Short breaks in Sydney – harbour ferry rides, walks on the beach and cosmopolitan dining

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Book a Sydney hotel to shop and dine by the harbour, take in a show or spend a relaxed day at the beach. Whatever your interests, this two-day itinerary will help you get the most out of a short break in Sydney.

Sydney short break day one, morning

Take a train to Circular Quay for your first glimpse of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and soaring white sails of the Opera House. A breezy harbourfront promenade runs around the quay, inviting you to get up close to Sydney’s best-known sights. The promenade also leads to the narrow lanes and Georgian townhouses of The Rocks, where Sydney’s original settlement was founded in 1788. Soak up the history over lunch in the sandstone-lined bar of the 1843 Hero of Waterloo pub.

Start: Sydney Harbour
Nearest train station Circular Quay


To test your sea legs on a Sydney short break, catch an old-fashioned wooden ferry from Circular Quay. Seaside Manly is an enduringly popular ferry destination and only a 30-minute trip across the harbour. Look back to the city as you sail for views of the Harbour Bridge arcing over the water behind you. Manly has calm harbour and surf-fringed ocean beaches, linked by a café-lined main street, so bring along your bathing costume and your appetite.

Start: Circular Quay
Nearest ferry stop Circular Quay


Watch the sun set behind the Harbour Bridge from your vantage point at the open-air Opera Bar, while making plans for dinner. Modern French food featuring seafood and other superb local produce is served at the intimate Guillaume at Bennelong, under the Opera House sails, with a pre-theatre menu if you’re catching a show at the Opera House. Take your pick from ballet, music, drama and modern dance – or just sit back and enjoy the twinkling harbour views.

Start: Sydney Opera House
Nearest train station Circular Quay 

Sydney short break day two, morning

On day two, ride the elevated monorail past skyscraper apartment buildings to Darling Harbour, Sydney’s waterfront entertainment precinct. Visit the Powerhouse Museum to brush up on the big names of Australian popular culture, or step aboard the meticulously re-created replica of Captain James Cook’s ship the Endeavour at the National Maritime Museum. 

Start: Darling Harbour 
Nearest monorail station Harbourside 


After lunch at Darling Harbour, catch the Bondi Explorer bus from Circular Quay. The seaside route runs past Sydney’s most picturesque beaches and well-heeled suburbs with harbourfront mansions. You’ll pass the yachtie haven of Rushcutters Bay, the cliff-edged entrance to the harbour at Watsons Bay, and travel beside the ocean to Bondi, Bronte and Coogee beaches. You can hop on and off at any stop. 

Start: Circular Quay 
Nearest bus stop Circular Quay 


Take a walk along the sandy curve of Bondi Beach, and watch the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean. After ordering a cocktail at a Sydney hotel on Bondi’s main strip, Campbell Parade, settle in for an evening of modern Italian cuisine at Icebergs Dining Room. The uncluttered white decor and picture windows provide unobstructed views of the waves washing on to the rocks below. 

Start: Bondi Beach 
Nearest bus stop Campbell Parade