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Sydney Travel Guide
Sunny, seductive Sydney is a high contender for the title of the world's most ideal city. It is slick and smart, the streets are clean, the neighbourhoods and busy pedestrian precincts pristine, the parks sublime, the water in the huge harbour blue, and the landmark buildings breath-taking. Sydney's population is approaching five million, but it is easy to leave the frenetic urban pace behind with just a simple ferry ride to the North Shore for a bush walk, enjoy a stroll along the harbour beaches or take any one of a number of daytrips to explore the 'real' Australia on the city's doorstep.
Just like its characteristic white-sailed Opera House, Sydney seems to cruise effortlessly through nights and days filled with myriad entertainment opportunities, sophisticated shopping, memorable museums, and strings of beautiful beaches. Visitors find it exhausting to take it all in, even though the tourist precinct where most of the interesting attractions are to be found is concentrated in quite a small area around the downtown waterfront and harbour area.
The fact that Sydney is a thriving seaport and industrial city has been cleverly concealed behind attractive pleasure and leisure grounds and residential suburbs, making full use of the scenic, watery geographical location. The harbour area is dominated by the span of one of the world's largest arched bridges, backed by towering skyscrapers. It is all a far cry from the remote penal colony established by the British back in 1788.
Another plus for visitors is that compared to most big cities Sydney offers excellent, reasonably priced food, accommodation and public transport. The city also has an excellent suburban rail network, with its hub at Circular Quay in the city centre, and full use is made of the waterways with ferries and passenger jet boats plying to and from various points.
Sydney has a good network of buses, trains and ferries that make getting around the city and the surrounds easy, and there are numerous types of travel pass deals that are good value for money. The bus network is the most extensive, and cheapest mode of public transport, but can be slow due to traffic jams. There are also several hop-on hop-off Explorer buses especially for visitors that take in the major sights and surrounding beaches. The underground city centre train loop is the fastest way to get around, but many of the tourist areas including Darling Harbour, Bondi Beach and Manly can only be reached by further ferry or bus connections. The best and most pleasurable way to get around is by ferry - the main terminal is at Circular Quay. A trip on the Manly ferry provides one of the best views of Sydney from the water. There is also a 10-minute monorail loop from the city centre to Darling Harbour and back, and a Metro Light Rail 'tram' system between Central Station and Wentworth Park in Pyrmont. In addition metered taxis are plentiful and fairly economical; to cross the Harbour Bridge or pass through the Harbour Tunnel will cost an extra A$3 for the toll though. Hiring a car for short visits is not recommended due to heavy congestion (in peak hours) and limited parking in the city centre.
Australian Tourist Commission, Sydney: +61 (0)2 9360 1111 or
Embassy of Australia, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 797 3000.
Australian High Commission, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7379 4334.
Australian High Commission, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 236 0841.
Australian High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 423 6000.
Australian Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 664 5300.
Australian High Commission, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 (0)4 473 6411.
Embassy of the United States, Canberra: +61 (0)2 6214 5600.
British High Commission, Canberra: +61 (0)2 6270 6666.
Canadian High Commission, Canberra: +61 (0)2 6270 4000.
South African High Commission, Canberra: +61 (0)2 6272 7300.
Embassy of Ireland, Canberra: +61 (0)2 6273 3022.
New Zealand High Commission, Canberra: +61 (0)2 6270 4211.
Emergencies: 000 (112 on cellphones).