Warm-natured, sun-kissed and naturally good looking, Sydney is rather like its lucky, lucky residents. Situated on one of the world's most striking harbours, where the twin icons of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge steal the limelight, the relaxed capital of New South Wales is surprisingly close to nature. Within minutes you can be riding the waves on Bondi Beach, bushwalking in Manly or gazing out across Botany Bay, where the first salt-encrusted Europeans arrived in the 18th century. You can understand why they never wanted to leave.
For that "I'm in Sydney!" feeling, nothing beats the first glimpse of the white-sailed Opera House and the iconic Harbour Bridge, which you can climb for a bird's-eye view of the sparkling harbor. Move on to the Royal Botanical Gardens' tropical greenery and the Museum of Contemporary Art's cutting-edge exhibitions. It's no wonder Sydneysiders look so bronzed and relaxed with 70 beaches close by -- from the fizzing surf of famous Bondi Beach to Manly's coastal walks and pine-flanked bays.
Sydney Opera House in Australia
Don't let the knockout views of Sydney Harbour distract you from your shopping in The Rocks' specialty shops and galleries, crammed with one-off gifts, quirky fashion, and hand-painted ceramics. Sydneysiders shop for designer styles under the soaring glass arches of the Queen Victoria Building. There's also the city's very own Oxford Street and the fashionable Surry Hills and Paddington suburbs. Combine a morning looking for vintage clothes and prÃªt-a-porter swimwear at Bondi Market with time-out on the beach.
Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia
The Sydneysiders' fun-loving spirit soon rubs off, whether you're hitting the buzzy bars and clubs on come-as-you-are Oxford Street or downing a Coopers stout in stylish-meets-sleazy Kings Cross. After dark, lights magically illuminate Circular Quay and the sails of the Sydney Opera House, staging top-drawer opera, classical concerts, and ballet. Enjoy homebrews and Aussie-style banter in The Rocks' historic pubs, or panoramic views and cocktails in Darling Harbour's chichi lounge bars.
Darling Habour, Sydney, Australia
Dine in a different country every night in multicultural Sydney -- whether late-night noodles in Chinatown, tasty tapas in the Spanish Quarter or authentic Thai curries on bohemian King Street. BYOB restaurants and sensible prices make eating out affordable in all but the very top places -- French-Japanese Tetsuya's, for instance. Special occasion? Head to Circular Quay's sleek waterfront restaurants for the Opera House view and Mod Oz cuisine -- a blend of Australian, Mediterranean, and spicy Asian flavors.
Whichever way you look at it, there's so much to do in Sydney that you could easily spend a week here and still find yourself crashing into bed each night, exhausted from trying to see it all.
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Penmon Point, near Beaumaris, Anglesey
Tucked away on the eastern tip of Anglesey, Penmon Point makes an ideal lunch stop as part of a coastal walk (the Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path runs through it). The Pilot House cafe serves Welsh cream teas in its garden overlooking Puffin Island (half a mile offshore), the Menai Strait and Snowdonia. The Penmon lighthouse nearby sounds its melancholy fog bell every 30 seconds, an atmospheric soundtrack to a stroll along the award-winning pebble beach with its potential for porpoise and seal spotting. A short walk down the toll road (free for pedestrians) leads to the 13th-century Penmon Priory and holy well dedicated to Saint Seiriol, and an Elizabethan dovecote, all ancient, arcane and architecturally interesting.
â€¢ For a longer stay, check into the Old Coastguard House; sleeps six from Â£895 a week in summer