Woman in Sydney, looking at the view of Sydney Opera House & Harbour Bridge.

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Sparkling Sydney has so much to offer that doesn’t cost a cent. From parks, galleries, museums and beaches, these are our recommendations for the best free things to do in Sydney for families, couples, and even at night!

Sydney wows with its beaches, its Opera House, and its buzzing city life, but it can also put your bank balance into negative territory if you're not careful. After all, this is Australia's most expensive city, and with so much going on and being such an international hub of activity, price tags do tend to rise.

However, whether you're planning on a weekend getaway or coming down for the week, understand you don't need to be a millionaire to have an amazing time here. 

There are so many incredible things to see and do in Sydney – and plenty of them are absolutely FREE.

Think scenic walks with million-dollar views, world-class museums, hidden gardens, famous beaches and that feeling of discovering the 'real' Sydney that tourists miss.  

Whether you're a broke backpacker, a frugal family or just want to save your cash for those fabulous Sydney brunches or fancy dinners, get ready for some adventures that won’t come at a high cost.

This is your guide to exploring Sydney's best side without breaking the bank.  

Let's go!

Top free things to do in Sydney

1. Walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Highlights: Amazing city views, firsthand experience of the bridge's scale, budget-friendly.

People walking and running on the popular pedestrian walkway on the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia

Credit: Angelina from stock.adobe.com.

Experience iconic Sydney with a walk across the legendary Harbour Bridge—it won't cost you a cent! You'll get stunning views of the Opera House, bustling ferries, and the city skyline, and it's by far one of the best places to enjoy the cityscape that is Sydney, Australia.

Feel the scale, hear the hum of traffic, and appreciate this engineering marvel for everything it is and more. Start the walk on either the southern side of the bridge (The Rocks) or from the northern side (Milson’s Point), and we recommend using the Pylon Lookout app for historical insights during your walk and to learn more about the path you're walking.

Go early or late for smaller crowds and beautiful light.

Visitor information

Location: Sydney Hbr Brg, Sydney NSW, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: The pedestrian walkway is accessible, but there are some stairs and inclines.

Parking: Limited on either side, so use public transport (trains, ferries).

 

2. Take in the epic harbour views from Observatory Hill

Highlights: 360-degree harbour views, picture-perfect sunsets, historic Observatory building.

Sydney Harbour Bridge from Observatory Hill.

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Sydney's famous for its stunning views, and Observatory Hill offers the best of the best. This grassy spot delivers unbeatable panoramas of the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, and the city skyline. It's a perfect place to snap photos or simply enjoy the iconic Sydney scenery. Arrive early for sunrise or pack a picnic for sunset.

Go early or late for smaller crowds and beautiful light.

Visitor information

Location: 1001 Upper Fort St, Millers Point NSW 2000, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Good paths to the hilltop, but the summit itself is grassy.

Parking: Limited, so public transport is recommended.

 

3. Step back in time at the Australian Museum

Highlights: Real dinosaur skeletons and life-size models, bird species exhibition, traditional objects and culture from around Australia’s sea country.

Family enjoying exhibit at the Australian Museum, Sydney

Credit: Aeden O’Donnell for Destination NSW

Australia's rich natural and cultural history is housed at the Australian Museum, the country's oldest museum. You'll get the opportunity to see dinosaur skeletons, learn about Indigenous cultures, and immerse yourself in ancient Egyptian treasures. 

The museum also champions climate change awareness, making it a thought-provoking and fascinating experience, one that the whole family can enjoy!

Most exhibitions and experiences are free, but there are a few special exhibitions you can attend for additional fee. 

Visitor information

Location: 1 William St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible with lifts and ramps. Very accessible for the majority of people.

 

4. Swim at the secluded beaches along the Hermitage Foreshore Walk

Highlights: Calm waters, panoramic views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House.

Couple enjoying scenic views from Queens Beach, Vaucluse.

Credit: Paul McMillan for Destination NSW

If you're looking for a sneaky escape from the crowds, definitely take time to discover hidden beaches along the beautiful Hermitage Foreshore Walk. Come for one of Sydney’s best walks, but bring a swimsuit, towel, sunscreen, and a picnic if you want to make a delightful day of this trip. This scenic trail hugs Sydney Harbour, offering quiet coves and stunning views of the city skyline. Dip your toes in the calm waters, find your own private spot, or enjoy a picnic with a spectacular backdrop. Pick from Shark Beach, Milk Beach, Hermit Beach or Queens Beach – or have a swim at all!

Visitor information

Location: Vaucluse NSW 2030, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Varies depending on the beach – some require stairs, others offer easier access.

