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Things to do in Sydney

Things to do in  Sydney

Welcome to Sydney

Sydney makes a brilliant first impression with its spectacular harbor and beaches. On second glance, you’ll find a wealth of outdoor activities, with diverse art, music, and food rivalling any global city.

Top 15 attractions in Sydney

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Few sights are as instantly recognizable as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the grand centerpiece of Sydney Harbour and one of Australia's most photographed landmarks. The historic structure dates to 1932 and is among the world's largest steel arch bridges. It's also an important transport hub, linking downtown with the north shore, Manly, and Sydney's northern beaches.More

Sydney Harbour

With the iconic silhouette of the Sydney Opera House and the dramatic arch of Sydney Harbour Bridge etched against a backdrop of the glittering ocean and soaring skyscrapers, Sydney Harbour is Australia’s quintessential postcard image. The harbor, the natural heart of Sydney, features more than 150 miles (240 kilometers) of coastline lined with golden beaches, lush gardens, and vibrant neighborhoods.More

Sydney Opera House

A world-class performing arts venue and iconic Australian landmark, the Sydney Opera House—with its distinctive Jorn Utzon design—defines the Sydney Harbour district. Distinguished by soaring halls with a white ceramic–tiled exterior shaped to evoke the sails of a yacht, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must-see Sydney attraction and a popular stop on most city tours.More

Featherdale Wildlife Park

Located just outside Sydney, Featherdale Wildlife Park is home to one of the largest collections of Australian wildlife anywhere in the world. Visitors can see and learn about the park’s 1,700 native Aussie critters, including koalas, kangaroos, echidnas, saltwater crocodiles, emus, and some of the world’s most venomous snakes.More

Bondi Beach

As Australia’s most famous beach—and the star of its own reality TV show, Bondi Rescue—Bondi Beach delivers with its crescent of golden sand, crashing waves, and crowds of bronzed sunseekers. Just minutes from downtown Sydney, this is the spot to work on your tan, hit the waves, sip cocktails at a beachside bar, or hike along coastal cliffs.More

SEA LIFE® Sydney Aquarium

The SEA LIFE® Sydney Aquarium encapsulates the diversity of Australia’s aquatic life. Wander exhibits that showcase everything from saltwater crocs and Southern Ocean penguins to turtles from the Great Barrier Reef and jellyfish. Plus, its prime Darling Harbour location lets you combine the aquarium with other family-friendly stops.More

The Rocks

Located in central Sydney, the historic precinct of the Rocks is the oldest area in the city and the site of the first European settlement. Full of history and character, today the Rocks is home to fashionable boutiques, artisan markets, historic pubs, trendy restaurants, and a thriving arts and culture scene.More

Mrs Macquarie's Chair

Positioned on a headland in The Domain park, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is a sandstone bench offering spectacular Sydney Harbour views. Hand-carved by convicts in 1810 as a viewpoint for the then Governor’s wife—Mrs Elizabeth Macquarie—it now features on most Sydney visitor bucket lists.More

Darling Harbour

One of Sydney’s top attractions, Darling Harbour boasts fine-dining restaurants, a shopping center, one of the largest IMAX cinema screens in the world, and two entertainment staples for families: SEA LIFE® Sydney and WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo. Extend your visit into the evening to view the city lights reflected on the water.More

Circular Quay

Perched on the edge of Sydney Harbour and backed by the sleek skyscrapers of the city’s central business district, Circular Quay is the scenic gateway to Manly Beach, Taronga Zoo, and Watson’s Bay. From this transportation hub—from which ferries depart every few minutes—you can enjoy unobstructed views of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge.More

Royal Botanic Garden and The Domain

Stretching along the coast of Sydney Harbour against a backdrop of the Sydney Opera House, Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden and neighboring park, The Domain, offer spectacular views and beautiful scenery. This inner-city oasis boasts exotic plants, a tropical rain forest, woodland, flowers, and rare horticultural exhibits.More

