Updated: Dec 8, 2020
Today, I'm taking you to the beginning and end of my Australian journey!
Your first trip to Australia
isn't complete without visiting Sydney! Sydney became what it is today as the British sent their prisoners to the country through its harbour entry. During their stay, the prisoners decided to spruce up the place lol (from what I remember from my tour guide).
Ok ok, so in this post, I will discuss with you things to do in Sydney, accommodations, lessons learned and my total costs for travel to Australia from the United States! So let us dive in...
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Things To Do
Sydney Highlights Tour
This tour is great to see the entire city of Sydney and all of its neighborhoods. Of course we started in the CBD (Central Business District) went through the harbour and stopped at its famous Bondi Beach. You spend four hours in either the morning or afternoon stopping by all of these sites.
I was lucky to be the only one on the tour this day as the others cancelled. With that said, the tour guide stopped at Harry's! Harry's is a famous place to try traditional Aussie meat pies! Originally, they were just a little stand and had to move a certain amount of feet daily in order to comply to city standards. Now the stand obtains multiple visitors yearly including plenty of celebrities without having to move daily! I was lucky to try one of these pies and it was delicious! See the slideshow below to see Harry's and the meat pie!
Sydney Fish Market
This is another must see! Fisherman bring in fresh fish daily into this market and they do offer tours in the early morning to learn its history. But I decided to venture to the market during the day to just experience it for myself. I saw people ordering fish and ate some great seafood there! I took an Uber to and from the market but try to go early as possible as tour buses do begin to fill up the market!
Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour
I was lucky to see the La Boheme opera on the Harbour! I decided to see this opera instead of the ballet playing at the Opera House. Going here was just as great as you get to see an amazing view of the Opera House and Bridge at night. Obviously, check the schedule to see what is currently playing at the Handa Opera! Please note: It is outdoors, so be prepared for the elements. Oh and I took an Uber to and from the Handa Opera.
Featherdale Wildlife Park
So I didn't have this originally on my itinerary but it was added when a random thought came to
mind...I have been in Australia all this time and have only seen a kangaroo from a distance! So I looked up places near Sydney where I could see a kangaroo! This is how I found Featherdale Wildlife Park. I chose to visit here as they have initiatives to help conserve animals and save them from extinction.
In order to get to Featherdale, I took public transportation. This day the train system was down and I only had a limited amount of time before heading to the airport. I walked about 3 minutes from the Amora Jamison Hotel to the Wynward Station. I hopped on a train replacement bus to Blacktown. I never was charged for the bus which took about 45 minutes to get to the Blacktown station. Once at this station, I took an Uber about seven minutes to Featherdale. You can obtain your best route by using Google Maps.
When I arrived, I was able to see koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, a dingo, a crocodile and much more!
Pier One Sydney Harbour, Marriott Autograph Collection
So my journey to Australia started by spending one day in Sydney before carrying on to Alice Springs and Cairns. Therefore, I stayed in two different hotels while in Sydney. My first hotel, Pier One Sydney Harbour, was great! The rooms were slightly smaller than a US standard hotel but it was very cozy and clean. The hotel staff was very friendly and accommodating. The hotel is also situated right along the harbour where I literally looked right outside my window to see the Sydney Harbour Bridge across the street! The hotel had WiFi, a bar, buffet breakfast and a nice outside eating area. I would definitely stay at Pier One again!
P.S. You will see the cost I spent later but I was lucky to book this hotel through my Chase Rewards a few weeks before going at a great rate! Usually staying in this area could be quite costly.
Amora Jamison Hotel
I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS HOTEL! As soon as the shuttle pulled in from the airport, I was in love! The concierge opens the door for you upon arrival to welcome you into a beautiful lobby. The staff welcomed me at the front desk very pleasantly as well. I checked in early but they were able to accommodate me with a room (despite some man on my floor asking to check to see if the fridge was stocked as he hadn't finished the room). The hotel room was more than a room, it was an apartment! There was a desk, mini fridge, bedroom with a TV, living area with a TV and a spacious
The best thing about this hotel is that it was in the best location! It was only a few blocks (about 10 - 15 minute walk) from the harbour, Circular Quay and Opera House. The bus stations were near and so were plenty of other options! I would most definitely stay at the Amora Jamison again!
P.S. You will see the cost I spent later but I was lucky to find this hotel with Priceline on Cyber Monday and obtained a great deal!
Melbourne Parkview Hotel
So on my flight back to the US, I had about a 16 hour overnight layover in Melbourne. In order for me not to smell on the 13 hour flight back to LA and get proper rest, I booked a hotel through Hotwire. The hotel was quite some distance from the airport with me being there for just the night. But the hotel room was clean and spacious. They also had great room service! If you ever visit Melbourne for an extended stay, I definitely recommend staying here.
Flights: My flights from Atlanta US to Sydney AU round trip totaled $807 USD which is great! Usually flights to Australia from Atlanta are over $1,000 USD! I did this by waiting for a flight deal to Australia from LA. I then used points to fly from ATL to LA!
Baggage Allowance: I flew Southwest Airlines from ATL to LA (r/t) and they do not have baggage fees. I also flew Delta/Virgin Australia to Sydney in which I'm a member of their SkyMiles program and therefore do not pay baggage fees.
Hotel Rooms: $344 USD for three hotel rooms. The Pier One hotel was $102 USD, the Amora was $145 USD, and the Parkview was $97 USD.
Tours & Activities: $211 USD which includes the safari park, the opera, and tour.
Souvenirs: $18 USD
Airport Transfers & Ubers: $152 USD. Uber was used through the regular app. For my airport transfers, I booked with Go Sydney Shuttle. They are great on departure times but slacking on arrivals.
Food: $193 USD which includes food purchased at airports, in Sydney and in Melbourne. Oh and it includes drinks.
And don't forget I visited Alice Springs and Cairns as well in which I detailed the costs and experiences of those trips in their perspective blogs:
My total bucket list excursion to Australia cost me $3,411 USD! Yikes....but I wanted this to be the best Australian adventure for me on my 31st birthday! I was able to see everything I wanted to see and I regret nothing!
Have cash available at the Sydney Fish Market as some stands only accept cash.
Eat at Doyle's at the Fish Market!
Luckily I didn't travel to Melbourne as part of my getaway but in April it was really cold (for me).
Buy coffee beans in Melbourne for a souvenir!
Upon arrival to Australia, 16 countries including the US, goes through e-passport. You scan your own passport and take your own picture! And yes you save space in your passport as you don't get stamped.
I recommend visiting the Wildlife Park for about 2 hours.
Visit the Circular Quay (pronounced Key) area in Sydney for great pubs, people watching and access to the harbour! It is also a transportation hub for ferries and trains. Oh and it is a great place to get photos of the opera house and bridge.
In Sydney, stay in the CBD area for easy access to tourist attractions and local activities.
If you decide to go to the Handa Opera, eat before or after as the food is expensive there.
Per the tour guide (someone please verify), the first Harbour was originally where the Sydney airport is located but the water was too shallow there. Therefore, the harbour moved to its current location.
Have you ever visited Sydney, Australia? How did you like it? What did you do?
Or do you want to visit? Comment any of your thoughts and questions below!
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Watch my Off to Sydney excursion here:
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Thank you for reading!
- Kita the Explorer