Parking: Limited; consider public transport or walking from nearby neighbourhoods.

 

5. Explore the grand architecture of the QVB and Strand Arcade

Highlights: Stunning Victorian architecture, high-end shops, historic ambience.

Sydney's Queen Victoria Building Interior

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Step back in time and admire the opulent architecture of the Queen Victoria Building (QVB) and the Strand Arcade. 

These Victorian-era gems offer a glimpse into Sydney's elegant past. 

Marvel at the stained-glass windows, intricate tiling, and soaring domes of the QVB. Then, wander through the Strand Arcade, a beautiful glass-roofed shopping arcade filled with boutiques and cafes.

This activity is free for exploring and window shopping but can get very expensive if you're looking to indulge and immerse yourself in a shopping spree. That said, there are fewer better places to spend such an afternoon. For a deeper immersion, take a guided tour to learn the rich history behind these buildings.

Visitor information

Location: 455 George St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Both buildings have wheelchair access and elevators.

Parking: Extremely limited and fills up quickly. Public transport is by far the easiest option.

 

6. Take a selfie with the Opera House

Highlights: Unmissable unique architecture, beautiful setting on Sydney Harbour, two of Sydney’s most iconic landmarks

Woman taking selfie with mobile phone at iconic Sydney Harbor Bridge. Cityscape, water, with buildings in CBD area. Tourist attraction in Australia. Technology, tourism, travel, taking a photo concept

Credit: from stock.adobe.com.

Capture an iconic Sydney moment with a selfie in front of the world-famous Opera House. Choose your favourite viewpoint - whether it’s the Opera House sails in the background or the iconic Harbour Bridge – strike a pose and snap a photo.

Whether you're a seasoned traveller or a first-time visitor, it's a must-do Sydney experience, and you can't say you've been to Sydney without a visit here.

Visitor information

Location: Bennelong Point, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible with ramps and walkways.

Parking: Very limited and expensive. Absolutely take advantage of public transport.

 

7. Hit the beach – any beach!

Highlights: Surf beaches, calm bays, ocean pools, coastal walks.

Bondi Beach in Sydney

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Sydney is blessed with endless stretches of sand, from iconic surf spots to hidden coves. 

Find your perfect beach vibe: swim in the waves at world-famous Bondi, relax on the calm shores of Balmoral, or discover a secluded gem in the Royal National Park.  

Sydney's beaches are a must for any visitor, and one of the highlights, no matter your visit for visiting Sydney.

Sydney’s most popular beaches include:

  • Bondi Beach

  • Bronte Beach

  • Coogee Beach

  • Manly Beach

  • Palm Beach

  • Balmoral Beach

It’s worth noting that these may be more crowded, so some quieter options and hidden gems include:

  • Gordon’s Bay

  • Clovelly Beach

  • Kutti Beach

  • Murray Rose Pool

  • Milk Beach

  • Chinaman’s Beach

Before you go, check beach conditions on Beachsafe.

Visitor information

Location: Beaches along the entire Sydney coastline – pick your favourite!

Accessibility: Varies – some have better access and facilities than others. Research each beach before you go.

Parking: Can be busy near popular beaches, consider public transport as an alternative.

 

8. Watch the buskers at Circular Quay

Highlights: Free entertainment with epic views, lively atmosphere, unique experience .

Busker performing in the evening at Circular Quay, Sydney.

Credit: Aedan O’Donnell for Destination NSW

There are few better ways to feel the vibrant energy of Circular Quay than enjoying the free entertainment provided by its talented buskers.  

Expect a mix of musicians, acrobats, magicians, and other street performers, and it changes daily so you'll never get bored. Grab a coffee, find a spot, and let these talented artists amaze you. Support your favourite buskers with a tip if you enjoy their show.

Visitor information

Location: Hickson Rd, Dawes Point NSW 2000, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Generally wheelchair accessible with pavements and walkways.

Parking: Extremely limited; arrive by ferry, train, or bus.

 

9. Uncover Sydney's secrets on a self-guided walking tour

Highlights: Flexibility, discovering lesser-known spots, walking is great exercise!

Cultural walking tour, Sydney

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Paying for a spot on crowded tour buses? No, thank you.

It's time to become your own Sydney explorer with a self-guided tour. These let you set the pace and discover hidden gems on your own terms.  

Stroll through historic laneways, uncover quirky street art, and soak up the buzz of vibrant neighbourhoods. You might even stumble upon a secret café or a pop-up market. Go where you please and Sydney in the way you want to see it. 

