Corporate Traveller

24 hours in Sydney

It’s been a few days of back-to-back meetings, formal business dinners and hotel rooms, and while you’ve caught glimpses of the glittering city of Sydney, you haven’t had a moment to sink your teeth into it properly. At last, it arrives: a day off, 24 hours to yourself before you fly home (or before the next round of meetings begins). But in a city that offers so much, where do you begin?

That’s easy, ask Corporate Traveller. We’ve put together a few essential tips and some not-to-be-missed ideas to help you on your way.

Essential tips

• First, start early. Sydney isn’t short of things to see and do, and if you’ve only got a day, you want to squeeze in as much as you possibly can.

• Wear comfy shoes. While you’re going to need to make use of the city’s public transport system at some point, it’s when you’re on foot that you discover the unexpected. And secret nooks and crannies are what big cities are all about – Sydney especially.

• On that note, take the public transport, especially the ferries. Sydney is surrounded by water and a trip on one of the ferries affords incredible views of this beautiful city.

What to see and do

Sydney has more than a few world-famous tourist attractions to its name – and they are famous for a reason. Standing in front of something as iconic as the Sydney Opera House is nothing short of surreal, and the structure is more of an architectural marvel than you could imagine. It’s also not nearly as white as it seems; if it was, it would be blinding. Instead, it comprises a combination of glossy white and matt cream tiles. Suffice to stay: the Opera House is an obvious and essential starting point. 

From there, wander along to Circular Quay, the vibrant heart of Sydney’s harbour, which offers views of both the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. The oldest part of Sydney, where British convicts built their camp in 1788 and which is known as The Rocks today, is also nearby. Since those times, the area has been transformed into a hub of creativity: from boutique shops to scrumptious restaurants and cosy galleries. If you’re a fan of museums, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Customs House Library and the Museum of Sydney are all close at hand. If not, step aboard a ferry and experience Sydney from the water. Bring something along to strap up your jaw.

You can (and should) take a ferry to many different parts of Sydney. The Manly Ferry has been the top of the list for more than 150 years, offering access to Manly’s laidback walking, shopping and eating opportunities, but you can also head to vibey Parramatta, attraction-filled Darling Harbour, and the culinary delights of Watsons Bay.

If you’re interested in shopping, Sydney won’t disappoint: head on over to the Queen Victoria Building or to Oxford Street for some of the best card-swiping opportunities. And if you’d like to take a closer look at some of Australia’s (often quite bizarre) animal life, be sure to visit the Taronga Zoo, where you can get your koala fix, and the Sydney Aquarium for close encounters of the great white shark kind.

In the late afternoon, hop on a bus to Bondi Beach – popular, yes, but not to be missed. A surfing, swimming and sunbathing haven, the beach spans a kilometre in length. For the best views of Bondi, get off the bus at the top of the hill and take the short walk to Icebergs restaurant (if you’d like to eat there – and you do – it’s best to book ahead). After a quick dip at Bondi, take the beautiful coastal walk to Bronte Beach, just 3.5km away. If time allows, keep on going until you hit Coogee Beach.

As the sun goes down, wend your way back into the city for dinner, a dance, or both.

Eating, drinking and dancing

You’re not going to survive this jam-packed day without something to munch along the way. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right city: Sydney could keep you munching for days.

If you’re looking for a mid-morning break, Tara Tearoom right next to the market in The Rocks is the cosiest café, complete with fresh scones made just the way the Irish aunt you never had made them.

At the terminal of McMahons Point, which you can reach on yet another ferry, is Sails Restaurant. A local favourite and highly regarded on the culinary circuit, the views of the Opera House, Luna Park and the bridge are likely to make you gape in disbelief. While your mouth is open, be sure to try the imam bayaldi, one of the best vegetarian meals in the city.

The Three Blue Ducks at Bronte Beach is perfect for a post-walk bite. Try the ginger sorbet, praline and yoghurt ice cream if you’re in the mood for something sweet. Their selection of beers is also excellent.

For dinner, try and grab a table at Billy Kwong. Once a small hideaway, Billy Kwong is now one of the most succesful Chinese restaurants in a city that knows what exceptional Chinese cuisine is all about.

In the evening, explore Sydney’s many harbourfront bars, or have a drink at one of its smaller live music venues. The Basement has been hosting acts for more than 30 years and the Vanguard offers exceptional jazz and blues. If you’d prefer a dancefloor, there are any number of clubs in Darling Harbour.

Whatever you choose to do in your 24 hours in Sydney, it won’t be enough. But it’ll certainly give you an all-too-delicious taste, and give you sufficient reason to build in some more travelling time on your next business trip.