If you’re a newcomer to Sydney, like Francesco and I were, the first place you should go is Observatory Hill.

It overlooks the Harbour Bridge and is a great place to relax, do some people-watching, and begin to get oriented to the city. The Observatory is in a neighbourhood called the Rocks, which is where the British landed and is the oldest (and in our opinion, most picturesque) part of the city. A good bit of the Rocks was torn down in the 1970s, but fortunately preservationists were able to save a portion of it, and it’s worth a visit. You can also walk or bike across the bridge, which offers what is arguably the best view in the city of the iconic Opera House. No matter how many times you’ve seen photographs of it, seeing the real thing is something you’ll never forget! The shopping in Sydney is great. I dragged Francesco to almost every one of the city’s many markets, but my favourites were the Orange Grove Organic Market (I wanted to try everything!) and Glebe Market, which is great for vintage clothes. We spent part of a day wandering through the streets of Sydney’s China Town and rested for a bit in the serene Chinese Garden of Friendship. We found a truly quirky and beautiful slice of the city in an alley at Angel Place, where more than one hundred empty birdcages are suspended in mid-air. Not only are they charming to see, but the cages also play the songs of dozens of birds that once made a home in the area prior to urbanization. With so much to see in Sydney, don’t forget to head to its famous beaches. Virtually everyone knows about Bondi and Coogee Beaches, but there are more than one hundred beaches in the city, and each of them has its own unique charm.