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The natural splendour and urban cool of Sydney – in pictures

  • Surfing is a way of life in Sydney. Catch an early morning bus to one of the city’s beaches and you’ll see passengers carrying surfboards to catch a wave before work. Surf culture is strongest at beaches north of the city, such as Curl Curl, Dee Why and Avalon, but Bondi, Maroubra and Coogee – closer to the city centre – all have famous breaks of their own.
  • It’s now one of the most famous buildings in the world, but the history of the Sydney Opera House is not without controversy. Designed by the Danish architect Jørn Utzon in 1957, its radical form and massive building costs drew condemnation from many Sydneysiders and politicians – which eventually led to Utzon’s resignation in 1966 – until it finally opened in 1973, when its full beauty and scale of architectural accomplishment was realised.
  • A visit to Taronga Zoo is one of Sydney’s best day trips. Located in Mosman, just 12 minutes by ferry from Circular Quay, the 28-hectare (69-acre) park celebrated its centenary in 2016. State law forbids the cuddling of koalas, but you can get up close to more than 350 species here, including native favourites such as the southern hairy-nosed wombat and the red kangaroo.
  • Any list of Sydney’s hippest districts will feature chic inner-city Darlinghurst and its leafy neighbour Surry Hills. The Victorian terraces that line the residential streets command high prices thanks to the area’s boutiques, cafes and bars. You’ll also find some of the city’s best restaurants here, operated by local food luminaries such as Bill Granger and Kylie Kwong.
  • Sydney takes eating out extremely seriously and winning a “hat” at the Sydney Morning Herald’s annual Good Food Guide Awards can make or break culinary reputations. Mind you, you haven’t lived until you’ve eaten a simple, but delicious corn fritter (pictured) for “brekkie” at one of Bondi Beach’s achingly cool cafes.
  • The 2.5-mile Bondi to Bronte coastal walk offers spectacular views and the chance to rub shoulders with Sydney’s beach dwellers (and their dogs) as they walk and run along the undulating path. Make sure you pause at Tamarama beach, known as “Glamarama” thanks to the high number of models and actors who call it home.
  • Many Sydneysiders start their day swimming lengths at an ocean tidal pool. The most famous is Bondi Icebergs, where the hardy members swim throughout the winter. Wylie’s baths at Coogee, open 365 days a year, serves a nice flat white for after your swim. Relax on the raised wooden deck and take in the views of the Pacific.
  • Sydney harbour, or Port Jackson as it’s also known, is a vast 21 sq mile stretch of water. Many of the city’s landmarks are set on its shore, but it also offers more secluded spots. When the bright lights get too much, head for green places like Vaucluse’s Nielsen Park, where Sydneysiders have been holding family picnics since the 19th century.
  • Every year since 1999, the Harbour Bridge has had a starring role in Sydney’s lavish New Year celebrations. As well as serving as a platform for parts of the spectacular fireworks display, the bridge becomes the backdrop for massive projections and an intricate lighting display, known as the “bridge effect”.
  • Visit Sydney in May or June and you’re in for a treat. The Vivid festival, an outdoor lighting festival featuring immersive light installations and projections, turns the city’s buildings into a giant canvas. The light shows – designed by hundreds of local and international artists – are accompanied by musical performances from some of the world’s top left-field bands, DJs and performers, as well as all manner of debates and forums.
  • More than 5 million pedestrians a year cross the Pyrmont Bridge. First opened in 1902, it now forms part of bustling Darling Harbour, one of Sydney’s largest eating, shopping and entertainment districts. While you are here, don’t miss out on the Wild Life Sydney Zoo and the tranquil Chinese Garden of Friendship.