Sydney Tower Eye

As Sydney’s tallest structure, the Sydney Tower Eye is an integral part of the city’s skyline. At twice the height of Sydney Harbour Bridge, the 1,000-foot-high (309-meter) tower provides panoramic views that take in the Sydney Opera House and Bondi Beach; on a clear day, you can even see as far as the Blue Mountains.More

Manly Beach

The lively suburb of Manly is one of Sydney’s most vibrant seaside areas and a popular destination for surfers from across the globe. Visit Manly Beach to enjoy the golden sand, catch world-class waves, and shop and eat along the lively Corso promenade, which is lined with cafes and restaurants.More

Watsons Bay

Watson’s Bay is a Sydney suburb that forms the eastern edge of Sydney Harbour. It claims to be Australia’s oldest fishing village, and is still a popular place to dine on seafood. With city views, white-sand beaches, coastal walks, parks, and plenty of restaurants and boutiques, Watsons Bay appeals to all kinds of travelers.More

Madame Tussauds Sydney

Take selfies with all your favorite celebrities, right on Darling Harbour. Opened in 2012, the Sydney outpost of the Madame Tussauds museum features incredibly lifelike wax replicas of famous figures—from Australian pop idols to sports heroes, movie stars, and politicians.More
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Trip ideas

An Insider’s Guide to LGBTQ+ Sydney

An Insider’s Guide to LGBTQ+ Sydney

Top activities in Sydney

Blue Mountains Day Trip from Sydney Including Scenic World
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Blue Mountains Day Trip Including Parramatta River Cruise
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Hunter Valley Wine Tour from Sydney incl Lunch, Cheese, Chocolate and Distillery
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Sydney Harbour Dinner Cruise

Sydney Harbour Dinner Cruise

Sydney Opera House Official Guided Walking Tour
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Blue Mountains: Three Sisters, Scenic World and Wildlife park
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Sydney Harbour Tour by Helicopter
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Experience Skyfeast at Sydney Tower
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Small-Group Blue Mountains Day Trip from Sydney with Wildlife Park
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Sydney Harbour Discovery Cruise Including Lunch
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Blue Mountains Small-Group Tour from Sydney with Scenic World,Sydney Zoo & Ferry
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Small-Group Hunter Valley Wine Tasting Tour from Sydney
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All about Sydney

When to visit

In Sydney, there’s rarely a bad day to spend outside. That said, peak travel season is roughly late December through January, during the heart of Australia’s summer.

Summer is ideal for visiting some of the southern hemisphere’s most famous beaches, or taking a sunset harbor kayak tour. Whatever you end up doing, wear sunscreen, as the Australian sun is unforgiving.

Fall’s mild weather is perfect for coastal walks between beaches from Bondi to Coogee, or the less crowded Manly to Spit Bridge route.

Rainfall peaks during winter, especially in June—never a better time to stay dry indoors at the Australian Museum or the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Dry, warm spring weather is best for exploring collections at the Royal Botanical Garden, or the trails and lookouts of Blue Mountains National Park.

Getting around

Sydney’s public transport network radiates from the city center to the suburbs, and even national parks. The Opal smartcard is valid on buses, trains, ferries, and light rail.

Bus: TSW buses operate from hubs near central train stations, and are useful for reaching beaches, even taking the scenic route to Bondi. If you’re using the Opal card, tap when you board and disembark, otherwise you’re charged the max fare.

Rail: Sydney’s train lines typically get in and out of the city center faster than rideshares, but they also charge more during peak hours. The Blue Mountains Line runs from central Sydney to the national park in just over two hours, convenient for daytrippers who want to make the journey themselves.

On the water: If you have the choice and can spend a little more, we recommend taking ferries over buses and trains. Ferries operate as late as midnight, zipping around the harbour from Parramatta out to Circular Quay and Manly Beach. Water taxis are faster, pricier, and can pickup from nearly any point in the harbor.

