1 week in Australia: Sydney and Melbourne


“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – H. Miller

PRINT & GO

Before your departure, do not forget to check/bring with you :

– Boarding Pass and Hotel Reservation

– Visa application ( you can apply for a 3 months visa in the Australian immigration website: the process is very easy and fast and you usually get the admission in the next 24hours)

Sydney city map

Sydney public transportation

Melbourne city map

Melbourne public transportation

DAY 1: VISIT SYDNEY – THE CENTRE

We can write pages and pages about Australia, this unique country. True, the journey to go there is quite long, you need to get ready psychologically for a 24hrs flight, but once you are there you will thank yourself each second for having chosen such an amazing destination. I was there for 2 weeks (honestly, not enough), and every single moment was a pure surprise and emotion! Its beautiful places, its good weather ( I was there in May and the temperature was perfect, not too cold not too hot), its developed infrastructure, everything works extremely well.

The first destination of my trip is Sydney, probably the most beautiful and vibrant city in Australia. I fell in love with this city, its architecture, its nature, its seaside, its colors, its life style, its people. I tried my best but I couldn’t compare Sydney to any other city in the world, it is totally unique. Although it’s a big city, Sydney is very easy to visit and can be done on foot..at least most of the places. So wear comfortable shoes and start exploring! The first day in Sydney can be spent in the city centre…this is where you have the best views and the best skyline ever! We can start the tour in the City, the modern area, where high and great skyscrapers are. Have a walk in George street, or next to Victoria building or the Town Hall or stop by Westfield shopping mall and its tower. The City is a set of large streets with skyscrapers and office buildings, all of course surrounded by bars and shops.

Just next to Westfield shopping mall, you can go to Hyde Park. This is a small but nice park; as soon as you get in you will see immediately a giant chess, people enjoy playing there all day long. Afterwards you will run into a nice fountain facing the city cathedral, the oldest one in Australia.

Take the street left to the cathedral and you can start your walk in the Botanical Garden. This is a  peaceful  green area in the middle of the city, and gives you already a first impression of the most beautiful thing of Australia: the flora. The Australian flora is unique in the world, you can find trees, flowers and plants that belong to this country only. The Botanic Garden in Australia shows you a part of them. Enjoy your walk in this huge garden and take a look around you, you will see trees and flowers that you have never seen in your life! And everything surrounded by a deep silence and quiet, you will feel like miles away from the noise of the city. Every corner of the garden is beautiful but I would say the most attractive corners are the Japanese garden and the lake filled with lotus.

Continuing through the Botanic Garden you will reach the Sydney harbor and its crystal blue water…and just on your left the most famous landmark of the city, the Opera House. This is the most popular performing arts centre of the city and architecturally speaking it’s wonderful! The facility features a modern expressionist design with a series of large precast concrete shells each composed of sections of a sphere of 75.2 metres radius, forming the roofs of the structure, set on a monumental podium. When the sun hits the Opera House, the building gets shiny and the pure white makes a fantastic color effect with the blue sky and the clean water around.

Just next to the Opera House is Circular Quay, one of the best spots in Sydney. This is where most of the ferries to the islands and to the other parts of the city leave…but it’s just not only a harbor, it’s a great place to hang out, with plenty of bars and restaurants and nice terraces; a place to play sports, with its long running path; a place to admire the fantastic skyline of the city, especially during night. And finally, it’s the place where you can stand hours looking at the waterfront and at the famous harbor bridge.

After a nice lunch break in Circular Quay, you can continue the visit of the city by having a stop at The Rocks. Located just next to Circular Quay, The Rocks is the old part of the city. When you arrive in this neighborhood, you will leave the skyscrapers behind and will find yourself in small streets with small and old houses hosting special bars, shops, and restaurants.

After visiting The Rocks, your first day in Sydney can finish…now you can enjoy Sydney nightlife! Sydney is a very vibrant city, you can enjoy a nice dinner and drink (although be careful to the expensive prices of Australia!) in many places but I’d say as first night you can hang out in Circular Quay.

DAY 2: VISIT SYDNEY – THE BEACH

On the second day, you can start your tour by visiting Chinatown and its surrounndings. The Asian population in Australia is very big and they have a very nice neighborhood with a lot of Asian shops and restaurants. The most beautiful part of it is just next to Darling Harbor and it’s the Chinese Garden of Friendship. This is a small and peaceful corner in the city, formed by a spectacular garden in Chinese style, with lakes, statues, pagodas, and a nice tea room.

