|Sydney is beautiful. Surrounded by spectacular
scenery from steep cliffs and white beaches to wild, native bushland and
lush national parks. A harbour city, the key to getting around starts with
the harbour and radiates outwards in a kaleidoscope of cultures and
Central Business District - CBD
The CBD is a pastiche of boroughs and districts, each with their own unique character.
The gateway to the harbour Circular Quay, with its important transport links is adorned by architectural icons - the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House pulling the biggest crowds.
West of Circular Quay The Rocks - the original site of convict settlement in Australia - boasts some of Sydney's best restaurants and the popular weekend Rocks Market.
Above The Rocks is Observatory Hill, a stretch of parkland with an 1858-built Observatory that still works.
The South-Eastern side of Circular Quay is where multinational conglomerates have their Asia-Pacific headquarters. Along Macquarie are stately buildings such as the State Library of NSW and Parliament House.
The 'City Centre' refers to Pitt Street Mall, Market Street (home to department stores likeDavid Jones), and a maze of arcades which include Centrepoint Shopping Centre at the base of the AMP Tower (Centrepoint). Town Hall Arcade, adjoining Town Hall Station, the city's rail hub, connects underground to the opulent Queen Victoria Building.
In the South-West corner of the city, Chinatown is a feast for the senses. Spilling over with unusual shops, it is home to Market City and Paddy's Markets, where you'll find some tempting bargains and fresh fruit and vegetables.
Darling Harbour and Cockle Bay
Built to commemorate Australia's bicentenary, Harbourside is Darling Harbour's signature shopping and entertainment complex. The forecourt hosts numerous festivals including theDarling Harbour Fiesta. Nearby are the Chinese Gardens, the Australian National Maritime Museum, the Sydney Aquarium, the IMAX cinema and the Powerhouse Museum. And just up the road is the showy Star City Casino.
Cockle Bay Wharf is a sophisticated boardwalk of nightclubs, harbourside restaurants and live music venues.
On the Eastern side of Hyde Park is The Domain, an expanse of parkland that plays host to outdoor concerts including Carols in The Domain. This area is full of attractions including Mrs Macquarie's Chair, the Art Gallery of NSW and the Royal Botanic Gardens.
The Eastern Suburbs
Oxford Street is the main artery of the Eastern Suburbs. Starting at the edge of the CBD in Darlinghurst and working its way through Paddington, past the sprawling Centennial Park to Bondi Junction. Along this strip are arthouse cinemas, cafes, bookshops and designer labels galore.
At the lower end of Darlinghurst, under the big neon Coke sign, is Kings Cross, Sydney's 24 hour red light district. Though sleazy and corrupt, there is an energy that keeps luring people here. Amongst the trashy strip joints and tattoo parlours are intimate jazz clubs, hip cafes and great record shops.
The East's harbourside suburbs of Elizabeth Bay, Double Bay and Rose Bay culminate at Watson's Bay, which offers stunning views across to the city that can be savoured from the world famous Doyles seafood restaurant. On the other side of this peninsula is South Head, the Southern gate between Sydney Harbour and the open sea.
Along the coast are Sydney's best-known and best-loved beaches: Bondi, Tamarama, Bronte and Coogee.
Botany Bay was the original landing place for the First Fleet. The suburbs between here and South Cronulla Beach take in the huge local government area known as the Sutherland Shire. The South is beautified by waterways and gardens all the way down to the vast Royal National Park, Sydney's southern boundary.
The Inner West
Glebe and Newtown are the main action stations here, seething with restaurants offering cuisines from around the globe, new and second-hand bookshops, backpacker hostels, health food shops and traditional Aussie pubs.
Further West is Leichhardt aka Little Italy. Grab a cone of homemade gelato and wander past Norton Street's bookshops, arthouse cinemas and stores selling imported goods like espresso machines and ceramic tiles. And don't miss the Norton Street Festival - the biggest event on Little Italy's calendar.
The Greater West
With the centre for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games being Homebush Bay, the geographic centre of Sydney is moving steadily West. Homebush is the site of Stadium Australiaand a host of gleaming new sporting facilities.
Parramatta is the major transport and commercial hub of the West. Between Parramatta and the Blue Mountains (Sydney's Western boundary) are 'the burbs' one of which is Cabramatta - Sydney's Little Vietnam. Even the street signs here are in Vietnamese, and it's worth the trip for the great shopping and culinary experience.
The Upper North Shore
Sydney's North-West corner intersects at an area known as The Hills District - a semi-rural region that is fast being sub-divided and developed. The "leafy Upper North Shore" is one of Sydney's wealthiest areas. Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park, smack-bang in the centre is a beautiful spot for bushwalks or picnics.
The Lower North Shore
Everything below Chatswood is the Lower North Shore. Some of the prettier spots are Balmoral Beach and Blues Point Reserve at the end of Blues Point Road. An essential stop is Taronga Zoo, a terraced, scenic sanctuary that is home to animals from far-flung corners of the world.
The Northern Beaches
From beautiful Palm Beach, down through Whale Beach, Avalon Beach, Bilgola Beach, Newport Beach and Mona Vale Beach - the Northern Beaches not only offer great surfing, but great sailing, lush parks and gardens and million-dollar holiday homes.
At the base - and forming the Northern gate to Sydney Harbour - is Manly. Popular with tourists, this is a playground of leisure and recreational pursuits. A highlights on Manly's calendar is the Manly International Jazz Festival.