On the way to Auckland recently, I had an 8 hour stopover in Sydney with my pre-teen in tow. For once, the usually organised me – did not have a plan.
My last visit to Sydney was probably over twenty years ago. My daughter has never been to Sydney so since a stopover was a must, to get into Auckland as all the other flights were full – I decided – heck, why not!
So we landed at 6am in Sydney with no idea what to do except advice from a friend that I could take a train to Circular Quay from the airport terminal and work out the rest from there so that is exactly what I did.
We ended up seeing 7 places in the short span of 8 hours, having a great meal by the Darling harbour and getting back to the airport in time and here are 4 useful tips on how to do that.
1. Foodstuff – Pack It With A List
We arrived with two hand carries. One filled with computers, charges and iPads and the other filled with foodstuff so that we did not have to open our heavier main luggage when declaring it going into Auckland. Not the wisest move to bring food out of transit in Australia, as Oz is the home of “Border Patrol” and they have strict, if not the strictest restrictions on what you can and can’t move out of customs. So if you are ever on transit here and in the same predicament do yourself a favour (like we did) and write a comprehensive list of what’s in your food bag. Eg. 1 packet dried shrimp. The general rule – no raw eggs, meat or honey and no seeds. Also do not take any foodstuff off the plane as that is also not allowed. Yes, leave the bottled water and the packet of nuts behind. If you have no food on you and don’t want a hassle queueing – that should be a point you want to note.
2. Find a Storage Locker
We found one in Sydney airport, right next to the Flower Shop after we happily cleared customs. For something like $12 for 8 hours per hand carry – it was the perfect drop off.
3. Look for the Train
The local train into the city runs right into the airport – a very good thing about Sydney’s airport. Go to the end of arrivals and board the train into Central Sydney. We bought a day pass for under AUD50 each and off we went. It may seem high – but leaving the airport is already AUD15 and back is another AUD15, individual stops if you get off and on are AUD3 to AUD4 per one way.
We got off at Circular Quay by 8am, home to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and within walking distance to the Rocks and the Darling Harbour so that was four attractions covered off in one stop.
4. Look for a Sydney Attractions Pass Booth
We headed to the Rocks for breakfast and coffee and around the area, ask any of the Tourism Info Centres where you can buy an attractions pass.
Sydney is built for tourism and the good thing about Sydney is that the attractions are all nearby to each other – at least the main ones for kids are.
We found this place where you can buy it at one of their booths or online and we bought tickets (about AUD$65 each) to 3 attractions (the Aquarium, the Wildlife Centre and Madame Trussard’s Wax Museum) which we discovered were all located side by side along the Darling Harbour waterfront (our 7th and final stop) where we afterwards had a lovely late lunch before getting back to the airport by 3pm to catch our 5pm to Auckland.
City Stopover Summary
- 6am Landed in Sydney
- 7am Cleared customs stored luggage
- 745am Train to Circular Quay
- 830am Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge
- 10am Breakfast and Coffee at The Rocks
- 11am Buy Attraction Pass and walk to Darling Harbour Waterfront
- 11.15am Aquarium Visit (its small with a travelator that goes under the fish dome that does not move so you can walk through. So expect to be done in 45 minutes)
- 12pm The Wildlife Adventure (liked this best out of all the attractions as it was more unusual)
- 1pm Madame Trussard’s Wax Museum – after all the goofy pics that we took and the realisation that some of the stars were actually shorter than I thought that they would be in real life, we got hungry!
- 145pm Grabbed a quick Italian lunch at one of the lovely waterfront restaurants
- 230pm Took the half hour ride back to the airport in time for our 530pm flight to Auckland
Other top Sydney Attractions HERE
Best and most productive and efficient 8 hours ever spent in one city!