The visit will take around 1h; afterwards you can go out and visit the wonderful area around: Darling Harbor. This is another big harbor in Sydney and is full of restaurants and bars, plus a nice park and some attractions such as Madame Tussaud, the Wild Life and Aquarium. Visit few of them and have a lunch break in one of the fancy restaurants.

After your lunch break, it is time to go far from the centre and visit one of the best spots: the beach. Take the bus and after 40mins you will arrive to Bondi beach. This is where the beaches of Sydney are: sandy beaches, with greenery around, imponent rocks and blue sea. This is the meeting point of surfers, runners, young people, and families. You can have a tour there, sunbath and wait for the sunset and assist to a great show of colors.

For the second night out in Sydney, you can have dinner and drink something in a non-touristic but interesting area in Sydney: Newtown. This is a very young and dynamic area, full of trendy restaurants and cafes. Enjoy your night there!

DAY 3: VISIT SYDNEY – THE ISLANDS

On your last day in Sydney, you can leave the city and explore one of the fabulous islands nearby. Take the ferry from Circular Quay and after 30mins you will arrive in Taronga, a nice island hosting an interesting zoo. The way to the island is breathless, you will have the entire city in front of you! Once you get to Taronga, the zoo is just 3 mins from the harbor. Normally, when I travel I would never think of visiting a zoo, but in Australia I really had to! The fauna is unique! There are animals in Australia that you cannot find anywhere else. And this zoo was absolutely worth: kangooroes, wallabies, koalas, monkeys, birds…the cutest animals ever are there!

The visit at the zoo will take you half day, you can enjoy the rest of it by visiting something else or by buying souvenirs for your friends or by doing any other activity. Your last night out in Sydney can spent at The Rocks, in one of its several nice bars.

DAY 4: VISIT MELBOURNE – THE CITY

After having experienced 3 amazing days in Sydney you can move to another fantastic city: Melbourne. The best way to go there is  by plane: you can find several flights operating almost every hour (Virgin, Qantas, or Jetfly) at affordable prices. Forget the car, the train or the bus, distances in Australia are too big to waste entire days on the road! The flight between Sydney and Melbourne takes a little bit more than 1h. Please note that in Australia there is a very strict policy also for domestic flights, so for instance you are not allowed to bring food with you or wooden things or things coming from the nature (grass, sand, etc).

Melbourne is also a fantastic city. Differently from Sydney it recalls somehow some European or American cities. While I was wandering there, I could have felt in London or Frankfurt or Toronto. Although not as unique as Sydney, Melbourne has a more young and dynamic atmosphere. You also have old areas and a very modern city center, a nice river passing along the city and the seaside, a lot of parks and great attractions, definitely a very good place to live. Despite of its big size, Melbourne’s main attractions can be visited on foot. If you arrive in Melbourne on day 4 you probably won’t have the entire day in front of you, therefore I would suggest to take it easy and just have a relaxing walk. You can perhaps have a tour at Queen Victoria Market, a very nice market where you can buy food, souvenirs, clothes. You can also have lunch around there. The prices are not great (anyway, apart from Chinese areas, prices in the whole Australia are really high for a European tourist!), but the atmosphere is pleasant.

From Queen Victoria market you can have a nice walk in Greektown and Chinatown. These are central neighborhoods where you can find Greek and Chinese shops, restaurants and bars. Both communities are very big in Melbourne so they have their own area in the centre. The first night out in Melbourne can be spent in one of the trendy bars and restaurants along the Yarra river.

DAY 5: VISIT MELBOURNE – THE CITY

After a nice rest it is time to go on with the visit of Melbourne. You cannot go to this city and not visit the main square, Federation Square. This is not a huge square as many people could think, but still it’s a very beautiful corner surrounded by architectural wonders: on one side the Victorian style of the station, on another side the Gothic (or let’s say something similar to it) cathedral and the skyscrapers, on another side the calm of the river and finally on the last side an original contemporary building with glazed walls (the real symbol of Federation square) hosting a theatre, cinema and shops. Federation Square is the core of the city, there are always people everywhere and sometimes you can run into some great shows or open-air concerts.

From Federation Square, you can cross the bridge nearby and find yourself in the Arts Centre, a very nice contemporary building hosting a theatre and a concert hall.

Near the Arts Centre you can enjoy a walk alongf the Yarra river, you can have lunch there or enjoy a coffee looking at the river and at the city.

