Aerial View of Sydney, Australia, featuring the Opera House and Harbour Bridge

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Yes, Sydney has the Opera House and Harbour Bridge – must-sees for sure! But Australia's biggest city is much more. It's where beaches and skyscrapers meet, where history lives alongside cutting-edge cool. These are the top things to do in Sydney.

Time to ditch the tourist crowds and find YOUR Sydney - one of the most iconic cityscapes in the world.

This is your playbook to the Sydney's top tourist attractions, hidden gems, and the places only locals know – think secret gardens, amazing eats, and adventures you won't find in any guidebook. Get ready to discover the side of Sydney that makes it truly special.

It's time to write your own Sydney story.

Best things to do in Sydney

1. Visit the Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House, an Australian iconic with city CBD illuminated in the sunset sky

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Imagine standing at the edge of Sydney Harbour, gazing up at those iconic white sails reaching for the sky. Sure, it may be one of the most touristy things to do in Sydney, but there's a reason it's so popular.

The Sydney Opera House isn't just a building; it's a symbol of the city's creativity and love for the arts. A symbol of the arts renowned all over the world. Basically, any trip to Sydney, wherever you’re from, must include a visit. 

If you’re a fan, head inside and enjoy a guided tour of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed site, or even see a show (depending on what’s on). There’s all kinds of music, dance, theatre, and stories waiting to unfold.

Or you can head to the harbour, check it out, get some snaps, and simply bask in it for what it is.

Why go?

  • Iconic architecture: Experience the wonder of Jørn Utzon's masterpiece, a design as unique as it is beautiful.
  • World-class performances: Catch a breathtaking ballet, a side-splitting comedy, or the power of a symphony orchestra – the Sydney Opera House has it all.
     

Tips for going

  • Snap a selfie: Get the perfect photo of you and the Opera House with the Harbour Bridge in the background. It’s just a must for any traveller.
  • Explore at your own pace: Even if you don't see a show, wander the foyers and admire the architecture. If you’re looking for the most insight into the building, nothing beats a guided tour.
  • Insider's secret: Pre-show drinks at Opera Bar offer stunning views and a lively atmosphere. Well worth checking out. For those looking for a fancier dining experience, a meal at Bennelong is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

2. Marvel at the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge At Sunrise

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The second most iconic landmark in the city, the Sydney Harbour Bridge connects the northern and southern shores of the Sydney harbour - a huge step forward in the city’s progression and identity. It unified the two halves.

This massive steel arch is more than just a way to cross the harbour – it symbolises Sydney itself. Built way back in 1932, it's still the world's largest steel arch bridge, aptly nicknamed the ‘Coathanger’ for its design. Imagine the work that went into building this thing.

Both a busy crossing and a must-see (and do!) Sydney experience, absolutely make your way here during your trip.

Why Go?

  • Iconic views: Get up close to that famous arch – the views from the bridge are incredible, day or night. It’s the same one you’ve seen in every picture of Sydney. Some of the best places to get a snap include from the Opera House Bar, Blues Point Reserve, the Cahill Expressway, and certainly Observatory Hill.
  • A piece of history: It's not just a bridge; it's a reminder of what people can achieve when they aim high. A pride of city residents and a fantastic example of modern construction and engineering.
  • Choose your adventure: Walk, climb, or just stop and stare – there's a way for everyone to experience it.
     

Tips for Going

  • The Pylon Lookout: Head southeast on the bridge and you’ll have the opportunity to climb to the top of the Pylon lookout. Go here for sweeping, stunning 360-degree views of the harbour and city.
  • Free walk with a view: Stroll the pedestrian walkway across the Harbour Bridge for classic photos and a closer look at the structure.
  • The ultimate thrill: Feeling fit? Book a BridgeClimb for an unforgettable climb to the summit. More on that shortly.

3. Admire the beauty of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

scenery of Royal Botanic Gardens in sydney, australia

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The Royal Botanic Garden is a rural paradise in an urban wonder. A great escape from the bustle of the city or as a visit to one of Sydney’s main attractions itself.  

