Flights from Johannesburg to Sydney land at Sydney Airport, the main international airport of Australia with over 36 million passengers a year. From here, Australia’s biggest city is just 8km away, easily accessible by train or bus. The cheapest flights from South Africa to Sydney often go via other travel hubs such as Abu Dhabi or Singapore, but direct flights from Johannesburg to Sydney are available too. If you are travelling to Sydney on a South African passport, you will require a visa for your stay. The visitor visa allows for holidaying, visiting family or friends and carrying out limited business activities. To get a visitor visa for Australia, you will need to create an account on the Australian Government website to submit forms and documents, then create another account with TLSContact to set up an appointment. Sydney is the oldest, biggest and most beautiful city in Australia, with famous landmarks including the Sydney Opera House, and world renowned beaches such as Bondi. Visitors can enjoy the city’s museums, nightlife, surfing, amazing food, and even explore the wildlife-rich areas surrounding the city.
Two of the main tourist attractions in Sydney are the famous Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge or ‘Coathanger’ which is the world’s largest steel arch bridge. You can take a guided tour of the Sydney Opera House – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, shaped like shells or the sails of a ship – or see it while taking a harbour cruise. This is a great way to appreciate the city and, if you’re in Sydney during winter, the Sydney whale-watching cruise takes you out past Sydney Heads to see the migration of these beautiful creatures. If you are looking for adventure in Sydney, the Sydney BridgeClimb is a 135m, 3.5-hour climb to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge outer arch. Cadman’s Cottage, Sydney’s oldest surviving house, from 1816, is a popular attraction in the historic Rocks area. The Rocks Discovery Museum explores the history of the area – once home to the Gadigal aboriginal people and then to convicts who pitched their tents on the rocky cove. Darling Harbour is a pedestrian precinct with shops and restaurants, plus museums and entertainment venues for the whole family, including Madame Tussaud’s, the Wild Life Sydney Zoo and the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium. It’s also recommended to visit the Sydney Tower Eye, which is the tallest building in Sydney, and the Royal Botanic Garden. The Bangaroo Reserve is another popular spot in Sydney. And, of course, the beaches in Sydney are a must! Bondi Beach is known for surfing, café culture and people watching, with a beautiful walk from Bondi Beach to Coogee, but there are other amazing beaches too. You can rent a car and travel up the coast to places like Jervis Bay, or try Manly or Bronte if you’d prefer to stick to the Sydney area.
There are many places to shop in Sydney – from malls to markets, boutiques to factory outlets. Built as a market hall between 1893 and 1898, the Queen Victoria Building (QVB) has been beautifully restored and contains offers more than 200 high-end shops. Centrepoint Tower Westfields, has six floors of fashion, food and lifestyle outlets, with big names such as Gucci and Calvin Klein, plus Australian retailers like Supre and Dotti. You can also visit the Sydney Tower Eye here, and explore the Pitt Street Mall – one of Sydney’s busiest shopping precincts, right next to Westfields. World Square is another shopping and dining hot spot, while the Harbourside Shopping Centre at Darling Harbour offers a bowling alley and laser centre, along with plenty of retail and food outlets. If you love browsing through markets, head to Market City and the famous Paddy’s Market, with Asian grocery, fashion and factory outlets. You’ll find souvenirs and fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers, clothing, jewellery and homeware at the market, and a number of stores such as Converse and Cotton On. The Rocks Markets, held on weekends, features amazing artisan creators along cobblestone lanes, and this is the area to find bespoke, handmade goods, bakeries, boutique stores and luxury designs. For vintage shopping in Sydney, try out Glebe Markets which is known as one of Sydney’s best vintage markets.
Trains and buses travel to and from the Sydney Airport daily, from 5am till midnight. Getting from Sydney Airport to the city takes just 13 minutes by train. Airport Link offers a fast, convenient way to travel from the airport to Sydney’s suburbs and the city, with trains every 10 minutes or so. Public transport in Sydney operates on a smartcard system called Opal. The cheapest way to travel in Sydney is to buy an Opal card and tap on and off to pay your fares for trains, buses, ferries and light rail (tram). You can also purchase single tickets should you prefer. Uber is popular too and you can also travel by taxi or hire a car if you want to travel extensively in Sydney and the surrounding areas.
Your choice of accommodation in Sydney should take into consideration not only your budget, but also the area in which you would like to be based. Once you have decided on the priorities for your visit, you can select from the hotels, Airbnbs or hostels that might be available in the area. If your visit to Sydney is only a few days long, the Circular Quay area, right at the Sydney Harbour, is a good option. The Rocks, where historic Sydney buildings share the spotlight with the Sydney Opera House, would also be great. There are plenty of good restaurants and pubs here and transport is accessible. Darling Harbour is an excellent choice for families with plenty of activities nearby, while couples looking for a romantic holiday should opt for Manly if they prefer to feel a bit more remote. Those travelling to Sydney on a budget can check out Potts Point or Kings Cross, but if you’re looking to shop till you drop, the CBD is for you! Most of the big brand hotels can be found here. Paddington and Newtown offer great views of Sydney, while foodies will find plenty to keep their discerning palates happy in Surry Hills, Paddington or Potts Point.
Direct flights from Johannesburg to Sydney are available with the Australian national carrier, Qantas. Other airlines that fly to Sydney include South African Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airways. With no layovers, the flight from Johannesburg to Sydney takes approximately 11 hours 45 minutes, but you may have travel times of up to 30 hours or more if you fly via other stopovers, or if you fly from Cape Town to Sydney, via Johannesburg. The Sydney Airport is located in the suburb of Mascot, about 8km south of the city centre.
The Sydney BridgeClimb is one way to scale the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but budget travellers can get a great view from the south-eastern pylon of the Bridge. You’ll have to be prepared to climb 200 steps to the top, but the panoramic views of Sydney – and the affordable price tag – make this a worthwhile option. Another tip is to prioritise a visit to the Blue Mountains. This incredible mountain range is only an hour from the city, making it a perfect day trip from Sydney. You can follow a guided tour, or explore the caves and jaw-dropping vantage points yourself. Wattamolla in the Royal National Park is another fantastic day trip – with a beautiful lagoon, cove, waterfall and walking tracks, also just one hour’s drive from Sydney.