Ultimate Guide to Sydney for Backpackers
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City: Population 4.5 Million
Most backpackers start their great adventure in one of the greatest cities in the world and for very good reason - Sydney is not only breathtakingly beautiful but it’s backpacker central. When in Sydney you will no doubt meet other backpackers who have forgotten to check out the rest of Australia. An incredible natural harbour, white sandy beaches like Manly and Bondi and parties in Kings Cross await. Apart from checking out must see landmarks like the Opera House, Sydney is an excellent place to get your bearings for trips to the “real Australia”, but some never leave.
Quick Links to Sydney Backpacker Information
For backpackers staying in Sydney City your accommodation and much of your eating and drinking will happen near to George St or in Kings Cross or Bondi. George Street is the main street that runs slightly uphill from Circular Quay to Central Station. From Central Station, William St runs through Hyde Park to the backpacker area of Kings Cross. To get to Bondi beach take bus 380, L82 or 389 from Kings Cross or Bondi Junction (train). Manly is a ferry ride from Circular Quay.
Many maps exist in backpacker magazines and brochures. Most of these are adequate for short stays, but it you intend to stay or work a little while in Sydney pick up a proper street map. One of the better free maps can be found at the Circular Quay information kiosk if they have run out at your hostel.
Sydney enjoys a Mediterranean like climate with a mild winter. The average minimum temperatures in the winter months of June through to August is around 9 degrees Celsius. The summer is from December through to February and can get hot if you are inland a bit but rarely goes much above 30 degrees Celsius by the ocean where most backpackers tend to be.
Getting around central Sydney is pretty easy. It is possible to walk to most places, but the fastest way is using the City Circle rail loop. To go to Manly you will need to out try the famous Sydney Ferry system which departs from Circular Quay. For Bondi go to the train station called Bondi Junction and jump on a bus or get a bus direct from Kings Cross or Circular Quay or pick it up along the route. To get beyond the city, Central Station is the main connector station for buses and trains.
There are many Internet cafes particularly in the backpacker areas. For those with their own device it is becoming more common to find free wifi in backpacker hostels or even pubs and cafes. Many of the chain coffee shops also allow you to connect for a fee. If you want free internet and don't have your own device, libraries offer computers you can book or there are also often a few computers for use in the backpacker travel places.
Where to Stay
Only the best Sydney hostels by location as voted by you. (We left all the 3 star and below places off our list, and there are lots of them!)
Sydney Harbour YHA - Sydney Harbour - 5 stars
Wake Up! Sydney Central - Central Station - 4.5 stars
Central Railway - Central Station - 5 stars
Bondi Beachouse YHA - Bondi - 4 stars
Blue Parrot - Kings Cross - 5 stars
The Original Backpackers Hostel - Kings Cross - 4.5 stars
Jackaroo - Kings Cross - 5 stars
Things to do in Sydney
Sydney is jam packed with great activities for backpackers - from lazing on Bondi Beach to browsing the Paddington markets to whale-watching off North Head, you will never ever be bored, guaranteed! Many companies cater specifically to activities for backpackers and there are also many free and do-it-yourself options of course. Your hostel, nearest tourist information centre or travellers hang out will be stocked with all the information you need. Here are just a few of the many options to get you thinking:
Free - Walk to the Opera House and walk across the Harbour Bridge to get some panoramic views of Sydney city. If you have the whole day check out the historic Rocks area (at the base of the Harbour Bridge) and the amazing botanical gardens.
Unknown Treasure - Jump on the ferry at Circular Quay to Cremorne Point and walk along the shoreline path, catching the ferry back from Mosman. Awesome views of the harbour, bridge, opera house and the walk will take you through some very pretty Aussie bush and you can catch a glimpse of what living the high life in Sydney looks like (i.e. think waterfront homes, yachts and beautiful everything).
Perennial Favourite - Spend a sunny day (of which there are many) at world famous Bondi Beach. Bring a picnic including your new favourite Aussie wine or brew, enjoy the people watching, maybe try your hand at body surfing or walk along the cliff-side Bondi-Coogee walk at sunset. An unforgettable Aussie day out.
Food and Drink - It’s impossible to mention all the great backpacker pubs and bars in Sydney, so here are a couple of get your pub crawls underway: in the city, Scubar has an enviable reputation as the backpacker bar and backs it up with cheap prices, tasty food and loads of events and other backpackers to hang out with. If you are staying in Manly or just there for the evening, head for The Steyne, one of the most frequented backpacker hang outs on Manly’s Corso - great music and sausage sizzle on Saturdays.