Australia’s most populated state has a lot of country and a lot of city.

Founded in 1788, New South Wales encompasses Sydney. The harbor city has the iconic Opera House, but there is much more to see beyond that. The waterway cuts the city into two and ferry rides give access to both sides. Green space makes its way into city living too with sulpher-crested cockatoos flying about and possums scurrying here and there.

Sun-soaked and sizzling, the coast is a magnet for the fit and athletic who frolic Bondi beach. Take a refreshing dip in the over 100-year-old blue-green swimming pool at the beach which is filled with saltwater by the waves that crash all around it. Test your balance by standing up on a paddleboard or kayak to get a different view of this energetic city.

When day turns into night, Sydney residents don’t call it quits. They prim and pamper and then head out to one of the many buzzing and restaurants and bars. Catch the sunset at a harbor side bar. The multicultural fabric of the city means that there is a delectable variety of food choices from Chinese to Italian. Enjoy a glass of beer at one of the city’s pubs and get a chance to chat with some of the friendliest city dwellers.

Learn about the dark penal history at the Hyde Park Barracks. Britain sent thousands of convicts here up until the mid 1800s and this museum tells some of the stories of the hardships endured by those sent to this far-flung side of the globe. Delve into architectural history in many of the neighborhoods that have lovingly preserved their Victorian and Edwardian homes. Masterpieces are on display at the Art Gallery of NSW or visit one of the galleries that specialize in Aboriginal art.

Wander through the Royal Botanic Gardens taking in the heady scent of the roses and tropical flowers. For even more of a natural setting, head out to the Fairfax walkway to see the stunning views of Sydney. New South Wales is a treasure trove of pretty coastal towns, relaxing beaches, and mountains. Visit one of the national parks just a short hop away to get away from the buzzing city life.