Sydney is not a city that presents one face to visitors and another to locals. Off-duty, Sydneysiders are just as likely to take a Manly ferry from Circular Quay or treat themselves to BridgeClimb as they are to spread out a towel on one of the city’s 100 golden beaches.
They might even take a selfie with two of the city’s oft-photographed landmarks – the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House – or chase down local prawns and rich, sweet Sydney rock oysters.
The Harbour City provides a fascinatingly authentic launching pad for a quintessential Australian experience in the state of New South Wales, home to remote islands, intriguing mountains, ancient landscapes, plush eco-retreats, and legendary wineries.
Join the party.
Let’s start where the buzz is, since that’s how locals do it. Festivals of light, culture, arts, and food bring Sydneysiders out to play in force. Savvy visitors time their travel to coincide with big events, like the Sydney Festival (January 9 through 27, 2019), which every summer uncorks the bottle of creative energy that is trailblazing theater, cabaret, art, and music.
Also on balmy summer nights (January 8 through February 16, 2019), St. George OpenAir Cinema shows movies on a giant screen that rises from the harbor as the sun sinks behind the Sydney Opera House. Which way to look!?
Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour, already a big-ticket event on the city’s culture calendar, is sparking renewed interest with an upcoming reinterpretation of West Side Story (March 22 through April 21, 2019). Pop-up restaurants and bars make the event especially delicious
For three weeks during the Southern Hemisphere’s late fall and early winter, the city becomes the world’s most colorful outdoor gallery. Vivid Sydney (May 24 through June 15, 2019) celebrates the technology of light with dazzling illuminations and spectacular projections onto the sails of the Sydney Opera House, the exterior of the Museum of Contemporary Art, the arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and many other locations.
Festivals or not, Dallas-based Virtuoso travel advisor James Strong II says there are two imperative Sydney Harbour experiences for any visitor. “A behind-the-scenes tour of the Sydney Opera House is a must,” he says, “as is a sunset dinner cruise on the harbor for a night never to forget!”