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Destination – Sydney: Guide for Foreigner Visitors

Destination – Sydney: Guide for Foreigner Visitors

Sydney is one of Australia’s most popular destinations, with a lot to offer to international visitors. From surfers and nature lovers to cultural tourists, people from all continents are attracted to the third most livable city in the world.

Australia has long been a welcoming country with both tourists and immigrants. In fact, nearly 30% of Australia’s resident population was born abroad, and Sydney alone welcomes 10 million tourists from overseas every year.

Foreign citizens wishing to travel to Sydney, however, will need to hold a valid Australian visa. In this article, you’ll find useful travel information for international tourists visiting Sydney, including:

  • Visa information on how to get a travel authorization for Sydney
  • Weather information to decide the right time to travel to Sydney
  • What to do and see in Sydney as a foreign tourist depending on the season.

What Do I Need to Travel to Sydney Australia?

Foreign nationals cannot enter the Australian territory without a valid travel authorization. Most tourists intending to spend a limited time in Australia apply for temporary visas such as the ETA travel authorization or the eVisitor visa as they are often the most straightforward to apply for.

As part of your visa requirements for Australia, it’s possible that you will be asked to obtain further documentation in order to be granted entry. This will depend on the visa you decide to apply for and may include, for example:

  • Medical or travel insurance
  • Proof of employment or studies
  • Proof of financial means to support yourself during your time in Australia
  • A return plane ticket as evidence of your plans to leave Australia

Once you arrive at the Australian border, you’ll need to have a copy of your visa with you. You will also need your passport — the same you used during the visa application. If you plan to drive while in Australia, remember to take a valid driver’s license with you.

How to Get a Visa for Sydney Australia?

In order to travel to Sydney from abroad, you’ll need a visa for Australia. The visa requirements, application, and processing time will depend on the type of Australian visa you are applying for.

Applying for an electronic Australian visa is one of the most convenient ways to obtain your travel authorization, as travelers can complete the application online from anywhere in the world and don’t need to visit an Australian embassy in person.

In order to complete your Australian visa application online, you’ll need your passport, supporting documents, and a credit or debit card to pay the application fee. Some of the documents may be submitted at a later stage in case you don’t have them at hand.

Bondi beach in Sydney,Australia.
Bondi beach in Sydney,Australia.

What Is the Best Time to Visit Sydney Australia?

Sydney is a lively city that is worth visiting all year round. Depending on what you would like to do during your holiday in Sydney, however, you may want to choose a specific time of the year to plan your trip.

If you’re from the Northern hemisphere, keep in mind that the Southern hemisphere follows an opposite season cycle compared to the one you’re used to. This means that Sydneysiders enjoy Christmas time on the beach while they experience colder temperatures between June and September.

What to Do and See in Sydney During the Summer?

The peak season in Sydney runs between late November and February. The temperatures go up to 30 degrees during the warmest weeks, the ocean is calmer, and Christmas holidays make the most popular tourist attractions crowded with both locals and foreign visitors.

This is the ideal time to enjoy laying on the beach, camping, and other outdoor activities. Sydney is surrounded by a plethora of national parks (like the Blue Mountains and the Mimosa Rocks National Park) where you can explore the unique Australian nature. Moreover, the city is buzzing with music and cultural festivals in the many city parks and outdoor spaces.

Beach Scene: Rock Swimming Pools overlooking Tasman Sea in Bondi, Sydney - Australia.
Beach Scene: Rock Swimming Pools overlooking Tasman Sea in Bondi, Sydney - Australia.

What to Do and See in Sydney During the Winter?

The low season is considered to run from late February to the end of August. The weather is colder and more humid. However, this is the ideal season for travelers on a budget and ocean lovers. Sydney’s in a privileged location for whale watching: in June and July, you can sit on Sydney’s Eastern coast and observe these animals from afar, or book a specialized boat tour to get closer.

Waves are bigger in the winter months. This is when experienced surfers come to Sydney to enjoy less crowded and more exciting waters.

