Three days in Sydney - Sydney Harbour Bridge
Food, Travel

3 Days In Sydney, Australia

After visiting Perth in Western Australia, stop two of my short travels was Sydney. It felt like we couldn’t really go all that way and not check out all the iconic sites, so we fitted as much as we could into our three days in Sydney.

Where to stay in Sydney on a budget

As we were definitely traveling on a bit of a budget (our Australian trip was just a little extra before our adventures around New Zealand), we stayed at the YHA Railway Square. It’s right next to the central station, which means it’s easy to get there via public transport. However, we actually found it was cheaper to get an Uber split between two of us than get the train.

The YHA Railway Square hostel in Sydney is spacious, modern and clean. You can stay in dorms, doubles, or even an old railway carriage off the platform at the back. There’s plenty of showers and toilets, a big communal space, and there seemed to be lots of activities and events (we didn’t manage to fit any in though!). 

Budget friendly things to do in Sydney, Australia 

  • Sydney Harbour and Sydney Opera House – You obviously cannot go to Sydney and not lay your eyes on these famous landmarks. Head to the Opera House from Circular Quay station and you can get a great view across the harbour of the bridge. 
  • Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach walk – Start off at the iconic Bondi Beach and watch the surfers or give it a go yourself. Walking from Bondi to Coogee Beach is super easy with lots of places to stop off for a rest or some food. And you can easily get public transport to and from each beach. 
  • Darling Harbour To Circular Quay Ferry – There are plenty of pricey boat tours you can take for a proper cruise around the harbour, but if you’re traveling Australia on a budget then you can hop on the ferry. It’s especially great at sunset as you go right under the bridge and you get to see everything light up as it gets dark.  
  • Free walking tour – Always a great way to learn a bit of history and see some places you might not know about when you’re doing a short trip (I also find them good at the start of longer trips to familiarise yourself with a place). 

Sydney three day itinerary 

So this is a quick run through of how we spent our three days in Sydney — we didn’t do a whole lot of research or planning so it might not be the most efficient or comprehensive itinerary. Also it was over 40 degrees celsius when we were there, so we avoided doing a lot of walking or anything too active. 

Day 1

Our flight was an overnight one from Perth – which seemed like a great idea when we booked as we would sleep on the plane (and it was the cheapest) but of course I did not sleep. So we landed in Sydney at 5.30am and headed to our hostel. 

We had to wait a bit before we could check in, but then we went to sleep and accidentally napped until 2pm. 

We then decided to tick off the main sights straight away, so we got the train from Central Station to Circular Quay. We walked around to the steps of the Sydney Opera House and took hundreds of pictures of it and the harbour. Next we walked up to the Sydney Botanic Gardens, which was nice to walk around but I wouldn’t make it a priority to visit unless you’re particularly into gardening — it was just so hot we couldn’t contemplate walking very far. 

Sydney Operar House - Three days in Sydney
Three days in Sydney - Sydney Harbour Bridge

After the Botanic Gardens we went looking for somewhere to have a drink and cool off, and found ourselves in Luca’s bar. We didn’t get food there but the burgers looked pretty good. 

Next we went to meet a friend for dinner at Ho Jiak, Haymarket, and then went for cocktails at Banchō afterwards, which was only a few minutes away from the YHA. 

Day 2 

On our second day we headed to Bondi Beach to do the walk from Bondi to Coogee beach. It was super easy to get there by public transport – we got a train at Central Station to Bondi Junction and then got a bus to Bondi Beach. 

We got off at Bondi, walked along the front, and headed up away from the beach a little to check out a cafe and bookshop, Gertrude and Alice, that had been recommended to us. After an iced coffee and a break we headed back to the beach and started the walk towards Coogee Beach. 

Street art next to Bondi Beach in Sydney.
Three days in Sydney - Bondi Beach Sydney

It’s about an hour’s walk from Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach if you do it all at once, and it’s pretty easy, but we broke it down with lots of stops. We had lunch at G’day Bronte Cafe at Bronte Beach, and then stopped again at Clovelly Beach. 

Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach
Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach walk
Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach walk

When we got to Coogee Beach we sunbathed for a little and then caught the bus back to Central Station. 

In the evening, we decided to get the ferry from Darling Harbour round to Circular Quay. But first we grabbed a burger at Nameless Bar (it was called Down n Out when we visited). We then walked around to the ferry point through Darling Harbour, which seemed like a pretty cool area – modern, lots of people and things going on. 

Darling Harbour, Sydney
Three days in Sydney - Sydney Harbour bridge ferry
Sydney Opera House at night

When we got to the ferry stop we bought tickets from the machine and got on the ferry to Circular Quay. The sun was going down just as we got on the boat and all the buildings started to light up. The ferry goes right under the harbour bridge and you get to see the Opera House lit up – if you’re on a budget then it’s a great alternative to some of the harbour cruises. 