Sydney’s CBD is probably the best place to explore the most iconic sites and an easy stumble into inner city areas like Surry Hills and Redfern. If you’d prefer to forgo the stress, there are free guided tours. The Sydney Sights Tour meets at Town Hall twice a day, every day, and The Rocks Tour meets every day at 6pm outside Cadman’s Cottage. There is also a free guided tour of the Royal Botanic Gardens, which meets daily at 10:30am outside the Garden Centre. While the tours themselves are free, tips are always appreciated.

Download a walking tour app or map out your own route beforehand, and make sure to wear comfortable shoes. 

Visitor information

Location: Choose your own adventure! There are countless routes depending on your interests (history, food, architecture, etc.)

Accessibility: Choose routes that suit mobility.

 

10. Chill out on the rainbow steps of Coogee Beach

Highlights: Colourful photo op, relaxed beach vibes, proxomity to buzzing bars and restaurants

Aerial view of Rainbow painted on Coogee Walk way

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Add a burst of colour to your Sydney trip by kicking back on the iconic rainbow steps of Coogee Beach. These vibrant steps are a symbol of inclusivity and a cheerful spot to people-watch, soak up the sun, and snap some fun photos. 

It's the perfect place to relax after a swim at the beach, Coogee Ocean Baths or Wylie’s Baths,  or a stroll along the coast.

Visitor information

Location: Coogee NSW, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Steps provide seating, beach access varies depending on the area.

Parking: Can be busy; consider public transport or aim for early/late in the day.

 

11. Tackle the Spit to Manly Walk

Highlights: Harbour views, beaches, Aboriginal heritage sites, option to finish at the lively suburb of Manly.

Scenic coastal aerial view across Sydney Harbour from the Spit Bridge to Manly Walk.

Credit: Destination NSW

Embark on one of Sydney's most iconic coastal walks - The Spit to Manly Walk. This is a stunning 10km trail that winds along the harbour, past secluded beaches, and through bushland - perfect for nature lovers and those looking to enjoy some of Sydney's best rural, coastal scenery.

Get ready for breathtaking views, a good workout, and the satisfaction of completing this classic Sydney adventure. What more could you want for nothing?

Pack plenty of water, sunscreen, and snacks. Allow a few hours to complete the walk. For those who don’t want to trek the 10km back to your starting point, take the ferry back to Circular Quay for a scenic end to your hike and an even more unique way to view Sydney! There are also buses back to Spit Bridge, or you can book an Uber or Taxi.

Visitor information

Location: Starts at Spit Bridge and ends in Manly - Google Maps

Accessibility: Moderate fitness required - some sections have stairs and uneven terrain.

 

12. Challenge yourself with a game of chess in Hyde Park

Highlights: Free and casual game, perfect for chess enthusiasts or beginners.

Sydney Australia, playing giant chess in Hyde Park on an autumn afternoon

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The giant chessboard over in Hyde Park is a great way to spend a few hours while enjoying the park, meeting new people, and well… playing chess!

Test your strategic skills with a friend or challenge a fellow park-goer to a friendly match amidst the greenery and bustle of the city. It's a fun and unique way to spend an afternoon.

Visitor information

Location: Hyde Park, Elizabeth St, NSW 2000, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible with nearby paths.

 

13. Work out at Bondi Beach

Highlights: Free outdoor gym, variety of equipment,  invigorating and picturesque beach setting, promenade extends to the coastal walk to Coogee.

Running at Bondi Beach on the promenade

Credit: stevecoleimages from Getty Images Signature

Looking to keep your fitness routine in check during your visit to Sydney? 

Forget about expandable memberships or one-off day passes. Who wants to spend time in a stuffy indoor gym anyway? Instead, head to the iconic Bondi Beach for its famous promenade and outdoor gym and get fit with the beautiful Bondi as your backdrop.

Enjoy a workout surrounded by sun, sand, and fellow fitness enthusiasts with a coastal walk/jog/run and a variety of equipment to use - you can get a great cardio and strength session while taking in those unbeatable ocean views.

Go early or late to avoid the biggest crowds and don't forget swimmers for afterwards.

Visitor information

Location: Campbell Parade, Bondi Beach NSW 2026, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Generally accessible, but the sand may pose challenges to some.

 

14. Hike through the Royal National Park

Highlights: Diverse hiking trails, coastal views, rainforests, beaches, historical sites.

Karloo Pool is a popular swimming and picnic spot situated in Royal National Park at the South of Sydney, Australia

Credit: magspace from stock.adobe.com.

Lace up your hiking boots and explore the natural beauty of Royal National Park. This sprawling park offers something for every hiker, from casual strolls along cliff tops with stunning ocean views to challenging treks through lush rainforests.