Located in the heart of the city overlooking Sydney Harbour, the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney is one of Sydney's most popular outdoor activities. More than just beautiful flowers, it's a place to breathe, learn, and connect with nature.  

It’s a 30-hectare site with plenty of paths, trails, and buildings to explore, plus plenty of exhibitions, events and talks with experts from so many various fields are hosted on site. Plenty to keep you busy and in awe for hours at a time. 

Imagine strolling down paths lined with exotic plants, discovering hidden corners filled with birdsong, and picnicking with a view of the harbour.  

It’s pure bliss. 

Why go? 

  • Relax and recharge: Swap city noise for the whisper of leaves and the scent of blooming flowers. 
  • Discover plant wonders: Explore plants from Australia and beyond, from towering rainforest trees to delicate orchids. 
  • A touch of history: Wander paths first walked by early settlers and learn about the garden's role in Australia's story. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Pack a picnic: Find a perfect spot under a shady tree and enjoy the serenity. A great way to watch the world go by. 
  • Join a guided tour: Learn the stories behind the plants from passionate experts. If you’re a fan of nature, you can’t miss this. 
  • Time it right: Visit in spring for a burst of colour or during summer for long, sunny days. 

4. Immerse yourself in the buzz of Bondi Beach

View of Bondi Beach in summer in Sydney, Australia.

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Everyone knows Bondi: the perfect waves, the gorgeous sand, the tanned Aussie lifesavers... but it's even better than you imagine!   

The energy here is electric – surfers, swimmers, fitness devotees, and the Bondi Icebergs pool crowd all sharing the beach and promenade.   

Walk the clifftop path from Bondi to Coogee - one of the best walks in Sydney -  grab a coffee on the promenade, or just find your own patch of sand and soak it all in. 

Why go? 

  • Surf's up! Whether you're a pro or want to try your first lesson, Bondi's where it's at. There are plenty of surf schools available if you want to try it out. 
  • See & be seen: People-watching here is world-class. Grab a table at a cafe and enjoy the show. This is THE Bondi Beach. 
  • More than just sand: Sculpture by the Sea, weekend markets, festivals... there's always something happening at Bondi. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Beat the crowds: Go early for a swim, then grab a coffee and watch the beach come to life. Just maybe not in the summer - then it’s rammed pretty much all day, every day. 
  • The Icebergs pool: This iconic ocean pool is a MUST. Swim laps with a view, then have lunch at the bistro. More on this shortly. 
  • Coastal walk magic: The Bondi to Coogee walk is stunning. Do the whole thing or just a section for some of the best Sydney views. 

5. Interact with wildlife at Taronga Zoo Sydney

Taronga Zoo Giraffes, with the view of the Opera House and harbour in the background

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Taronga Zoo isn't just a day out; it's an adventure! Get up close to playful lemurs, see giraffes with a harbour backdrop, and learn how the zoo is working to save endangered species around the world. 

This place is more than just looking at animals and impressive harbour views – it's about connecting with the wildlife and understanding how we can all help protect the planet.

Why go?

  • Animals like you've never seen them: Ride the gondola for amazing views, or do the treetop ropes course for a squirrel's-eye view of the animals!
  • It's a hands-on experience: Get face-to-face with a seal, meet a reptile keeper, or even help feed the giraffes (book ahead!).
  • Your ticket helps: Every visit to Taronga supports conservation projects – from protecting tigers in Sumatra to saving frogs right here in Australia.
     

Tips for going

  • A whole day adventure: There's so much to see and do, so plan on being there from open to close. Pack a picnic or grab lunch on-site.
  • Top tip: Book experiences like animal encounters or the ropes course in advance, especially during school holidays.
  • Ferry fun: The ferry ride from Circular Quay is part of the experience, with great views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. To save some money, book a ticket that covers zoo entry and a return ferry.

6. Discover Darling Harbour

The surrounding scenery of Darling Harbour in Australia and the cruise ship at anchor

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Sydney's waterfront playground, Darling Harbour, is buzzing with things to see and do. 

Think family fun, delicious food, and lively events – there's something for everyone. Imagine strolling along the water with an ice cream, then letting the kids loose at the aquarium or zoo. 

