Nuts-and-bolts information to plan your trip, plus a checklist of essentials to include when you pack and a list of links to local media
Entry Requirements: U.S. citizens need a valid passport and visa.
Security: By world standards, Sydney is a safe city, but it’s still prudent to keep your eye on your bags and your wallet in a secure pocket. Don’t leave valuables on display in your car. Areas to avoid at night include the back streets of Woolloomooloo, Kings Cross, and Glebe.
Time: Sydney is 14 hours ahead of U.S. eastern standard time.
Money: Sydney’s currency is the Australian dollar. For conversion rates visit www.oanda.com/convert/classic.
Phone Calls: Sydney’s area code is 02. For calls to Sydney from within Australia, dial 02 before the eight-digit phone number. From outside Australia, dial your country’s international access code followed by 61, 2, and the eight-digit number. Within Sydney, drop prefixes and use the eight-digit number. Local pay phone calls cost 50 cents.
When to Go: Sydney’s weather is reliably good, with summer maximums around 77°F (25°C); 63°F (17°C) in winter. Rainfall peaks through late summer and autumn; winter and spring are drier. January is peak local holiday season.
Getting There: Sydney Airport (SYD; www.sydneyairport.com.au) is five miles (eight kilometers) south of downtown. Public transportation (bus and train) services the airport.
Getting Around: It’s easy to get lost in Sydney and parking is expensive, but public transport (bus, train, and ferry) is excellent. Taxis are prevalent downtown; your hotel or restaurant can call one for you.
Tips: “March and April or September and October are the best times to visit, as the crowds have thinned and the weather is warm and sunny.”—Anne Matthews, author, Fodor’s Sydney’s 25 Best guidebook. “Always bring layers in case of a sea breeze or sudden downpour.”—Meg Worby, editor, Lonely Planet’s Sydney Encounter and Sydney & New South Wales guidebooks
Passport/Visa: Australia has rigorous border controls. All visitors require a passport, valid for six months from entry. Proof of funds and an ongoing ticket may be requested. Visas are required for nationals of all countries except New Zealand. See www.immi.gov.au and www.eta.immi.gov.au for more information.
Sunscreen: Mandatory for any Sydney trip, even if you’re not a beachgoer. Apply sunscreen to exposed skin at the start of each day, reapplying regularly.
Insect Repellent: Sydney summers can be hot and humid—ideal conditions for bugs and critters. The only ones to worry about, however, are mosquitoes (“mozzies” in local parlance). Apply insect repellent if you’re sitting outside in the evening.
Hat: Australia has an alarmingly high incidence of skin cancer: Wear a broad-rimmed hat in summer.
Walking Shoes: Bring comfy shoes: Downtown Sydney is best explored on foot, and public transportation is easier than driving. “Take some sneakers for the magnificent cliff-top walk from Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach. Thongs/flip-flops are also a totally acceptable form of footwear.”—Meg Worby
T-shirts, Shorts, and Skirts: Sydney is a casual town; T-shirts, shorts, and skirts are essential summer wear. “Bring a sarong as it’s popular to come straight up from the beach for a lazy breakfast.”—Meg Worby
Dress Clothes: “Sydney at night can be stylish, so pack something special: a cool, quality shirt or wrap. Strappy is fine and practical for both shoes and outfits.”—Meg Worby
Umbrella: Sydney is prone to heavy rain from late summer through autumn. A compact umbrella is the perfect defense.
Broad-based Sydney guide with arts, entertainment, eating, and drinking reviews, insider tips, and reader comments. www.sydney.citysearch.com.au
Sydney-centric surf reports, weather maps, forecasts, and galleries. www.realsurf.com
History and images of Sydney’s most outstanding buildings; suburb-by-suburb format. www.sydneyarchitecture.com
Sydney City Council
Practical city information (parking, transport, disabled access, environment), plus event and festival listings. www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au
Comprehensive guide to Sydney’s accommodation, shopping, sights, events, restaurants, and activities. www.sydney.com
Sydney Pub Guide
Reviews, recommendations, and reader comments on Sydney’s best pubs and bars. www.sydneypubguide.net
Sydney Visitor Centres
Local events, activities, and accommodation and tour bookings. www.sydneyvisitorcentre.com
Train, bus, and ferry transportation information for the Sydney area: fares, schedules, service updates, and a useful trip planner. www.131500.com.au
Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney’s major daily broadsheet newspaper; city, state, national, and international news; editorials, business, sport, travel, food, and music; Friday’s “Metro” section has comprehensive entertainment listings. www.smh.com.au
Daily tabloid newspaper: news, entertainment, sport, business, travel, and lifestyle. The Sunday Telegraph is essential reading for sports fans. www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph
Free weekly alternative street press, focusing on the Sydney music scene. News, tour listings, reviews, interviews, classifieds, and edgy editorials. www.drummedia.com.au
Free tabloid street press, distributed at train stations and downtown street corners on weekday evenings. Gossip, sports, weather, entertainment, and bite-size local news. www.mxnet.com.au
This Week in Sydney
Free weekly tourist-oriented magazine covering accommodation, activities, entertainment, shopping, and restaurants. www.thisweekinsydney.com
Gay News Network
Free weekly gay and lesbian street magazine, with useful online content. News, opinion, arts, entertainment, and lifestyle. http://gaynewsnetwork.com.au/
2014 Traveler Photo Contest
See all the winning images from the 2014 Traveler Photo Contest.