What Do To If You Have Only 48 Hours In Sydney

Whether you have a long layover in Sydney, or are planning a weekend getaway, this urban capital of New South Wales is full of exciting choices for food, drinks, sightseeing and adventures. Here are some highly recommended things to do in Sydney based on my recent visit. sydney harbour

Travel like a celebrity. From the airport, ride in style with Astra Limousines. The fleet of luxury cars include Ferrari, Maserati, BMW and Mercedes, driven by friendly chauffers. If you’re heading in and out of Sydney frequently on business or travels but are based in the city, you may find a need for Parkhound Sydney airport parking for a dedicated space to keep your vehicle while out of the city.

Check in at Pier One Sydney Harbour, a contemporary hotel nestled alongside the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and centrally located in the heart of The Rocks, so you can walk to most attractions. The lobby looks like an upscale cabin, and the rooms are spacious with modern amenities. Breakfast is served in a homely setting at The Gantry, where you can grab yogurt and juice from the refrigerator, eggs and farm dishes from the kitchen counter, and fresh baked breads and homemade jellies off the buffet table.
Book your stay at Pier One through TripAdvisor

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Acquaint yourself with the city through an aerial tour with Sydney Seaplanes. Taking off from Australia’s first international airport at Rose Bay, this 15-minute ride will give you breathtaking views of the beautiful Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, Sydney skyline, million dollar mansions, world famous Bondi Beach, and stunning sandstone cliffs rising abruptly from the sea.

catalina restaurant sydneyA Sky/Fly package will include lunch at neighboring, Catalina Rose Bay Restaurant, where you can continue to watch seaplanes take off throughout your meal. This iconic family-run establishment is known for serving the highest quality of locally sourced meat, seafood and wines. Enjoy house specialties like oysters on the shell, sushi, snapper and caramelized figs with salted caramel. Taste the light and dry Australian rieslings as you bask in the crisp Sydney sun.

After lunch, take a stroll at Bondi Beach, the city’s only in-town beach where residents flock to. At any time of the day, you can find people surfing the waves, walking their dogs, and exercising. Though the beach is not very long (a 10 minutes walk from end to end), it is a spot to catch the action in the summer.

Head over to see some of the touristy spots of the city – Royal Botanic Gardens, Circular Quay and The Rocks. Guided tours are offered at the Sydney Opera House, and the outdoors cafes are a great place to take a break as you watch the sunset.

sydney opera house

Visit the neighborhood of Potts Point, home to some of the trendiest cafes, restaurants and boutiques that are comparable to those in New York City or Paris. Don’t be surprised if you run into a superstar or two, as many of them live in this area. Grab a cocktail at MONOPOLE, a swank bar featuring over 500 rare and boutique wines.

Dinner at Missy French is a must. The classic French dishes are cooked using local ingredients, with a slight modern twist imparted by local celebrity chef, Josephine Perry. Try the flavorful grilled garlic prawns, goat cheese salad, and tender trout. All of the desserts, including the luscious creme brûlée are to die for.

After a good night’s rest and a hearty breakfast, start the day with a thrilling adventure at the Sydney Tower Eye. Experience bird’s eyes views of the city from the observatory, or go outside for the Skywalk. You will be tied to a harness as you feel the Pacific winds in your hair, walking 268 metres above. Sunset is perhaps the busiest and the loveliest time to be here.

It may sound counterintuitive, but one of the best lunch spots downtown is at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. CHISWICK at The Gallery boasts a contemporary dining room, casual bar area with a large communal table, and views overlooking Woolloomooloo and Sydney Harbour. Menu includes an extensive wine and cocktail list, small plates and few mains.

CHISWICK at The GalleryExplore the souvenir shops at Darling Harbour and Circular Quay Eastern Pontoon, from there you can catch a whale watching excursion. The Fantasea Adventure Cruising takes you on an unbelievable adventure to spot hump back whales. Note, the waters can be quite rough at times and sea sickness is not uncommon.

The CBD area is a good place to people watch as they hustle through crowds after work. On George St, you can see a mix of British and Romanesque Revival architecture, as well as old colonial buildings and glass skyscrapers. If you’re interested in staying in the CBD area, be warned, it can be a little pricey if you don’t book early. So make sure to check out these qantas hotel deals sydney cbd, and you could save yourself a pretty penny!

sydney downtown

While there are many cool restaurants in Sydney, an unusual dinner experience can be had at the Sydney Seafood School. Located at the Sydney Fish Market, which is the second busiest seafood market second to Tokyo, beginner to advanced classes are offer daily. After a hands-on class taught by some of Australia’s celebrity chefs, cookbook authors and restauranteurs, you will be able to enjoy your meal with newly made friends. If you come early in the morning, you can also see the seafood market and trading in action.

There is so much more to do in and around Sydney, and this brief narrative no way serves to summarize a complete list of attractions. If you have anything else to add to this brief Sydney travel guide, please leave a comment below for our readers.

Amsterdam in eight

Windmills use to be the basic source of pumping water beforeOn my return from New Delhi to Atlanta this past week, I had a 11 hours layover in Amsterdam. In a way, I was glad about it. I have traveled extensively in Europe but never had the opportunity to visit Holland (or Netherlands). I was very close to moving there once in 2008 while working at ING as a Portfolio Analyst (long story).

My flight arrived at 5:45 am at Schiphol international airport. It was pitch dark outside but inside the airport, life was bustling. In fact, one can easily spend a whole day at the airport itself. There are showers, spa, casino, library, museum, beer tasting, numerous cafes and what seems like a larger than a mall complex for shopping for everything from fresh flowers, cheeses, and souvenirs to electronics, cosmetics, brand name clothes, watches and accessories.

Anne Frank's statueSince it was pretty early to go outside, I decided to refresh myself at the KLM airline lounge. I had already been on the plane for over eight hours and needed to maintain my hygiene. The lounge also offered some breakfast and really good cafe au lait and Dutch pancakes.

Once the basics were taken care of, I found a tour desk at the airport that offered Amsterdam land and water tours ranging from 2-4 hours. For 59 Euros, I booked myself a two hour bus tour that would show me the historic landmarks of Amsterdam as well as a one hour canal tour around the city. The tour included airport transfers and some time to myself. There are lockers at every terminal at the airport available for 5 Euros but the tour office can also store luggage for free.

Houseboats in the canalsAt 9 am when it was finally light out, off we went in the minibus, first visiting the countryside, charming bungalows by the waterways, each with their own canoes and boats, vast green pastures with cows and sheep and windmills – it was so picturesque that I could live here (in the summers). Next, we drove past the 18th century homes, Jews quarters and saw some great Renaissance architecture that is quite novel and unique to this area. I saw the house were Anne Frank lived and hid as well as the church she mentions in her book (which left a deep impression on all of us girls in middle school).

After getting a good orientation of the city, I found it easy to stroll around, taking pictures and enjoying the great views of the canals against the backdrop of the row of historic townhouses. I walked around Central Station, Dam Square, Flower Market, Red Light District and China Town. The flower market was my favorite. Holland is known as an international flower trading center and it was lovely to see fresh cut flowers, bonsai and plants that I had never seen before. I bought some bulbs, cheese and cookies to take back home.

Amsterdam is a great place to just walk or bike around, soaking in the views and people watching. It has a nice, friendly vibe to it. The city is small, clean, yet offers a lot to do. If I had more time, I would have visited Van Gogh’s museum and watched a show. After a relaxed lunch at De Roode Leeuw brassiere I took the train back to the airport, just in time for my departure back to USA. I would say I made the most of my eight hours in Amsterdam.