Australia, known to many of us as down under. A flight to the continent almost promises a stopover or a very long flight. Nestled in the middle of Oceania, Australia is a place as magical as it is far. After sitting on two planes for roughly 24 hours, I would know.
Why would anyone in their right mind fly so far? Well, my bucket list had something about New Year's Eve in Sydney Harbour and I politely obliged.
Before you head to Australia
Depending on your country of origin, you will need an Electronic Travel Authority to enter the country. In the case of tourism, no visa is needed, just an ETA. An ETA gives you three months in Australia. If you require additional time, consult an embassy advisor on what type of right for you. The cost of an ETA is 20 AUD. ($13.75)
How to get there
This again is determined by your country of origin. For example, I flew from New York. My route was JFK- LAX then LAX - SYD. Depending on your airline alliances or preference, you might have a different route.
SYD has two terminals, international and domestic. You will be landing in the international terminal. If Sydney is your final stop, head to your hotel. If you are going to Melbourne as an example, you will have to exit the terminal, take the train to the domestic terminal, and transfer to your flight.
The Hyatt Regency Sydney is a great pick and some of the rooms directly across from the Sydney Opera House. From there, you can see the firework's comfort of your own room.
Rydges Airport Hotel Sydney is one of my favorites. I stayed here as a cheaper option when I returned from New Zealand and it was amazing. The rooms offer a full view of the runway and it is within walking distance to many of the airport food courts in the airport.
Australia has a well-connected metro system, with buses, trams, and trains. All of which can be accessed with an Opal Card. The money is subtracted from the balance once you leave the station, tram, or bus.
Things to do
See the fireworks at Sydney Harbor: Keep in mind, this is probably on everyone's bucket list who is in Australia at that particular time. I recommend going early to get a good spot. The entry is closed by 3:00 pm. If you're unable to get in, anywhere in Darling Harbour or Pirrama Park is a good location.
Sydney Opera House: December 31 is probably the worst day to visit the Sydney Opera House, so I recommend trying New Year's Day. The crowds are less and most people are sleeping in or have made their way to Bondi Beach.
Sydney Harbour Bridge: Perhaps the best view in Sydney, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge is for the thrill-seekers and the brave-hearted.
Bondi Beach: The most famous beach in Australia is Bondi Beach. "Backpackers Welcome" is written on a mural to the top of the beach. The beach draws massive crowds and has something for everyone. Whether you want to sunbathe, swim in the ocean, or try local eateries, you won't run out of things to do. You can also head over for a swim in the Icebergs pool for a small fee($8.00).
Walk to Bondi to Coogee coastal path: This is an offered tour, however, this can be done at your own leisure. Just follow the crowds as everyone is likely to be doing it.
Walk along the Darling Harbour: the harbor has a lot to do, from the Maritime Museum to the Sydney Aquarium. Plus there are loads of seafood eateries within every few steps.
Sydney Tower: The tower offers great views of the Sydney skyline. The exit leads you to an indoor mall if you need to do a little shopping while in Sydney.
Take the Hop-on Hop-off Bus: Normally I wouldn't list this as an attraction because it is not. However, this is one of the cheapest ways to get to Bondi Beach. Take the red line to anywhere that connects to the blue line and the final stop on the blue line is Bondi Beach.
Australia is one of those places where there is something for everyone and things to do in the city are far too numerous to mention. Before visiting, I suggest making a list of the things you would like to do and build your itinerary from there.
Editor’s Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any parties mentioned. None of the entities mentioned has reviewed, approved, or endorsed the content listed in this post.