There are so many places Britain’s royal family goes that we regular people will never set foot in, let alone lay eyes on. Fortunately, Sydney’s best attractions aren’t among them.
Since landing on Down Under on Oct. 14, Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, have been sightseeing as if it was an Olympic sport. (Granted, it is the expectant mother’s first time in Australia). So if Sydney is in bold on your bucket list, or you’re simply curious about one of the most searched cities of 2018, here’s how you can experience it like you came straight from Kensington Palace.
How to get there:
Meghan and Harry flew British Airways, but the most affordable from the U.S. to Sydney start at around $3,000 round trip for a 14-hour nonstop flight from LAX, or as low as $850 round trip for a 17-hour, one-stop flight from LAX. Even cheaper fares, as low as the $700s, can be found by subscribing to a free service that sends low-price alerts straight to your inbox, like Scott’s Cheap Flights of FareCompare.
Where to stay:
Unless you’re on a first-name basis with the Governor General of Australia (his name is Peter), you probably can’t stay at Admiralty House like Harry and Meghan, or Prince William and Kate. But you won’t want to, anyway. While the North Shore estate is beautiful and neighbors include the Australian Prime Minister, it’s not conveniently located downtown.
Instead, book a room at Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park. For rates as low as $150 USD/night, you’ll have access to the five-star hotel’s amenities and be within walking distance of Hyde Park, the Royal Botanical Garden, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney Sea Life Aquarium and Sydney Tower Eye — the second tallest observation tower in the Southern Hemisphere. Of course, you also don’t even have to leave the Sheraton to experience Sydney. As part of its "Heart for the City" tour, Sheraton offers guests on-site immersive photo experiences (think: Instagram gold) inspired by Sydney icons.
What to climb:
Prince Harry climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge to raise the flag for the Invictus Games, hosted in Sydney this year. But you can climb the world’s largest steel arch bridge for bragging rights, and take advantage of 360 degrees of sweeping skyline views. You would even glimpse the Blue Mountains in the distance.
For a really unforgettable climb that will put your fear of heights to the test, sign up for the Night Climb. Packages start around $120 USD and include a ticket to the Pylon Lookout Museum, where you can see how the bridge was built.
Where to swim:
Bondi Beach, Australia’s most popular stretch of sand, is infamous for once banning bikinis. These days it’s more liberal and also where Harry and Meghan held hands in an “anti-bad vibe circle” hosted by a local surfing organization. But since you’re not on official state business, you can relax by catching waves, swimming laps at the stunning Bondi Icebergs — think public infinity-esque pools overlooking the ocean — or simply working on those tan lines. With average daily highs in the 80s, Sydney is the ideal destination for Summer 2.0.
Who to see:
Koalas and kangaroos are the unofficial mascots of Australia. So, it’s no surprise Harry and Meghan made time to meet these adorable marsupials at Taronga Zoo Sydney. Adult admission is $30 USD (save 10 percent by booking online), but it’s worth it to see more than 4,000 exotic animals. Located on the water, Taronga Zoo is also one of the best places on earth to spend New Year’s Eve. (Sydney – which hosts an aerial acrobatics show and launches fireworks from seven barges, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House – will be the first city on the Travel Channel’s Top 10 New Year’s Eve cities to welcome 2019.)
Where to eat:
The royals lunched with the prime minister at The Pavilion, an Italian eatery in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, located right on “Sydney’s tourist trail.” For protein so fresh it’s practically swimming, you can’t go wrong at Fish at the Rocks and Sydney Cove Oyster Bar, two of Sydney’s highest-rated seafood restaurants, according to TripAdvisor. If your taste buds are dying to know what crocodile, kangaroo and even emu taste like, hit up the historic (est. 1842) Australian Heritage Hotel — next fall, this famous watering hole (it also serves craft brews and still has saloon doors) will host the 15th Annual Australian Beer Festival.
Shows to catch:
Even if you’ve never seen an opera, you’ve seen the Sydney Opera House. Celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, it’s still one of the world’s most recognized architectural achievements. On one of their visits to the Opera House, Harry and Meghan took in a rehearsal of an Aboriginal dance group. But with more than 40 weekly shows, you can catch everything from musicals to ballets, magic shows and concerts. And if you were around in 1980 you could even catch Arnold Schwarzenegger claiming his last Olympia bodybuilding title.
And finally, how to get around:
Nicknamed “Harbour City,” Sydney is often best explored by boat. Harry and Meghan went from Taronga Zoo to the Opera House by water, and also took a boat to Cockatoo Island — a UNESCO World Heritage Site and former prison (it’s Australia’s answer to Alcatraz) accessible by ferry and kayak. For a more thrilling experience, board the Thunder Jet promising 30 minutes of splashes, stunts and 360-degree spins. It’s an adrenaline-inducing ride that the expecting Meghan, who bowed out of an Australian island excursion due to rough terrain, can use as a reason to return to Sydney.