As one of the largest cities in Australia, Sydney can seem pretty hectic when you first land. All the sights, food, and excursions available can feel overwhelming.

To make sure you fit everything you want into the time you have, you need priorities and knowledge. So check out the list below of immediate essential things to do in Sydney.

1. Fuel up

When is eating ever not a priority, especially after a long-haul flight? Fill that belly at Mary’s Burgers in Newtown - said to serve the best buns, they’re loved by both locals and tourists. Always busy, you know it’s a good place.

For a more formal affair, there’s Hubert in all its 1920s, Parisian glory. Chicken is the top dish here, but their cocktails are pretty darn good too. Sydney loves chicken, with another local love, Frangos Chicken Shop, serving up the charcoaled meat for an affordable price.

For your sweet fix visit the Royal Copenhagen Ice Cream Cone Company. They serve all the classics along with some wild flavours like anzac biscuit, milo and lamington. Once you have your cone take it to the nearby Opera House steps to scoop up the views as you savour your flavour. You’ve arrived!

Ice cream in Sydney

2. Plan your museum schedule

One of the coolest museums in Sydney is the Powerhouse Museum. All about arts and science, there’s an actual NASA spaceship on show, the ultimate travelling machine.

From astronauts to animals, Taronga Zoo is $46 to visit and has an amazing tale behind it. Not to give it all away, we’ll just say that there was a boat, a journey and animals maybe travelling two by two – true story.

If you want to follow suit, jump aboard the city ferry for a day trip to the beaches of Manly or the UNECSO World Heritage Site on Cockatoo Island. Both journeys will get you great views of the Harbour Bridge and, if you go on a Sunday, will only cost you $2.50.

Back on dry land, a visit to the Sydney Opera House is a must. You can buy a ticket for the tour for $37 or catch a show to see inside. There’s ballet and opera, talks and tributes - just check out the website for dates.

3. Find the best spots for photos

Complete your Sydney Opera House experience with a selfie outside. Once you’ve struck the perfect pose, it’s time to take onthe Coogee Coastal Walk. It takes around an hour, guaranteeing you some amazing seaside views before you finish on famous Bondi Beach. If it’s not too early, try timing your trip to catch the awesome sunrises here.

For a selfie with something more obscure, take the ferry or train out to the Royal National Park. Just south of Sydney, it’s got serene beaches, the Uloola Falls and Wedding Cake Rock. It’s not edible – the bright white cliff stands in a wedding cake shape over stunning waters for the perfect pic.

For more of an action shot, try paddle boarding nearby on Bundeena’s beaches. The scenery is spot on and capturing your balance skills on camera is always a comical challenge.

Coogee Beach, Sydney

4. Have a drink

Drinking in Sydney is a national pastime, and there's no time like the present. If you happen to fly into Sydney on a Saturday, drop by Darling Harbour. As if the name wasn’t sweet enough, there are fireworks from 9pm set to pop music. It’s totally free and its CBD location means there are plenty of bars you can watch from, like Cohibar, Helm and The Loft –another one for those loving Gatsby glamour.

If whisky is your tipple then knock one back at The Baxter Inn. Famed for its large selection of golden liquid, its underground location gives it a little cloak and dagger feel.

For anyone not quite ready to hit the hard stuff after the flight then Sydney has you covered in the form of PS40. With a boozy section in the corner, the main attraction here is the soda bar where you can chop and change your fizzy drink of choice.

Beers on the beach, Sydney

5. Find your friends

Your accommodation choice is key to successful friendships when you’re travelling. Opt for a social hostel with shared dorms, activities and that all-important bar. Home Backpackers Hostel is perfect for this, with its TV lounges, terrace and nightly parties. Base Backpackers Hostel is much the same.

If not, you could always join a tour. You’ll meet similar city newbies and hopefully bond over your newfound love for this exciting city. Imfree.com offers daily tours. Friendships might form faster over fear so consider theirghost tour for $15.

If this fails then opt for adventure. This might be a tall order having just found your feet, but try tandem skydiving, climbing the Harbour Bridge or bushwalking in the nearby Blue Mountains. The once-in-a-lifetime and heart-in-mouth moments will bind you to your group faster than anything and ensure you start your trip as you mean to go on… with friends.