24 hours in Sydney, Australia – the best things to do

You’ve only got 24 hours in Sydney?! A short stop over?! Too bad, there is so much to do and see in Sydney, but with this guide you’ll be able to hit the hotspots giving you a good taste of this gorgeous harbour city.

This blog post has been inspired the countless times I’ve given this advice when asked “What should I do when I have 24 hours in Sydney?” Usually this happens when I’m flying back from a trip and sitting next to someone who is in town for work or on a brief lay over. It’s also been tried and tested by the countless times I had friends visit or when I’ve had a short stay in Sydney.

the sun seeker at Opera House

Morning in Bondi Beach

A trip to Sydney, wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Australia’s most famous beach, Bondi. Start your day early to fit as much as you can into the day – you’re only in Sydney for a day after all.

Bondi Beach is known for it’s extensive organic and gate-to-plate movement cafes. It makes a great place to grab breakfast during your 24 hours in Sydney. Some Bondi breakfast favs include Harry’s Cafe, Brown Sugar or Lox Stock & Barrel.

Bondi Beach - 24 hours in Sydney
Bondi Beach

What to do in Bondi?

Bondi Beach

Make your way to the iconic Bondi Beach, easily Australia’s most famous beach. Here you may find the life guards filming Bondi Rescue or the beautiful people of Bondi doing their morning exercise.

Bondi icebergs
Bondi Icebergs

Bondi Icebergs

Bondi Icebergs is the home to Australia and one of the world’s oldest surf clubs. Take a dip in the icebergs pool or just admire the view.

Bondi to Coogee walk via Pinterest

Bondi to Coogee coastal walk

Easily Sydney’s most popular coastal walk, the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk is a tourist favourite. The 6km pathway links the eastern beaches of Sydney passing sandstone cliffs, mansions and views to die for!

Sculptures by the Sea 2018

In late October to early November every year, Sculpture by the Sea takes place along the Bondi to Tamarama coastline. Sculpture by the Sea is the largest outdoor sculpture exhibition in the world.

Between June – July and September – October watch for migrating whales.

How to get to Bondi

Arriving by plane:

From the Sydney Airport, make your way downstairs in the International or Domestic terminals following signs to the train station. Make your way to Central Station, it’s only 2 stops from the domestic terminal and 3 from the international terminal. This is a great place to start your Sydney adventures.

Arriving by cruise ship:

If arriving by cruise ship, you’ll arrive in Circular Quay. From Albert Street bus bay, catch the bus to Bondi Beach. The trip will take about 45 minutes.

Arriving by bus/train:

If arriving by bus or train, you’ll most likely you’ll arrive to Central Train Station. Central Station, is the major transport hub. From here make your way to platform 4 to take a train to Bondi Junction. Once you arrive at Bondi Junction, take the 333 bus to Bondi Beach.

How to get back to the city:

When you’ve completed the Bondi to Coogee walk, take the bus back to Circular Quay. It will take about 40 mins to get back into central Sydney.

Afternoon in Sydney

24 hours in sydney, australia
Sydney Harbour

Sydney Harbour

Arriving in Circular Quay you are in the heart of Sydney Harbour. You might call it the tourist heart of Sydney. Take some time to wander around the waterfront, watching the bustling harbour with ferries constantly moving people around the city.

the sun seeker in Sydney

Opera House

Once you’ve wandering around the waterfront a bit, make your way towards Sydney’s Opera House. Grab lunch here at the Opera Bar for stunning views over the harbour.

Alternatives to lunch could include any of the German pubs in The Rocks – the next stop on your itinerary. Otherwise, nearby Mr Wong, is a popular little Cantonese bar with fantastic food.

The Rocks, 24 hours in Sydney
The Rocks

The Rocks

The Rocks is Sydney’s oldest neighbourhood and adjoins Sydney Harbour. It marks the place where the first Europeans settled Australia. Wander the cobbled stones streets, stop off for a beer at some of Australia’s oldest pubs or visit the galleries, museums or stock up on Australian souvenirs at the markets on Saturday, if that’s your thing.

Take a ferry

Make your way to Circular Quay’s ferry terminal to take a short ferry trip on the harbour to Barangaroo. On your way you’ll pass by the Opera House, pass under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and then onto Luna Park. Luna Park is an amusement park also located on Sydney Harbour.

24 hours in sydney


The city once turned its’ back to this corner of Sydney’s central business district and with good reason, it was a large industrial ship yard. Barangaroo is one of the world’s largest urban renewal projects. Once the last stage is complete in 2024, it will be not only be home for 3,500 people but also home to high end restaurants, a world-renowned casino and expansive parklands, plazas and coves. Spending some time wandering around to take it all in.


To finish your 24 hours in Sydney, stay within the Barangaroo precinct for plenty of food options. And by plenty of food options I mean many of the city’s best. While you can’t go wrong with any, some stand outs are Zushi Barangaroo (Japanese), Anason (Turkish), Cirrus Dining (seafood), Ume Burger or The Meat and Wine Co.

How to get around in 24 hours

The most cost affective way to see Sydney is to use the public transport network. Sydney’s public transport network is world class and locals rely on it to get around for work and fun. Sydney locals use their ‘opal card’ as their transport ticket which can be reused and ‘topped up’. It is free to obtain but a minimum of $20 needs to be loaded for adults and $10 for students and seniors.

For visitors to Sydney, you can get an opal card or use your own contactless credit or debit card or mobile device. Purchasing a single ticket is also available on some services. For all you need to know about paying on Sydney’s transportation network, click through here.

If you’d prefer you can also Uber or taxi for more direct trip.

Where to stay with 24 hours in Sydney

Assuming your 24 hours in Sydney is a lay over while travelling by air, it is suggested you stay close to the airport to allow for ….

Got longer than 24 hours in Sydney?

Check out my favourite coastal walks in Sydney

Or plan your time wisely hitting up all the best places to eat in Sydney. Read my post on best brunch spots in Sydney.

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