We're talking serenity in the rainforest, hidden waterfalls, and Aboriginal engravings. You can also take a dip in a secluded beach or learn about the park's fascinating history at sites like the Audley Dance Hall Cafe and Reids Flat Cottage.

Remember to bring sturdy shoes, water, sunscreen, hat, snacks, and insect repellent.

Visitor information

Location: New South Wales, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Limited - most trails are not suitable for wheelchairs or strollers.

 

15. Visit Brett Whitely's Surry Hills studio

Highlights: Unfinished works, art materials, a unique glimpse into the artist's process.

Brett Whiteley Studio, Surry Hills

Credit: James Horan for Destination NSW

Brett Whiteley, one of Australia's most celebrated and controversial artists, has opened his studio to the public, and if you have any interest in him or art in general (or you're just looking for something a little different), this is it. 

His former studio is now a museum where his unfinished paintings, art supplies, and personal belongings are preserved - a raw and fascinating glimpse into the mind of a brilliant, revered artist.

Book your timed-entry tickets online in advance, especially for weekends.

Visitor information

Location: 2 Raper St, Surry Hills NSW 2010, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Limited - ground floor accessible, but upper studio floor is not. Call ahead for specific needs.

 

16. Head to Dudley Page Reserve for views of Sydney's skyline

Highlights: Uninterrupted city views, perfect for sunset picnics, a relaxed and less crowded viewpoint.

Panoramic views of Sydney from Dudley Page Reserve

Credit: Yido from stock.adobe.com.

Looking for another picture-perfect Sydney panorama? 

Dudley Page Reserve offers breathtaking views of the iconic Harbour Bridge, Opera House, and the sparkling city skyline. You literally can't and don't need to, pay for views like this.

Pack a picnic, find a comfy spot on the grassy hill, and watch as the sun sets, painting the sky with vibrant colours. 

It's pure Sydney magic. 

Visitor information

Location: Lancaster Road & Military Rd, Dover Heights NSW 2030, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Mostly flat grassy areas, but some pathways have slight inclines. Limited designated parking nearby.

 

17. Check out the large collection of modern Chinese art at White Rabbit Gallery

Highlights: Diverse contemporary Chinese art, thought-provoking exhibitions, free entry

White Rabbit Gallery, Chippendale

Credit: Andre & Dominique for Destination NSW

Fan of Chinese contemporary art or simply just want to explore the cultural side of Sydney? 

You can't miss a visit to the White Rabbit Gallery. Unique in style and execution, this space showcases one of the world's largest and most significant collections of Chinese art made since 2000. 

Discover bold works that explore social change, technology, and personal expression. Oh, and don't forget to check out their website for any current exhibitions and events. They change things up seasonally and annually.

And the best part? Entry is always free! The museum also has a lovely teahouse with a delightful selection of Chinese teas and snacks.

Visitor information

Location: 30 Balfour St, Chippendale NSW 2008, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible throughout the gallery.

 

18. Sit under the Harbour Bridge in Bradfield Park

Highlights: Up-close view of the bridge, waterfront parks, relaxed atmosphere.

Credit: Benjamin ['O°] Zweig from stock.adobe.com.

If you're looking for a unique and interesting way to experience the sheer scale of the iconic Harbour Bridge up close, head to Kirribilli.

Find a shady spot in a waterfront park, feel the rumble of traffic above, and marvel at the bridge's intricate steelwork. It's a unique and awe-inspiring way to appreciate Sydney's most famous landmark. Time it right to watch the sunset behind the bridge! Don't forget your camera for bonus Insta points.

Visitor information

Location: Alfred St S, Milsons Point NSW 2061 – Google Maps

Accessibility: Parks are mostly accessible, but with some stairs depending on chosen spot.

 

19. Swim in Bronte's famous Bogey Hole

Highlights: Unique ocean pool, beautiful setting, perfect for families

Credit: Natalie from stock.adobe.com.

Bronte's iconic Bogey Hole is another must-visit on any trip to Sydney. Sitting on the southern end of Brone Beach next to the ocean pool (Bronte Baths), the sheltered and shallow Bogey Hole provides the perfect opportunity to take a dip without fear of waves crashing into you – so it’s perfect for kids! It's essentially a natural ocean pool, carved into the rocks after years of erosion. It's a great and very interesting place to swim, one where you can feel the rush of the waves and soak up the stunning coastal scenery. 

It's a classic Sydney experience for swimmers and sunbathers alike, no matter how old or young you are.

Visitor information

Location: 502 Bronte Rd, Bronte NSW 2024, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Limited – steep stair access to the beach from the council carpark. There are handicap parking spots and ramp access to the beach from the entry of the carpark.  

