Australia - international - New Zealand - vacation

12 Hour Layover in Sydney

I was pleased to find out that on our trip to New Zealand, we’ll have a 12 hour layover in Sydney, Australia. What makes it even more exciting, is that it’s on my birthday – how fun is that? And late that night, we’ll hop back on a plane and make our way to New Zealand. I can’t really think of a better way to turn 29!

Since I’ve never been to Australia, I hopped on the Lonely Planet forums to see if people had any suggestion. I received so much amazing feedback! If you’re looking for tips on visiting anywhere in the world, I’d highly recommend checking out their feeds and posting a question! Great community of travelers with all sorts of experience.

I received over 30 responses, and luckily a lot of them overlapped. Here’s a run down on the most popular options.

Take the train to Circular Quay
From what I can tell, this is the heart of Sydney. Opera house, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the whole 9 yards. We plan on taking a train here from the airport and exploring from there.

Walk through the Botanic Gardens
I’m a sucker for beautiful gardens, and it will be nice to stretch our legs after 14hrs+ on an airplane! Might as well enjoy the view.
Ferry to Watsons Bay or Manly
I’ve heard great things about both, so we’ll do a little more research and see what sounds good. Both provide beautiful views of Sydney. Manly is a little further away and on the North side of Sydney, so time might be our deciding factor. However, I’m very interested to try Doyle’s on the Beach if we make it that way!
It’s this incredible beach view….. with this incredible public pool. WHAT?! I’ll be packing my swim suit in my carry on.

Sounds like we’ll have quite the day! It seems Sydney has a really comprehensive transportation system. Their website was very easy to use and I feel confident planning out a day using public transport!

Have you ever been to Sydney? What are the must-see places close to the heart of the city? I’d love your suggestions!