I think the best way to discover a new city is to explore it on foot. I find walking around a place is the best way to get a feel for it. Every time I start planning a holiday one of the first things I do is hunt down self-guided walks or free walks to use while I am there.
As my next holiday is still a few weeks away, I thought I might amuse myself by road-testing some Sydney walking apps. I was surprised how many are available, most of them free and most of them very good.
I trialled these on my Samsung phone when possible, but if an Android version was not available, I used my husbands iPhone 5.
Sydney Culture Walks
This app by The City of Sydney council is pretty comprehensive – if you walked everything they cover it would take you more than a day. Perfect for art and history buffs, the walks included helping you uncover the stories of our city step-by-step. The current version of the app offers ten walks. These walks are probably best for those who have some knowledge of Australian history. They are also ideal for locals who want to know more about the places they stroll past all the time, and they are perfect for impressing friends who come to visit.
The first walk I trialled, the Sydney Sculpture Walk, also turned out to be my favourite. It’s an excellent choice for visitors with plenty of photo opportunities along the route. The walk starts at Art Gallery Road and heads down to the harbour via the Royal Botanic Gardens. It covers lots of my favourite public art and it’s an easy stroll full of great photo opportunities like this one.
History Buffs might prefer the Colony tour that takes in Circular Quay, the Rocks and Millers Point. It includes quite a bit of background reading on the city’s early days. Most of the other walks so far are a little obscure for visitors in my opinion but regular updates are promised so hopefully they will take this into account in future versions.
- Offline access so no huge data spend
- Search by location and themes
- PDF versions of some of the walks are available for download in English, Japanese, Chinese and Korean.
This app by the Haymarket Chamber of Commerce includes walks, a video tour and a local Chinatown dining guide, more than enough to make it worth downloading. It is based on walking tours by George Wing Kee, who was one of the founders of the chamber group. There is also a short video you can watch that covers the main parts of the walk. Before you head off to read through the history section, so you have some knowledge of the background of the area. Also, don’t forget the cuisine guide, you will certainly build up an appetite walking past all these good restaurants.
- Video – 7-minute video of the walk
- Dining Guide
- Glossary of Chinese cuisine
Dictionary of Sydney Walks – Old Irish Sydney Walk
While the average Sydneysider has visited an Irish pub or two for many our knowledge of the Irish history of our city is limited. For example, did you know that there was once a riot in Hyde Park? Or that Sydney has a stained glass window inspired by the Book of Kells? This one-hour walking tour covers 12 sites beginning at Hyde Park. I have Irish heritage so I might be biased but I enjoyed this one. The audio was recorded by actors and is great.
- Offline access
- Includes more reading references for each stop for anyone who wants to delve further into the Irish history of Sydney
- An easy walk covering a short area so good for those with limited time
Stay tuned over coming weeks for more. I have about 3-4 waiting on my phone for a test run. In the meantime tell me, have you used any of these apps? What do you think? Are there any walking apps you would recommend for visitors?
Happy walking everyone!