19 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Sydney

Written by Karen Hastings Updated Dec 24, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Sydney the oldest, biggest, and most beautiful of all Australian cities, lies amid a seductive intermingling of land and sea. Glide along the glittering harbor on a ferry, see the white sails of the Opera House gleaming in the sunshine, admire the graceful arch of the Harbour Bridge, and you'll see why this is one of the world's top cities.

Aerial view of Sydney Harbour

It's hard to imagine this vibrant state capital of New South Wales was once a convict colony. In 1788, it was at Sydney Cove where Captain Arthur Phillip, commander of the First Fleet, established the first British colony in Australia. Today, you can explore Sydney's fabled history in the narrow, cobbled laneways and historic buildings of the Rocks, and learn about the Gadigal Aboriginal people, the traditional custodians of this land, on guided tours and at the city's excellent museums.

Sydney still fizzes with the adventurous spirit of its settlers. Climb the harbor bridge, surf the green-barrel breaks at Sydney's golden beaches, or fly over the city on a scenic tour. And the adventures don't end in the city. Wildlife-rich wilderness areas surround the city providing appealing day trip possibilities .

Discover all the best places to visit in this famous harbor city with our list of the top things to do in Sydney, Australia.

See also: Where to Stay in Sydney

1. See the Sydney Opera House

2. the sydney harbour bridge, 3. stroll around the rocks, 4. hop aboard a harbor cruise at circular quay, 5. spend a day at darling harbour, 6. smell the roses at the royal botanic garden sydney, 7. shop 'til you drop at the queen victoria building, 8. zoom up the sydney tower eye, 9. bask on sydney's beaches, 10. bike or walk around barangaroo reserve, 11. go wild at taronga zoo, 12. wander along george street, 13. enjoy a picnic in hyde park, 14. admire the masterpieces at the art gallery of new south wales, 15. visit st. mary's cathedral, 16. explore macquarie street & the state library of new south wales, 17. enjoy yum cha in chinatown, 18. find vintage treasures and colorful street art in newtown, 19. check out kings cross, where to stay in sydney for sightseeing, tips and tours: how to make the most of your visit to sydney, sydney, australia - climate chart, more exciting adventures near sydney.

Sydney Opera House and harbor at dusk

One of the world's great icons, the Sydney Opera House is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the star attraction on the glittering harbor. This graceful building, shaped like shells or billowing sails, perches on a finger of land surrounded by water.

You have several options for visiting the Sydney Opera House . Snap a photo while gliding by on a harbor cruise, relax at one of the restaurants, stroll around its exterior, or take an organized tour of this magnificent structure. Inside, you'll find theaters, studios, exhibition rooms, a concert hall, and a cinema.

Sydney Opera House

Book a Sydney Opera House Guided Walking Tour to learn about the history and get a behind-the-scenes look at this famous building. This is a flexible ticket that allows you to join any one of the tours throughout the day, departing every half hour from 9am to 5pm.

Avid photographers should head to Mrs Macquarie's Chair for one of the best photo opportunities.

The Sydney Opera House just emerged from an almost $300-million "Decade of Renewal." Among the many improvements is a renovated Concert Hall — try and catch a show here when you visit.

Author's Tip: If you happen to be in Sydney in late May or early June during the Sydney Vivid festival , stop by at night to see the white sails lit up with colorful digital art.

Location: Bennelong Point, Sydney, New South Wales

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Nicknamed the "Coathanger," the Sydney Harbour Bridge is another Sydney icon. Supported by massive double piers at each end, it was built in 1932 and remains the world's largest steel arch bridge .

You can drive over it, cruise below it, chug over it on a train, or photograph it from afar. But one of the best ways to appreciate this marvel of engineering, and soak up the spectacular views of Sydney Harbour, is on a climb to its 135-meter-high summit.

Climbers on the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Scaling the bridge is one of Australia's top outdoor adventures, and you can choose from a range of different tours. Sydney BridgeClimb takes groups on an approximately 3.5-hour climb to the top of the outer arch. Tours run throughout the day, beginning with a dawn climb and ending with a night climb. You can also choose from different types of climbs, including an Indigenous storytelling experience and a climb right across the arch to the other side — the bridge connects the harbor's north and south shores.

Guided ascents of the bridge with BridgeClimbSydney include a pre-climb prep talk, safety gear, and a photo on the summit. Along the way, you'll learn all kinds of entertaining stories about the history of the bridge. One of its most famous workers was Paul Hogan, aka Crocodile Dundee, before he became famous.

To learn more about the fascinating history of the bridge's construction, visit the museum in the southeastern pier.

Address: 5 Cumberland Street, Sydney, New South Wales

The Rocks

Want to soak up a bit of Sydney history? Take a stroll around The Rocks . Located on a tongue of land protruding into Sydney Harbour, the Rocks historic area was once home to the Gadigal Aboriginal people. Later, it became the country's first site of European settlement.

The Rocks was named for the rocky coast on the west side of Sydney Cove where the convicts pitched their tents. Today, more than 100 heritage sites and buildings jostle along the narrow streets, including Sydney's oldest surviving house, Cadmans Cottage , built in 1816.

The first stop should be a visit to The Rocks Discovery Museum . Here, you can learn about the area's fascinating transformation from traditional Aboriginal lands to convict slum to tourist hot spot. You can also join a 30-minute free guided tour at 1pm and 1:30pm daily.

Old buildings in The Rocks

Afterward, wander around the narrow, cobbled streets. Pick up some souvenirs at the gift shops, buy handcrafted goodies at the market stalls (Friday nights, Saturdays, and Sundays), and admire Aboriginal and contemporary art in the galleries. You'll also find plenty of atmospheric little restaurants and cafés here.

Guided tours run the gamut, from Aboriginal heritage walks to photographic excursions, and if you're looking for unusual things to do in Sydney, you can book a nighttime ghost tour.

Address: 66 Harrington Street, Level 6, The Rocks, Sydney, New South Wales

Harbor Cruises from Circular Quay

Sydney is famous for its sparkling waterfront setting, and one of the most popular things to do in Sydney Harbour is a sightseeing cruise. Most harbor cruises depart from Circular Quay in Sydney Cove, which is also home to the city's main ferry terminal.

Short on time? Book the two-hour Sydney Harbour Coffee Cruise , which takes you past all the harbor highlights and to some of the most scenic places in Sydney, including the Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and Fort Denison. Learn fascinating facts about the key sights along the way, and keep your camera ready — you'll have plenty of photo ops.

Prefer to spot some wildlife during your tour? During the annual winter whale migration, the Sydney Whale-Watching Cruise takes passengers out past Sydney Heads to view these magnificent creatures.

Ferry cruising past the Sydney Opera House

If you don't have time for a harbor cruise, you can still see some of the top sites on a ferry ride around the harbor. Ferries depart from Circular Quay to prime spots, such as Manly , Watsons Bay , and Taronga Park Zoo .

Author's Tip: From Circular Quay, you can easily walk to other top Sydney tourist attractions . Head south along the waterfront promenade to the Sydney Opera House and the Royal Botanic Gardens, and a short walk to the north leads to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Rocks historic area. To the west, the free Museum of Contemporary Art, housed in an Art Deco building, displays cutting-edge, and often controversial, exhibitions.

Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour has something for everyone. Packed with tourist attractions, this waterfront precinct on the western side of Sydney's CBD is a hub for tourists and locals alike. You'll find everything here, from shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues to museums, a zoo, an aquarium, and an IMAX theater.

Families will love Madame Tussaud's; the WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo; and the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, which contains the world's largest collection of Australian marine creatures. The SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium Entrance Ticket is a great way to get ahead of the crowds.

Nautical-minded history buffs can board a replica of Captain Cook's ship, the HMB Endeavour , at the Australian National Maritime Museum. And while you're wandering around, keep an eye out for colorful artwork along the Darling Harbour Street Art Trail .

Shops and restaurants in Darling Harbour

Younger children will love the carousel, playgrounds, and water park. An IMAX and 9D theater, harbor jet boat rides, simulated flights, and racing car adventures round out the exciting attractions.

Seeking a tranquil patch of green? Slip into the Chinese Garden of Friendship , and sip tea among the willows and koi ponds.

As well as offering a one-stop shop of Sydney attractions for families, Darling Harbour also hosts an exciting line-up of events, from art exhibitions and film festivals to music concerts at the Aware Super Theatre .

The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

Need a break from the hustle and bustle of the city? Chill out at The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney in Farm Cove. A visit to this tranquil oasis is one of the many relaxing things to do in the city for free — especially if you're in need of a nature fix — and it's only a short stroll from the Sydney Opera House.

Established in 1816, the gardens are Australia's oldest botanic garden . They encompass 30 hectares of themed gardens with towering trees, palm groves, orchids, ferns, succulents, tropical gardens, rainforest plants, herbs, and Oriental gardens.

Garden lovers will be in heaven. The Palace Rose Garden blushes with around 1,800 roses. The Glasshouse Latitude 23 and Fernery brims with tropical foliage, begonias, and orchids; and the Cadi Jam Ora - First Encounters Garden tells the story of the Gadigal people, the land's traditional custodians, and explores the relationship between people and plants.

Aboriginal cultural tours and guided walks are offered, as well as events such as bush tucker morning teas and picnics.

Wondering what's nearby? Surrounding the gardens is the Domain , a popular event venue, with open green space and sports areas. And while you're visiting the gardens, you can enjoy views of Government House , the official residence of the governor of New South Wales.

Address: Mrs Macquarie's Road, Sydney, New South Wales

Queen Victoria Building

If shopping is high on your agenda, head to the Romanesque-style Queen Victoria Building ("QVB"). Even if you're not planning to buy anything, it's worth a visit just to admire this beautifully restored building and its colorful stained-glass windows and mosaic floors.

A high central dome surrounded by 20 smaller domes crowns this elegant building, which was originally built as a market hall between 1893 and 1898. After decades of neglect and even plans for demolition, this grand sandstone building was restored to its original state in the early 1980s.

Queen Victoria Building

Today, more than 200 high-end shops line its light-filled galleries. Australian stores include R.M. Williams, Lorna Jane, and Haigh's chocolates, as well as many Aussie designer boutiques, and you'll also find homeware stores, gift stores, and galleries.

Feeling peckish? The Tea Room QVB hosts a popular High Tea under crystal chandeliers.

You can access the QVB from Town Hall Station through underground arcades.

If you want to learn more about the history of this magnificent heritage building, sign up for a 45-minute QVB History Tour .

Address: 455 George Street, Sydney, New South Wales

The Sydney Tower Eye

Soaring above the city skyline, the 309-meter-high Sydney Tower Eye is the city's tallest building and one of its great landmarks (other than the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, of course). This golden spire-topped turret rises from the busy Centrepoint shopping mall.

Zooming up the Sydney Tower Eye is one of the popular things to do in the Sydney CBD for tourists. Express lifts whisk visitors to the observation deck at the top, or to SKYWALK, an alfresco glass-floor viewing platform, the perfect spot for sightseeing. While you're up here, you can enjoy panoramic views of Sydney and its surrounding suburbs, or enjoy a bite to eat at one of the revolving restaurants or the café.

Sydney Tower Eye

Also on offer is a 4D cinema experience, which provides an overview of the city's major icons.

Address: 100 Market Street, Sydney, New South Wales

Bilgola Beach

Sydney is famous for its beautiful beaches . Tucked around the harbor are many sheltered coves with calm water and sugary sands.

You don't need to venture far from the CBD to find an inviting stretch of sand and sea. Iconic Bondi Beach is less than a 15-minute drive from the city, with great surf, a buzzing café scene, and a cosmopolitan vibe. For fantastic ocean views, take the coastal walk along the cliffs from Bondi to Coogee Beach .

Sydney Beaches

If you're traveling by public transport, Cronulla is the only beach accessible by train from the city, and Manly Beach is only a 30-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay . Here, you can swim in the surf or the netted ocean pool, take a surf lesson, or stroll along the beachfront promenade and stop in at the excellent shops and restaurants.

Farther north of the city, surfers will find some fantastic breaks at Collaroy , Dee Why , and Narrabeen . Swimming is enjoyable at most Sydney beaches — especially during the summer months — but you should always stay between the red and yellow flags.

Barangaroo Reserve

Barangaroo Reserve is an excellent example of a successful urban renewal project. Named after the influential female Indigenous leader at the time of European colonization, the area was transformed from an unsightly container terminal and opened to the public in 2015 with a commitment to sustainability and enhancing community wellbeing.

With more than 75,000 native trees and shrubs, as well as walking and cycling tracks, this 22-hectare waterfront precinct is a lovely spot for a stroll or bike along the harbor. You'll also find shops, restaurants, and event and exhibition space here.

Barangaroo Reserve

One of the most popular things to do at Barangaroo is the Wulugul Walk . This scenic waterfront promenade skirts the six-hectare re-created Sydney Harbour headland at the reserve's northern end and extends for two kilometers between Walsh Bay and Darling Harbour .

Along the way, you can admire an evocative series of public art installations. Keep an eye out for shell wall , a 22-meter-tall vertical panel on the side of a building at the reserve's southern gateway, created by two of Australia's leading Indigenous artists. You can learn about the area's rich Indigenous heritage on an Aboriginal cultural tour .

In 2023, a new recreation space opened in Barangaroo as part of the planned Harbour Park open space on Sydney's foreshore. Bring the kids here to bounce around in the play area and challenge each other to a game of handball. Parents can work out in the outdoor gym or relax in the shady sitting areas.

Barangaroo is only a four-minute walk from Wynyard station, and you can also catch a ferry direct to the new Barangaroo Wharf.

Taronga Zoo

At Taronga Zoo , you can see all your favorite animals, as well as spectacular city views. Nestled on a point along the north side of the harbor, the zoo inhabits prime Sydney real estate in the posh suburb of Mosman, and it's one of the top things to do with kids in Sydney .

Here, you can enjoy close-up encounters with iconic Aussie wildlife and other animals from around the world. Highlights include the African Savannah exhibit, Tiger Trek, chimpanzees, and gorillas.

Daily keeper presentations and animal shows add to all the fun. Feed the giraffes, meet the Asian elephants, get up close to a cuddly koala, or make friends with a meerkat. Another bonus: Entertaining shows are included with your entry ticket, including a Seals for the Wild presentation and a Free Flight Birds show.

The zoo's lively events calendar includes "Roar and Snore" overnight zoo stays and a summer concert series. You can purchase a Sydney Taronga Zoo Entry Ticket in advance, which includes a ride on the Sky Safari gondola.

Want to stay longer? Book a room at the Wildlife Retreat at Taronga . This unique eco-retreat on the zoo grounds gives you after-hours viewings of some of the animals, as well as all kinds of other perks.

From the city, buses to the zoo depart from Wynyard. Better still, hop aboard a ferry at Circular Quay .

Address: Bradleys Head Road, Mosman, New South Wales

George Street

Bustling George Street, in the heart of the city, is Australia's oldest street. Once a nameless track trodden by convicts fetching supplies of water, it's now one of the city's major traffic arteries. It's worth exploring to feel the pulse of this vibrant city and browse the shops.

You'll see a mix of architectural styles here. Gleaming high-rise office blocks brush shoulders with historic buildings. A highlight is the elegant Romanesque-style Queen Victoria Building replete with graceful domes, stained-glass windows, and high-end stores.

Nearby, the Sydney Town Hall (1869) is a major city landmark sporting a medley of architectural styles (it's been compared to a richly decorated wedding cake). Another architectural standout is the neo-Gothic St. Andrew's Cathedral , completed and consecrated in 1868.

Need a shopping fix? You'll find plenty of high-end shops in the Queen Victoria Building , and designer boutiques and jewelry stores line the Victorian-style Strand Arcade . If you're looking for more accessible name brands, Pitt Street Mall , one block east of George Street, is one of the city's major shopping precincts.

Hyde Park

Named after Hyde Park in London, Sydney's Hyde Park is Australia's oldest park . It's a peaceful sanctuary in the heart of the city and a lovely spot for a picnic. Sprawling lawns, shady picnic spots, flowers, fountains, and fig trees provide a welcome escape, and the park offers prime people-watching - especially at lunch when city workers come here to kick off their shoes.

Several monuments and memorials punctuate this popular 16-hectare green space. The park's bronze Archibald Fountain (1932) commemorates Australia's alliance with France during WWI, and the Art Deco Anzac War Memorial (1934), in the southern half of the park, honors its victims.

At the north end of Hyde Park, in Queens Square, are three fine Georgian buildings, masterpieces of the convict architect Sir Francis Greenway: Hyde Park Barracks , St. James' Church , and the Supreme Court . Built by convict labor in 1817-19, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hyde Park Barracks was restored to its original condition in 1975-84 and now houses a museum on the history of Sydney, portraying the lives of the first involuntary "settlers."

On the east side of Hyde Park is the Australian Museum , with the largest natural history collection in the country.

Address: Elizabeth Street, Sydney, New South Wales

Official site:

Art Gallery of New South Wales

Surrounded by beautiful parklands, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is one of the country's most distinguished art museums. The building dates from 1885 and houses spacious, light-filled galleries and Grand Courts, with collections ranging from works by European masters and Asian artists to evocative contemporary art from around the world. The gallery also houses one of the largest collections of Aboriginal art in Australia .

Currently, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is undergoing a transformation and expansion -The Sydney Modern Project - which includes the addition of a brand new sustainable building, a public art garden, and a grand forecourt, as well as restoration of the historic building. Once completed in late 2022, the museum will occupy double the exhibition space, flowing between indoor and outdoor spaces, and will continue to be a major destination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.

After admiring all the masterpieces, you can relax at the café or restaurant, or browse the gallery gift shop.

Address: Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney, New South Wales

Official site:

St. Mary's Cathedral

Facing Hyde Park, St. Mary's Cathedral (1868-82) is a symbol of the spiritual beginnings of the Catholic Church in Australia. This striking landmark, in neo-Gothic style, is the seat of the Archbishop of Sydney.

Topped by twin spires, the building was modeled on Lincoln Cathedral, and its imposing façade reflects the design of Notre-Dame in Paris. Inside the cathedral, intricate stained-glass windows cast beautiful patterns of light. Christmas is an especially evocative time to visit, when the cathedral is adorned with lights and decorations.

Location: St. Mary's Road and College Street, Sydney, New South Wales

Official site:

Macquarie Street

Stretching from Hyde Park in the south to the Sydney Opera House in the north, Macquarie Street was once Sydney's most fashionable street. Governor Macquarie commissioned the construction of many of the colony's grand public buildings along this strand, some designed by convict architect Francis Greenway. Impressive sandstone residences soon followed, with verandas to capture the beautiful views of the surrounding parklands and Sydney Harbour.

In 1816, the completion of Sydney Hospital on Macquarie Street encouraged doctors to set up offices nearby. However, the hospital's capacity exceeded demand, and legislative offices moved into some of its buildings. Today, Parliament House occupies the hospital's northern wing and is open to the public when the New South Wales Parliament is in session.

A top attraction on Macquarie Street is the State Library of New South Wales , the oldest library in Australia. Among its jewels are the journals of Captain Cook and Joseph Banks , as well as Captain Bligh's log from the Bounty. The permanent and temporary exhibitions here are always worth visiting, and you can relax with a snack in the café or pick up a quirky Australian souvenir at the gift shop.

You'll also find The Mint on Macquarie Street in the southern wing of the former hospital. It's now home to a library, central courtyard, and café.

Official site:


Inhale the fragrance of sizzling Szechuan spices, shop for Chinese specialty items, or feast on authentic Asian cuisine at Sydney's Chinatown. Framed by lion gates at each end, this small district lies in the pedestrian zone of Dixon Street, between Darling Harbour and Central Station.

Yum cha is a popular pastime here, and the Friday night market is a feast for the senses, with everything from dim sum and Vietnamese pho to teppanyaki. On the first full moon after January 21, the streets of Chinatown come alive during the celebration of the Chinese New Year.

Near Chinatown, Paddy's Markets at Haymarket is a Sydney institution from Wednesdays through Sundays, with hundreds of stalls selling fresh produce, bargain fashions, and souvenirs.

Address: Dixon Street, Haymarket, New South Wales

An intersection in Newtown

Fashionistas, take note: fun and funky Newtown is a hot spot for vintage treasures and thrift store shopping. You'll find this hipster-packed inner-city suburb about a 10-minute drive from the city center.

One-of-a-kind pieces cram the racks in the best boutiques here. Favorites include The Wilde Merchant selling everything from retro tees to workwear and Japanese pieces, while Storeroom Vintage displays rare music tees and other hand-picked gems from the 70s to the 2000s. Stitch Up Sydney specializes in collectible band tees and designer sneakers. Real King Vintage also sells vintage T-shirts, as well as sportswear and preloved goodies from top brands like Tommy Hilfiger Nike, Carharrt, and Polo Ralph Lauren. Is Western wear and Americana more your jam? Head to Route 66 .

After hitting all the hottest vintage shops, fuel up with a snack at one of the area's eclectic restaurants and cafés — you'll find everything here from Turkish cuisine and Thai food to Italian trattorias. Then polish it off with an award-winning gelato from Cow & the Moon — their Mandorla Affogato flavor once won the "best in the world" award.

Newtown is also famous for its vibrant street art . Start with the "I have a dream" mural on King Street, and keep your eyes peeled. You'll find other murals popping from the walls on Lennox Street, Mary Street, and Bedford Street to name a few.

Author's Tip: About a five-minute drive from Newtown, the Markets at Glebe is one of the best places to find deals on designer vintage treasures — from pre-loved designer clothing, shoes, and accessories to hand-crafted jewelry and cutting-edge creations from new local designers. The markets are open every Saturday from 10am to 4pm.

Kings Cross

About two kilometers east of the CBD, Kings Cross is Sydney's multi-faceted red light district and the city's nightlife hub . If you're interested in experiencing an edgier part of the city, this is a great place to visit. You can also catch a play at one of the theaters.

Called "The Cross" by locals, it has an intriguing, Bohemian past. The area was an artistic quarter around 1920, until it evolved into a popular haunt for beatniks during the 1950s and later, hippies. During the Vietnam War, the area started its slow slide to depravity when large numbers of American troops came here on "rest and recreation" leave. You can find out more about the area's spicy history on a guided walking tour.

Despite the area's less-than-savory reputation at night, it wears a different face during the day. Backpackers from the many hostels in the area huddle at hip cafés . Boutique hotels shelter fashionistas, and foodies come here to dine at the trendy restaurants.

To find Kings Cross, look for the large Coca-Cola billboard, at the intersection of William Street and Darlinghurst Road. It's a famous Sydney landmark and is often referred to as the "Gateway to The Cross."

For first-time visitors to Sydney, a fantastic base for sightseeing is The Rocks , the city's historic district. Spectacular harbor views, heritage-listed buildings, museums, shops, galleries, and cute courtyard cafés make this a great place to stay. From here, many of Sydney's top tourist attractions are within easy walking distance, including the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, and the Royal Botanic Gardens. Also a short stroll from here is Circular Quay, the departure point for harbor cruises and ferries. Here are some highly rated hotels in the area :

Luxury Hotels :

  • Deluxe hotel options include the harborfront Park Hyatt , one of the country's top hotels; The Langham, Sydney ; and the Four Seasons ; all with stunning harbor views.

Mid-Range Hotels :

  • Near Wynyard Station, the Little National Hotel Sydney offers affordable, compact rooms with comfy beds.
  • For families and travelers seeking apartment-style accommodation, Sky Suites Sydney is a top choice, with studios and one- and two-bedroom suites.
  • The 90-room boutique Ovolo 1888 Sydney Harbour occupies a heritage-listed old wool store and factory. Bold, contemporary interior design contrasts with the historic building.

Budget Hotels :

  • For cost-conscious travelers, The Australian Heritage Hotel and The Mercantile Hotel offer affordable rooms in a superb location.

In contrast to the regular and spacious layout of the younger Australian cities, Sydney is a complicated maze of one-way streets and narrow lanes. Public transport or tours are highly recommended for first-time visitors.

  • See the Sights: For the best introduction to the sights of Sydney, book a Sydney and Bondi Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour , which stops near the major sights in the city center, around the harbor, and Bondi Beach. Tickets are valid for 24 or 48 hours, and you can hop on and off the bus as often as you please.
  • Save Money : Planning to visit several Sydney tourist attractions? Save money on admission by purchasing a Sydney Attractions Pass . You can choose from a combination of two, three, or four attractions, such as WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, the Sydney Tower Eye, and more.
  • Take a Day Trip : Just a short drive outside the city is some spectacular mountain scenery. If you have time for just one day trip, take the Blue Mountains Nature and Wildlife Day Tour from Sydney . This small group tour provides pickup and drop-off from your hotel, lunch, entrance fee to the Featherdale Wildlife Park, and a guide.


One of the most beautiful cities in Australia, Sydney is surrounded by plenty of enticing day trip destinations. The World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains has some of the best hikes in Australia ; the beautiful Hunter Valley is a hot spot for foodies; and Canberra , the nation's capital, is only a three-hour drive away.

Sydney Harbour - Port Jackson Map - Tourist Attractions

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Australia Travel Guide

21 experiences you can't miss in Sydney

Tasmin Waby

Nov 3, 2023 • 13 min read

Two slightly dorky hipsters enjoying a day walk in the sunny Surry Hills, Sydney, Australia. The girls are happy to spend some time together eating ice cream and drinking cold drinks.

Take time to walk the streets of Surry Hills in Sydney's inner north © visualspace / Getty Images

Sydney is one of those cities that grabs your attention long before you get to experience it.

Bodyboarding at Bondi Beach, zipping under the Sydney Harbour Bridge on a ferry or catching a show at the incredible Sydney Opera House are just a few of the incredible  Sydney experiences you’ll want to tick off on your big trip Down Under.

And once you’ve tackled those, it’s time to explore what else the city has to offer. Here are the best things to do in Sydney, whether you’re visiting for the first time or the tenth. 

1. Dine on delicious meals delivered with exemplary Sydney hospitality

Sydney's dining scene has never been more inventive and exciting. Restaurants serving food from across the globe, often with a uniquely Australian twist, can be found in every pocket of the city.

Okay, it may be a little faddish and perhaps a bit too obsessed with big-name chefs, but it wouldn't be Sydney if names weren't being dropped. Thankfully the food scene manages to balance style with substance.

Fine dining restaurants such as  Quay and Oncore by Clare Smyth stand out as world-class on every front – from the views and the service to the exquisite menus on offer.

Other Sydney hotspots – no less incredible in terms of quality dishes and top-notch hospitality – include NOMAD , Mr Wong , Cafe Paci , Long Chim  and seafood pioneers Saint Peter . However, a takeaway Sri Lankan or a cheap noodles night with BYO wine could just as easily be your Sydney dining highlight.

Happy smiling woman exploring Sydney, with Harbour Bridge in the background

2. Walk, cycle, or climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydneysiders love their giant coathanger, which opened in 1932. The best way to experience this majestic structure is on foot; stairs and elevators climb up the bridge from both shores, leading to a sidewalk on the eastern side (the western side is a bike path). Get the train to Milson's Point Station and walk back towards the city to enjoy the most spectacular viewpoint. Climb the southeastern pylon to the Pylon Lookout or ascend the arc on the popular BridgeClimb experience .

