Sydney, Australia has two cruise ship ports. Ships that are too big to fit under the Sydney Harbour Bridge dock at the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay. Smaller ships may dock at White Bay Cruise Terminal in Balmain. White Bay Cruise Terminal is accessible by car, taxi, or shuttle and on cruise days Captain Cook Cruises often provides ferry service from there to Circular Quay and Darling Harbour.
Circular Quay is a very convenient cruise ship port whether boarding or disembarking there or just stopping in for the day on a port stop. From the ship you can see both of Sydney’s two main landmarks, the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, and both are within walking distance. Transportation is quite easy as there are both ferries and a train station about a couple hundred yards from where the ship docks. There are also day cruises and water taxis available there. It’s a short train ride to Central Station and from there trains go all over Sydney and its suburbs as well as to the airport or Blue Mountains. You just have to find the right line and the platform to catch it from. From Central Station you can also catch light rail for getting around popular areas of the city.
Circular Quay is right in the heart of the touristy area of Sydney. You can walk from there to the nearby Rocks historic area and other tourist attractions. Circular Quay itself has shops and restaurants on the side opposite where the ship docks. Walk past all that and you’re at the opera house. Just beyond the opera house there’s a free botanical garden.
You can also walk across the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge. Luna Park sits under it on the far side if anyone is looking for an amusement park. Using trains, ferries, water taxis, or busses you can get all around the Sydney area. Hop on Hop Off Busses are another way to get to all the main tourist attractions or go farther out to places like the famous Bondi Beach. The Hop on Hop Off bus has a stop near the opera house.
Tourists can spend a lot of money to do things like climb the harbour bridge or have a fancy lunch at Centre Point Tower‘s revolving restaurant or buffet, or spend nothing at all and do things like walk through the free botanical garden which is in easy walking distance from the cruise ship dock at Circular Quay.
To get to the Royal Botanic Garden from the ship, walk toward the land end of Circular Quay where the train station and ferries are. Beyond those walk up the other side of the quay toward the opera house, passing by all the shops and restaurants along that side of the quay. Turn at the opera house and go past it. The Queen Elizabeth II Gate entrance to the free botanical garden is on the right at the waterfront near the edge of the bit of land where the opera house sits. It’s a big garden and there’s lots of other gates, but this one is quite convenient when walking over from the ship, train station, or ferries at Circular Quay.
The botanical garden has paved pathways winding through a variety of different plantings and some ponds. It had a train tram parked near the entrance. There’s a variety of different gardens from native to exotic. You can explore on your own or take a free guided walking tour. Tours on the train tram are hop on hop off with 4 stops and a nominal fee.
Tourists on a budget can find other attractions that don’t cost much like a visit to Sydney’s Chinatown or the ever popular Paddy’s Market. Other than transportation these are both free to visit. They only cost money if you decide to buy something.
Near an entrance to Chinatown, people line up even before the window opens at lunchtime to buy cheap but tasty tiny cream puffs called Emperor’s Puffs that come hot and fresh right off the fryer. While waiting at the window you can watch the frying machine at work.
No matter what your tastes or budget are, there is something to see, do, or eat in Sydney for everyone. If you come at the right time of the year (before Christmas) jacaranda trees liven up the city with their brilliant purple blooms. At any time of year it’s nice to see Sydney’s two most famous icons without even leaving the ship.