What kind of crazies would fly for 17 hours around the world to visit Australia for one week? My very best friends on a mission to help me ring in my birthday and celebrate my new ’30 and flirty and thriving’ status.
I am planning to spend an entire year living and working in Australia, and know that I’m still going to miss out on many parts of this amazing country. So is it worth it to come over for just a week? My two lovely friends and I tested the theory over seven days… and came back with a resounding YES!
If you thought two weeks to travel New Zealand was insane (and you’re not wrong!), here comes the epic one-week Australia itinerary.
Note: I have included days of the week since we attended a few day-specific markets. Since there were three of us, we split the cost of Ubers for transportation and stayed in AirBNBs instead of hostels. What a treat for this solo traveler! (Click here for a free Uber ride on me!)
Day 1- Saturday
Welcome Down Under! You’ve made it to the land of koalas, kangaroos, and all 10 of the world’s 10 most deadly animals. Don’t worry, though, you won’t run into any of them. Probably.
Check into an AirBnb in Darlinghurst, a creative, artsy suburb of Sydney that is… well… Darling. It’s far enough out of the city that it’s quiet, but close enough to walk.
Take a stroll to Paddington Markets, held every Saturday from 10am-4pm, and check out the unique offerings from local artisans. From artwork to artisan chocolate, and clothing to candy sushi, this is the perfect spot to pick up gifts for friends, family and yourself!
Head down to the Darling Harbour for a Bloody Mary at Helm before hopping on the Hop On Hop Off boat and riding it to Taronga Zoo. You have permission to go full-fledged tourist on the boat and take as many Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge selfies as the journey allows.
The Taronga Zoo is a special place… don’t miss the seal show, and try your best to get a photo of the Sydney Harbour Bridge with a photo bombing giraffe.
Hop back on the Hop On Hop Off boat and get off at Circular Quay for an up close view of the iconic Sydney Opera House.
Stop for dinner on your way home (check out these awesome suggestions from a Sydney local), or if you’re lucky to book an AirBNB with a rooftop pool, grab some takeaway and enjoy dinner as the sun sets over the city.
You’ve earned an early night… jet lag is no joke!
Day 2- Sunday
If you happen to be celebrating your birthday in Sydney, and you happen to be a sweets-loving, Disney princess wannabe who is still about 5 years old inside, today is your day, my friend!
Summon the Uber, and head out to Erskineville for breakfast at Foodcraft Espresso & Bakery, home to the world famous Tella Ball shakes. If you don’t stalk drool-worthy shake shops on Instagram, let me enlighten you– A Tella Ball shake is a milkshake, topped with a donut that’s been stuffed with Nutella, boston custard, strawberry jam, or salted caramel and coated in sugar.
If you’re feeling extra cheeky, pair it with their Nutella Pancakes, topped with poached pear, hazelnut praline vanilla ice cream and Nutella. The Sweet Wanderlust tip: wrap up the Tella Ball for later.
Ride your sugar high all the way to The Rocks, and work off the buzz as you peruse the Sunday market. It’s time to cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge, so eat that Tella Ball for a bit of energy and prepare for the .71 mile walk across the bridge.
Take a pit stop along the way to climb the pylon and visit the Sydney Harbour Bridge museum. The cost is $13, which is FAR less than the cost to do the Bridge Climb, and you still get some pretty epic views.
Fun fact: the pylons are purely there for aesthetic value, as the bridge’s architect thought that the Australians wouldn’t trust a purely metal bridge.
Once you make it to the other side, pass through the smiling face at Luna Park and be prepared for a fun time… as people have been doing since 1935.
Face your fears with the high drops and dizzying turns, and laugh your way through Coney Island, the fun house that encourages you to laugh at yourself (and maybe at your friends, too).
Time a ride on the ferris wheel for sunset, and watch the lights come on in the park before making your way back across the bridge to Circular Quay for dinner at the Opera Bar.
We loved hanging out in the Charcuterie, where we learned about Australian whiskey and shared a meat and cheese plate with a side of brussels sprouts (don’t miss these… they’re the best!).
If you happen to be celebrating… now would be a perfect time to go home and cut into that Bakedown Cakery cake, created just for you!
