney Harbour, Sydney, NSW. 02/9699–3451. www.tribalwarrior.org.
Aussie Water Taxis. A fun, fast, but somewhat expensive way to get around is by water taxi. (Circular Quay to Manly, for example, costs A$160 for four people, and A$10 for each extra person.) One company, Aussie Water Taxis runs a taxi shuttle between Darling Harbour and the Opera House for A$15 one-way, A$25 return. Mini-tours of the harbor in these little yellow taxi boats begin at A$35 per person for 45 minutes. 02/9211–7730. www.aussiewatertaxis.com.
Captain Cook Cruises. Captain Cook Cruises runs a number of good tours, but the best introduction to Sydney Harbour is Captain Cook's two-hour Coffee Cruise (A$39), which follows the southern shore to Watsons Bay, crosses to the north shore to explore Middle Harbour, and returns to Circular Quay. Other options include breakfast, lunch and dinner cruises, and the popular Hop-on-Hop-Off 'ferry service'; the latter can be bought as a 24-hour (A$39) or 3-day pass (A$99) and includes eight stops around the harbor. 02/9206–1111. www.captaincook.com.au/sydney.
Manly Ferry. There is no finer introduction to the city than a trip aboard one of the commuter ferries that ply Sydney Harbour. The hub of the ferry system is Circular Quay, and ferries dock at the almost 30 wharves around the harbor between about 6 am and 11:30 pm. One of the most popular sightseeing trips is the Manly Ferry, a 30-minute journey from Circular Quay that provides glimpses of harborside mansions and the sandstone cliffs and bushland along the north shore. The one-way Manly Ferry fare is A$7.20, and the Manly Fast Ferry, operated by a private company (www.manlyfastferry.com.au), costs A$9.00, although cheaper if a SmartCard is purchased. 13–1500. www.sydneyferries.info.
Ghost Tours. The Rocks' dark alleyways can be scary, and The Rocks Ghost Tours make sure people are suitably spooked, as the guides, dressed in long black cloaks and carrying lanterns, regale them with stories of the murders and other nasty goings-on in the early days of the colony. Tours depart nightly at 6:45 (April–September) and 7:45 (October–March) from Cadman's Cottage; A$42. 02/9247–7910. www.ghosttours.com.au.
Rocks Walking Tours. The Rocks Walking Tours introduce you to Sydney's first European settlement, with an emphasis on the buildings and personalities of the convict period. The 1½-hour tour costs A$25. Tours leave daily at 10:30 and 1:30. Clocktower Square, Corner of Argyle and Harrington Sts., Shop 4a, The Rocks, Sydney, NSW, 2000. 02/9247–6678. www.rockswalkingtours.com.au.