Sydney: A City Guide for International Students

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Photo of Sydney Opera House

Sydney is a sprawling metropolis, the largest city in Australia, and home to over 5 million people. 

Every single year, Sydney plays host to over 40,000 international students, and this number is growing annually.

The city has a wonderful climate, being warmer and more consistent in its weather than its southern counterpart, Melbourne.

Furthermore, there are many beaches in close proximity and there is always something happening. It’s simply a wonderful place for anyone considering studying in Australia.


There are 6 main universities in Sydney. They are:

  • Australian Catholic University.
  • Macquarie University.
  • The University of New South Wales.
  • University of Sydney.
  • University of Technology Sydney.
  • Western Sydney University.

There are also a number of other campuses for various institutions, all around the city. For example, the University of Sydney has 11 campuses across Sydney.


The job market in Sydney is quite similar to that of Melbourne (and most state capital cities in Australia); there is plenty of work available.

For example, many international students find themselves working in the hospitality industry. This is due to the number of jobs available, the flexibility and the good wages.

The wages in Australia are among the highest in the world, and in a hospitality role, you can expect to be paid around $20 to $25 per hour.

Furthermore, if you’re looking for a job in the hospitality industry, the best approach is simply to hand in your resume in person, to a café, restaurant or bar manager.

For jobs in other industries, try job websites such as, and or our section of part-time jobs for international students.

Photo of a waiter in a modern Café in Sydney


The rental market in Sydney is generally the most expensive of any Australian city.

For instance, the New South Wales government states that a one-bedroom apartment or flat in Sydney city will cost about $1,776 per month, on average.

Alternatively, the average prices are roughly $1,300 per month for a one-bedroom flat outside of the city. 

However, you can locate a room in a shared house or flat through websites like or , where you’ll pay much less. 

Cost of Living

As an international student, it’s a good idea to have a good amount of money saved up before heading overseas.

No matter which city you’re studying in, costs can add up.

For instance, in Sydney, you may pay roughly $80 to $120 per week on groceries. Travel will set you back about $50 to $65 each week and a pint of beer can vary between $10 and $14. 

Photo of Queen Victoria Building in Sydney


The public transport system in Sydney is made up of trains, a light rail, buses and ferries.

If you’re close to Central Station, you can get a train to literally anywhere. The city circle trains are an excellent way to get around for a spot of sightseeing.

Alternatively, your sightseeing quests may revolve around the harbour. Therefore, the Sydney public ferry service is a great way to get about, with 8 public ferry routes.

Getting to and from Sydney Kingsford Smith airport is relatively simple with the Sydney Airport Link train. It can be expensive but is much cheaper than a taxi or Uber.

For public transport, you’ll need an Opal travel card. This can be purchased and topped up with cash or card at all train stations.


When someone says Sydney, you probably think of the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

However, the city of Sydney has so much more to offer.

For instance, excellent art galleries in Sydney include the prestigious Art Gallery of NSW, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) and the Brett Whiteley Studio in Surry Hills.

If you’re more interested in museums, check out the Australian Museum, the National Maritime Museum and the Australian Museum.

However, the latter features a collection of the deadliest animals and insects Australia has to offer… so if you’re squeamish, it might be best to avoid this one!

Photo of exclusive Camp Cove in Sydney


Sydney is teeming with activity, and there is always something to do.

If you’d like to get in touch with nature, plan a visit to the Sea Life Aquarium or Taronga Zoo. 

Or if it’s a warm day, a ferry trip across the Darling Harbour to Watsons Bay is extremely pleasant.

Bondi Beach is an iconic stretch of sand, famous across the globe and the walk from Bondi to Coogee is a trove of wonderful views.

Alternatively, you can simply sit on the beach and soak up the sun, or have a splash. Head to Manly beach, a 30-minute ride from Circular Quay in the city.

There are plenty of world-class restaurants throughout Sydney, so if you have the money, book a table and enjoy a fine meal.

For instance, Quay at The Rocks, Bella Brutta for some delicious pizza, or Cirrus for some scintillating seafood. 


In the sporting stakes, Melbourne beats out Sydney every time. However, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see.

For example, if you’re a cricket fan, you’ll be pleased to know that the New Year test match at the Sydney Cricket Ground, features Australia’s cricket team each year. This occurs annually from the 3rd to the 7th of January.

As well as that, there are a number of soccer and rugby (both league and union) matches to see throughout the year.

Furthermore, the Australian Open golf event occurs every year and has been held in Sydney in recent years.

For sailing enthusiasts, the famous Sydney to Hobart yacht race begins in the harbour every year on boxing day, the 26th of December.

Photo of Sydney's Hobart Yatch Race


Sydney has a buzzing nightlife, with an assortment of nightclubs, pubs and hideaway bars. 

Whilst it has been somewhat affected by tighter laws on closing times and serving drinks late into the night, it remains energetic.

For instance, check out The Ivy Pool Club for some cocktails, Marquee Sydney for electronic music, or Soda Factory for disco vibes.

Great live music venues include The Enmore Theatre, The Red Rattler and The Vanguard.

Around Sydney

The state of New South Wales has some unique, stunning scenery that you must explore when staying in Sydney.

For instance, take a drive to the Blue Mountains national park, which is a UNESCO world heritage area with phenomenal views.

The Hunter Valley is a great spot to head to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. You’ll likely spot kangaroos, and enjoy some artisan food.

Alternatively, take a cruise on the lovely Hawkesbury River and see plenty of classic Australian landscape.

Photo of the Blue Mountain's Skyrail in Sydney

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