From the peak of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the spectacle of the Australian city splayed out beneath me. A cluster of dazzling lights adorned the skyline’s buildings. It was autumn in Sydney, and my trip down under had luckily been timed perfectly to take advantage of Vivid Sydney – an annual festival of light projections and artistic performances.
Climbing the bridge – an excursion available to any intrepid explorer – on a cool, crisp evening was the exclamation point on my trip chock full of Australian experiences: brekkie with koalas, surfing lessons at Bondi Beach, sundowners beneath the iconic Sydney Opera House, countless flat whites and exquisite meals.
Getting to Sydney, the nearly literal other side of the world from the United States, may seem a long and daunting journey. But trust me: it’s worth every hour of flight.
“Sydney is located on the shores of what is perhaps the most stunning harbor in the world and has so many unique and interesting things to offer every traveler,” said Delta flight attendant Zoey-Jayne Sugars. “From the Opera House to the Blue Mountains to Bondi Beach, there really is something for everyone.”
When Sugars was named “South Australia’s Most Beautiful Baby,” her connection to Sydney, just as her life, had only begun. She’s enjoyed a career as an Australian actor and entertainer throughout her childhood and adult life. Her aunt was a director of shows and operas at the Sydney Opera House. Her deep connection to the city offers travelers like us inspiring ideas.
Seasons: Slip, Slop, Slap
I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Australia twice. Both times I was struck by how much the Aussies enjoy being active and outside. Given that, it’s probably not surprising that Sydney comes alive in the warmer months. “If you enjoy warm to hot weather, then summer in Sydney is for you,” said Sugars. “There’s a saying we have in Australia: ‘Slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen, slap on a hat!’ Oh, and don’t forget your ‘sunnies,’ too!”
Summer activities for outdoor aficionados include swimming, surfing, wind sailing, kite surfing, concerts and festivals.
For those that enjoy weather that’s a bit cooler, the autumn and winter months also offer plenty of opportunities. “During autumn, the weather is quite balanced,” said Sugars. “Winter in Sydney is actually quite lovely and not harsh at all. The city is quite charming during this time.”
In the cooler months – March to September – quintessential sporting events bring out the zeal of Australians. “I highly recommend going to an Aussie Rules Football (AFL) game or Rugby game,” said Sugars. “While you’re there, enjoy an Aussie meat pie and a nice cold Australian beer. The enthusiasm is contagious.”
Beyond the stadiums, the outdoors beckon explorers in the cooler months. “You can visit iconic places such as the Blue Mountains, Three Sisters, Hunter Region, Kangaroo Valley, Kiama, and Manly Beach, just to name a few,” said Sugars. “Within the city, you can enjoy the Sydney Opera House, Hyde Park and Chinatown.”
During the winter, Sydney nights come alive during the aforementioned Vivid Sydney festival. In keeping with the idea of staying outdoors, visitors can enjoy whale watching, bushwalking and hikes.
Not unlike many American cities, Sydney is a melting pot of cultures and people from all over the world. That means diverse restaurants and cuisine ranging from local favorites to options spanning Asia. Given Australia’s relative proximity to the Pacific, many menus are inspired and influenced by the best of Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian traditions. Sugars offered an excellent “local tip” for a truly unique dining experience:
“If you really want to mingle with the locals no matter where you are, I highly recommend having dinner at a local surf club or Returned and Services League (RSL) of Australia,” Sugars said. “The RSL located in the city of Sydney is quite beautiful.”
Sugars explained that some surf clubs and RSLs are low-key while others are more upscale. Most, if not all, require a dress code. “The menu options are quite incredible and reasonably priced,” she said. “If you are a local, you often need to be a member, but visitors are encouraged and most definitely welcomed.”
Only in Oz, special in Sydney
No trip to Australia would be complete without taking in some wildlife. If you’re getting out into the countryside, it’s a near certainty that you’ll see kangaroos and wallabies bounding around. You may spot a koala lounging high in a tree or join them for breakfast at the Wildlife Sydney Zoo. From the cliffs overlooking the sea, you may spot migrating whales.
In Sydney, you move effortlessly from the cosmopolitan city center – the Central Business District, or “CBD,” to the laid-back beaches of Bondi and Manly to the expansive outdoors of the bush and outback beyond. “There are so many amazing and beautiful things to see and do in Sydney and beyond. Australia was coined the ‘lucky country,’ and it truly is.”
Getting to Sydney with Delta
Delta currently offers daily flights between Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport (SYD) but will increase its service to 10 flights per week beginning October 31, with a further increase to twice daily on December 17.
Flights are on Delta’s A350-900 aircraft featuring Delta One Suites, Delta Premium Select, Delta Comfort+ and Main Cabin experiences.