Anyone who is visiting Australia is likely wanting to go to Sydney as it is just choc full of bucket list worthy things to see and do! In this guide we round up the perfect 5 days in Sydney Itinerary to help you see the most of this great city including the best Sydney attractions and also the best day trips to take from Sydney whatever the weather!
Note about the Itinerary: Although there is an order to the days in this itinerary below, they do not necessarily have to be completed in this order! Feel free to move the days around especially to accommodate weather (day 5 is the best itinerary for what to do in Sydney in the rain).
If you have less than 5 days in the city then feel free to select your favourite days from the itinerary to make the itinerary suit you.
How to Get Around Sydney
When we arrived from Sydney we were definitely feeling the effects of jet lag so we opted for a private transfer from the airport to our accommodation! If you would like to arrange a private transfer from Sydney Airport to your accommodation please CLICK HERE!
Alternatively, taxis can be picked up outside the airport.
Alternatively you can pick up an Opal Card and take the train into the city! Depending on where in the city you are staying will effect how long your journey will take and if there are any transfers.
Your opal card can then be used on public transport (ferries and trains) throughout your stay.
There are also local buses which will come in handy when heading out to the beaches of Sydney.
Where to Stay for this 5 Days in Sydney Itinerary
When we were looking at Where to Stay in Sydney for our 5 day Sydney Itinerary we knew we wanted to stay somewhere central so we decided to only look at hotels in the Darling Harbour and the Circular Quay Areas.
For those that don’t know Sydney Well Circular Key is the heart of Sydney. In this area you are close to the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. While Darling Harbour is a short ferry ride away from Circular Quay and is close to lots of family friendly attractions such as The Australia Zoo, the saline Centre and many nice waterfront restaurants. In my opinion if you only have 5 days in Sydney then these areas will help maximise your time in the city.
Hotels that we considered on our stay and are highly recommend online are:
Best Luxury Hotels in Sydney
Westin Sydney is a 15 minute walk from Darling Harbour but has a great set of amenities and is a great luxury hotel in central Sydney.
To check prices and availability click here!
The Four Seasons Sydney has some of the best views of any hotel in Sydney! Being located at Circular Quay the Four Seasons overlooks both the Opera House and Harbour Bridge! If you want to stay at a hotel with great views then this is the hotel for you.
To check prices and availability click here! .
MidRange Hotels in Sydney
Holiday Inn Old Sydney
The Holiday Inn Old Sydney is located in the historic and beautiful Rocks area on Sydney! This hotel also has another great view of the opera house from the roof terrace! It takes minutes to walk to the Circular Quay ferry station.
To check prices and availability click here!
Aparthotel In Sydney
Adina Aparthotels Darling Harbour
When we visited Sydney we knew that we wanted an Aparthotel because we were travelling with our toddler and wanted access to a kitchen facility without compromising on location.The Adina Aparthotel in Darling Harbour was the perfect choice for us.Close to family friendly attractions, access to a pool and great transport access! This was the perfect choice for us while in Sydney.
To check prices and availability click here!
What to Do in Sydney for 5 Days
Note about this 5 days in Sydney: This itinerary covers what to do in Sydney for 5 days but the order of the days can be changed dependent on weather and flight times etc.
Day 1 of the Perfect 5 Day Sydney Itinerary – Circular Quay, Sydney Opera House, Royal Botanic Gardens
Note about todays itinerary: The Sydney places you’ll see today can be done in any order! If you decide to take tours then this will influence at what time of day you can do the below options! This isn’t a problem and won’t affect your enjoyment of this day.
Today is all about doing the Sydney bucket list items and by that I mean spending time in the Circular Quay area, getting up close and personal to the Sydney Opera House, exploring the botanic gardens and of course seeing the spectacular Sydney Harbour Bridge.
If you are not staying in the Sydney CBD area hop on a ferry if possible to catch your first glimpse of these Sydney icons from the boat! Once you disembark you should first head to the Sydney Opera House.