Day 3- Monday
Start your day off sweet with a doughnut (or a milkshake) from Doughnut Time. You’re on vacation, and I’m pretty sure that calories have the opposite effect on this side of the Equator. *I’m not a doctor… so I could be wrong about that…
Head out to the Botanical Gardens for the most gorgeous view of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. I still can’t believe how many quiet havens there are amid the hustle and bustle of this international city.
Make your way back to the CBD and join the I’m Free Walking Tour. I can’t speak for the other guides… but if you get Lisa, thank your lucky stars, because this bubbly musician is Sydney’s longest-running tour guide (she’s been doing this for 3.5 years) and gives one of the best walking tours in the world. Cover 150 years of history and over 3 miles in less than 3 hours and walk away with knowledge about the city and the know-how to navigate its public transportation system.
Save a little money and cook at home tonight, or explore another local restaurant.
Day 4- Tuesday
If I can give you one piece of advice, it’s this: Do not start a trip to the Hunter Valley on a Tuesday. If you do, you will end up showing up to town just as all the wineries close, and Tuesday is the area-wide night off for most restaurants.
With that disclaimer out of the way… rent a car (try to find one with 100% bumper to bumper coverage) and head out of town!
Stop by Featherdale Wildlife Park, and allow enough time to feed wallabies, selfie with kangaroos, find out what the heck an echidna is, and see for yourself if the Tasmanian devil really does spin.
Holding koalas is illegal in New South Wales, but Featherdale allows you to get up close and pet these beautiful marsupials as they snooze. This encounter with a koala is free, and you can take photos on your own camera.
If you can’t help arriving on a Tuesday, bring dinner to cook at your AirBNB, otherwise, call ahead to make sure your restaurant of choice is open.
Day 5- Wednesday
Throughout the day, you’ll learn the art of wine tasting (three sips is key!), pair cheeses and wines with chocolates and enjoy a delicious lunch in the gorgeous setting of Audrey Wilkinson Winery. End your day with a tour of Hunter Beer Co, a local microbrewery.
Total taste count? 42 wines and 3 beers. Make good use of the spittoon, or the winding roads of the Hunter will not be your friend. Because you’re touring mid-week, you’ll receive a free bottle of wine… just one more reason to love Two Fat Blokes!
The Sweet Wanderlust tip? Purchase a pre-made dinner at Two Fat Blokes when you stop for the cheese and wine pairing. You’ll be in no shape to drive after this extensive day of tasting, and the meals offered by Two Fat Blokes are tasty and a great value. The steak meal for two was plenty for me and my two friends, with sausages left over for breakfast!
Day 6- Thursday
Before you leave the Hunter, stop by Sabor Dessert Bar for a sweet breakfast. Some would tell you that a chocolate, caramel and butterscotch brownie, doused in whiskey and set on fire, served with a side of sesame seed ice cream is not breakfast. I don’t allow that kind of negativity in my life, though, so I wouldn’t know.
Cross over the Sydney Harbour Bridge on your way back into the city and make your way to Bondi Beach to mingle with the skateboarders and surfer dudes. Walk along the beach and check out all the amazing street art along the boardwalk. Or work up an appetite by completing the famous Bondi to Coogee walk.
End the day as you started with a sinfully sweet freakshake, one of Sydney’s most OTT desserts, to accompany your dinner at Milky Lane Bondi. Make a reservation and munch on a Chic-Kanye or a Tu Pork Shakur burger in the funkiest burger bar I’ve ever visited.
Day 7- Friday
Join the ranks of the surfer dudes and dudettes with a Let’s Go Surfing surf lesson. Our lesson with Nigel was fantastic. The company’s policy for small class sizes meant that everyone got personal attention, and full understanding of surf technique. A love for surfing starts with a good experience, so make sure you go with a company that will give that gift to you. Bring a little money for photos… because they will be profile pic worthy!
Go for a late lunch/ early dinner at Bondi Surf Seafoods, voted Sydney’s best fish and chips. We were surrounded by British travelers who seemed to agree with Sydney’s choice.
If you happen to stick around a little longer, be sure to stop by the Bondi Market on Sunday. The music, artists’ booths and food makes for a not-to-be-missed market.
Enjoy your trip and let me know your favorite things to do Down Under in the comments!