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

Planning

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.

Checklist

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.

Web Links

CitySearch Sydney

Broad-based Sydney guide with arts, entertainment, eating, and drinking reviews, insider tips, and reader comments. www.sydney.citysearch.com.au

RealSurf

Sydney-centric surf reports, weather maps, forecasts, and galleries. www.realsurf.com

Sydney Architecture

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

Sydney Online

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

Transport Infoline

Train, bus, and ferry transportation information for the Sydney area: fares, schedules, service updates, and a useful trip planner. www.131500.com.au

Local Media

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 Telegraph

Daily tabloid newspaper: news, entertainment, sport, business, travel, and lifestyle. The Sunday Telegraph is essential reading for sports fans. www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph

Drum Media

Free weekly alternative street press, focusing on the Sydney music scene. News, tour listings, reviews, interviews, classifieds, and edgy editorials. www.drummedia.com.au

MX

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/

Share

About Sydney and Australia

  • Photo: The harborfront

    Sydney

    Get travel tips, see photos, take a quiz and more with National Geographic's Ultimate Guide to Sydney.

  • Photo: Ayers Rock

    Australia

    Explore Australia through facts and photos, related features, a country map, and more.

Take a Nat Geo Trip

Select a destination or trip type to find a trip:

See All Trips »

Join Nat Geo Travel's Communities




2014 Traveler Photo Contest

  • Picture of a supercell storm in Colorado.

    See the Winners

    See all the winning images from the 2014 Traveler Photo Contest.