I’ll admit although I wanted to Sydney Opera House I wasn’t expecting this building to be as spectacular as it was! It was love at first sight for me. This is definitely not just a quick selfie stop. To appreciate this building be sure to walk up the steps and around the outside to see this magnificent building at every angle. It will not disappoint.
The one thing I learn while wandering around the Opera House and getting up close to it is that for a dazzling white building not all the tiles are actually white.
If you are interested then you could also tour the inside of the building and learn more about the history and architecture of this icon by taking a guided tour. Advance book is essential however! CLICK HERE to book your Sydney Opera House Tour!
Once you have finished at the Opera House we advise taking a walk to the adjacent attraction – the beautiful Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens. The reasons to visit the gardens are two fold.
Firstly, the gardens are spectacular in themselves and have a range of rare and interesting plants for every botanical taste! And secondly, the Royal Botanic Gardens offers one of my favourite views of the Sydney Opera House and the harbour. The best place in the gardens for this view is Mrs McQuarie’s Chair.
Once you have seen the view at Mrs McQuarie’s Chair, be sure to spend more time in the garden! My daughter particularly loved taking the small train – The Choo Choo Express – around the gardens – which can be boarded at the gardens entrance nearest the opera house – and gives you a great overview of the gardens and their history.
If you are in the gardens for 10:30am be sure to pick up the free guided tour of the garden. But don’t worry if you miss it there is plenty to enjoy without a guided tour.
Other Must Sees in the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney
- The Calyx – an amazing modern architecture space that offers revolving temporary floral exhibitions.
- The Fernery
- The Herb Garden
- Australian Native Garden
- The Oriental Garden
- Palm Grove
There are also several eateries in the gardens where you can stop and have lunch or alternatively come prepared and have a picnic in the grounds. But if you fancy some special then one not considering having afternoon tea at the Calyx – one the best spots to have afternoon tea in Sydney.
Now for the afternoon we advise heading over towards the Sydney Harbour Bridge! This is your chance to do the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. This is a once in a lifetime experience (saying the woman who is scared of heights) so if this is in your wheelhouse now is the time to do it.
Advance booking is essential! You can book your Sydney Bridge Climb HERE!
If fear or heights or budget constraints out you off doing this then you could always walk across the bridge for free. This is also a great place for taking photos of the opera house particularly at sunset or sunrise.
If you have extra time then an added bonus activity for the day is a visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art is certainly worthwhile.
Be sure to end your day in the Rocks neighbourhood and stop by The Glenmore. Head to their roof terrace and end your day with a yummy drink with the most beautiful rooftop view of the Opera House! This is literally my perfect day in Sydney.
Day 2 – Taronga Zoo and Luna Park
Day Two of this 5 days in Sydney itinerary is somewhat about entertaining the inner child in you.
Again your day starts in the Circular Quay as you cup on the ferry to Taronga Zoo.
The queue for the zoo can get long so I would advise booking your tickets online in advance! To get your tickets CLICK HERE!
The Taronga Zoo is absolutely one of my favourite zoos in the world and is truly world class. What we loved about the zoo is that there are plenty of shows and animal encounters which are a great educational experience.
On top of that Taronga Zoo and in particular the Giraffe enclosure has one of the best views of the Sydney Opera House.
But perhaps our favourite thing in the zoo was the Australian Outback enclosure! A walk through enclosure focusing on the indigenous creatures of Australia.
End your day at Taronga by taking the Sky Safari – a cable car back down towards the ferry stop that runs over the enclosures.
Once you head back to Sydney we suggest hopping back on the ferry (or take another walk across the harbour bridge) to the Luna Park – another icon in Sydney. This has to be the best located amusement park in the world in terms of views.
The park was originally constructed in 1935 but the park currently on site has been there since 2004. The park has a variety rides that will please anyone from thrill seekers to some more sedate that will keep a younger audience happy.
Day 3 – Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk and Beach Day
Let’s be honest no visit to Sydney is complete without a visit to the beach. Australia and Sydney are particularly synonymous with beach life and it would be a travesty to visit Sydney without having spent time at the beach.
Start your day by doing the famous Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk ( you can start at either Bondi or Coogee depending on where you would like to spend your afternoon).
