Last updated on November 27th, 2023 at 09:21 pm
Sydney is known for its spectacular harbour and now, you plan to spend 7 days in Sydney discovering it for yourself and everything else Sydney has to offer. Well, you are in luck, one week in Sydney is a great amount of time to get the vibe of the city. I grew up in Sydney and had my first job in an office with fabulous views over the harbour. I would eat my lunch most days sitting at Circular Quay watching the ferries come and go. If you need help planning how to spend your time in Sydney, here is how I suggest you make the most of your 7 days in Sydney. You will see all the best bits during this 7 days in Sydney itinerary for your first visit to Sydney.
My Sydney itinerary also includes accommodation options for your Sydney 7 day itinerary and how to get around Sydney. Are you ready to spend a week in Sydney?
Don’t have 7 days to spend in Sydney? Mix and match your days from my how to spend one week in Sydney itinerary to the time you have available. You can work out your own 2 day Sydney itinerary, 3 day Sydney itinerary, 4 day Sydney itinerary, even 5 and 6 day Sydney itineraries by using my following suggested itinerary to discover the Sydney you want to discover.
Table of Contents
Sydney Itinerary 1 Week at a Glance
Here is a quick overview of the best way to spend 1 week in Sydney.
- Take in the Icons of the Harbour – walk around the foreshore
- Hop-on Hop-off Bus – climb the bridge or walk across it – Visit Darling Harbour and Barangaroo – go to Chinatown for dinner
- Ferry to Manly and the North Shore beaches
- Day at Bondi Beach
- Day at Sydney Taronga Zoo
- Day trip to Blue Mountains
- Explore other areas of Sydney
Is a Week in Sydney long enough?
One week holiday in Sydney is long enough to see all of Sydney’s icons. If you can extend your seven days in Sydney to stay longer, then definitely, you will get to know the suburbs in the Sydney Metropolitan Area a whole lot better.
Sydney Itinerary 7 Days
Day 1 – See the Sydney Harbour Icons
The first stop on any itinerary in Sydney, particularly if this is your first visit to Sydney, should be to Sydney Harbour for a walk along the foreshore. This is where you will find Sydney’s icons – the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour. You will probably stand in awe of these icons for a while. More great views of the Harbour can be found from the train station above. Or take the elevator, near ferry wharf number one up onto the Cahill Expressway (the busy road above Circular Quay, to the viewing platform for more great views of the harbour. Once you have got all your camera shots I suggest start discovering Sydney in The Rocks.
Morning in The Rocks
The Rocks is the area to the left of Circular Quay. The Rocks is known as the birthplace of modern Sydney. When the European settlers arrived in 1788, this is where the convicts first set things up. The buildings here are old and many are made from sandstone built along cobbled streets and laneways. Pop in to The Rocks Discovery Museum at 2 Kendall Lane and discover the story of The Rocks from pre-European days to the present. As well as discovering Australian history there are plenty of restaurants and shops to enjoy in The Rocks.
Lunch by the Harbour
You could enjoy lunch in The Rocks, but as I’m sure you are itching to spend your time by Sydney Harbour, walk to the Harbour and get yourself a seat at one of the many outdoor restaurants. A favourite is the Opera Bar. The Whale Bridge and Q Dining aren’t too bad also. Have a good meal and enjoy watching the ferries and people come and go.
Afternoon at the Sydney Opera House and Botanic Gardens
After lunch, head to the Sydney Opera House sitting on Bennelong Point. It was designed by the Danish architect, John Utzon. It was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 20 October 1973. Walk around its perimeter and up the staircase and get that photo of you in front of the Sydney Opera House. You can also go on a tour of the inside and see it’s number of theatres. Get your ticket to tour the inside of the Sydney Opera House here.
After discovering the Sydney Opera House, keep walking for a stroll along the foreshore or into the Botanic Gardens. The Botanic Gardens are a great escape to nature right next to the city and harbour. And end your walk at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. Mrs Macquaire was the wife of the fifth Governor of Sydney, Lachlan Macquarie, and she would sit in this spot and look at Sydney. When you visit her chair and look aback at the view you will understand why she chose the spot – though the view would have been much different in 1810-1821.
Watch the sunset from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair
Sunset and evening lights over Sydney
End Day 1 with an Evening in the City
After a long day walking, head back to the Harbour or into The Rocks for dinner. Enjoy the sunset over the Harbour with a glass of wine or cold beer while enjoying a great meal. There are a number of pubs in The Rocks to enjoy a meal or perhaps a Sydney Harbour Dinner Cruise might suit – what a great way to end your 1st day in Sydney on your 7 day Sydney itinerary.
