Not many tourists can say they have stood underneath The Sydney Opera House – at least I can say that I am one of the lucky ones!
The Circular Quay area of Sydney is certainly the main highlight of the city. It is where the famous Harbour Bridge can be found, as well as the iconic Opera House, and is also the terminal for Sydney’s ferries, which can take you all around the waterways, from Darling Harbour to Manly! Just walking around Circular Quay, from The Rocks to the Opera House, is an event in itself! There are usually swathes of people, most of which are tourists, and you also have to contend with large seagulls that are waiting for you to drop some chips on the floor – or to steal your ice cream from your hands!
Probably, though, the main attraction here is the Sydney Opera House. You cannot come to this part of the world and not take a few photos of the iconic white exteriors. If you are lucky, you can pay to experience an opera inside the Opera House itself, or at least be taken on a guided tour of the place by a knowledgeable guide. This improves the experience of your visit, and if you can afford it, then I would wholly recommend it. After a tour of the Opera House, I recommend getting a bite to eat at one of the many eateries along the Harbour. During the evening after work, this area can get very busy and even raucous, so I would advise young families or elder couples to make the most of lunchtime to avoid potentially loud neighbours at the table next to you!
A sunny day at Circular Quay gives you the opportunity to experience all of what is nice about Sydney: the cool sea breeze, the jolly atmosphere, the friendly local people, the iconic sights of the Bridge and the Opera House, and even the possibility of being taken onto a speedboat and given a whirlwind tour of the Harbour, which I didn’t do, but it looked really fun! Very close by, literally the other side of the Opera House, is the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens, which not only offer some exciting flora and fauna, but also give yet more spectacular views back to the Harbour.
Every other day or so, you will see a huge cruise ship dock at Circular Quay, and the passengers disembark at the International Ferry Terminal, where they must pass customs and immigration. Sometimes, the huge ferry spoils views of the Opera House from The Rocks side of Circular Quay, but it could be argued that the ferry itself is a huge attraction.
Much like most of Istanbul’s famous attractions centre around its Sultanahmet district, the prime sights in Sydney all fall within walking distance of the Harbour (including the Opera House pictured above), so it is here that should be your first port of call. And if you’re feeling brave, why not get a good bird’s eye view of proceedings below by taking the Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk – that will certainly be an experience and a half!