Sydney is one of those destinations that had been on my dream travel bucket list for ages. When during my Australia trip I had the opportunity to visit, even if only for 3 days, I knew I had to take it. We landed in Sydney late on Friday and spent a long weekend exploring Sydney and its surroundings. This Sydney 3-day itinerary covers all the best things to do in Sydney, such as visiting Sydney Harbour, the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk and a day trip to Blue Mountains National Park. Read on to find out how to spend 3 days in Sydney!
Our Sydney 3-day itinerary
This Sydney 3-day itinerary is based on how we spent 3 days in Sydney. If you want to spend longer in Sydney why not check out this Sydney 5-day itinerary?
Day 1: Explore Sydney Harbour & Manly Beach
Day one in Sydney is your time to be a perfect tourist and tick off all the main landmarks of Sydney. On our first morning in Sydney we took our time wandering around the harbour and seeing the main sights like Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Many people decide to climb up Sydney Harbour Bridge to see the view from there, however I would recommend going up Pylon Lookout instead. There is a considerable price difference between the two (15AUD for Pylon Lookout vs 250AUD+ for the Sydney Bridge Climb) and yet the view is basically the same. The view is pretty spectacular and a great way to start your three days in Sydney.
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After climbing Pylon Lookout we explored the harbour and The Rocks area. We were there on a Saturday so the Rocks market was there; a cute street market that sold everything from little statues to food. After lunch we got the ferry to Manly Beach, another perfect spot to enjoy the view over Sydney’s iconic landmarks without spending a fortune on the big tourist attractions. Taking the ferry is cheaper than doing a river cruise and gives you the opportunity to see another area of Sydney, not just look at the riverbanks while cruising up and down. Manly Beach is in the Northern Beaches of Sydney and is a famous surfing spot. It’s a lovely area to walk around, have some food, relax at the beach and shop.
We got the ferry back to Sydney around mid-afternoon, so that we could make it to Opera Bar in time to grab a good seat to enjoy the sunset. Opera Bar, as you can imagine by the name, is located in a prime spot right next to Sydney Opera House, with a great view all over the harbour and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Like all bars with a view in a big tourist location there is a premium for the view, but we found it to be the case especially on snacks / appetisers. Drinks and proper food / mains weren’t too overpriced. Just make sure to be there early if you want to get a seat with a good view. After a few drinks and nibbles we walked to Chinatown where we had an amazing dinner for less than 10AUD each, and from there went bar hopping in Darling Harbour.
Day 2: Do the Bondi – Coogee coastal walk
After a full day exploring what the city centre of Sydney has to offer, we decided to head out to Bondi to see a different aspect of Sydney; the beaches and coastal neighbourhoods. I had seen so many photos of the Bondi Icebergs Club that I knew I couldn’t visit Sydney and not see it for myself. However since we only had 3 days in Sydney I didn’t want to spend a whole day lying on the beach or on poolside, so we decided to do the famous Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk. This is a 6km walk all along the sea that connects the two neighbourhoods of Sydney.
Since we were feeling pretty edgy we decided to actually start the walk in Coogee and end in Bondi, as we had been told that it would make the arrival in Bondi even more spectacular. The walk is all on paved sidewalks and even if it has small inclines occasionally it’s generally pretty flat and an overall easy walk. It’s supposed to take around 2 hours to do but it took us all morning. We set off early in the morning and arrived in Bondi in time for lunch, including a stop at Bronte for a swim. All along the coast are some rock outcrops where you can get stunning views over the cliffs and sea, and there are also multiple small beaches that you can stop at to freshen up. My personal favourite was Bronte, as it had a free salt-water pool where you could swim if you didn’t want to battle the oceanic waves.
We weren’t disappointed by the arrival in Bondi from Coogee. The moment when you turn the corner and see the pool of Bondi Icebergs Club with Bondi Beach behind it open up in front of you makes the walk well worth it. We then had lunch at a cute coffee shop called Berri Patch and spent the rest of the afternoon chilling by the beach and exploring the alternative shops of Bondi. We wanted to see the sunset on the beach but unfortunately had to set off relatively early from Bondi as we were set on getting a bus back to Sydney Harbour and Google Maps estimated it to be a 1 hour and 15 minutes journey. While it turned out to be somewhat shorter it still took quite a while. I loved Sydney but I was surprised to find that public transport wasn’t functioning as well as we were expecting.
