Sydney is not just a pretty face. While its picture-perfect harbour takes centre-stage, its CBD is brimming with experiences that appeal to cultural and art enthusiasts, food lovers, naturalists and fashionistas. Here’s the ultimate 48-hour Sydney itinerary.
1pm – Arrive at the Swissôtel Sydney
Arrive before check-in to make the most of your time in Sydney’s buzzing CBD.
1:30pm – Shop or stroll
The Swissôtel Sydney is located on prime shopping turf. One of Sydney’s most beautiful historic buildings and unique shopping destinations, the 1898-built QVB (Queen Victoria Building) is a two-minute walk from the hotel, while Myer, David Jones, Westfield and Pitt Street Mall are all within walking distance.
If shopping till you drop is not on your agenda, head to Hyde Park – just a three-minute walk from the hotel. Australia’s oldest public park is home to the poignant ANZAC Memorial building and the Archibald Fountain, and is a lovely, leafy spot to unwind and ease into your Sydney stay.
6pm – Dine at Jpb
With a focus on seasonal, locally sourced ingredients, Jpb is a modern Australian restaurant with Swiss influences. The à la carte menu features artfully presented dishes created by executive chef Paul Clune, such as blue-eye cod brandade and Aylesbury duck breast. From Tuesday to Saturday, a pre-theatre menu is available for State Theatre show-goers. The menu includes a two- or three-course dinner with a glass of house wine.
7:30pm – It’s showtime
Walk across the street to the heritage-listed State Theatre, also known as ‘The Palace of Dreams’. Opened in 1929 and resplendent in Gothic, Italian and Art Deco design, this legendary theatre has long been Sydney’s cultural and artistic hub, hosting a range of performances from music to film to comedy. Watch a show or book ahead for a guided tour of the theatre.
8am – Tick off the big sights
No Sydney itinerary is complete without visiting its most iconic landmarks, all of which are an easy 15-minute walk from the Swissôtel. From Circular Quay, you can watch Sydney ferries cruise in and out of the harbour and soak up the epic views of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Guided tours of the world-famous sails are also available for those who wish to see behind the scenes.
The charming cobblestoned laneways of The Rocks are also a must see. This historic area was the first European settlement in Australia and is now home to bespoke and luxury fashion stores and more than 50 cafes and restaurants. Markets are held here every Friday to Sunday, with rows of stalls selling artisanal wares and gourmet food.
2:30pm – Enjoy some R&R
Back at the hotel, check in to Spa & Sport for a relaxing spa treatment. The 200-minute Australian Discovery is the ultimate in indulgence, comprising a foot treatment, full body scrub, massage, mud wrap, signature facial and eye treatment. Shorter treatments are also available, as well as couples’ packages.
6pm – Rooftop rendezvous
Located on the top level of nearby Westfield, Babylon is an ultra-chic Middle Eastern restaurant and bar with a tantalising menu, mostly cooked over a custom-built wood and charcoal mangal (Turkish grill). Enjoy a cocktail on the rooftop as the sun sets behind the city skyline, followed by a meal bursting with flavours from Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Syria and Turkey.
8am – Gardens and galleries
The Royal Botanic Garden is just 15 minutes from the Swissôtel by foot. You can join a free seasonal tour or wander the beautiful grounds yourself. Take time to visit The Calyx, which houses a colourful array of exotic plants.
On your way back to the hotel, stop by the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Established in 1871, the gallery exhibits art by international greats including Picasso and Van Gogh, Australian icons such as Brett Whiteley and William Dobell, as well as an impressive Aboriginal gallery. There are also more than 30 temporary exhibitions each year, including the much-lauded Archibald Prize.
12:30pm – Leave on a high
End your stay with a sumptuous high tea at Swissôtel’s elegant Crossroads Bar. Along with a glass of sparkling wine, enjoy savoury bites such as smoked salmon on charcoal bun with caper and lemon butter, and sweets such as fluffy scones with jam and cream.