Who hasn’t dreamt of exploring Australia?! My dream trip to Australia was originally meant to a Gold Coast, Sydney, an itinerary with the possible inclusion of Uluru.
Having not followed my own advice on preparing for the time zone change, I suffered so much with jet lag that I ended up changing it to a Sydney-Melbourne itinerary with day trips to Great Ocean Road.
I am sharing a condensing version of my Australian itinerary. So if you only have 10 days in Sydney and Melbourne, this should help with planning your trip down under.
My trip was part solo and part of it I met a friend in Melbourne for parts of my trip and the GOR was solo on a tour too. I have also recently shared tips on travelling to Australia alone. I will also link to other post I throughout the itinerary below.
Exploring Sydney For 5 Days | Part One Of The Sydney & Melbourne Itinerary
I have split the itinerary into two. The first part covers things to do in Sydney for 5 days and the second part covers how I what to do in Melbourne in 5 days.
You are getting balanced itinerary of what to do between Melbourne and Sydney as well as day trips.
Where to stay in Sydney: I rented an apartment in Sydney which was located in the CBD so I had malls, parks and harbour all within walking distance.
This was an aparthotel run by Meriton and they have plenty all around Sydney and the rest of Australia. There are plenty of hostels and budget hotels too.
Sydney is pretty big so you can find plenty of accommodation in Sydney in all budgets.
Day 1 In Sydney Main Tourist Attractions
Note that many of the attractions in Sydney are free with the Sydney Attraction Pass which also offers 40% discount on other paid attractions. Its available in 3,5 and 7-day variations.
- Sydney Opera House
A performing arts venue at Sydney Harbor and not to be missed. Opened back in 1973, the whole building occupies the Bennelong Point (named after Woollarawarre Bennelong).
The venue constitutes performance venues, concert halls, Playhouse, theatre hall, and a recording studio. Around 1500 performances arranged annually, 1.2 million spectators are attracted from worldwide.
Apart from this, cafes, restaurants, and bar outlets line the harbour offering not just views but watering holes for the evening when this area’s vibe turns busy with city sleekers.
There are plenty of angles to view the Opera House, make sure you don’t miss the views from the Botanical Gardens and Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.
- The Royal Botanical Garden
The botanical garden is the oldest scientific institute of Australia and a remarkable historical botanical garden in the world. Located right in the heart of Sydney, it was inaugurated back in 1816.
It is neighbored by Sydney Opera house and many parks of the city. Some plants are featured each month to be presented to the visiting tourists.
If you want to add a lighter touch to your visit, then Choo Choo Express is perfect as it also provides a guided tour of the Botanical Garden.
It will take you around the ground and its glamorous beauties and will inform you about its history of the plants and Australia. They run every few minutes. When you get to the end you can walk towards Mrs Macquaries Chair. More pictures here.
- City Bus Tour
You jump Hop-on Hop-off bus tour like I did to experience the scenes and views around Sydney in one run. The track is rolled up between 34 stations.
All of the stops offer up attractive sight-seeing venues including Sydney Harbor Bridge, Sydney Opera House, Darling Harbor, Bondi Beach and much more on the list.
Tip: This also saves you transportation money as you can use your Hop-on Hop-off to get around and explore Sydney, this also offered audio tour.
The tickets are available in 24-48 hours options, which will let you whiff and inhale the air of the city with all its enchanting attractions.
- Sydney Bridge Climb
You have witnessed the sights by the road but want a bird’s eye view? Yes, sure you do! Sydney Harbor Bridge is designed to have a panoramic view of Sydney’s mesmerizing sights nearby and around.
The Sydney Bridge climb is an exhilarating and a lifetime experience. Located right along Cumberland Street in historic Rocks, it attracts both locals and tourists to free their souls along the undulating waves and let them float freely.
From the top The Opera House, Sydney Harbor all just look stunning.
Things To Do In The Evening On Day 2 In Sydney
If you are not totally jet-lagged you can check out the bars along darling harbour. There restaurants nearby too. If you book well in advance you may also be able to score tickets for a show at Sydney Opera House.
DAY 2 Sydney Shopping And Beaches
- Shopping Hubs
You cannot come to Sydney and not check out the shopping hubs. I was within a stone’s through from Westfield and Queen Victoria Building which was actually my favourite as it has a touch of vintage edge to it.
