Travel Tips While in Sydney
July 8, 2009 10:11 PM   Subscribe

Going to be in Sydney for my Honeymoon in early October. Looking for suggestions plus local advice.

We're going to be there for three days... a Saturday, a Sunday and a Monday. We'll probably fly out Monday afternoon. We're staying near World Square. What are some good things to see and do while in town over the weekend, and what about during the day on the Monday?

Things we definitely want to do are all the touristy things, like see the Opera House and the Bridge, visit Circular Quay and the Sydney Tower. But what else should we definitely check out? And what should we stay away from?

Finally, some local advice advice would be great.

1. Taxi fare from Sydney Airport to World Square. Roughly how much? Will this incur tolls? What route should I tell the driver to take?
2. Taxi fare from World Square to Kirribili House. Roughly how much?
3. Best place around World Square for a nice romantic dinner that doesn't cost the Earth?
4. Is the monorail worth getting around town on?
5. This is going to sound paranoid, I know, but it's worth being prepared; what areas should we avoid at night?
posted by Effigy2000 to Travel & Transportation around Sydney, Australia (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
1. Taxi fare from Sydney Airport to World Square. Roughly how much? Will this incur tolls? What route should I tell the driver to take?

Roughly $30 bucks - highly dependent on what time you're travelling. Lower outside rush hours, higher in them.

3. Best place around World Square for a nice romantic dinner that doesn't cost the Earth?

Hmmm, that area of town isn't exactly Romance Central (the square itself, that is), there's some fine enough restaurants but it's a very clubby area. Hmmm, I know lots of nice restaurants round there, but I wouldn't call them *romantic*... Musashi is the best Japanese you'll get at that price point in the area - you may have to wait five or ten minutes to get in, but it's upmarket-ish without hype.

4. Is the monorail worth getting around town on?

No. It's freakishly overpriced, and the only places on it you'll see something are places where you would see good stuff from the ground anyway. Avoid.

5. This is going to sound paranoid, I know, but it's worth being prepared; what areas should we avoid at night?

This city is reasonably safe (and busy) at night - don't make any trouble and it won't find you. Let the record reflect, there's often a fight or two at World Square from around 1:30-2:00am. These are not the kind of fights that will embroil those not making trouble, but be aware. Also, they can get very hairy for those involved. So don't get involved!! (Don't be paranoid, but forewarned is forearmed).

Other places to go: The fish markets aren't picturesque, but *great* fresh oysters and sushi. Kinokuniya on George St makes Borders on Albert St in Brisbane look like a church stall. Also, the ramen at Ichiban Boshi just outside is *superb*.

Go to yum cha - it's better than Brissy. Go to Marigold, also on George St. FYI Chinatown has markets on Friday night in the city, could be nice for you guys.

If you feel like Spanish, Miros in the Spanish quarter (near World Square) is the best one of the several restaurants there.

In October Wicked the musical will be playing just down the road from you. Dunno if you guys like musicals, but could be cool and it's a lovely theatre.

Darling Harbor can be nice to walk around at night. There's lots of yummy restaurants, more along your romancey request (The Malaya.... Drool), and the Lindt Cafe down there is _fantastic_ if you like chocolate.

Hope that gets you started! Memail me if you want some more ideas, I hope you have a good time!
posted by smoke at 10:33 PM on July 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

1. About $25-$30 if you tell the driver to avoid the Cross city tunnel. It will include a small toll for the Eastern Distributor. There is a train from the airport to Town hall station, which is about 200m walk from World Square. The train is about $12 per person.

2. Not sure how much this would be, but a nicer way to travel would be to get the cross-harbour ferry from Circular Quay to Kirribilli. Your best source for timetables and fares is

3. I would recommend going down the the Quay or the Rocks for a romantic dinner rather than staying round World Square, which is not the most romantic part of Sydney. is a good site for restaurant reviews, as is

4. The monorail is pointless, tatty and expensive. Walk, get a bus, get a ferry, get a train.

5. Personally I would avoid Kings Cross and Oxford St, the non-main streets in the city, and the streets round central station. Basically avoid places where there aren't people.
posted by girlgenius at 10:38 PM on July 8, 2009

For a good new-to-sydney meal (or just cocktails), try Summit on level 39 of Australia Square - on the way from World Square to the Rocks, actually. It's a revolving restaurant that's set nicely in the middle of the skyline - I prefer the view and the food there to Sydney Tower (and entry is free). Go after dark, or when the weather is fine. A 3-course with wine will be about $100 each though.

World Square is on George St, which is the main artery of Sydney. Almost all bus routes south go past the front or back of World Square. Buses+ferries will often be the best transport, except when carrying luggage.