Day 3: Visit the Blue Mountains National Park
On our third day in Sydney we actually adventured out of Sydney and to the Blue Mountains National Park. We had heard great things about it and even if we didn’t have long to explore we couldn’t help but visit it on a day trip. We did a full day trip with Coast Warriors, setting off from Sydney at 7:30AM and returning around 6PM. The drive from Sydney to Blue Mountains will take at least 2 hours so get ready for your car nap, now’s the time to get some rest before your action packed day! Our tour bus came with pillows for every seat which I thought was amazing.
The first stop of the day was a small clearing in the middle of the trees, where we had the opportunity to see wild kangaroos. Apparently it’s a well-known spot for wild kangaroo spotting but we were there pretty early in the morning so it wasn’t too crowded, which is great as big groups of people might scare the kangaroos. After this short kangaroo spotting session we got ready for a short hike to the base of Wentworth Falls, one of the most stunning and famous waterfalls in Blue Mountains.
The hike starts with an epic view over the surrounding woods, from which you can see the summit of the waterfall. We were visiting in dry season so the waterfall wasn’t as epic as it could have been, since there wasn’t as much water as there usually is. The walk to the base of Wentworth Falls is only 1.4km return and takes around 1 hour. The difficulty is in the 900 steps you have to walk down and then climb back up. The steps are built into the side of the mountains and at times can be quite steep. I know you’re supposed to watch your step when you walk down steep stairs but with the views that surround that track it’s pretty hard to! I personally found the walk more stunning than the waterfall itself, probably due to the little amount of water that was flowing at the time I visited.
After hiking back up 900 steps we took the long and scenic trail back to the parking area where we had a barbecue lunch. We even tried kangaroo meat, it felt pretty weird to eat an animal like a kangaroo but it seems so normal in Australia that I was curious to try it! We then dedicated the afternoon to epic viewpoints. We visited first the Three Sisters, a famous landmarks in Blue Mountains with three rock pinnacles that distinguish them from the surrounding views. After that we went to Lincoln Rock, a rock outcrop with epic views over the mountains and valleys in Blue Mountains. After a long day of adventures the drive back to Sydney is the perfect time for a nap (especially when your tour bus provides pillows)! If you’re looking for additional day trips you can do from Sydney check out this guide to Bouddi National Park.
Where to stay in Sydney
We stayed at the Sydney Harbour YHA – The Rocks, a hostel with an epic rooftop view over Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. As far as hostels go, this one was pretty awesome. Each bed had its own locker (make sure you bring your own lock!) and light with a socket where you can charge your phone overnight and still keep it close to you for some pre-bed time social media scrolling. The location is also pretty perfect, right by the harbour and within walking distance of Darling Harbour and Chinatown.
Sydney travel essentials
Whether you’re heading to Sydney for 3 days or 3 months, there are some items that can’t miss from your suitcase. Some travel essentials I use myself and can recommend are the following:
Fast-drying towel: Regardless of the destination, I always pack a fast-drying towel in my suitcase. In Sydney it was especially convenient for the day we spent doing the Bondi – Coogee coastal walk, as I had something small and light with me that I could lie on when we stopped at the beaches and to dry myself with after swimming. I personally find them much easier to pack and carry than normal towels, even if they don’t dry as well. You also need one if you’re staying in a hostel that doesn’t provide them.
Sleeping mask & ear plugs: Whether you’re trying to sleep on a bus on your way back from a long day tour in Blue Mountains or in your hostel dorm when other people are being loud I find these to be a life saver in every situation.
Solar power bank: Yes I might spend too much time on my phone (and other electronics) but when taking photos and videos and posting them on social media is your job you will need an extra power source while on the go. I personally use a solar charger because if I forget to charge it overnight at least it keeps charging somewhat while I’m out and about. You can read my solar charger review here for more information.
Have you been to Sydney before? How did you find it? Let me know in the comments below! For me visiting Sydney was a dream come true, as it’s one of those destinations I’ve always seen in movies or social media, and even if I only spent 3 days in Sydney I know I’ll be back. But let’s be real, after my tour of Uluru and my snorkelling trip to the Great Barrier Reef, Sydney is just the cherry on top of the cake that was my Australia bucket list trip.
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