Sydney: The Best of Australia

Eye Popping views of the Opera House and Darling Harbor from the Shangri-La Hotel's Altitude Restaurant. Tourism Australia photos.
Eye-Popping views of the Opera House and Darling Harbor from the Shangri-La Hotel’s Altitude Restaurant. Tourism Australia photos.

American’s Love Affair with Sydney

By Nick Kontis

The posing sexy supermodel of Australia. Glitzy and glamorous, yet all-inclusive and down to earth. Sydney never forgets its Aboriginal culture and convict upbringing, in fact, it embraces it.

Sydney is a melting pot of friendly locals who will make you feel right at home.
Sydney is a melting pot of friendly locals who will make you feel right at home.

In Sydney, you’ll find the best of Australia. The most talented Aussies flock to the Harbor City to mingle with other thought provokers.

Sydney is brash and bold, but not cocky, and comes with an understated sexiness blended in for good measure.

The Syndey Harbor Bridge and Opera House are one of the most iconic backdrops on the planet.

Bondi and Manly Beach attract chiseled beachcombers intersecting with bikini-clad cuties, next to big and small wave riders alike.

World-renowned chefs prepare epicurean delights with local flair in Sydney’s non-stop, deliciously eclectic food scene.

Sydneysiders welcome visitors with open arms. Americans fall hard for Sydney’s star-studded landmarks, infused with sun-splashed beaches that rival any coastline in the world, along with a food and wine scene to satisfy any gourmand, and you have the total vacation experience.

Bondi Beach attracts more visitors than any other beach in Sydney.
Bondi Beach attracts more visitors than any other beach in Sydney.

Australia is the now the sixth largest American population in the world, and many Americans living in Sydney feel akin to a California vibe.

The America-Australia bonding comes from both being former British colonies.

Samuel Adams and Sons tussled over a tea tax by throwing 342 chests filled with tea overboard into Boston Harbor.

The British sent their undesirables, mainly convicts of petty crimes to Sydney with nothing to lose.

In both countries fortunes were made in the new world.

In Sydney, local life remains encompassing. Walk into almost any pub, and it’s not uncommon to see a delivery guy and a stockbroker talking Super Rugby over a cold VB or Tooheys.

T+L Magazine Top Choice

For 22 years Travel + Leisure magazine has asked readers opinions on hotels, restaurants, beaches, cities and other related travel categories. Once again, readers of Travel + Leisure magazine’s World’s Best Awards named Sydney the number one cherished destination among the region of Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific.

Destination New South Wales Chief Executive Officer Sandra Chipchase welcomed the accolade and the importance of visitors from the United States.

“Travel + Leisure is one of the world’s most prestigious travel and lifestyle magazines with a print circulation of more than 950,000 in the US alone, and I am delighted that they have recognized Sydney as one of the world’s best cities once again,” Ms. Chipchase said.

“In the year ended March 2017, NSW welcomed almost 430,000 overnight visitors from the US who spent $776 million.

Ms. Chipchase mentioned, “NSW is undergoing a major transformation to meet the growing demands from international markets, providing our hotels and operators with more opportunities than ever before to attract visitors from around the world to our beautiful Harbour City.”

As Sydney's food scene continues to flourish a visit to its fish market has become a genuine attraction for visitors to discover.
As Sydney’s food scene continues to flourish a visit to its fish market has become a genuine attraction for visitors to discover.

As roughly 38% of Americans hold a passport, 770,000 lucky Yanks set foot on the “Land of Oz” in 2016.

Should you happen to be an American citizen with a valid passport, and are considering a visit to Sydney. Here is a tip for your Sydney sojourn.

Where to stay

Sky-high confidence in the visitor economy is driving Sydney’s hotel boom with more than 7,000 new rooms approved for development or being constructed now to open for business by 2022.

Sydney's latest vibrant waterfront development is Barangaroo.
Sydney’s latest vibrant waterfront development is Barangaroo.

American’s have a similar liking and a curiosity to learn more about their Aussie brethren. Exploring Sydney’s neighborhoods provides a glimpse into the lives of local Sydneysiders. Sydney’s neighborhoods have also had an influx of stylish new places to visit.

The Old Clare Hotel in Chippendale is a 62-room hotel located in the newly transformed iconic Clare Hotel and former Carlton & United Breweries administration building. Guests enjoy exceptional service, a rooftop pool, meeting room, gym, day spa, and a variety of exciting dining experiences that offer some of Sydney’s best cuisine.

To the east, QT Bondi Beach is home to some very stylish apartments overlooking Australia’s most famous golden stretch of sand. Offering Bondi’s only boutique high-end hotel apartments, QT has 69 spacious studios and apartments in a perfect location.

If you care to splurge a bit and want an elevated vantage point of the Harbor City, the Sydney Shangri-La remains a prominent fixture on the Sydney terrain. One of the most famous sights in the world greets you. The views of the alabaster, jaw-dropping Sydney Opera House shines against the azure sky and sea.

Gourmet Traveller awarded Blue Bar on 36, “Best Hotel Bar” in 2014. Photography buffs and Instagram fans relish in the spellbinding panoramic views of the Opera House, Harbor Bridge, and Darling Harbor.

Mingle with friendly Sydneysiders in the hip inner-city neighborhood of Chippendale
Mingle with friendly Sydneysiders in the hip inner-city neighborhood of Chippendale.

Sydney is a melting pot of Mediterranean and Asian influences. Whether you’re in the mood for Greek, Vietnamese, Italian, Thai or Brazilian, eateries and food options are seemingly unlimited.

