Introducing Sydney Central Business District
If you’re new to Sydney or haven’t lived in the city for some time, chances are that there are many hidden gems that you haven’t yet discovered, especially in the CBD. For many Sydney natives, the CBD most likely conjures up images of overpriced tourist traps, chain restaurants and generic shops.
However, this is a bit of a bum rap for the Sydney CBD, and we’ll tell you why! There’s plenty to see and do in the CBD, even for Sydney veterans and long-term residents. Thanks to better public transport links and the booming local industry, Central Sydney has a whole lot going from it. From activities and adventure through to shopping, eating and drinking, this guide will barely do it justice. But here are some of the highlights, including where is the Sydney CBD, what to do, and where to go.
Where is the Sydney CBD?
The Sydney CBD area is 2.8 km² and can be accessed in a number of ways. If you’re arriving by public transport, you may use the L2 and L3 light rail lines, trains (either on the City Circle line or travelling through North Sydney or Bondi Junction), or a variety of suburban bus services.
The ferry is your best chance if you’re coming from the North Shore, and if you’re coming from Parramatta, you can even take the riverboat, which will drop you off at either Barangaroo or Circular Quay in about an hour.
What’s around the CBD?
The CBD is bordered by several fantastic and cosmopolitan neighbourhoods, including Kings Cross, Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, and Paddington, while the revitalized Darling Harbour and Barangaroo precincts, with their numerous eateries, shops, and public spaces are conveniently located in the city’s outskirts.
By strolling through the Royal Botanic Gardens, you’ll find yourself at the posh and picturesque harbourside communities of Potts Point and Rushcutters Bay.
What to do in the Sydney CBD
- For the culture vultures: The Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Museum of Contemporary Art. The Walsh Bay precinct is home to Sydney Dance Company and Sydney Theatre Company, both of which appear at the Roslyn Packer Theatre and Sydney Opera House throughout the year.
- For those with a thirst for learning: the Australian Museum (natural history), the Museum of Sydney, Hyde Park Barracks and the Sydney Observatory.
- For animal fans: The Wildlife Sydney Zoo, which is dedicated to native fauna and the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium – both of which can be found at Darling Harbour.
- For the explorers: Take a stroll around the Royal Botanical Gardens, Barangaroo Reserve, or Hyde Park, all of which offer a calm respite from the city’s frantic pace. Then, there is The Bridge Climb for those who like a little more adrenaline in their activity.
What is Sydney CBD Known For?
As the name might suggest today, the CBD (or the Central Business District ) is well known as the central hub for all things business and retail, with thousands of workers flocking into the area everyday. In fact, it is estimated that up to 22% of all of Sydney’s workforce venture into this part of the capital.
Consisting of lots of tall buildings and skyscrapers, the area also contains several parks. Interestingly, the older parts of the CBD form several intersecting grids which reflects earlier settlement in this part of the country.
It is also known as the culture capital of the city boasting of many museums, theatres, concert venues and entertainment.
As you’d expect, eating in the Sydney CBD comes with loads of options, ranging from cheap and cheerful to gastronomic
Affordable eats include Fabbrica’s pasta (161 King Street), Xi’an Biang Biang for noodles (Dixon Street), Jimmy’s Falafel, or a banging burger at Mary’s CQ, found on 7 Macquarie. If you’re out on a late one and looking for a midnight munch, Golden Century on Sussex Street is famous for its cheap-but-tasty Chinese food.
Mid-range options include The Continental Deli on Phillip Street, Mr Wong’s Chinese on Bridge Lane, Hubert’s Bistro for French food, and The Gidley on King Street for epic steaks.
Fancy foods can be found at Aria on Macquarie streets, Bennelong on Bennelong Point, and Cirrus Seafood on Barangaroo Avenue.
Of course, the food scene in the Sydney CBD extends beyond these, but these are some of the most well-known. We recommend walking around in the downtown area and checking out one of the dozens of options available to find your favourite.
From local pubs and popular dives through to cocktail bars and high-end drinking establishments, there’s something for everyone in the CBD looking to wet their whistle. Here are a few of our favourites:
- PS40, found at 40 King Street with a fantastic array of themed cocktails
- Maybe Sammy, at 115 Harrington, is well known for its comfortable interior and incredible interior 1950s décor.
- Cantino OK, at Council Pl, a popular and deceptively small tequila bar. Always a good time with a fantastic selection of drinks.
- Sydney Tower’s Bar 84 with its world-famous view of the city from high up.
- If pubs are your thing, we also recommend The Duke of Clarence, Beer DeLuxe, P.J O’Briens and Harts Pub
You can find anything you want in the CBD, from flagship stores, luxury brands, boutique shops and shopping centres.
- The Queen Victoria building was first in the 1890s and restored in the 1980s – offering luxury stores, clothes shops, jewellery, gifts – as well as places to eat and drink, including the famously fancy QVB Tea Room.
- If big brands are your thing, you can find all the usual names (Apple, Tiffany’s and Sephora to name just a few), together with hundreds of well-known high street shops in Pitt Street Mall and the Westfield Centre. You also have the Strand Arcade and the Dymocks Building to check out, offering more boutique shopping experiences, including arts, crafts, and artisanal goods.
- Martin Place is the place to go if you’re looking for more luxury goods, or if you prefer, Market City and Paddy’s Markets are packed with budget-friendly fashion, souvenirs, and arts & crafts.
The above guide is just a taste of what Sydney Centre has to offer. It truly is an incredible place to live if your budget allows, and if you’re thinking of living there, we’ll be more than happy to help you out.
For more information about Sydney, you can check out our guide on facts about Sydney, moving costs to Sydney and our graduate’s moving guide to Sydney.
Thinking of moving to the Sydney CBD?
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