The route one way from Bondi to Coogee is about 6km long (3.5 miles for those that deal in miles) and will probably take you about 2 hours to do the walk depending on your pace of hiking and how many stops you want to make along the way.
While the walk isn’t difficult there are some accessibility issues in form of stairs! If you are travelling with small children then I would definitely recommend leaving the stroller at home. Given the clifftop nature of some of the walk we would advise taking a carrier with you – either a full hiking carrier or a baby carrier that is suitable for hot weather as the route is quite exposed.
The great thing about this walk is that there are plenty of amenities all along your route and plenty of places to stop for great views and beaches.
The Coogee beach is smaller than it’s Bondi counterpart but I would say it slightly less busy and is great for families. Either way whether you decide to spend your day at the Coogee Beach or the Bondi Beach you are going to have a fab afternoon.
If you would like to add a surf lesson to your afternoon then CLICK HERE!
If however you would like to do a shorter route then I would suggest considering the Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk. This walk by comparison is shorter at only 2.5km one way and will take about an hour again dependent on your pace and stops.
Whichever walk you take you are sure to have an absolutely fantastic day.
Please note: I would suggest checking your weather forecast for your 5 days in Sydney and pick a day with good weather, and particular low winds for the day you.choose to do this day of the itinerary.
Day 4 – Best Day Trips from Sydney
If you have 5 days in Sydney we definitely recommend taking one day trip. Our number one choice for a day trip from Sydney is of course to head to the beautiful Blue Mountains.
You have several options if you wish to visit the Blue Mountains from Sydney. Firstly you could consider hiring a car and driving yourself which might be the best option for those travelling with children to Sydney as it means you can set your own itinerary and pace.
Otherwise the best way to get to the Blue Mountains from Sydney is to take a day excursions. For options for day excursions to the Blue Mountains CLICK HERE!
The drive to the Blue Mountains from Sydney takes around 1.5-2 hours.
One of the highlights of visiting the Blue Mountains is heading to Featherdale Wildlife Park where you have a chance to see indigenous animals.
Other highlights of a day trip to the Blue Mountains include
- There Sisters Rock Formation
- Scenic World – in Katoomba. This has four main attractions – the Scenic Railway, the Scenic Skyway, the Scenic Cableway and the Scenic Walkway! The Scenic Walkway is a highlight – it is a 2.5 km elevated boardwalk through a beautiful rainforest.
Other options for day trips from Sydney include:
- Hunter Valley – the wine region closest to Sydney! Whenever I am doing a wine tour I always take a private driver led excursion to make sure I can have a drink and not worry about driving.If you are travelling with a family you might be wondering if you can still visit the Hunter Valley but there are many family friendly wineries in the region the you could take advantage of.
- Canberra Day Trip from Sydney
Day 5 – Darling Harbour
Please note: if you are in Sydney for a Saturday I recommend making this your Saturday day as on a Saturday evening Darling Harbour has a spectacular fireworks display.
Darling Harbour is full of amazing attractions! You can decide to do as many or as few as you want.
The main attractions on the harbour itself are
- The Sealife Centre – this has some great exhibits in particular the manatee exhibit!
- Wildlife Sydney Zoo – I know you have already done a zoo but the wildlife Sydney zoo is focussed exclusively on indigenous species and was really interesting!
- Madame Tussauds
Other attractions in this area that could be added to your itinerary are
- The Powerhouse Museum –
this interactive museum is sure to be a hit for the whole family! But be warned there is a whole exhibit dedicated to The Wiggles in the basement and those songs are damn catchy.
- The Australian Maritime Museum –
this has a really interesting museum and for those travelling with toddlers and babies there is a lovely soft play area.
- Chinese Garden of Friendship –
this beautiful garden is a great place to blow off some steam nd relax after a busy day of sightseeing int he Darling Harbour area.
End your day on one of the many terraced restaurants in Darling Harbour and if it is a Saturday enjoy the Saturday night firework show.
Have you been to Sydney? What were your favourite things to do in Sydney? What else would you add to this itinerary?