Are you planning a trip to Sydney Australia and wondering what to see and do to make the most of your time? This 4 days in Sydney itinerary includes the highlights of the harbour city, the Sydney Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, Bondi Beach, and the breathtaking scenery of the Blue Mountains.
You’ll spend lots of time in and around Sydney’s beautiful harbour, enjoy art, culture and history in The Rocks, catch the ferry to Manly, relax on Bondi Beach, meet koalas, kangaroos and wombats at Taronga Zoo and go bushwalking on the clifftops of the Blue Mountains. It’s a busy itinerary but it’s varied and you’ll see the best of Sydney in 4 days.
Sydney is my home and I’ve included my favourite sights and activities to help you plan an amazing stay. This guide is perfect for solo travellers to Australia. But if you have company, this 4 day Sydney itinerary will work for you too, just tailor the activities to suit your interests.
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4 Days in Sydney Itinerary
Day1: City Highlights
Spend the first day of your 4 days in Sydney exploring the city, see the highlights and discover why Sydney is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
- Start the day with an early morning Harbour Bridge climb and enjoy panoramic city and harbour views from the top of Sydney’s most famous bridge. I highly recommend climbing the bridge. It’s not as scary or as hard as you might think and the view is spectacular!
- If the Bridge climb doesn’t appeal, you can enjoy incredible views across Circular Quay and the Opera House from the Harbour Bridge Pylon Lookout (open 9 am – 5 pm).
- Walking across the Harbour Bridge is another option. From the bridge stairs in The Rocks, it takes around 20 minutes to walk across to Milsons Point. Catch a ferry back to Circular Quay from Luna Park on the north side of the harbour and you’ll pass underneath the bridge.
- Next spend a couple of hours in The Rocks, Sydney’s oldest area. A scenic walking tour of The Rocks is the perfect way to explore the suburb that was once frequented by convicts, sailors and whalers. Along the way, discover Sydney’s colourful colonial history.
- Call in at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) and enjoy the free Modern Art exhibits. Stop for a coffee at the MCA Café and take in the stunning views across the harbour to the Opera House.
Sydney Opera House
- Head back to Circular Quay and continue walking around the Sydney Cove foreshore to the Sydney Opera House. The view is spectacular and there are plenty of photo opportunities along the way.
- Walk up the stairs inside the Opera House to the box office area and book a ticket for an evening performance. Find out what’s on at the Sydney Opera House OR take a guided Tour of the Opera House to see behind the scenes at Australia’s most famous performance venue and learn all about this iconic building.
Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens
- Then continue walking around the point to the Royal Botanic Gardens. Enjoy the beautiful green space with gorgeous harbour views and stop for a picnic on the lawn or a coffee at the Palace Café.
- On the other side of the Botanical Gardens, the Art Gallery of NSW has free exhibitions that culture lovers will enjoy, including Australian Aboriginal artworks. You can also buy a ticket to see visiting international art exhibitions.
- Head back towards the harbour to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair to watch the sunset.
TIP: Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is one of the best sunset spots in Sydney and from the lookout, you’ll have a perfect view of the sun setting behind the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.
- After sunset head back to the Opera Bar for dinner and a drink before your evening performance at the Opera House.
TIP: The gates to the Sydney Botanical Gardens close at sunset so you’ll need to walk back via the road. Head towards the Art Gallery, take a shortcut through the Domain and walk back down Macquarie Street to the Opera House.
Day 2: Sydney Beaches & Sydney Harbour Ferry
On the second day of this 4 day itinerary in Sydney, you’ll visit Sydney’s most famous beaches, Manly Beach and Bondi Beach and see beautiful Watsons Bay on the way. The Manly ferry ride is a personal favourite of mine and you’ll see the harbour for a fraction of the cost of a Harbour Cruise.
- Arrive early at Circular Quay (wharf 3) and catch the ferry to Manly. The trip takes around half an hour and it’s one of the best ways to see Sydney Harbour and something you don’t want to miss if you’re in Sydney for 4 days.
TIP: Have your camera ready! As soon as the Manly ferry leaves the wharf, you’ll pass right by the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
- When you arrive in Manly, stroll through the Manly Corso shops to Manly Beach. Go for a swim, watch the surfers and enjoy the lovely scenery then take a short walk around Manly Point past the pretty Fairy Bower Sea Pool to Shelly Beach.
- Stop for brunch at The Bower café overlooking the Fairy Bower pool and the ocean. Then head back to Manly Wharf to catch the Ferry to Watsons Bay. The Harbour Hopper ferry leaves from Manly Wharf at 11:08 am.
In Watson’s Bay, there is a choice of things to do.
