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Solo Travel Sydney: How to spend 3 days in Sydney Australia

If you are taking a solo trip to Sydney Australia and wondering what the best things to do in Sydney alone are, then keep reading! I put together a comprehensive 3 days in Sydney itinerary that is perfect for any solo traveller who has never been to the biggest city in Australia.

As the state capital of New South Wales, Sydney attracted over 4 million international visitors and over 10 million domestic visitors each year. The trend continues to rise as Sydney is one of the cities that has it all. From the modern metropolis city centre, the vast green spaces to unspoilt beaches, Sydney is truly one of the best solo travel destinations.

In this post, I’ll show you all the best things to do for your solo Syndey 3 days itinerary and everything you need to know about Sydney, how to get around, taking day trips, and so much more.

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Solo Travel Sydney: 3 days in Sydney Australia

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What you need to know before planning your 3 day solo trip to Sydney

Before you spend 3 days in Sydney, take a look at my list of 17 things you need to know before travelling to Australia. I included information about Australia including applying for ETA, transportation, money and accommodation.

Here are additional travel tips that you may find useful for your Sydney solo trip:

  • Sydney is a safe city for solo female travellers
  • Get an Opal Card, a prepaid IC card for New South Wales. It is a rechargeable smartcard where you can take public transportations including train, buses, ferries, light rail and metro in Sydney and Byron Bay. See more detailed info below.
  • Sydney is a fantastic city for foodies! From the best Asian cuisine like Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and Japanese to European flavours like Italian and French, you can sample any type of cuisine you want. And there are lots of excellent vegetarian and vegan restaurants as well.
  • Plan your solo trip to Sydney with these festivals and events in mind:
    • Sydney Festival – an art festival in January
    • Sculpture by the Sea – a free contemporary sculpture exhibition at Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk between October and November
    • Vivid Sydney – a light, music and art installation event between May and June

How to get to Sydney Australia

Air

Solo travellers will fly into Sydney Airport, which is only 8km from Sydney CBD. The easiest way to get to the city from the airport is to take the Airport Link. The train costs $19.53AUD (with the Opal Card) going to Central Station, and the journey takes only 13 minutes.

Long distance bus

Greyhound Australia is Australia’s long-distance bus operator. The bus system has many routes, and many connect different parts of the country.

It is an excellent choice for travelling long distances in Australia since many Greyhound buses serve many cities and rural areas. The easiest way to purchase a ticket is online. Go to Greyhound Australia, and search for your route to Sydney.

Train

Australia has a train system that connects most cities, including Sydney. It is possible to take the train from Melbourne, Brisbane, Darwin and Perth.

But because of the vast distances, it takes a bit of time to travel between cities. For example, it takes about 12 hours to get from Melbourne to Sydney on an overnight train.

Check the Australian Rail Map website for more info about train travel in Australia.

How to get around Sydney

The best way to get around Sydney is by public transportation. Between taking buses, metro, trains and ferries, you can reach most attractions in Sydney. This is good news for anyone planning a solo trip to Sydney!

And to make your travel life much easier in Sydney, get an Opal Card.

Opal Card

The cheapest and easiest way to travel on public transportation in New South Wales is by using the Opal Card. It is a rechargeable card that you can use the card for trains, buses, ferries, light rail and metro and any NSW TrainLink rail services including train travels to Bue Mountains, Newcastle and other regions in New South Wales.

Purchase an Opal Card and top up your card at the two airport stations, most convenience stores and newsagents.

However, there is a minimum value of $10AUD for an Adult Opal Card. There is a daily cap where you will never pay more than $16.80AUD on weekdays and $8.40AUD on weekends and holidays. The only exception is the Sydney Airport station access fee isn’t included in the daily cap. All the fare details are listed here.

It is worth getting an Opal Card even if you are only spending 3 days in Sydney.