Planning tip:  You can now book a trip with a First Nations storyteller who'll share their perspective on the city and country while you look over Sydney’s magnificent harbor from on high.

3. Tour backstage at Sydney Opera House

Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, this  eye-catching building is one of Australia's most iconic landmarks. Visually referencing a yacht's sails, it's a soaring, commanding presence that comprises five performance spaces for dance, concerts, opera and theater.

You can wander around the outside to your heart's content but the best way to experience the interior is to attend a performance. Taking a guided tour is also highly recommended (and available in several languages). There are a variety of tours on offer including backstage tours, a food-focused tour and one that zones in on the architectural talent that created the building.

4. Body-board, learn to surf or watch the Icebergs at Bondi

Bondi is one of the world’s most famous beaches, with consistently good waves and warm sea temperatures. It’s also a great place to learn to surf – Let's Go Surfing is a well-established surf school based in North Bondi, offering lessons catering to practically everyone. There are classes for young surfers (nicknamed locally as grommets) aged 7 to 15, adults, and women-only classes are also available.

Alternatively, you can book a private tutor between a couple of people – prices are lower outside the summer peak. Whatever you do, be respectful of other surfers and swimmers – Australians are pretty forgiving but not on the water, so pay attention to the etiquette of local surfers.

Planning tip:  In the cooler months, you can forgo the water and dine with epic views while watching winter swimmers take the plunge.

5. Explore secluded beaches and dramatic views from Watsons Bay

Located east of the city center and north of Bondi, Watsons Bay was once a small fishing village. Heritage cottages are still scattered amongst the suburb’s narrow streets but they now command a much steeper price. It's a lovely day trip by ferry from Circular Quay, and you can explore South Head and have a leisurely lunch at Doyles on the Beach  or sunset beers in Watson’s Bay Beach Club beer garden.

On the ocean side, The Gap is a dramatic clifftop lookout. On the harbor side, closer to Watsons Bay ferry, you'll find the sheltered  Camp Cove beach to take a dip.

Detour:  If you’ve forgotten to pack your swimsuit, Lady Bay Beach is a clothing-optional nudist beach on the west side of the bluff just before you arrive at Hornby lighthouse.

6. Ride the ferry to historic Cockatoo Island

Studded with photogenic industrial relics, convict architecture and art installations, fascinating UNESCO-listed Cockatoo Island (Wareamah) opened to the public in 2007 and has regular ferry services, a campground, rental accommodation and two cafes. Information boards and audioguides explain the island's time as a brutal convict prison, a shipyard and a naval base.

A spooky tunnel passes clear through the middle of the island, and you can explore the remains of the old prison. During WWII, most of the original sandstone buildings were stripped of their roofs and converted into bomb shelters. Solitary confinement cells were unearthed here after being filled in and forgotten in the 1890s.

Planning tip:  A range of tours can be booked at the visitor center, from straight-up heritage tours to ghost tours and convict prison tours.

7. Join a female-focused street art tour

There are a number of tours exploring Newtown’s street art and murals, or you can do it yourself with Google Maps and an app. However, Local Sauce has developed a self-guided tour that goes the extra mile and puts the spotlight on female artists who are often overlooked, starting from Redfern station.

As well as covering the artists behind the works, they provide recommendations for cafes where you can re-caffeinate along the way. Their street art and food tours also take you to some top Newtown eateries.

Dressing in drag is all part of the spectacle at Sydney's Mardi Gras Parade

8. Get thee to a drag show

Sydney is Australia’s self-professed LGBTIQ+ capital, so don't miss the chance to take in a drag show. Since RuPaul popularized the art of drag on the hit show Drag Race , a more mainstream audience has discovered the subverting performances of drag queens and kings. Now, popular queens can command queues around the block.

In Sydney, you can dine out while enjoying a show or head to a bingo, trivia or competition night with a drag theme. The city's Inner West and Eastern suburbs are where you’ll find most of Sydney’s LGBTIQ+ venues, from the Universal nightclub on Oxford Street to the more alternative Bearded Tit in Redfern.  

9. Stumble across Aboriginal rock art 

It may come as a surprise to stumble across an ancient art form in such a modern city, but Sydney is built on top of a giant gallery of Aboriginal art. Until recently, not much attention was paid to it and many works were covered over or destroyed.

Today, with dot paintings from distant deserts being celebrated, Sydneysiders have started to wake up to the treasure trove in their own backyard. Look for rock art by the original custodians of this place on the headlands around the harbor, on the coast and in nearby national parks such as Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park .

Visitors by the entrance to the Art Gallery of New South Wales

10. Admire the Art Gallery of New South Wales

With its neoclassical Greek frontage and modern rear, this much-loved institution plays a prominent and sociable role in Sydney society. Blockbuster international touring exhibitions arrive regularly, along with special events.

While the permanent collection has a substantial amount of 19th-century European and Australian art, the highlights are the contemporary Indigenous gallery in the basement and the collection of 20th-century Australian art, with some standout canvases by the big names of the local painting scene.

11. Deep dive into the White Rabbit art gallery

Considered by many to be Sydney's best contemporary art gallery, White Rabbit  is tucked away behind the Central Park development in Chippendale. It's the project of billionaire philanthropist Judith Neilson, who has amassed one of the world's largest collections of cutting-edge, contemporary Chinese art (works produced since 2000).

The gallery has so many pieces that only a fraction can be displayed at one time. You'll find art here that is edgy, funny, sexy and idiosyncratic. An on-site cafe does specialty teas and dumplings.

People shopping at the Queen Victoria Building (QVB) in Sydney

12. Shop Sydney’s Victorian-era arcades

Sydney’s city shopping is concentrated around George Street and Pitt Street, spilling into arcades and side streets from there. Among the many glimmering places to indulge in some intense retail therapy, there are several ornate Victorian-era arcades to admire while you browse. 

The magnificent Queen Victoria Building (QVB for short) takes up a whole city block and boasts nearly 200 shops, including well-known international brands across its five levels. The building itself is a High Victorian neo-Gothic masterpiece – undoubtedly Sydney’s most beautiful shopping center.

Check out the wrought-iron balconies, the Byzantine copper domes, the stained-glass shopfronts, the mosaic floors, the replica crown jewels, the ballroom, the tinkling baby grand piano (available to play) and the hyper-kitsch animated Royal Clock, featuring the Battle of Hastings and an hourly beheading of Charles I. Nearby, the Strand Arcade is home to a host of Aussie designers as well as an old-school branch of JB Hi-Fi in the basement selling electronics, DVDs and vinyl.

13. Catch one of Sydney's spectacular festivals

Sydney's nocturnal calendar kicks off with a spectacular New Year's Eve fireworks display over the harbor and doesn't calm down for months. As soon as the Sydney Festival' s myriad openings and events finish, the lights come up on the biggest party of them all – the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras  from late February to early March.

Winter brings fashion, literature,and film festivals to Sydney, with opening nights, cocktail parties and literary soirées, plus the spectacular Vivid Sydney  from late May to mid-June lighting up the town with projections and lights. Spring is football finals time – whether it's rugby or Aussie Rules, try to get to a night game for the friendly atmosphere and epic crowds.

14. Kayak to a secret beach

A hidden jewel not far from Manly , magical Store Beach can only be reached by water. Hire a boat or kayak from Manly Kayak Centre , then cruise around (it’ll take approximately half an hour to 45 minutes) to the sheltered 200m (656ft) cove beach fringed by trees. The views of the bushy North Harbour give the impression you’ve left the city entirely.

As this is a breeding ground for little blue penguins, access is prohibited from dusk, when the birds waddle in to settle down for the night. Visitors are also implored to leave the beach in the same condition they found it (or better). Take snacks, sunscreen and plenty of water.

Shelly Beach viewed from Manly

15. Hike the coastline around Manly and North Head

This marvelous coastal walk has two major components: a 10km (6.2 miles) western stretch between  Manly and Spit Bridge, and a 9.5km (5.9 miles) eastern loop around North Head. The western section traces the complex harbor coastline through upmarket suburbs and then a spectacular section of unspoiled Sydney Harbour National Park . It emerges in Clontarf and winds its way to the Spit Bridge. 

The eastern loop is known as the North Head Circuit Track, and the walk takes 2½ to 3½ hours. Make your way through the bush to the spectacular Fairfax Lookout on North Head. From the lookout, walk the Fairfax Loop and then head back via Australia's Memorial Walk and WWII gun emplacements to the Bluefish Track, which descends spectacularly to Shelly Beach . From here, you can return to Manly Beach via picturesque Fairy Bower Beach. Either download a map or pick one up from the information center near the wharf.

16. Learn more Aboriginal history and knowledge at the Royal Botanic Garden

Southeast of the Opera House, this garden was established in 1816 and features plant life from around the world. Within the gardens are hothouses with palms and ferns, as well as The Calyx , a striking exhibition space featuring a curving glasshouse gallery with a wall of greenery and temporary plant-themed exhibitions. Grab a park map at any of the main entrances to the gardens.

The garden includes the site of the colony's first paltry European vegetable patch, but its history goes back much further than that. Long before the convicts arrived, this was an initiation ground for the Gadigal people; book ahead for a tour with a First Nations guide sharing their knowledge of Indigenous bush foods.

Barrenjoey lighthouse at night under the stars

17. Make a day trip to Palm Beach and Pittwater

Long, lovely Palm Beach is a crescent of bliss that's famous as the setting for the cheesy TV soap  Home and Away . The 1881 Barrenjoey Lighthouse punctuates the northern tip of the headland in an annex of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. The suburb of Palm Beach has two sides – the magnificent ocean beach and a pleasant strip on Pittwater, where the calmer strands are suitable for young kids.

From here, you can get ferries to other picturesque Pittwater destinations, including other park sections. To get to the lighthouse, you've got two options on foot – shorter stairs or a winding track – for the steep hike to the top, but majestic views across Pittwater and down the peninsula are worth the effort. It’s also a perfect spot for whale watching in winter.

18. Go for a run or a horse ride around Centennial Park

Scratched out of the sand in 1888 in grand Victorian style, Sydney’s biggest park  is a rambling 189-hectare (467-acre) expanse with wide formal avenues, ponds, statues and a labyrinth. The park is busy in the warmer months with joggers, cyclists, rollerbladers and horse riders.

You’ll also find an equestrian center offering trail rides for kids and adults. Prior riding experience is not required, but bookings are essential. If a pony ride isn't their thing, children will also love the adventures to be had at the Ian Potter Children’s WILD PLAY Garden . 

The Rocks as dusk settles over Sydney

19. Discover the colonial history of The Rocks

Australia's convict history began in the district known as The Rocks, with a squalid canvas shanty town on a rocky shore. Its raucous reputation lives on in atmospheric lanes lined with historic buildings, with more than a few still operating as pubs.

Sure, the place is overrun with tacky, overpriced koala-soft-toy stores and tourists, but there's a great museum and art gallery here as well. A popular old Rocks pub with rooftop views of central Sydney, The Glenmore is a top stop for a meal or drink. When it all gets too much, head through the Argyle Cut to the revitalized port area of Walsh Bay .

20. Skip along the Bondi to Coogee Clifftop walk

The simply sensational 6km (3.7 miles)  Bondi to Coogee walk leads south from Bondi Beach along the clifftops past the inlets at Tamarama, Bronte and Clovelly, interweaving panoramic views, patrolled beaches, sea-fed baths, waterside parks and plaques recounting Aboriginal history and stories.

The trail begins at the end of Notts Ave and spits you out at the north end of Coogee Beach, where you have a choice of three ocean pools to swim in if the waves at the beach are ferocious. Pack a picnic, plenty of water and your swimsuit.​

21. Get a taste of the high life at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia 

A 2.5km (1.6-mile) walk from Sydney’s central business district, in the well-heeled enclave of Rushcutters Bay, Sydney’s historic Cruising Yacht Club of Australia is the home of the annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race . If you want to experience some local Sydney life, the members-only sundeck cafe here serves enormous portions of fish and chips with a glass of Riesling – all while gazing upon multi-million dollar yachts. Visitors can sign in for the day.

This article was first published Aug 9, 2021 and updated Nov 3, 2023.

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Sydney, New South Wales

Guide to Sydney

Aboriginal name: Warrane (pronounced War-rang)

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  • Getting to Sydney
  • When to visit
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A city of iconic attractions and brilliant beaches, Sydney is a destination you'll never forget.

Sydney is home to must-visit icons like the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, but this Harbour City is constantly evolving. New rooftop bars, theatre shows and designer shops pop up at every turn, and the urban excitement is perfectly balanced by afternoons spent lying on the sand. Plus, with diverse destinations at its doorstep, Sydney is the perfect base for day trips and weekends away.

Sydney/Warrane is home to a number of distinct First Nations groups, spanning from the beaches of Bondi out to the Blue Mountains. Warrane refers to the area now known as Circular Quay and Sydney Cove specifically. 

Aboriginal culture is vibrant across the city, and you can experience it on cultural tours, exhibitions and events throughout the year. 

  • Traditional name: Warrane (pronounced War-rang),
  • Indigenous Peoples of Central Sydney: Gadigal people
  • Traditional lands of Greater Sydney: Eora Nation
  • Traditional languages of Central Sydney: Gadigal language
  • How to say g’day in Gadigal: Budyeri kamaru

Being one of Australia’s major cities, getting to Sydney is easy with many international and domestic flights arriving daily. 

  • Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport (SYD) is 9km (5.5mi) from the city and services international and domestic arrivals
  • Hire cars, rideshare and taxi services and shuttles are conveniently available to book prior to your arrival, or on the day 
  • Sydney Airport is also serviced by an urban train line direct to the city

Sydney offers clean, reliable and affordable public transport services connecting all of the city’s suburbs. Read more about getting around Sydney .

When it comes to weather , Sydney is quite predictable and experiences four distinct seasons. The warmer months are commonly from November to February, with the cooler months being March to August. 

Even if you are visiting in the cooler months, make sure to pack swimwear, as it is common to enjoy warm, sunny days during winter.

  • High season: Spring and summer (November to February)
  • Low season: Winter (June to August)
  • Don’t miss: The long list of festivals and events happening all year long

Throughout Sydney, you’ll find accessible attractions , museums and galleries , heritage landmarks and more.

  • Arrival: Special assistance for people with disabilities, including those with hidden disabilities , is available upon arrival and departure at Sydney Airport.
  • Getting around: Most of Sydney’s public transport networks are accessible for people using a wheelchair or mobility device. You can use the ‘Accessible services only’ option on the Trip Planner tool for real-time public transport information.
  • Accessible experience highlights: Australia in Style provides epic accessible Sydney tours for wheelchair users, and the staff at Let’s Go Surfing are committed to helping everyone ride Bondi’s famous waves.
  • Helpful resources: The Vacayit app provides immersive audio guides to selected Sydney attractions. Check out Sydney’s access and inclusion map to explore the city on your own.

Top things to do in Sydney

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50 things to do in Sydney right now

Kristie Lau-Adams

Travel Journalist

27 November 2023


The Harbour City is overwhelmingly dazzling so we’ve whittled down the best things to do in Sydney to enhance every visit.

World-class dining , pristine beaches , unparalleled cultural experiences  — there’s a heck of a lot to cover in Sydney. And while Circular Quay and The Rocks  are filled with top-notch views and bucket-list attractions , there’s entertainment for every tastebud right across the glittering NSW capital. Here, we round up some of our favourite things to do in Sydney to help you build your own itinerary – you can use the menu below to jump ahead.

Fun things to do in Sydney Free things to do in Sydney Unique things to do in Sydney Things to do in Sydney for Adults Things to do in Sydney at night Things to do in Sydney when it’s raining Things to do in Sydney with kids Things to do in Sydney with toddlers Things to do in Sydney for young adults

Fun things to do in Sydney

Thrilling escapades, indulgent menus and unforgettable sights encourage visitors of any age to really let their hair down.

1. Soak up the views off Sydney’s tallest building

BridgeClimb  steals the spotlight but did you know SKYWALK atop the Sydney Tower Eye offers a higher vantage point than the Sydney Harbour Bridge? Take a secure stroll along the city’s highest outdoor viewpoint, at a whopping 268 metres above the CBD, to gaze adoringly at the city and as far out as the Blue Mountains.

a family enjoying the Sydney Sky Tower Skywalk at sunset

Get the best views of the city on top of the Sydney Tower Eye. (Image: Destination NSW)

2. Catch a performance inside the Sydney Opera House

Taking selfies out front is great but totally immersing yourself in the country’s most iconic landmark is a must.

Aerial view of Sydney Opera House

See a performance at the Sydney Opera House. (Image: Destination NSW)(Image: Destination NSW)

Many of the globe’s most acclaimed performers can be seen spinning magic within the Sydney Opera House ’s unique venues. Its annual performance count has been recorded at more than 1,800, ushering in at least 1.4 million people through its doors per year.

A performance of Tosca by Opera Australia

Tosca is coming to the the Sydney Opera House in 2024.

3. Unleash your inner child at Luna Park Sydney

Swing like a pendulum on board the 30-metre-high Sledgehammer, whiz down silky-smooth slides in Coney Island and take it nice and slow on the Ferris Wheel. There’s no shortage of fun to be had inside Luna Park Sydney , which was built in 1935 and retains its art deco influence.

a child plays piggyback on his dad with a Ferris wheel on the background at Luna Park Sydney, Milsons Point

Embrace your inner child and go for a spin on the Ferris wheel. (Image: Destination NSW)

It underwent enormous renovations in 2021, introducing nine rides including a new-look Big Dipper, but even more exciting Luna Park Sydney unveilings  can be experienced at the northern end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Milsons Point.

a family walking into Luna Park Sydney, Milsons Point

Luna Park is a go-to spot for the whole family. (Image: Destination NSW)

4. Jump on board the Manly to Circular Quay ferry

Whether you’re starting from the iconic Sydney beach suburb or venturing from the heart of the city, the Manly Ferry  offers a budget-friendly way to see Sydney Harbour and the city’s dramatic waterfront structures. Regular services run between the two central tourist hubs, sailing past Kirribilli House, the official residence of the Prime Minister, Bradleys Head, South Head and much more.

Manly Ferry heading towards Circular Quay.

Hop on a ferry from Manly to see Sydney Harbour up close.(Image: Destination NSW)

5. Indulge in a bottomless Sydney brunch

And you thought Melbourne did it well. Get your breakfast mimosa fix at one of the best bottomless brunch menus in the city , which span the city’s CBD, eastern suburbs, northern beaches, north shore and Southerland Shire. Offering multi-course banquets paired with uncapped thirst-quenching concoctions, it’s one of the most fun ways to kick start a day of touring this remarkable city.

bottomless daiquiris at Rosie Campbell’s, Sydney

Sip bottomless daiquiris at Rosie Campbell’s brunch offering. (Image: Kitti Gould)

Free things to do in Sydney

It’s one of the world’s most expensive cities but getting a feel for Sydney’s natural beauty doesn’t have to set you back a fortune.

6. Soak up Sydney’s best beaches

Spoilt for choice, visitors are urged to discover some of the city’s best secret swimming spots  at Sydney’s most outstanding beaches. While icons including Bondi, Manly, Palm Beach and Gordons Bay need no introduction, lesser-known hot spots such as Great Mackerel Beach in the northern beaches and Resolute Beach in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park offer great vibes away from thick crowds.  

enjoying a morning walk along Resolute Beach in Ku-ring- gai National Park

Cool off away from the crowds on Mackerel Beach. (Image: Andrew Gregory/Destination NSW)

7. Tackle a Sydney bush or coastal walk

From beginner trails to multi-day expeditions that take in endless natural wonders, the city’s most spectacular hikes and coastal walks  are vast and full of adventure.

scenic views across Lane Cove National Park, Sydney

Hike the trails within peaceful Lane Cove National Park. (Image: Destination NSW)

Pack a picnic and prepare for a full day out as walks including Castlecrag’s Harold Reid Foreshore Track and Lane Cove National Park’s Riverside Walking Track offer views to rival those found along Sydney’s popular Bondi to Manly or Coogee to Bondi walks.

Bondi Coastal Walk during Sculpture By The Sea

The Bondi Coastal Walk is even more of a draw during Sculptures by the Sea. (Image: Destination NSW)

8. Get up close and personal with Sydney’s underwater life

Venture below the water’s surface in Sydney to discover vibrant underwater ecosystems. The best way to stickybeak? With a snorkel mask and flippers. Sydney’s best snorkelling spots  include Cabbage Tree Bay in Manly and Fairlight Beach in the northern beaches while Clovelly Beach makes waves in the east and the south is dotted with standouts like Cronulla’s Oak Park.  

freedivers exploring the Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve, Manly

Get up close and personal with the marine life in Cabbage Tree Bay. (Image: Destination NSW)

9. Picnic right along Sydney Harbour

Perch yourself in a world-class dining location without the hefty price tag. A relaxed picnic lunch in Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden offers front-row seats to Sydney Harbour while its meticulously manicured grounds set a heavenly scene. Open daily from 7am until sunset, Australia’s oldest botanic garden is free to enter and located on Mrs Macquarie’s Road, just a few minutes’ walk from Sydney’s CBD.

friends laughing and enjoying a picnic at Royal Botanic Gardens

Enjoy a relaxed picnic at Royal Botanic Gardens with views of Sydney Harbour. (Image: Destination NSW)

10. Get lost in a Sydney museum

Providing extraordinary insight into the city’s rich history, plus plenty of artefacts from right around the country and globe, the best museums in Sydney  are delightful time warps. From the Museum of Sydney, Australian Museum and Museum of Contemporary Art in Circular Quay to cultural gems like Old Government House in Sydney’s west, there’s a portal into every past.

outside the Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney

Embark on a creative journey at the Museum of Contemporary Art. (Image: Tourism Australia)

Unique things to do in Sydney

Journey off the beaten track to explore the city and its under-hyped charms from a true local’s perspective.

11. See a different side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

There’s a great alternative to BridgeClimb Sydney that involves schlepping up a stack of steps inside one of those decorative stone pillars. The views from the  Pylon Lookout  aren’t quite as good as those from the top of the bridge, but they’re no shabby imitation. Once on ground, head to Dawes Point and look at the bridge from underneath. The humungous grey rivets are impressive and bring home how monstrous the Coat Hanger is.

Friends gather at the Pylon Lookout during Vivid

Swap the BridgeClimb for a Pylon Lookout experience. (Image: Destination NSW)

12. Jump on board the Riverboat Postman

The posties on the run from Brooklyn, located one hour’s drive from Sydney’s CBD, travel a plum route, delivering to small communities that can’t be reached by land. To spend a day in their shoes, dropping off the odd letter along the way, members of the public are invited to join the Riverboat Postman  on the Hawkesbury River for their very own ride.

old people on board the Riverboat Postman, Brooklyn

Cruise along the Hawkesbury River onboard the Riverboat Postman. (Image: Destination NSW)

13. Spot a TV star at Palm Beach

Palm Beach is the last stop on the northern beaches run, heading past quiet alternatives such as Whale Beach and Bilgola but there’s more to this neck of the woods than sand and surf. Up your chance of seeing Home and Away being filmed by dropping in on a weekday. Got extra time? Take the long walk to the Barrenjoey lighthouse at the far end to marvel at some stunning coastline.

an aerial view of Barrenjoey lighthouse in Ku-ring-gai National Park, Palm Beach

Take in incredible coastal views from Barrenjoey lighthouse. (Image: Destination NSW)

14. Reconnect with nature at Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden

Wendy Whiteley, the wife of Sydney artist Brett Whiteley who passed away in 1992, has created a wonderland of sculptures, flora and fauna in her favourite corner of Lavender Bay in Sydney’s north shore. Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden  attracts visitors from around the world for its distinct zen and astounding views. Go there with plenty of time up your sleeve — its powerful ambience is tough to kiss goodbye.

enjoying the serenity in Wendy Whiteley's Secret Garden in Lavender Bay

Find your inner zen at Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden. (Image: Destination NSW)

15. Catch a film at Golden Age Cinema and Bar

This isn’t your ordinary theatre experience. Golden Age Cinema and Bar was first built in 1940 when it was owned by Paramount Pictures and screened everything from newsreels to locally produced films. Today’s reimagined venue, which pays tribute to its Art Deco roots, opened in 2013 and transports visitors back to the Golden Age of cinema itself. Expect underground flicks, vintage furnishings and live music.

a live music performance at Golden Age Cinema & Bar, Surry Hills

Catch live music performances at Golden Age Cinema and Bar. (Image: Destination NSW)

Things to do for adults

Soak up Sydney’s world-renowned restaurants, bars and boutiques with our pick of adults-only things to do.

16. Unwind in a Sydney day spa

Kick up your feet in one of the city’s best day spas , which dot Sydney from suburb to suburb. While divine pampering and results-based treatments abound in long-established venues including Pyrmont’s The Darling Spa and Venustus in Paddington, Nature’s Energy Day Spa & Bathhouse  in Glebe is also worth trialling as it took out several wins at the 2023 World Luxury Spa Awards.

a couple's treatment room at The Darling Spa in Pyrmont

Get your well-deserved R&R at Pyrmont’s The Darling Spa. (Image: The Darling)

17. Feast at an exceptional Sydney restaurant

World-famous chefs, Instagram-perfect fit-outs and some of the country’s finest hospitality — Sydney’s best restaurants are destinations on their own accord. Celebrating diverse flavours, local produce and evolving techniques, hot spots like Saint Peter, Kiln, Bennelong, Quay, Cirrus and Restaurant Hubert are always great options – and you’ll find plenty of gems in Surry Hills too.

a couple enjoying food and drink at French restaurant Restaurant Hubert, Sydney

Reserve a table at Restaurant Hubert for a romantic night out. (Image: Destination NSW)

18. Treat yourself to one of Sydney’s freshest hotels

While long-established chains provide luxurious lodgings, a crop of newish hotels should be considered while booking your next Sydney visit. Hotel Indigo in Potts Point, Capella in the city’s CBD  and the W Sydney at Darling Harbour  are just a handful of the city’s most exciting offerings.

the elegant living room bar, W Sydney

Stay in the opulent W Sydney. (Image: Destination NSW)

19. Hunt for unique goodies at a Sydney market

Showcasing everything from farm-fresh produce and condiments to vintage fashion and knick-knacks, the city’s best markets  offer unique treasure hunting meccas. Savour excellent bacon and egg rolls at Orange Grove Organic Food Markets in Leichhardt, stalk fresh seafood at Pyrmont’s Sydney Fish Markets, find unique art at The Rocks Market or discover homewares you never knew you needed at Paddington Markets — there’s standouts right around the city.

crowds browsing the food stalls at The Rocks Friday Foodie Market along Playfair Street, The Rocks

Grab something to eat at The Rocks Friday Foodie Market along Playfair Street. (Image: Destination NSW)

20. Indulge in boutique retail therapy

It’s no coincidence that the city’s trendiest can be found in Sydney’s inner west, inner city and eastern suburbs — it’s where all the great shopping is. Explore strings of boutiques selling fashion, furniture, homewares, jewellery and more in hot spots like Oxford Street, stretching from Taylor Square to Bondi Junction, Cross Street in Double Bay, King Street in Newtown and William Street in Paddington.

a woman browsing fashion at Sonia Hopkins store on William Street, Paddington

Find fashionable items at the Sonia Hopkins store on William Street, Paddington. (Image: Destination NSW)

Things to do at night

Sydney’s most vivid colours come out when the sun sinks, luring visitors to an eclectic collection of bars, world-class entertainment venues and truly kooky activities.