Below are some of the best places for shopping in Sydney. If you forgot to bring any swimming gear now is your chance to buy some. More pictures of shopping hubs in my post on things to do in Sydney.
- Queen Victoria Building
- Centre point Tower Westfield – Book tickets in advance for Sydney Tower Eye which stands above Westfield.
- Pitt Street Mall
- Darling Harbor
- Sydney Paddy’s Markets and Market City
- The Rocks Market
- Strand Arcade
- Bondi Beach
The place calls for a stroll in the morning breeze while enjoying the captivating sunrise, mind you sunset is also just as good. The coast is flanked by sandstone headlands. Go out for a morning swim dive or enjoy your brunch on cafes of Campbell Parade.
Public showers are there to wipe off the salt your body carries after a thrilling dive. The shore is open to experience strolling, playing golf, and whale watching gold.
Beach’s southern end is open for surfing lovers. Right along the coastline, you have miles and miles of the Coogee Beach walking path. I have shared a post from some of my explorations of Bondi Beach.
Ice Bergers Pool
This place is an Australian winter swimmers club located on the southern coast of Bondi beach. It is an international landmark and your trip is not completed till you have touched the stones of this place.
“Water Polo by the Sea” is the flagship event of place. There are pools open to both adults and children. The only criteria is that you must be able to swim 40 meters at least. There is also a café in its vicinity which offers you the local food at a convenient price.
- Stroll across the coast
Bondi to Coogee walk is spread upon 6km track offering beaches, parks, cliffs, bays, rock pools, and captivating views along the coastline. One can walk, swim, rest or eat at a number of cafes, restaurants, and electric barbecues by Maroubra.
The path is fairly easy but also involves some steep spots and staircases along the trail. The path is interrupted by some of the most stunning views around Sydney’s coastline.
Things To Do In The Evening On Day 2 In Sydney
For the evening on day two in Sydney, head to Regent Place which has a great selection of Asian cuisine.
Here you can find delicious Malaysian street food at Sedap, head to Senyai for Thai food or Chinese food at Chef’s Gallery. If you are a lover of desserts make sure you check out Uncle’s Testu’s cheesecakes.
DAY 3 Sydney Markets
- Sydney Markets
On day 3 in Sydney, it’s time to check out the best markets in Sydney. Each shopping corner has its style, aura, and character. You can find local designers, artisan wares, cultural goods, and delicious food.
The oldest part of Sydney, “The Rocks” is home to 2 historic markets. ‘The Friday Foodie’ and ‘The Rocks Market’. One offers you the variety of food options accompanied by live music while other is a hub of textiles, art, and jewelry.
The other markets which are worth given a shot are;
- Paddy’s Market
- Sydney Fish Market
- Glebe Market
- Balmain Market
- Cambridge Market
- Paddington Market
- Manly Ferry
The ferry is all set to take the travelers and tourists to sail on sapphire blue water. The trip takes about of 30 minutes offering amazing and scenic views of the harbour. The rest of the day can be spent in Manly.
Manly has a great vibe. There are over 150 bars, cafe, and restaurants to check out with plenty of outdoor dining to watch people go by. For options, you can check out Hugos Manly and the Boiler House.
If you love a bit of retail therapy, there are boutiques, sand surf stores with many local designers displaying their collections. For this head to Manly Market Place as well as Aboriginal Dreamtime Fine Art Gallery.
If you are visiting Sydney during July, August, or September this is a great time do head out for a whale watching tour in Sydney. Many run from Manly.
Things To Do In The Evening On Day 3 In Sydney
For the evening take in the sights and meeting other travellers by way of Sydney’s The Rocks historical pub crawl tour.
Day 4 A Day Trip From Sydney
Day Trip to the Blue Mountains
The city is neighbored and surrounded by the rugged and rough ranges of Blue Mountains. Known for its captivating scenery, steep slopes, eucalyptus spreads, waterfalls, a number of lush green gardens, and Katoomba. This is a must on any Sydney to Melbourne itinerary. There are several tour options for Blue Mountains. There are both day trips and multiday tours depending on how much time you are planning on spending in Australia. As this itinerary is for 10 days Sydney-Melbourne the best option is for a day trip from Sydney. You can also do overnight. You can visit the mountains by organized tours, public transport, and individual tours. You can also hire a guide to have an informative journey.