 

20. Find a peaceful spot in Wendy Whiteley's Secret Garden

Highlights: Tranquil setting, harbour views, unique atmosphere created by a passionate artist.

Wendy Whiteley's Secret Garden, Lavender Bay

Credit: James Horan for Destination NSW

Wendy Whiteley's Secret Garden isn't your typical, sprawling garden, nor is it a park in any sense. It's best described as a hidden oasis, and the more observant of you will notice Wendy shares a surname with the artist Brett Whiteley we covered above.

That's because she's Brett's wife, and this is where they lived in the city for 20 years. However, after Brett passed away, Wendy started to clear the garden space out, but instead, over the years, has turned it into a work of art in itself and has become one of the most popular highlights of the city.

It's nothing short of being a whimsical wonderland of winding paths, lush greenery, and breathtaking harbour views. Enjoy it best by finding a quiet bench to relax, admire the sculptures, or simply losing yourself in the beauty of this special place.

Visitor information

Location: Lavender St, Lavender Bay NSW 2060, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Steep slopes and many stairs, access is limited for those with mobility challenges.

 

21. Wander through the Art Gallery of NSW

Highlights: Diverse collections, major exhibitions, free general admission.

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

Credit: Ken Leanfore for Destination NSW

The Art Gallery of NSW is one of Australia's leading art museums, housing a vast collection that spans Australian art, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, European masterpieces, and fascinating Asian art. 

Lose yourself in world-class exhibitions or simply wander at your own pace, discovering something new with every turn. Plan your visit around special events (like Vivid Sydney), guided tours, or art workshops for a deeper experience. A visit to the art gallery also includes an on-site cafe, restaurant, and a fantastic gift shop with art-inspired wares.

Visitor information

Location: Art Gallery Rd, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible, with lifts and accessible amenities.

 

22. Get a perfect picture of both the Harbour Bridge and Opera House at Mrs Macquarie's Chair

Highlights: Unbeatable photo op, historical significance, easy to access.

Sun setting over Sydney Harbour from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair

Credit: Daniel Tran for Destination NSW

Mrs. Macquarie's Chair is another iconic landmark of Sydney, and while it may look like nothing but carved rock, it's one of the best places to deliver a panoramic view of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House in a single frame. 

A view like no other, for sure.

Strike a pose with these Sydney icons as your backdrop, or simply sit back and soak in the unforgettable view. Don't forget to enjoy the walk up and down because that's an experience in itself! Go early or late to avoid crowds and get the best light for photos.

Visitor Information

Location: Mrs Macquaries Rd, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Ramp access for most of the walk, but the chair itself is reached by steps.

 

23. Dive into Sydney's history on a cultural walk

Highlights: Uncover lesser-known stories, explore historic neighbourhoods, expert guides.

Street in downtown Sydney business area

Credit: f11photo from stock.adobe.com.

While Sydney is a relatively modern city in the grand scheme of things, it still has a ton of history and culture in its past, and it's a story well worth diving into. That said, there's a lot to cover, so pick a route that sparks your interest

Aboriginal heritage? Convict-era tales? Architectural gems?

Either choose a self-guided tour and research the information online as you go (or use a self-guided tour app, like Sydney Culture Walks), or make the most of experienced guides who’ll take you on a fascinating journey through time, revealing the city's secrets and making history come alive. Consider niche options like ghost tours or street art walks.

 

24. Stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens

Highlights: Diverse plant life, harbour views, tranquil setting, free to explore.

Jacarandas, Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

Credit: Daniel Tran for Destination NSW

The Royal Botanic Gardens are another gorgeous escape from the city's bustle, showcasing an extensive canvas of Australia's exciting and rare fauna, as well as a few examples of beautiful worldwide nature. 

Take your time wandering winding paths, admire diverse plant collections, and discover hidden ponds and sculptures. This is also another unique location to enjoy stunning harbour views, relax on sprawling lawns, or have a picnic under the shade of ancient trees.  Don't miss The Calyx – a tropical plant paradise with changing exhibitions.

Basically, it's an oasis in the heart of Sydney and one of the best free activities to add to your bucket list.

Visitor information

Location: Mrs Macquaries Rd, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Mostly flat paths for easy strolling; check the website for detailed guides.

 

25. Go for a swim at Marrinawi Cove at Barangaroo

Highlights: Sheltered swimming in the harbour, stunning city views, new facilities.

Story Bridge and Brisbane Skyline in Australia

Credit: FiledIMAGE from stock.adobe.com.

Swimming is in the blood of Sydney, and there are few better places to go that are as refreshing as Marrinawi Cove, the newest swimming spot in the city. 

