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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.

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.

Top 10 attractions in Sydney

#1

Sydney Harbour

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Its sparkling waters and iconic sights draw visitors from all over the world who wish to enjoy the beauty and excitement of the harbor. On any day, Sydney Harbour is dotted with sail boats and ferries which stand out on the vibrant blue waters. With nearly 150 miles (240 kilometers) of shoreline, the harbor is a breathtaking expanse awaiting the exploration of its visitors. A visit to Sydney Harbour will not disappoint, as the area is home to many of Sydney’s top attractions and offers some of the city’s best activities. A must-see (and impossible to miss) structure of Sydney Harbour is the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which you can cross or climb for stunning views. Within walking distance are the Taronga Zoo, the historic Rocks area, Circular Quay, and the famous Sydney Opera House. To get the best views of the harbor it is recommended that you enjoy a cruise through its waterways, and perhaps stop off at one of the many islands that Sydney Harbour embraces.More
#2

Sydney Harbour Bridge

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Located in the beautiful and iconic Sydney Harbour, the Sydney Harbour Bridge overlooks the magnificent blue waters that help to make the Harbour a spectacular sight. Nicknamed "The Coathanger" because of it's steel arch-based design, the Harbour Bridge boasts 8 traffic lanes, 2 railways and a pedestrian and bicycle lane, transporting both locals and tourists from the Central Business District (CBD) to the North Shore. Visitors interested in getting the best view from the bridge can do so with the help of the BridgeClimb. Climbers can choose to climb either the outer arch or the inner arch of the bridge for spectacular views and an unforgettable experience. The bridge also plays a special part in the annual New Year’s Eve fireworks displays, where hundreds of spectators travel from near and far to gather on the shore and on the water to watch the festivities each year.More
#3

Sydney Opera House

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The Sydney Opera House is Australia’s preeminent cultural center. Famous for its cutting-edge architecture, the building’s series of white-tiled sails jut into the harbor at Bennelong Point, perched on a platform of pink granite. The iconic structure was designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon, and Australians have been divided about its design ever since it opened way over-budget in 1973. Recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the opera house has a range of venues under its sails.More
#4

The Rocks

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With its Georgian sandstone buildings, narrow alleyways, historic pubs, and regenerated warehouses, The Rocks is one of Sydney’s oldest and most popular precincts. Set back from Circular Quay, it was one of the earliest parts of Sydney to be settled. Formerly a raffish area, today this city-center quarter has been gentrified and given a good polish. You’ll find Sydney’s oldest pubs here, a vibrant weekend street market specializing in handicrafts, historic Cadmans Cottage, the Sydney Observatory, Museum of Contemporary Art, and a swag of shops and boutiques. Some of Sydney’s best restaurants are also here, including Sailors Thai, Altitude, Neil Perry’s Rockpool, and Doyles at the Quay. The best way to get a feel for The Rocks is to just follow your nose down 200-year-old cobbled laneways like Playfair St, Mill Lane, and Nurses Walk.More
#5

Sydney Fish Market (SFM)

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Sydney Fish Market is the largest working fish market in the Southern Hemisphere, even rivaling some of Japan’s biggest fish markets in the variety of seafood that’s traded every day. Not only does the market shift an incredible 52 tons of seafood per day, it also hosts a wide variety of restaurants, cafes and food retailers to ensure that visitors get to sample Australia’s freshest fish straight off the boat. Open for breakfast, lunch or an early dinner, the fish market is the best spot to see and enjoy Australian seafood at affordable prices. You can either eat in or head to the wharf outside to enjoy a meal overlooking Blackwattle Bay. The market is also home to one of Australia’s leading cooking schools: the Sydney Seafood School. It offers a wide range of classes for all levels and abilities and is suitable for those who simply want to brush up on their skills or become a bit more creative with adventurous seafood such as mollusks and crustaceans.More
#6