Metro: The first line of the new Sydney metro opened in 2019 in Chatswood on the Lower North Shore; a second phase connecting the city center to the south side is currently under construction.

Traveler tips

There’s no getting around Sydney’s glorious harbour: it’s a great place to start your trip. Boat tours explore it from every angle, even sailing past the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge on vintage tall ships. Portside, travelers mingle with locals at the old pubs, markets, and laneways of The Rocks historic neighborhood, also home to the Museum of Contemporary Art. After that, it’s a matter of finding a suitable outdoor scene, from the bronzed beach-strutting of Bondi to the national parks that ring the city, including the Blue Mountains.

An alternative to Sydney BridgeClimb for those wanting views but without the heights, try the lookout on the Sydney Harbour Bridge’s southeast pylon. From there, it’s a short walk across the bridge to Wendy’s Secret Garden, where you can look back at the city through an oasis of greenery.

A local’s pocket guide to Sydney

Shalinee Singh

After a last-minute decision to “go to Australia for a bit,” Shalinee is still in Sydney six years later. When she’s not by the ocean, you’ll find her at a gig, drinking coffee, or stuffing her face.

The first thing you should do in Sydney is...

check out the views from Darling Harbour to Barangaroo, then jump on a ferry to Circular Quay and hit two Sydney landmarks in one as the Opera House appears under the Harbour Bridge.

A perfect Saturday in Sydney...

includes eating avo toast and coffee by the water at sunrise, paddleboarding in Rose Bay, and relaxing on one of our many beaches. Finish with dinner in Chinatown and sunset drinks in the Rocks.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

the Coogee to Bondi stretch of the coastal walk. Watch whales between May and November before getting affordable drinks and nibbles overlooking the iconic Bondi beach at Bondi Icebergs Club.

To discover the "real" Sydney...

head outside the CBD and get a taste of Sydney’s migrant culture—sample Sri Lankan food in Toongabbie, Vietnamese in Cabramatta, and Indian in Harris Park, to name but a few.

For the best view of the city...

cross to the north side of the Harbour Bridge around sunset to look back at the CBD from Kirribilli, Lavender Bay, or Cremorne Point.

One thing people get wrong...

is thinking Sydney is all style and no cultural substance. Our nightlife needs TLC, but we have great food, bars, grassroots arts, and plenty of beaches and nearby national parks.

People Also Ask

What is Sydney best known for?

Sydney is best known for its distinctive sailboat-like Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Taronga Zoo, and Bondi Beach. It’s also well-known for its hot summers (December–February), when locals and visitors alike flock to the many beaches along Sydney’s coast.

What should you not miss in Sydney?

While in Sydney, don’t miss the sights around Circular Quay and the Rocks. With a blend of old and new architecture, many art galleries and museums, and lovely views, it’s a great place to spend a day. With more time, take the ferry across the harbor to Manly.

What are Sydney's top five attractions?

Five famous attractions located in Sydney are the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Taronga Zoo, Queen Victoria Building, and Art Gallery of New South Wales.

What can you do in Sydney at night?

Sydney has vibrant nightlife, and there’s lots to do in the evening. Take a sunset dinner cruise on Sydney Harbour, sip cocktails at Darling Harbour, or join a pub crawl through the Rocks or Kings Cross. In winter, check out Vivid Sydney festival, when light installations brighten up the city.

What are some leisure activities in Sydney?

In summer, the best Sydney leisure activity is spending time at a beach, either relaxing on the sand or doing laps in a natural outdoor pool. In cooler weather, walk the Royal Botanic Garden or hike the national parks in and around Sydney. Cruises and scenic ferry rides run year-round.

What do locals do in Sydney?

Sydney locals avoid the big-name tourist attractions and spend time outdoors and dining in hip, local neighborhoods like Newtown or Cabramatta. Locals get around the harbor by ferry—a scenic way to travel—and spend summer days at beaches, such as Narrabeen, that fewer tourists know about.


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