Things To Do in Sydney CBD | Capitol Square Hotel Sydney

Things to Do

Our Capitol Square Hotel is near plenty of things to do in Sydney CBD.

As they say, "Location!  Location!  Location!" Capitol Square Hotel Sydney has the best location in the city.  It is next to the wonderful Capitol Theatre and minutes away from shopping, sightseeing, sports stadiums and restaurants. You won’t run out of things to do in Sydney CBD.

Chinatown Sydney

Rydges Sydney Central is handy to lots of restaurants – it’s a walk to some of Sydney’s best Lebanese, Greek, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Korean and, of course, Chinese cuisine... Just head across George Street towards Darling Harbour to the city’s famous Chinatown (the Haymarket end).

Dixon Street is always buzzing with restaurant front-of-house and owners inviting passers-by in to dine, working the tables and whipping their staff into gear.  There's inside and al fresco dining options, a great passing parade and street happenings like massages from mobile 'therapists'. The pedestrian thoroughfare is framed by two gated arches and, in Chinese, these are known as ‘paifang’. Before deciding on a restaurant, we suggest you do a lap of the street and check out what other diners are enjoying – and before sitting at a table, check if they are only serving yum cha if you prefer to choose from a menu.

The Chinatown location came about through ‘migration’. In the late 19th century, The Rocks area was home to Chinatown and it moved south to relocate near Market Street, Darling Harbour and settled in its current location in the 1920’s. It has also ‘migrated’ from being a home to opium dens and sly gambling to today’s exciting mix of neon lights, restaurants, grocery shops and quirky gift and clothing outlets. While Dixon Street is at the heart of Chinatown, other streets include Factory, Goulburn, Little Hay, Thomas, Kimber Lane and parts of George and Sussex Streets. A quick point of reference it to look at the signs for the street names – within Chinatown they are in both English and Chinese.

Apart from the terrific restaurants, food halls and noodle bars, Chinatown is simply a vibrant, fun place to visit with the atmosphere and buzz of an Asian marketplace. The symbolic entry point is at the eastern end of Chinatown (corner of George and Hay Streets) where there is a sculpture by artist Lin Li called Golden Water Mouth. Standing over 10 metres high the sculpture is made from the trunk of a yellow-box eucalyptus tree, partly covered with gold leaf and mounted on a terracotta base set into the footpath. The sculpture represents positive energy and good fortune and the five natural elements (wood, water, earth, fire and gold) give harmony to the natural and urban environments with the gold also reflecting a link to early Chinese settlers and the gold rush era.

The Chinatown streets are busy day and night, especially on Fridays when the Chinatown Night Markets on Dixon Street swing into action (from 4:00pm to 11:00pm). The market is an opportunity for Asian students, artists and designers to sell clothing, jewellery, candles, lanterns, smart phone accessories and street food with a very multicultural mix.

And, of course, the best time of year to visit Chinatown is for the Lunar New Year celebrations. The annual event (February) is more than a one-night celebration – it has become a vibrant arts festival with cultural events, exhibitions, entertainment, Dragon Boat races and, of course, more food!

Paddy's Markets

To get to Sydney’s wonderful Paddy’s Markets from Rydges Sydney Central just head towards Darling Harbour, go past Central Railway, across George Street to the Haymarket and, opposite Chinatown, on the corner of Hay and Thomas Streets is Paddy’s. Paddy's has held a central place in Sydney's history for over 150 years. They are Sydney's biggest markets and have a wide variety of stalls selling food, fashion, gifts and gadgets in a true market atmosphere.  The markets open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00am to 6:00pm.

These days there are two Paddy’s Markets – the Haymarket one and the other at Flemington. Combined they have over 1000 stalls but the Flemington ones are more about fruit and vegetables and lack the fun and atmosphere of the Haymarket site, which is much more a ‘flea-market’ in style.

As they say, one person’s treasure is another person’s trash and chances are you will find a smattering of both. Vendors will be offering souvenirs, sporting goods, gifts, clothes, cosmetics, sunglasses, craft, CDs, phone accessories, flowers, jewellery and more. Prices start at value and work down from there if you don’t mind a bit of friendly banter and haggling. On weekends you will find the volume increases slightly when the fresh fruit, vegie and seafood vendors spruik their wares at wholesale prices. 

A bit of Paddy’s history – in 1834, the Governor of NSW, General Richard Bourke, moved the cattle, grain and hay markets to Campbell Street (hence the name ‘Haymarket’). Opposite the markets was a site that was a favourite with circuses and the combination of sideshow attractions and bustling markets gave the place a carnival atmosphere and that somehow got into the markets DNA. A fruit market opened on the former circus site in the 1890’s and stall holders had to apply for space or leave the area. These days it is very much the same – here’s a link to the official Paddy’s Markets website and you will see that there are casual stalls available as well as permanent stands for sale.

When the markets moved to Flemington they included a new “Sydney’s Paddy’s Markets” in the complex and that opened in 1975. While the Flemington incarnation is fabulous for fresh produce and is Australia’s largest flower market for fresh cut flowers as well as Australia’s largest fresh fruit and vegetable market you just can’t bottle and transport atmosphere.  Due to its nature and reason for being, the Flemington markets has a far more ‘serious’ approach to operating – you sometimes get the feeling at the Haymarket Paddy’s that the vendors are there as much for fun as for business.