Solo Sydney 3 day itinerary: best things to do alone in Sydney

The best way to discover all the things to do alone in Sydney by touring through different neighbourhoods or suburbs. And that is exactly how I planned my Sydney 3 days itinerary:

  • Day 1: CBD and Chippendale (blue pins)
  • Day 2: Watsons Bay and Manly & Northern Beaches (purple pins)
  • Day 3: Bondi, Coogee and Surry Hills (red pins)

All the places mentioned in this blog post are pinned on the interactive map below. You can find more information about each Sydney attraction by clicking on the individual pin.

Day 1: CBD and Chippendale

Day one of your solo Sydney 3 day itinerary is about exploring the Central Business District (CBD) and all the tourist attractions in the centre of Sydney.

Follow all the blue pins on the interactive Google Maps for more information on all the places mentioned below.

Central Business District (CBD)

CBD, known as the downtown core, is the commercial centre and is the most populated area in Sydney.

The first place you need to visit is one of the most famous 20th-century architectural wonders, the Sydney Opera House. Marvel at the iconic architecture where white granite tiles are used to shape the building that resembles a flotilla of sailboats.  

And if you dare, do the Bridge Climb to the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge, one of Australis’s most iconic landmarks. It takes about 3.5 hours to do the Bridge Climb. Alternatively, you can walk across the bridge on the pedestrian walkway.

Next, walk around Circular Quay and visit the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia to see displays of Australian art and modern Aboriginal art. Admission is free. If you love to see more contemporary art, also visit the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

And a visit to Sydney is not complete without walking through The Rocks. Meander through the cobblestone laneways to see Sydney’s oldest area. Essentially, the Rocks was the area where European settlers decided to settle back in 1788. Learn more about the Rocks by taking a 90-minute walking tours.

Moreover, CBD is a great place to shop. Visit The Strand Arcade, a Victorian-style building with high-end retail shops. And shop at the Queen Victoria Building, also known as QVB, for other upscale shops. Both buildings are part of the heritage buildings.

Where to eat in CBD

  • Opera Kitchen – a restaurant and bar in the best location! Enjoy a meal or drink at the Opera Kitchen while sitting by Circular Quay while enjoying people-watching and seeing the Sydney Opera House.
  • Skittle Lane – the little coffee shop is located close to Darling Habour, the perfect spot for anyone who needs a caffeine kick while touring around CBD. And it is very popular with Sydneysiders working in the CBD.
  • Gumption by Coffee Alchemy – enjoy a flat white at Gumption which is located inside the Strand Arcade, an iconic shopping centre in CBD

Chippendale

Chippendale is a hip neighbourhood with many galleries, restaurants and markets. Not far from CBD, Central Railway Station and Chinatown, Chippendale is easily accessible and is the spot in the city for modern art.

And one of them more popular galleries is The White Rabbit Gallery. The gallery space focuses on Chinese contemporary art and changes its displays twice a year. The gallery also has a teahouse onsite. Check the White Rabbit Gallery website for opening times as they close while changing their exhibits.

Where to eat in Chippendale

  • Spice Alley – a modern outdoor foodcourt with various Asian cuisine at budget prices. Find multiple hawker-style food joints including Singaporean, Malaysian, Thai, Cantonese and Vietnamese.
  • Gin Lane – as the name suggests, the bar serves some of the fanciest gin cocktails. Don’t miss their happy hour, which is all night on Tuesday.
  • Edition Coffee Roasters – a coffee shop with a stark and sleek interior serving the best flat white. They have a delicious Japanese souflé pancake. Yum!

Day 2: Watsons Bay and Manly & Northern Beaches

Day two in Sydney is about getting out of the city centre and do something outside as there are many outdoor activities in Sydney like exploring cliffs, parks and the best beaches for swimming and surfing. Best of all, the day includes taking one of the most scenic ferry rides from Circular Quay.

Follow all the purple pins on the interactive Google Maps for more information on the places mentioned below.

Watsons Bay

Your solo tour of Watsons Bay starts with a ferry ride from Circular Quay. Hop on the ferry and enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way to your destination.