Day 3 

We were up early, packed our stuff, and checked out of the hostel. We then headed to meet a friend for breakfast at Haven Speciality Coffee. After that we took the light rail down to City Hall and joined the Sydney free walking tour

Three days in Sydney - Sydney Free Walking Tour

The walking tour went through the Queen Victoria Building to Hyde Park, the Rum Hospital, the Post Office, and then down to The Rock, finishing underneath the harbour bridge. 

The Rocks on the Sydney Free Walking Tour

I personally love doing a free walking tour anywhere I go – you always get lots of interesting insights and learn a bit about a place (I know you could read about the history but I wouldn’t take it in). Plus, we probably wouldn’t have made it over to The Rocks if we hadn’t done the walking tour. It’s an interesting area, with lots of smaller, older buildings and quite different to all the big, office block buildings around the rest of the harbour. 

Three days in Sydney - Sydney Opera House walking tour

Once the tour was finished we walked back to the weekend markets at The Rocks where there were lots of local crafts, gifts, and souvenirs. After that we went into the Museum of Contemporary Art (mainly because it was free and air conditioned!). We then headed back to the hostel, grabbed our bags and made our way to the airport ready to fly to Wellington, New Zealand. 

Where to eat in Sydney 

Ho Jiak, Haymarket 

This is a Malaysian restaurant that my friend had found. The food was amazing, and we ordered lots of different dishes so we could try a bit of everything. It was very, very spicy though — I thought I’d built up a tolerance so didn’t ask for it to be less spicy, but I was very wrong. 

Ho Jiak
Chinatown, 92 Hay Street, Haymarket, NSW, 2000

Banchō 

Banchō is a tiny little whiskey and cocktail bar – very sleek and modern, with some of the prettiest cocktails. 

Banchō
10 Thomas Lane, Haymarket, 2000

Gertrude and Alice Cafe

Sign on a wall inside Gertrude and Alice cafe in Bondi Beach, Australia.

This coffee shop/book shop is absolutely crammed with hundreds of books and seats scattered around inside. We didn’t stay for very long, but they did great coffee and snacks. 

Gertrude and Alice cafe
46 Hall Street, Bondi Beach, NSW 2026

Nameless Bar (Down N Out)

Neon sign on a wall on the way in to Nameless bar in Sydney.
The best beef burger from Nameless bar in Sydney Australia.

For me, this was the real highlight for food in Sydney. It’s a ‘dive bar’ up some narrow steps and I really wasnt sure what to expect as we walked up to it. But inside it’s very cool, lots of arcade games and memorabilia on the walls. 

I had a burger, of course: the tiger style patty which is a mustard grilled Wagyu beef patty and caramelised onions, with american cheese, pickles, lettuce, tomato, onion, jalapenos and their secret sauce ($12). It was easily the best burger I’ve had in a long time – the beef was super tender and there wasn’t too much stuffed into the bun so it didn’t fall apart as I ate it. 

Nameless Bar
LVL 1/77 Liverpool Street, 2000

Haven Speciality Coffee

Pancakes and ice cream from Haven Speciality Coffee in Sydney, Australia.

Great spot for brunch (although there are plenty of places to choose from in Sydney) – good coffee, chilled out, and amazing pancakes. 

Haven Speciality Coffee
30-34 Chalmers St, Surry Hills NSW 2010

Overall, for us three days in Sydney was plenty of time to see all the main sites and make our way around the city. I’m sure there’s lots more to see in Sydney, but we just wanted a quick visit before heading on to New Zealand. 

Food, Travel

What to do in Perth, Western Australia

While Perth, the capital of Western Australia, is one of the most isolated cities in the world, it’s definitely worth adding to any Australian travel itinerary. It’s a beautiful, modern city, with great food, and a huge public park and botanical gardens. Plus, you can take a half hour drive from Perth to visit the charming port city of Fremantle.

What to do in Perth

Rottnest Island

You can’t visit Perth without making the trip over to Rottnest Island to hang out with the adorable Quokkas. Rottnest is one of the only places in the world where you can find Quokkas in the wild, and you will find them everywhere.

Book a ferry online here, and jump on at either Elizabeth Quays, in Perth City for an extended river cruise, or get on at Fremantle for a quicker boat trip. For an extra $30 you can hire bikes directly from the boat company and collect them as you disembark on the island. We were a bit unsure about whether to hire bikes, but they’re definitely the best way to get around and see more of the island – there are a number of different length routes, with a few minor hills.

Once you’re done cycling, two of the best beaches for a bit of relaxation are The Basin and Pinky Beach. Around that area are a lot of the Quokka, but you will spot them all over the island if you keep your eyes peeled.

