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A Couples Guide to Sydney, Part One

Joanna Hall

Fantastic beaches, beautiful water views, great walks, sophisticated shopping, and superb restaurants - it’s little wonder that Sydney is regularly voted as the number one city destination in the world in traveller surveys. Cast against a backdrop of one of the most beautiful (and biggest) harbours in the world, this is a city which revels in the attention it receives and it delivers visitors, and locals, a myriad of unique experiences. Here’s part one of our four day guide to help couples get out and about in Sydney. 

Day One

Morning, Walk the Harbour: As the saying goes: the best way to get to know a place is on foot, and walking from the Harbour Bridge to the Royal Botanic Gardens is the perfect introduction to Sydney and a great way to take in the “postcard” sites. Starting from the base of the Sydney Harbour Bridge itself on Hickson Road, the Rocks, from there it’s a short walk around to bustling Circular Quay (taking note of where Wharf 3 is located for the Manly Ferry which can be done on another day) and then it’s time to get a close up on the Opera House itself and join the parade of people having their photographs taken on the steps of this architectural wonder.  Right behind the Opera House is the Royal Botanic Gardens and at the  end is Mrs Macquarie’s Chair - set on a point it provides one of the best vantage points in Sydney - the Bridge, the Opera House, Kirribilli House, Fort Denison, and the city skyline. 

Afternoon - Take a Harbour Cruise: So you’ve seen Sydney Harbour from land, now it’s time to hit the water and cruise its expansive waterways. It’s a fun and romantic way to experience all the main landmarks the city has to offer, and is a great way to rest your feet after a morning of walking. Captain Cook Cruises ( is the leading operator and departs from Wharf 6 at Circular Quay. They run sightseeing tours with commentary throughout the day, with several coffee, lunch and dinner cruise options as well.

Day Two

Morning, Paddy’s Markets and Chinatown: It’s time to get to the heart and soul of the CBD and Sydney's Paddy's Markets in Haymarket is a shoppers’ paradise on the corner of Hay and Thomas Streets. It’s a massive market which actually sells mostly new products and it’s bargain shopping at its best with a vast array of clothing, jewellery, sunglasses, CD’s, DVD’s, posters and prints and “Australiana" souvenirs. After a shopping-sensory overload head across the road - literally - to the heart of Chinatown on Dixon Street. Sydney’s Chinatown is an authentic “suburb in the city” and naturally features a strong Asian culture with great restaurants, hole-in-the-wall eating joints, and shops selling Chinese herbs and medicines, spice shops, and mini-marts with imported food items. This is an obvious lunch spot which poses a major problem though - which restaurant to eat at? Simple rule: follow your nose, and more importantly the locals, and you can’t go wrong. The food halls on Dixon Street are also an authentic experience - don’t be put off by the frenetic atmosphere and slightly drab surroundings - these places serve great food at inexpensive prices.

Afternoon, Darling Harbour and The Rocks: A five minute walk from Chinatown takes you to the top end of Darling Harbour - one of Sydney’s largest dining, shopping and entertainment precincts. This place is buzzing with activity day and night - by day the al fresco cafes are busy with visitors sipping drinks while watching the world go by, and at night the restaurants and bars come alive. From the man-made glitz of Darling Harbour to the historical district, The Rocks, it’s a short taxi ride or a 20 minute walk along the CBD’s main street, George Street. The Rocks gives something of an insight into Sydney’s colonial past. The sandstone Cadman’s Cottage (110 George St) is Sydney’s oldest surviving building and Campbell’s Storehouses (7-27 Circular Quay West) is a former warehouse storage area which now has galleries and pricey restaurants. After a day of sightseeing, it’s time to sit down and enjoy a cold beer at one of the area’s traditional old pubs along George Street, with The Fortune of War Hotel and the Mercantile the pick of the bunch. 


Want more? You can read part two of this story, along with some recommendations of where to eat, drink and be merry, here!

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