After your break, there is something that you absolutely cannot miss if you are in Mebourne: the Eureka Skydeck. This is the highest tower in the world where people still live (297 metres) and you can purchase a ticket to go to the top floor and have the best view of the city. The tower is so high that all the skyscrapers around will look like Legos!

Once you go down from the Eureka Skydeck you can continue walking on the main street, perhaps passing through Alexandra Gardens. After a while you will find yourself in front of the Shrine of Remembrance, a big monument dedicated to the Australian soldiers died during the wars. The interior structure reminds the Pantheon in Rome : a large ground floor with tombs of important people and a very high cone-shaped roof with a hole inside. Once a year, on 11 November at 11 a.m. (Remembrance Day), a ray of sunlight shines through an aperture in the roof to light up the word “Love” in the inscription.

Next to the Shrine of Remembrace, you can access one of the most beautiful spots in Melbourne: the Botanic Garden. As previously said, the most beautiful things of Australia are certainly the flora and the fauna, thus a normal botanic garden can easily become a corner of paradise where you can admire the strangest trees, plants and flowers ever! You can easily spend there half a day, there is so much to see!

After the visit of the Botanic Garden you can relax and enjoy the nightlife. For the second night, you can go to the Crown Entertainment Center. This is the casino of the city, a huge structure along the Yarra river hosting games room but also restaurants and bars.

DAY 6: VISIT MELBOURNE – THE BEACH

The third day in Melbourne can be more relaxing. In the morning you can go to the Docklands. This is where most of the big ships in Melbourne arrive but it is also a completely new area where you can have shopping in one of the hundreds stores, you can have lunch in one of the several restaurants and bars, or you can take your kids to the big Luna Park. But the biggest attraction is the big wheel located in the middle of the Docklands. Just like to the London Eye, the wheel in Melbourne will give you the chance to have a great view on the entire city.

Back to the ground, you can catch the bus and go and visit the seaside of Melbourne: St Kilda. This is where the Melbourne beaches are : golden sands, blue sea, nice gardens and surfers and swimmers everywhere. Enjoy a nice walk over there and maybe have a nice dinner and drinks.

DAY 7: VISIT MELBOURNE – THE PENINSULA

On the last day in Melbourne we will get out of the city and end our day with one of the best experiences ever…but we will get to this. So…the first thing we have to do is to get out of the city and go towards the Mornington Peninsula. There are several ways to go there: the first way is to hire a car. This is the best option if you are a group, you can split the bill and the journey won’t be too long, around 2hrs. Another option would be to go with organized tours that you can find everywhere in the city. In fact, one of the problems in Australia is that public infrastructure is not so great,  most of the times there is no public transportation taking you to some spots, therefore the only option is to go via organized tours…very expensive, but at least well organized and with a guide explaining you all the important tricks. So decide the way to go there, but absolutely go there! The Mornington Peninsula is a very big bay at 1h30mins drive from Melbourne. It is formed by nice towns and very fancy villas. with big parks and big beaches. You can sunbath there or even have a barbecue.

After a long walk in the Peninsula it is time to go to one of the best places ever! Take the road for other 2hrs and go to Phillip Island. Although it’s an island, this place is linked to the peninsula by a bridge. You’d better arrive there around 1h before the sunset and purchase an entrance ticket. Then you will be directed to the coast, just in front of the sea and you will be sitting there while waiting for the sunset. You will enjoy the fantastic sunset on the beach and the sky turning in amazing colors. Once the sunset is over and it gets dark the coolest thing happens: you will start seeing some small things coming out from the sea and you will realize they are penguins! They go out of the sea in groups of 15-20 every 2-3 mins and they walk all together with their cute way of walking and they spread all along the island. You can see them all around you and they are so cute! Enjoy this special moment: the sea in front of you, the sky full of stars on your head and the nice penguins all around. This is the best way to end your holidays in Australia! As said before, a trip to Australia cannot last only one week, once you are there you need to enjoy and visit other wonderful places that this country has. During my trip, besides Sydney and Melbourne, I had the chance to visit other amazing places, such as Northern Territory and Queensland, you can find another post about it.

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Categories: Australia | 1 Comment

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One thought on “1 week in Australia: Sydney and Melbourne

  1. Spereira

    Graaande! What an well written and enthusiastic guide :). I’m sure that it will be very useful to me in the upcoming months 😉

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