DAY 5 Back To The Beaches
Sydney is the most beautiful city in Australia with its spectacular views. The one gem in the crown of beauty is the beaches.
Spread along the harbor, are many sheltered bays with soothing calmness and sandy beaches. Apart from the Bondi beach, there are a number of beaches including
- Cronulla (easily accessible by train from the main city)
Further North in the city, tourists may find Collary, Dee Why and Narrabeen. They are a hotshot for swimmers and divers. The red and yellow flags are displayed upon there as a safe area for water-sports.
Things To Do In The Evening On Day 5 In Sydney
No evening entertainment for day 5 as this is when you catch a flight to Melbourne. There are plenty of budget airlines similar to RyanAir. I flew from Sydney to Melbourne via TigerAir. Make sure you book your flight way in advance of your date of travel to get the best prices.
Exploring Melbourne For 5 Days | Part Two Of The Sydney & Melbourne Itinerary
Melbourne has been voted as the most livable city for 7 times in a row till now. When you visit Melbourne you will understand why. The city has a laid back feel to it. A visit to Melbourne showcase the awesome fusion of modern and vintage architecture, cuisines, vineyards, street art, sports venues, and much more. Below are some of what I got up to while exploring Melbourne having travelled from Sydney.
While I have not included a couple of place below if you feel you have room or opt to have a rental car, you can explore beyond the itinerary below. For additional inspiration, I also have another 5 day itinerary for Melbourne as well as a 7 day Melbourne itinerary for those staying longer in Melbourne. In the 7 day itinerary, I also included a day trip to the Grampians for those that have more time.
Note: there is also the option of purchasing a multi-city Attraction Pass which allows you free access to tourist attractions in Sydney and Melbourne during your 10-day itinerary. In addition to discount on other paid attractions.
DAY 1 Melbourne CBD
Note: that there is a tourist office in CBD just by Federation Square if you need maps, transportation tips or information on where to stay in Melbourne, places to visit or any other tourist needs.
- Central Business District
Melbourne is the capital city of Victoria holds the Central Business District (CBD) like a jewel in the crown. It is the heart of Melbourne. It holds a number of attractions and visiting spots in its boundaries including
- City circle tram is the vintage tram that takes you around the city, to the most beautiful places and completely free of charge.
- Street Performances are the hallmark of Melbourne and can be appreciated in front of Post Office and along with the steps of Bourke Street Mall.
- Melbourne Historical Trail holds General Post Office, Parliament House, Old Treasury Building, Immigration Museum, and shine of remembrance.
- Graffiti lanes adorn the walls of Croft Alley, Caledonian Lane and Hosier Lane(my favourite.)
- Food Hunting is there for you to enjoy Middle Eastern, Mexican and Vietnamese. Brunch cafes are a hotshot of the place.
- Shopping here you will also find plenty of malls, boutiques and high street shops.
- Remembrance Park
You have the option to explore Federation Square before heading here. The place holds the honor of citizens of Australia. The shrine of Remembrance is located near the Botanical Gardens. This is a Victorian state memorial to people who represented Australia in global conflicts.
It is built on classical architecture by the veterans of World War-I. It holds a rich soul and memorable events within it while offering a panoramic view of Melbourne City. As you stand at Remembrance Park you have great views into the city.
- Botanical Garden
The Botanical Gardens in Melbourne is a piece of lush greenery and rich plants is located on the southern coast of Yarra River. Divided into two sites of Melbourne and Cranbourne, it was founded in 1846. Covering 36 hectares, it holds 50,000 plants of 8500 species summed up in 30 living plants collections. National Herbarium of Victoria is located in its vicinity which hosts 1.5 million preserved plants, algae, and fungal species.
Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden is found to encourage young future gardeners. Aboriginal Heritage Walk is a popular walk track that let you enjoy the beauties of the garden. There is a cafe, and you can also take boat rides on the ponds. It’s a great place to hang out when the sun is shining.
