What to do in Sydney on a long weekend

Royal Botanical Gardens, Sydney. Credit: Destination, NSW

Alice Piper

Posted December 14, 2021

From fine dining to clifftop walks, here’s what to do in Sydney when you only have 72 hours.

Sydney, colloquially known as the Harbour City, certainly does have something special about it. From the glittery surrounds of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge to the village peninsula of Balmain and beaches of Bondi and Tamarama, there is so much on offer in Australia’s most populous city.

But when you only have a long weekend to see and do as much as you can, squeezing it all in can be difficult.

So, whether you’re a frequent visitor, or have never visited Sydney before, here’s an itinerary that will please any out-of-towner. From the best dining spots to fun activities immersed in nature, get ready for a long weekend to remember.

How to spend a long weekend in Sydney 


Take advantage of the short flight and fly to Sydney on a Friday afternoon after leaving your car at Melbourne Airport.

When you arrive, check into accommodation at one of RACV's trusted hotel partners, which are all easy walking distance to renowned attractions like the Sydney Opera House, Museum of Contemporary Art and the famous The Rocks district.

Quay restaurant by world-renowned chef Peter Gilmore is a must for dinner. Perched high on the harbour with water views, Quay’s modern Australian cuisine, featuring incredible dishes such as pasture raised duck and native maron, pushes the envelope on what makes for a great dining experience with its six and eight course degustation options. 


Quay restaurant, Sydney

Quay Restaurant, Sydney. Credit: Destination NSW


Once you’ve fuelled up for the day with breakfast, take a short walk to Circular Quay, the major ferry terminal in Sydney.

From here, you can access most of Sydney's famous harbour suburbs including Double Bay, Rose Bay and Watson’s Bay by water, which is well worth the experience and spectacular views. But if you’re more interested in driving yourself, you can always hire a car.

Via ferry, head east to Watson’s Bay and enjoy lunch at Watson’s Bay Boutique Hotel, before wandering along the boardwalk to Vaucluse for breathtaking views of Sydney’s Eastern suburbs from the clifftops above.

Make your way back into the city by ferry, stopping at Barangaroo and having a drink at the iconic Smoke Bar. Here you’ll enjoy creative cocktails and local ales four levels high and set amongst lush greenery, with iconic water views giving you a feeling of seclusion amongst a bustling Sydney CBD.

From there, it’s a 5-10 minute walk to Observatory Hill, home of the Sydney Observatory where you can watch the sun set right across the harbour with uninterrupted views – this really is a must-do on your long weekend away.

For dinner, head to Aria restaurant, right in the heart of the Sydney CBD. Enjoy plates of slow cooked port jowl or Moreton Bay bug, as renowned chef Matt Moran showcases some of Australia’s best local produce. 


Double Bay, Sydney

Double Bay, Sydney. Credit: Destination NSW


Get up early and head to Darling Harbour for a whale watching cruise if you’re in Sydney between the months of May-October. On the cruise you’ll see some of nature's most majestic creatures as Humpback and Southern Right whales continue their migration journey between Antarctica and the Great Barrier Reef.

But if you’re not in Sydney during those months, consider visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. With Native Australian artworks on display all year-round, including work by Vernon Ah Kee and Richard Bell, it’s a great place to learn about the history and culture of our nation.

Right around the corner from the museum is Opera Bar, where you can settle in for lunch listening to live music, as you sip on some of the state's best wines and enjoy oysters from local producers.

Afterwards, you’re conveniently placed to take a tour of the Sydney Opera House, or check out the Sunday markets at The Rocks.

As the weekend winds down, head back to Circular Quay, grab your bags and get on the fast train back to the airport after a weekend in Sydney well spent!

Banner Image, credit: Destination NSW. 

Whale Watching, Sydney

Whale Watching, Sydney. Credit: Destination NSW

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