My favourite romantic spot in the city is the park round the Observatory - usually pretty quiet, and with benches, a bandstand, the harbour view. Or take your pick of cliffs between beaches. Darling Harbour and the Rocks are very pleasant (there is a ferris wheel!) but a bit tourist-trappy.

Unless you have particular interest in Kirribilli house, it's probably best seen from the water. See it from a ferry that loops round the harbour. Also there are nice walks up and down the north shore e.g. from Taronga Zoo Wharf.

No need to avoid Oxford St/King's cross - some joints are obviously seedy, but there are plenty of gems, the streets are always very busy, and you won't run into trouble that isn't of your own making.
posted by cogat at 11:14 PM on July 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

King St, Newtown and Glebe Point Road in Glebe are both great for reasonable weekend food and you'll get direct public transport there from World Square. If you want walking distance and romantic, Selah at Circular Quay is pretty damn good.

Get a travel ten for buses. You'll save money.

You might find the business park on steroids that is the CBD to be a bit dead on the weekends, but there's not a lot of the city that's very unsafe. There are quite a few places in Sydney I wouldn't want to go at night, but casual visitors to the city aren't likely to go to those places accidentally—you need to seek the dodgy parts of this city out. The Cross and Oxford St, as girlgenius mentioned, can be hairy at night but they can also be a lot of fun.

I don't know if you and your new spouse are museum-goers, but Sydney has some crackers. I'd recommend the Powerhouse which is full of industrial design and other mefi-style awesome, the National Maritime Museum, Police and Justice Museum, and Museum of Sydney.

One last recommendation, if you're feeling like a genuine locals' treat. Get the Bankstown line train to Lakemba, and walk up to Jasmin's at 30 Haldon St. Don't take any alcohol. Order the mixed grill, making sure you get felafel and garlic sauce. Thank your uncle Fiasco.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 11:16 PM on July 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you like French food check out Le Guillotine (menu with prices). It's a short walk from World Square plus it's French, so of course it's romantic.
posted by tellurian at 11:27 PM on July 8, 2009

Best answer: Bus or ferry or taxi to here (wharf is right there). Take food/drink. Picnic. It's the best view of the harbour and it's national park all around the headland, so it's a lovely walk with views of the zoo on the eastern side.
posted by peacay at 11:48 PM on July 8, 2009

Din Tai Fung dumpling house is my favourite new place in Sydney (it's a chain throughout Asia) and located right in World Square. I just moved out of Sydney and miss it terribly. If you love food I think it's quite romantic, but in a chaotic Chinese way.

Grab a cocktail or two at the Shangri-La hotel in the Rocks. An absolutely amazing, romantic view. Also drinks at Opera House (just under the Opera House) are always spectacular, especially at sunset.

I used to live in Newtown. It is definitely worth a visit (about 15 minutes on the bus from World Square, or train from Town Hall). Great food, eclectic types, good bookstores etc. Glebe is also very good, but busy, on the weekends - big markets. Surry Hills has some very fine spots as well, if you head in that direction perhaps keep heading towards Paddington for the Saturday market, and then all the way to the Bondi. I don't really care for the beach but it's worth seeing, or taking the Bondi to Bronte walk which is quite nice.

Have a great trip!
posted by wingless_angel at 12:14 AM on July 9, 2009

Best answer: Seconding Summit on level 39 of Australia Square for a romantic night. For another amazing view place that won't cost the earth, I have a plan for you...

In the afternoon on a not too busy night (Tuesday night perhaps) wander down to Darling Harbour, and pop into the James Squire and sit outside as the sun sets and sample a few locally brewed beers. Then hop in a water taxi and ask them to take you to Ripples in Milsons Point (assuming you've made a reservation). Quite an amazing taxi ride across the water (not that cheap but hey, you are on holidays). Have dinner right on the water at Milsons point, looking at the bridge and the opera house, then you can wander up to the train station at Milsons Point to come back in.
posted by Admira at 4:34 AM on July 9, 2009

Smoke has good answers to your questions. There's nowhere that's so unsafe you should avoid it, but after midnight there are usually a few drunken fights on George Street. You won't get hurt unless you intentionally get involved.

The monorail is a complete waste of time as public transport, but if you really want to go all out on the touristy stuff, it offers a package ticket that gives you discounts to various attractions along its route. The Sydney Tower is pretty tacky as well, and unless you pay extra for the open air 'experience' you're basically just looking out a big window while listening to bad muzac. But I think sometimes it's worth doing these things anyway - longtime Sydneysiders are a cynical bunch and sometimes we're too dismissive of things that visitors tend to enjoy.

