Looking for a great place to have a girl's weekend? Sydney in Australia, with one of the most picturesque harbours in the world, famous beaches, the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, is brimming with convict history and a bounty of wonderful attractions.
My two day girl's weekend in Sydney itinerary involved lots of walking and hopping on and off buses. Here are some of the highlights of our weekend:
Sydney Walking Tour
Alongside a large group of other tourists we gathered at the Sydney Town Hall in George Street at 10.30am. Our tour guides gave us an overview of where we would be heading on the walking tour of the city. We learnt that the old City Town Hall sits on a cemetery and they had to move the bodies to another cemetery prior to building the hall.
The St Andrews Cathedral adjacent to the town hall was built in 1868 and is one of the city's finest examples of Gothic revival architecture.
We walked through the elegant and architecturally splendid, Queen Victoria Building (QVB) which occupies an entire block on Sydney's George Street, and has over 180 of Sydney's finest fashion boutiques, jewellery shops and homewares, accompanied by delightful cafes and restaurants.
Onwards to Australia's oldest park, Hyde Park that contains the ANZAC Memorial building and visitor centre, the Pool of Reflection and numerous monuments and statues. The northern section features the iconic Archibald Fountain and various theme gardens.
The imposing St Mary's Cathedral, a Gothic-style Catholic cathedral built of local sandstone from 1821-1928, stands adjacent to Hyde Park.
A walk down Macquarie Street, revealed many historical buildings commissioned by Governor Macquarie during the convict days in the early 1800s, including Hyde Park Barracks, St James Church, Sydney Hospital and Sydney Mint.
Walk Across the Sydney Harbour Bridge
We left the tour at Circular Quay and walked around the quay to the historical Rocks area, the very first convict settlement in Australia, dating back to 1788. Here we enjoyed a counter lunch at one of the charming old Pubs in The Rocks and afterward had a browse through The Rocks Markets.
It was time to work off lunch and walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, where the views back over the harbour and the Opera House were absolutely breathtaking on this particular picture-postcard day.
We strolled through the very elegant neighbourhood of North Sydney and to the Prime Minister's residence, Kirribilli House and Admiralty House, the official house of the Governor-General of Australia. We were hoping to pop and have afternoon tea with the Governor, but unfortunately he wasn't in!
Then it was time to jump aboard a ferry and back to Circular Quay for a well-earned glass of wine before our show at Darling Harbour later on that evening.
The great thing about Sydney is the public transport system with regularly running buses, trains and ferries that on this particular Sunday cost us a total of $2.50 for unlimited travel all day.
We boarded a bus near Hyde Park in the city and slowly made our way over to Bondi Beach hoping to spot some celebrities on a spectacular Sydney Sunday. Here we took many photos of the surf which was pumping at Bondi Beach and then waltzed down to Bondi's Icebergs Ocean Pool to take in the magnificent views over the ocean. A stroll along the esplanade took us past the historic Bondi Pavilion, followed by a browse through the Bondi Markets.
Jumping on the bus again it was over to Watson's Bay for a lunch of fish & chips at the famous Doyles Seafood Restaurant on the wharf. Watson's Bay is a very popular place for day trippers to moor their boats and enjoy the waterfront restaurants or take a picnic and sit in the park under a shady tree.
Afterwards we walked into The Gap National Park, perched atop the steep coastal cliffs and up the stairs to the lookout which had breathtaking views of Sydney Heads, the entrance to Sydney Harbour.
Sydney is an extraordinary city with so much to do and see. I have lost count of how many times I have visited Australia's most picturesque city, with each occasion being a different experience but always a thoroughly enjoyable one. On a clear day there isn't a view anywhere else in the world that surpasses the ones across the vibrant blue waters of the Sydney Harbour.