Why spend 24 hours in Sydney?

They said it was madness. How can you possibly see one of the world’s most iconic cities in a mere 24 hours?

Famous for its Opera House, Harbour Bridge, beaches, great restaurants and laid-back Aussie lifestyle it was certainly going to be a challenge to sample Sydney in 24 hours. But faced with a gap between flights and the fact I wasn’t likely to be in these parts anytime soon I was willing to give it a go.

Arriving after many hours sat on a plane, bewildered why my watch – not yet adjusted to local time – said it was night and yet it was light outside, sleep deprived and admittedly a little grumpy, I had a hard time convincing myself my Sydney adventure had been a good idea. Surely a nap in the airport lounge made much more sense?

But as my train pulled into Sydney harbour I knew I had made the right decision. From my window were views of the Opera House and harbour that were so familiar it felt like I was dreaming. In my experience some places don’t look the same in real life as they do on TV but this city offers everything you think it will and more besides.

My hopelessly vague plan of action had been quickly cobbled together before my arrival. Knowing I had little time I had opted to buy a 24-hour ticket for a bus tour – a bit touristy I know but my time was limited and it meant I could get my bearings and see which areas of the city I wanted to return to. The buses allowed me to hop on and off where I wanted.

My first port of call was The Rocks and Circular Quay areas. This is where the crowds gather to watch the city’s famous New Year’s Eve celebrations and people promenade from the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the famous Sydney Opera House.

No trip to Sydney is complete without visiting these areas. The Rocks is Sydney’s historic core now rejuvenated and is a great place for a stroll, a bit of shopping or getting a bite to eat.

You won’t be able to miss the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. Intrepid travellers can take a bridge tour and get spectacular views – but since I was only in town for a few hours I opted out. But however long you are in town don’t miss the chance to get as close as you can and wonder at this feat of engineering.

I had always wanted to visit the Sydney Opera House. There is no building like this on earth; its sheer size and scale is hard to convey in mere words. Here I took a pre-booked guided tour which offered interesting insights into its history.

Afterwards the ferries at Circular Quay caught my eye, pulling in and out filled with commuters and tourists. You will find a wide variety of commercial and public services which take a number of different routes and stop off at different places and offer a great way to see more of Sydney.

I took an evening harbour tour – which was fantastic. It took me past landmarks, different suburbs and left me hoping (somewhat optimistically) that one day I would be able to afford one of the city’s stunning waterfront homes.

Next morning, I visited Darling Harbour. Home to museums, shops and other attractions this is a great place for an amble around. With time rapidly running out I then headed off for the city centre and took in a few shops, grabbed a coffee and did a bit of people watching. Then it was time to head back to the airport to get my connecting flight.

So, was it worth it? Definitely, yes. Thank goodness I didn’t waste my stopover sat in an airport. Sydney is one of the world’s great cities and I’ll always treasure my trip – even if it wasn’t nearly long enough!