Monday, 2 May 2016

Itinerary - Stopover in Sydney

Ok, so you have never been to Sydney before, but you have a layover there between flights.  By the time you have made your way through customs, you will have less than 5 hours before you need to check in again for your next flight.  The question is, is it worth bothering to leave the airport and head in to Sydney, or would you be better relaxing and spending your time enjoying free samples of whisky and entering contests to win sports cars at the airport instead?

This, or several hours browsing the duty free shopping - I know which I would go for...
As with everything in life, it obviously depends on your own preferences and views, but for the vast majority of people, I would say that the answer is a resounding yes to heading in to Sydney.  The airport in Sydney is not too far from the city, and many of the best sights in Sydney are located in a small area within the centre.  There are a wide variety of options if you want to do a flying visit to Sydney, but here is my suggestion for a 5 hour trip from the airport.

How could you sit in an airport for hours, when all this is just a short train ride away?
Check-in minus 5 hours

Get a train from the train station in the airport, to Circular Quay.  No need to worry about times, the trains are frequent and you should not have to wait more than 10 minutes, assuming you are travelling between 6am and 11.45pm.  It costs about 16 dollars, and takes just over 20 minutes.

Check-in minus 4 hours 30 mins

Get off the train at Circular Quay, and walk down to the wharves (you can't miss them).  Check the boards to see when the next ferry to Milson's Point leaves, and where from.  Buy a ticket at the wharf. The ferries are not quite as regular as the trains, so you could have to wait as long as half an hour if you're unlucky.  If you do have a wait, don't worry.  There are plenty of options.  There are lots of photo opportunities to keep you occupied, with both the Opera House and Harbour Bridge within view.  There are also lots of snacks and fast food options if you haven't had time to eat and need to quickly refuel.  Once you are actually on the ferry, you will cruise past the Opera House, then under the Harbour Bridge on to the opposite side of the harbour.


Looking back towards Circular Quay from above Milsons Point Ferry Wharf
Check-in minus 3 hours 45 mins

After you get off the ferry, take a second to admire the giant face at the entrance to Luna Park, and have a quick look at North Sydney Olympic Pool, then find your way to Alfred Street South.  Head up the hill, until you see Milson's Point train station on your right.  Head through the tunnel under the station, then turn right, where you should see a set of steps that lead up to the Harbour Bridge.  Walk up these, and walk across the Harbour Bridge, admiring the views, and stopping for pictures.  Keep walking until you reach the second of the large support pillars on the left hand side.


Looking back towards the harbour from the road up to Milsons Point Station
Check-in minus 3 hours

The reason you have stopped at this support pillar is not just to admire the impressive stonework, it is because this pillar houses the excellent Pylon Lookout.  You enter the pillar via the doorway, and proceed to climb up a lot of steps, until you emerge at the top with an absolutely stunning view of Sydney Harbour.  Grab a few photos here, and then drag yourself away from the incredible vistas, and return to the incredible harbour bridge and continue on the incredible footpath towards the other side. When you reach the steps at the other side, go up, rather than down, and continue to follow the road towards the Cahill Expressway.  This leads you to another nice viewpoint above Circular Quay Station.

The view from the Cahill Expressway - unless you've spent a LOT of time at the Pylon Lookout, it probably won't be dark
Check-in minus 2 hours

After a quick photo stop, continue along the Cahill Expressway until you reach some steps on the left. Go down these, and then turn left, on to Macquarie Street.  Follow this road until you reach the Opera House.  Enjoy the view here, and get to see the famous building up close.  Then, head East away from the Opera House, into the Royal Botanic Gardens.  Follow the path along the waterfront, until you reach Mrs Macquarie's Chair.  This isn't as conspicuous as you might think - there are often tourists wandering around saying 'is this it'?  The actual chair is right at the tip of the point, but the real attraction are the views anyway.

The real attraction at Mrs Macquarie's Chair - the views back to the bridge and Opera House

The chair itself is not that spectacular - even less so with a pasty Scotsman plonked on top of it
Check-in minus 1 hour 30 mins

From Mrs Macquaries chair, take the only sensible option when on the Northern tip of a peninsula - head South.  Wander through the various paths, but try to stay close to Mrs Macquarie's Road, which you should rejoin where it joins on to Art Gallery Road.  Continue along Art Gallery Road, which unsurprisingly passes the Art Gallery of New South Wales, before heading towards St Mary's Cathedral.  When you see St Mary's Cathedral, turn right, and head towards Hyde Park.

St Mary's Cathedral - just to confuse you, this is from Hyde Park, rather than where you will approach it on this itinerary
Check-in minus 1 hour

Wander up through Hyde Park, from the North East corner, down to the South West corner.  Note that there is a main road that divides the North of Hyde Park from the South.  As you go through the South section of the park, you will pass by the ANZAC War Memorial, before reaching Museum Station at the South.  Head into the station, and wait on a train which will take you directly to the airport.  You shouldn't have to wait any longer than 10 minutes, and the journey takes about 15 minutes, at a cost of around 18 dollars.

The Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park - with a special guest appearance by somebody's right shoe
The ANZAC War Memorial from above
So this should get you from the airport, into Sydney, and back again within 5 hours.  Obviously, this itinerary can be amended depending on your available time and your interests, but hopefully it gives you a good starting point to making the most of your short time in Sydney.  Within just a few hours, it is more than possible to see a good range of the amazing sights that Sydney has to offer.

If you do decide to follow this itinerary, please keep an eye on time - depending on how quickly you walk, and how much time you spend taking photos, you may find that the suggested times are quite different to your own experience.  I strictly accept no responsibility for any missed flights.  Not even my own.

Of course, given the nature of this blog, I should also mention how many of the Top 100 this will tick off. This will naturally change over time, but using the Top 100 at the time we completed it, this would have accomplished the following:

#1 Sydney Harbour
#3 Sydney Harbour Bridge
#4 Sydney Opera House
#6 The Opera House to Botanic Gardens Walk
#7 Sydney Ferries
#8 The Royal Botanic Gardens
#14 Art Gallery of New South Wales (from the outside at least)
#20 Pylon Lookout at Sydney Harbour Bridge
#31 Circular Quay
#42 St Mary's Cathedral
#51 ANZAC War Memorial
#52 Milson's Point
#56 Mrs Macquarie's Chair
#62 Hyde Park

Not bad for a few hours sightseeing, although it does make our whole achievement of completing the top 100 look much less impressive.  And please, don't blame me when you see someone else driving the supercar you could have won if only you had stayed at the airport instead...

What do you think of this itinerary?  Too rushed, too relaxed, unnecessarily missing out any key sights? Please leave a comment to let us know any thoughts or questions on this itinerary.

1 comment:

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