21. Brave Sydney’s spookiest ghost tour

The Rocks offers frightening varieties but our vote for the scariest ghost tour in Sydney goes to The Quarantine Station  in North Head. Book an after-dark expedition and be fascinated, and often disturbed, by a tour around the somewhat grim facilities renowned as one of the country’s most haunted sites. Into the paranormal? There’s a 3.5-hour Paranormal Investigation tour with your name on it.

a rainbow over Quarantine Station at dusk, Manly Cove

Stroll along the country’s most haunted sites at the Quarantine Station. (Image: Andrew Gregory/Destination NSW)

22. Uncover a secret Sydney bar

Sure, easy-to-find bars shake up delectable spoils but it’s always extra gratifying to grab a drink somewhere exclusive. Sydney boasts a string of excellent hidden bars , providing intimate date nights and catch-up spots without too many tourists. Standouts include Shady Pines Saloon in Darlinghurst, The Cumberland in Manly and Earl’s Juke Joint in Newtown.

an underground drinking den at The Cumberland in Manly, Sydney

Head downstairs to the classic underground drinking den at The Cumberland. (Image: The Cumberland)

23. Gaze up at the stars well beyond Sydney

Sky-rise towers and endless commotion clutter the city by day but come nightfall, the clear evening sky is often littered with stardust. The perfect spot to spy on some of its most spectacular constellations is Sydney Observatory , serving also as one of the city’s best museums, which offers evening tours to help guide wide eyes right across the galaxy. Located in Millers Point, it’s open from Wednesday to Saturday.

24. Dance like nobody’s watching in a Sydney nightclub

Is the bar closing? Keep the good times rolling in a Sydney club where great tunes spanning every era are pumped well into the early hours. The Albion Hotel in Parramatta is famed for its R&B and hip hop, Goros in Surry Hills will get you interpretive dancing to karaoke sing-a-longs, Home in Darling Harbour attracts the world’s biggest DJs and The Abercrombie in Chippendale is always a good time. Trust us.

young people dancing in Goros, Surry Hills

Let loose and simply dance the night away at Goros. (Image: Destination NSW)

25. Hop around Sydney’s best breweries

If craft beer’s your jam, there are plenty of stellar options to explore across the city. The Rocks is home to a handful including the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel with Sydney’s oldest continuous pub licence, and the inner west is another brewing magnet offering Young Henry’s, Kicks Brewing, the Bob Hawke Beer & Leisure Centre, Wildflower and more. There’s also plenty going on in the northern beaches, like Bucketty’s Brewing Co and Modus Operandi Brewing.

the interior of The Bob Hawke Beer & Leisure Centre, Marrickville

The ambience at The Bob Hawke Beer & Leisure Centre transports you back into the 1980s. (Image: The Bob Hawke Beer & Leisure Centre)

26. Fill your belly at a Sydney night market

Sink into a food coma at one of the city’s flavour-packed night markets. Consistent players include the Chinatown Night Markets on Friday and Paddy’s Night Food Markets held once a month. Seasonal markets also pop up throughout the year but these two standouts are Sydney mainstays and attract thick crowds.

people shopping at night markets in Dixon Arcade Chinatown, Sydney

Shop your way around Chinatown Night Markets. (Image: Daniel Boud/Destination NSW)

Things to do in Sydney when it is raining

Indoor culinary feasts, cultural immersions and activity galore are all waiting to be explored when it’s too much of a mess out there.

27. Feast like a king at a Sydney yum cha

Piping hot barbecue pork buns, sizzling sensations and flash-fried calamari — yum cha in Sydney offers the perfect opportunity to whip out your elastic waistband. Head straight for Chinatown for authentic cuisine arriving fresh off trolleys at The Eight and East Ocean but there’s great yum cha in most suburbs including Mr Wong’s in Sydney’s CBD, East Phoenix in Zetland and Silks in Barangaroo.

Overhead shot of yum cha on table

The yum cha offering in Sydney is not to be missed.

28. Cosy up to a Sydney pub fireplace

Pub grub, just-poured beer and the warmth of a fireplace against your cheeks . Is there any better way to spend a rainy day? Sydney’s best pub fireplaces include the Lord Nelson Brewery and the Hero of Waterloo in The Rocks, The Lord Dudley in Woollahra, The Glebe Hotel and The Riverview in Balmain.

The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel, Australia's oldest brewery hotel located in The Rocks

Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel is one of the oldest pubs in Australia. (Image: Destination NSW)

29. Spy native critters at WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo

Koalas, Kangaroos, Tasmanian Devils, Freshwater Crocs and many more of our iconic animals can be spotted inside the expansive WILD LIFE Sydney  at Darling Harbour. The enclosures are planned out excellently, offering vantage points to cater for large crowds and there’s plenty of interactive experiences to help kill the time.

the animals at WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo

Spend a day with the animals at WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo. (Image: Merlin Entertainment Group)

30. Catch a flick at a Sydney cinema

Sure, your shopping centre cinema chains are packed with amenities but there’s something simply irresistible about a boutique cinema. Watch the latest releases at the city’s most character-filled cinemas including Randwick’s Ritz Cinema, Cremorne’s Hayden Orpheum, Paddington’s Chauvel and Palace Veronas across Sydney.

the cinema auditorium at Paddington’s Chauvel

Grab your popcorn ready for a movie night at Paddington’s Chauvel.

31. Book a Sydney cooking class

Learn your way around the ocean’s crustaceans and how to prepare them for devouring with a class at Sydney Seafood School  within the Sydney Fish Market. Offering cooking classes themed by unique cuisines in addition to masterclasses with high-profile chefs, the cooking institution provides lifelong cooking, produce selection and flavour pairing skills.

students holding their dishes at Cooking class at the Sydney seafood school

Level up your cooking skills at Sydney Seafood School. (Image: Destination NSW)

32. Belly laugh at The Comedy Store

While the world’s most celebrated comedians grace a wide range of venues in Sydney, The Comedy Store  in Moore Park is a guaranteed good time no matter who you’re seeing. Expect a handful of performers at every show including, if you’re lucky, familiar faces like Akmal, Lawrence Mooney and Aaron Chen who have all hit its stage.

Things to do in Sydney with kids

Grab the little ones and rustle up your own inner child — it’s time to dial up the energy with the city’s most action-packed activities.

33. Make furry friends at Taronga Zoo

Everyone’s living their best life at Taronga Zoo Sydney , located in the north shore. Kids will delight in the variety of animals while grown-ups will be treated to Instagram-worthy views. Opening its doors back in 1916, the iconic venue has evolved significantly over time but its elephants, monkeys, aviaries and seals have always remained the hottest attractions.

giraffes at Taronga Zoo,Mosman in Sydney

Enjoy a giraffe encounter at Taronga Zoo. (Image: Destination NSW)

34. Get dolled up for a Sydney high tea

Itty bitty sandwiches and pastries may fit snug in child-sized hands but who doesn’t love a towering collection of edible treats? Choose from any one of Sydney’s excellent high tea venues including the Gunners Barracks in Mosman, The Tea Room in the Queen Victoria Building and Aperture in the new Capella hotel in Sydney’s CBD, which is set beneath mechanical flowers to further mesmerise the littlest of lunch mates.

a high tea experience at Hyatt Regency Sydney

Elevate your high tea experience at Hyatt Regency Sydney.

35. Expend serious energy at Sydney’s best playgrounds

Magnificent playgrounds filled with brilliant ways to tire tots out can be found right across the city. If you’re in the east, try The Ian Potter Children’s WILD PLAY Garden at Centennial Parklands. If you’re in the west, head to Blaxland Riverside Park at Sydney Olympic Park. Other standouts include The Canopy Playground in Lane Cove, Fairfield Adventure Park and Domain Creek Playground in Parramatta Park.

Kids playing in The Ian Potter Children's Wild Play Garden, Centennial Park

The Ian Potter Children’s Wild Play Garden in Centennial Park is a wonderland of play for kids. (Image: Destination NSW)

36. Explore Sydney’s best indoor play centres

Keen to occupy the kids in a confined environment? An indoor play centre is just the ticket. Stellar picks across Sydney include H’ome Kids Café in Rhodes, complete with its own carousel, Vitaland Kids Café in various locations, Planet Mino Kids Club in Chatswood and JUMPd, a trampoline fun house, in Brookvale.

the trampoline fun house at JUMPd in Brookvale

JUMPd is a trampoline wonderland for kids.

37. Visit the world’s largest LEGO store

Who doesn’t love LEGO? Pretend it’s for the kids and visit the largest LEGO store  in the world, located in the heart of Sydney. The 900-square-metre space, located at 400 George Street in the CBD, is fitted out with every brick imaginable in addition to a ton of interactive experiences and installations, giant models and just general jitteriness.

Sydney Lego Store

Drop by the world’s largest LEGO store to complete your collection.

38. Tour Sydney’s best bike tracks

Pop on their helmets and get the kids out on their two-wheelers. Sydney is filled with so many stunning bike trails tailored to little ones including Centennial Parklands’ Learner’s Cycleway for those still on training wheels, Ryde Park in the city’s west, Sydney Park in the inner west and Heffron Pedal Park in the east.

a family enjoying a ride through Barangaroo on their hired bicycles from Sydney Harbour Bike Tours

Explore Sydney’s CBD on two wheels. (Image: Destination NSW)

Things to do in Sydney with toddlers

Grab all of the snacks and make the most out of the city’s thriving café culture, public facilities and free activities.

39. Dine in a family-friendly Sydney restaurant

Mini gourmands are raised right thanks to a diverse scattering of excellent toddler-friendly eateries throughout the city . We love Paddington’s Centennial Homestead and South Coogee’s Bistro on the Greens for their ample spaces inviting tiny humans to run free, as well as The Tea Cosy in The Rocks for its quirky smile-sparking charms.

the dining space inside Bistro On The Greens

Bistro on the Greens is renowned for its relaxed dining inside a bowls club. (Image: Wasa Media)

40. Drown babycinos at Sydney cafes

Only have time for a cuppa? Superb babycinos with all the bells and whistles will keep little ones occupied as you savour your morning brew. Check out Flower Drum in Newtown for a solid dusting of chocolate and marshmallows, The Lion & Buffalo in South Coogee for their famed ‘Unicorn milk with fairy magic dust’ as well as any Oliver Brown, located right across the city, for more sugary goodness.

Kids looking at farm animals at Grounds of Alexandria

There are plenty of family-friendly cafes in Sydney, like the Grounds of Alexandria. (Image: Destination NSW)

41. Get creative at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s ARTplay

Budding Picassos up to the age of five are invited to flex their creative muscles in the Museum of Contemporary Art’s ARTplay program  which runs throughout the year two or three times a month. It’s a pretty popular playgroup welcoming prams and clans of all sizes, so bookings are required to secure your spot.

42. Discover new favourites at The Children’s Library

The State Library of NSW is a great day out for bubs and adults alike but did you know it has its own dedicated kids space? The Children’s Library , located on the lower ground floor of the Macquarie Building, boasts an enormous collection of classics and newbies from the world’s most exciting authors. Plus, there are plenty of toddler-sized nooks to encourage quiet time spent exploring new finds.

kids having fun in the reading corner at Children's Library, Sydney

Bring your little ones into a cosy reading nook at the Children’s Library.

43. Visit SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

Little ones are guaranteed to lose their mind at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium  where incredible displays just keep coming. From the ocean’s most intimidating predators to the cuddliest of creatures (don’t miss the ice-cold penguin enclosure), there’s a water-loving species to utterly awe every child.

a family enjoying their visit to SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium,Darling Harbour

Marvel at the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium. (Image: Destination NSW)

Things to do in Sydney for young adults

Keep not quite-grown-ups off their mobile phones, momentarily anyway, with outstanding action-packed activities spread right across Sydney.

44. Take hilarious selfies at Madame Tussauds

It’s probably the closest your youngsters will ever get to their idols so make a day out of snapping Madame Tussauds Sydney ’s life-size wax sculptures. While the likes of Harry Styles, the Hemsworth brothers and Lady Gaga offer the ultimate contemporary selfie opportunities, all-time icons including Albert Einstein, ET and Marilyn Monroe are also plenty entertaining.

the stunning wax figure of Courtney Act in the new PRIDE zone at Madame Tussauds Sydney

Catch the stunning wax figure of Courtney Act in the new PRIDE zone at Madame Tussauds Sydney.

45. Join a Sydney whale-watching tour

If you’re dropping in between May and November, it’s the perfect time to catch sight of the annual whale migration from Antarctica. Check out our ultimate whale-watching guide to Sydney  for everything you and the kids need to know including which tours suit your specific needs and exactly what time of the day you should head out to sea.

a humpback whale breaching near Sydney Heads on its annual migration along the NSW coastline

See the fascinating mammals of the sea up close on a Sydney whale-watching tour. (Image: Destination NSW)

46. Paddle a kayak around Sydney Harbour

It’s one of the world’s most scenic bodies of water so elevate your time on Sydney Harbour by experiencing it via a kayak. Many companies offer guided tours with expert commentary and family canoes are also available if there’s a bunch of you. Try Sydney Kayak, Sydney by Kayak and Sydney Harbour Kayaks for great options.  

friends enjoying a day of kayaking on Sydney Harbour

Go kayaking around Sydney Harbour. (Image: Destination NSW)

47. Learn archery at Sydney Olympic Park Archery Centre

Reckon you’ve got a good aim? If you’re six years old and over, you can prove it with a bow and arrow at Sydney Olympic Park Archery Centre . The 6.5-acre space was used as the official Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games site, so it’s built for elite athletes and amateurs to give the sport their best shot.

a kid learning how to shoot arrows at the Sydney Olympic Park Archery Centre

Kids can learn how to shoot arrows at the Sydney Olympic Park Archery Centre.

48. Ride a horse at Hawkesbury Valley Equestrian Centre

You never bought them a pony so offer your tweens and teens the next best thing – horse riding with Hawkesbury Valley Equestrian Centre , less than one hour from Sydney’s CBD. The long-established company provide guided trail rides as well as private lessons and school holiday day camps.

Hawkesbury Valley Equestrian Centre

Experience guided horse rides at Hawkesbury Valley Equestrian Centre. (Image: Destination NSW)

49. Get competitive at a Sydney bowling alley

If you’ve got a young adult in your household, you’ll be all over Strike and how awesome an experience it is right across the country. Strike Bowling Entertainment Quarter  is especially excellent thanks to its on-site laser tag arena and private karaoke rooms. If you’re just bowling, eight lanes cater for crowds who roll into the venue by the truckload come school holidays. Avoid it during the period if you prefer quieter conditions or jump on board to soak up the atmosphere.

the bowling alley at Strike Bowling Bar, Sydney

Join in the fun and up your game at the Strike Bowling Bar.

50. Bust out of Sydney’s most famous panic room

Set your mind racing as you plan your escape from PaniQ Room in The Rocks. A thrilling game to play with youngsters, the fun-filled hot spot is built with six unique rooms each with its own dramatic scenario. No matter which one you choose, you’ve got 60 minutes to figure out how to get out. If you’re a fan of puzzles, this is your perfect match.

For more travel tips and insider guides, head to our Sydney travel guide.

Kristie Lau-Adams is a Gold Coast-based freelance writer after working as a journalist and editorial director for almost 20 years across Australia's best-known media brands including The Sun-Herald, WHO and Woman's Day. She has spent significant time exploring the world with highlights including trekking Japan’s life-changing Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage and ziplining 140 metres above the vines of Mexico’s Puerto Villarta. She loves exploring her own backyard (quite literally, with her two young children who love bugs), but can also be found stalking remote corners globally for outstanding chilli margaritas and soul-stirring cultural experiences.


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One Comment

Excellent article! Looking forward to trying out all of these adventures.

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The 52 best things to do in Sydney in 2024

From classic Sydney bucket list items to quirky secrets from locals – this is the only Harbour City guide you'll need

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Maxim Boon

We might be a little biased, but in our humble opinion, Sydney's got it all. Can you think of many other cities in the world that rival its natural beauty , rich heritage and history that dates back thousands of years, and its creative , culinary and cultural offerings by world-class pros. In fact, there's so much to see, do, sip and ponder here, you could be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed. Worry not, dear reader – we're making it simple for you.

Our team (including Food & Drink Editor  Avril Treasure  and our Sydney Editor Alice Ellis ) sifted through every good time the Big Smoke has to offer and put together a Sydney bucket list for the ages. Whether you're a new arrival or a born-and-bred local, this 2024 Time Out Sydney round-up of the city's must-do activities will let you experience Sydney from every angle.

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The best things to do in Sydney

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Explore the inner workings of the Sydney Opera House

What is it?   It's a chance to step inside Australia's most iconic building, granting you access to (almost) every corner of this architectural wonder.

Why go?  You'll get to explore the theatres (providing there isn’t a show in session) – from the majestic Concert Hall to the quaint Drama Theatre. You’ll be regaled with the secrets and stories that go on behind the curtain. There's even an immersive experience that celebrates the past, present and people of our city's most famous building.

Don't miss:  As well as entertaining all the musical aficionados, the Opera House caters to the foodies of Sydneytown with their ' Taste of the House ' tour, which takes place on the last Sunday of every month.

2.  Seek out the hidden oasis that is Wendy's Secret Garden

  • Lavender Bay

Seek out the hidden oasis that is Wendy's Secret Garden

What is it?  This secret garden, with full views of Sydney Harbour Bridge, is part public, part private land at the foot of artist Brett Whiteley’s home in Lavender Bay.

Why go? For years, the land was tangled, overgrown and strewn with rubbish, but when Whiteley died in 1992, his widow, Wendy, channelled her grief into creating a place of enchantment. Sydneysiders come to escape the busier parks and enjoy a picnic in the hidden oasis.

Don't miss: The chance to snap a pic of Sydney Harbour surrounded by towering fig trees and native plants. 

3.  Ride the iconic Manly Ferry

Ride the iconic Manly Ferry

What is it? Locals use it every day on their commute to work, but the Manly Ferry voyage is an impossibly beautiful treat.

Why go? While the motors chug soothingly, enjoy the scenery of Sydney Harbour as it glides by, taking you past the bridge, Sydney Opera House, Taronga Zoo and harbourside beaches such as Shark Beach and Camp Cove out to one of the city’s most popular beachside suburbs, great for bars, restaurants, shopping and snorkelling.

Don't miss: We suggest you hop off and explore part or all the Manly to Spit walk for spectacular views of the north and south headlands.

4.  Paddle under the Coathanger with Sydney by Kayak

  • North Shore

Paddle under the Coathanger with Sydney by Kayak

What is it?  A sunrise kayak tour with glorious photo opportunities that’ll make your hungover friends incredibly jealous. 

Why go?  Instructor Laura Stone and husband Ben run weekly dawn tours that make the most of Sydney Harbour before most people turn over on their pillow and hit snooze. The harbour water is velvety smooth, and the kayaks are very stable so you don’t need to work hard to paddle around Luna Park and into position as the sunlight hits Sydney Opera House. 

Don't miss:  Flat whites never tasted more satisfying than when you're bobbing under the bridge, paddle under arm and wrangling a camera for that perfect Instagram shot. 

5.  Climb Sydney Harbour Bridge

Climb Sydney Harbour Bridge

What is it?  A chance to scale the world-famous 'Coathanger'.

Why go?  Yes it's pretty spenno, and yes it's very touristy, but it really is a breathtaking sight, beholding the Sydney Harbour in all its majesty. If you're short on time, the express climb is a little shorter and takes you up the inside structure so that you are surrounded by hand-riveted steel and feel a little like you’re inside the ribs of a metal skeleton. However, if you can we recommend you go all-in with the latest addition to the BridgeClimb's offering: scaling the full arch of the Harbour Bridge from end to end.

Don't miss:  This is an incredible experience at dawn or dusk, as the day's first rays and final embers light up the horizon.

6.  Discover the hidden gem that is Wattamolla Beach

  • Attractions

Discover the hidden gem that is Wattamolla Beach

What is it? Deep within the Royal National Park is a sandy oasis that has to be seen to be believed. You can take a swim in the emerald waters of the creek-fed lagoon, which is also a great spot for snorkeling, or simply lay back against one of the cabbage tree palms with a good book. If you’re a budding shutterbug, the Wattamolla Waterfall may well rank as one of the most photogenic natural wonders anywhere in the Greater Sydney region and that's really saying something.

Why go? While this beach is popular with locals in the know, its location, very much off the beaten track of the city and harbour beaches, flies under the radar of most. 

Don't miss: Be sure to take the short bushwalk to Providential Lookout to snap some dramatic shots of the rugged sea cliffs. What makes this little slice of paradise extra impressive is that you’ll also find great facilities here, thanks to the well-equipped picnic area, so bring along some snags and grill up some lunch on one of the public barbecues.

7.  Encounter the wildest locals at Taronga Zoo

Encounter the wildest locals at Taronga Zoo

What is it?  A not-for-profit zoo with harbourside views featuring 4,000 animals from koalas and echidnas to giraffes and elephants.

Why go?  You're guaranteed sightings of many Australian animals, plus threatened species. The zoo runs talks and animal encounters daily – and even glamping sleepovers. 

Don't miss:  Taronga Zoo boasts some of the best harbour views in the city, and as you walk along its wide, snaking paths you’ll spot the Bridge and Sydney Opera House as often as you spot the wildlife.

8.  Expand your mind at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)

Expand your mind at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)

What is it? The harbourside MCA is the go-to venue for cutting-edge art on a local and international level.

Why go?  The Museum of Contemporary Art often hosts exhibitions by huge international artists, including heavyweights like Anish Kapoor, Yoko Ono and Grayson Perry. 

Don't miss:  The MCA has a rooftop café and sculpture terrace with superb views of Circular Quay, including the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House. 

9.  Drink in panoramic views at Bar 83, Sydney's highest bar

Drink in panoramic views at Bar 83, Sydney's highest bar

What is it? Perched 83 storeys above the streets of the CBD, this quirky, retro-futurist cocktail lounge is the highest place to drink in Sydney, located on the second-to-highest floor of Sydney Tower.

Why go? The views of Greater Sydney from the Golden Bucket are simply jaw-dropping, stretching all the way to the Pacific horizon in the east, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park in the north, the Blue Mountains in the west, and Cronulla in the south. You won't find vistas as impressive as these anywhere else in the city.

Don't miss: Because you're sure to work up an appetite gazing at all those delicious views, why not book a table at Sydney Tower's refurbed revolving restaurant, Infinity , one floor above Bar 83?

10.  Visit cultural institution the Art Gallery of NSW

Visit cultural institution the Art Gallery of NSW

What is it?  One of Australia’s foremost cultural institutions holding significant collections of Australian, European and Asian art. And now it has the huge new addition of the Sydney Modern section.

Why go?  The gallery presents nearly  40 exhibitions annually, and there are workshops, talks and film screenings each week – most of which are free to access. 

Don't miss:  The aforementioned new Sydney Modern building. It's seriously up there with the most impressive modern art galleries in the whole world.

11.  Swim with sharks at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium

  • Wildlife centres
  • Darling Harbour

Swim with sharks at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium

What is it?  The only cageless shark diving experience in Sydney. You can join a colony of grey nurse sharks on a 30-minute diving experience in Darling Harbour.

Why go? Though the grey nurse sharks range from one to three metres long in the tank, they’re placid creatures and do very little other than give you a curious side eye as they swim by. The biggest benefit of diving with them at the aquarium, rather than in the open ocean, is the guarantee of seeing so many sharks in one spot. Don't miss:  The colony of king and gentoo penguins who also call the aquarium home. 

12.  Swim at the oh-so-grammable Bondi Icebergs Pool

  • Sport and fitness
  • Bondi Beach

Swim at the oh-so-grammable Bondi Icebergs Pool

What is is? It’s the most photographed ocean pool in Australia – at Sydney’s most famous beach . The 50-metre saltwater pool a popular spot for sunbathers and a bottleneck spot on the Bondi to Coogee walk.

Why go? The baths have been a landmark of Bondi for 100 years, and it’s only $9 for casual entry – giving you access to the pool and sauna.

Don't miss:  If you're splashing out, it's worth heading upstairs to Icebergs Dining Room for a cocktail and bowl of crab risotto with the best view in town.

13.  Hang ten at Bondi Beach with Let's Go Surfing

  • Bondi North

Hang ten at Bondi Beach with Let's Go Surfing

What is it? Surfing a wave at Bondi should be on everyone’s bucket list. If you’re rusty with a surfboard, book in for a class at Let’s Go Surfing.

Why go? The school prides itself on the popular two-hour beginners’ course, which goes through the essentials of water safety (including Bondi’s dangerous rips), paddling and how to catch a wave. Each lesson starts on the sand, so you can ask embarrassing questions without fear. 

Don't miss:  After your lesson, head to one of North Bondi's excellent cafés like Porch and Parlour or Harry's Bondi . 

14.  Go on a bush foods tour of the Royal Botanic Gardens

Go on a bush foods tour of the Royal Botanic Gardens

What is it? A one-hour guided tour of the Royal Botanic Gardens where you'll learn about the Indigenous history of the land. You’ll learn about how the Gadigal people lived and worked with the seasons before the area was colonised.

Why go? Stingless bee colonies, climbing Moreton Bay fig trees and juicy Davidson plums are just a few of the natural wonders you’ll see (and taste) on this tour of Sydney’s harbourside horticultural oasis. You’ll walk by some of Sydney’s most famous landmarks as you trail around the fringe of the city looking back out to the Opera House, Mrs Macquarie's Chair and the Harbour Bridge.

Don't miss:  You’ll also learn about the deep connection to seasonality – when wattles are in bloom you’ll know that whales are migrating, while stingless bee colonies act as natural barometer. 

15.  Sample the best Marg in town at Cantina OK

  • Cocktail bars
  • price 2 of 4

Sample the best Marg in town at Cantina OK

What is it? Sydney's ittiest-bittiest tequila bar, somehow squeezed into a repurposed carport down a CBD laneway, and Time Out's 2020 pick for the best place to drink in the city .

Why go? Its Margarita is, without doubt, the best available in Sydney, and dare we say, the whole of Australia. The secret? A shaken 50/50 blend of Mexico-made tequila and mezcal, poured over shaved ice and finished with orange oil. 