From Watsons Bay Wharf, walk across the park to The Gap Lookout where you can see dramatic cliffs of the Wreck of the Dunbar. Follow the walking path walking north; you will find Lady Bay Beach on the way to the Hornby Lighthouse.

On the way back to the pier, take the scenic route where you will see Camp Cove, a small quiet beach which will lead you to a small residential neighbourhood and eventually lead you to the Marine Parade path.

Where to eat in Watsons Bay

  • Beach Club at Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel – enjoy a drink or two or three at the Beach Club outdoor patio! This is the place to people-watch – everyone looks gorgeous!

Manly & Northern Beaches

From Watsons Bay, take a ferry directly to Manly, which is just 15 minutes away.

As soon as you arrive at the wharf, follow the signs and find The Corso, which is a pedestrian street with surf shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants. Walk through The Corso promenade until you reach Manly Beach. You can rent a surfboard and spend some time in the water or head over to Shelly Beach for standup paddleboarding or snorkelling.

After spending some quality time on Shelly Beach, walk back towards Manly Beach and continue walking north, crossing a few streets until you reach the next beach, Freshwater Beach. And when you keep walking further, you will reach Freshwater Rockpool.

Continue north, and you will find the Curl Curl Boardwalk, a paved path that will take you to Curl Curl Beach. At the end of the beach, look for the Tea Tree Lookout, which is a scenic spot with a lookout point and a picnic area.

And if you still have time, continue on the Dee Why Coastal Walk, which will lead you to Dee Why Beach, the last beach on your coastal tour of Northern Beaches. It is a spot that hosts many sports events and special events, including fireworks on New Year’s Eve.

From Dee Why Beach, the easiest way to get back to CBD is by taking the bus. Find a bus stop on Pittwater Road and hop on the B1 bus and make your way back to the city.

Where to eat in Manly

  • New Brighton Hotel – the Corso Bar on the second floor overlooks the Corso promenade. It is an excellent spot for a cold beer and people-watching. And check out the rooftop garden bar as well.
  • Chica Bonita Manly – they make delicious tacos and strong margaritas!
  • Bare Naked Bowls – many eateries in Australia specializing in acai bowls, cold-pressed juices and raw treats. And Bare Naked Bowls is one of them.
  • Stowaway Bar – a casual little spot for wine, cocktails and bar food.

Day 3: Bondi, Coogee, Surry Hills

On the last day of your solo 3-day Sydney itinerary, visit the city’s most famous beach and one of the best coastal hiking trails in Bondi. And to end your trip, visit Surry Hills for some good eats and drinks.

Follow all the orange pins on the interactive Google Maps for more information on all the places mentioned below.

Bondi & Coogee

You haven’t been to Sydney if you haven’t visited Bondi Beach, Sydney’s most famous beach.

Soak up the sun on the beach and grab some food before starting the Bondi to Coogee Walking trail. The trail is a very popular coastal hiking trail and can be done during any time of the year. The walking trail meanders through different neighbourhoods and will take you to Tamarama Beach, Bronte Beach and Clovelly Beach.

The easy hiking trail is 6km long and will take about 2 hours or so but could be longer depending on how much time you spend at each beach. But don’t feel you have to rush it – the trail is delightful and is one of my favourite things to do alone in Sydney. So take your time and take in the scenery.

And finally, at the end of the trail is Coogee Beach. Enjoy the views and the beach and have a fabulous meal at Coogee Pavillion.

Where to eat in Bondi & Coogee

  • Coogee Pavillion – as the local calls it, “The Pav,” this eclectic restaurant serves fresh seafood, wood-fired pizzas and other delicious treats.
  • Gelato Messina Bondi – one of the best gelato stores in Australia! You can’t leave the country without trying a few unique flavours. They have 35 classic flavours and five specials every week. My fav is the chocolate mint and macadamia crunch!

Surry Hills

The best eateries, bars and coffee shops are in Surry Hills. And the hip and stylish neighbourhood has boutique hotels, beautiful Art Deco buildings, and vintage second-hand stores.

