Sydney Districts and Where to Stay

Sydney is a massive magnificent city, few other cities across the world compare. When you decide to make the trek to Australia and visit this wonderful town you will have a few neighborhoods to choose from. All neighborhoods provide you a wonderful trip but which neighborhood you choose to call home base will greatly affect what kind of experience you have.

My best suggestion is to do some research (this article is a great start) on the main draws and attractions in each neighborhood. Decide which neighborhoods sound best for the type of trip you want to have. Only then, narrow down a couple of hotels in your favorite neighborhoods in Sydney.

Circular Quay

I guarantee you will, without a doubt, visit Circular Quay while staying in Sydney. Circular Quay has many marvelous sites including the famous harbor -- a former working port now ferry hub -- and numerous charming public spaces. Circular Quay also holds the Sydney Opera House, the unofficial symbol of Sydney.

Top Sights in Circular Quay

Sydney Opera House, Top of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney Ferries

The Rocks

Just to the west of Sydney Opera House is a neighborhood known as The Rocks; A hot trendy area filled with both 'olde-worlde' history and harbourside tourist attractions. While the neighborhood was previously seedy and neglected -- filled with working-class residents mostly ignored by the upper-class of Sydney -- it now is one of the top spots to visit while in Sydney. A verifiable not-to-be-missed neighborhood to spend some serious time in.

Top sights in The Rocks

Syndey Harbour Bridge, Barangaroo Reserve, Sydney Observatory, Hero of Waterloo Hotel and Pub

City Centre & Haymarket

Also known as CBD, Central Business District, this is the busy center of government and finance. I stayed in CBD while visiting Sydney and loved the close proximity to everything. Haymarket starts where CBD ends. Cheap eats and inexpensive hotel rooms can be found here alongside Sydney’s lively Chinatown.

Top Sights in Sydney City Centre & Haymarket

Hyde Park, Art Gallery of NSW, Chinatown, St Mary's Cathedral, Queen Victoria Building, The Strand Arcade, and the rest of the Royal Botanic Gardens

Darling Harbour & Pyrmont

The former dockland — known as Darling Harbour — is now occupied by pubs lining the shore and also restaurants costing a pretty penny. But, that's not all! Bringing the kids along to Sydney? Head here for both the child-friendly Sydney Aquarium and Zoo.

Pyrmont, to the west, focuses more on adult entertainment. The high-end casino property, The Star, is an entire town within one property. It holds four hotels, multiple international restaurants for every budget, sprawling nightclubs, and a theater.

Top Sights in Darling Harbour & Pyrmont

Sydney Sea Life Aquarium, Wild Life Sydney Zoo, Australian National Maritime Museum, Madame Tussauds, The Star Casino

Surry Hills & Darlinghurst

Two huge neighborhoods. Both with a bustling and entertaining nightlife. Both containing the top Sydney coffee shops. What I'm trying to say is there is something for everyone. If you pick hotels out in these two neighborhoods you will get a more local experience.

  • Darlinghurst is considered the proud gay district of Sydney.

  • Surry Hills is more hipster, with exceptional international dining options and unique boutiques lining the quaint streets.

Woolloomooloo Wharf is one think you cannot miss in Sydney.

Woolloomooloo Wharf is one think you cannot miss in Sydney.

Top Sights in Surry Hills & Darlinghurst

Woolloomooloo Wharf, Australian Museum, National Art School


You can't talk to anyone about a trip to Sydney without them begging you to visit Bondi Beach. The neighborhood around the beach, known as Bondi, is a great place to stay, especially if your priorities include surfing and a laid-back vacation.

Pro Tip: If you don't pick a hotel in this area you can still visit easily. Bondi is only 8 km away from downtown Sydney. For the cheapest option hop on a public bus (333, 380-2). If you just want to get there fast (in about 15 minutes) just grab an Uber or cab. While in Sydney, we visited Bondi and the beach via Uber and found it very easy and quick for not much more money.

Top Sights in Bondi

Bondi Beach, Iceberg Pool, Coastal Walk from Bondi to Coogee, Bronte Baths

Final Thoughts

Planning a trip to Australia in general, can be overwhelming. Everyone has an opinion on this beautiful location and you may be frozen and unable to plan anything. Rest assured that no matter what you choose to do in Australia or where you choose to stay in Australia you're going to have a beautiful time. 

Also, a super common question I get is: What camera do I use for my travels. The body is a Nikon D5600 and I use the kit lens and a Sigma wide-angle lens which I am genuinely obsessed with.

My full list of travel gear, that I take on every trip can be found here.

And of course, if you have any questions DO NOT hesitate to reach out to me via Instagram, Twitter, or just shoot me an email (tessajuliette at gmail dot com). 

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