A city surrounded by water, Sydney is a fusion of spectacular architecture and white beaches. Set amongst native bushland and lush national parks, the key to this city's identity is its harbor.
Central Business District
The central business district is a pastiche of quarters and boroughs. The multi-cultural nature of this city and its inhabitants ensures an authenticity that is at the heart of its liberal and embracing spirit.
Circular Quay is the gateway to the harbour. An active transport anchorage, the quay is adorned by architectural and national icons—including the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House.
West of Circular Quay, discover the quirkily named Rocks. This is the original site of convict settlement in Australia, and boasts some of Sydney's best restaurants. Above The Rocks is Observatory Hill, a stretch of parkland with an 1858-built Observatory that is still operational. Situated on the south-eastern side of Circular Quay, is the central business district's financial corridor. A mass of multinational conglomerates locate their Asia-Pacific headquarters here. Stately buildings such as the State Library of NSW and Parliament House are found in nearby Macquarie Street.
When locals use the term "the city centre," they are referring to Pitt Street Mall, Market Street and a maze of interlinked arcades. Another central city icon is the architecturally striking AMP Tower (Centrepoint). The conveniently located Sydney Town Hall, inter-connected to Town Hall Station, allows easy access to the city's rail hub and also offers underground access to the fantastically opulent Queen Victoria Building.
In the southwestern corner of the city, Chinatown is a feast for the senses. This district is home to Market City and Paddy's Markets, where you will find the usual fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as some astonishing bargains.
Built to commemorate Australia's bicentenary, Harbourside is Darling Harbour's signature shopping and entertainment complex. Nearby are the Chinese Garden, the Australian National Maritime Museum, the Sydney Aquarium, the IMAX Cinema and the Powerhouse Museum. Whilst just up the road is the extravagant Star City Casino. Nearby, Cockle Bay Wharf is a sophisticated boardwalk of nightclubs, restaurants and live music venues.
On the Eastern side of Hyde Park is The Domain, an expanse of parkland that hosts the city's calendar of outdoor concerts. This area is full of attractions such Royal Botanic Gardens.
The Eastern Suburbs
Oxford Street is the main artery in this district. This elongated street runs from the central business district in Darlinghurst and works its way into Paddington, past the sprawling Centennial Park to Bondi Junction. The street is famous for its art-house cinemas, cafes, bookshops and designer labels.
At the lower end of Darlinghurst is Kings Cross, Sydney's 24-hour red-light district. Amongst the crass strip joints and tattoo parlours are intimate jazz clubs, hip cafes and great record shops.
The East's harbourside suburbs of Elizabeth Bay, Double Bay and Rose Bay culminate at Watson's Bay, which offers stunning views of the city. Savour the view from the nearby world famous Doyles on the Beach seafood restaurant. On the other side of this peninsula is South Head, the Southern gate between Sydney Harbour and the open sea. Along the nearby coast discover Sydney's best-known and best-loved beaches, including Bondi, Tamarama, Bronte and Coogee.
The first fleet landed at Botany Bay, and the suburbs between here and South Cronulla Beach include the huge local government area, Sutherland Shire. The character of the south is typified by waterways and gardens, which lead to Sydney's southern boundary—the vast Royal National Park.
The Inner West
Glebe and Newtown are the main suburbs in this district. The inner-west is crammed with restaurants offering international cuisines, new and second-hand bookshops, backpacker hostels, health food shops and traditional pubs.
Further west is Leichhardt, also known as Little Italy. Wander past Norton Street's bookshops, art-house cinemas and delicatessen-shops, which sell a selection of cheese, imported espresso machines and ceramic tiles.
The Greater West
Homebush Bay, the centre of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games is situated in the Greater West. Telstra Stadium and a host of sporting facilities are all close by. Neighbouring Parramatta is the major transport and commercial hub of the west. Between Parramatta and the Blue Mountains (Sydney's western boundary) is Cabramatta—Sydney's Little Vietnam, and it is worth the trip for the great shopping and culinary experience.
The Upper North Shore
Sydney's northwest corner intersects at The Hills District—a semi-rural region that is fast developing into a residential quarter. The leafy Upper North Shore is one of Sydney's wealthiest areas. Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park, situated in the centre, is a beautiful spot for bushwalks or picnics.
The Lower North Shore
Everything below Chatswood is the Lower North Shore. Some of the prettier spots are Balmoral Beach and Blues Point Reserve at the end of Blues Point Road. An essential stop is Taronga Zoo, a scenic animal sanctuary.
The Northern Beaches
From beautiful Palm Beach, down through Whale, Avalon, Bilgola, Newport and Mona Vale Beaches—the northern beaches not only offer great surfing, but great sailing as well. Lush parks and gardens surround million-dollar holiday homes, making for an idyllic setting.