How to Spend 48 Hours in Sydney

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Sydney is Australia’s iconic “city meets the sea” destination that visitors travel to from far, far away to enjoy that once in a lifetime trip to Australia. For Aussies, Sydney is one of their favourite cities – up there with the likes of Melbourne and Brisbane.

But with so much to see in Australia, you’re likely to want to jampack as much into your trip as possible – visiting the Great Barrier Reef, have an Outback adventure, and spend just a couple of nights in each of the big cities. So if it’s just a couple of nights you have, here’s what you can’t miss in 48 hours in Sydney!

shangri-la sydney

 48 hours in Sydney: Day 1

First things first, you’ve got to get yourself from the airport to the city. The easiest and most cost effective is to hop on the Sydney Airport Link Train, which will get you into the city in 13 minutes for just $17.

Once in the city, your best bet will be to book a centrally located hotel as time is precious. I chose the Shangri-La Sydney, for it is renowned for having the best views of the Sydney Harbour. And as it were, those rumours were right! Here’s a peek at the view from my room:

Sydney Harbour Views - Night

With your bags dropped off, its time to explore the city! You have a range of activities on offer, depending on your preferences:

Tour the Sydney Opera House – Many visitors to the city of Sydney will be keen to snap shots in front of the Sydney Opera House, but not all visitors go inside to experience the building’s interior. There are a great range of concerts on year-round, giving visitors a chance to see inside the building and experience the acoustics. Check the site for more info on upcoming performances.

Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge – The iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb is one of Sydney’s biggest draw cards. Year after year travellers come from afar to climb the iconic bridge… just be sure to book in advance to avoid disappointment!

Explore “The Rocks” – The area below the Sydney Harbour Bridge, known as “the rocks”, is one of the oldest parts of Sydney and perhaps one of the trendiest. This area is buzzing with great cafes and small boutiques, so be sure to walk around and see what hidden treasures you can find.

Catch a Ferry to Taronga Zoo – If you’re interested in snapping a selfie with a kangaroo or cuddling a koala, look no further than Taronga Zoo. To get there, head to Circular Quay and buy a ferry ticket – giving you the chance to see the harbour from the water as well!


Now to finish the day on a high note – 36 levels high to be exact! Altitude Restaurant is located 36 levels above Sydney, offering the absolute best views of the city in the evenings. There is a 6pm and 8.30pm seating, and tables must be booked in advance as the restaurant is popular year-round. If you’re up for a splurge, don’t go past the chance to indulge in a 6-course degestation menu with matching wines — bliss!

bondi beach australia

48 Hours in Sydney: Day 2

Wake early, fill up on a buffet breakfast, and make your way via public transport to Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach. If you’re visiting Australia in the summer, a visit to Bondi is an absolute must. Also consider making your way over to Bondi Icebergs for a dip in the iconic oceanfront pool (see below).

Image- with some grace

image: with some grace

Now that you’re here, why not spend the day exploring Bondi – one of Sydney’s most celebrated “trend setter” hotspots. You’ll find many great cafes, oodles of boutiques, and a great local culture you won’t get in the city itself. Before hopping on a train back to the city centre, be sure to drop into Gelato Messina Bondi for a party in your mouth via gelati – there’s no way you won’t be impressed!

messina messina 2

Back in the city for the evening, there’s a range of dining options on offer. As you’re beginning to wind down and get ready to start the next leg of your journey, you might want to opt for something casual and low-key, without sacrificing flavours and great service. My favourite restaurant for such an evening meal is to enjoy the casual dining on offer at Tokonoma – a Japanese restaurant located at 44 Bridge Road (enter via Loftus Lane).


Over to you! Where are your favourite places in Sydney!?

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    September 21, 2015 at 1:47 am

    thanks so much for the tips !!! that will be how I spend time in SYdney soon !

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    July 31, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    What about the Blue Mountains?

    alfredo ciano
    July 16, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    World of Wanderlust : You Are…Great !!!

    July 12, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    The Coogee to Bondi walk is an absolute must! It’s abiht 10km but the amazing views of coastlines, the different little coves and beaches and the end result – Bondi! – make it a perfect way to spend a day

    Michelle | Lights Camera Travel
    July 7, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    The only thing I’d add is to have a cocktail at Opera Bar as the sun sets. I think it’s a nice way to spend day one in Sydney… whenever I take first-timers to Sydney I always do that!

    July 6, 2015 at 5:12 am

    Sydney looks amazing, I definitely want to visit someday.

    A Life Passport
    July 4, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    I’ve been a Sydney-sider all my life – proud to call it home!
    This would be a very very expensive 48hr trip!! For those on a budget, I would suggest skipping the airlink train (which charges a huge amount just to access the station) and use the regular train service from Wolli Creek station – you’ll save about $15. Secondly, you can walk over the harbour bridge for free on the footpath from The Rocks to Kirribilli – granted you won’t get quite the same views you’d get from the top, but you’ll also save $250+. I also recommend a day trip on the ferry over to Manly – it’s much better than Bondi 😀 (I may be slightly biased as a Manly local)

    Katie @ Second-Hand Hedgehog
    July 4, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    Sounds like a great way to spend 48 hours in Sydney. The only thing I’d add to the list is the Botanical Gardens. I loved strolling through them, watching the bats sleeping in the trees and enjoying the stunning views across to the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. I was actually lucky enough to spend new year at Sydney Opera House – and you’re right: the inside is gorgeous, and definitely worth a visit. We went to Manly rather than Bondi, but I’d love to check out Bondi Beach next time I’m in Sydney – those gelati pictures look delicious!

    July 3, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    You always post the most incredible and useful things! 🙂
    I’ve always wanted to visit Australia (I’ve been obsessed with it since… FOREVER lol) and whenever I do go, I have to go for more than 48h just cause it’s a long flight from Portugal to Australia… Xp hahaha

    Xoxo Jessy

    July 3, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    Bondi beach looks amazing!

    July 3, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    This is perfect, I just booked my flights for a 3 day stay in Sydney for New Year’s! 😀

    Cest La Vibe
    July 3, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    Love these articles that show you how to explore a new city in a limited amount of time!

    Courtney {Alkeks Abroad}
    July 3, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    My favorite is the Coogee to Bondi walk!

    July 3, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    I’m looking into a trip to Australia this December, so I’ll definitely keep your suggestions in mind. I can’t wait to see the Opera House and Bondi Beach! Thanks for the tips!

    July 3, 2015 at 8:52 am

    I have done 48 hours in Sydney before. Perfect post for everyone to hit the highlights. I agree don’t miss the opera house tour.