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Perhaps no other city in all of Australia draws in more visitors each year than mighty Sydney. The most populous city in the country and a popular destination for domestic and international travellers, Sydney’s world-famous beaches, incredible landmarks, and access to beautiful country towns and wildlife, make it a great place to visit.
Although there is public transportation, the city’s sprawling nature and the sheer amount of things to see and do makes hiring a car in Sydney a no brainer. DriveNow helps you find, compare then book car rental that works for you.
Save on Sydney car hire through DriveNow. We take the fuss out of renting cars in Sydney by comparing the lowest rental prices from Australia's most trusted hire car companies, and all for free!
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To maximise the time on your trip, you’re probably going to want to stay within a few kilometres of the CBD. However, when you rent a car in Sydney, you open up your accommodation options greatly, making your decision that much easier.
The Best Hotels in the CBD
As you can imagine, a thriving, bustling metropolis such as Sydney has a bevy of fantastic hotel options for visitors, from boutique to standard to the outright luxurious.
The folks at QT Sydney have turned some of the most famous real estate in the CBD into a fun, funky place to stay. This 200-suite accommodation adds contemporary chic design to the iconic Gowings and State Theatre buildings in the heart of the CBD, providing a marvellous mishmash of quirkiness and tradition. Look out over it all from above and have some food and drinks in Gowings before taking a funky elevator ride down to get amongst all the action.
The Darling at The Star
There are several hotels from which to choose if you want to stay near Darling Harbour, but the revamped Darling, at the Star Casino, offers a bit more action and excitement. A boutique feel on an upscale budget, this hotel has an outdoor heated pool, a spa, and a fitness centre to boot. The location really can’t be beaten.
Parking your car hire at Sydney’s luxurious Darling Hotel is easy. The secure underground car park is designed with the latest directional parking technology so no more stressing over spots. Join The Star Club program to earn free parking, or leave your Sydney car rental with a valet for a more hassle-free experience.
The Best Hotels Outside of the CBD
The CBD is flanked by a collection of smaller suburbs full of their own flavour. Spots such as Darlinghurst, Paddington, Newtown, and Surry Hills provide a younger vibe without feeling off limits for those with mortgages and children. The array of great cafes and restaurants and fantastic people watching opportunities is wrapped in a conveniently walkable environment. If you’re up for it, there are often rooms or full apartments you can rent in these areas on services such as Airbnb in addition to great hotel options.
The Urban Hotel
One of the most entertaining and diverse areas in all of Sydney, Newtown is home to alternative lifestyles, hip haircuts and a collection of awesome pubs, restaurants, and shops. The Urban Hotel puts you smack dab in the middle of this trendiness and just a few minutes away from the CBD. Pro tip: The Courthouse Hotel has a fantastic patio out the back great for sinking a few drinks in the afternoon or evening.
The Cambridge Hotel steeps you in the great atmosphere of Surry Hills without taking you too far from the CBD. You’ll also be within walking distance of the Central Station transportation hub (downhill on the way from your accommodation!) and not too far from the Sydney Cricket Ground and Allianz Stadium.
Taxi fares from the airport will set you back approximately $45-$50, and shuttle but services to the Cambridge are available for $15 per person, but with your Sydney hire car you can skip the queue and enjoy a hassle-free ride direct to the hotel carpark.
There is no shortage of attractions to check out while in The Big Smoke, especially if you’ve made the ace move of procuring cheap car rental in Sydney. Want to know which attractions to prioritise? Read on to find out our favourite things to do in Sydney.
Take a Walk on the Wild Side
Getting up close and personal with Australian animals is a major tourist attraction for those visiting from outside of Australia. However, it can also be thrilling for those who call the land down under home. Sydney is the place to go to meet and greet your newest fun, furry friends.
Your best bet for seeing animals in Sydney is the magnificent Taronga Zoo. The massive award-winner has enough going on that you could spend an entire day ambling from enclosure to enclosure. You can also sign up for a private Animal Encounter that brings you up-close-and-personal with koalas, giraffes, penguins or owls. Although you can definitely use your hire car to drive there, consider taking a ferry from Circular Quay. The ride only takes about 12 minutes and provides a refreshing alternative to driving. This mode of transport also gets bonus points for providing incredible photo ops of the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House!’
Koala Park Sanctuary
If you’re looking for something a bit smaller and cheaper, hop in your hire car and head for the Koala Park Sanctuary in West Pennant Hills. About 30-40 minutes from the CBD in a more suburban part of Sydney, this little oasis of wildlife will scratch your itch for seeing cute and cuddly koalas up close.