Epicurean fans are lining at for a taste of Chef Lennox Hastie’s Firedoor and his fascination with fire. Firedoor, perched on the back streets of Surry Hills is Australia’s first fire powered eatery.

No ovens here, the menu is entirely powered by wood fire and enhances flavors from the collection of different woods.

Nestled on the side of the Opera House is Sydney chef extraordinaire, Peter Gilmore’s Bennelong, with an impressive view of Harbor Bridge. The emphasis is on farm to table cuisine.

Standout dishes include suckling pig from Macleay Valley or the roasted Holmbrae duck. Pre-theater, three-course prefix menus are available before and after theater and Opera House performances.

Locals and tourists alike mingle at Spice Alley and Kensington Street the heart of Sydney’s new, emerging downtown. A once-dormant industrial area is now brimming with life. Outdoor cafes, bars team with the many flavors of Asia that the city has to offer.

If you are visiting Sydney in March, the cities leading gourmet festival, A Taste of Sydney showcases a sampling of the most scrumptious delicacies that this abundant nation of more the 16,000 miles of coastlines and acres of open land for livestock to graze has to offer.

What to do

Get to know the Aboriginal landscape.

Sydney offers many opportunities to see contemporary and traditional Aboriginal art and artifacts. At the Art Gallery of NSW, the Yiribana Gallery is one of the largest spaces in Australia dedicated exclusively to indigenous art and sculpture.

Rover Thomas, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Long Tom Tjapanangka and Ginger Riley Munduwalawala are among the leading artists represented in the permanent exhibition.

A close up Uluru.
A close up view of Uluru. Didrik Johck photo.

With words, images, and artifacts, the Australian Museum explores the rich diversity of Aboriginal Australia, showing some of the changes that have occurred and the impact of European society.

Dance is a powerful traditional medium of artistic expression for many Aboriginal people and the Bangarra Dance Theatre, based in Sydney, is Australia’s most exciting Aboriginal dance company. Backed by an all-Aboriginal cast of writers and directors.

Get to know Australia’s animals.

Australia’s biodiversity also comes in the form of its fauna. Meet animals from around the globe at Taronga Zoo Sydney. Unique, with its shimmering harbor backdrop, it is a zoo with a view.

Eatherdale Wildlife Park, a 40-minute drive from the city center, features more than 2,200 animals from over 300 species including little penguins and an enormous saltwater crocodile measuring 15 feet. You can have your photo taken cuddling a koala or hand feeding kangaroos.

Sea Life

Sydney Aquarium and Manly SEA LIFE Sanctuary are easy to get to Harborside locations where you can admire beautiful sea creatures at close quarters without getting wet.

Wild Life

Sydney is located next to the aquarium at Darling Harbour. There’s always plenty going on here with keeper talks, daily feeding sessions, meeting koalas and other native Australian animals in their habitats.


Climb The Sydney Harbor Bridge

In a city filled with a treasure trove of one of a kind experiences, climbing the Harbor Bridge remains on every visitor’s wish list. Thrilling visitors since 1997 BridgeClimb has equipped thrill seekers to scale the summit of Sydney’s most precious monument.

Travelers can also see an exclusive Sunset Sessions live music (aka concert in the sky) at the top of the climb.

Vivid Syd 

Vivid Sydney is now the world’s largest festival of light, music, and  ideas, attracting 1.7 million attendees in 2016. The spectacular festival illuminates Sydney from late May to mid-June.

Vivid Sydney
Vivid Sydney.

Visitors are urged to stay for several nights to fully experience the light, color, and performance of this world-renowned event.


Cross the Harbor Bridge for a trip to the city’s newest development at Barangaroo. The largest construction project in Sydney to come forth in decades. The metropolis’ latest curated shopping and dining area.

The open verdant headland park overlooks the Harbor Bridge and is the perfect setting for a picnic. Top culinary artists have taken notice, and the area is quickly becoming Sydney’s newest eclectic gastronomy sanctuary.

Discover Craft Brews

For love of sudsy hops, Dave’s Brewery Tours are Sydney’s only operator offering pub crawls and an immersion into Sydney’s vibrant craft brew and local bar experience.

Explore Sydney’s old pubs in The Rocks, and visit the lesser explore neighborhood of Balmain.

Immerse With Locals

Live like a Sydneysider. Local Eyes Sydney introduces visitors to the Sydney that locals know and love by offering experience-based premium touring options and activities.

Experiences include cooking classes in private homes; walking tours to boutique art galleries; hiking in national parks; or refine your photography skills with an award-winning photojournalist while touring the city.

Walk Sydney

Two Feet & a Heartbeat operate walking tours in Sydney, Kings Cross, Darlinghurst and along Oxford Street. A team of passionate guides introduces visitors to Sydney’s culture, history, art, food and bar scene with a fun and relaxed style.

You will learn about Sydney’s history from its inception; tip a pint or two at a new bar, or learn about the gay and lesbian scene in one of the world’s most welcoming cities.

No wonder Americans love Sydney. Just turn around any corner, and another hidden gem awaits. From the city’s vibrant food scene to endless sunny days on unmatched beaches; a culture that seeks out your participation in one of the world’s most sought-after backdrops.

Nick KontisTravel industry veteran, Nick Kontis entered the travel industry after a 13 month trip around the world. Upon returning to his native San Francisco, Nick founded the first travel agency in the U.S. specializing in discount around the world airfares. Now as a writing travel and photojournalist, Nick spends the predominant part of his year in San Francisco, Napa, Puerto Vallarta, and Los Angeles. Follow Nick on his website at

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