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Why Scenic? > Touring Destination Guides > Sydney

Sydney City Guide

Australia's most emblematic city

Sydney, or ‘The Harbour City’ as it’s known down under, is a global city whose culture and heritage provides ample opportunity for urban exploration. Unfolding for miles along the sun drenched coast of New South Wales and flanked by the colourful Tasman Sea, Sydney is as synonymous with contemporary architecture as it is with sun, sea and surf.

First inhabited by European settlers in 1788, Sydney has risen from a penal colony to become a major cultural and financial centre. The city is built on the banks of the world’s largest natural harbour, giving it a maritime flavour quite unlike any other major global metropolis. Couple that with Sydney’s rich indigenous heritage, and the city reveals itself to be a truly captivating destination.

For those keen to unearth Sydney’s urban charm as part of a Scenic Escorted tour, here we highlight a selection of the city’s favourite cultural hotspots — from Boomalli to the Museum of Contemporary Art — before taking a closer look at its premier retail offering.

Cultural Highlights

Delivering historic and contemporary culture in equal measure, Sydney is a progressive, forward-thinking city still ardently in touch with its roots. With museums, galleries and exhibition venues aplenty, as well as a glut of extraordinary architecture, Sydney is a feast for culture seekers, street strollers and amateur photographers alike.

Sydney Opera House

Plastered on postcards and recognisable the world over, the Sydney Opera House is without doubt the city’s most esteemed landmark. Designed by Danish architect, Jørn Utzon, and first opened in 1973, the Opera House has since hosted a number of significant events, and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. For those visiting Sydney today, the Opera House offers the perfect backdrop for a family portrait, or else the ideal opportunity to enjoy a performance by The Australian Ballet, Sydney Theatre Company or the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Cooperative

Celebrating its 29th birthday in 2016, the Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Cooperative is Australia’s oldest arts centre solely dedicated to showcasing works from indigenous artists in New South Wales and beyond. Since its formation, the centre has amassed some three hundred pieces of original art from some of the region’s most celebrated aborignee creatives, making for a truly vibrant spectacle. For anyone interested in Australia’s aboriginal heritage, this ought to be number one on your list of Sydney must-sees.

The Rocks

To aclimatise with Sydney’s spectacular culture in one fell swoop, make straight for The Rocks. Inhabited by indigenous tribesmen for thousands of years, The Rocks is reputed to be the first place European settlers pitched their tents upon landing on the shores of Oz. Now, The Rocks comprise a myriad of narrow streets lined with historic homesteads, including Cadman’s Cottage, built in 1816. The area contains no fewer than 100 heritage sites and attractions, making it a one-stop destination to get to grips with the history and heritage of this great city.

Retail Opportunities

Sydney’s European influence goes far beyond history and architecture, extending to the city’s celebrated shopping districts to give it a retail scene to rival Paris, London and New York City. With an extraordinary array of designer, high street and boutique stores, you’ll find no shortage of shops in which to fritter away your holiday funds and treat yourself to something decadent.

For serious shoppers and those with a head for style, we’d recommend starting your retail tour at Pitt Street Mall, Sydney’s premier fashion hub. Comprising four floors and packed with high street and designer names, the mall is a great place to spoil yourself rotten without covering too many miles on foot.

One of the city’s favourite shopping spots is the Queen Victoria Building and Strand Arcade — two historic fashion arcades housing a raft of high end designer brands, including Chanel, Versace, Louis Vuitton, Prada and Gucci.

Retail, sightseeing or art spotting — whatever’s on your agenda, Sydney provides everything you could ever hope for and more besides. To enjoy the city to its fullest, visit the Scenic website, where you’ll find a complete selection of escorted tours to Australia and beyond. Alternatively, call our team today on 0808 301 4670. 

Image credits: Nicki Mannix, Fotolia