As an independent, single person working a typical 9-5 job at the time, I had been looking for a travel destination for female solo travelers that offered a great outdoorsy culture, shopping, and an opportunity for new experiences. Australia checked all those boxes and added a few bonuses (kangaroos, accents, and beaches). I booked my first international solo trip to Sydney. Here’s my guide to having the best time as a solo traveler in Sydney.
Come Prepared: How to Get Around Sydney as a Solo Traveler + What to Pack
Sydney is fairly easy to navigate on foot or by public transportation. Coming from the United States, I was a bit afraid of trying to drive on the other side of the road. The downtown area is fairly walkable with many attractions grouped close together and it made for a nice leisurely adventure to check out the neighborhoods and people.
Because it’s located in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s important to note that seasons are reversed from North America. I went in May, which is traditionally spring in the U.S. However, that is considered Sydney’s autumn season. As such, you want to be mindful of packing different layers of clothes for cooler weather. Imagine my surprise when most clothing stores had nothing but winter clothes! It’s good to know that if you forget anything, you can always just buy something.
Photo Credit: Destination NSW
What to See
As a first timer, you definitely want to check out the most popular attractions (Darling Harbour, Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay), but leave room to see the outlying local neighborhoods for a true locals’ experience. I went to Bondi Beach to enjoy some beach time, Newtown to check out some hipster/ artsy places, and The Rocks to learn more about Sydney’s history and to experience their nightlife.
How to Not Feel Alone
As a solo traveler, I found it easy to meet other people by attending events sponsored by different social groups. Meetup, Couchsurfing, and travel Facebook groups are all great resources. Locals are friendly and eager to share their favorite places, which makes for a unique experience.
What to Eat
Food in Sydney is on the expensive side. Due to it being on an island and having to import a lot of things, this in itself isn’t surprising. However, cheaper options are available if you go outside the main tourist area and try more of the ethnic foods. Thai food is quite popular and is a great cheap alternative.
One great find is a Malaysian restaurant called Mamak, which offers a wide selection of roti and noodle dishes. A few other must-try dishes are kangaroo (in many different forms from steak to jerky), Tim Tams, and Vegemite.
The Animals You Want to Meet
A trip to Sydney isn’t complete without a visit to see koalas and kangaroos. Visit Featherdale Wildlife Park, outside the city in neighboring Blacktown, to pet koalas or even feed an ice cream cone (of grass) to a big kangaroo. The koalas are quite cute, but because they sleep for large parts of the day, you mostly just look at them. Surprisingly, their fur feels coarse like a Brillo pad!
I loved Sydney. It was a fairly safe place for a solo traveler to experience a new culture that’s similar enough to U.S., but different enough (driving on the other side of the road, animals, accents) to expand my worldview.