Spend your last night in Sydney by walking through the eclectic neighbourhood of Surry Hills, sampling the city’s best food and reminiscing your solo trip in Sydney over a few drinks.

Where to eat in Surry Hills

  • Mr. Crackles – get a mouth-watering Crackles Classic sandwich where you get a delicious sandwich with slow roast pork belly and crispy pork crackling.
  • The Winery – a fun wine bar with an eclectic interior. Check out both the ground floor and mezzanine levels. And don’t miss their disco brunch!
  • The Clock – enjoy a meal and a cocktail at The Clock where you can enjoy the casual atmosphere. Choose one of the seats on the second-floor balcony, and you can people-watch the night away.
  • Gelato Messina Surry Hills – if you didn’t have one in Bondi yet or want another scoop of the best ice cream, this is your last chance!

If you have more than 3 days in Sydney

If you are spending more than 3 days in Sydney, consider day trips or weekend getaways from Sydney. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Day trip to Blue Mountains National Park – experience a day of hiking in Blue Mountains where you can see amazing scenery. The bushwalking trails will lead you to the famous Three Sisters at Echo Point, Jenolan Caves and Wentworth Falls and other waterfalls in Blue Mountains. You can join a full-day Blue Mountain tour or take the train from Sydney to the Blue Mountains by yourself.
  • Day trip to Royal National Park – spend the day exploring Sydney’s Royal National Park which is just 35km south of Sydney. See Wattamolla, the Sea Cliff Bridge and the wonderous Figure 8 Pools.
  • Day excursion to Hunter Valley – if you are a wine lover, then you must visit Hunter Valley. There are many wineries in the area and it is the perfect way to spend a balmy afternoon. Many tour operators visiting the Hunter Valley that includes transport, lunch and of course, wine tasting.

Where to stay in Sydney as a solo traveller

Generally, accommodation (like most things in Sydney) is quite expensive. There are cheap options for budget solo travellers and luxury options for those of you who are willing to splurge.

Based on my 3 days Sydney itinerary, it would be best to stay between CBD and Central Railway Station. Here are a few suggestions for hotels and hostels in Sydney.

  •  The Pod Sydney ($) – Each guest has their own bunk bed with a privacy curtain and locker. Choose from a female or mixed dormitory room or your double or twin room. The hostel is conveniently located near Central Railway Station.
    • Check prices & reviews: Agoda
  • Veriu Central ($$) – Get solo accommodation in this funky hotel near Central Railway Station. The eclectic decor is seen throughout the room and all the public spaces in this late 19th-century building.
    • Check prices & reviews: Agoda
  • Veriu Broadway ($$$) – Just a few blocks west of the Central Railway Station, indulge in the Studio Heritage Suite where you can get a very spacious modern room. The room comes with a kitchenette and a sofa bed.
    • Check prices & reviews: Agoda

Solo travel to Sydney: are you ready to take a solo trip to Sydney?

Solo travel in Sydnay can be expensive. But there are many free things to do in Sydney solo to keep the budget low. And if you follow my 3-day Sydney itinerary, you can visit most sights in just three days and on a moderate budget.

I hope you enjoyed reading my Sydney solo female travel guide and will follow my recommended itinerary. Would love to hear any comments. Let me know in the comment section below.

Thank you for reading my Sydney solo travel post

You might also like these other posts on solo travel in Australia:

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Solo Travel Sydney: 3 days in Sydney Australia
About Author

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 18+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

2 Comments

  • Syafiq Asyraf
    September 27, 2022 at 8:33 pm

    Hi there! Was it hard for you to apply for the ETA? I’ve tried 4 times and they all got rejected (which is so frustrating!). Any specific document you think can be used to convince them to give me approval?

    Reply
    • queenie mak
      September 28, 2022 at 11:11 pm

      Hi Syafiq, when I applied it was quite straightforward. The only thing I can think of is the eligibility of your passport. There is a tab at the bottom right corner where you can ask question – perhaps you can try that?

      Reply

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