The train is a quick 15 minutes and costs $11 one way. But you've probably just flown for 24 hours! Treat yourself to a taxi - it's 30 minutes (less if you base yourself in the Eastern Suburbs) and will cost you about $30 to the city centre.
I've never stayed here but people who have certainly enjoyed it. Great location next to the botanic gardens in the beautifully restored Finger Wharf. Fashionable and expensive.
The Wharf at Woolloomooloo, Cowper Wharf Road, Woolloomooloo;
Tetsuya's is the best restaurant I have ever eaten in. Is it Japanese? Is it French? Is it Australian? Is it Pacific Rim? I've never tasted such subtle, brilliant and unusual food in dozens of mini courses. A meal for two ain't cheap but you'll never eat out anywhere else like it.
529 Kent Street, Tel: +61 2 9267 2900; www.tetsuyas.com/
Thai is often the best value, helped by Australia's BYO culture (in most restaurants you can bring your own wine/beer and pay a modest - $2-5 - corkage charge). Thada in Darlinghurst is cheap and fresh. Thai on Wok in Glebe offers lots of flashing woks and fire. You can eat well for $15 per person.
Thada, 245 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst; Thai on Wok, 193 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe
OK, so it is set in Melbourne, but watching and enjoying this film is the quickest way to any Australian's heart. Learn the lines and you'll practically be an honorary Australian. Classic Aussie humour, it's a genuinely funny, moving and sharply accurate depiction of the nation's suburban essence.
It’s easy to escape the crowds in Sydney. Centennial Park is the city's green lung in the east, a giant swathe of green dotted with joggers and weird yogic dudes. If you want a chilled vibe, go to popular places, such as Bondi and Manly, during the week. It has its traffic problems but compared with older European cities, Sydney is always relaxed and spacious.
Railway stations: Bondi Junction and Central Station, from where you can get the bus or walk
Taronga Zoo is better than your average zoo, set on the north shore with spectacular views of the city. It is worth going to see all the weird Australian wildlife and also to see how happy the giraffes seem compared with the three miserable looking beasts at London Zoo. Take the ferry there from Circular Quay. The recently refurbished and reopened Luna Park, almost under the Harbour Bridge, is also fun for children.
Taronga Zoo is around 12 minutes by ferry from Circular Quay and the CBD. Tel: +61 2 9969 2777; www.zoo.nsw.gov.au/
Sydney's best harbour foreshore walk is a three-hour hike through ancient bushland and harbourside suburbs along the north shore with frequent views of the water and city. It is a bit of a trek via bus to Spit Bridge and quicker to cough up $30 for a taxi. The finish in Manly is perfect: you can treat yourself to a swim, fish and chips or a cold schooner of Toohey's New (or Old - Sydney's classic beers).
Sydney's food is probably the city's strongest suit. Find Yum Cha in China town or in the old ballroom-style splendour of the Regal. Yum Cha is buffet-style Chinese but fresher and more interesting than anything you have ever tasted in Europe. Thai food is also consistently excellent in Sydney but don't bother with Indian - apart from one or two exceptions (notably Zaaffran, Level 2, 345 Harbourside Shopping Centre, Darling Harbour) it is not as good as in the UK.
The Regal, 347-353 Sussex St
Tourists tend to rush for the drama of the ocean beaches - Bondi, Manly, Bronte, Coogee, Palm Beach - but there are dozens of beautiful little harbour beaches, which are better for tentative swimmers. The harbour is beautifully clear and clean (except for two days after torrential rain when the storm water turns it brown). Shark Bay at Nielson Park, Vaucluse, has a net and is very child friendly. And while tourists swarm like wasps around the over-hyped fish restaurants at Watson's Bay, you can stroll 500 yards through the old fishing village to the peace of Camp Cove, the best of the harbour beaches. (It's not that camp: the gay harbour beach, Lady Jane Beach, is the next one along.)
With so many great views and a benign climate, Sydney is a haven for romance. Picnics, sunsets, star-gazing are all easy to do. (Sydney is a great city at night: its suburbs are less brightly lit than in the UK so there is much less light pollution.) You can watch the giant bats set off for the eastern suburbs from the Royal Botanic Gardens at dusk, or sit on the rocks at Coogee or Maroubra Beach at night.
Tucked away on a hillock by the Harbour Bridge and the roaring freeway shielded by mature Moreton Bay fig trees, the city's old stone observatory is the most romantic spot in the city. Just don't all rush there at once.
Take the steps on Argyle St, opposite the church
Nice clean hotel in a great location on the border of Paddington and Darlinghurst, halfway between the city centre and Bondi beach. Good value at $135 a night. Try and get a room facing the courtyard to avoid traffic noise from busy Oxford Street.
21 Oxford Street, Paddington; Tel: +61 2 9361 0211;
Sydney does excellent European cuisine, particularly Italian, Spanish and Portuguese, but its south-east Asian cuisine really surpasses anything you'll find in Europe. Red Rock is a fine example of a good Vietnamese restaurant. Simple decor, excellent food. Spend $80 and you'll get a feast for two.
King Street, Newtown
Tim Winton is one of the best contemporary Australian novelists and certainly the most evocative. You can taste the country's west coast in Dirt Music, while his first novel, Cloudstreet, is a kind of Neighbours meets Middlemarch: gripping, interesting and a great insight into "the lucky country's" preoccupation with good - and bad - fortune.
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