Don't miss: If your experience of tequila (and its cousin mezcal) is slamming a nasty, eye-watering shot in the pub, allow the smooth-as-silk varieties here to change your mind about this all-too-often underrated spirit.

16.  Marvel at contemporary Chinese art at White Rabbit

  • Chippendale

Marvel at contemporary Chinese art at White Rabbit

What is it? The state-of-the-art, four-floor gallery brings together 21st century Chinese art, with a rotation of four key exhibitions throughout the year. Founder Judith Neilson created the self-funded non-profit gallery to house her epic collection of post-millennial Chinese art. And entry is always free. 

Why go?  White Rabbit is known for putting on bold and sometimes confronting exhibitions. 

Don't miss:  Refuel with a plate of dumplings and toothsome tisanes at the in-house tea room. 

17.  Catch an STC show at the Walsh Bay arts precinct

  • Dawes Point

Catch an STC show at the Walsh Bay arts precinct

What is it? Home to the Sydney Theatre Company, the Wharf Theatres occupy Pier 4/5 on Hickson Road in the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct . Many of STC's productions are staged here but it's also where its offices and rehearsal studios are housed. The entire facility recently underwent two years of upgrades, making it one of the most cutting-edge theatre spaces in Australia.

Why go? The city's flagship theatre company, currently under the artistic direction of visionary theatremaker Kip Williams, is without question one of the most important theatre companies in the world. You cannot call yourself a cultured Sydneysider until you've seen one of this company's incredible productions.

18.  Pull an all-nighter at the Abercrombie

Pull an all-nighter at the Abercrombie

What is it?  A multi-level heritage-listed pub slash nightclub slash  cocktail bar  slash wine bar and shop on Broadway.

Why go? After closing in 2014, the Abercrombie reopened in December 2022  as several venues under the one roof (an actual party palace), and with a 24-hour licence. Take that, lockout laws!

Don't miss: Casa Rosa, their  cocktail bar and terrazza rooftop that's all about dancing on the tables through to the early morning. Think DJs spinning Italo-disco tunes, Italian-inspired cocktails, and Mediterranean-style dining. It's on level 2.

19.  Take an Indigenous walking tour of Dharawal National Park

Take an Indigenous walking tour of Dharawal National Park

What is it?  Sixty minutes from Sydney’s CBD, Dharawal National Park has stunning scenery and until recently public access to the bushland was restricted. Now you can enjoy guided tours of the park every second Saturday of the month.

Why go? Guiding the way will be an Aboriginal Discovery Ranger, who will share local knowledge about flora and fauna, as well as Dreamtime stories that connect Indigenous Australians to the area.

Don't miss:  Enjoy a short bushwalk and then picnic at Minerva Pool – a sacred women’s place for the Dharawal People (only women and children may enter the pool). 

20.  Sip a world-class cocktail at Maybe Sammy

Sip a world-class cocktail at Maybe Sammy

What is it? This small but mighty cocktail lounge isn't just one of Sydney's best watering holes. It's been the highest-ranking Australian bar on the prestigious 50 Best Bars in the World list four years on the trot.

Why go? Yes, the mixology skills here are a cut above, but where Maybe Sammy really rules the roost is with its incredible hospitality. The bartenders are chatty but not obnoxiously so, attentive but not smothering, playfully sassy but not crass. And every carefully crafted cocktail has some kind of playful sleight of hand that adds a little bit of magic to your order. 

Don't miss: The signature cocktail menu is packed with fruit-forward crowd-pleasers that are sophisticated and complex but never challenging. 

21.  Watch the sunset from the Hornby Lighthouse

  • Watsons Bay

Watch the sunset from the Hornby Lighthouse

What is it? On the leading edge of the South Head, you'll find one of Sydney's cutest lighthouses overlooking the calm waters of Camp Cove.

Why go? With the vast expanse of the mighty Pacific Ocean to the east and stunning city views to the west, a visit to this beautiful corner of the city is bound to leave you awestruck. You can make a day of it too, by taking the South Head trail from Watsons Bay. It's an easy amble, and you can reward yourself for that lill' bit of cardio with a drink or two at the Watsons Bay Hotel afterward.

Don't miss: If you're travelling in from the city, catching the ferry from circular quay to the Watsons Bay terminus is a must. Not only will it get you to your destination swiftly, but it'll also treat you to a whistlestop stickybeak tour of the bougie harbourview residences that line the foreshore.

22.  Crawl Sydney's best craft brewery bars

Crawl Sydney's best craft brewery bars

What is it?  Sydney has developed a thriving craft brewery scene, ever since  Young Henrys came along in 2012.

Why go? The Australian beer landscape is now truly world class, and while we’re pretty darn spoiled for choice when it comes to places to drink craft beer in this city, there’s something special about going straight to the source. So leave the car keys behind and set aside an afternoon to make tracks to these excellent establishments pouring the top brews in town.

Don't miss: The Marrickville brewery circuit. Although there are craft breweries dotted around Sydney, from the south and up to the Northern Beaches, inner western suburb Marrickville has a strong concentration of top picks – from Grifter , to Batch ,  Hawke's ,  Philter , Wildflower , Sauce Brewery , Stockade and relatively new entry, Mixtape . You can easily make a whole day of it in this single suburb.  

23.  Experience game-changing seafood at Saint Peter

Experience game-changing seafood at Saint Peter

What is it?  A neighbourhood shrine to seafood that's become an international dining destination for fish fanatics.

Why go?  Young gun chef Josh Niland is doing revolutionary things with the ocean's finest: dry-aging, using eyeballs to make chips and making pure magic out of offal. 

Don't miss:  Head in for lunch if you want to catch the almighty sea urchin crumpets or sea urchin brioche doughnuts – served depending on availabilty.

24.  Get a dose of perspective at the Sydney Jewish Museum

  • Darlinghurst

Get a dose of perspective at the Sydney Jewish Museum

What is it? The Sydney Jewish Museum is a beautifully and respectfully curated space that humanises history and invites visitors to look at the present with new understanding. There is a misunderstanding that the Sydney Jewish Museum is only meant for Jewish people to visit, or only of interest to WWII buffs. In reality, the museum makes history accessible through the lens of the Jewish experience, and in doing so, gives us new perspective. 

Why go? It doesn't just keep important Jewish history alive; it reminds us about the potentially world-shattering danger of prejudice, hate and marginalisation of any group of people. It's one for the whole family.

Don't miss: The Reverberations: A Future for Memory exhibition . Thanks to AI, you can have a one-on-one, interactive conversation with the now-deceased ‘Happiest Man on Earth’ Eddie Jaku and other Holocaust survivors at this extraordinary experience.

25.  Cool down with scoop of gelato at Cow and the Moon

Cool down with scoop of gelato at Cow and the Moon

What is it?   A humble Enmore gelateria that defeated competitors from 22 other countries (yes, including Italy) and took out the title for world’s best gelato back in 2014.

Why go?  In case you didn’t quite process the words written above: World’s. Best. Gelato. You’ve got 26 flavours to choose from every day, including sorbets.

Don't miss:   The mandorla affogato is the one that wowed the judges, but the strawberry balsamic panna cotta is a dazzler, too.

26.  Watch a cult indie flick at Golden Age Cinema

  • Surry Hills

Watch a cult indie flick at Golden Age Cinema

What is it? A boutique, 60-seat cinema in Surry Hills where you can catch the latest indie releases as well as cult film screenings, attend weekly movie trivia nights and hang out in the golden age-inspired basement bar. 

Why go?  The building was constructed in 1940 as the offices of Paramount Pictures. Two vintage projectors remain on the premises, although the new cinema uses a digital projector.

Don't miss: High-quality cinema snacks are offered in the adjoining bar – expect the finest choc-tops in Sydney. 

27.  Splurge on a decadent degustation at Quay

  • price 4 of 4

Splurge on a decadent degustation at Quay

What is it?   Peter Gilmore’s inventive Australian dining institution, and a long time feature on Time Out's list of Sydney's top restaurants

Why go?   Whether you opt for six or ten courses, you’ll be looked after by a superlative service team that doesn’t miss a beat, taste native ingredients at their peak along the way and soak in peerless dress-circle harbour views that really put the ‘special’ in special occasion.

Don't miss:   Gilmore is also the executive chef at Bennelong , the bar and restaurant under the sails of the Opera House across the water. It’s the perfect pre-or-post-show feed.

28.  Discover the Japanese flora at the Auburn Botanic Gardens

Discover the Japanese flora at the Auburn Botanic Gardens

What is it? Tranquility might not be the buzzword that springs to mind when you think of the Western Sydney suburb of Auburn, but it’s the right descriptor for this 9.2-hectare oasis, bursting with lush greenery and exotic flora.

Why go? The gardens are broken down into themed areas that include a Japanese garden, complete with a pond, waterfall and ornamental bridges. Past the Japanese garden is the Reflection Pool, then the scented garden, the sunken rose garden, a billabong, native rainforest and a playground that has full wheelchair accessible equipment, including a liberty swing.

Don't miss:  Seek out the fauna reserve and aviary where you can commune with peacocks, Cape Barron geese and red-necked wallabies. Each year the Gardens also host a major flora festival, the Cherry Blossom Festival in August. 

29.  Sample a next-level cocktail at PS40

Sample a next-level cocktail at PS40

What is it? Part bar, part laboratory, this sleek watering hole in the CBD boasts one of the most extraordinary cocktail menus in the city. Each creation defies conventional explanation, fusing flavour and theatre in perfect sync. 

Why go? PS40 co-owners Michael Chiem and Thor Bergquist have applied a jaw-dropping level of forethought and ingenuity to their craft. No bar commits to reinvention with more conviction than PS40 and that any idea or theme is just an excuse to let these gifted imaginations run totally free.

Don't miss: If you're not in the mood for booze, PS40 also manufactures its own bespoke line of sodas.

30.  Take a sunrise swim at Bronte Baths

Take a sunrise swim at Bronte Baths

What is it?  Built into the rocky cliffside, this ocean pool is popular with early risers for salty laps and Instagram pics of the sunrise. 

Why go? The waves at Bronte Beach can get a little hairy for less experienced swimmers, but here you can enjoy the best of both worlds with a protected saltwater pool that has waves crashing at the walls. 

Don't miss: Try to get here before 7am – watching the sun breach over the ocean’s horizon from this vantage point is pretty special.

31.  Try the eponymous signature dish at XOPP

Try the eponymous signature dish at XOPP

What is it? The Darling Square-based little sister to the legendary and dearly departed late-night Chinese restaurant Golden Century, this buzzing diner is a must for anyone who considers themself a lover of Cantonese cuisine.

Why go? While the restaurant that inspired it fell foul of the lockdowns, XOPP has remained true to its legacy, with a menu that heroes live seafood and swift (if sometimes stern) service.

Don't miss: The pipis in XO sauce, the signature dish at Golden Century that inspired its spin-off's name (say each letter slowly, one at a time) are likely to be one of the best things you've ever tasted. Yes, that's a big call, but we're yet to be proved wrong.

32.  Go whale watching or hiking in the Royal National Park

Go whale watching or hiking in the Royal National Park

What is it? It's 26 kilometres of national park with stunning coastline walks, secluded beaches, natural rock pools and rock formations that are Insta-worthy. Why go? Whether you want to swim, trek, picnic, swim, bike ride, swim or just GTFO of Sydney for the day, the Royal National Park will provide an outdoors, adventure-filled day away. Tread with caution at hot spots like the Figure Eight rock pools, and watch some from a distance (cough,  Wedding Cake Rock , cough).

Don't miss: Whale watching season runs from May to November and the Royal National Park is one of the best places to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures on their migration. 

33.  Get the best caffeine fix in town at Single O

Get the best caffeine fix in town at Single O

What is it?  These coffee pioneers were the first in Sydney to extol the virtues of bean provenance and production. In the 18 years since they first opened, they've firmly cemented a reputation as Sydney's ultimate utopia for coffee enthusiasts.

Why go? Come for the coffee, but stay for the impressive range of gourmet brunch options, many featuring a laundry list of native ingredients like  saltbush, strawberry gum, macadamia, kangaroo and Davidson’s plum .

Don't miss: When in Rome, drink coffee like the Romans do. Don't mess around with a flat white – it's Single O's espresso game that really stands it apart, so make sure you order the strong stuff.

34.  Take a ferry to Cockatoo Island

Take a ferry to Cockatoo Island

What is it?  It's the largest island in Sydney's harbour and set at the junction of the Parramatta and Lane Cove rivers. It's been a film set, a jail, a shipping yard and home to some exceptional arts and culture festivals. 

Why go?  Because it has so much history. Before 1839, when a prison was built to house convicts from Norfolk Island, it was covered with red gums and was almost certainly an Aboriginal fishing spot. The island had a brief stint hosting an industrial school for girls and a naval training ship for boys. However, the island was mostly used for shipbuilding and repairs. Today, the island is run by the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, which runs different types of tours.

Don't miss: There are campsites, glamping packages, apartments or heritage holiday houses to choose from if you want to extend your trip to the storied island. 

35.  Stroll past hidden beaches on the Hermitage Foreshore Walk

Stroll past hidden beaches on the Hermitage Foreshore Walk

What is it?   This easy, breezy 1.8km walk rewards visitors with stunning views of the harbour for not a lot of effort.

Why go?  Along the way you’ll catch views of the Harbour Bridge and Shark Island, as well as historic Strickland House, a heritage-listed Victorian Italianate mansion built in the 1850s.

Don't miss: You’d also be wise to pack swimmers and sunscreen, as you’ll pass by a number of idyllic harbour beaches.

36.  Try Sydney's best fish burger at Charcoal Fish

Try Sydney's best fish burger at Charcoal Fish

What is it? Seafood savant Josh Niland's first foray into the fast-casual market is still thoroughly anchored to his low-to-no-waste philosophy. A fish and chippery this venue is not. It shares more DNA with the charcoal chook joint (hence the name), so expect rotisserie barbecues and open flames.

Why go? Niland is one of Australia's most dynamic and innovative culinary trailblazers, but you won't have to fork over a fortune to taste the fare at this accessible facet of his food empire.

Don't miss:  The Murray cod fish burger is the signature hero on his streamlined menu. Dry-aged for 7 days before blistering up on the barbie, you'll find elements from just about every part of the fish in this burger. Don't let that put you off – Niland's genius is in transforming parts of the animal that almost always end up in the bin into morsels of next-level deliciousness.

37.  Browse Australian boutiques at Strand Arcade

Browse Australian boutiques at Strand Arcade

What is it? When it opened in 1892, the Strand Arcade was regarded as the very latest in shopping-centre architecture. It's still one of the most beautiful thoroughfares to visit today. 

Why go?  The narrow, multi-level shopping arcade houses premium Australian fashion designers, including Jac+ Jack, Lover, Sass & Bide and Dion Lee. Plus, you can find vibrant and distinctive jewellery from local brand Dinosaur Designs and natural beauty products at Aesop. 

Don't miss: The very dapper hat collection at Strand Hatters. If you came to Australia without sufficient head protection, staff will sort you out with a stylish Akubra, Brixton or Panama. 

38.  Discover Sydney's coolest speakeasy, the Baxter Inn

Discover Sydney's coolest speakeasy, the Baxter Inn

What is it?   The watering hole that kick-started our ongoing love affair with hidden cocktail bars and forever raised the (figurative) bar in Sydney’s bar scene.

Why go?  Even now, after all these years, making your way through the dark tunnel and down the stairs at the back of the laneway is still a little bit of a thrill. And the service remains nothing less than impeccable.   

Don't miss:  The jaw-dropping collection of whiskies now stretches to more than 1,000 labels, and the bar is now open 4pm-3am every single night, so let the good times roll.

39.  Go on a spooky ghost tour at the very haunted Q Station

Go on a spooky ghost tour at the very haunted Q Station

What is it? Situated on the North Head just south of Manly, Sydney's former quarantine station is now a hotel and corporate retreat. But try telling that to the many ghosts that supposedly roam its grounds. Q Station's ghost tours are hugely popular and pepper your scares with some fascinating local history.

Why go? If you weren't interested in learning about the quarantines of yore before 2020, you might be now. Q Station was on the frontline of the last global health emergency in 1918, and the rich history of this heritage-listed site offers a fascinating lens on the experiences of the past year.

Don't miss: Of all the ghoulish stops on the Q Station ghost tour, one is feared above all others: the gravedigger's cottage. Some seriously scary experiences have been reported within its walls, and this creepy dwelling is said to have Sydney's most haunted bathroom . 

40.  Go to true-blue Aussie pub the Unicorn Hotel

Go to true-blue Aussie pub the Unicorn Hotel

What is it? It’s the most resolutely Aussie joint in town. There’s no room for cultural cringe, because at the Unicorn they have a deep and enduring love for Australiana.

Why go?  Get amongst the Jatz crackers and French onion dip, or a proper free-range, hormone-free schnitzel. They cook it right – a very hot pan to get that crisp, caramelised shell, and a liberal hand with the seasoning.

Don't miss: There’s also darts, pool and live DJs will provide a good old fashioned disco soundtrack for Saturday night boogie. 

41.  Enjoy a drink with a world-class view at the Opera Bar

Enjoy a drink with a world-class view at the Opera Bar

What is it? Of any bar in the city, few can boast a view as iconic as the Opera Bar. But that's not the only reason to go here. There are multiple venues to sample, live music and DJs most nights and unbeatable people-watching opportunities. 

Why go? Beauty and convenience don’t always go hand in hand, but Opera Bar is a glam exception to the rule. It manages to be both one of the most enviably located bars in the city as well as its most advantageous spot for a pre-show drink.

Don't miss:  The neighbouring venue, House Canteen, is an all-day diner serving baked goods in the morning and a pan-Asian menu from lunch until late.

42.  Find the freshest of eats at the Carriageworks Farmers Market

  • Eveleigh Until 28 Dec 2024

Find the freshest of eats at the Carriageworks Farmers Market

What is it?   This weekly market is a Sydney institution, providing the freshest seasonal produce from the best growers and producers from around NSW.

Why go? It’s imperative that you do not eat before you visit the Carriageworks Farmers Markets. You’ll want to save maximum belly space for your personal version of The Bachelorette where you decide who gets your dollars and what delicious produce gets to come home with you.  You can spend a whole lot of money if you want to here, but equally, you could just grab a kombucha on tap and find a chair for some of the best dog-watching in the city.

Don't miss: Maybe you like something soupy and savoury first thing? In that case, go for the pho stand for a traditional Vietnamese start to the day. There’s a bibimbap stall that will even replace the rice with shredded cauliflower if you don’t believe in cheat days. Or opt for a classic bacon and egg roll if you're a creature of habit, from Farmer Rod’s Free Range stall. 

43.  Taste Sydney's best scrambled eggs at Bills

  • price 1 of 4

Taste Sydney's best scrambled eggs at Bills

What is it? It takes a chef of rare skill to perfect a complex dish, but a true genius in the kitchen to elevate a dish to legendary status that essentially has just one main ingredient. People queue down the street every weekend to get a taste of these light-as-a-feather, pillowy eggs, and for good reason.

Why go? Surry Hills, and Sydney in general for that matter, is far from short on brunch options but Bills is widely considered to be the OG venue for brekkie in the city. And it's not just the scrambled that they nail here – the corn fritters are another tried and true crowd-pleaser.

Don't miss: If you can manage your timing just so, try and snag a seat at one of the outdoor tables. Not only will you get some grade-A people watching along Crown St, but you can also enjoy being the envy of everyone still waiting in line.

44.  Dare to bare all at Obelisk Beach

Dare to bare all at Obelisk Beach

What is it? One of Sydney's few legal nude beaches, so if you're feeling the au naturale vibe, then shed some layers here. You'll need to park up the hill and walk a fair way to get here – it's at the bottom of a long series of steps, and as far as beaches go, she's a small one. But it's worth it for the gorgeous views of Camp Cove and Parsley, Watsons and Vaucluse Bays in the distance.

Why go?  While going Full Monty in public isn't for everyone, there's something undeniably liberating about taking to the harbour waters in just your birthday suit. The stunning Sydney views are just the cherry on top.

Don't miss: If stripping off at Obelisk piques your interest, why not pay a visit to one of Sydney's other nude beaches ? There are five near the city where getting your kit off is permitted.

45.  Beat the clock at the Cipher Room

  • Games and hobbies
  • Erskineville

Beat the clock at the Cipher Room

What is it?  One of the best escape rooms in Sydney; there are three rooms to choose from, and in each room you have to solve a series of puzzles in the allotted time in order to escape.

Why go? The Cipher Room is a labour of love for its co-creators, Newtown locals Marise Watson and David Vella. Game designer Marise spent a year researching escape rooms around Australia and in New York before creating Espionage. Husband David is the builder who put together the room’s ingenious bits and pieces by hand. Don't miss:  The Cipher Room’s scariest challenge, set in a haunted toy shop filled with creepy dolls. It's like stepping into a horror movie in the best way possible.

46.  Eat dinner by the beach at Sean's Panaroma

  • price 3 of 4
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Eat dinner by the beach at Sean's Panaroma

What is it? A beachside restaurant that’s built its name on serving exceptional food made from locally sourced ingredients in a perfectly unpretentious, sun-bathed setting.

Why go? With its quaintly colourful decor, ocean views and distinctly friendly team, Sean’s has been playing host to magical mealtimes since it opened in 1993. Few things are more quintessentially Sydney than eating a plate of perfect fresh seafood after a dip in the ocean.

Don’t miss: Honestly, you could come for the bread alone, but it’s worth coming hungry so you have room for a famous Sean’s dessert. The menu changes with the seasons, but you won’t be disappointed.

47.  Take a day trip to TV famous Palm Beach

Take a day trip to TV famous Palm Beach

What is it?  Palm Beach is the ideal Australian package. Located one hour away from Sydney’s CBD on the Northern Beaches, this hot spot is perfect for a relaxing day trip away from the commotion of the city. 

Why go? Fans of Home & Away may recognise the location as Summer Bay, but Palm Beach is so much more than Alf Stewart's favourite fishing spot – there is calm water on one side for stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking, and big waves on the other for surfing. Plus, you can walk to the lighthouse on the hill, which is a great spot for whale watching. 

Don't miss: The cheapest way to get there is by the L90 bus from Wynyard Station for $6 - $10 with an Opal card.

48.  Stop and smell the flowers in Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden

Stop and smell the flowers in Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden

What is it? In a city that’s far from shy about showing off its natural beauty, it’s a surprise that one of its prettiest corners may well be one of its best-kept secrets. Adjacent to Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park in Sydney’s north, there’s a whopping 123 hectares of wildflower gardens surrounded by Sydney sandstone bushland. Every plant found here is native, although not necessarily local – these colourful blooms have been sourced from across Australia, including 18 threatened species of flora.

Why go? The gardens were first planted in 1968 as a sanctuary for Indigenous plants and animals. Today, in addition to their array of floral delights, the gardens also feature running paths, fitness areas, picnic spots, and the charming, heritage-listed Caley’s Pavillion and patio. There’s also a wildflower nursery where you can pick up some beautiful Australian plants to take home.

Don't miss:  While you're in this part of Sydney, make time to enjoy the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. Some of the most stunning trails close to the city can be found here, but the rocky falls at America Bay has to rank as its most breathtaking corner.

49.  Ride the Ferris wheel at Luna Park

  • Milsons Point

Ride the Ferris wheel at Luna Park

What is it? Aside from the toothy grin of its distinctive front gates, this multicoloured Ferris wheel is the most recognisable feature of Sydney's oldest theme park.

Why go?  For more than eight decades, Luna Park has surprised and delighted the fun-seekers of Sydney. But it's not resting on its laurels. Sure, you'll still find some old-timey rides and vaudevillian aesthetics, but the park is also undergoing a major upgrade currently, to bring it into the 21st century, including the construction of several new attractions.

Don't miss: While it's easy enough to catch the train over the Harbour Bridge to Milsons Point, we recommend taking the ferry. It's almost as quick and you'll be rewarded with some choice photo ops as you approach Luna Park's wharf.

50.  Queue for a banh mi at Marrickville Pork Roll

  • Marrickville

Queue for a banh mi at Marrickville Pork Roll

What is it?  The phrase ‘hole-in-the-wall’ is thrown around all the time, but this teensy Inner West sandwich shop specialising in Vietnam’s greatest edible export really, truly is.

Why go? Sydney’s best banh mi  is a topic of fierce debate, but Marrickville Pork Roll is always a part of that conversation. Waiting in the never-ending queue is like a rite of passage, but thankfully they pack the fluffy rolls with cold-cut pork, pâté and pickled veg so fast you won’t be waiting long.

Don't miss:  Should you find yourself in the city, you can get your hands on one of these bad boys at their second location in the thriving Darling Square precinct, as well.

51.  Seek out the secret seaside tunnel at Queenscliff Beach

  • Queenscliff

Seek out the secret seaside tunnel at Queenscliff Beach

What is it? Affectionately known as the ‘Manly wormhole’, it was in fact industrious fishermen – and not natural erosion – that chiseled this 40-metre channel through the rock of Queenscliff Head more than a century ago. Connecting Queenscliff and Freshwater beaches, the tunnel is still the most direct route between the two seafronts without cutting through the suburban streets.

Why go? While it may be a bit of a challenge scrambling over the rocks of the headland north of Manly Beach to find it, your efforts are soon rewarded with a close encounter with Sydney’s rich history and a view of Freshwater Beach that’s hard to beat, especially if you time your visit to coincide with sunset.

Don't miss: While you're in the neighbourhood, why not make a day of it? After all, Queenscliff Beach is Time Out's official pick for one of the best beaches in Sydney .

52.  Come for dinner and jazz at Hubert

  • 5 out of 5 stars

Come for dinner and jazz at Hubert

What is it? This sexy, subterranean French-inspired restaurant has earned its name as a Sydney institution. 

Why go? This is as close as you’ll get to a 1950s Parisian dining palace without leaving the country. Descending the deep red staircase is like stepping back in time, and with live jazz and Martinis this good, it’s very hard to step back.

Don’t miss: Happy hour runs daily from 5pm until 6pm, with $8 duck liver parfait and $6 gin and tonics a failsafe order. If you’re pushing the boat out, go for a $12 Negroni and a $18 burger that’s so perfectly formulated, you’ll consider ordering two.

More great things to do across the globe

The best things to do in the world right now.

The best things to do in the world right now

Music, art, food, nature and the year’s biggest parties—these are very best things to do and see right now, anywhere in the world.

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What to Do in Sydney

The 22 best highights in sydney.

Opera House from the Harbour Bridge

This post contains affiliate links. More information

Your trust means the world to us! So before we dive in, we want to be upfront with you: This post contains so-called affiliate links. That means we earn a small commission every time you book or order something using one of these links. That way, you can support us and our work – at no extra cost to you, of course. Thank you so much! – Jenny & Basti

In a nutshell: our Sydney highlights

  • Sydney Opera House : Sydney’s iconic landmark and typical postcard motif of the city.
  • Harbour Bridge : you have a great view of Sydney from the largest steel arch bridge in the world.
  • The Rocks : In this hip district you will find trendy bars and restaurants as well as cool museums.
  • Manly Beach : Our favorite beach in Sydney, more laid-back than the famous Bondi Beach.
  • Birdcage Alley : Cool street with empty birdcages – a great photo motif!