Day 2 – Discovering More of Sydney
On this second day of your Sydney visit get a ticket for the Hop-on Hop-off Sydney Bus. The bus will take you to all the best Sydney spots to see plus out to Bondi Beach. I suggest you do the full loop on the bus first, then you can decide which sites you want to return to to spend more time at. This is also a great thing to do if you are in Sydney for a short time, or in Sydney with kids as you will get an idea what is of interest to you and your family.
Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge
If you are itching to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, now is the time to do it. Maybe a sunrise climb or a sunset climb might be your choice. Though climbs of the Harbour Bridge occur all day. They take about 3.5 hours to complete, so factor this into your itinerary for Sydney. Book your ticket here.
Get Great Views from the Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon
You can get great views of Sydney Harbour from the bridge pylon. There is a fee to enter the pylon but the view is worth it. Two hundred stairs take you to the Pylon Lookout, 87 metres above sea level. There are also plenty of exhibits to see on the way up.
Walk Across Sydney Harbour Bridge to Luna Park
Feel the vibrations as you walk across the bridge
Enjoy the rides at Luna Park
You can walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge (from The Rocks). Be aware you will feel the vibrations of the cars and trains crossing the bridge which can feel a little weird at first. Once across the bridge you will end up in the charming suburb of Milson’s Point. Make sure you look back for great views of the Harbour. While on this side of the bridge you could visit the famous heritage listed Luna Park, a fun park on the shores of the Harbour. It is free to enter and walk around however if you want to go on the rides, best purchase a ticket. Then, walk back over the bridge or catch a train back from Milsons Point Train Station.
Afternoon at Barangaroo and Darling Harbour
Discover Barangaroo and Darling Harbour areas. Barangaroo was Sydney’s old shipping container terminal. It has been given a facelift and transformed into Sydney’s new waterfront precinct. You can get there by walking under Sydney Harbour Bridge and pass Walsh Bay to arrive there. Wander around for an hour or so before heading to Darling Harbour. Darling Harbour is home to Sydney Aquarium, the Australia Maritime Museum and Chinese Garden and are quite interesting to visit. End your day in Chinatown for a meal.
If you don’t have time to visit Barangaroo today, you can always leave it until tomorrow morning, then spend the afternoon in Manly.
Day 3 – Ferry to Manly and the Palm Beach Lighthouse
Catch the ferry to Manly
Walk the Corso at Manly to the beach
Catch the bus to Palm Beach – Home and Away country!
One of the best ways to see the Northern Beaches suburbs of Sydney is to get on the bus to Palm Beach. This bus will take you along Pittwater and Barrenjoey Roads taking in many ocean views. Alight at the Governor Phillip Park bus stop and walk to The Barrenjoey Lighthouse. Fans of the TV show Home and Away will recognise the lighthouse as the backdrop in many of the scenes for the show. End your day with a ferry ride back to Circular Quay for dinner.
Day 4 – Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach is another Sydney icon that is a must visit on any first time Sydney trip. The beach is some 10km to the east of Circular Quay. The best way to get to Bondi Beach without a car is to catch a train to Bondi Junction, which has lots of good shopping, then a bus to the beach. Or take the 380 bus from the city to the beach that costs $5-$10, depending on the time of day and which day you travel.
Swim or surf at Bondi Beach?
Once at Bondi Beach you have a number of options of things to see and do. Check out the Bondi Pavilion first. If the weather is great you may want to spend the day enjoying the sun and the surf. Maybe learn to surf at Bondi Beach! There is also the Bondi Iceberg’s pool to enjoy. Or get a good meal in one of the cafe’s or restaurants.
Walk the Iconic Bondi to Coogee Walk
Perhaps you want to go on a walk. Lucky for you, you could take the iconic Bondi to Coogee Walk and get great cliff-top views of the Sydney coastline. The walk is easy to follow and will take you to some of Sydney’s best beaches – Bondi, Tamarama, Bronte, Waverly, Clovely, Gordons Bay before ending at Coogee Beach. The distance of the walk is about 6 km (3.7 miles) and can take a few hours to complete.
Meal or Drink in Kings Cross
After lots of exercise at Bondi Beach, go for a meal or drink in Kings Cross. Kings Cross is one of Sydney’s late night entertainment precincts. Only a couple of kilometres east of the city, it is full of small bars, pumping nightclubs, restaurants and seedy live shows. Not to everyone’s taste but it is highly recognisable by the giant neon-lit Coca-Cola billboard. And can be reached from the city or Bondi Junction on the Illawarra Train Line.
Day 5 – Day at Sydney Taronga Zoo
Hop on the ferry to the Sydney Taronga Zoo for day 5 of your Sydney 7 days itinerary. Spend the day checking out some of the 5000 animals and get some of the best views of Sydney Harbour you will ever see! Go for a ride on the sky safari cable car over the zoo and get a different perspective of the zoo from above. Book your ticket with return ferry transfers included from Circular Quay here. This is one of the best family fun things to do in Sydney with kids of all ages – who doesn’t love visiting the zoo!