This sheltered cove features a netted area safe for swimming, along with showers, and a beautiful waterfront setting at Barangaroo Reserve. It's a chance to experience the harbour in a whole new way, and a great place to cool off and relax in your free time.

Visitor information

Location: Barangaroo Point Reserve, Barangaroo NSW 2000, Australia - Google Maps 

Accessibility: Ramp access to the water, but check tide conditions

 

26. Walk through scenic Waverley Cemetery

Highlights: Historical significance, elaborate monuments, scenic coastal location.

Waverley Cemetery in Sydney

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Waverley Cemetery may not sound like the most amazing day out, but if you're seeking history alongside stunning coastal views, it's a gem. A heritage-listed cemetery perched on the Bronte cliffs, is the final resting place of many notable Australians, including the likes of Henry Lawson, Victor Trumper, Sarah Durack, and Dorothea Mackeller.

Take your time here, admire the Victorian and Edwardian monuments, explore the local area, and enjoy breathtaking ocean vistas - all in one place.

It's a surprisingly peaceful and beautiful spot for a contemplative stroll. Just keep in mind it's an active cemetery when visiting.

Pick up a self-guided tour map at the office or find one online for insights into notable burials.

Visitor information

Location: St Thomas St & Trafalgar St, Bronte NSW 2024, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Some hilly sections, but the main paths and routes are relatively flat.

 

27. Check out the scale model of downtown Sydney at Customs House

Highlights: Unique perspective of Sydney, a detailed model, a fun surprise to discover.

Customs house in Sydney

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A rather unique way to observe the city, and one the kids will absolutely love, is taking a trip down to Customs House to discover an incredible scale model of the city centre built right into the floor. 

It's quite surreal to see the historic buildings, winding streets, and even tiny ferries in the harbour, all in miniature. It's a fun way to get your bearings and appreciate the layout of Sydney. And that’s not all that’s in the building! Inside houses a library, exhibitions, and a restaurant – Cafe Sydney on the top floor is one of the best restuarants in Sydney for its epic views, but certainly not cheap.

Visitor information

Location: 31 Alfred St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia - Google Maps 

Accessibility: Fully accessible within the building.

 

28. Visit the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park

Highlights: Moving memorial, stunning architecture, reflective pools.

Credit: Keitma from stock.adobe.com.

The Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park isn't just a statue or a building. It's a place where time seems to slow down, and a hush falls over you. 

Once you step inside, take a moment to feel the history in the air, and let your eyes wander over the sculptures. They tell stories – stories of bravery, sacrifice, and the cost of war. Imagine yourself walking alongside these soldiers, feeling their hopes and fears.  While you’re there, don't miss the moving sculpture 'Sacrifice' in the Hall of Silence.

This is a place to remember, to honour, and to learn, so future generations might know peace. If your trip aligns, visit on Anzac Day (April 25th) for a special commemorative experience.

Visitor information 

Location: 126 Elizabeth St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Mostly wheelchair accessible with ramps and lifts.

 

29. Explore the historic area of The Rocks

Highlights: Colonial atmosphere, bustling markets, Sydney's oldest pubs.

View of George Street in the Rocks, the historic district of Sydney. In the background, the harbour Bridge.

Credit: Maurizio De Mattei from stock.adobe.com.

Forget those history books – want to step into Sydney's wild past? That's where The Rocks comes in. Imagine cobblestone streets echoing with the footsteps of convicts, the salty air of the harbour, and the raucous laughter spilling out of dimly lit pubs. 

Every corner whispers a story – tales of rebellion, rum-soaked nights, and the gritty determination that built this city. 

Get lost in the maze of lanes, duck into hidden courtyards, and stumble upon markets bursting with treasures. The Rocks Discovery Museum is a must-see and a great introduction to the area, but if you want the full experience, take a guided walking tour to uncover the most fascinating stories.

Visitor information

Location: The Rocks NSW 2000, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Some cobblestone streets and stairs may pose challenges. 

 

30. Head to Dobroyd Head for historic Aboriginal engravings

Highlights: Aboriginal rock art, beautiful harbour scenery, coastal trails.

The Grotto Point Aboriginal engraving site found along the Spit Bridge to Manly walk.

Credit: James Horan for Destination NSW

For a unique opportunity to actually walk in the footsteps of people who lived here thousands of years ago, head to Grotto Point at Dobroyd Head. It's not just about beautiful scenery (though you'll get that too!). 

This place holds ancient stories etched into the rocks. Follow the trails, find the Aboriginal engravings, and try to picture the lives behind these intricate carvings. 

