Top 4 Things to do Your First Week in Sydney

Elizabeth Fogarty is a student at Point Loma Nazarene University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is studying abroad with ISA in Sydney, Australia.

So you land in Sydney and have a week before classes start. There’s so much to see and do–what do you pick first? Here are my top four things to do your first week in Sydney. (These are also good for some on point Instagram pictures to make your friends at home jealous.)

Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House

1.) Walk Circular Quay

Almost everything–if not actually everything–that is considered iconic of Sydney is in Circular Quay. The Harbour Bridge is on one end, then the Rocks, ferry docks, restaurants, and the Sydney Opera House on the other side. Right behind the Opera House are the Royal Botanical Gardens, which are absolutely beautiful! Spend the day walking along the harbor, maybe take a ferry ride, stop for some ice cream, tour the Opera House (yes, they give student discounts), or watch the sunset. There are endless possibilities. Whenever I’m bored or just need a break, I head down to Circular Quay and just see what I find.

Sydney Harbour, Sydney, Australia, Fogarty - Photo 2
View of the Sydney Harbour from a ferry cruise!

2.) The Rocks Markets

This is a must for your first weekend in Sydney. Sydney and its suburbs have little street markets every weekend, but the Rocks Markets are my favorite. There are a bunch of vendors nestled in the heart of the Rocks, all selling unique, handmade things. Also, there are lemonade and corn on the cob stands, which should be enough motivation to go. While you enjoy your corn and lemonade, walk through the markets, admire the beautiful products, talk to the vendors, and buy souvenirs for your family…or maybe just yourself–your choice.

3.) Visit all the Cafes…or at least as many as you can

Sydney is filled with cute little cafes; so many, in fact, that Starbucks is actually almost non-existent here! They are all unique; some have meals, some have chocolate (those are my favorite), and some just have coffee. Make a game out of it, and see how many you can go to in your first week in the city. Take pictures at each place so you remember your favorites. Not only is this fun, but it will also save you when you are in the city doing homework and need to refuel your body with caffeine, and all you want is the perfect vanilla or chai latte. Side note: the best chai tea latte is at Pancakes on the Rocks…which also has very good pancakes.

Ground Control Coffee, Sydney, Australia, Fogarty - Photo 3
Ground Control Coffee is my current favorite coffee shop on Circular Quay

4.) Ride the Trains

Learn your way around! Maybe you will get lost, but that’s half the fun anyway. Get an Opal card, if it doesn’t already come with your program, and just ride the trains around the city! The trains are easy to figure out, but the buses will take a little longer. I’ve been here a month, and I still don’t quite have them figured out, but to make myself sound extra American, there is an app for that. There are several apps that will help you get anywhere in the city or suburbs at any time of day. If you are directionally challenged like me, you know this is a lifesaver. Use the app and explore the city and just have fun! After all, you’re finally in Sydney, Australia!

Want to read more about Australia? Check out “A Glimpse at Australia’s Wildlife