While Paddy’s a fabulous Sydney attraction in its own right, the Haymarket location makes it ideal for combining with a visit to the Darling Harbour attractions (Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, Wildlife Sydney Zoo, Madame Tussauds, Powerhouse Museum, Maritime Museum, IMAX Theatre, Chinese Garden of Friendship etc)… and if the markets drum up an appetite for restaurant dining, Dixon Street in Chinatown is just across the road.

Things to do in Sydney CBD

Rydges World Square is perfectly located for shopping, dining out and exploring the sights of Sydney’s CBD.

For shopping, the World Square precinct is right on the doorstep with more than 90 specialty retailers offering a unique selection of fashion, homewares, gifts and lifestyle items. It’s not far to Pitt Street Mall for one of the busiest shopping strips in the world. There’s Sydney City Plaza and Westfield Sydney with four floors of designer brand fashion as well as the department stores, Myer and David Jones. While here you can take the lift up to the Sydney Tower Eye for an amazing view of the city from the Observation Deck.

To combine architecture and old world charm with terrific contemporary shopping options, head to The Strand Arcade and the beautiful QVB (Queen Victoria Building). The Strand opened in 1892 and was named after London’s famous shopping street. The QVB takes up a whole block, is wonderfully grand and full of atmosphere – it is home to more than 200 specialty shops and it worth the window shop stroll just to soak in the ambience.

For a relaxing walk or somewhere just to sit away from the city hustle, Hyde Park is always rewarding. This delightful, green heart of the city covers 16 hectares. It is Australia’s oldest public parkland and there are grassy expanses and hundreds of huge leafy trees. The park is divided by the appropriately named Park Street. The north side of the Park (to Macquarie Street) is home to the Archibald Fountain. The south (Rydges World Square side) is home to the Anzac Memorial and the Pool of Reflection. At various times the park hosts concerts, festivals and food & wine fairs.

Darling Harbour is a jewel in Sydney’s crown and it is an enjoyable stroll from Rydges World Square. There are many attractions like the Chinese Garden of Friendship, Madame Tussauds, the Sea LifeSydney Aquarium, the Powerhouse Museum, the Wildlife Sydney Zoo, IMAX Theatre and the Australian NationalMaritime Museum.

The Australian Museum (across Hyde Park on the corner of College and Park Streets) is architecturally stunning and home to many treasures, especially in the areas of natural history and anthropology. It opens every day except Christmas Day and is a really interesting sojourn. It is a short walk from here (down College Street with Hyde Park on your left) to St Mary’s Cathedral, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and The Domain and Royal Botanic Gardens. Nearby Macquarie Street is also rewarding and is home to The Mint, the NSW Parliament, the State Library and the SydneyConservatorium of Music.

The bottom of Macquarie Street leads to Sydney Harbour with the Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay, Museum of Contemporary Art, The Rocks and one of the city’s best attractions, Bridgeclimb.

For dining out close to Rydges World Square there are plenty of cafés, bars and restaurants a short walk away. Dixon Street and Chinatown are just across George Street on the way to Darling Habour where there are also many options (head to Cockle Bay).

Chinese Garden of Friendsip

The Chinese Garden of Friendship is nestled at the south end of Darling Harbour and a short walk from Chinatown. From Rydges Sydney Central just head past Central Railway and cross George Street at the Haymarket End.

Entering the garden is like walking backwards in time into the quiet solitude of ancient Chinese architecture and its relationship with nature. The garden combines plants with stone and architecture. Guarding the entrance to the garden are two Foo-dogs (Chinese lions), which have been carved from rare Chinese granite. A hybrid of dog, lion and dragon they represent loyalty, strength and prosperity.

Running water, towering trees, cool lagoons with lotus plants and large colourful fish all make this an idyllic spot to read a book or just relax, reflect and recharge your batteries. Escape the city bustle, breathe deeply and feel the sun on your face. It really is a special place. The garden features waterfalls, lakes, pavilions, sculptures, hidden pathways, exotic plants and local wildlife such as the water dragon, koi carp and several species of birds. Willows weep in the breeze and there’s a Teahouse that serves Chinese Tea and dim sum. Highlights include the Dragon Wall, Twin Pavilion, Dragon Rock and the Penjing Courtyard. Here is a link to a self-guided map with more info on the Garden Highlights.

This walled garden of solace respectfully recreates the philosophy and harmony of a traditional Chinese garden. The garden is open every day apart from Good Friday and Christmas Day from 9:30am to 5:00pm (5:30pm during Daylight Saving). Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children under 12 years – it is $15 for two adults and two children, $3 for concession and $4.50 for seniors. An annual pass for adults is $50, which is great value if you can visit regularly for some stress-free R&R.

The Chinese Garden of Friendship was built as a symbol of friendship between Sydney and Guangzhuo in China to mark Australia’s bicentenary in 1988. It was designed and built by Chinese landscape architects and gardeners following the Taoist principles of ‘Tin-Yang’ and the five opposite elements – earth fire, water, metal and wood. Yin-Yang plays such a vital role that just one missing element would disrupt the garden’s harmony and balance. Unlike western-style gardens there are no planted flowerbeds or manicured lawns. Instead, wild aspects of nature are recreated in landscapes that feature waterfalls, mountains, lakes and forests. The art of Chinese Garden design began in imperial parks 3,000 years ago and later flourished in private gardens of the rich and powerful. This garden is a small-scale version of a typical garden from this time.

The pathways in the lower garden are accessible for wheelchairs and prams but the upper part of the garden has steps and rocky pathways. There is a fully upgraded accessible toilet and baby change facilities. Free public programs and other events, including school holiday programs, are offered throughout the year. Check the Chinese Garden of Friendship website to find out what's on.

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