Day 6 – Day trip to The Blue Mountains
Today you could rent a car and drive to the UNESCO listed Blue Mountains. If you prefer not to drive you can catch the train which will take about 90 minutes or so. Alighting at Katoomba Train Station, catch the Hop-on Hop-off Blue Mountains Bus and be taken to see The Three Sisters overlooking Jameson Valley at Echo Point. There are other lookouts to visit, take the skytrain into the valley, visit Scenicworld or go on one of the many bush walks.
Visit the Three Sisters
Main street of Katoomba
If you don’t want to drive or catch the train to the Blue Mountains go on an organised day tour to the Blue Mountains. Be picked up at your accommodation, be driven to the mountains and taken to all the best places to see. You can book a tour to the Blue Mountains here.
Day 7 – Get to Know other Parts of Sydney
Some suggestions of what to see and do for your last day on a week in Sydney itinerary.
- Shop till you drop at Queen Victoria Building.
- See the architecture of Sydney Town Hall, across from the Queen Victoria Building.
- Visit Central Train Station. Opened on 4 August 1906, Central Station is a grand building.
- Discover some of the inner East and West suburbs such as Newton, St Peters and Enmore. The streets of these suburbs are full of old Victorian terrace houses and buildings and places offering cheap eats. You may even see some street art in these suburbs, but I don’t think it compares to Melbourne’s Laneway Street Art – find out for yourself when you visit Melbourne.
- Walk through Martin Place, seeing the Cenotaph before walking across Macquarie Street to the Conservatory of Music and into the Royal Botanic Gardens.
- Get the highest views of Sydney from Sydney Tower Eye. On a clear day you can see as far as the Blue Mountains. Maybe have a meal in the rotating buffet/bar or walk out onto the observation deck. Possibly do the Skywalk Experience, known as Sydney’s highest outdoor adventure! You can book your ticket here.
- Take a train and bus ride to Kurnell.
Organise Your Sydney Holiday
Now you know how to spend your one week in Sydney, you will need to organise it.
Best Time to Visit Sydney
Anytime is a good time to visit Sydney as the Harbour is pretty spectacular in all seasons and weathers!
Summer in Sydney is December to February. This is when the weather is hottest and many people spend their days at the beach. Sydney is very busy at this time as it is school summer holiday and people are out and about enjoying the great weather. On your first trip to Sydney, and are here for New Year’s Eve you must find a spot around the Harbour to enjoy the fireworks display.
Spring in Sydney is September to November. The weather is warming up in Spring and you also see the finals of the winter football season. It can be pleasant walking around the city during this time.
Autumn in Sydney is March to May. The weather is starting to cool down during this time, with cool mornings, but mostly pleasant days.
Winter in Sydney is June to August. The weather can be very cold in Sydney during this time and you will need a coat.
Where to Stay in Sydney – Best Places
There are plenty of accommodation types in Sydney and it will depend on your budget as to what you choose. Some recommendations.
Hostels: Sydney Harbour YHA is the best hostel in Sydney mainly because of its fabulous rooftop terrace overlooking Sydney Harbour. The rooms are also comfortable and there is a very social backpacker vibe. Get pricing, availability and book your bed here.
Budget Hotel: The Wynyard Hotel is a clean budget hotel. Near Wynyard train station it is within walking distance of all the main attractions or a train ride to Circular Quay. Get pricing, availability and book your room here.
Splurge Hotel with a View of Sydney Harbour: Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel Circular Quay – get pricing, availability and book your room here.
Sydney Holiday Unit: If visiting Sydney with kids having an apartment with a kitchen to make meals is a good budget saving option. Check out Adina Apartments, Darling Harbour – get pricing, availability and to book your unit here.
How to Get Around Sydney – Opal Card
Having used Sydney transport for many years I think that the Sydney transport system works rather well. The system of buses and trains take you all over the city, and particularly to all the destinations mentioned in this Sydney 1 week itinerary. To use Sydney’s public transport system, get yourself an Opal Card. It will save you money and time. You load the card with credit and when you tap on and off a dollar amount is taken from the card to cover the cost of your journey.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Are You Ready for Your Ultimate Sydney Itinerary, 7 days
Is a week in Sydney enough time? Yes, to see all the iconic sites it absolutely yes. If you have more time, you could easily visit many other places in Sydney plus do a few day trips to places like the Hunter Valley wine region. Or down the south coast to Kiama to see the blowholes. But first, you need to tick all the iconic spots of Sydney off your list first, and this 7 day Sydney itinerary will help you do that. Happy discovering my home town of Sydney.