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24 hours in Sydney

  • Story Highlights
  • Chinese food for breakfast -- yum cha -- is a Sydney tradition
  • Climb the Harbor Bridge for great views of the city
  • Dine at Tetsuya, ranked by Restaurant magazine as the 4th best in the world
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By Wendy Saunt
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CNN Traveller

(CNN Traveller) -- Natural beauty, outdoor living and fine dining -- Wendy Saunt crams one week's activities into one memorable day.

Sydney's Opera House is recognized instantly the world over, but there are plenty of hidden gems to be found.

08.00: Chinese food for breakfast might seem like something you would only do with a hangover, but yum cha -- think Chinese tapas on trolleys -- is a Sydney tradition. Head down to China Town in Haymarket and take your pick -- East Ocean (421-429 Sussex Street) is a favorite with Sydneysiders.

09.00: Walk off your breakfast with some shopping. You will see many international designers and a plethora of great home-grown ones too, from Sass & Bide to Collette Dinnigan. Sieve through the grand Queen Victoria Building (known as the QVB) and David Jones department store in town, then head east across Hyde Park -- stopping off at the art deco Anzac war memorial -- towards Oxford Street, where there are some great boutiques. Sydney is also a good place to buy opals and pearls.

11.30: Continue east to the chi-chi 'old Sydney' suburbs of Paddington and Woollahra, where you will find some of the city's most beautiful architecture. Here the wrought iron balconies and the palm trees of the Victorian terrace houses lend the city a seductive, New Orleans feel. Stop for a coffee in one of the many fine coffee houses, then make your way up back up to Oxford Street and jump on the number 380 bus to Bondi.

12.30: For the best view of Bondi -- the quintessentialSydney beach -- get off the bus as it comes down the hill. From here, it is a short walk to Icebergs restaurant. From its vantage point on the coastal cliffs at the southern end -- overlooking the sweep of Bondi beach, the raging surf, and the gleaming white of the outdoor pool -- Icebergs is Sydney at its best. Tables at this renowned restaurant are hard to come by, so book ahead (www.idrb.com). After lunch, do the Bondi-to-Coogee coastal walk, which traces three bays -- Clovelly, Tamarama and Gordon's (a great snorkeling spot) -- and affords cliff-top views before finishing up, an hour or so later, at Coogee, a beach to the south. Once there, take your weary self down to Wylie's Baths, an outdoor sea water pool that has not changed since its inception in 1907, and get an al fresco massage (www.massagebythesea.com.au. From $25).

16.00: The best way to see the city -- which is laid out along the contours of a vast and beautiful natural harbor -- is from the air. Depending on your budget, you can take in the views from Sydney Tower (100 Market Street, $24.50), climb the Harbor Bridge (www.bridgeclimb.com, from $179), or charter a helicopter (www.sydneyhelicopters.com.au, from $180). If you want to see it from the 'ground', charter a yacht and join the harbor's fray (www.eastsail.com.au, from $625).

18.00: After a quick change, head down to Circular Quay for sun downers at the Opera Bar. With the Harbor Bridge to your left and the grand old Opera House to your right, it is easy to see why it is the place for evening drinks. House Brut is a steal at AUS$34 ($32); the bucket-sized portions of fries a snip at AUS$7 ($6.50). Do not be late, though -- the view here at dusk is enough to make you want to stay in Sydney forever.

19.00: While in the vicinity, see what is on at the Opera House -- there is a huge program, from world music to musicals too.(www.sydneyoperahouse.com). If that is not your scene, it is still worth taking a tour of the iconic building -- the last one is at 5pm, though ($32).

21.00: With Sydney famed for its cuisine, dining options are not in short supply. Billy Kwong's is one of the city's foremost places, dishing up vast portions of fresh, light and ever-so-tasty Chinese food in a tiny Shanghai tearoom-style restaurant (355 Crown Street, Surry Hills). For a taste of modern Australian, take a taxi to The Bathers' Pavilion, a seafood restaurant in the western suburb of Balmoral (4 The Esplanade, Balmoral Beach). Finally, Tetsuya's -- with its famed $195 10-course degustation menu -- is ranked by Restaurant magazine as the fourth best restaurant in the world (529 Kent Street, Sydney). To sit at its hallowed tables, you need to book several months -- possibly even a year -- in advance.

11.00: Still standing? Then hit the late-night bars. The Loft by the water (3 Lime Street, Kings Street Wharf, Sydney), Arthouse Hotel in the CBD (275 Pitt Street, Sydney), Ruby Rabbit in city's clubbing district (231 Oxford Street, Darlinghurst) and The Tilbury in one of Sydney's smartest suburbs (12 Nicholson Street, Woolloomooloo) are all good choices. And if you are at the latter, finish off your night with a pie at Harry's Cafe de Wheels (Cowper Wharf Road) -- another Sydney institution.

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All About Sydney (Australia)Bondi BeachSydney Opera House

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