These were our top 5 sights in Sydney. Do you want to find out more? Then just read on and check out all our highlights in Sydney.

Table of Contents

  • Buy tickets online
  • Attractions map
  • Buildings & landmarks
  • Parks & gardens
  • Neighborhoods
  • Special places
  • General travel tips

Buy tickets for Sydney sights online in advance

Sydney is a very popular destination for a city trip. Therefore, it is almost inevitable that there will be queues in front of the ticket counters at the top attractions. To avoid waiting in line, you can buy tickets for the most popular highlights in advance.

For these Sydney must-sees, it’s worth buying tickets online before you go:

The most important attractions of Sydney on a map

Finding your way around Sydney can be a bit confusing at first, so we’ve created a handy sightseeing map for you, featuring all the most important sights and attractions.

Click here to download the map for easy access

Map of where the best attractions of Sydney are located

Sydney Opera House

Every list of the most beautiful sights in Sydney has to start with the Sydney Opera House.

And with good reason: The Sydney Opera House is the most frequently photographed building in all of Australia, the landmark of Sydney , and probably one of the most famous buildings in the world. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.

The opera offers several one-hour guided tours in small groups during the day. The regularly scheduled tours are held in English.

We really enjoyed ourselves on the tour – it costs A$43 and takes visitors through all the different auditoriums while introducing them to the exciting history of the Opera’s construction.

The easiest way to book a tour is online:

Book a guided tour of the Opera

Our tip: With a bit of luck you’ll be able to buy discounted last-minute tickets to one of the performances after the tour, subject to availability. There’s no guarantee, but your odds are pretty good.

Harbor cruise with a view of the Opera House

We think the Opera House looks the most impressive when viewed from a distance. For the best views , we’d recommend the Harbour Bridge or taking a harbor cruise .

There are several harbor cruises that pass the Opera House. Here’s a selection:

Sydney Harbour: Tall shop lunch cruise Sydney Harbour: 3-hour lunch cruise with live music In the evening: 3-hour harbor cruise with 3-course dinner

Our tip: If you were planning a trip to Manly anyway (see attraction #19), you’ll pass the Opera House on the ferry ride over. So if it’s just the view you’re after, there’s no need to book a harbor cruise.

depends on the selected tour or performance

view on Google Maps

official website

Opera House Sydney

Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge by night

Harbour Bridge is one of the most prominent sights in Sydney , and you should definitely check it out.

Completed in 1932, the magnificent structure spans the full breadth of Sydney Harbour with a length of just over 500 meters and a width of 49 meters. It’s already an impressive sight during the day, but it’s even more stunning when it lights up at night.

While it’s a popular tourist attraction, it’s also a regular traffic and pedestrian bridge, so you can cross it for free and enjoy the breathtaking view of the harbor and Sydney Opera House on the way.

Even higher up on the Pylon Lookout

If the view from the footpath isn’t enough for you, then you can also climb to the top of the southeastern bridge tower. Once you’ve climbed the 200 or so steps, you’ll be treated to one of the most beautiful views of Sydney !

Admission costs A$19, payable only by credit card. Cash payments aren’t accepted.

Harbour Bridge view

Sydney Tower Eye

Sydney Tower view

Sydney Tower is the tallest building in the city. Its striking architecture stands out from miles away.

The view from the top is phenomenal. On clear days, you can see as far as the Blue Mountains from the Tower Eye observation deck at a height of 251 meters.

The entrance to the Sydney Tower Eye can be a bit hard to find. It’s located inside Westfield Shopping Centre. Take the entrance at the corner of Market Street and Pitt Street where you’ll find an elevator that goes straight to the entrance to the Tower Eye on the 5th floor.

Our tip: Book your tickets in advance. An online ticket costs A$24.80, which is much cheaper than the A$31 charged at the door.

Book a ticket for Sydney Tower Eye

By the way: There’s a revolving restaurant at the top of the tower, offering stunning a 360° view of the city. Admission to the tower is free if you have a restaurant reservation.

Make a reservation at the Sydney Tower Eye restaurant  

Also on the 5th floor is an excellent food court where you can enjoy a tasty and affordable meal before or after your visit.

Sydney Tower

Mrs. Macquarie's Point

22places in Sydney

Mrs. Macquarie’s Point is located at the northeastern tip of a peninsula just outside the Royal Botanic Garden.

It’s named for the name of the wife of the former Governor of New South Wales in the early 19th century, who was so enamored with the view that a stone bench – Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair – was carved for her here, where she would sit for hours gazing out onto the harbor.

We can totally understand why! This lookout point is the perfect place to get a picture of both the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge in a single shot.

Dudley Page Reserve / Dover Heights

Dudley Page Resort

If you’re looking for a time out from the concrete jungle with a spectacular view , then head out to Dudley Page Reserve in the eastern coastal suburb of Dover Heights. Locals gather here in the evening for picnics, a game of cricket, or their daily workout.

There are no cafes or restaurants here, not even water fountains, so don’t forget to bring an ample supply of water, especially in the summer.

It’s basically a huge flat green area with no trees, and hence no shade. That means it’s almost entirely deserted during the day. But that’s okay, the view is best in the evening anyway. Plan your trip around sunset to line up some spectacular shots of the Sydney skyline.

To get there, take the T4 to Bondi Junction station. Then catch the 380 bus towards South Head Cemetery. Get off at Military Rd opp Weonga Rd, and you’ll be standing right in front of Dudley Page Reserve.

Our tip : Combine your visit to Dudley Page Reserve with a trip to Bondi Beach. It’s just a few stops from Bondi on the 380 bus, so you can spend the day at the beach and then head to Dover Heights an hour before sunset.

Royal Botanic Garden

Royal Botanical Gardens

The Royal Botanic Garden expands just behind the Opera House and is the ideal spot for a picnic or a quick break from sightseeing.

Give yourself enough time to explore the gardens – there’s a lot to discover!

Our personal highlight were the cockatoos all over the park, just going about their day, completely unperturbed by all visitors. You’ll have the best odds of seeing the cockatoos if you plan your visit for the morning or early evening.

At the entrance to the park is the historic, Neo-Gothic Government House , which has been the official residence of the Governor of New South Wales for over 150 years. You can visit Government House for free as part of a guided tour, available every 30 minutes on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10:30 am to 3 pm.

Important: Bring your passport, you’re going to need it at the entrance.

Hyde Park Sydney

Hyde Park is a green oasis right in the center of town – the perfect spot to take a break from all the sightseeing, or perhaps even a picnic. Its dense canopy of trees offers some much-needed shade from the summer sun.

The locals obviously agree. Around lunchtime, the park fills up with Sydneysiders (as Sydney residents are known) enjoying their lunch break.

At the north entrance of Hyde Park is St. James’ Church , the oldest church in Sydney. Be sure to take a look inside, it’s really worthwhile.

Just across from the church is the Hyde Park Barracks . The former convict quarters have been refashioned into a living history museum. It’ll give you a pretty good sense of how the deported convicts were treated during Sydney’s early settlement period.

Further down in the southern part of Hyde Park you’ll find the ANZAC Memorial . You can visit the war museum commemorating the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps for free.

The Rocks Sydney

The harbor district The Rocks is the birthplace of Sydney. Once the dingy domain of soldiers and sailors riddled with taverns and brothels 200 years ago, its modern-day incarnation is much more sanitized with markets, galleries, museums, and pubs characterizing the quarter nowadays.

Take a stroll down Playfair Street, whose historic workers’ terraces now house boutiques and cafes, or join a guided tour of the neighborhood for a hearty dose of background information and anecdotes.

Book a guided tour of The Rocks

The Rocks Market sets up on George Street every Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. There are over 200 stalls selling jewelry, souvenirs, clothes, and lots of trinkets.

Another interesting place to visit here is Susannah Place Museum . You can see what life in this neighborhood was like for workers in the 1840s, including a colonial goods store.

Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour is ground zero for tourism in Sydney . The whole area was extensively redeveloped in the run-up to the 2000 Olympic Games.

If we’re being honest, we weren’t all too keen on Darling Harbour. It’s just way too touristy for our liking. But it’s certainly a nice place for a sightseeing stroll .

Darling Harbour may also be a good place for you to stay in Sydney – it’s very central, all the major sights are nearby, and there are plenty of hotels.

Besides hotels and restaurants, it has all the same classic attractions as every other global city these days: a SEA LIFE Aquarium with 650 different species of aquatic animals, a WILD LIFE Zoo, and a Madame Tussauds.

So if you’re ever cursed with a rainy day in Sydney, Darling Harbour is a decent enough bad-weather alternative with these attractions.

You can pre-purchase tickets for all three Darling Harbour highlights online:

Book tickets for SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium Book tickets for WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo Book tickets for Madame Tussauds Sydney

If you want to visit all three attractions, or even just two of them, a combination ticket is real bargain.

You can choose from Sydney Tower Eye, SEA LIFE Aquarium, WILD LIFE Zoo, or Madame Tussauds at a greatly discounted rate of A$65 for two attractions or A$75 for three.

Book a combination ticket for 2, 3, or 4 attractions

Bonus tip for kids: The Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour is a real highlight for children. Admission to the permanent exhibit is free.

Paddington and Surry Hills

Paddington Sydney

Paddington and Surry Hills are two of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Sydney. The two neighborhoods border each other directly and are among the hippest areas in Sydney today. You’ll find several galleries, bookstores, boutiques, and cafés there.

Just don’t expect to find any major tourist attractions in Paddington or Surry Hills. The neighborhoods are a sight in their own right with their semi-detached Victorian houses and pretty little stores.

Visiting Paddington is even more worthwhile on Saturdays. From 10 am to 4 pm, you can wander through Paddington Market and shop for clothes and souvenirs.

Paddington Markets

Sydney was a bit too polished for us in many places. Even the hipster havens of Paddington and Surry Hills seemed way too neat and tidy.

Where was the cool part of town where things are a bit more offbeat and rough around the edges? After searching high and low, we finally struck gold: Newtown was exactly what we were looking for!

Newtown is located off to the southwest of the CBD and Surry Hills. Take a walk down King Street for an eclectic selections of quirky stores, second hand and vintage boutiques, and lots of restaurants and bars.

And if you’re into street art , then Newtown an absolute must-see, there’s so much more here than in any other part of Sydney.

Newtown streetart

Chinatown & Paddy's Markets

Chinatown Sydney restaurant

If you head south from Darling Harbour, pretty soon you’ll find yourself in the heart of Chinatown. As you enter Dixon Street, you’ll be greeted by the typical gate that marks the entrance to every Chinatown in Western cities.

Even the street signs here are bilingual. There are countless stores selling traditional Chinese trinkets, and above all plenty of opportunities for excellent Chinese food .

Friday evenings are the best time to visit. The Chinatown Friday Night Market sets up shop on Dixon Street from 4 pm to 11 pm, so you can stroll through its stalls and indulge in the delicacies on offer.

At the southern end of Dixon Street is Paddy’s Markets , a huge indoor complex of stores and flea markets, where you can find pretty much anything under the sun: clothes, fruit and vegetables, soap, spices, sunglasses, towels, cooking pots, shoes, handbags, jewelry, souvenirs, knick-knacks, you name it.

Chinatown Sydney

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach

If you’ve seen enough of the city and want to spend a day at the beach for a change of pace, Australia’s most famous surfer beach awaits.

The eastern suburb of Bondi is bustling with water sports enthusiasts, families, and lots of beautiful people on the beach. That’s right, Bondi is all about seeing and being seen.

The restaurant at the southern end of the beach has the most beautiful view . Bondi Icebergs is actually a clubhouse for the local swimming club, but it’s open to visitors. Treat yourself to an ocean-view lunch above the seawater pool.

Bondi is the perfect place to get your feet wet if you’ve never been on a board before and want to give it a shot. You can take a 2-hour crash course here.

Book a surfing course at Bondi Beach

The only way to get to Bondi Beach is by bus. First, take the T4 train to the Bondi Junction terminus. Then take the 333 or 380 bus and get off at Bondi Beach.

The 333 bus originates at Circular Quay in the center of Sydney, so if you want, you can go the whole way by bus. It just takes a little longer.

Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk

Bondi to Coogee Walk

If you go to Bondi, make sure to do the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk. We personally liked it better than Bondi Beach itself.

The six-kilometer coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee runs right along the seafront, with one spectacular view chasing the next .

If you don’t want to hike the full distance, you can just walk to Bronte Beach . That’s only about 2 kilometers. Keep an eye on the sea if you’re here anytime between May and November: You might be lucky enough to spot a humpback whale migrating along this part of the coast.

Of course you can also go the other way around and start at Coogee Beach. If you head out north from there in the early morning, you should make it to Bondi Beach by noon. Spend the afternoon at the beach and leave for the lookout point in Dover Heights about an hour before sunset as the crowning moment of an amazing day.

To get to Coogee, take the T4 train to Bondi Junction and then take the 353 bus to Coogee. Get off at “Arden St opp Coogee Bay Rd”.

Manly Beach

Manly Beach

The most beautiful beach in northern Sydney is Manly Beach. Like Bondi Beach, it’s also popular with surfers, but Manly Beach has a much more laid-back atmosphere and village-like feel. Overall, we preferred Manly to Bondi.

Between the ferry terminal and Manly Beach you’ll find plenty of places for shopping, dining, and coffee. Just like the main beach, everything in the suburb of Manly is a bit more chill and less crowded than in downtown Sydney or Bondi.

If the sea is too rough for swimming, head for one of the two seawater pools instead. Queenscliff Rockpool is located at the northern end of Manly Beach.

The picturesque Fairy Bower Sea Pool is only about a five-minute walk from Manly Beach. Just head down the Marine Parade at the southern tip of the beach. The pool is easy to spot once you get there.

Manly also has plenty of smaller beaches if you’re looking for something a bit more subdued.

Our tip: There’s a really pretty bay just a few minutes southeast of Manly Beach: Shelly Beach. The beach is great for families, but the walk itself is already worthwhile.

A short walk from the ferry terminal is Little Manly Beach, another great spot for kids . The beach sheltered by a cove with virtually no currents. There’s a fenced off area in the water for added safety and a playground for when your little ones have had enough off the sea.

To get there, take the direct ferry service from Circular Quay to Manly. It’s super-convenient and offers spectacular views of Harbour Bridge and the Opera House as an added bonus.

Shelly Beach

Queen Victoria Building

Queen Victoria Building

Located just a few meters from Sydney Tower is the Queen Victoria Building. Inside is a mall, but not just any mall: This historic building from 1898 is a real Victorian shopping gem .

The building was almost demolished around 1950, but fortunately there was a huge public outcry in Sydney once the demolition was announced, and the plan was quickly abandoned.

In 1986, the building was restored and now shines in new splendor as one of Sydney’s architectural highlights . Don’t forget to bring your camera because the building has an astonishing array of beautiful photo opportunities in store for you.

Of course, you can also go a huge shopping spree in the most city’s most exclusive shopping center. More than 180 stores and boutiques await.

Birdcage Alley / Angel Place

Angel Place birdcages

Birdcage Alley is a very cool photo spot . The small backstreet in the heart of the Central Business District is officially known as Angel Place.

Suspended above the street is an assemblage of empty birdcages , kind of like a surreal mobile. The installation was created by the artist Michael Thomas Hill , who dubbed his work “Forgotten Songs”.

The empty birdcages are supposed to symbolize the bird species that were native to the region before the city of Sydney was built.

You’ll hear different species of birds chirping from hidden loudspeakers . The bird songs change depending on the time of day and the biological rhythms of the individual avian species.

So be sure to take a detour into the tiny alley for a short reprieve from the constant thrum of the urban jungle. If you close your eyes and listen intently, you can almost imagine yourself being transported back in time to a different type of biotope.

Spice Alley

Spice Alley

For delicious food , consider a detour to Kensington Street.

Just a few years ago, Kensington Street was in a sorry state. Every other building looked like it was about to collapse if the wind turned the wrong way.

Fortunately, things have turned around dramatically. Many of the quaint little houses have been restored, with plenty of brand-new buildings sprinkled in between.

Since 2015, Kensington Street has made a name for itself as a paradise for foodies , attracting flocks of hungry locals and tourists alike.

We really fell in love with Spice Alley, a vibrant open-air food court featuring a panoply of eateries serving delicious pan-Asian street food , including dishes from Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, India, Vietnam, and Indonesia, all at relatively affordable prices.

Sydney Fish Market

Sydney Fish Market

The fishing industry is a huge deal in Sydney, so it’s no surprise that the city is home to the world’s third largest seafood market . Located in Blackwattle Bay, just a few minutes walk from Darling Harbour, Sydney Fish Market serves up the spoils of the sea in all shapes and sizes.

Primarily a haven for wholesalers, many of the market stalls also cater to the general public . If seafood is your thing, you’re in for a real treat ! You can feast on a cornucopia of fresh fish, sashimi, seafood, and even oysters.

Australian Museum

Australian Museum

Founded in 1827, the Australian Museum was the very first museum to open in Australia. It’s located on the fringes of Hyde Park and houses one of the world’s most significant natural history collections .

If you’re interested in natural history, zoology, paleontology, or anthropology, the Australian Museum has you covered. The main focus is on Australia’s unique wildlife , with a few sections devoted to Aboriginal history and Polynesian culture.

St. Mary's Cathedral

Saint Mary's Cathedral

At the fringe of Hyde Park stands St. Mary’s Cathedral, built of sandstone. Built in 1868, the cathedral is one of the most beautiful Neo-Gothic buildings in the world .

Its full name is Cathedral Church and Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Mother of God, Help of Christians. That’s quite a mouthful, but if you just say St. Mary’s, everyone will know what you mean.

The best time to visit the cathedral is just before sunset , when the light of the setting sun hits the stained glass windows, creating a beautiful effect.

If you have the time, stick around until nightfall. The outdoor lighting in the evening is really pretty. And if you happen to be in Sydney around Christmas, the light projection displays on the church’s facade are absolutely spectacular!

Taronga Zoo

Taronga Zoo giraffe

We usually aren’t big fans of zoos, but Taronga Zoo definitely deserves a spot on our list of Sydney’s top attractions .

The zoo in northern Sydney offers its animals and visitors an incredible view . The giraffes probably have the best view of Sydney’s skyline .

Almost 4,000 animals from different climate zones all around the world live at Taronga Zoo. On nine different trails you’ll come face-to-face with giraffes, reptiles, tigers, wombats, monkeys, koalas, and many birds.

Speaking of, the Sky Safari cable car also offers a fantastic bird’s eye view of the zoo. It’s already included in the admission price.

The zoo is huge, so you should plan at least half a day for your visit. If you have kids, you can easily spend the whole day at the zoo.

The best way to get to the zoo is to just take the F2 ferry from Circular Quay, conveniently payable by credit card or Opal Card. One of the main entrances to the zoo is located right by the ferry dock.

Tickets cost A$51 and are also available online:

Book a ticket to Taronga Zoo

General travel tips: The best way to see Sydney’s sights

Before we get to our 22 favorite attractions in Sydney, here are a few general travel tips to help you make the most of your time in Sydney.

#1: Choosing the right area to stay

Sydney is a vast and sprawling city, so choosing the right neighborhood to stay is essential.

If your number one priority in Sydney is sightseeing, we recommend booking a hotel in the Central Business District (CBD). That way, you’ll be within walking distance of Sydney’s major attractions with the best public transport connections to the rest of the city.

Check out our post on where to stay in Sydney for in-depth information on choosing the best neighborhood for your stay , with specific hotel tips for every budget:

Where to stay in Sydney: The best areas

#2 Getting around: Public transport in Sydney

The most convenient way to get around in Sydney is by public transport. There’s an extensive network of trains , a metro line, light rail, buses, and even ferries that stop near all the major sights .

Prices are relatively cheap compared to most major European and American cities. Your fare is determined by a combination of different factors: the type of transport (bus, light rail, train, etc.), the number of kilometers traveled, and the time of day (it’s more expensive during rush hour).

If that sounds really complicated, don’t worry, there’s no advance math requirement – the ticketing system does all the work for you. That’s actually the best part: You’ll never have to buy a ticket for public transport in Sydney. If you have a credit card that supports contactless payment, you can just use it tap on and tap off before entering/exiting a station or vehicle.

The fare is simply charged to your credit card at the end of each journey. That’s all! No paper tickets, no broken vending machines, no heated arguments with ticket inspectors because you bought the wrong ticket. Everything’s taken care of automatically in Sydney.

What’s more, there’s a daily fare cap of A$16.30 per day (or A$8.15 on weekends). That means no matter how much you travel, you’ll never pay more than that amount per day.

For that to work, each passenger will need their own credit card. If anyone in your group doesn’t have a contactless credit card, you can buy an Opal Card at one of the stations, including the airport, or from a licensed vendor (e.g. a 7-Eleven) in Sydney.

The Opal Card is a top-up travel card for public transport in Sydney. It basically works the same way as a credit card, you just tap on and off every time you travel. Just make sure there’s enough money on your card to cover your fare.

#3: Save time and money with a Sydney city pass

A Sydney city pass can save you a lot of money if you’re planning on doing a ton of sightseeing. What’s more, it also includes fast-track admission to many of the attractions, which can save you a lot of time you’d have wasted waiting in line otherwise.

We chose the Sydney Explorer Pass from Go City for our visit. It lets you to pick a certain number of attractions you want to visit at a considerable discount compared to paying for each one individually.

There are two other options available: The Sydney Flexi Attractions Pass , which is similar to the Go Sydney Pass, but with a slightly different line-up of available attractions, and the Unlimited Attractions Pass , which is the perfect choice for real sightseeing hounds, allowing 3 or 7-day access to all included attractions for a flat fee.

What else can you recommend to see and do in Sydney?

That wraps up our list of the 22 best sights in Sydney! Have you been to Sydney and do you have any tips to share? Then we’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Sydney   Travel Guide

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20 Best Things to Do in Sydney, Australia

Sydney's famous beaches are some of the city's most popular attractions for visitors and Sydneysiders alike. Although they can get crowded on warm Aussie days, beaches like Coogee, Bondi and Manly cannot be missed. If you'd rather take to

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Sydney Harbour Sydney Harbour free

Many visitors say that Sydney Harbour's 150 miles of shoreline and expansive waters make it the most beautiful natural harbor in the world, and they just might be right. Blue water laps up to sandy shores over which landmarks like the  Royal Botanic Garden  and the  Sydney Opera House preside. Another iconic site, the  Sydney Harbour Bridge , towers above the harbor's waters. But for the best view of Sydney Harbour, travelers must pay a visit to  Mrs. Macquarie's Chair, which sits at the tip of one of the area's peninsulas.

For even more picturesque views, try taking a ferry at sunset when the sky comes alive with an array of colors. Overall, former visitors rave about the harbor, noting that the ferry rides are scenic (especially the popular Circular Quay to Manly route) and that there are plenty of shops and restaurants to explore nearby. The harbor's attractions also come alive during Sydney's New Year's Eve celebrations (think: massive fireworks displays), and in May and June when Vivid Sydney, a festival of light, music and creativity, takes place.

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Sydney Opera House Sydney Opera House

U.S. News Insider Tip: While an up-close selfie with the Opera House is a must, a relaxing and less-crowded way to admire the iconic landmark and its surrounding harbor is by grabbing a refreshing drink at outdoor, harborside Opera Bar. – Leena Tailor

Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, the sailboat-inspired structure – submitted during an international design contest held in 1956 – features more than 1 million tiles on its four roof shells, and six theater and music venues with top-notch acoustics. Bold purple carpeting and sweeping views of  Sydney Harbour  and the  Sydney Harbour Bridge  also await visitors in the Sydney Opera House's foyer, while a picturesque boardwalk – complete with a trendy bar – sits outside.

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Sydney Harbour Bridge Sydney Harbour Bridge free

The Sydney Harbour Bridge stands next to the  Opera House  as one of the city's most iconic landmarks. Lovingly called the "Coat Hanger" by locals, this towering structure is the world's largest steel arch bridge. And while you can capture stunning pictures of the bridge from one of Sydney Harbour 's ferry boats, for an unforgettable experience, sign up for a bridge climb through  BridgeClimb Sydney . Ranging from 2.5 to 3.5 hours, the bridge climb provides visitors with panoramic views of the harbor, the Sydney skyline and the Opera House.

Although some former visitors complained of the high price tags, many said a bridge climb is the best way to experience this iconic attraction, calling it a must-do experience. While climbs are offered throughout the day, travelers recommend scheduling a climb at twilight, which will give you three different views – daylight, sunset and nighttime – in one. If you're afraid of heights, reviewers suggest you still consider the experience as staff are well-trained to help you overcome your anxieties.

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Manly Beach Manly Beach free

At first glance, Manly Beach, which is located about 10 miles northeast of downtown Sydney, may be just as crowded and active as other area beaches like Bondi and Coogee . However, this sprawling shoreline draws tons of praise from beachgoers, in part because of its proximity from the city and prime surfing waves. Those who are hoping to swim, though, may want to venture elsewhere since these waters are known for their rough waves. If you're not a surfer, you'll find other worthwhile activities at Manly, including scenic walks and hiking trails in the area.

Within the immediate area, visitors can enjoy all sorts of amenities, including restaurants and cafes, bush walks, playgrounds, barbecue areas, shops and public restrooms and showers. Most Sydneysiders and visitors prefer getting to Manly by way of the Circular Quay to Manly ferry. (Manly Wharf sits about six blocks from the beach.) There are also "fast ferries," which get visitors to Manly from Circular Quay in about half the time of the regular Manly Ferry (though it'll cost you more). Various buses will also get you to the area, though there is no direct bus route from Sydney. Four public parking lots – which offer up to two hours of free parking – are available near the beach as well. For more information about Manly Beach's activities, boutiques, eateries and events, visit the neighborhood's  website .

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The Rocks The Rocks free

Earning its name from the sandstone rocks that line  Sydney Harbour , this neighborhood is as quaint as it is cool. Its cobblestone streets and 19th-century buildings are oh-so charming, but the shops, pubs, restaurants and galleries are fun and very au courant. Plus, its prime location next to attractions like the  Sydney Opera House  and the  Sydney Harbour Bridge  makes this trendy area extremely convenient for tourists.

Though the neighborhood offers plenty to explore any day of the week, on Saturdays and Sundays, the popular Rocks Markets run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Along with food stalls, there are also artisans selling everything from jewelry to candles to stationary at the Markets. Some prior visitors caution that the market items can be a bit pricey, but others loved the range of artisan items. Other visitors simply enjoyed soaking up the lively atmosphere of live music and free yoga.

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Taronga Zoo Sydney Taronga Zoo Sydney

Fancy a selfie with a dingo and meeting a koala followed by a sleepover with the animals at an eco-retreat overlooking Sydney Harbour ? Taronga Zoo is a must-visit for animal lovers. The nonprofit is home to more than 5,000 animals from more than 350 species. What's more, ticket sales go toward saving wildlife. As well as beautiful creatures like Sumatran tigers and Asian elephants, visitors can also get up close to world-renown Australian animals like kangaroos.

