5 Things to Know Before You Visit Sydney

Sunburn, rain, shopping and customs

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Hindsight is a wonderful thing. How often do you arrive in a new city and think gosh I wish I knew that … The number of people that arrive in Sydney in September and are shocked that they need a jumper always surprises me, or those disappointed by the fact that our shops shut by 6 pm most days. Today I share with you five things visitors to Sydney tell me surprised them most.

It’s not always hot and sunny

Foggy Sydney
Sydney Harbour – somewhere back there is a bridge 🙂

So many people arrive in Sydney in the middle of winter dressed in summer clothes and are shocked to find it is only 12 degrees. So for the record, we have four seasons. Temperatures are mild overall, and rain is scattered however there are days when it’s 6 degrees Celsius and raining non-stop. My tip – Check the weather forecasts before you arrive.The sun burns you faster here

The sun burns you faster here

Science is not my forte, but apparently, it’s due to depletion in the ozone layer above Australia. Lower levels of light blocking pollution might also contribute but whatever the cause skin burns more quickly and at lower temperatures here. Take my word for it and put on some sunscreen – nothing screams tourist faster than lobster skin.

Shopping centres shut most days by 6.30pm

For anyone who is used to shopping in Asia this seems insane, but in some ways, it’s a positive. Get out of the shops and explore the bars, cafes, restaurants and even the great outdoors from Oct-April when the sun does not set until later. Late night shopping (till 9 pm) is on Thursdays in Sydney, other states vary.

It is illegal to ride a bicycle without a helmet and ID 

It is also illegal to ride on the footpath unless you are under ten years old. If you plan on cycling here make sure you check out the rules. This is probably one of the reasons that we don’t have a bike share program yet.

You can be fined for bringing food into Australia

Follow the rules on those little quarantine cards they hand you on the plane before you land. The Customs officials at the airport take their jobs seriously (mostly for good reason) so if you are thinking about trying to bring in a banned food or other organic matter into the country decide if it’s worth the risk of a $200+ on the spot fine. If you have food – nuts, chocolate anything either throw it out when you land or write it on the card. Most of the time they let you keep it if it’s packaged. You can read all the rules here.

What do you wish you had known before you visited Sydney?

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