Sydney, the largest and best-known city in Australia, is a cosmopolitan, fun-looking place, with hints of its British ancestry, but with a style and rhythm all its own. According to the New South Wales Department of Tourism, nearly 2.7 million overseas travelers visited Sydney in 2008. If you are headed “down under,” here are five Sydney sights you’ll want to make sure not to miss:
1. Tour the Sydney Opera House — Recognized around the world as a symbol of Sydney, the Sydney Opera House opened in 1973 at the edge of Sydney Harbor. The performing arts complex, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, hosts more than 1500 artistic events each year and is the permanent home of Opera Australia, the Australian Ballet, Sydney Theatre Company and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Visitors can take a variety of tours, which give a peek at the inner workings of the complex. Tours prices start at AUS$35.00 ($37.15, 2011 prices) with a discount for purchasing your tickets online.
2. Visit the Sydney Aquarium — Located on the east side of town, the Sydney Aquarium showcases more than 650 species of Australian fish and aquatic animals. Highlights include a re-creation of the Great Barrier Reef as well as visitor tunnels where sharks swim above you. The Sydney Aquarium is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Admission is AUS35.00 ($37.15, 2011 prices) for adults and AUD$18.00 ($19.00) for children.
3. Be a Kid Again at Luna Park — Luna Park, located at the edge of Sydney Harbor, first opened in 1935. The classic amusement park boasts 14 rides as well as a big top, an arcade, a midway and that spectacular view of the water and the city beyond. Luna Park is open year round and opening and closing times vary with the season. The park offers a variety of ride passes, starting at AUD$10 ($11.00 2011 price) for single tickets.
4. Hit the Beach — You’re never far from the beach in Sydney. In fact, the area boasts 70 beaches. Among the most popular are Palm Beach, a long stretch of white sand on the north side of town; Bondi Beach, popular with surfers; and Shelly Beach, a favorite snorkeling spot.
5. See the animals at the Taronga Zoo — Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, located on Sydney Harbor about 12 minutes from downtown, has been around since 1916. The park is home to more than 2600 animals of 340 species. It’s a great place to learn about Australia’s native animals. Taronga Zoo is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is AUD$44 ($47.00, 2011 prices) and AUD$22 ($23.00) for children 4-15 years of age. Children under 4 are free. There are also discounts offered to seniors, students and families.
Of course, seeing five things barely touches on the many, marvelous things to see and do in Sydney. If you have extra time there, be sure to check out the city’s museums, such as the Australian Museum and the Australian Maritime Museum; the view from the Sydney Tower; the Royal Botanic Gardens and The Rocks, the first European settlement in Australia.
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