How to visit Sydney like a local

Here’s your guide to one of Australia’s biggest cities straight from someone who knows the city like the back of their hand: our Chauffeur of the Month for April, Jay.

Visit Sydney like a local. Image credit: Rudy Balasko
Visit Sydney like a local. Image credit: Rudy Balasko

Jay was born in Seoul, South Korea, but has lived in Sydney since 2006. While he originally planned on going back to South Korea after completing his studies, Sydney stole his heart.

What convinced Jay to call the city home was the fresh air, multiculturalism, and blue skies.

“You don’t need to work with Photoshop to make blue-sky photos,” Jay said.

“Sometimes it looks unreal because it’s completely blue.”

Along the same vein, Jay recommends every visitor to Sydney bring sunscreen and sunglasses, no matter the season.

“You can still enjoy surfing in winter — it’s not as cold in winter as you think,” Jay advised.

He also recommends looking up local events as there is always something going on, making every visit unique.

Blacklane chauffeur Jay. Image credit: Supplied
Blacklane chauffeur Jay. Image credit: Supplied

Start your morning right

Australia produces high-quality coffee but doesn’t have enough beans to export, which means you should skip Starbucks and head to a small cafe to taste a brew you won’t find in any other country. If you’re also heading to Melbourne on your Aussie adventure, our guide to Melbourne also includes some caffeinated recommendations.

As for where to eat, Jay said the best Korean restaurant in the city is Danjee Korean BBQ. And he should know.

“My wife was a chef so we don’t often have dinner out, however Danjee is the exception,” he said.

“Korean barbecue and spicy dishes with kimchi are always best.

“Also you can drink traditional Korean alcoholic drinks, I mean very unique drinks, not Soju.”

In the middle of the city’s Central Business District, the restaurant is the perfect finishing touch on a full day of sightseeing.

Get a different perspective on well-known landmarks

The Jay-approved sightseeing tour hits all the expected landmarks, but perhaps not from the expected angle.

Jay said the view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge is lovely from Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair (a stone bench on one of the bay’s peninsulas) but also recommends viewing the massive structure from the Hickson Road Reserve, at the base of the bridge near the Park Hyatt Hotel.

He said it’s also a great spot to view another iconic symbol of Sydney, the Sydney Opera House. Have you always pictured the sails as pure white? Jay hinted that you may want to take a closer look.

The Sydney Opera House. Image credit: Mlenny/iStock
The Sydney Opera House. Image credit: Mlenny/iStock

In between the Opera House and Harbour Bridge is a wharf from which you can take a ferry to Manly, the city’s easternmost peninsula where you can see a beautiful view of the city skyline on one side and the open ocean on the other.

Also accessible by ferry is Taronga Zoo, which Jay described as yet another picture-perfect spot.

“Would you like to get the Harbour Bridge, Opera House, and a giraffe in the same frame? I’m sure you will get it there,” Jay said.

Last but certainly not least is Jay’s favorite place in all of Sydney – Darling Harbour. True to the name, it is indeed darling, and a great place to people-watch. It’s an open leisure space with a park that overlooks the water, is often host to a range of outdoor entertainment, and is surrounded by dining and shopping options.

A final piece of advice Jay gave was one for the lovebirds: “If you go to the lounge bar of the Hyatt Regency Hotel at night time, your wedding proposal will be accepted.”


Marlys Klossner

Marlys, a journalism major from Canada, now calls Germany home. She spends her days writing punchy copy and lovely long-form articles, and spends her evenings watching so-bad-it's-bad reality TV. Her prized possessions? Medals from her days as a synchronized swimmer.