Perched on the East Coast of Australia, fewcities are as geographically spectacular as Sydney, the capital of the state of New SouthWales, and home to over four and a half million people.
Surrounded by the rolling PacificOcean, two dramatic headlands stand as a timeless gateway to one of the worlds most beautifulharbors.
Blessed with over 100 beaches, bathed in year-round sunshine, and buzzing with ayouthful vitality, when it comes to the good life, Sydney is hard to top.
Sydney's heart is the harbor.
What beganas a penal colony in 1788, would within a century be transformed into paradise.
Fromits rough and tumble beginnings in an area known as The Rocks, Sydney soon threw offits convict shackles and blossomed into a gracious city, filled with Victorian Architectureand public gardens.
New arrivals came by the boatload in search of a new life.
The cityexpanded, into gorgeous inner city suburbs like Paddington, harbor neighborhoods likeRose Bay, and into beachside communities up and down the coast.
For first-timers, Sydney can feel like a mazeof beaches, headlands, bays and coves.
The quickest way to find your bearings is to takethe trip to the top of the Sydney Tower.
From over 800 feet up, the observation deck offers360 degree views of the entire city.
Once you've come to grips with the layoutof the city, head to Circular Quay, Sydney's version of Grand Central Station.
From CircularQuay you can get just about anywhere by ferry, water taxi or train.
Just to the right, likewhite sails billowing in the breeze is the Sydney Opera House.
You don't need a ticketor tuxedo to explore this incredible performance venue.
Whichever way you look, inside or outside,up or down, the Opera House is nothing less than an architectural miracle.
Just behind the Opera House, on the site ofSydney's first farm are the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Sydney Domain.
Here you'llfind Government House, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and some of the leafiest viewsin Sydney.
To the left of Circular Quay stands the famous"Coat-hanger", the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
One of Sydney's famous sons, Paul Hogan, thestar Crocodile Dundee, was a painter on the bridge before he hit the big time.
But youdon't need to work on the bridge to enjoy the views from the top, simply strap on asafety harness and join a Bridge Climb Tour.
Just across the bridge at Luna Park, you'llfind Sydney's most famous smile.
The rides are a little on the vintage side, but thelocals wouldn't have it any other way.
This heritage-listed fun park has been thrillingAussie families since 1935.
Just a short ferry ride from Luna Park isDarling Harbour, one of Sydney's urban renewal triumphs.
Once the site of rusting railwayyards, Darling Harbour is now home to the National Maritime Museum, and popular parks,bars and restaurants.
Only a few blocks away you'll find the Powerhouse Museum, a celebrationof steam, space, and science.
A short walk across the Pyrmont Bridge isthe Sydney Sea Life Aquarium where you'll experience many of Australia's maritime environments,from the Great Barrier Reef, to the rugged South Coast.
Australia has a reputation asa land of creatures that bite, sting, and can even rip off your whole arm.
At the WildLife Sydney nature park, say g'day to some of the world's deadliest creatures, as wellas some of Australia's most cuddly.
But for the zoo with the view, hop back onthe ferry and cruise over to Taronga Zoo.
Ride the cable car to the top of the hilland follow the paths back down, past some of the happiest and most relaxed looking creaturesyou'll ever see.
And who wouldn't be, with views like this! When it's time to cool off, grab your toweland head to Bondi Beach.
You haven't experienced Sydney until you've felt Bondi's goldensand between your toes.
The beach is patrolled year round by bronzed Aussie lifesavers, butalways remember to swim between the flags! Another famous seaside suburb not to be missedis Manly.
The 30-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay to Manly Wharf is all part of the adventure.
Go for a dip in the gentle harbor-side waters of Manly Cove, or head through the historicCorso to Manly Beach.
If you've never tried surfing, pack your board-shorts, this is theplace to learn.
Feeling energetic? Hike the coastal paths and bush tracks to North Headfor some incredible views back to the city.
So, you've climbed the bridge, tackled someBondi waves, and wrangled the wildlife, no doubt your feeling a little a thirsty.
Timeto partake in one of the great Sydney traditions.
Join the locals by the water, raise your icecold beer, and make a toast ~ to paradise.