Come evening, grab a table overlooking the water and watch the city lights twinkle. Here, you’ll also find water taxis, plenty of museums, spas, kid’s playgrounds, shopping quarters, and so much more.

Why go?

  • Kid-tastic: Aquariums, zoos, playgrounds, museums – they'll be amazed (and you might learn something too!)
  • Festival fever: There's almost always a festival on, from food to music to light shows. Check what's happening!
  • Food with a view: Seafood, Asian fusion, casual cafes… Darling Harbour has it all, and most places come with water views.
     

Tips for going

  • Plan ahead: Check the event calendar (here) so you don't miss something fun.
  • Venture further: Darling Harbour is within walking distance to Barangaroo, so keep walking along the water to truly explore Sydney city's harbour!
  • Sunset = busy: Book a table if you want to dine by the water as the sun goes down.

7. Step back in time at The Rocks

The Rocks Markets - Sydney - Australia

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Where Sydney began, The Rocks is a maze of cobblestone streets and old sandstone buildings. Imagine pubs where sailors once brawled, now filled with hip cafes and boutiques.  

This is where history meets modern energy, creating a place that's unlike any other part of the city. Overall, it’s just a really interesting place, it’s free to explore, and it’s a brilliant balance on all things past, from Aboriginal history to modern British evasions. 

Why go? 

  • Living history: Every corner has a story. Hire a guide or just wander – you'll stumble on hidden courtyards and echoes of the past. 
  • Market treasures: The weekend markets are a Sydney must-do. Find one-of-a-kind art, handmade crafts, and delicious street food stalls. 
  • Foodie heaven: From cosy cafes to modern restaurants, The Rocks is an excellent place for brunch, a long lunch, or a lively dinner. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Wear comfy shoes: The cobblestones are charming but better in sneakers than heels! 
  • Explore at your pace: The Rocks are best discovered by getting a little lost on purpose. 
  • Check for events: Especially in summer, there might be a festival or outdoor cinema happening, adding to the fun.

8. Get Inspired at the Art Gallery of New South Wales

Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, Australia

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Even if you don't know your Monets from your Manets, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is worth a visit. It's more than just paintings on a wall – it's a place to see the world in a whole new way.  

Think ancient statues, modern sculptures that will blow your mind, and Aboriginal art that tells stories thousands of years old.   

Plus, the building itself is stunning, with views over the Domain Park. There’s a reason this place receives over one million visitors a year.  

Oh, and this is literally the other side of the road to the Royal Botanic Gardens, so it’s well worth bunching these two activities into the same day. 

Why go? 

  • Something for everyone: Old masters, pop art, photography, even fashion... they have it all. You'll be surprised by what catches your eye. 
  • Always changing: They host major exhibitions from all over the world, so even if you've been before, there's always something new to see. 
  • Free fun: The main collection is FREE to visit. You only pay for special exhibitions, and those are worth it too. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Take a tour: Even if you don't do the full tour, ask at the desk for a quick intro to help get you started. 
  • Chill out: The gallery has a cafe with nice park views. Grab a coffee and make a day of it. 
  • Art after hours: On Wednesday nights, they stay open late with talks, music, and sometimes even a bar. Totally different vibe. 

9. Take a breath at Manly Beach

Aerial panorama of Manly beach in Sydney, NSW, Australia

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Picture golden sand, perfect waves, a buzzing beachfront scene with cafes and shops... that's Manly!  

It's more than a beach; it's the classic Aussie beach experience. Whether you want to learn to surf, eat fish and chips with a view, or just soak up the sun, it has the right vibe. 

Why go? 

  • Those iconic waves: Manly is where surfing got big in Australia. Take a lesson, or just watch the pros do their thing. 
  • Beachside buzz: The Corso (that's the main drag) has everything from ice cream shops to cool bars. It's lively without being too crazy. 
  • The ferry ride: Getting to Manly is half the fun! The ferry from Circular Quay is a must-do Sydney experience, with amazing harbour views. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Weekday bliss: Manly gets packed on weekends. If you can, go during the week for a more chilled-out time. 
  • Beyond the sand: Explore Shelly Beach for snorkelling, or walk up to North Head for epic lookout views. 
  • Stay for sunset: Grab a cocktail at one of the beachfront or wharf bars and watch the sky light up. Magical! 

