Sydney- Walking the Rocks and Circular Quay

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Sydney Harbour- suhc a gorgeous, fun place to visit!

I recently visited Australia- the trip of a lifetime- with my parents and my cousin to celebrate my brother and sister in law’s wedding in Brisbane. After the festivities and fun touring Brisbane was over (head here to check out my tips for Brisbane), my mom, my cousin and I went to Sydney for 2 days to check out the city (or more like one night, one full day and night, and one morning… but more on that in a bit). I can’t sum up my love of Sydney enough- it is gorgeous, quirky, easy to walk, and full of pretty sights. Since we were limited on time, we pretty much just stuck to one area- and spent our time Walking the Rocks and Circular Quay.

The Rocks is a historic area on the southern shore of Sydney Harbour- rich in history from Sydney’s early days, and home to fabulous artists, restaurants, shops and great sights. Circular Quay (pronounced “keey”) is the main harbour area in Sydney- home to restaurants, shops, tourist attractions like harbour cruises, and the Opera House.


When we got into Sydney, we headed to the Harbour Marriott, just a few blocks from the Opera House. We were so excited to have a hotel super close to the action- and I had been talking to the fabulous PR team at the Marriott to give us ideas of what to do in Sydney. Unfortunately, there was a major snag in our plans. The points company my mom booked our room with gave us a confirmation, but they never sent the room request to the Marriott. The Marriott was completely sold out, so they had no rooms to offer us. Almost ever hotel in Sydney Harbour was booked up because of a Juventus game, Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Australia, and a host of other major events. We were seemingly stranded! Luckily, the fabulous staff at the Marriott comforted us with tea and had numerous staff members calling around to other hotels for us to try to get us in somewhere. The mix up wasn’t their fault at all- but they took SUCH good care of us. We are SO thankful for their help!


So, at this point, I’m going to go ahead and say the trip took a great turn. The points company who made the error got us into one of the last hotel rooms- in the Four Seasons.

You guys. The Sydney Four Seasons…. it’s heaven.


I recently stayed in the Four Seasons in Vail, and was expecting a luxurious room with a great bathroom and total comfort. We were not disappointed! The only room they had left (just about the last room in the entire city) only had a king bed, which wasn’t ideal for our group of 3. But the four seasons arranged a rollout bed and made it look like it was meant to be there. It didn’t take up any precious space (the room was enormous- we were in a regular room, not a suite, but it felt incredibly grand) and it was pretty comfortable. It was a huge relief to just have any room- let alone a room in the PERFECT location.

circular quay from the opera house, sydney

See the tan building on the right hand side, just above the bunch of trees? That is the Sydney Four Seasons. Right across the street from the harbour, at the entrance to the rocks, and super close to the Sydney Opera House. This photo was actually taken from the steps of the Opera House! To say they have a perfect location is an understatement!

After we checked in, our room wasn’t ready quite yet (which is totally understandable considering the ordeal- we walked over the second we were told we secured a room there), so we walked up the street to grab a (much needed) pint and some food at Hart’s Pub. One of my brothers good friends in Brisbane has known the owner of Hart’s since high school- and since we love craft beer, she told us we had to check it out. Hart’s is not only perfect for craft beer- but they have excellent food, too. And their prices were actually much less expensive than I thought we would find in Sydney, especially for gourmet gastropub food.


After our food, we checked in and rested for a little bit before heading out to explore. It was rainy and dark as my cousin and I wandered around Sydney, and I didn’t want to lug my DSLR in the rain. Let me just tell you- there is NOTHING more magical than Sydney at dark in a light rain. It was amazing at every turn!

The next morning, we headed out to see this magical city in the light. We headed straight out of the Four Seasons and walked towards The Rocks- Sydney’s original harbourside development. While most of Sydney is fresh and new, the Rocks is still made up of original buildings that are reminiscent of quaint British towns- mostly because the buildings from the British Immigrants influence on the area.

restaurants on the harbour, sydney

How COOL is this block of restaurants? This is on the pathway just past the cruise dock as you walk from circular quay towards the Harbour Bridge. And directly across, the view is impeccable:

sydney harbour and circular quay

We kept walking towards the bridge, taking in all the cute boats we saw zipping in and out. There were pirate adventures, harbour cruises, and small boats docking for the day.

Hyatt Regency, Sydney Harbour



While we weren’t staying at the Park Hyatt Sydney (Juventus pretty much rented the thing out and the grounds were crawling with Italian soccer security and all of their tour busses, sponsor vehicles and throngs of fans hoping to get autographs), it is truly gorgeous. It’s actually situated on a small jetty right under the Harbour bridge and across from the Opera House. It must feel like you’re floating on water from their rooms!

looking out to luna park, sydney harbour

One of the things I was DYING to do was take a boat over to Luna Park and take photos. You can see the ferris wheel and large sun mural just under the bridge in this photo. Unfortunately, it was closed the only full day we were there, so there was no time! I was bummed- but it was cool to see across the water. And at night, it was lit up and gorgeous!

sydney opera house

From the bridge, we walked back up and around The Rocks a bit towards the Big Dig- one of the biggest archaeological records of life in Victorian Australia. The entire area had been evacuated because of the plague, and many buildings were simply built over after the plague was gone- leaving a treasure trove of artifacts from Victorian life. The structures below represent the types of buildings you’d find on this street. It’s a great place to learn all about Sydney’s early history! We also checked out the Susannah Place Museum– a museum that walked us through the lives of various occupants of early Sydney- through modern day public housing residents. It was very interesting, and we learned a lot about life in The Rocks!
the big dig- syndey

The Rocks has plenty of British Victorian charm for being in Australia:

phone booth in the rocks, sydney


Of course, we also checked out plenty of bakeries, coffee shops and restaurants in the Rocks, too. There was absolutely no shortage of delicious places to eat!


the rocks, sydney australia

All throughout the Rocks, we could see our little home away from home- seriously- how perfect is the location of the Four Seasons?

four seasons sydney towering above the rocks


We then walked over to the Opera House. Since we were there in winter, there was some significant construction- but that didnt stop us from climbing the steps and checking out the iconic space close up!

sydney opera house- australia

We learned a fun fact- the white shapes are actually composed of a ton of white tiles in alternating intricate patterns. Check it out closeup:

sydney opera house- up close!



Hope you enjoyed this little view into our trip and sights from the Rocks and Circular Quay- stay tuned because I am going to share some GORGEOUS photos from our walk through the Royal Botanic Gardens!


sydney opera house and the harbour

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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  1. Oooo! Courtney! Your pics are amazing. What a great adventure & to experience another part of the world, lucky you. Everything looks incredible.

    One day…