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 its Opera House, but there is much more to see beyond that iconic marvel. 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 on Bondi beach. Take a refreshing dip in the more than 100-year-old blue-green swimming pool at the beach; it’s 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 dress up and then head out to one of the many buzzing and restaurants and bars. The multicultural fabric of the city means that there is a delectable variety of food choices from Chinese to Italian. Catch the sunset at a harbor side bar. Here, you can 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.

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. 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.

Wander through the Royal Botanic Gardens taking in the heady scent of the roses and tropical flowers. For even more nature, head out to the Fairfax walkway to see the stunning views of Sydney. Beyond the big city, 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.