- South Bank and Federation Square
From Botanical Gardens, take the riverside walk route to get to Southbank. The suburb is a cultural destination of Melbourne located just a km away from CBD. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Recital Centre, Arts Centre, and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art can be found along its cobbled streets. There are bars, pubs and restaurants here with plenty of evening entertainment. Other places to check out while here include
- Crown Melbourne
- Eureka Skydeck 88 for the views.
- Melbourne River Cruises
- South Gate
- Ponyfish Island
- The Atlantic Restaurant
Things To Do In The Evening On Day 1 In Melbourne
For light evening entertainment considering the packed itinerary so far, head to Fitzroy, one of my favourite neighbourhoods. There are plenty of bars and restaurants to check out. These include Bar Liberty, The Everleigh and Black Pearl. Black Pearl has been named the best bar in Australasia for 2 years running, The Everleigh offers up old charm and Bar Liberty has a wide selection of alcohol to try, from wines, beers, to Sake! They also serve a mean lunch if you are peckish and looking for somewhere to chill and grab a bite.
DAY 2 View Points And A Wine Tour
- View Points of Melbourne
The skyscrapers of Melbourne offer up stunning views. From the windows of these high edged buildings, one can enjoy an enchanting view of the coasts of the city. Below are some of the best viewpoints in Melbourne.
As day 2 in Melbourne is fairly chill, you have the option to do the day trip to Yarra Valley and then in the evening you can check out the views. However if your tour to Yarra Valley isnt too early I would head to the viewpoints in the morning as you might be too tired to do it in the evening.
- Rialto Tower
- Sky High
- Naked in the Sky
- Brighton Beach
- Eureka Skydeck
- Melbourne Star Wheel
- Rooftop Bar
- Yarra Valley
Located on just an hour drive from main Melbourne city, the Yarra Valley is there for you holding a number of vineyards, fine dining venues and accommodation spots. It is weekend hotshot for both tourists and locals.
Vineyards: Being a host place to Chardonnay and Pinot noir, it is Victoria’s oldest wine region. The valley is known for its local brewers and cider harbors. De-Bortoli is beautiful vineyard let its visitors enjoy a winery tour and enjoy behind the scenes view.
Food Cravings: Yarra Valley is the symbol of fresh servings and you can have your wind accompanied with salmon, trout, and caviar servings. Perhaps a side of handmade cheese and preserves? More than 250 chocolate products are served at Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery nearby for those with a sweet tooth.
Open Spa: After satisfying your taste buds, move to the Piaf Day Spa. Structured along four-hectare rain forest, there are treatment rooms for body exfoliation, heated stone massages, and facials.
Wildlife: Alongside, witness the wildlife of Australia mentioning Tasmanian devils, koalas, kangaroos, and dingoes. Drive through the mesmerizing beauties of Marysville to witness breathtaking waterfalls and water trails. You can DIY this trip and rent a car but make sure the drive is not drinking! Otherwise, the easier and most enjoyable option is to do a Yarra Valley wine tour. There are plenty of options to choose from.
Things To Do In The Evening On Day 2 In Melbourne
Free evening to explore as you wish or head back to your hotel and chill.
DAY 3 Brunch Spots In Melbourne And Museums
- Brunch Spots
There are plenty of amazing brunch spots in Melbourne. Melbournians are crazy about their coffee and quality over content. I have shared some of my favourite brunch spots in Melbourne in my previous post as well as added more below.
- Two Birds One Stone: Servings are decorated with edible flowers to present a perfect brunch.
- Industry Beans: Killer coffee program is its hot spot with freshly roasted beans.
- The Craft & Co: Rustic spot in Collingwood holding rather simple and laid back menu.
- Rudimentary: Covers all, from the vegetarian, Gluten-free to omnivores.
- Archie’s All Day: A complete package of dinner site and tasty Sunday sessions
- Monk Bodhi Dharma: Coffee roaster and café in Balaclava.
Museums are always an important part of any itinerary as they holds the history and what a way to get to know the countrys and local history. Some mesmerizing collections of past and history have been seen here, below are some of the best museums in Melbourne to check out.
- Immigration Museum
- Old Treasury Building
- The National Opal Collection
- Hellenic Museum
- Royal Historical Society of Victoria
- Mary Mackillop Heritage Centre
- Incinerator Gallery
- Brighton Beach Boxes & St Kilda Beach
For the afternoon its time to check out the beaches in Melbourne, having experienced Bondi Beach in Sydney. You can head out to the famous Brighton Beach Box Beach. I have shared a post with details of how to get to Brighton Beach from Melbourne CBD.
