The bustling centre of Sydney is home to the financial district of the city with skyscrapers dominating the skyline. The Central Business District (CBD) edges onto the famous harbour where the Royal Botanical Gardens add some greenery. Sydney Opera House and Sydney Tower are the iconic buildings here and the tower offers city views from 250 metres in the area. Bustling Circular Quay is the central point for the whole area, though you'll find busy streets full of shops and restaurants throughout. The Museum of Contemporary Art and St. Mary's Cathedral compete for attention too.
The Rocks were the first part of Sydney to be settled, first by the indigenous population and later by British settlers, and the area is a mix of the historical and the new today. Cadman's Cottage is the oldest house in Sydney and the first gaol is nearby. Many of the other former dwellings and warehouses have been reincarnated as lively bars, restaurants and shops. Observatory Hill looks over this part of Sydney as well as over Sydney Harbour and its iconic bridge.
The Rocks website
Darling Harbour is the entertainment centre of Sydney, great for grabbing something to eat, socialising or just people-watching. With an exhibition centre, Wildlife World, Sydney Aquarium and Sydney National Maritime Museum as well as lots of shops you'll never be bored. And if you want something different the Chinese Garden of Friendship offers a tranquil escape.
Darling Harbour website
Taronga Zoo and Sydney Harbour National Park are just north of the harbour. The park is split over several different headlands and includes several islands too. Catching the ferry to Manly is a popular way to spend the day. There are two beaches to try as well as some of the national park; the atmosphere here is very different from the hectic city life.
The area around Bondi beach is fun to stay in as there are plenty of backpackers' hostels and lots of other travellers to meet. The editors' pick for this area is Speedos Cafe, where many a happy hour was spent. Just to the west of the central areas is the bohemian former city centre, now home to the Olympic Park, as well as being great for finding cheap accommodation and food.