The most romantic picnic spot in Sydney: Wendy's Secret Garden. Fifteen years ago, the Wendy Whitely (widow of artist Brett Whiteley) started gardening on an old railway siding in Lavender Bay. She was guerrilla gardening way before it was cool, and the garden now resembles something out of a fairytale. It's a nice walk over the bridge to get there, too.

I can recommend high tea at the Victoria Room in Darlinghurst.

Also, Chinta Ria: Temple of Love at Darling Harbour. It's just fancy Malaysian, but the decor is spectacular and the name is perfect!
posted by embrangled at 5:32 AM on July 9, 2009

My kids and I still get a buzz out of seeing the Harbour Bridge up close, despite us being regular Sydney visitors. On our last visit we walked underneath the southern end (you'd be able to walk there from World Square easily) and just the sheer size and scope of it blew my kids minds. Don't just check it out from a distance - get up close so you can truly appreciate it.

If you're into people-watching, visit Darling Harbour (take the monorail to get an overhead view of the whole area) and have a drink at one of the many al fresco cafes/restaurants. There are also often buskers and free entertainment, last time we saw a fire-eater whose comedy routine had us all in tears of laughter, and a bunch of breathtaking kid acrobats.

I don't know if they're still there, but we saw 2 dugongs (manatee?) at the Aquarium, and I fell desperately in love with these ugly but graceful animals. If you're not Aussie and haven't grown up with koalas, etc, you might enjoy the Aquarium and the Wildlife Park thingy right next door.

I'd highly recommend seeing the Cross at night, just so you know what it's like. I'd avoid the eastern end of George St late at night. It is usually just drunks fighting each other, but every now and then someone innocent gets involved. I'm not saying it's dangerous to everyone - but I am saying that I wouldn't linger there.

My next Sydney trip agenda includes the Brett Whiteley studio at Surry Hills, the Botanic Gardens, the Police and Justice Museum... and now it also includes Wendy's Secret Garden.

Have a wonderful honeymoon.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 5:21 PM on July 9, 2009

My office is in World Square.
I like the Yum Cha at the Regal for lunch (not the a la carte in the evening). Chinatown is a nice place to wander around, and Paddy's markets is open Saturday and Sunday. This is all stalls of tourist tat, but if you go in the back you can find excellent, cheap produce including bargain fresh seafood. Above it is an air conditioned mall that has a few outlet stores for seconds/end of line clothing. You can stroll past the entertainment centre down to Darling Harbour - plenty of bars and restaurants that are attractive in the twilight, although you will probably want to walk a little further on to the King St wharf.
The monorail is indeed wonderfully useless for transport, but you pay a fare to board and can do a whole loop, or loop and a half to get the fun of an eighties future and still rest your feet for a few minutes. From memory it takes about 15mins to do a loop.
I second the drinks at the Horizon Bar at the Shangri-la in the rocks, it is yuppie central but feels very sophisticated to plebs like me.
Just down the road is the mirror inversion, the Glenmore Hotel (where the Sydney 10th meetup is to be held) is much more down to earth but also has stunning views from the rooftop. You can wander under the bridge here, or if you are energetic, walk over it - next to the cars, not over the arch which is $100 tourist excursion.
You used to be able to climb one of the pylons and visit a little museum, although it seems to have been commercialised now, shame that.
A ferry from Circular Quay to Watson's Bay is nice, dinner in the beer garden of the pub there is great as you watch the sun set over the city, just make sure you make the return ferry, it doesn't run late and the bus or taxi options aren't very good.
Tips for getting around. There is a free bus that runs down George st and back up Elizabeth - it is pretty new so lots of people don't know about it. See here.
Sydney's rail network is excellent for getting to/from the city, as mentioned up thread is an integrated travel planner for trains/buses/ferries.
Both Hyde Park and the Botanic Gardens are a pleasant walk, and the Mitchell Library in between them usually has something interesting to look at, as does the art gallery near by.
I think it might be nice to go to a show/gig one of the nights. Try moshtix, or possibly Soup Plus for some Jazz.
On the whole, Sydney's very safe after dark, so don't be too concerned. Have fun, and memail me if you have any questions.
posted by bystander at 12:18 AM on July 13, 2009

possibly Soup Plus for some Jazz.
I think not, bystander.
posted by tellurian at 4:03 PM on July 13, 2009

Annoying. I remembered hearing about Soup Plus closing, and possibly reopening, but a search showed their web site that looked active, but has presumably become a zombie, tricking well meaning music recommenders.
posted by bystander at 1:32 AM on July 14, 2009

Zombie soup! Yes, everything works except upcoming gigs (generic holder) and book a table (no confirmation). Music recommenders (in particular jazz, seem to be well catered for in the other thread). See 'ya Sunday.
posted by tellurian at 4:14 AM on July 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

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