Things To Do In The Evening On Day 3 In Melbourne
For the evening and something light-hearted. Head to St Kilda Beach. There are restaurants and bar here so you can grab dinner here and wait until the sun goes down then head to the pier. When darkness covers the city the St Kilda’s Penguins. come out. For tips on how to get there, what to expect then check out my post on St Kilda Penguins for free! You also have the option to take the Philip Island tour to see the penguins.
DAY 4 A Day Trip To Great Ocean Road
One Day Trip to the Great Ocean Road
Located on an hour drive from the heart of Melbourne, there is Torquay where the Great Ocean Road encompasses 250 km of the area to the coasts of Warrnambool. It is a luring attraction for tourists to enjoy the koala sightings, rain forest walks in Great Otway National Park, and captivating 15 minutes helicopter ride over the location. While here, I couldn’t resist, I bought tickets for the Great Ocean Road helicopter ride which I shared on the blog.
Some fascinating stops and places to visit on the Great Ocean Road tour include:
- 12 Apostles
- Gibson Steps
- Loch and Gorge
- London Arch (London Bridge)
- The Grotto
- Port Campbell National Park
Things To Do In The Evening On Day 4 In Melbourne
This is a long day with many tops. I have shared a post of my experience Great Ocean Road, so the evening here you will most likely want a quiet evening to chill after a long day of travel on the coastal road.
Day 5 Melbourne Cricket Ground And Museum
Melbourne Cricket Ground and Sports Museum
I have purposefully kept day 10 of the Sydney to Melbourne itinerary. You can explore as you wish during the day, do some other last-minute running around of shopping or relaxing before leaving.
Another suggestion for sports lovers is to head to Melbourne’s Cricket Grounds which you may have spotted walking along Yarra River from the Botanical Gardens.
Melbourne is the sporting capital of Australia and holds the city’s top attraction. The stadium has the capacity of 100,000 and MCG is considered one of the world’s greatest stadiums. It was the hosting ground of Olympic-1956 and Common Wealth- 2006 games. Australian Gallery of Sports and Olympic Museum are its visiting spots. Melbourne Park is located right opposite to MCG. It is home of the Australian Open tennis tournament hosted every year in January.
Planning Your Trip To Australia
Considering the long flights the last thing you want to do is waste money on a trip because of poor planning. Below are some of the essential things to think about when planning a trip to Australia.
Getting A Visa For Australia
Almost everyone visiting Australia needs to get a visa. I mentioned in my other Melbourne itineraries that the consulate in London no longer processes visa applications. These are all done online now.
How To Get From Sydney To Melbourne
If you are a fan of road trips like me, then you will have no doubt considered renting a car in Sydney to drive to Melbourne. Thie journey is about 11 hours on a good day but longer if you consider the stops so more like an overnighter type of road trip. With limited time I decided not to go for this option. If you have more than 10 days in Australian then you can make this part of an adventurous Sydney-Melbourne coastal drive itinerary by taking the A1 coastal road route from Sydney to Melbourne. Also better with at least 2 people so you can swap driving. I was travelling alone for this part of the trip.
Instead of not a lot of time to explore I highly recommend booking a budget flight to Melbourne via Jetstar, Tigerair or any one of the many airlines flying between Sydney and Melbourne. The flights can be as cheap as about £70, so it’s much better and quicker to get to Melbourne from Sydney. The flight is only about one hour and 30 minutes.
Getting Around In Sydney and Melbourne(PLUS FREE TRAM!)
When it comes to things to do between Melbourne and Sydney, another important part of your trip is transportation. When it comes to transportation in Sydney and Melbourne, there are endless options, you don’t really need a car in either city as there are buses, trams, taxis and Uber! You may need a car if you want to do a road trip but there are also plenty of tours too offering great options.
Note: Melbourne offers a free tram! The City Circle Tram service provides a free and convenient way to get around central Melbourne. Tourists, shoppers, office workers, and families can use the City Circle Tram to travel to major attractions, shops and city events.
