A Local’s Guide To Sydney

I may sound biased in this statement, but Sydney is a wonderful city.

However, before you travel to Australia’s first city, there are some things you gotta know. So here are some tips from a local’s perspective!

How To Cheaply Leave The Airport

Sydney train passing commuter. Image: Madeleine Ragsdale on Unsplash

Unless you have someone picking you up, or catching a taxi, the only way to leave the airport is via public transport. Unfortunately, you will be led to believe that the only way out is by train, which has a hefty fee. From International Airport Station to Wolli Creek (a mere half-kilometre), you’ll pay $16.77. But here’s a trick from a local: Catch the 420 bus to Mascot Station and hop on a train there for the standard fee. That will cost you well under half the amount from either of the airport stations. Heck, if you’re in a group, chip in together for a taxi to Mascot Station. It’ll still be cheaper than paying $16.77+ per person. Or even walk there; it’s not far!

Worthwhile Apps To Download

Phone apps. Image: Rami Al-zayat on Unsplash

Every city has some worthwhile apps to download; apps that make your visit so much easier. The following choices can be downloaded on either the Apple Store or the Play Store. For getting around, download Tripview Lite, giving you a comprehensive guide to Sydney’s transport options, timetables and any known disruptions. Also, download the Uber App if you haven’t already. Uber is a godsend in this city, with drivers scattered like worker bees all over the metropolitan network. Feel free to sit in the front seat too, if you wish!

Keep Left Unless Overtaking

Escalators at Wynyard Station. Image: James Ree on Unsplash

If you’re the type of person who hates being hated on, then please adhere to the general rule of keeping left unless overtaking. This is especially true for escalators. I cannot count the number of times I’ve glared at some nincompoop who casually stood on the right, blocking me and everyone behind me who wanted to walk up the escalators. I could almost feel the steaming tension from all the commuters behind me. So please, stick to the left. This goes for any pathway where people walk in opposing directions. This includes the road, too, where you can get fined for breaking this rule.

Apologies For The Mapping

George Street, Sydney. Image: Laura Cros on Unsplash

Allow me to give you a visual idea of how Sydney’s streets look: Imagine giving a child a crayon and a paper and telling them to go wild. That’s the map of Sydney. This is because Sydney is quite hilly for a city. If you visit Melbourne, the roads there are much straighter thanks to the ideal flatness of the land. So, I hope you’ve got good map-reading skills! And if not, the people here are quite friendly. Don’t be afraid to ask us where something is.

Multiculturalism = Diverse Dining Options

Charcuterie board. Image: Lana Abie on Unsplash

We are a multi-cultural nation, laden with a vast collection of cuisines. Throughout the metropolitan area, you’ll find various pockets of cultures that are sure to spice up your tastebuds. We have Chinatown on the western side of Sydney CBD, which feels much like a random street in Beijing. I recommend buying 18 Emperor Puffs, in a hole-in-the-wall stall which almost always has a queue. You’ll also find a lot of Middle Eastern cuisine scattered throughout, especially kebab shops (YUM!!). You’ll find a lot of Greek, Vietnamese and Thai, especially in the Inner West. But feel free to travel to the outer suburbs for some surprises.

Explaining Our Nightlife

Nightclub. Image: Sarthak Navjivan on Unsplash

Sydney, unfortunately, has a thing called lockout laws, because (as you will soon realise) some of us suck at drinking. This means that bars cannot let new patrons in after 1:30am (2am for live entertainment venues) and bars must stop serving alcohol at 3am. The only place you can party all through the night is the Star Casino and the soon-to-be Crown Casino in Barangaroo. You can find out the state of our nightlife by reading this article I wrote for Hunter and Bligh. Apart from late night/early morning clubbing, Sydney is one of the best places for tasting all kinds of alcohol. We have dozens of cool and quirky cocktail bars and the best locally-made craft beers.

Navigating The Art Scene

Still Life With Stone And Car. Image: Chris Kelly

Yes, what you see above is an outdoor art exhibit commissioned by the City of Sydney. We have some really cool outdoor art which you can read about in my comprehensive guide to Sydney’s outdoor art. The artwork pictured above is called “Still Life With Stone And Car”, where the artist Jimmie Durham hoisted that boulder above that red car, drew a crude face on it, and dropped it onto said car. Then Sydney placed it on a roundabout in Walsh Bay. As well as outdoor art, we’ve also got some cool art galleries, namely the Museum of Contemporary Art and Art Gallery of NSW. Be sure to check out upcoming exhibitions for when you arrive.

The Actual Best Beaches

Bondi Beach. Image: Madeleine Ragsdale on Unsplash

You’ve probably heard that Bondi Beach is the best beach in Sydney, but I believe the crowding tourists during summer really kill the vibe. That and it’s kind of a pain to get there. However, they do have a cool coastal walk between it and Bronte Beach. There are better beaches to visit, though. Top spot would have to go to Manly Beach, not just because it’s big enough to cater for large crowds, but is also heaps fun to get there. There’s also Coogee Beach, which you can find on your coastal walk to Bronte. If you’re looking for a nude beach, try Little Congwong Beach! But the true best beaches are outside the Sydney metropolitan area. If you’ve got time, head down to Hyams Beach in Jervis Bay.

Tips On Saving Money

Australian coins. Image: Ben Hosking on Flickr

Just like any city, there are cheaper ways of doing things, and cheaper places to spend your money. However, cheap usually means crap, so you have to be careful. While cooking at home is cheaper and better, dining out can get expensive. If you want the best without burning the hip pocket, I recommend pub bistros and cafes. You’d be surprised at what you find there. Also, be wary of spending in tourist areas or at gift shops at popular locations. You could probably get certain things for cheaper elsewhere. And for public transport, get an Opal card. It’s cheaper than paying per trip. You can get them at most convenience stores and news agencies, or at certain train stations.

A Final Note On Public Transport

Sydney ferry on the harbour. Image: AussieActive on Unsplash

Yes, we did have a ferry called “Ferry McFerryface” due to a blunder on an online poll. It has since been renamed. Our ferries are also a legitimate mode of public transport and are reasonably priced if you use your Opal card. Aside from the ferries, most travel guides talk down our transport as if it’s inefficient, which is false. It may not be the best in the world, but it does the job. Unless there’s an unexpected fault — or if passengers do stupid things like run for the closing doors or hold them open for their slow friends — the trains mostly run on time. As for buses, they have to deal with general traffic, meaning they might come late and sometimes they come early. I recommend getting to the bus stop 5 minutes before the bus arrive and allow time for arrival in case they come late.

Feel free to add your hints and tips to the comments below!

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