10. Go kayaking in Sydney Harbour

Sydney opera house and harbour bridge. And kayakers in the sea.

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Perhaps one of the most interesting ways to explore the iconic Sydney Harbour is by jumping in a kayak and taking to the waters.  

Glide the waters just inches above the waves. Smile in the sun, backdropped by the Opera House and Harbour Bridge looming in the distance, while seabirds dip and dive around you.  

Kayaking isn't just exercise; it's a whole new way to experience the city. It's great for snapping pictures and bonding with loved ones. Whether you’re an experienced kayak fan or not, this one is so much fun. 

Why go? 

  • See Sydney from a new angle: Get up close and personal with iconic landmarks right from the water. For an even more epic sydney experience, book a sunset kayaking session!
  • Escape the crowds: Discover quiet coves and hidden beaches that most tourists never see. 
  • Adventure or relaxation: Choose a guided tour for adventure, or rent your own kayak and explore at your own pace. There are plenty of hire options, so take your pick. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Catch the sunrise or sunset: The soft light makes for incredible photos (and memories!). 
  • Start easy: If you're a beginner, sheltered bays like Rose Bay are perfect for getting your bearings. 
  • Go with a guide: Learn about the area's history and wildlife from an experienced guide. 
  • Always check the weather: If you want sunshine and clear skies for your kayak adventures, peek at the forecast before you head out. That way, there won’t be any unforeseen surprises. 

11. Adventure around Sydney Harbour

Sunrise over Sydney harbour, featuring the Sydney Harbour bridge, Sydney skyline and boats on the water.

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The heart of the city beats around this glittering waterway. It’s the main attraction and the reason why Sydney is the thriving, bustling city that it is today. 

Surprisingly, the coastline does seem to go on forever, a whopping 240km to be precise, with the entire city resting on its banks.  

You can essentially walk and walk and walk along the harbour, and you’re always going to see something new, from restaurants and bars to museums and landmark favourites. 

Or, hop on a ferry and be dazzled by the iconic skyline, feeling the sea breeze on your face. It's more than a way to get around – it's the best budget sightseeing tour in town! The journey from Circular Quay to Manly is a popular route and ensures you get to see two Sydney icons in one day!   

And all this is just the start.   

Why go? 

  • Iconic sights, up close: Cruise past the Opera House and under the Harbour Bridge, then watch the city unfold from the water. 
  • Food with a view: Sydney does waterfront dining better than most. Fresh seafood, buzzing bistros – pick your vibe. Some of the best areas along the harbour include Darling Harbour, Barangaroo, Chowder Bay, Rose Bay, Milsons Point, and Potts Points. 
  • Golden hour magic: The city lights up at sunset, and it's even more spectacular from the water. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Ferry = cheap cruise: Catch a regular ferry to Manly (or elsewhere) for amazing views at a bargain price. 
  • Book ahead for dinner: Popular waterfront tables get snapped up, especially with sunset views. If you have a specific restaurant in mind, always book ahead. 
  • Plan for photos: The best views are from the ferry's upper deck or outside areas. 

12. Conquer the Sydney Harbour BridgeClimb

Family enjoying the Burrawa Indigenous Experience at BridgeClimb, Sydney.

Credit: Alexandra Adoncello for Destination NSW

If you’re looking for a bit more of an adventure, more so than standing and staring at a bridge, how about climbing it? 

Imagine it. Standing atop the iconic 'Coathanger', the whole of Sydney spread out below you.   

This is BridgeClimb. 

Now, BridgeClimb isn't just a walk – it's a journey to the heart of the city, with every step offering breathtaking views. Safe, guided, and surprisingly achievable, this is an experience you'll never forget. 

Why go? 