Essentials For Planning Your Trip To Australia
- Flights – Check out flight deals on Expedia and Ebookers and don’t forget to pack some sheet masks for the long flight.
- Accommodation – Get the best deals on accommodation, ranging from hostels, hotels and apartments on Booking and Hotels.
- Universal Adapter – Essential part to make sure all your gadgets are charged up.
- Tours – There plenty of tours to compliment your Sydney-Melbourne itinerary. Check out Viator or Get Your Guide.
- Travel Insurance
- Travel Guide Books
- Packing Essentials
- Multi length dresses suitable for the weather and comfort.
- Comfortable walking shoes – especially if you are going to be taking on beautiful coastal walks around Sydney.
- Sunscreen – a must in Australia considering all the almost year-round sunshine.
Best Times To Visit Australia
My visit to Australia was in April so pretty much after the summer season so I experienced a lot of rain in Sydney for the first couple of days hence why I canceled Uluru and Gold Coast as I just stayed in and explore locally due to really bad jetlag. With regards to the weather in Australia, its a tropical influence climate.
With the size of Australia, the weather will vary between regions. Because of the crazy heat in Australia, might be worth it to consider visiting during their winter between June-August. I would also include April and May in addition, these are by far the best time to visit Australia as you can avoid the heat but still have warm weather to enjoy your trip.
Particularly for the southern cities covered in this Australian itinerary, late spring and summer, especially in November-December in Sydney, and from November to February in Melbourne, can also be ideal if looking for the warm weather and dont mind the heat.
Although I had rain in Sydney for a couple of days, which is apparently rare, there were plenty of sunny spells as you cans see from the images. Whatever time you visit make sure you have packed the right clothes for the weather and comfortable shoes.
Safety In Australia
In terms of safety in Australia as with any destination always be aware of your surroundings. In saying that there was not a point during my visit did I feel unsafe or worried about my safety during my visit in Australia.
Cities like Melbourne have been voted the most liveable city in the world several times and safety of its residents places a role in that too. Both Sydney and Melbourne are pretty safe cities to visit and very multi-cultural.
Like any place in the world, I am sure when you dig deal there are issues like the lack of equality of Aboriginals but that’s a whole long post on its own for another day. If you are worried I would at the very least invest in an anti-theft backpack to keep your documents and gadgets safe. Also, make sure you travel with travel insurance not just if there are accidents but if you lose anything or miss your flights.
How many days to spend in Melbourne?
So, how many days to spend in Melbourne? Melbourne is so beautiful and with great access to many sights both within the city and just outside of it. When it comes to deciding what to do in Melbourne or how many days to visit in Melbourne consider the activities you are interested in.
You will most likely need a day or 2 in Melbourne, to explore Melbourne CBD, the museums, the cool brunch spots, botanical gardens, markets. We are already needing at least 2 days and then if you are the beaches like Brighton Beach, St Kilda and the penguins as well as possible trips to Philip Island. We are already talking 3 days in Melbourne if you add the unmissable day trip or overnight stay along the Great Ocean Road.
If you add a trip to Grampian and some recovery at a minimum I would say you need 5 days in Melbourne to fully make the most of your visit. Hence I have done this combined Sydney and Melbourne itinerary as 10 days. I would, however, recommend 7 days in Melbourne and for that, you can check out my post on how to spend 1 week in Melbourne.
How many days to spend in Sydney?
I am sure you have been asking yourself ‘how long should I stay in Sydney?’ or how many days in Sydney is enough? As I have mentioned with Melbourne, Sydney is beautiful and with access to stunning beaches and sights.
Shopping in Sydney, you will most likely want to check out the cool markets in Sydney, Sydney Harbour and bridge, Opera House, Oceanfront sea pools, Bondi beach, as well as day trips from Sydney like the Blue Mountains. You will most likely need 3 days in Sydney a minimum before going off to explore other cities in Australia.
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This is making me miss Australia so much! What an extensive and adventure packed post! I’ve got to agree that Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is the best view of Sydney ever, especially during sunset! I wish I had had time to go to see the penguins in St Kilda!
Such a comprehensive guide, amazing. I’ve been to Sydney but it was a long time ago so I’d love to hop back, and I know I really need to see Melbourne. Looks like so much to do in each place, this is a real action packed itinerary