Hit the Beach
Along with the Gold Coast and Perth, Sydney is home to a stack of beaches of various shapes and sizes. With cheap car rental in Sydney, you can pack up all your gear and head to the sunny shores at your own convenience.
Manly and Bondi
Perhaps the two most well-known beaches in Sydney, these hotspots feature more than just beachy landscape in which to soak up the sun. On balmy days, both these places can get absolutely rammed with those looking to work on their tan or splash around in the ocean.
Even if you’re adverse to crowds, the busy, buzzing atmosphere shouldn’t stop you from heading toward the coastline. There are plenty of other things to do in those areas. Bondi and Manly are populated with numerous cafes, restaurants, and bars, each of which don’t mind you shaking off a bit of sand onto their floors as you enjoy a cold beverage or some food along with the view.
As an added bonus, Bondi serves as one end of the breath-taking Bondi to Coogee Walk. This six kilometre (3.7 mile) along the coach takes you by a bunch of beautiful beaches, each with their own little bit of personality. The stops on this walk are also likely to be less crowded than the aforementioned Bondi and Manly.
With cheap car rental in Sydney, you have the power to avoid the hustle and bustle of the larger, more well-known beach scenes. For something a bit off the beaten path, try Little Bay Beach in Randwick, just around the cape from Botany Bay. This spot is split into two smaller beaches and offers limited landscape, but if you can get a spot the crystal clear water will be your reward.
Camp Cove Beach, just down the road from the fantastic Watson’s Bay Hotel, is another small, secluded spot with some charm. The excellent Green Point Walking Track neighbours the beach, completing the package.
Penrith and Blacktown are other great spots to visit if your version of a relaxing holiday involves big waves, huge stretches of soft sand, and plenty of sun. Just don’t forget to slip, slop, slap – Australia has some of the highest UV levels in the world.
With a city the size of Sydney, it should not be surprising that there is an absolute mountain of incredible places to grab a bite to eat or sip some delicious drinks. Although there are enough amazing places to fill a lifetime of holidays, here a few Sydney highlights for you to enjoy during your next trip.
Hidden Jewels in the CBD
Without a treasure map, you might walk right be these tasty, fairly non-descript establishments. Good thing we’re here to help guide you! Just keep these to yourself if you want to get a table, ok?
Awesome Asian Food Architects
Sydney’s range of tasty food from and inspired by the Asian region is something to behold, with amazing offerings from upscale all the way down to quick takeaway bites on seemingly every corner. But a couple sneaky spots are well worth your time if you’re looking for a meal that won’t put too much stress on your wallet (your waistline might be a different story!).
You likely won’t surprise many locals by dropping the name Chinese Noodle Restaurant, but its unassuming storefront, décor and lack of web presence qualify it as a hidden gem in our eyes. Don’t let the name fool you, either. The real draw here is the amazing range of fresh, piping hot dumplings. You can get 8-12 of them for about 10 bucks, which is quite a steal in Sydney.
If you want to leave your Sydney car rental parked, this place is a quick 10 minutes or so from Central Station by foot. It’s also BYO, so grab a beer or some wine from the grocery shop around the corner to wash all the yummy, fresh goodness down. While you might think the fake grapes hanging from the ceiling are tacky, they’re actually a call back to the culture of north-western China.
If you want a bit more variety, the Dixon House food court has about a dozen stalls featuring all the delicious Asian food you can handle. Noodles and rice dishes, pho, dumplings, and other tasty meals come out sizzling as you take a seat next to dozens of other feasting customers. The only difficulty is waiting for your food to cool down enough to tuck in.
Clever Cocktail Creators
You might not realise it, but as you walk around the Sydney CBD looking for a trendy place to stop in and have a drink, you’re strolling right by some of the most creative cocktail scientists in the whole city. Up hidden stairwells and down inconspicuous alleys sit some of the tastiest drinks and snacks in the city. See if you can find your way into The Rook, The Swinging Cat or, if you dig drams, The Baxter Inn and its wall of whiskey.
Fine dining that isn’t overly pretentious in an environment that mixes fun, romance and excitement, Restaurant Hubert has been rolling in accolades since opening in 2016. You can’t go wrong on the French-inspired menu, and the live band is a free side dish providing the perfect ambiance for an incredible dinner. Don’t fret over the long wait times, either. Find a spot at the bar and get one of the immaculate cocktails on offer. Their take on the whiskey sour is especially delicious.
Although there’s a seemingly endless array of things to do in town, Sydney can be the perfect launching pad for a great road trip with your fellow travellers. Whether you want to head out and come back in the same day or would rather spend a few days out of town, here are a few places your Sydney car rental or campervan hire can take you.