Seeing animals is only the beginning, with the zoo offering a multitude of fun and interactive add-on experiences. Guests can meet a koala for AU$12.50 (around $8), hang in the dingo enclosure for AU$69.95 ($47) or get an adventurous bird’s-eye view of the animals with the high ropes course at Wild Ropes Treetops Adventure, which costs AUD$36 ($24) for anyone 8 and older with discounts for children. The 2023 debut of the new Nura Diya Australia experience meanwhile has a quarter-mile walking trail that meanders through four landscapes, including Koala Country and Kangaroo Count. Visitors can then check into the Wildlife Retreat at Taronga, which has animal-themed rooms, some of which overlook animal enclosures.

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Darling Harbour Darling Harbour free

U.S. News Insider Tip: Darling Harbour makes the perfect central base to explore the sprawling city and offers hotels ranging from mid-budget chains like Holiday Inn to upscale hotels like Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour. – Leena Tailor

Darling Harbour is a pedestrian district filled with a number of entertaining things to do. For instance, there's SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, the Australian National Maritime Museum and the Chinese Garden of Friendship . Multiple kid-friendly attractions and the city's convention center are also found here, not to mention some delectable cafes and restaurants.

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Coogee Beach Coogee Beach free

Though it's a bit smaller than its better-known northern counterpart  Bondi , Coogee Beach is the quintessential spot for those looking to soak up some sun and swim in Sydney's famous waters. Snorkeling is also a popular pastime here, and the scenic, nearly 4-mile Bondi to Coogee coastal walk is a must. Plus, the eateries along the shore give beach bums several places to refuel.

Thanks to its less crowded atmosphere, picturesque setting and calmer waters, beachgoers (especially those traveling with children) raved about their time at Coogee, calling the beach gorgeous and even saying they prefer the spot over popular Bondi Beach. According to recent visitors, the food is also top-notch and the Bondi to Coogee walk is "spectacular."

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Take a day trip to the Blue Mountains Take a day trip to the Blue Mountains

U.S. News Insider Tip: The weather can vary drastically between central Sydney and the Blue Mountains, so wearing layers is useful. Comfortable footwear is a must, especially if you’re planning to enjoy any of the walking trails. – Leena Tailor

Nature lovers will fall in love with the Blue Mountains, which are 70 miles west of Sydney (about a 90-minute drive or a two-hour train ride). The area is home to charming mountain towns, street art walks, glowworm caves, apple orchards, wine tours, wildlife safaris, gardens and more than 87 miles of walking tracks sprinkled with beautiful waterfalls, trees and plants.

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Australian National Maritime Museum Australian National Maritime Museum

No harbor city would be complete without a maritime museum, and Sydney's is one of the best. Here, you can view exhibits about everything from fish X-rays to the history of Indigenous sailors, but that's just scratching the surface. The standout at this maritime museum is the ships docked in  Darling Harbour . All are open to museumgoers to board and explore. Notable vessels include the HMAS Vampire, a destroyer ship; the HMAS Onslow, a submarine; and the Akarana, an 1800s racing yacht. The museum's guides offer a wealth of knowledge about each of the docked ships, which were a highlight for many recent visitors.

Families that have visited the Australian National Maritime Museum praised its diversity of activities for kids. Inside, children can participate in an array of activities and themed arts and crafts projects. And because of the abundance of exhibits offered, many previous museumgoers felt ticket prices were justified.

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Royal Botanic Garden Royal Botanic Garden free

Founded in 1816, the sprawling Royal Botanic Garden abounds with bright and colorful flora and fauna. The park is broken into multiple areas, including the Australian Rainforest Garden and the Palm Grove, which is home to the tallest tree in the gardens, a Queensland kauri pine. Another popular area is the Palace Rose Garden, which houses thousands of roses and is a well-known Sydney wedding venue. Recent visitors also said the view of the Harbour Bridge is another highlight here.

According to some previous travelers, a visit to the Royal Botanic Garden provides a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the city, but walking shoes are a must since the grounds are large. Food from the property's four restaurants and cafes also receives high praise (but watch out for preying birds). Recent visitors were also thoroughly impressed that the gardens are free to visit. Walking tours can also be done for free by using maps on the attraction's website .

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Bondi Beach Bondi Beach free

Bondi Beach is best known for its gnarly waves, which make it one of the top surfing destinations in the world. But if you're not ready to hang 10, don't fret. Bondi (pronounced "bond-eye") is also nice for strolling, sunbathing and swimming. Despite its popularity (and its plentiful souvenir shops and surf and fashion boutiques), Bondi maintains an alternative, edgy feel.

Almost universally, visitors said the 5-mile trek to Bondi from downtown Sydney is a must and that the beach is one of the most beautiful in the world. To claim a prime spot on the sand, arrive early: beachgoers say Bondi gets incredibly busy. Many former visitors also recommend setting aside time for one of the region's coastal walks. Both the Bondi to Coogee walk and the Bondi to Bronte walk offer superb water views and relaxing spots for picnics.

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Mrs. Macquarie's Chair Mrs. Macquarie's Chair free

In 1810, Governor Lachlan Macquarie commissioned a bench for his wife, and the city's convicts carved Mrs. Macquarie's Chair out of a sandstone rock overlooking  Sydney Harbour . To this day, the landmark remains a top attraction thanks to its location, which provides picture-perfect views of the  Sydney Opera House  and the  Sydney Harbour Bridge  within a single frame.

It's not surprising, then, that visitors rave about the photo-ops here. Although it can get crowded at times, many say it's well worth the visit, especially for special events like the Sydney New Year's Eve fireworks show and the Australia Day Harbour Parade. Several also recommend arriving in the morning to get the best lighting for your photos.

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Hyde Park Barracks Museum Hyde Park Barracks Museum free

Considered one of the world's most significant convict locations, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was once used to house convicted men and boys brought to Sydney from Great Britain. After Great Britain stopped transporting prisoners to Australia in 1840, convicts were moved to Cockatoo Island in Sydney Harbour and the former barracks were converted into the city's Female Immigration Depot. The Hyde Park Barracks Museum also served as a hostel for orphan girls fleeing the Irish Potato Famine and an asylum for elderly women before shutting its doors in 1886. After its closure, the historic building lay in shambles until an extensive restoration began in 1975. Now the property operates as a museum and archeological treasure.

According to recent visitors, the museum's interactive exhibits successfully paint an informative picture of what life was like as a convict in Sydney. Upon entering the museum, you'll be given a sanitized iPad and headset (though you're encouraged to bring your own) featuring audio performed by actors. As you make your way through the museum, the iPad can detect your location and offer information on what you're seeing (there are no informational placards, only visual displays). Sessions start every half-hour and run for 90 minutes. The audio guide is recommended for visitors 8 and older, however an audio guide and activity trail is available and suitable for kids aged 5 to 10.

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Art Gallery of New South Wales Art Gallery of New South Wales free

Situated in the same park complex that houses the  Royal Botanic Garden  and  Mrs. Macquarie's Chair , the Art Gallery of New South Wales spans two buildings and features a variety of indigenous, colonial and contemporary art collections. Everything from photography and Pablo Picasso paintings to aboriginal art and Tang dynasty ceramics can be found here. Additionally, several free artist talks and demonstrations are held throughout the year.

Recent museumgoers said the Art Gallery of New South Wales is a must-see, with a great collection and excellent exhibits. Popular pieces include the museum's indigenous paintings and iconic European works. The free tours, free entry and superb views are also a hit with past visitors, although many have noted that it can get crowded.

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Chinese Garden of Friendship Chinese Garden of Friendship

Located in Darling Harbour , this gem of a garden is a little breath of fresh air in the city. The Chinese Garden of Friendship was built as a symbol of friendship between Sydney and the city of Guangzhou in China's Guangdong province (sister cities of sister states), to mark Sydney's bicentennial in 1988. Recent visitors called it a serene and beautiful place to relax.

Designed and built by Chinese landscape architects and gardeners, the walled garden follows the Taoist principles of "Yin-Yang," the opposing yet complementary and balanced forces, and "Wu-Xing," the five elements or phases – wood, fire, earth, metal and water. As you wander, you'll encounter waterfalls, lakes, exotic plants, pavilions and hidden pathways. Daily tours, included with admission, are a great way to learn about the garden.

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St. Mary's Cathedral St. Mary's Cathedral free

Though the cathedral that stands today is not the original, it sits on land where the first Catholic chapel in Australia stood beginning in 1821. The St. Mary's you see today was constructed starting in 1868, with work continuing until 1928. In fact, its spires were not added until 2000. The Gothic Revival-style cathedral is home to gorgeous stained-glass windows and a crypt with a stunning mosaic floor depicting the Creation, as well as bishops' tombs and occasional special exhibits.

Recent visitors called the cathedral a beautiful and impressive place to see, noting its architecture and stained-glass windows as highlights.

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Queen Victoria Building Queen Victoria Building free

From shopping and dining to history tours, the Queen Victoria Building opened in the heart of Sydney's central business district in 1898 and has grown into a major shopping destination boasting leading Australian fashion like Country Road and Anna Thomas as well as global favorites like Calvin Klein. Jewelry, lingerie, footwear and skincare stores are also on-site, as well as an Aboriginal art gallery.

When visitors tire of shopping, there are restaurants, cafes, a chocolate shop, wine bar and tea room to rest at, as well as quick-bite options like McDonald's.

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Cockatoo Island (Wareamah) Cockatoo Island (Wareamah)

The largest island on Sydney Harbour , Cockatoo Island was once a meeting place for Sydney's Indigenous First Nations People, but was later used to house convicts, build and repair ships, and also became the site of education institutions for children. Known by the area's native people as Wareamah, the island now features landmarks, structures and heritage objects that offer visitors a peek into its diverse history.

Various tour s are available, focusing on topics like the prisons, the island's history, the island's ghosts (only for adults) and the World War II ship building. (Note, these all have fees.) Travelers preferring to take a self-guided tour can take an audio tour from the visitor center for AU$6 ($4) or check out the free Talking Object Tour, where travelers can use their mobile devices to "talk" with different objects. Past travelers loved that the self-guided tour was easy, informative and interesting. There's also orienteering courses, lawn games and a harborside basketball court to keep both adults and kids entertained.

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Carriageworks Carriageworks

Carriageworks is a popular arts precinct located in Redfern, an inner suburb of Sydney. Built in the 1880s as part of the Eveleigh Railway Workshops, it became a locomotive workers' hub in the 1900s and was one of the first places to exercise equality when hiring Aboriginal workers.

Since being reshaped into a cultural attraction in 2007, the multiarts center has become the largest of its kind in Australia and aims to reflect social and cultural diversity. In doing so, the center has a First Nations program that encompasses music, markets, workshops and performances, and Solid Ground, which provides education and training for local indigenous youth.

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17 Top Tourist Attractions in Sydney

By Alex Schultz · Last updated on April 3, 2024

As Australia’s oldest, largest and most urbane city, beautiful Sydney has something special to offer every visitor. Broad sandy beaches and scenic cruises make the Harbour City the perfect holiday destination for travelers looking for fun on the sand and sea. First-class dining, shopping and cultural institutions like the iconic Sydney Opera House beckon those searching for an enriching travel experience.

A compact city surrounded by national parks, Sydney serves as a convenient base for adventures in Australia’s diverse natural environments too. Whether scaling the heights of the Harbour Bridge or delving into the natural tourist attractions in Sydney, as a travel destination, the capital of New South Wales never disappoints.

17. St. Mary's Cathedral [SEE MAP]

St. Mary's Cathedral

One of Sydney’s standout symbols and sights, St. Mary’s Cathedral can be found in between Hyde Park and The Domain. Set just a short stroll from the center, it exhibits some exquisite architecture with two twin spires rising up above a fetching neo-Gothic facade.

Built between 1866 and 1928, it is modeled on both Lincoln Cathedral in the UK and Notre-Dame in Paris with gorgeous rose windows lying alongside elegant arches, transepts and flying buttresses. Its enormous interior is just as striking. The light shining through its stained glass windows paints the beautiful sanctuary, chapels and sculptures in a mesmerizing array of pretty colors.

16. Bondi to Coogee Walk [SEE MAP]

Bondi to Coogee Walk

Connecting the two idyllic beaches together, the Bondi to Coogee Walk is one of the most popular and picturesque paths to stroll along in the city. Stretching just under 4 miles in length, it takes you past lots of stunning coastal scenery with fabulous views over the ocean to be enjoyed the whole way along.

Meandering along the top of craggy coastal cliffs, the path passes lovely picnic areas, parks and viewpoints with the scenic, yet sombre, Waverley Cemetery being one of its main attractions. In addition to snapping photos of superb scenery, you can also stop off at any one of the cozy cafes that line the route or enjoy sunbathing, swimming and surfing at its beaches.

15. Art Gallery of New South Wales [SEE MAP]

Art Gallery of New South Wales

Located not far from St Mary’s Cathedral in The Domain you can find the outstanding Art Gallery of New South Wales. One of the biggest and best museums in the nation, it boasts a huge collection that now encompasses more than 40,000 paintings and photos, drawings and sculptures.

Founded in 1872, the massive museum occupies the grand, neo-classical Vernon Building with lush parkland lying all around it. In its large light-filled galleries you can see incredible European, Asian, and Australian artworks with sizeable sections also dedicated to amazing Indigenous artists from across the country.

14. Chinese Garden of Friendship [SEE MAP]

Chinese Garden of Friendship

Set at the southern end of Darling Harbour, the scenic and serene Chinese Garden of Friendship is a treat to stroll around. An oasis of calm in the city, its lovingly landscaped water features, rock gardens and pavilions shine a light on Chinese heritage and culture with the gardens having been designed in Guangzhou; Sydney’s sister city.

Symbolizing the bond between the two countries, the gorgeous garden was first opened in 1988 to celebrate Australia’s bicentennial. A firm favorite with locals and tourists alike, it has pretty paths and ponds with exotic flowers, plants, and trees set next to a traditional tea house and glazed terracotta Dragon Wall.

13. Sydney Harbour [SEE MAP]

Sydney Harbour

Home to some of the most famous and photographed landmarks in the city, it is well worth taking a sightseeing cruise around Sydney Harbour. Besides the iconic bridge and opera house, it is lined by sparkling skyscrapers and stunning nature spots with enticing attractions, photos and views wherever you look.

Widely considered to be one of the most beautiful natural harbors in the world, it impressively has 150 miles of scenic shoreline to explore with beaches, coves, gardens and parks. Aside from strolling along the shore or taking an unforgettable cruise, you can also enjoy fabulous watersports—kayaking and paddleboarding about Sydney Harbour are both popular.

12. Cockatoo Island [SEE MAP]

Cockatoo Island

A fascinating place to visit, Cockatoo Island lies at the heart of Sydney Harbour, easily reachable by ferry. Only opened to the public in 2007, it has waterfront cafes and campsites for guests to make use of. Guided history and paranormal tours take you around to see all the large island’s unique features.

Over the course of its history, the isle has been used as a prison, naval base and a shipyard with its rusting industrial relics and old cells making for some fantastic photos. Besides learning about its interesting past, you can bask in breathtaking views of the harbor or attend one of its regular concerts and cultural events.

11. Manly Beach [SEE MAP]

Manly Beach

After iconic Bondi, Manly Beach is undoubtedly the city’s most popular and famous stretch of sand, having hosted the world’s first surfing contest back in 1964. Aside from surfing, visitors can lounge lazily on golden sands, stroll along its scenic boardwalk or enjoy swimming in the sea.

Stretching one mile in length, it curves its way gently alongside the Pacific Ocean, lying thirty minutes from Sydney’s main terminal, Circular Quay, by ferry. As picture-perfect as they come, the beach boasts striking coastal scenery and views with cafes and restaurants found nearby. Volleyball and paddleboarding are also on offer and splendid snorkeling and scuba diving can be had offshore.

10. Taronga Zoo [SEE MAP]

Taronga Zoo

Located in Sydney’s Mosman neighborhood on the harbor’s hillsides, the world-class Taronga Zoo gives visitors a close-up view of Australia’s indigenous creatures as well as animals from all over the world. Highlights include the zoo’s Roar and Snore experience, which lets visitors stay overnight to observe nocturnal fauna, and the Nura Diya tour, which features guides who share stories about Aboriginal life.

Although the zoo can be reached by car or bus, most visitors opt for a short ferry ride to the nearest wharf. From there, the entrance to the zoo is accessed by short gondola ride. Zoo tickets are available that cover ferry and gondola fares.

9. Australian National Maritime Museum [SEE MAP]

Australian National Maritime Museum

The premier attraction in Sydney’s recently redeveloped Darling Harbour, the Australian National Maritime Museum is best known for its historic seafaring vessels, which include the 19th-century tall ship James Craig and a full-scale replica of Captain James Cook’s Endeavor.

The museum’s seven main galleries cover the nation’s maritime history, from the discovery of the Land Down Under to the country’s naval defense in World War II and beyond. Tickets are available that include entrance to the museum as well as tours of several of the vessels moored outside.

8. The Rocks [SEE MAP]

The Rocks

Situated between the Harbour Bridge and the northern edge of Sydney’s Central Business District, The Rocks is the city’s oldest neighborhood. Named after its rocky shore, The Rocks was Australia’s first permanent European settlement and the place where the country’s convict history began.

By the late 1800s, the area had degenerated into a slum filled with taverns and brothels where crime ran rampant through the narrow streets. In the 1970s, the city began a huge restoration project to save the district’s historic homes and warehouses. Today, the redeveloped neighborhood is a popular tourist destination packed with art galleries, chic boutiques, trendy restaurants and souvenir shops.

7. Royal Botanic Gardens [SEE MAP]

Royal Botanic Gardens

Founded in 1816, the Royal Botanic Gardens is wedged between the Sydney Opera House and The Domain public green space. Overlooking the harbor, the urban park contains more than 7,500 species of plants, many of which are native to Australia.

Standout collections include the Tropical Centre, which features plants housed in pyramid-shaped greenhouses, and the Rare and Threatened Species Garden, which includes an ancient Wollemi Pine, a genus of tree that dates back 200 million years. There is no entrance fee to the park, and free guided tours are available as well.

6. Darling Harbour [SEE MAP]

Darling Harbour

Once home to Sydney’s industrial docks and wharves, Darling Harbour was redeveloped during the 1980s with culture and tourism in mind. Situated immediately adjacent to the Central Business District, the neighborhood is now home to some of the most popular tourist attractions in Sydney, including the Australian National Maritime Museum, the Sydney Aquarium, the Aboriginal Centre and an IMAX theater with the world’s largest screen.

The kid-friendly Harbourside Shopping Centre boasts a bowling alley, laser tag facility and a jet flight simulator. The east side of the waterfront features upscale shops, bars and restaurants.

5. Sydney Harbour Bridge [SEE MAP]

Sydney Harbour Bridge

The iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge is both the main method of crossing the harbor and a travel destination for adventurous visitors. Completed in 1932, the bridge features an arch that stands 134 meters (440 feet) above sea level and spans 503 meters (1,654 feet).

In 1998, the city opened a Bridge Climb attraction that allows hardy visitors to ascend to the top of the arch. Participants are equipped with protective clothing and secured to a wire lifeline during the three-and-a-half hour climb and descent.

For those who want a less-adventurous view from the bridge, the Pylon Lookout Museum is a popular attraction. The museum is accessed from the footpath that runs along the eastern side of the bridge.

4. Sydney Tower [SEE MAP]

Sydney Tower

Soaring 1,073 feet above sea level, the Sydney Tower is the city’s tallest structure, offering 360-degree views of the compact metropolis, harbor and surrounding countryside. Designed by architect Donald Crone, the building opened to the public in 1981.

Standing 260 meters (850 feet) above ground level, the building’s Sydney Tower Eye features an enclosed viewing platform that fully encircles the structure. The tower has three dining facilities, including the revolving restaurant 360 Bar and Dining. The latest addition to the Tower is a “4D” cinema, which enhances the theatrical experience with special effects like wind and bubbles.

3. Queen Victoria Building [SEE MAP]

Queen Victoria Building

More commonly referred to as the QVB, the Queen Victoria Building is a five-story shopping center that fills an entire city block and houses nearly 200 retailers. Built by architect George McRae in 1898, the building was designed as a marketplace and concert hall.

Later tenants used the building for office space, and the structure began to fall into decay during the Great Depression. QVB has now been restored to its original glory and purpose. A beautiful example of the Romanesque Revival style popularized during Queen Victoria’s reign, the QVB features a large glass dome sheathed in copper, ornamental cast-iron railings and numerous stained glass windows.

2. Bondi Beach [SEE MAP]

Bondi Beach

Located 7 km (4 miles) away from Sydney’s Central Business District (CBD), Bondi Beach is a mile-long sweep of golden sand lined with red-tile-roofed homes, apartments and green spaces. A promenade adjacent to the sand runs the length of the crescent-shaped beach.

Popular Bondi Beach attracts swimmers, surfers, sunbathers and body builders. Because the roughest waves and strongest rip tides are at the south end of the beach, that area is generally reserved for surfers.

Swimmers and sunbathers tend to favor the north end next to a stretch of grass with coin-operated “barbies.” The well-patrolled beach is equipped with changing rooms, and the nearby neighborhoods are packed with cafés, bars and shops.

1. Sydney Opera House [SEE MAP]

#1 of Tourist Attractions In Sydney

One of Australia’s famous landmarks, the Sydney Opera House is one of the world’s most prestigious performing arts centers. Perched on the waterfront of Bennelong Point, it is located in Sydney’s Central Business District and surrounded by the beautiful scenery of the Sydney Harbour and the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Visited by several million people annually, this stunning structure houses multiple venues that together host more than 1,500 performances each year. What’s more, Sydney Opera House is home to four prominent companies including the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Opera Australia, the Sydney Theatre Company and The Australian Ballet.

Regarded as a 20th century architectural masterpiece, the Sydney Opera House was designed and built by architect, Jørn Utzon, to reflect the image of a huge sailing ship. The structure is 600 feet long and 394 feet wide (183 by 120 meters) at its widest point, featuring distinctive roof shells that resemble billowing sails. Of the many venues housed within the structure, some of the most significant are the Joan Sutherland Theatre, Drama Theatre, the multi-purpose Utzon Room and the Concert Hall, which houses the largest mechanical tracker-action organ in the world.

Also part of the Sydney Opera House is the Forecourt, an open-air venue presenting many outdoor performances. In addition to the performance venues, there is also a recording studio, bars, cafes, restaurants and retail shops.

Attending a performance is not required to experience the full splendor of the Sydney Opera House. Daily tours are available in several languages where visitors can explore the halls, venues, backstage, dressing rooms and more.

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Reader interactions.

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November 11, 2014 at 6:45 am

Austalia is one of the most beautiful countries that I would like to venture one day. I want to see that opera house.

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August 4, 2014 at 9:28 pm

Fantastic list Sydney is a LOVELY place. I just write an article about 14 reasons why I love Sydney!! It’s like my second home.

I recommend going to Mrs Macquairies chair (a look out) at sunset – there will be lots of people but is not overly crowded and its a GREAT view!

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March 19, 2014 at 9:14 am

This is honestly some of the most amazing picture’s on the web, and your web-site is also very attractive.

' src=

March 1, 2014 at 1:22 am

I like to go there

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Home » Oceania » Australia » Sydney

36 BEST Places to Visit in Sydney (Must-See Highlights in 2024)

Ahh, beautiful Sydney: the one true capital city of Australia. That’s right, Melbourne – shots fired. Canberra? More like  Bland- berra!

Sydney is a gorgeous place to visit. It’s expensive, bustling, and the public transport can step on a lego, but it’s also clean and vibrant and sucks you in (every damn time). Sydney’s famous landmarks present beautiful colonial-era architecture merging with the urban neo-jungle of Australia’s economic centre. The city is ringed by bushland, interlaced by waterways, and somehow, even in a city of 6 million+, you always seem to find the same communities throughout.

HOWEVER, even though Sydney’s attractions are so deliciously pretty that I audibly sigh looking at the Harbour Bridge every time I return, it IS still a stinky bum. It’s a sprawling metropolis (with public transport of the stanky posterior variety) and unless you know where you’re going, you’ll likely end up falling into the tourist traps and missing out on what Sydney’s BEST places. ( Protip!  There are  much better beaches in Sydney than Bondi.)

Luckily, you have a legit insider guide! I’ve been fostering my love-hate relationship with this city for the better part of a decade now and I’m here to tell you that there are some EPIC places to visit in Sydney.

Think; flying through the air at Luna Park, exploring the lesser known Cockatoo Island, delving into Australian culture, wandering around the Royal Botanic Gardens and shopping till you drop at the Queen Victoria Building… Ok, enough spoilers!

Arts, fancy dining, low-key adventures, HIGH-key adventures, and vastly overlooked  poppin’ local music scene – lemme tell you where to go in Sydney.

Need a place quick? Here’s the best neighbourhood in Sydney, New South Wales:

These are the best places to visit in sydney, new south wales, faq on the best places to visit in sydney, new south wales.

CBD, Sydney

Sydney CBD (Central Business District)

Centrally located and the easiest area to explore Sydney from. The Sydney CBD is an excellent choice for anyone looking to see the big sights and explore the city on foot.

  • See the Sydney Opera House, one of the most iconic 20th-century buildings in the world.
  • Wander through the impressive (and free!) Royal Botanic Garden and its outstanding collection of plants from Australia and around the world.
  • Enjoy one of Australia’s foremost cultural institutions, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, home to an impressive collection of Australian art.

sydney tourism places

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Wait just a second there! Before you dive into all the excitement, check out the best places to stay in Syndey and get your accommodation sorted near your favourite attractions. That way, you’ll be able to save on transportation costs and spend that money having a blast seeing all the amazing Sydney tourist attractions!

#1 – Bondi Beach – A must-visit beach in Sydney!

Bondi Beach - most famous beach in Sydney

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  • One of the most popular beaches in Australia for good reason.
  • The perfect place to get some sun, surf or people watch.
  • It has a friendly, welcoming atmosphere that people rave about.

Why it’s so awesome : If you’re used to small beaches with pebbles then you’ll be stunned by Bondi Beach. Australia is an island after all, which means that the beaches stretch forever. Bondi Beach is one of the most popular places in Sydney because it has reliable waves, miles of white sand, and is surrounded by cafes and restaurants. So if you love beaches or just want to soak in the beach culture, Bondi Beach is the destination for you. There are heaps of affordable hostels nearby so you’ll meet other backpackers too.

What to do there : Bondi Beach can get crowded, so get there early and stake out your spot, ideally not on Sydney’s busy weekends . And remember that the waters around Australia are rougher and more unpredictable than you’ll find at other beach locations. Listen to the lifeguards, obey the warning signs, and stay close to the shore if you aren’t a strong swimmer. Otherwise, just enjoy the sun and sand and grab a VB when it gets hot – it’s an Australian tradition!