Visiting Rottnest is definitely a full day trip. We caught the ferry that arrived at 10.30am and the 5pm ferry back, which was long enough to cycle around half the island at a leisurely pace, and then spend a couple of hours on the beach.

Rottnest Island Express

Perth Zoo

If you’re keen to encounter some of Australia’s native wildlife then a visit to Perth Zoo is well worthwhile. The Australian Bushwalk area is where you can find all the iconic Australian animals from kangaroos to koalas, as well as some emus, Tasmanian devils, wombats and dingos.

It’s best to visit early morning, or later in the afternoon, if you’re hoping to see them up and about, as they avoid the midday heat. It’s also worth checking out the talks, where zoo staff will share a bit more information about the resident animals.

Perth Zoo
20 Labouchere Rd, South Perth WA 6151, Australia

Kings Park

This huge inner city park is considerably bigger than Central Park, and home to the Western Australia Botanic Garden, as well as 400 hectares of protected bushland. Set aside a couple of hours and venture through the park, or take a picnic and enjoy it on one of the landscaped lawns with views of the river and Perth city.

For even better panoramic views of the city, walk along the Lotterywest Federation walkway, which cuts above the park.

Find out more about Kings Park here.
Fraser Avenue, Kings Park WA 6005

Fremantle

If you get the chance to venture out of Perth city, then head to Fremantle for a day or two. It’s a port city less than half an hour’s drive from the centre of Perth.

It’s known for its 19th century, colonial-style buildings, and is filled with striking street art, cute cafes, bars, micro breweries, and shops. The Fremantle Markets hold over a hundred stalls selling locally made crafts, souvenirs, and other unique finds, as well as a variety of food stalls.

You can also visit Fremantle prison, which was in use from the 1850s until 1991. And close by is Cottesloe Beach, with stunning white sands.

Plan your visit to Fremantle here.

Where to eat in Perth on a budget

Eating out all the time while you’re travelling can add up, but these are some of the best places to head to in Perth for reasonably priced, delicious food.

Authentic Bites Dumpling House

If you’re after any kind of Chinese food in Perth, you have to go to Authentic Bites Dumpling House. You can’t reserve a table, and there is sometimes a line waiting outside, but be patient – it moves quickly and it’s so worthwhile.

With boiled, steamed, or pan fried dumplings, as well as rice dishes, noodles and sides – there’s so much choice it can be a little overwhelming. We tried the pork and prawn wontons in spice sauce, steamed vegetarian dumplings, plus beef rolls, and a fried chicken steak – and a side of Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce because you can’t forget about your greens. The wontons in particular were amazing, but it was all really filling and only about $20 per person for plenty of food.

Authentic Bites Dumpling House
3/145 Newcastle Street, Northbridge, Perth

Little Lefroys

Fremantle has so many great places for brunch, you can’t really go wrong. On the Saturday we were there we headed to Little Lefroys on South Terrace. They do excellent coffee, and the brunches were all incredible.

I had the quesadilla with black beans, feta, avocado salsa, cherry tomatoes and fried egg, which was perfect. The shakshuka and the green bowl also looked really fresh and delicious.

Little Lefroys
310 South Terrace, South Fremantle, WA 6162

Duck Duck Bruce

Another coffee and breakfast spot in the centre of Fremantle that’s definitely worth checking out is Duck Duck Bruce.

It’s in a really cute, old building on Collie Street with a creative, unique menu of fresh dishes – they serve breakfast until 11.30, then lunch is available from about midday until they close at 3pm.

Duck Duck Bruce
18 Collie Street, Fremantle WA 6160

The Mantle – food truck heaven

Food trucks are always a great shout when there’s a group of you and everyone can choose exactly what they want to eat. At The Mantle they have a whole load of local kitchen pop-up food trucks inside a historic warehouse space – you can pick and choose from curries, fish and chips, burgers, pizzas and lots more. Alternatively you can order from the resident Free Pizza Factory or Short Order Burger Co.

Catch the food trucks in action Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 6pm until late.

The Mantle
1 James Street (Corner Beach and James Street), Fremantle 

Whisk Creamery

After a bit of an extravagant desert in Perth? Look no further than Whisk Creamery (just around the corner from the Dumpling House). These have even made it on to Big Seven Travel’s most instagrammable desserts list.

You can either pick from one of their sweet creations such as the unicorn cone or a hazelnut sandwich (a cronut filled with gelato and topped with Nutella and whipped cream), or build your own picture-perfect dessert. They have a range of ice cream flavours including Italian hazelnut, salted caramel, uji matca.

Whisk Creamery 
151 Rokeby Road, Subiaco WA 6008