- The scenic South Head Heritage Trail is a lovely short walk around the South Head of Sydney Harbour. From the wharf, walk towards pretty Camp Cove Beach along a cobblestone road. The 1.7-kilometre trail continues to the red and white striped Hornby Lighthouse past secluded Lady Bay Beach. Take the stairs down to the beach and enjoy a swim (no swimsuit is required here).
- Head back to Robertson Park and stop for high tea at the historic Dunbar House and enjoy the parklands and the harbour views.
- Then walk through the park to The Gap Lookout for dramatic cliff and ocean views. Catch bus 350 to the famous Bondi Beach. There’s a bus stop at The Gap and the trip to Bondi takes around half an hour.
- Aim to arrive at Bondi Beach in the early afternoon and enjoy a swim in the surf, relax on the sand, and grab an ice cream at Gelato Messina. There are lots of cafes near the beach like the Hard Rock Café where you can get a meal or a coffee.
- From Bondi Beach, it’s a short walk to the Notts Avenue Lookout at the south end of the beach. This lookout has a stunning view of Bondi Beach & the ocean-filled pools at the Bondi Icebergs Club. At the club, you can swim some laps in the pools ($9), and grab a drink, a coffee or a meal.
- If time permits, the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk begins just past the Bondi Iceberg’s Club. The trail is famous for its sweeping cliffs and ocean views. It’s one of Sydney’s most popular walking trails, enjoyed by both locals and visitors. It takes around 2 to 3 hours to walk the 6 kilometres to Coogee Beach.
- Bronte Beach is around halfway, and you can continue to Coogee or head back to the city from here. Catch a bus to Bondi Junction and a train to Circular Quay
** Get off the train at Martin Place and walk to Circular Quay OR change trains in the city at Town Hall or Central Station and catch a city circle train to Circular Quay.
- Back in the city, head to Dawes Point for an evening performance by the Sydney Theatre Company or the Sydney Dance Company and enjoy gorgeous views of Sydney Harbour at night from the Piers.
Day 3: Taronga Zoo & Darling Harbour
On day 3 you’ll meet Australia’s unique wildlife at Taronga Zoo, explore Darling Harbour and visit the Sydney Aquarium. It’s another busy day but strolling around Taronga Zoo is another of my favourite ways to spend a day in Sydney and it’s perfect for first-time visitors.
- Enjoy a scenic ferry ride from Circular Quay to Taronga Zoo and take the Cable Car up the hill to the Zoo entrance.
- See kangaroos, koalas, Tasmanian Devils, wombats, platypus and other Australian wildlife along with a wide variety of other animals from around the world.
- Book an animal encounter at Taronga Zoo to see your favourite animals up close and learn all about them. I highly recommend this and it will make the day really special.
- Enjoy the superb location on Sydney Harbour with stunning views of the city from various vantage points around the zoo. Don’t miss the giraffe enclosure with million-dollar views.
Darling Harbour & The Sydney Aquarium
From Taronga Zoo, catch the 2 pm Harbour Hopper ferry to Darling Harbour.
- Spend the afternoon discovering the underwater world at the Sydney Aquarium. See sharks, tropical reef fish, turtles, penguins, dugong, jellyfish and more.
In Darling Harbour there are more things to do if time permits:
- Escape into a peaceful space at the Chinese Garden of Friendship, a beautifully landscaped garden with water features and ponds full of fish.
- Visit the Australian National Maritime Museum and enjoy learning about Australian history with interactive exhibits. You can climb on board a tall ship or a submarine.
- Relax on the lawn in Tumbalong Park in the centre of Darling Harbour or shop for souvenirs. Stop for a coffee or a meal at one of the many restaurants and cafes in the Darling Quarter.
Day 4: Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains are my favourite escape from the city and a day trip to Katoomba in the upper mountains is the perfect way to end this 4 day Sydney itinerary. Today you’ll experience a UNESCO World Heritage Wilderness area and enjoy magical mountain and escarpment views that will take your breath away.
TIP: Dress for bushwalking with covered walking shoes, sunhat, 50+ sunscreen, and carry water. Take a jacket and wet weather gear as wel. The weather is noticeably cooler in the upper mountains.
How to get to the Blue Mountains from Sydney
The upper Blue Mountains are about 100 kilometres from the city and the easiest way to get there is to book a day trip from Sydney. An organised tour is a great idea if you’d like to relax and let a local guide show you around. But if you prefer to be independent it’s easy to catch a train to Katoomba in the upper Blue Mountains (or to drive if you have a car.)
From Circular Quay, catch a bus or train to Central Station. Blue Mountains trains to Katoomba leave every hour or so from the Country Trains area and the trip takes around 2.5 hours.