If you want the ultimate Aussie experience then you can also take a surfing lesson on Bondi Beach too! With a low instructor-to-student ratio, you’ll be a pro in no time. You don’t even have to know how to swim in this beginner-friendly class!

Insider tip: Contrary to popular belief, Australia does have a winter and though it’s nothing like the European winter, it will probably be too cold to swim without a wetsuit. On the other hand, Bondi is a lot quieter at this time of year!

#2 – The Sydney Cricket Ground – If you’re into that sort of thing.

The Sydney Cricket Grounds - a missable place of interest in Sydney

  • Not just for cricket lovers, this is the place for lovers of all types of sports!
  • Australians love their sports, so put on a hat and some sunscreen and join in.

Why it’s so awesome : The Sydney Cricket Grounds are one of the most famous sporting arenas in the country and were first built in the mid-1800s. And even if it isn’t cricket season, the venue also hosts a range of other sports like Rugby and AFL. So if you’re curious about Australian football, which is different from anywhere else in the world, then you can learn more about it at this location.

What to do there: Just be a part of the action! Australians take their sport very seriously and yet there’s an air of comradery during the games that always makes them friendly and convivial. So find out what’s on while you’re in the city and be a part of the action.

No games on? Take a stadium tour instead and see what the SCG is like behind the scenes.

#3 – Bondi Iceberg Pool – Where to go in Sydney for a more gentle swim.

Bondi Iceberg Pool in Sydney

  • A famous pool where you can get an  iconic photograph of the city .
  • The perfect place to sunbathe.

Why it’s so awesome : The Bondi Iceberg pool is the most photographed ocean pool in Australia. It’s a 50-meter saltwater pool that’s a popular spot for sunbathers and swimmers set right next to the crashing ocean. So if you want to enjoy the beach but you’re a little wary of the unpredictable waters, this is a good compromise.

What to do there : These baths have been one of Bondi’s most popular landmarks for 100 years and are home to one of Bondi’s most popular swimming clubs. But you don’t have to be a member to use the facilities: you can pay a small fee for entry and have access to the pool, gym, and sauna. They also run yoga classes by the ocean in the summer months, so take advantage of the sun and the warmth to get a little fitter while you’re on holiday!

#4 – Sydney Harbour Bridge – Potentially the most famous place to visit in Sydney.

New Years Eve fireworks at Sydney Harbor Bridge

  • One of the most iconic sites in the city.
  • A great place to take photographs.
  • You’ll not only get to see the bridge up close but the entire bay as well.
  • Easy to reach from Sydney CBD

Why it’s so awesome : Sydney Harbour Bridge is a famous coathanger that’s shown on almost every postcard and image of Australia and every backpacking Sydney travel guide . It has a stunning view across the bay, particularly at dawn and dust, and you can take in the whole experience while climbing to the top of this iconic landmark. If you’re sightseeing Sydney’s most famous places, well, Bob’s your uncle!

What to do there : You can actually climb this bridge and it’s well worth doing because you’ll get to see the whole of Sydney Harbour as it was meant to be seen. There are different climbs of varying difficulty, but the express climb is the most popular. It’s shorter and takes you up the inside arc, which feels a little more stable.

Make sure you pack your sunscreen and hat for the climb, the sun can be punishing, and once you’re up there, take plenty of pictures. If you really want to see something spectacular, try to get on a climb at dusk or dawn. Watching the sunrise or setting over the water is an experience that no one should miss.

If you really feel like stepping your trip up a notch, you can charter a yacht to take you and your friends around Sydney Harbour in style. Split between six to eight people and it doesn’t have to break the bank either.

Insider Tip: Head up to the Pylon Lookout (one of the legs) for epic views of the harbour at a really reasonable price.

sydney tourism places

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#5 – Sydney Opera House – The other stupidly famous landmark in Sydney to see.

Sydney Opera House

  • The most recognisable building in Sydney.
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • If you’re looking to take that iconic picture of Sydney, you’ll get it at the Opera House.

Why it’s so awesome : If you’ve ever seen pictures of Australia then chances are that you’ve seen pictures of the iconic Sydney Opera House. The unique shape of the building, like sails against the water, is instantly recognisable. The Sydney Opera House is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and there are numerous places around it where you can have your photo taken with the building in the background.

What to do there : If you want to learn more about this iconic building, then take one of the walking tours . Or better yet, book tickets for a show! It’s the bloody Opera House, mate! Obviously, you’re also gonna want to take a selfie with what is probably the most recognisable of all the tourist attractions in Sydney!

#6 – Dharawal National Park – A beautiful and scenic place to check out in Sydney.

Dharawal National Park - a beautiful natural attraction in Sydney

  • Stunning natural scenery.
  • Entrance to the park was once restricted but you can now take guided tours.
  • An indigenous guide will lead you through the landscape and share local knowledge.

Why it’s so awesome : Australia’s natural landscape is like nowhere else on earth and thankfully there’s some not too far from the Sydney CBD! It’s home to plants and animals that aren’t found anywhere else and is a strikingly stark, harsh, and unforgiving wilderness. A good way to experience this is by touring the Dharawal National Park, which only recently opened to visitors. It will allow you to see and experience a side of Australia that you just won’t get in a city of cement and glass.

What to do there : Guided tours are held every second Saturday of the month, so make sure you’re there at the right time. The tours are led by an Aboriginal Ranger who will share stories of the Dreamtime and local knowledge about the animals and plants around you. Also, if you get the chance, make sure that you stop for a picnic at Minerva Pool, which is a sacred women’s place for the area’s tribe. Just remember that only women and children may enter the pool, men aren’t allowed.

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#7 – White Rabbit – A must-see gallery in Sydney.

White Rabbit gallery in Sydney

  • A state of the art four-floor gallery exhibiting contemporary Chinese art.
  • Changing exhibitions through the year.
  • Free entry.

Why it’s so awesome : The White Rabbit might seem like just another gallery, but the name should give you a clue. This gallery is known for its bold and confronting exhibitions , so expect to be surprised. Also, make sure that you find out about the current exhibitions before you take children there because a lot of the exhibitions have very adult themes. It’s also right in the heart of the Sydney CBD so it’s easy to reach.

What to do there : If you want to see another side of Australia then you need to experience all the influences that made it what it is today. Australia may be closely tied to England, but it’s technically within Asia and is strongly influenced by the culture, art, and food of this region. So explore this side of Australia through the White Rabbit artwork. Afterwards, have a plate of dumplings at their in-house tea room to complete the experience.

#8 – The Imperial Hotel

The Imperial Hotel - a nightlife hub in Sydney

  • A safe space for the LGBTQ community.
  • Loud music with singers like Cher, Whitney and Madonna at the forefront.

Why it’s so awesome: The Imperial Hotel has been a safe place for the LGBTQ community since the 80s and it’s a place that celebrates this culture in every way possible. You can expect loud music, costumes and an intentionally daggy disco along with regular parties hosted by some of Sydney’s best including Heaps Gap, Girlthing and Honcho Disko. This is one of the top places to visit in Sydney to just get loose for a night!

What to do there : This is a place to celebrate all the differences that keep people apart and bring them together in a loud and colourful style. Every night of the week you’ll enjoy a good meal while you watch Sydney’s best drag kings and queens strut their stuff. So prepare for a rib-achingly good time and just enjoy the spectacle!

#9 – Carriageworks – Quite the quirky place to go in Sydney!

Carriageworks interior - A cool place to visit in Sydney

  • Even if the art within wasn’t amazing, you’d want to visit this site for the space alone.
  • Some of Sydney’s best art, dance and plays are held here.
  • The bathrooms are awesome. No, seriously.

Why it’s so awesome: Carriageworks is held within the Eveleigh Rail Yards, which were built in the 1880s, so the space is huge, cavernous, and incredible. And as if that wasn’t enough, they hold all types of theatre, dance, and art in this space, from experimental theatre to cultural festivals and art installations. Basically, this is a quirky and always exciting place to spend some time!

What to do there : Basically, just show up. Find out what events are on while you’re in the city and go and see them regardless of whether you’ve heard of them before. This theatre loves to shock and surprise, so be prepared to see something amazing. And while you’re there, visit the bathroom even if you don’t need to go, because they’re worth the trip on their own.

#10 – Wendy’s Secret Garden – One of the more unique places to visit in Sydney!

Wendy’s Secret Garden - a beautiful place in Sydney

  • A remarkable homage to a life.
  • A place to escape the busy city and enjoy nature.
  • Make sure you get a picture of Sydney Harbour surrounded by native plants!

Why it’s so awesome : Before 1992, this area was overgrown and filled with rubbish. It’s part private and part public land at the food of the artist Brett Whiteley. When he died in 1992, his wife transformed in, channelling her grief into making something beautiful. It’s now an enchanted garden where locals can enjoy nature away from the crowds.

What to do there : This is a quiet area and not appropriate for sports or lots of noise. Instead, it’s a place to sit and eat a picnic in a private oasis so get your snacks together and do just that. Enjoy the view of Sydney Harbour from a unique angle. And take a picture of it that includes the trees and shrubs that are part of this peaceful place away from Sydney’s craziness.

#11 – Inner West – One of the most underrated areas in Sydney.

Inner West area in Sydney

  • The centre of street art in Sydney.
  • You’ll see works by famous local artists such as Lister, Skulk, and Numbskull.
  • You’ll have lots of chances to take some amazing photos.

Why it’s so awesome : Street art is alive and well in the Inner West of Sydney, particularly in Newtown and Enmore suburbs! There are a lot of famous street artists in Sydney and their work can be found everywhere. Whether it’s the dancing ballerinas on the Hub building or the displays aimed at raising awareness about the dying coral reefs, these images are well worth exploring and you’ll find lots of examples of this art form.

What to do there : Wander around this cool place and soak in the vibe and the art. It’s a very friendly and vibrant area in Sydney with buskers , art, and things to see around every corner. If you’re backpacking in Sydney, you’ll definitely want to visit Newtown because it’s a hub for inner-city hippies, students, and the endearing alt weirdos.

#12 – Royal National Park – An unmissable must-visit place in Sydney and Australia.

Royal National Park - Sydney's most beautiful place

  • 26 kilometres of stunning national park.
  • There are coastline walks, beaches and incredible rock formations here.
  • Take the chance to get out of the city and see a glimpse of Australia’s natural landscape.

Why it’s so awesome : Australia’s natural landscape is unique, hard, and forbidding and it’s often a surprise to people who are used to softer lands. But it’s also one of the most interesting things to see when you’re visiting the country. The Royal National Park gives you the chance to experience this alien landscape close up and in enough variety that you’ll start to get a sense of just how different this crazy island really is.

What to do there: This park is the perfect place to swim at secluded beaches, picnic near natural rock pools, bike ride the twisting trails or just hike through the area and take photos. Basically, whatever you like to do outdoors you can probably do it in this park. And between May and November, remember to keep your eyes on the sea during your visit. This is the whale watching season and the Royal National Park is one of the best places in Sydney to see these majestic creatures as they pass by close to the shore.

Not sure how to get there, no worries! Take an organised tour from the city!

#13 – Museum of Contemporary Art – Another touch of cultural sightseeing in Sydney, New South Wales.

Museum of Contemporary Art at Sydney Harbour

  • The best place for cutting edge art in the city.
  • Often hosts contemporary art  exhibitions by big names like Yoko Ono and Grayson Perry.

Why it’s so awesome : The harbourside Museum Of Contemporary Art is important on a local and an international scale and as such usually plays host to the best exhibitions in the city. It also has an amazing rooftop café so after you’re done looking at the art you can relax and get a superb view of the bay.

What to do there : Before you go, check out what exhibitions they have on during your stay and spend some time exploring the artwork. You’ll see incredible pieces of contemporary art done by huge international artists, photographers and sculptures. Afterwards, go upstairs for a coffee and a snack overlooking the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, and Circular Quay.

#14 – Cockatoo Island – A super cool and often overlooked Sydney point of interest.

Cockatoo Island - a cool place to see in Sydney

  • A historical gem just outside the city.
  • Cockatoo Island is largest island in Sydney’s Bay.

Why it’s so awesome : This is a small island with a lot of history. It’s been a film set, a shipping harbour, a house for convicts in the 1800s, and it was originally an Aboriginal fishing spot. Now it’s held by the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust and there are a number of different tours run on the island. It’s also probably one of the lesser-known Sydney tourist attractions.

What to do there : Cockatoo Island has a varied history and the tours that are run there are designed to let you see glimpses of that history. If you want to stay longer or just spend the night in a quiet area away from the city, there are campsites, glamping packages and Airbnbs where you can stay and soak in the island at night.

sydney tourism places

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#15 – Hermitage Foreshore Walk – A nice and chill walk.

Hermitage Foreshore Walk

  • A short walk where you’ll get the absolute best views of the harbour.
  • Get fit while you take photographs!

Why it’s so awesome : The Hermitage Foreshore Walk is only 1.8 kilometres and along the way, you’ll get views of Shark Island, the Opera, and the Harbour Bridge. You’ll also get the chance to see Strickland house, a heritage-listed mansion built in the 1850s.

What to do there: Put on your walking shoes, take your camera, and complete the walk. Just a little tip: it’s probably better to do it early in the morning or late in the evening so you can avoid the hot midday sun. Make sure you take your swimmers along with you too because there are a number of lovely beaches along this path, so if it gets too hot then you want to be able to duck into the water to cool off.

#16 – Enmore Theater – An absolute hub of activity in Sydney – and the Inner West’s – nightlife scene.

Enmore Theater in Sydney at night

  • An art Deco landmark.
  • Home to some of the best and most innovative shows in the city.
  • You can see everything from rock bands to comedians at the Enmore Theatre.

Why it’s so awesome : The Enmore Theater is a landmark building that can hold 1,600 people and it welcomes all different types of music. You’re just as likely to see some of the biggest names in the business in this theatre as you are to see a classical composition, and the combination of genres is what makes this place amazing!

What to do there : Check out what’s on while you’re in the city and reserve your seat. There are also a lot of fabulous restaurants in the area, so after the show make sure you wander around and try something that smells amazing.

#17 – Centennial Parklands – One of Sydney’s many awesome parks.

Centennial Parklands - best park in Sydney

  • Great walking and cycling trails.
  • There are also riding schools in the area so you can hire a horse and see the park on horseback!

Why it’s so awesome: Horseback riding has always been a part of Centennial Park, which is why it has a 3.6km horse trail that loops around the park. There are more than 200 stables on site that are open 365 days a year, so you won’t have any trouble at all finding a horse that suits your riding ability!

What to do there : If you aren’t a professional rider, then you can take a one-hour circuit of the park with an instructor. They’ll help you find the right path and make sure that you’re safe and secure on horseback. While you’re in the park, you should also take advantage of the other facilities. Go cycling or walk the path if you’re feeling energetic. And if you’re not then just take a picnic and enjoy the views.

#18 – The Royal Botanic Gardens – One of the most beautiful places in Sydney to visit.

sydney Royal Botanic Gardens

  • A lovely natural space where you can enjoy the Australian bushland.
  • Australia’s oldest botanic garden
  • The perfect place to get away from the rush of the city.

Why it’s so awesome : The Royal Botanic Gardens are a great way to learn more about the Australian bushland. So much of Australia is still wild and unpopulated and this place will show you a glimpse of what those long stretches of land look like. At the Royal Botanic Gardens, you’ll also get the chance to learn more about the indigenous culture and how they survived in such a harsh and unforgiving landscape.

What to do there : Taking a tour through the gardens is definitely worth the time and effort, particularly because you’ll get to try traditional bush tucker and learn about the indigenous history of the land. You’ll taste Davidson plums, see stingless bees, and learn about the deep connection between plants and animals. For example, did you know that the whale migration season lines up exactly with the blooming of wattles, an instantly recognizable and very famous Australian flower?

sydney tourism places

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#19 – Strand Arcade – Where to go in Sydney, New South Wales For Shopping!

Shopping at Sydney's Strand Arcade

  • One of the best places to pick up some Australian brands.
  • A beautiful thoroughfare.

Why it’s so awesome : This thoroughfare opened in 1892 and was the absolute latest in shopping centre architecture. Obviously, the world has moved on since then, but this is still a lovely place to explore Australian brands and goods and maybe take something unique!

What to do there : Shop! This is the perfect place to explore Australian brands like Jac+Jack, jewellery from Dinosaur Designs, and natural beauty products at Aesop. There’s also a shop called Strand Hatters where you can buy an Akubra or Panama to keep the hot sun from baking you!

#20 – The Sydney Tower Eye – Best place to visit in Sydney for a scenic view.

The Sydney Tower Eye

  • The Sydney Tower is the tallest building in the city.
  • You’ll get the best views of the city on the observation decks of the Sydney Tower.
  • Get some bargains in the busy shopping mall at the base of the Sydney Tower.

Why it’s so awesome : There’s nothing better than getting a great view of an ocean side city and the Sydney Tower Eye will give you the best view possible. It’s 309 meters high, it’s is the tallest building in the city and an iconic feature of the Sydney skyline. But you don’t have to just sit on the observation deck and look. There is also revolving restaurants at the top of the Sydney Tower and a café where you can enjoy a bite and take in the stunning views.

What to do there: Take the express elevator to the observation deck at the top of the Sydney Tower or to the Skywalk, a glass floor viewing platform. Just make sure that you have a strong stomach if you take the latter option! The views are stunning, and you can have a meal at the restaurant or café or watch a 4D movie about the city’s most popular sites.

Lines can get pretty long as it’s one of the most popular Sydney attractions, so pre-book a ticket here and skip the hassle!

#21 – The Rocks – One of Sydney’s coolest historical sites!

The Rocks

  • Once home to the Gadigal aboriginal people, this was the country’s first European settlement.
  • There are more than 100 heritage sites and buildings in this location.
  • The area includes Sydney’s oldest surviving house, Cadman’s Cottage.

Why it’s so awesome: The Rocks was named after the rocky coast on the west side of Sydney Cove, where convicts once pitched their tents. This was the site of the first European settlement and is now a heritage site, where old buildings jostle for a place in the crowded streets. There’s also a museum where you can learn more about this famous Sydney site as well as souvenir shops, cafes, restaurants, art galleries, and markets. Basically, you could spend a whole day in this area just taking in the sites and the experiences.

What to do there : While you’re at the Rocks, make sure you visit the Rocks Discovery Museum to learn more about its transformation from traditional lands to convict slums to the tourist centre of the city. You can also take a guided tour of the area. Try the Aboriginal Heritage Walk to learn more about Australia’s first people. This area is one of the most historic of all the tourist attractions in Sydney.

Take a walking tour of the Rocks to learn more about the area.

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#22 – Darling Harbour – There’s always something happening in Darling Harbour.

Darling Harbor

  • The city’s tourist hub.
  • Packed with every type of restaurant and entertainment option you could ever want.

Why it’s so awesome : Darling Harbour itself is beautiful. Set against the deep blue ocean it’s the ideal place to spend a day just wandering around and enjoying the hustle and bustle of everyday life in Sydney. To make it even better, this is the tourist hub of the city which is why it’s packed with museums, cafes, restaurants, exhibitions, and entertainment venues. No matter what you’re interested in doing, you’re bound to find something that will interest you in this area.

What to do there : Make sure you eat. Australia has some of the best seafood in the world and because Sydney is so close to the water, the seafood is amazing. Once you’re done with the food, just follow your interests. The Powerhouse Museum is particularly popular but you may also be interested in the Australian National Maritime Museum too. You can also take a harbour jet boat ride, a racing car adventure, or spend some time in a flight simulator if you’re looking for something that gets your adrenalin pumping! It’s one of the most diverse tourist attractions in Sydney for sure.

#23 – The Queen Victoria Building – A great place to see in Sydney if you love architecture.

The Queen Victoria Building in Sydney's central area

  • A building with stunning architecture created in the Romanesque style.
  • Inside is an underground arcade with great shopping.

Why it’s so awesome : If you enjoy older styles of architecture then you’ll love the Queen Victoria Building. It was originally built in 1893 and is topped by a central dome surrounded by 20 smaller ones. For a long time, it was left to ruin, but in the 1980s the building was returned to its original splendour so you can enjoy it today. It’s got to be one of the most beautiful Sydney attractions.

What to do there : This is primarily a shopping area, with more than 200 high-end shops in light-filled galleries inside of the building. Even if you don’t like to shop, the stained glass windows and mosaic floors are absolutely stunning and well worth making the trip to see. And if you want to get the full experience, make sure you check out the Tea Room QVB, which hosts a high tea under the crystal chandeliers that dot the inside of the Queen Victoria Building.

Also, the statue outside of Victoria’s dog talks sometimes. It’s really weird.

#24 – Chinatown – A must-visit for foodies!

Chinatown markets in Sydney

  • If you like Asian food of all descriptions, you’ll find an amazing variety in this area!
  • There are also shops that sell goods that are popular in Asia as well as souvenirs.
  • During the Chinese festivals the whole area turns into a giant celebration!

Why it’s so awesome : If you enjoy Chinese food, you can find all of it and more in Sydney’s Chinatown. Located in the Sydney suburb of Haymarket, this is a vibrant and bustling area that showcases just how influential Asia has been to Australian culture! The best part is, it’s cheap! (In the underground food court.)

What to do there : Try the food. There are a number of amazing eateries in the area. But if you get confused at all the variety, there are food tours you can take which will help you find options that you will love. If you’re in the area at night, make sure you stick around for the night market where you’ll be sure to snap up a bargain!

#25 – Blue Mountains – An awesome day trip from Sydney and a must-see.

Blue Mountains - a day trip from Sydney

  • Amazing scenery not too far from the centre of the city.
  • If you want to see some of the most dramatic views in the country, then you’ll find them in the Blue Mountains.

Why it’s so awesome : Just outside of Sydney and to the west are the Blue Mountains, an area of rugged, dramatic cliffs, waterfalls, quaint towns, and eucalyptus forests. This is where people come to have an outdoor adventure, and maybe even see a spider or snake or two! So if you want to learn what Australia looks like outside of the urban jungle you can see in any city, you need to get to the Blue Mountains.

What to do there : Outdoor activities in this area are extremely popular so you can do everything from hiking to camping and walking trails. The Blue Mountains is also a world-famous climbing destination. If you have the time, make sure you visit Katoomba, a very popular town which is close to the famous Three Sisters site. It’s a completely different vibe to Sydney well-worth the visit.

Take an organised Blue Mountains Tour from the city to be sure you see all the highlights.

#26 – Hyde Park – Another of Sydney’s gorgeous parks.

Hyde Park

  • The park where the locals go to relax.
  • A prime people-watching spot.
  • The park contains a number of historical monuments that commemorate Australia’s history.

Why it’s so awesome : Most of the parks in the city are for the tourists, but this is one for the locals. Set right in the middle of the CBD, Hyde park includes lots of lawns, fountains, picnic spots, and flowers; it’s where people working in the offices around the park come to relax, have lunch, and get away from their cubicles. There’s more to this park than lawns, however. It also contains monuments that are interesting and sometimes sobering reminders of the darkest parts of Australian history .

What to do there: When you first get to Hyde Park, make sure you wander around for a while. There are quite a few historical monuments in this park that will teach you more about the city and its past. For example, the Archibald Fountain, built-in 1932, commemorates Australia’s alliance with France in WWI. In the south of the park, there’s the Anzac War Memorial from 1934. It’s one of the best Sydney attractions if you need to take a little time out from the busy streets!

#27 – King’s Cross – Sydney’s deliciously seedy nightlife lives on

King's Cross at night in Sydney

  • Sydney’s red-light district.
  • It can be a little seedy at night, but during the day it’s a popular area for backpackers, shopping, and cafes.
  • This area has an intriguing, bohemian past.

Why it’s so awesome : If you’re interested in seeing Sydney at night then King’s Cross is where to do it (although, this is one of Sydney’s more dangerous areas so be sure to take necessary precautions and stay safe while exploring ). This area was an artistic quarter until the 50s when it changed into an area for beatniks and hippies. After that, it started to have problems with crime and other issues because of the influx of sailors on leave who came into the harbour looking for a good time.

What to do there: During the day, this is a trendy area with cafes and boutiques everywhere. People come here to shop, to try the best restaurants in the city, and the area also contains a large number of hostels. At night, the darker side of this area comes out, and it becomes filled with adult clubs. If you do want to explore this area, make sure you stay in a group and don’t drink too much for your own safety.

#28 – Camp Cove – Away from Sydney’s tourist spots.

Camp Cove - A Sydney place to visit away from tourists

  • Enjoy the beach without the crowds.
  • One of the lesser known tourist attractions in Sydney
  • A gorgeous sandy beach where families and topless sunbathers like to spend their time.

Why it’s so awesome: Bondi is exciting, but the crowds and the competitive vibe of the beach can get to be a bit much sometimes. If you’re looking for somewhere quieter – somewhere the locals go – try Camp Cove. It’s a small swimming area just north of Watson’s Bay, and it’s the perfect place for you to have some lazy beach time.

What to do there : This is the type of beach where you just need to sit back and relax. It’s too small for most water sports, and there are too many children around to make it safe anyway, so forget about getting your adrenalin pumping. Instead, pack a good book, a towel, and some sunscreen and soak up the sun and the relaxed vibe. If you’re looking for off the beaten track Sydney attractions, this is heaps good mate!

#29 – Art Gallery of New South Wales – A perfect place to visit in Sydney if you are on a budget!

Art Gallery of New South Wales - a free thing to do in Sydney

  • If you’re interested in Aboriginal art, you’ll find a permanent exhibit of it in this gallery.
  • It’s the perfect place to take kids because it has a range of activities designed for them.
  • And it’s free!

Why it’s so awesome: Sydney can be an expensive place to visit which is why you’ll probably need outings that will take up a bit of time without taking up all of your money. The Art Gallery of NSW is the perfect place for that. The architecture of the building is neoclassical Greek and stunning and the gallery plays host to a lot of international exhibitions. It also has permanent displays of Australian art, including Aboriginal art. It’s great for those looking for some more cultured Sydney attractions!

What to do there: There’s always something going on at this museum from tours to lectures, concerts, screenings and movies, so check the schedule before you go to see what’s on. The guided tours are free and they’re in various languages, so if you struggle with English then inquire at the desk about tours in your native language.

#30 – Luna Park – Awesome place to visit in Sydney with kids!

luna park sydney

  • Kids will love Luna Park!
  • Forget about your waistline and indulge in traditional theme park food.

Why it’s so awesome : Luna Park is perfect if you’re in the mood for some old-fashioned fun. Entrance into this park is free, but you will have to pay a fee to go on the rides. From the moment you enter through the chip-toothed clown face at the front gates, you’ll feel like you’re back in the 1930s. And indeed, a lot of the features in Luna Park date back to this time, making it feel delightfully retro in the best way possible.

What to do there : Enjoy the rides of course. Make sure you explore the older parts of the park such as the Coney Island funhouse, carousel, and rollercoaster. If you’re planning to go on lots of rides, go online beforehand to buy a multi-ride pass, as they’re usually the cheapest way to enjoy Luna Park’s best attractions.