It's a humbling experience, and it'll make you see Sydney in a whole new light. Remember these engravings are sacred, so walk softly and don't touch.

Visitor Information

Location: Balgowlah Heights NSW 2093, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Trails have varying grades, some areas may be challenging.

 

31. Explore a world of colour at Ken Done Gallery

Highlights: Cheerful artwork, Sydney souvenirs, chance to meet Ken Done himself sometimes!

Exhibition at the Ken Done Gallery in The Rocks. Daniel Boud for Destination NSW

Credit:

Forget boring art galleries – Ken Done's world is an explosion of colour! Think Sydney Harbour turned up to 11, with a dash of cheeky Aussie humour. His gallery is like stepping into a giant rainbow. 

You'll find prints, originals, and quirky souvenirs bursting with life. Whether you buy something or not, you're guaranteed to leave feeling happy. It's pure Sydney sunshine bottled up.

Visitor Information

Location: 1 Hickson Rd, The Rocks NSW 2000, Australia - Google Maps 

Accessibility: Fully accessible within the gallery.

 

32. Cool off in one of Sydney's ocean rock pools

Highlights: Unique swimming experience, ocean views, varying vibes from calm to lively.

View of Bronte from Bronte Pools.

Credit: Jeremy Shaw for Destination NSW

While you absolutely should visit Sydney's beaches because they're a staple of the culture, sometimes, you just want some peace and quiet, and Sydney's ocean rock pools are where it's at!  

They're like hidden gems, with refreshing water, epic views, and a chilled-out vibe. You can find everything from calm pools perfect for families to ones with crashing waves for a bit of adventure. It's the best way to experience that classic Aussie beach life and cool off in style. Just make sure to check tide times and conditions before you go. Some pools are better at certain tides.

Sydney’s most popular ocean pools include:

  • Bronte Baths, Bronte

  • Bondi Icebergs Pool, Bondi

  • Mahon Pool, Maroubra

  • Wylie’s Baths, Coogee

  • Fairy Bower Pool, Manly 

  • Maccallum Pool, Cremorne Point

Visitor information

Location: Ocean pools dot the coastline from north to south. Popular options include Bondi Icebergs, Bronte Baths, and Wylie's Baths.

Accessibility: Varies – check websites for individual pools.

 

33. Wander through the Paddington Reservoir Gardens

Highlights: Unique blend of historical ruins and modern landscaping, urban oasis, post-retail relaxation.

Paddington Reservoir Gardens Landmark in Australia

Credit: Kirsten from stock.adobe.com.

The Reservoir Gardens are a little slice of magic tucked away in the city. 

Imagine sunken gardens whispering of another time, like Roman ruins with a twist of modern design. Wander the rooftop, soak in those cityscape views, and let your imagination wander back through the layers of history. 

It's unexpected, quirky, and oh-so-relaxing.

Visitor Information 

Location: 251-255 Oxford St, Paddington NSW 2021, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Ramp access to the lower levels, upper area is grassy

 

34. Connect with nature at Lisgar Gardens

Highlights: Beautiful camellias, waterfalls, tranquil setting

Credit: Credit: Hornsby Shire Council

This hidden gem in Hornsby is a breath of fresh air - another oasis with winding paths, little waterfalls, and lush greenery everywhere. All in nestled in the city.

Turn off your phone, listen to the birds, and just soak in the peaceful atmosphere. It's the perfect spot to recharge and reconnect with nature, without even leaving Sydney. It’s a free activity that’s absolutely perfect for families, nature lovers, photographers, or anyone seeking a moment of calm.

Visitor information

Location: Lisgar Rd, Hornsby NSW 2077, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Mostly accessible, however, the hillside setting has some stairs and slopes.

 

35. Get the perfect Insta photo at colourful Collins Laneway

Highlights: Colourful murals, trendy cafes, unique photo ops.

Credit: Steven Siewert for Woollahra Muncipal Council

If you're looking to up your Insta game (and, let's be honest, any trip to Sydney is going to that anyway), head to Collins Laneway in Rose Bay! 

This place is basically made for photoshoots – think colourful murals, twinkling lights, and cute cafes on every corner. Find your perfect backdrop (there are tons to choose from!), grab a coffee for that prop aesthetic, and strike a pose. 

Seriously, Collins Laneway has that "it" factor your followers will love. Go early or late to beat the crowds and get the best lighting for your photos.

Visitor information 

Location: New South Head Rd, Rose Bay NSW 2029, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Fully accessible, flat laneway.

More information: Look up "Collins Laneway Sydney" on social media for recent photos.

