Sydney belongs to the exclusive club of cities that generate excitement. At the end of a marathon flight there's renewed vitality in the cabin as the plane circles the city, where thousands of yachts are suspended on the dark water and the sails of the Opera House glisten in the distance. Blessed with dazzling beaches and a sunny climate, Sydney is among the most beautiful cities on the planet.With 4.6 million people, Sydney is the biggest and most cosmopolitan city in Australia. A wave of immigration from the 1950s has seen the Anglo-Irish immigrants who made up the city's original population joined by Italians, Greeks, Turks, Lebanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thais, and Indonesians. This intermingling has created a cultural vibrancy and energy—and a culinary repertoire—that was missing only a generation ago.Sydneysiders embrace their harbor with a passion. Indented with numerous bays and beaches, Sydney Harbour is the presiding icon for the city, and urban Australia. Captain Arthur Phillip, commander of the 11-ship First Fleet, wrote in his diary when he first set eyes on the harbor on January 26, 1788: "We had the satisfaction of finding the finest harbor in the world."Although a visit to Sydney is an essential part of an Australian experience, the city is no more representative of Australia than Los Angeles is of the United States. Sydney has joined the ranks of the great cities whose characters are essentially international. What Sydney offers is style, sophistication, and great looks—an exhilarating prelude to the continent at its back door.
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Things You Can't Miss
The architectural “sails” of its roofline earned this city icon a World Heritage site listing in 2007. Book in advance for the popular daily tours.
© Peter Adams Photography Ltd / Alamy
See Sydney Harbor with a tour company, or simply board the Manly Ferry at Circular Quay for an inexpensive do-it-yourself sightseeing journey.
© david hancock / Alamy
The oldest pubs in Australia enliven this district of cobblestone streets, hotels and restaurants at the southern end of the Harbor Bridge.
© Jon Hicks/Corbis
Sydneyites love their beaches, and in warm weather they’ll be sunning on sandy strands from famed Bondi and Manly to quieter Balmoral.
© Images & Stories / Alamy
Ride the ferry to one of the world’s finest zoos, where you’ll see Australian favorites including koalas, kangaroos, platypuses, emus and lorikeets.
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Must Reads Before You Go
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