Sydney. It’s what you think of when someone mentions Australia. The Opera House is up there with the most iconic buildings in the world. But for some reason, when I arrived in Australia I didn’t feel the need to instantly go to Sydney. So it wasn’t until I’d been in Australia 10 months that I first came to one of my favourite cities in the world and fell in love with it. So here’s what it’s like to be a local in Sydney and why I’m definitely in no rush to leave…
1. It’s beautiful
I cross the harbour bridge nearly everyday and it’s hard to have a bad day when you get the incredible view of the harbour on your way to work. An array of different ships to look out on the beautiful blue water, and views of the Opera House and Luna park, means it’s not a sight I could get easily bored of.
2. There’s always something to do
Sydney has literally over 100 beaches- ranging from the tourist hotspots like Bondi, Manly and Coogee to the small hidden bays, making it hard for you to be stuck for somewhere new to explore. Milk beach, a little gem I found north of Bondi, is a beautiful beach where you can see the whole city, complete with the harbour bridge and Opera House. It’s hard not to be impressed as you swim in the clear waters, surrounded by boats and gazing up at one incredible city scape.
3. Free travel on the weekends
What better way to explore the city you live in than being rewarded for a week of work by getting free travel all weekend? 8 full journeys on your ‘opal card’ and you can travel anywhere within the Sydney region for free- for the rest of the week! Stretching as far out as the Blue Mountains, (a 2 hour train journey away) and Palm Beach, (the beautiful beach town where they film ‘Home and Away’) you’re presented with countless day trip opportunities for an awesome 2 days off.
4. It’s not that busy
In London you’re fighting through crowds to get anywhere all the time. It’s a struggle to get on the tube at rush hour, let alone even thinking about getting a seat. Not in Sydney. Even when I’m working in prime time rush hour, I’ve never had a day when I’ve had to stand up on the train to work. You can stroll through the city on an afternoon and not have to cram up against people. It’s refreshing. Before I came to Sydney I heard a lot of people say how busy it was. I can only assume that they live in small village and aren’t used to city life, as with the wide pavements as well, I can’t say congestion is ever something I’ve found to be a problem in Sydney.
5. Sydney makes an effort
For Chinese New Year, the Opera House was lit up red, every Saturday you can enjoy a firework show at Darling Harbour which I have to admit is better than the ones I’ve seen in the UK on Guy Fawkes night. Darling Harbour made February the month of love for Valentines and Mardi Gras, decorating everywhere with rainbows and hearts. The New Year’s Eve fireworks and light shows at Christmas leaves it hard not to be impressed. There’s always something there. And with the vivid light show, and the fashion and the boat shows coming up, as well as countless markets and sporting events, there’s still plenty to look forward to.
6. The street entertainers are really good
Walking up to Westfields shopping centre on a Saturday afternoon I was drawn to the crowd gathered around some kids that were about to perform. I stopped to listen and was blown away by how incredible they were. Not only that, there’s drummers, guitarists, dancers and street painters. I can’t think of many places I’ve been where the standard of street entertainment is so high and I absolutely love it.
7. There are lots of green spaces
If you want a day off from the beach (and I do love the beach!) there are plenty of parks to choose from. Hyde Park, (there’s one in Sydney too- don’t worry I’m not getting confused with London!) is a great place to hang out, and take a stroll a little down from Martin Place and you’re in the beautiful botanical gardens – a great place to wander round, daydream and forget completely that you’re in a city. If you like walking, there are several coastal walks- the Bondi- Coogee and the Manly- Spit Bridge coastal walks, as well as stunning hikes in the Blue Mountains, and plenty of national parks to explore, if you want to exploit your free weekend travel and get out the city. What’s more with big council plans to make Sydney green by 2030, watch this (green) space for more parks, cycle paths and open spaces.
8. Bars, restaurants and clubs
Maybe this is a given, but there are plenty of places to dance around, eat some exotic food and have a chilled cocktail. If I’m throwing out recommendations, check out the Glen More hotel for rooftop drinks with views of the harbour, Parlour burger for a tasty snack, Bondi’s Iceberg for nachos by the beach… And you can’t knock a good old backpacker night out at Scubar, Sidebar and Home bar.
9. It’s multicultural
From Serbian festivals to Chinatown, it’s easy to jump on board and embrace other cultures. Whether it’s some orthodox Greeks dancing, a taste of Thailand, or a Korean BBQ, Sydney is always open to experience any new culture.
10. The people are great
Yes I’m generalising, but as a whole people seem so much more friendly than they are back in the UK. If you’re in someone’s way, they’ll joke with you rather than tut at you and people are willing to help you out- whether it’s directions, or bus times! They seem a lot happier as well but then I guess it’s hard not to be happy when you live in Sydney.