 

36. Browse the stacks at the State Library

Highlights: Beautiful architecture, fascinating exhibitions, free Wi-Fi, and a cafe.

Credit: arliftatoz2205 from stock.adobe.com.

The State Library isn't just a place for bookworms (though they'll love it too!). Think of it as a time machine and treasure chest rolled into one. 

Just picture yourself exploring a grand reading room with a giant dome, discovering galleries filled with history, and finding a cosy corner to get lost in a story. 

Whether you're into old maps, hidden treasures, or just want a quiet escape, the State Library is full of surprises. It also offers workshops, talks, and comfy reading spaces.

Visitor information 

Location: 1 Shakespeare Pl, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia - Google Maps

Accessibility: Fully accessible with lifts and ramps.

 

Top free things to do in Sydney for families

Credit: Jason Ierace for Destination NSW

Sydney is packed with awesome activities for families, and many of the best ones won't cost you a cent! Here's a top 10 list to get you started:

  1. Spend the afternoon at Tumbalong Park playground: This Darling Harbour playground has climbing structures, water features, and a flying fox to keep kids entertained for hours.
  2. Kick around a soccer ball at Centennial Park: Huge open spaces make this the perfect spot for ball games, picnics, or learning to ride a bike.
  3. Learn all about Sydney's history at The Rocks Discovery Museum: This family-friendly museum has interactive exhibits and fascinating stories about Sydney's past.
  4. Spend a day at Bondi Beach: Build sandcastles, splash in the waves, and soak up the iconic Aussie beach vibes. It's a day at the beach, just on one of the most iconic beaches in the world.
  5. Explore the Writer's Walk in Circular Quay: Pavement plaques celebrate famous authors with snippets of their work - a fun and literary stroll.
  6. Spot some Fairy Penguins at Manly Wharf:  Head to Manly Cove at dusk to try and spot these cute little creatures.
  7. Look out for whales in Dover Heights: During migration season (May-November), pack some binoculars and watch for whales from the cliffs.
  8. Head to Luna Park: Even if you don't go on rides, or you're keeping things free, the Coney Island atmosphere is fun to experience.
  9. Walk through Badu Mangroves in Sydney Olympic Park: Boardwalks take you through these wetlands, which are great for spotting birds and learning about the ecosystem.
  10. Cycle, play, and relax at Sydney Park: A huge open park with cycle paths, a playground, and even a farm!

 

Top free things to do in Sydney for couples

Couple enjoying a morning visit to Gordons Bay, Coogee.

Credit: Jem Cresswell for Destination NSW

Sydney offers endless possibilities for romantic adventures without breaking the bank! Here's a roundup of the top 10 free activities perfect for couples:

  1. Go on the famous Bondi to Coogee coastal walk: Stunning ocean views, hidden beaches, and plenty of cafés for a pitstop along the way.
  2. Snorkel in Gordon's Bay: Discover the underwater world together on a snorkelling adventure.
  3. Spend the day at secluded Milk Beach: Escape the crowds at this hidden gem with beautiful Harbour views.
  4. Have a cultured date at the MCA:  Enjoy modern art with your loved one at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
  5. Star gaze at Observatory Hill: Cuddle up on a blanket and enjoy the dazzling night sky.
  6. Watch the sunset at North Bondi: Find a spot on the grassy knoll and witness a stunning sunset over the ocean.
  7. Hike to Wattamolla Falls: Explore the beauty of the Royal National Park and cool off under the waterfalls.
  8. Browse the arts and crafts at Paddington Markets: Find unique trinkets, support local artists, and enjoy a leisurely market stroll.
  9. Climb to the top of Hornby Lighthouse: Snag breathtaking views of the harbour and coastline from this iconic lighthouse.
  10. Join a game of beach volleyball:  Get some exercise and soak up the Bondi vibes with a friendly game.

 

Top Free Things to Do in Sydney at Night

Weekend fireworks display above Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour during Vivid Sydney 2019.

Credit: Keith McInnes for Destination NSW

Sydney doesn't sleep when the sun goes down! Here's a roundup of free activities for budget-friendly fun after dark:

  1. See Sydney light up during the Vivid festival: During this annual event, Sydney explodes with colour and light installations.
  2. Walk along the water from Darling Harbour to Barangaroo: Enjoy the twinkling cityscape and waterfront views after dark.
  3. Dance the night away at Soda Factory (free entry until 10pm): This Surry Hills club offers free live music and fun vibes.
  4. Test your knowledge at pub trivia: Many pubs offer trivia nights with a chance to win prizes.
  5. Watch the Darling Harbour Fireworks (Saturdays): Get a front-row seat to this dazzling display every Saturday evening.