  • The ultimate view: There's no better way to see the Opera House, the harbour… all of Sydney, really! It’s a view you can’t see any other way. 
  • Tick it off the bucket list: Some things you just HAVE to do, and this is one of them.  
  • Bragging rights: Tell your friends you climbed one of the world's most famous bridges. Every time you see a photo, you can say, “I’ve stood there,” right on the pinnacle. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Book ahead: This experience is popular, so snag your spot early. 
  • Go for the golden hour: Climb at sunset or after dark for extra-special views of the city lights. 
  • Dress for adventure: Comfy clothes and good shoes are a must.

13. See the harbour from the Pylon Lookout

View of the top of Sydney Harbour bridge and water from Pylon Lookout

Credit: Daniel Tran for Destination NSW

Another must-see when in Sydney, the Pylon Lookout is pretty much exactly what the name suggests - a bird's-eye view of Sydney from inside one of the Harbour Bridge's massive pylons!  

Climb to the top for 360-degree vistas of the city, the Opera House, and the sparkling harbour. But there's more – downstairs, step back in time with exhibits about the bridge's construction.  

History and amazing views all rolled into one! 

Why go? 

  • Another iconic panorama: It's a classic Sydney photo spot and with good reason. 
  • Bridge buff bonus: Learn how the 'Coathanger', aka the Sydney Harbour Bridge was built, and see the original flag that flew at its opening. 
  • Smaller crowds: A quieter alternative to some of the busier harbour lookouts with views that are just as incredible. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Camera ready: Don't forget your camera or phone – those views are brag-worthy. 
  • Combine your adventure: Walk across the pedestrian walkway on the bridge for even more city views. 
  • Check before you climb: There are 200 stairs, so it's best for those who can manage a bit of a workout. Generally fit and healthy is advised. 

14. Take your time in the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)

Museum of contemporary art in Sydney, Australia

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Right on the edge of Sydney Harbour in The Rocks, the MCA is a modern masterpiece – inside and out!  

Here, you'll find art that's bold, surprising, and sometimes a little weird (in the best way). From huge installations to videos and paintings, it's a place to get inspired and see the world in a whole new way. 

Incredibly, the MCA is free to enter and you’ll welcome to come and go as you please. Just make sure you check out the event calendar to see what exhibitions, talks, or special shows are on. 

Why go? 

  • See the cutting edge: The MCA is all about what's happening NOW in the art world, both Australian and international. 
  • It might change your mind: Great art makes you think. Leave the MCA buzzing with ideas and maybe even arguing with your friends (in the best kind of way). 
  • Souvenir central: The MCA store is amazing for design lovers – unique gifts and books you won't find anywhere else. 
     

Tips for going 

  • What's on: Check out their online calendar for special exhibits, talks, and even art classes. 
  • Always read the details: If a piece of art confuses you, go closer! Read the labels; there's always a story behind it. Don’t forget to ask any of the staff walking around or positioned in the rooms. Most of them love to have a chat about the art they love. 
  • Cafe with a view: Grab a coffee and soak up the harbour views. 

15. Find serenity at the Chinese Garden of Friendship

Chinese Garden of Friendship - Sydney - Australia

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Hidden in busy Darling Harbour is an oasis of calm - one based on Chinese culture and pure tranquillity. Perhaps surprisingly, given the city's incredible landmarks, many hail a visit to this prestigious garden as one of the best things to do in Sydney. 

Step through the gates of the Chinese Garden of Friendship and leave the city behind. Waterfalls trickle, koi fish shimmer in the ponds, and the scent of flowers fills the air.  

You can either explore at your own pace, embark on any of the many daily tours, engage in a movement or meditation class (Tuesdays only), or even feed the majestic koi fish (free activity hosted at 11:30am daily) 

The gardens are also home to exhibitions, like the Journey of Chinese Paper Cutting, and The Emperor’s Quest Trail for the kids. This garden is a little piece of China right here in Sydney. 

Why go? 

  • Escape the crowds: The garden has winding paths and hidden corners – find your own quiet spot. 
  • A moment of zen: Water, trees, and stone balance is incredibly calming. Even an hour here will recharge you. 
  • Tea & tradition: The Teahouse is the perfect place to slow down and enjoy traditional Chinese teas. It’s a holiday within a holiday, even for only a couple of hours. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Embrace the details: Look for the carvings on the pavilions, the patterns in the stones… Every part has meaning. There’s inspiration in every centimetre. 
  • Photo paradise: This garden is a photographer's dream, especially in spring when the blossoms are out. 
  • Check for events: Sometimes there are cultural events like tea ceremonies or music – find out what's on! 

