As a bustling world city, Sydney is bursting with plenty of exciting landmarks and fun activities. From beaches, to iconic buildings, great food, and nature escapes, there’s plenty to see and do in Sydney to keep you busy. Though you could easily spend weeks exploring every nook and cranny of the city, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best attractions Sydney has to offer to make building your itinerary a breeze. Read on to discover some of Sydney’s best attractions to inspire your next holiday.
A trip to Sydney isn’t complete without a visit to the world renowned Sydney Opera House. Located at Circular Quay on the edge of the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Opera House sits against the stunning backdrop of the harbour and the city skyline. Whip out your cameras and take a selfie (or two) in front of the iconic sails, or admire the sights of the harbour from the top of the stairs.For a more immersive experience, take a behind the scenes tour to discover the inner workings of the Opera House, or better yet book a ticket to see a show or concert!
Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk
To experience some of Sydney’s best beaches, the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk is definitely a must! The coastal trail is an easy 6 kilometre walk and takes approximately 3 hours to complete, however travellers can start their trek at any point along the trail if they wish to shorten the distance. Beginning in Coogee, the walk passes stunning ocean views, rocky outcrops and headlands, secluded beaches, and multi-million dollar houses, before ending at iconic Bondi Beach. There are several beaches to stop and swim at along the way including Gordons Bay, Bronte Beach, and Tamarama. Detour to a beach side café to grab a refreshing drink, or share a lunch of fish n chips with your loved ones.
Royal Botanic Gardens
After visiting the Opera House, walk the short distance to the Royal Botanic Gardens. Covering over 30 hectares of incredible floral displays and trees, Australia’s oldest botanic garden is an oasis situated in the heart of the city. Park yourself on the lush lawns and enjoy a picnic in the sun, or take a stroll through the gardens and admire the collections of native and non-native plants. Highlights include the Rose Garden, Australian Rainforest Garden, Tropical Garden, and the living art gallery displays at The Calyx activity hub. Aboriginal Heritage tours are also available, giving visitors the opportunity to learn of the Indigenous heritage of the area, hear stories of the Gadigal people, and sample the bush foods growing within the gardens.
For great food, family fun, and vibrant night life, head to none other than Darling Harbour. This glittering harbour packs a punch, offering all sorts of activities including retail therapy at Harbourside Shopping Centre, award winning waterside restaurants, and trendy bars and night clubs. During the day visitors can take in the peace and tranquillity of the Chinese Garden of Friendship, take a ride on the Darling Harbour ferris wheel, or explore the fun interactive displays at the Australian National Maritime Museum and Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. Visitors can also get up close to fascinating sea creatures at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, as well as hug a koala at WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo. No matter your age or your preferences, Darling Harbour has something for everyone!
Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair
A visit to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is well worth it if you’re searching for a fantastic view with a touch of history thrown in. The chair was hand carved from a sandstone ledge by convicts in 1810 and was commissioned by Governor Macquarie, who then presented it to his wife, Elizabeth. The chair sits on a peninsula on the edge of the Royal Botanic Gardens, providing visitors an excellent panoramic view of Sydney’s harbour and the city skyline. The view also grants another perspective of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, as well as Pinchgut Island, the navy dockyards, and the rising mountains in the distance. The view is particularly beautiful during sunrise and sunset, so be sure to get those cameras ready and get some Insta-worthy snaps.
Escape the city and immerse yourself in nature on a day trip to the Blue Mountains. Located an hour’s drive north-west of the CBD, the Blue Mountains is home to some of Australia’s most stunning forests and wildlife, and has plenty of fun activities on offer to keep the family entertained. Must-do activities include a visit to the iconic Three Sisters Rock Formation and an exploration of the Jenolan Caves. Also be sure to visit Scenic World at Katoomba. Here you can ride the Scenic Skyway gondola, allowing you to take in sweeping views of the beautiful Jamison Valley below. For a relaxing experience, visitors can choose from several bushwalks, many of which pass through rugged bushland and thundering waterfalls. Looking for something a bit more adventurous? Challenge yourself to a session of kayaking, rock climbing, or abseiling. And if you want to get in shape for some of the world-class rock climbing around the Blue Mountains, you can build your own climbing wall to get ready for your trip. A number of terrific outfitters are in the area which know all the best spots, so do your research before your trip.
Harbour Bridge Climb
For an adrenaline rush, serious workout, and a killer view all in one, a climb of Sydney’s Harbour Bridge is a must-do. Conquer the world famous ‘Coathanger’ bridge and walk away with a sense of accomplishment and some awesome photos. Choose from one of several climbs, including a sunrise climb, sunset climb, or evening climb- whichever one you choose, it’s guaranteed to be spectacular! Climbs range from 1.5 to 3 hours and vary in distance, so there’s an option suitable for everyone. Alternatively, head to the Pylon Lookout if heights aren’t your thing. You can still get a fantastic view over the harbour from this point, as well as learn of the bridge’s history thanks to the museum that’s located inside.
For a fun day out with the family, head to Taronga Zoo and discover the 5000 animals that call the zoo home. Get up close and personal to some of Australia’s cutest and most quirky animals including koalas and kangaroos, as well non-Aussie species such as gorillas, meerkats, and tigers. Animal shows are scheduled several times throughout the day, so be sure to attend if you want to learn some great facts about the animals. For a more exhilarating experience, visitors can tackle the Wild Ropes course. This high ropes course sees participants climbing walls, crossing suspension bridges, and swinging on flying foxes against a showstopping view of Sydney harbour.
Museum of Sydney
Learn of Sydney’s history through the fascinating displays and exhibitions at the Museum of Sydney. Through a mix of art installations, historical artefacts, and changing exhibitions, the museum retells the city’s history and celebrates the stories of its people and the events that have made Sydney what it is today. Interestingly, the museum was built on the former official residence of Governor Arthur Phillips, the remains of which can be viewed through glass openings in the museum’s foyer and forecourt. Visitors should also visit Gadigal Place; this gallery depicts Sydney’s indigenous people’s history and culture and honours the survival of the Gadigal clan whose lands the museum stands on.
This list barely scratches the surface of what’s on offer in Sydney, but we hope it’s inspired you to start planning your perfect trip to Sydney.
Bryan has visited exactly one more country than his wife, and she won’t let him forget it! Also an avid photographer, he enjoys entrenching himself within the local culture in order to learn more about the people of a place. He is the co-founder of Budget Your Trip and loves a good adventure, an exotic meal, or a passionate conversation about global events.