Finally, the city is quieter. During the low season, you will spend less time queuing for the most popular Sydney landmarks and attractions — like the Sydney zoo, the Harbour and Opera House, and the many museums and galleries.

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Sydney Travel Alerts


As at 1 May 2020

The Australian Government is monitoring the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) closely. 

Travel restrictions are currently in place for Australia in line with recommendations from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee including the following: 

  • People should avoid non-essential travel within NSW and remain at their primary place of residence. 
  • From Friday 1 May, up to 2 adults and their dependent children will be allowed to visit another household. There is no limit to the distance you may travel to visit a person’s place of residence or how many visitors you can have over in a day, provided there are not more than 2 visiting adults at the one time. You must still practice good hygiene and adhere to social distancing practices.
  • People must stay at home unless they are visiting another household (as above), going to work or school, shopping for food and essentials, getting medical care or supplies, and exercising. You may only leave home with a reasonable excuse – details can be found here. Penalties are in place for breaching these public health orders.
  • Gatherings in public places are limited to 2 people, except for gatherings with members of the same household. Some exemptions apply for essential gatherings – details can be found here.
  • Non-essential domestic travel should be postponed, where possible, or cancelled. A number of Australian states have closed their borders including Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland.
  • Only residents and essential personnel will be permitted to travel to Lord Howe Island during the travel ban (effective 22 March 2020 until at least 18 June 2020), and anyone returning to the island will need to self-isolate for 14 days.
  • From 9pm AEDT 20 March 2020, only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members can travel to Australia.
  • All passengers arriving into Australia are required to enter a 14-day isolation period at a state-run quarantine centre, such as a hotel, motel, caravan park or student accommodation (effective from midnight Saturday 28 March 2020). Passengers will be quarantined in whichever state their international flight arrives and will not be allowed to board a domestic flight.
  • Cruise ships from foreign ports are banned from arriving at Australian ports for 30 days (effective Sunday 15 March 2020).
  • Temporary measures including border restrictions for travellers from China, Iran, the Republic of Korea and Italy remain in place and will be reviewed based on the best available public health advice. This excludes Australian residents who must still self-isolate for 14 days.
  • Travel alerts are also in place for a number of other countries. If you are considering travelling overseas or visiting Australia you should contact your travel agent and visit the Australian Government's Smartraveller website for the most up-to-date advice. 
  • If you are travelling please follow NSW Health advice regarding personal hygiene, social distancing and events and gatherings. 

All pubs, licensed clubs and hotels (excluding accommodation), places of worship, gyms, indoor sporting venues, cinemas and casinos will be closed from midday Monday 23 March. Restaurants and cafes should now offer takeaway only. 

Food courts, auction houses, real estate auctions and open inspections, outdoor and indoor markets (not produce/food markets), beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons, tattoo parlours, spas and massage parlours, amusement parks and arcades, indoor and outdoor play centres, outdoor playgrounds and skateparks, community and recreation centres, health clubs/fitness centres/yoga/barre/spin facilities, outdoor gyms, saunas and wellness centres, social sporting-based activities, swimming pools, galleries, museums, national institutions, historic sites, libraries, community centres, youth centres, local government non-essential facilities and services and community facilities (such as community halls, RSLs, PCYCs) are closed as of midnight Wednesday 25 March.
NB: There are some exemptions and special circumstances for hairdressers, personal training, weddings and funerals. See the Australian Health webpage for specific advice on public gatherings.

These measures do not apply to shopping centres, public transport or domestic air travel which continue to operate. Check with local operators for latest advice.   

For information on how to protect yourself and others against COVID-19, please follow Australian Health expert advice: 

Good hygiene recommendations include:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water, including before and after eating and after going to the toilet
  • Covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue
  • If you are sick, avoid contact with others and stay more than 1.5 metres away from people

 For localised advice:

Streamlined Australia ETA Visa Processing Center in Malaysia. Selected nationalities require a valid ETA or eVisitor Visa to enter Australia. An eligible passport holder may use this site to apply an Australian ETA or eVisitor Visa.

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