16. Dive into Sea Life Sydney Aquarium

Visitor enjoying his visit at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, Darling Harbour

Credit: Jem Cresswell for Destination NSW

Get ready to go under the sea without getting wet. 

At Sea Life Aquarium, you'll meet sharks, stingrays, penguins, and thousands of dazzling fish. Walk through glass tunnels and feel like YOU'RE swimming in the ocean. It's a fun way to learn about the amazing animals that live off Australia's coast and beyond. 

Sure, there are Sea Life’s around the world, but this one is specifically orientated around Australian exhibits and themes, taking through the country’s waterways and marine ecosystems. 

If you want to know about marine life around your home, this could be the best place for it. 

Top Tip: Want to save money on visiting Sydney's main attractions? Ditch the single-entry ticket and grab a multi-attraction pass! Get a pass that combine it with WildLife Sydney, Madame Tussauds, and the Sydney Tower Eye for discounted entry – that's way cheaper than buying tickets separately. 

Why go? 

  • Face-to-face with sharks: Nothing beats seeing these ocean predators (safely!) up close. 
  • Penguin fun: Watch these adorable creatures waddle, swim, and play – they'll steal your heart. 
  • It's not just for looking: Interactive zones let kids touch starfish, learn about conservation, and get hands-on with marine life. This is especially the case with the new Immersive Gamebox exhibit, which is like VR, except everyone can get involved at the same time. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Book ahead: This place gets busy, especially on weekends. Book online to skip the lines. 
  • Feeding frenzy: Find out when the feedings are – it's the best time to see the animals in action. 
  • Bring the kids: Sea Life Aquarium is designed for families. It's amazing for curious kids of all ages, and there's stuff to keep adults interested, too. 

17. Take in the architecture of St. Mary's Cathedral

St Mary's Cathedral in sydney, australia

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In the heart of Sydney CBD rises St. Mary's Cathedral, a stone symphony of spires and stained glass. Step inside, and the city noise fades away.   

Sunlight filters through intricate windows, casting a rainbow glow on the ancient stone. It's a place of both grandeur and stillness, a reminder of history in a modern city. 

Why go? 

  • Architectural wonder: Whether you're a history buff or not, the craftsmanship will take your breath away. 
  • Moment of calm: Even if you're just sightseeing, the cathedral offers a few minutes of peace amidst the bustle. 
  • Stained glass stories: The windows depict scenes from the Bible – take your time and find the details. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Free guided tours: On Sundays at 2pm, a guide reveals the cathedral's secrets. Email ahead to book. 
  • Respect the space: It's a place of worship, so move quietly, dress appropriately, and talk softly. Masses are held daily. 
  • Photo op: Don't miss the chance to capture the light and shadows of this beautiful building. However, while photos are allowed (except during celebrations and mass events), flash isn’t. Turn it off. 

18. Explore Australia's seafaring past at the Australian National Maritime Museum

Tall Ship HMB Endeavour mooring in front of the Australian National Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour in Sydney, Australia

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Love boats, history, or just a cool day out? The Maritime Museum is for you!  

Step aboard Captain Cook's ship, explore a submarine and uncover stories of the sea. It's part museum, part adventure, and a great way to see a different side of Sydney. 

Why go? 

  • Ships ahoy! Not just models: you can climb aboard a real Navy destroyer, a submarine... even a replica of Cook's ship, the Endeavour. 
  • Not just old stuff: They have exhibits on everything from surfing to modern warships. There's something for everyone. 
  • Darling Harbour fun: Make a day of it! The museum is right by shops, cafes, and other attractions. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Book ahead: Especially on weekends, or you might miss out on the ships (they have limited capacity).
  • Go on a weekday: Way fewer crowds, and you can really explore. 
  • Kids will love it: Hands-on stuff everywhere. Plan for a good few hours so they don't get rushed. 