#31 – Shelly Beach – A really chill place to relax in Sydney


  • A protected marine park with the best snorkelling close to the shore.
  • The beach itself is beautiful, with clean white sand and dark blue water.
  • If you want to get a photograph of an amazing beach scene, you’ll probably get it at Shelly beach.

Why it’s so awesome : Located in the suburb of Manly, this beach is part of a protected marine reserve and has a maximum depth of around 12 meters. That makes it the perfect place for snorkelling and scuba diving because the huge variety of marine life can be viewed at a relatively shallow depth. Forget Bondi, this is one of the best tourist attractions in Sydney if you’re looking to hit the beach!

What to do there : Make sure you go snorkelling or scuba diving while you’re at this beach. Australian waters have some of the most beautiful and unusual marine creatures in the world, so you shouldn’t miss the chance to see them up close. If you get tired of the water, take a walk around the bush track. It curls around the headland and offers spectacular views of Northern head and other beaches. There are plenty of amenities at this site including bathrooms, shower, and kiosks where you can enjoy some snacks.

Combine a visit to Shelly Beach with the nearby Manly Beach on a Snorkeling Tour .

#32 – Paddington Markets – Some semi-BoHo market shopping in Sydney!

Paddington Markets in Sydney

  • The best place for bargain hunters!
  • A relaxed, casual area that includes lots of restaurants and eateries.

Why it’s so awesome : The Paddington Markets first opened in the 1970s and were a dedicated hippie haunt, but they’ve become considerably more mainstream since then. They’re also the best place to pick up new or vintage clothing, jewellery, and crafts, so bring your wallet and come looking for a bargain.

What to do there : These markets are incredibly popular amongst tourists and locals alike so expect a crowd when you get there. But that’s all part of the fun too because the whole point of markets is to thread through the crowds, looking for that bargain item that was made just for you!

#33 – The Powerhouse Museum – For some really cool things to see in Sydney

The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney

  • Great for kids and anyone interested in science.
  • Contains a range of exhibits from Star Wars displays to Asian art collections.

Why it’s so awesome : The Powerhouse Museum is otherwise known as the Museum of Applied Arts and Science and this is why it includes such a wide range of exhibits. Whether you’re interested in art history, contemporary movies, or quirky historical displays, you’ll find it all at this location.

What to do there : Before you go, make sure you check out the website to see what displays they have on during your visit. And take the kids with you, because children under 16 are free and the museum has a lot of exhibits and displays that are designed to keep your family occupied for hours. Check out the space and EcoLogic exhibits if you really want to have your mind blown by how quickly science is moving forward in the modern world.

#34 – The Sydney Fish Market – A great place to visit in Sydney for… fish.

Sydney Harbour Boats under Anzac Bridge

  • If you love seafood, this is where you should spend some time.
  • The freshest food at the best prices in the city.

Why it’s so awesome : Sydney is a beach city which is why it has so much amazing seafood. And if you love to eat seafood, then the best place to go is at the Sydney Fish Market. At this location, you’ll find everything from the freshest lobster you’ve ever tasted to fish straight off the boat.

What to do there: You’ll be spoiled for choice at this location when it comes to seafood and it isn’t all raw either. You can buy trays of cooked prawns and oysters to take to the beach and park for a picnic or take a behind-the-scenes tour. And the location supports and promotes sustainable fishing, so you don’t have to worry about damaging the planet while you’re eating your fish.

#35 – The Fortune of War – A classically Australian place to eat in Sydney.

Fortune of Warpub in Sydney

  • The oldest pub in Sydney.
  • The perfect place for some bevvies with da boiz.

Why it’s so awesome : This pub was established in 1828 by Samuel Terry, a convict who was sent to Australia for stealing 400 pairs of stockings. The bar has managed to hold onto its history and has retained all its cosy charm while still managing to build a great reputation for food and service amongst tourists and locals alike.

What to do there : Have a ‘schooner’ (i.e. regular beer in Australia) and enjoy the ambience. The bar also services typical but good bar food like burgers and steak and there’s a kid’s menu if you’re there with the family. Basically, it’s a nice, local place to have a good meal and a drink in a friendly atmosphere.

#36 – The Opera Bar – Cool place to see in Sydney with friends!

View of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from The Opera Bar

  • You’ll find some of the best views of the city at this bar.
  • Enjoy fresh seafood and champagne in the open air.

Why it’s so awesome: This bar is sometimes described as the best beer garden in the world and there’s a good reason for that. It serves beer, champagne, and delicious food and often has live entertainment as well. But the best part is the views. The bar is right next to the Sydney Opera House, so you’ll get to enjoy that iconic building while you sip your drinks.

What to do there : Take a few friends with you and enjoy a relaxed afternoon with a drink and a meal. There’s a private bar indoors for groups but the main attraction is the Harbour Bar, which is outside and surrounded by spectacular views of the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, and the bay. It’s the perfect place to relax with some friends, enjoy the warm sun, and have a few drinks on a lazy afternoon!

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Find out what people want to know about the best places to visit in Sydney

Where do tourists go in Sydney?

These are the overall best and most popular places to visit in Sydney: – Bondi Beach – Sydney Opera House – Sydney Harbour Bridge

Which places in Sydney are great to visit for families?

Families will absolutely love these places to visit in Sydney: – Bondi Beach – Camp Cove – Luna Park

Which are the coolest places to visit in Sydney?

Check out these really cool places to visit in Sydney: – Bondi Iceberg Pool – Dharawal National Park – Carriageworks

Which places in Sydney are great to visit when it’s raining?

For some indoor fun, check out these epic places in Sydney: – White Rabbit – The Imperial Hotel – Enmore Theater

Sydney is a busy, modern, and friendly city and people spend time there about the food, beach, and the sun. In fact, beaches in Australia are amongst the best in the world, so if you enjoy the water and the sun then Sydney is a must-visit.

But there’s more to this city than blue water, piercing sun, and white sand. Sydney is surrounded by gorgeous and rugged natural attractions in all directions (don’t miss the Blues and the Royal). There are tonnes of underrated areas in Sydney that tourists don’t give enough time to (Newtown). And we didn’t even cover the rough yet quintessentially Australian Western Sydney areas (yay – bogans)! Coming up with a Sydney itinerary is going to make your stay a lot better too.

With our list, you’ll have the best chances of finding the top places to visit in Sydney so that you have the trip of a lifetime when you’re backpacking Australia .

So, where to next? How about checking out where to stay in the Blue Mountains , it’s a great place to escape the city.

Wendys Secret Garden - cool place to visit in Sydney for the view

Alexandria Zboyovski

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The Only Guide You Need to Sydney — Great Eats, Idyllic Beaches, and Luxury Hotels Included

Visit Sydney for an unforgettable adventure. Discover the best hotels, restaurants, and things to do with this Sydney travel guide.

sydney tourism places

Best Time to Go

Things to know, how to get around, best hotels, best restaurants, things to do, best shopping, neighborhoods to know, apps to download.

Famously photogenic Sydney is Australia's largest city and the capital of New South Wales, the country's most visited state.

The traditional home of the Gadigal people of the Eora Aboriginal Nation, Sydney has evolved from a humble British penal colony founded in 1788 to a thriving port city.

Today, nearly half of Sydney's residents, known as "Sydneysiders," were born overseas. The city’s rich cultural makeup is now reflected in its diverse food scene, where just about every major international cuisine is represented in increasingly creative ways.

Among the city's most recognizable attractions are the iconic Sydney Opera House, with its distinctive white "sails," and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, affectionately known as the "coat hanger." But there is plenty more to love about this showstopping waterside metropolis.

Sydney's moderate climate and variety of beaches and parks make it ideal for outdoor activities, and an ever-expanding roster of luxury hotels offer plenty of options to lay your head at the end of each day.

Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) UTC/GMT +10 hours From approximately October through March — Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT) UTC/GMT +11

Australia is located in the Southern Hemisphere, with opposite seasons to the Northern Hemisphere. Among the best times to visit Sydney for weather are the months of October and November (late spring) or March and April (early autumn) when temperatures are comfortable and the humidity is lower.

The peak times for tourism and the warmest weather are the summer months of December through February. Crowds peak between Christmas and the end of January during the summer school and university holidays. Naturally, prices are higher during this season, but it's ideal  beach weather, with popular festivals and events including the month-long Sydney Festival in January, and the annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade in February.

The low season — May through August — is chillier and prices are lower. It's still a pleasant time to be in Sydney, and the excellent Vivid Sydney festival lights up the city with creative energy in May and June. The Sydney Film Festival is held in June, and the Bondi Festival in July

Currency: Australian Dollar AUD

Language: English

Calling Code: +61

Electricity: The plug is Type I, with three flat pins in a triangular pattern. Australia uses 220-240 volts (U.S. is 120 volts), so a converter may be needed for certain devices.

Sydney's long-running obsession with artisan coffee makes it easy to find a perfect brew. Some claim the flat white (espresso with steamed milk and only a thin layer of cream) was first served in Sydney.

In general, visitors will find that prices are high in Australia compared to the U.S. (outside New York City, at least), including in Sydney. However, tipping is not customary or expected in Australia where tax and service are included in the bill by law, and minimum wages are higher than in the U.S. For excellent service in restaurants, taxis, hotels, and tours, you may wish to add 10-20 percent as a "thank you."

Retailers that sell alcoholic beverages in Australia are called "bottle shops," and a standard glass of beer is called a "schooner." Smoking is banned in all indoor public spaces and certain outdoor areas, including beaches, national parks, and public transport stops.

Sydney has some of the world’s best tap water; plastic bottled water is available, but frowned upon.

Currently being redeveloped into Australia’s premier destination for all things seafood, the Sydney Fish Market (due to open in 2024) remains operational, featuring seafood retailers, restaurants, and cooking classes.

The Opal card can be used on all public transport, including trains, ferries, buses, and light rail.

Sydney Buses : Buses connect all areas of the city, including those without rail or ferry transport. NightRide services replace most train routes between midnight and 4 a.m.

Sydney Trains : Six of Sydney’s eight trains run through the city center, including the line to Sydney Airport. The main terminus for local and regional trains is Central Station at Railway Square. Maps and timetables are available at Transport NSW.

Regional Trains : Departing from Central Station, regional trains and coaches service destinations that include the NSW South Coast, Blue Mountains, and Central Coast.

Sydney Light Rail : Sydney’s three light rail lines run through the city center, providing easy access to Circular Quay, Darling Harbour, and beyond.

Sydney Ferries : From Circular Quay ferry terminal in the CBD, ferries offer a scenic and convenient option for traveling to Manly Beach, Taronga Zoo, and attractions beyond.

River Ferry : The river ferry travels up the Parramatta River, from Circular Quay to Parramatta, with stops that include Sydney Olympic Park.

Taxis and Ride-share Services : Silver Service taxis offer premium rides, and Uber and Ola operate ride-sharing services in Sydney.

The Langham, Sydney

Address: 89-113 Kent St., Millers Point NSW 2000, Australia Phone: +61 2 9256 2222

Set in the heart of The Rocks district among historic cobbled streets, this romantic property features an indoor pool, spa, and several dining venues. Some rooms even offer expansive terraces and views of the harbor or city skyline. Pets also receive five-star service, with dog walking and pet sitting available.

Capella Sydney

Address: 35-39 Bridge St. Sydney NSW 2000, Australia Phone: +61 9071 5090

Sydney’s first major hotel opening of 2023, Capella has transformed the CBD’s historic Department of Education building into one of the city’s finest luxury hotels, its golden sandstone facade now complemented by the elegance of 192 guest rooms and suites across eight levels. Anchored by three ground-level food and beverage offerings, including signature restaurant Brasserie 1930, the hotel also gives guests exclusive access to its dreamy Auriga Spa. 

Ovolo Woolloomooloo

Address: 6 Cowper Wharf Roadway, Woolloomooloo NSW 2011, Australia Phone: +61 2 9331 9000

Located on the historic Finger Wharf in Sydney’s inner Eastern Suburbs, this luxury hotel embraces color and convenience in equal measure, with a long list of complimentary perks such as breakfast, the first round of sunset drinks, all-day snacks, and self-service laundry. Even the in-room minibar is included. An attractive range of perks are on offer at the brand’s similarly modern Darling Harbour outpost, The Woolstore 1888.

InterContinental Sydney

Address: 117 Macquarie St., Sydney NSW 2000, Australia Phone: +61 2 9253 9000

Reopened in 2022 following a major refurbishment, this elegant hotel set in the Circular Quay area’s former Treasury Building isn’t only worth staying in for its superb Sydney Harbour and Royal Botanic Garden views. Freshened up with a palette of soothing marine tones, its 509 rooms and 28 suites are chic, complemented by a club lounge and an array of new drinking and dining options.

Ace Hotel Sydney

Address: 47-53 Wentworth Ave., Sydney NSW 2000, Australia Phone: +61 2 8099 8799

The urban-cool hotel brand’s first property south of the equator, the 18-story Ace Hotel Sydney opened in 2022, occupying a historic former brick factory on the eastern fringe of the CBD. A warm color scheme plays into the property's nostalgic vibe and gives a sense of coziness to its 257 rooms, replete with ochre-toned carpets paying homage to the Australian outback. Edgy art pops in public spaces — among them a rooftop bar and restaurant Kiln, which boasts stellar Sydney skyline views.   

Pier One, Sydney Harbour

Address: 11 Hickson Rd., Walsh Bay NSW 2000, Australia Phone: +61 2 8298 9999

Right on Sydney Harbour near the southern pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, this dog-friendly hotel offers a front-row seat to the action on the harbor as ferries and yachts zip past at close range. A major renovation completed in 2019 celebrates the historic building’s heritage with its stylish maritime theme. The hotel’s 189 rooms include the luxe Admiral Suite, complete with a private deck and a freestanding tub with water views.

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

Address: 199 George St., Sydney NSW 2000, Australia Phone: +61 2 9250 3100

Conveniently located in the CBD at the gateway to The Rocks and Circular Quay, this 517-room hotel has also been freshly renovated; its uncluttered, contemporary-classic upgrade playing a chic supporting role to superb city and Sydney Harbour views. The Four Seasons Hotel Sydney also has a gym, outdoor pool, and an Endota Spa. Dining options include a decadent afternoon tea served at the property's modern Australian signature restaurant, Mode Kitchen & Bar.

Lankan Filling Station

Address: 58 Riley St., Darlinghurst NSW 2010, Australia Phone: +61 2 8542 9936

This casual Sri Lankan restaurant is beloved for its fragrant curries, spicy sambals, and signature hoppers — a type of bowl-shaped pancake, perfect for dipping. Book ahead for the crab curry feast on the last Sunday of every month, served with a lip-smacking selection of sides. Walk-in tables are available.but it’s worth making a reservation to avoid disappointment.

Address: 23-33 Mary St., Surry Hills Sydney NSW 2010 Phone: +61 2 8204 0800

Fine dining fueled by fire is the name of the game at Firedoor, one of just four Sydney restaurants awarded three hats (Australia’s version of the Michelin star) in 2023. A five-course, daily-changing affair, the menu could feature anything from kangaroo to coral trout, with top-shelf Australian produce cooked to perfection using only a wood-fired oven, grill, or wood-burning hearth — there is no gas or electricity in the kitchen. The drinks list is also infused with smoky flavors

Address: 268 Oxford St., Paddington, Sydney NSW 2021, Australia Phone: 0423 015 032

As its name suggests, this lively bistro located above a neighborhood bottle shop celebrates pork in every way, with a menu revolving around an entire Berkshire or Duroc pig broken down into an array of French-inspired dishes. However, a raft of other proteins — from seafood to duck — are also featured on the daily-changing menu, complemented by a French-leaning wine list. It's open Thursday through Sunday (lunch on weekends only), and reservations are recommended.

Address: 1 Temperance Ln., Sydney NSW 2000, Australia Phone: +61 2 9062 8565

A delicious fusion of Latin flavors and Australian produce, this moody, subterranean restaurant carries Mexican food into date-night territory with its menu of share-style dishes, from local salmon ceviche tacos to melt-in-your-mouth NSW lamb shoulder parrilla . Fresh and fruity cocktails are elevated by one of Australia’s largest collections of tequila and mezcal.

Address: 3 Bridge Ln., Sydney NSW 2000, Australia Phone: +61 2 9114 7317

Some of the city’s finest Cantonese food isn’t found in Chinatown, but in the heart of the CBD at Mr. Wong. That the 240 seats at this restaurant are rarely bare is testament to its enduring popularity, particularly at lunchtime, when beautifully crafted dim sum are the go-to for foodies and the power-lunching set alike.

Address: Shop 3 2-12 Angel Pl., Sydney NSW 2000, Australia Phone: +61 2 8964 3062

When only pasta will do, tiny, tucked-away Italian diner Ragazzi hits the spot with its daily-changing menu of delectable handcrafted pasta dishes, which might include a perfectly executed spaghetti cacio e pepe or a fragrant conchiglie with mussels, white beans, fennel, and saffron. Snack on starters such as 'nduja and mozzarella croquettes and stay for dolci and a digestivo .

Sydney's National Parks

Sydney is surrounded by some of the state’s most spectacular national parks — notably the coastal Royal National Park to the south and Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park to the northwest, both laced with walking and biking trails and dotted with Aboriginal rock engravings and remote beaches. To the west is the UNESCO-listed Blue Mountains National Park, where hiking trails weave past gushing waterfalls, while Sydney Harbour National Park protects the islands and foreshore of Sydney Harbour.

Sydney Opera House

Address: 110 Elizabeth St., Sydney NSW 2000, Australia Phone: +61 2 9250 7111

Fresh from a multimillion-dollar renovation to celebrate its 50th birthday in 2023, this unique building hosts music, theater, dance, and opera performances. First opened in 1973, the UNESCO World Heritage Site can also be visited on a range of tours. There are also several dining options here, including the lauded fine-dining restaurant Bennelong.

Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

Irjaliina Paavonpera/Travel + Leisure

Address: Mrs. Macquaries Rd. Sydney NSW 2000, Australia Phone: +61 2 9231 8111

The oldest botanic garden in Australia, the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney was founded in 1816 and showcases more than 8,600 species from Australia and beyond within its 74 acres of gardens. Restaurants include the recently renovated Botanic House, with picnic boxes also available to enjoy alfresco.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

The iconic bridge straddling Sydney Harbour is one of the world's largest steel arch bridges. Admire it from a distance, walk across it for free, or climb it to savor a bird's-eye view of Sydney.

Indigenous Experiences

The story of Sydney goes back tens of thousands of years before British colonization, and visitors will find plenty of opportunities to connect with this rich heritage. Ascend the Sydney Harbour Bridge with an Indigenous storyteller guide on the Burrawa Climb, or step back in time on a walking tour of The Rocks with Dreamtime Southern X. Learn about traditional uses for native plants on an Aboriginal-guided tour of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, or gain more insight into the Australian Museum’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collections during a tour with a First Nations guide. All of these activities form part of Discover Aboriginal Experiences, a flagship suite of immersive Indigenous-guided activities.

Museums and Galleries

Sydney is packed with excellent museums and galleries — notably the Art Gallery of NSW, which opened a major extension in late 2022 that has almost doubled its exhibition space. In Circular Quay, the Museum of Contemporary Art is Australia’s leading space dedicated to the genre, while the Museum of Sydney preserves the stories of the city’s colonial heritage.

Sydney's Beaches

Ana Alarcon/Travel + Leisure

Bondi might be the best known of Sydney's beaches, but more than 100 strips of sand line the city’s coastline and harbor. Cross Sydney Harbour to dive into popular Manly Beach, and enjoy some of the city's best coastal views on the 3.7-mile Bondi to Coogee walk . Be mindful that Sydney’s beautiful beaches can be deceptively dangerous; stay safe by swimming between the flags on lifeguard-patrolled beaches.

Westfield Sydney

Address: Corner Pitt St. Mall and Market Street Sydney NSW 2000, Australia Phone: +61 8236 9200

Westfield Bondi Junction may be larger, but most visitors will find Westfield Sydney to be a more convenient place to shop for designer and high-street fashion, beauty, sportswear, and tech, with brands such as Chanel, Miu Miu, Nike, and Zara, as well as Australian labels like Aje, Zimmermann, Scanlan Theodore, and Aesop. The sleek shopping center, also home to a handful of dining options, spills out into the Pitt Street Mall retail area.

David Jones

Address: 86-108 Castlereagh St., Sydney NSW 2000, Australia Phone: +61 133 357

Connected to Westfield Sydney is the flagship store of Australia's leading premium retailer, which first opened its doors in 1927. Browse clothing, shoes, accessories, and jewelry by international and Australian designers, as well as homewares, food, personal care products, and more.

Address: Oxford St., Paddington Sydney NSW 2021, Australia

In Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, the Paddington end of Oxford Street has long been a go-to destination for Australian designer fashion labels. Its main hub is The Intersection (of Oxford Street and Glenmore Road), home to brands such as Bassike, Camilla and Marc, Dion Lee, Rachel Gilbert, Zimmermann, and more. Other notable boutiques on the strip include Parlour X and resin jewelry and homewares specialists Dinosaur Designs.

Address: 1 Dalgal Wy., Forest Lodge NSW 2037, Australia Phone: +61 2 9049 8885

This artisan produce and dining district, set in the former Rozelle Tram Depot dating to 1904, houses restaurants and food and drink vendors. It also hosts a boutique growers market on Sundays.

Queen Victoria Building

Address: 455 George St., Sydney NSW 2000, Australia Phone: +61 2 9264 9209

Set in an elegant 1898 building, thi CBD shopping venue includes high-fashion brands like Coach, Furla, and Bally, as well as toys, books, and homewares. Australian brands include Hunter's Cashmere Collection, Cue, and R. M. Williams for handcrafted footwear and accessories. Check out dining venues such as the Tea Room QVB, where you can channel your inner Victorian-era aristocrat over high tea.

The Rocks and Circular Quay : Sydney’s first neighborhood, The Rocks still features cobblestone streets and plenty of colonial-era buildings, among them several characterful pubs. Adjoining this historic area, the buzzy ferry hub of Circular Quay is home to the Sydney Opera House and Museum of Contemporary Art.

Darling Harbour : This waterside neighborhood — home to the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, Imax, Madame Tussauds, Australian National Maritime Museum, and a variety of dining and entertainment options — is ideal for families. A number of Sydney Harbour sightseeing cruises depart from here, too.

Central Business District (CBD) : Skyscrapers shoot upwards from the heart of the city, also home to the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and the lion’s share of Sydney’s art galleries, museums, theaters, and hotels. Previously not much of a culinary destination, the area’s bars and restaurants are now among the city’s best.

Eastern Suburbs : Stretching from the eastern edge of the CBD to the golden sands of Bondi Beach, Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs are dotted with some of the city's finest restaurants, with key dining and nightlife neighborhoods including Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Potts Point, and Bondi Beach.

Northern Beaches : The scenic 30-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay to Manly, at the southern tip of the city's Northern Beaches, is a quintessential Sydney experience (whale sightings are common during the winter months). Manly is also the dining and nightlife hub of the Northern Beaches, which stretches for more than 18 miles, ending at Palm Beach.

Sydney has a humid subtropical climate, with rain spread fairly evenly through the year for a total annual rainfall of about 47 inches. In general, the weather is mild.

Summer (December-February) temperatures reach the high 70s, with humidity in the 60 to 70 percent range. Autumn (March-May) sees less humidity and comfortable temperatures. In winter (June-August), temperatures fall as low as the mid-40s and rainfall is higher. Spring (September-November) becomes warmer with less humidity than summer.

July is the coolest month, and January is generally the hottest. August and September are the driest months of the year.

The following are average Fahrenheit lows and highs by month:

January 67°F - 80°F February 67°F - 80°F March 65°F - 77°F April 59°F - 73°F May 53°F - 68°F June 49°F - 64°F July 47°F- 63°F August 48°F - 65°F September 53°F - 70°F October 57°F - 74°F November 61°F - 75°F December 65°F - 78°F

Opal : The city's contactless smart card ticketing system for public transportation in Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, the Hunter Valley, and the Illawarra. Add value to the card and use it to pay your fares (or make contactless payments with your credit or debit card).

AnyTrip : Lets you track public transport vehicles in real time with a live map. It also shows upcoming departures from a variety of stations.

Citymapper : This multimodal trip planner checks nearby departures in real time and finds the fastest route combining metro, train, bus, ferry, light rail, taxi, car share, walking, or cycling.

Transit : Plan a trip with real-time data and next departures from your current location, locate nearby Uber drivers, get pickup time estimates, and book through the app.

Moovit : Combines real-time data from Transport NSW with live information from the user community, giving fastest routes, stops along the way, and alerts when your stop is approaching.

Maps.Me: Download a map of Sydney to use offline. It's particularly handy for walking trails.

Uber : For airport pickup, local rides, or 30-day advance reservations.

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Four levels of shopping in the Queen Victoria Building, Sydney CBD

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Sydney City

Sydney is stunning. There’s no doubt that sparkling  Sydney Harbour makes it an attractive destination, but there’s lots more going for it than just natural beauty. Take in the smooth sandstone of colonial buildings, enjoy entertaining theatre, visit world-class museums and indulge in gourmet delights.

How to spend the perfect long weekend in Sydney

Discover how to spend the perfect long weekend in Sydney. Surf at the birthplace of Australian surfing, shop at boutiques and then hit the town with fantastic restaurants and live music.

Places to visit

Around sydney harbour.

Hugging the edge of Sydney Harbour you’ll find some of the city’s oldest areas as well as one of the newest.

BridgeClimb Sydney

  • Sydney Harbour

Circular Quay - Outside the Sydney Opera House

  • Circular Quay

Endeavour Tap Rooms - The Rocks

  • Darling Harbour

Friends enjoying food and drink at waterside restaurant LuMi Bar & Dining, Pyrmont

Central Sydney

Follow Sydney’s main strip, George Street, straight through its vibrant centre packed with shops, restaurants and bars.

Outside the Queen Victoria Building, Sydney City

  • City Centre

Young girl places a red packet into the mouth of the dragon during Chinese New Year in Chinatown, Sydney City

  • Chinatown & Haymarket

East of the City

Cross over to the other side of the CBD to discover Sydney’s grittier side and plenty of late night entertainment.

The Coca-Cola sign also known as 'The Coke Sign' lit up for the Mardi Gras weekend in Kings Cross, Sydney

  • Kings Cross

People sitting at Manta Restaurant in Potts Point and Woolloomooloo, Sydney City

  • Potts Point & Woolloomooloo

Things to do

Enjoy outdoor adventures, historic sites, quirky galleries and lots of family fun.

Eat & drink

Discover delicious restaurants, cosy pubs and cool bars in Sydney City.

Events in Sydney City

Sydney's New Year's Eve fireworks, Sydney Harbour

Sydney New Year’s Eve

Austral Floral Ballet - Andrew Thoma Huang & Bemo

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Young girl places a red packet into the mouth of the dragon during Chinese New Year in Chinatown, Sydney City

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