Sydney Harbour Tall Ships

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No trip to Sydney is truly complete without a full embrace of the ocean water. Day or night, the Sydney Harbour's Tall Ships set off providing passengers an authentic Australian experience, watching over the city harbour over some genuine barbecue. With a variety of different services, meal offerings, and specials, you can choose which time of the day and price setting best suits you, either choosing to share a romantic date with a loved one or giving the kids something to brag about, as you set sail on these majestic tall ships. The scenery is spectacular, with most boats providing amazing views of some of the city's great landmarks, including the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Fort Denison, and even the Taronga Zoo, so be sure to bring a camera!More
#7

Sydney Chinatown

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If you’re looking for adventure, phone accessories, strange herbs, delicious Chinese cuisine, or just want to visit a foreign country without leaving Sydney, then Chinatown is the place for you. Located in Haymarket between Central Station and Darling Harbor, Chinatown is centered around Dixon Street, a pedestrian thoroughfare full of Chinese restaurants and shops. If you brave the unfamiliar signs, the labyrinths of stores and the enthusiastic street hawkers, you’re in for a rewarding experience. The Sydney Chinatown is the country’s largest Chinatown, and the place to go for authentic Chinese food, especially if you’re looking for fried octopus balls, Dragon’s Beard Candy, freshly squeezed Sugar Cane Juice, Peking Duck or Tsing Tao.More
#8

Sydney Tower Buffet

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Take your pick of buffet or a la carte dining atop the Sydney Tower Restaurant (formerly Sydney Centrepoint Tower). Australia’s tallest revolving restaurant is set more than 80 stories above central Sydney, with 360-degree panoramic views to accompany your dining experience. The Sydney Tower Restaurant serves a buffet menu, with the choice including an array of salads, soup, appetizers, and international dishes from across the globe, from American BBQ chicken to Thai mussels, and roast kangaroo. Dessert might be mud cake and pavlova meringue. For an a la carte meal, the stylish 360 Bar and Dining specializes in Modern Australian fare like local seafood, free-range chicken, and truffle pasta. Sunset cocktails are a specialty at 360’s illuminated shell bar.More
#9

Manly Beach

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Straddling the peninsula of North Head on Sydney Harbour, the town of Manly is Sydney’s most popular seaside resort. It offers the best of both worlds, with calm harbor beaches on one side and wild ocean waves on the other. Linking the two is The Corso, lined with cafes and restaurants. Along with swimming, surfing, wining and dining, Manly’s most popular attraction is of course Oceanworld, on Manly Cove Beach on the harbor side of the town. Sharks and rays swim overhead curving walkways, or you can don a wetsuit and go diving with these monsters of the deep (if you dare!). Manly is surrounded by gorgeous beaches linked by scenic seaside walkways. Boating, kayaking, surfing and cycling are popular pastimes in summer, while winter is a good time to visit the historic former quarantine facility Q Station or take a North Harbour walk to Shelly Beach or The Spit.More
#10

Sydney Tower Eye

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The tallest freestanding structure in Sydney - measuring just over 1,000 feet (305 meters) tall - the Sydney Tower boasts Australia’s loftiest observation tower for terrific views. You can see all across Sydney from atop the Sydney Tower, all the way to the Heads washed by the ocean, to the Blue Mountains on the far horizon. You can also see the tower from far away, as it’s one of the most visible of Sydney’s landmarks viewed from afar. Sometimes known by its former names of Centrepoint or AMP tower, the Sydney Tower was built in the 1970s. Areas open to the public include the observation deck, providing 360 degree views from its panoramic windows 820 ft (250 m) above the ground. Dinner or lunch at the buffet or a la carte restaurant is a stunning experience, and the Skywalk open-air tour will literally take your breath away.More

Trip ideas

Where to Find the Best Views in Sydney

Where to Find the Best Views in Sydney

Things to Do During Sydney Mardi Gras

Things to Do During Sydney Mardi Gras

Must-See Museums in Sydney

Must-See Museums in Sydney

Top activities in Sydney

Frequently Asked Questions