Just remember that peak hour traffic into and out of Sydney is no joke, so you’re better off taking off early or waiting a few hours to let it die down!
The Blue Mountains
With hiking and walking trails for trekkers of all abilities and some amazing scenery, the Blue Mountains region is a favourite of travellers looking to escape the city for a taste of the great outdoors. You can hop in your Sydney hire car and head about 130kms (81 miles) west to get to the range. The standout landmark is the Three Sisters, located in Echo Point in Katoomba.
Besides the incredible bushwalking opportunities, adventure seekers can check out the Jenolan Caves, or families can learn together at Scenic World.
The Central Coast
If you’re in the mood for real adventure, load your Sydney car hire with all the travel essentials and head towards New South Wale’s Central Coast.
Situated on the Pacific Ocean just north of Sydney, the Central Coast region is host to a number of charming coastal towns such as Terrigal and Avoca Beach. With ample beaches and surfing spots dotting the coastline, there’s plenty on offer for the whole family.
The city of Gosford is the main commercial hub and visitor gateway, but further afield lies the metropolitan area of Newcastle, the second most populated area in New South Wales and the largest coal exporting harbour in the world.
The South Coast
If you like life a bit slower paced, the South Coast and its combination of beach scenery and country town charm is for you.
The town of Berry is a great example of such a destination. The fun begins on the way. Instead of making a beeline for Berry, swing off to the left of the Princes Motorway and enjoy the Grand Pacific Drive. Highlights include cruising through the forested roads of the Royal National Park and driving over the Sea Cliff Bridge. The latter will have you feeling like you’re in one of the flying cars of the future as you cruise over the water.
Wollongong, located approximately at the half-way point between Sydney and Berry, is a bustling town that’s the perfect stopover to stretch the legs and grab a quick bite.
Then continue on to Berry, a simple yet satisfying place to visit. Stop at the Famous Berry Donut Van for some warm, freshly baked cinnamon donuts. Or grab an alpaca burger at the historic Berry Hotel.
If you want to dip your toes in the water, you’re only a short drive from Seven Mile Beach in Geroa or the sandy shores of Gerringong.
Circular Quay provides a bit of everything for those visiting Sydney. You can see the unmissable historic landmarks, grab a drink and a bite to eat as you watch the sun go down over the water, or take a stroll through magnificent, immaculately cared-for gardens. All of them are within walking distance if you’re willing to cover a few kilometres between stops!
The Sydney Harbour Bridge
You don’t even have to rent a car in Sydney to enjoy the stunning Sydney Harbour Bridge. The bridge spans 1,149 metres (3,770 feet) and is responsible for helping millions of passengers get to and from the city each year. If you can handle the heights, sign up for a BridgeClimb walk over the top of the structure. Alternatively, you can keep your feet a bit closer to earth and go for a walk, jog, or bike ride over the bridge with the safe, caged-in sidewalks on either side of it. There are stairs leading up to these paths, but just remember to share the path with cyclists and joggers who routinely use it as part of their exercise route.
The Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House has gained global notoriety for its incredible acoustics and stunning design. The work of Danish architect Jorn Utzon, this building has hosted some of the most famous performers in the world since opening in 1973. Classic works of theatre and music as well as cutting-edge comedians and contemporary artists have all graced the stages held within. The Opera House does run tours if you don’t have time to see a show.
The Royal Botanic Garden
Just a few meters away from the iconic Opera House steps sits an entrance into the spectacular Royal Botanic Garden. Covering 64 hectares (158 acres) in total, the gardens are a fantastic place to spend a few hours out in the fresh air. With nearly 9,000 species of plants growing around you and walking paths leading you to, through and around them, your head will spin at all the beauty. Take a load off at Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, a large stone sculpture carved by convicts in 1810 near the tip of Mrs. Macquarie’s Point.
Food and Drink
The Rocks area has a slew of bars and restaurants to check out, though our favourite might be the Glenmore. While you won’t find an extensive beer, wine or spirit list, you will find a rooftop with amazing views of the Sydney skyline and Sydney Harbour. A few hundred metres further inland in the Rocks is the historic Lord Nelson Brewery, Sydney’s oldest continually licensed hotel serving up pints of their own beers.
The Opera Bar, over at the foot of the Sydney Opera House, serves up jaw dropping views along with cold cocktails and buckets of suds and bubbles for those hot summer afternoons and evenings. A favourite spot to head after work for the professional crowd, you might be hard-pressed to find a seat during the crowded evenings. But the daytime will do. Grab something cold to drink and marvel at the Harbour Bridge.