After arriving in Katoomba, catch a local blue bus (686) to the Echo Point Lookout area.
TIP: The Hop–on–Hop–Off (red) bus also leaves from Katoomba station and visits stunning lookout points around Katoomba and the Blue Mountains. It’s a great way to get around if you don’t want to walk or you’re short of time on a day trip to Katoomba.
Best things to do in Katoomba
- Enjoy the classic Blue Mountains view of the “Three Sisters” at Echo Point. The view here is breathtaking and if you follow the walking trail you can see the Three Sisters up close. You can continue down the Giant Staircase into the Jamieson Valley but it’s a steep climb back up the valley.
- Then head across to the other side of the Echo Point Lookout area to the Prince Henry Cliff Walk and enjoy more breathtaking escarpment views from the trail. This short walk is a personal favourite of mine and follows the clifftops to Katoomba Falls. It’s less strenuous than walking into the valley and takes around 2 – 3 hours to return to Echo Point.
- If you keep walking Beyond Katoomba Falls to Scenic World, you can take a ride across the valley in the Scenic Cableway or descend into the Jamieson Valley on the Scenic Railway. This is a bit more adventurous but also a lot of fun.
- Return to Katoomba Village on the blue public bus (686) or walk back to Echo Point and catch a bus from there.
- Grab a meal or a drink at Pomegranate Café or the historic Carrington Hotel near Katoomba Station before catching a train back to the city.
How to get around Sydney
Sydney has a reliable public transport network and it’s easy to get around by bus, train, ferry and light rail. Buy an Opal card ($20) to pay your fare and top it up when you run out of credit. It’s easy to use and it works on all public transport, just tap on and off at the start and end of each journey.
Taxis and Uber are also available in Sydney but they are a more expensive way to get around the city so I suggest using public transport if you’re on a budget.
How to get from the airport to the city CBD
Sydney International Airport is 8 kilometres from the city centre and it takes about 25 minutes or longer by car depending on the traffic. I suggest catching the train or taking a shuttle bus. The Airport Link train will take you to the CBD in around 13 minutes. It’s an easy and reliable way to get to the city.
Taxis and Uber are also available at the airport.
Where to stay in Sydney
If you’re visiting Sydney for 4 days, there’s a wide variety of accommodation available but the best places to stay in Sydney are in the City Centre at The Rocks, in the CBD or Darling Harbour. You’ll find cheaper accommodation further away from the city.
Budget: Sydney Harbour YHA, in the heart of the city, has a perfect location for sightseeing and a fantastic harbour view from the rooftop. Private rooms and dorm beds are available. The hostel is built over The Big Dig, an archeological site and it’s just a short walk to Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and the Botanical Gardens.
Mid Range: The Rendezvous Hotel has an upmarket location at the Rocks that is perfect for 4 days in Sydney. The rooms are clean and comfortable and there’s a gym and a pool.
Luxury: The Four Seasons Hotel has one of the best locations in Sydney near Circular Quay. Guests love the service at this popular five-star hotel and the reviews are exceptional.
How many days is ideal in Sydney?
There’s so much to see and do in Sydney that 3 – 5 days is an ideal amount of time to spend in the harbour city. With 2 or 3 days in Sydney, you can see the highlights, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, The Rocks, Bondi and Manly Beach and spend a day in the beautiful Blue Mountains. But it’s a very full schedule and if you allow a few extra days, you can relax and see more of the city.
Is 4 nights in Sydney enough?
4 nights in Sydney is enough time to see the highlights and to get a taste of the city. But there’s so much to see and do in Sydney you could easily spend a week or more.
Is it worth visiting Bondi Beach?
Yes, the famous Bondi Beach is definitely worth visiting but can get crowded. Bondi is a beautiful surf beach with a wide stretch of golden sand and clear blue water. Relax on the sand and swim or surf the waves and enjoy the laid-back beach vibe. Bondi Beach is popular with backpackers and a younger crowd. There are lots of cafes, restaurants and bars and a lively nightlife.
Final Thoughts: 4 Days in Sydney
With 4 days in Sydney, you’ll have time to see the city highlights, the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, experience history, art and culture, visit Sydney’s most famous beaches at Bondi and Manly and enjoy the laidback surf vibe that Sydney is famous for. You’ll also have the opportunity to meet koalas, kangaroos and other unique Australian wildlife and see some dramatic and beautiful scenery in the Blue Mountains.
But 4 days in Sydney is only enough time to scratch the surface. If you have more time to spend there are many wonderful day trips in Sydney and other things to do that are perfect for solo travellers.
This 4 day Sydney itinerary is varied and shows you the best of the city, the harbour and beaches and the beautiful Blue Mountains. Enjoy!