19. Take a dip in the iconic Bondi Icebergs pool

Morning swimmers at Bondi Icebergs Club, Bondi Beach

Credit: Daniel Boud for Destination NSW

Bondi Icebergs isn't just a swimming pool – it's a piece of Sydney history!  

The Bondi Iceberg Ocean Pool, “Sydney’s most iconic club”, has been a beachside fixture since 1929, and you can feel that history as you swim. Crashing waves, salty air, and the cool blue water... it's an unforgettable experience. 

Your chance to experience a Sydney icon. Whether you're a serious swimmer or just want to feel that salty sea spray, it's a must-do. 

Why go? 

  • The views: Swim laps with the ocean crashing beside you – there's no pool view like it. As one of Sydney's best ocean pools, you'd be kicking yourself if you didn't get a picture of the iconic view.
  • The experience: Open to the public all year round, offering a 50-metre pool and a smaller kids' pool. 
  • Bragging rights: Say you swam at the Icebergs! Locals have to do it in winter to be members... you get off easy. 
  • Classic Aussie vibe: This is where old-school Sydney meets modern beach life. Get a sense of the city's soul. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Not just for swimmers: Even if you don't swim, grab a coffee on the terrace and watch the action. 
  • Check the swell: Big waves mean the pool can get closed to the public (but it's still cool to watch!) 
  • Check out the facilities: Featuring an adjacent terrace for refreshments and a bistro for dining with ocean views. 
  • Icebergs bistro: Book a table after your swim for lunch or dinner with those iconic views. 

20. Catch a wave at Sydney’s beaches

Surfing at Bondi Beach, Sydney

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Sydney isn't just about the Opera House and Harbour Bridge; it's a surfer's paradise! Picture this: you're paddling out, the sun on your back, with the city skyline in the distance.  

A wave rises, and you're up, riding a wall of blue water...   

Doesn't matter if you've surfed before or not, Sydney is the place to try it. 

Why go? 

  • Perfect waves For everyone: From Bondi's beginner-friendly beach breaks to the barrels way up north in Collaroy and Little Avalon, there's a wave for you. 
  • Surf's in the DNA: Surfing is an iconic, famous part of Sydney life. Learn from the best, then hang out at a beach cafe and soak up the scene. 
  • Beaches galore: Each beach has its own vibe. Explore to find your favourite spot to paddle out. Some of the hot spots include:
    • Bondi, Tamarama, Bronte, Marounra and Cronulla in the Eastern Suburbs
    • Manly, Palm Beach, Freshwater, Curl Curl and Dee Why in the Northern Beaches.  
       

Tips for going 

  • Take a lesson: Even if you've surfed a little, a local instructor will teach you about the Sydney scene and how to stay safe. 
  • Hire a board: No need to lug one around. Surf shops at the beaches rent boards and wetsuits. Drop it off when you’re done, and don’t even worry about it!
  • Accessibility: Most popular beaches like Bondi and Manly are easily accessible via public transport. Smaller beaches might require a car. 
  • Go early: Early mornings generally offer cleaner surf conditions and less crowd. Remember, summer weekends can get particularly busy.

 

21. Trek out to Wattamolla Beach

Wattamolla Beach NSW Australia

Credit: Victor from stock.adobe.com

Want to get away from it all? Wattamolla Beach is where you go.  

Hidden within the Royal National Park, it's like a secret paradise—a beach, a calm lagoon, and even a waterfall—all in one spot. There’s good reason it’s one of the most beautiful hidden places to visit in NSW

Imagine swimming in water so clear you can see the fish, then having a picnic in the shade of gum trees. 

Why go? 

  • Something for everyone: Gentle lagoon for kids, waves on the beach for surfers, nature walks if you want a break from the sand. 
  • Escape the crowds: Even a busy day here is quieter than Bondi or Manly. It's about relaxing, not being seen. 
  • Picture perfect: Bring your camera! The scenery is incredible, and it's less touristy, so you get unspoiled shots. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Pack a picnic: There's a kiosk, but it's fun to take your own food and find a perfect spot under the trees. 
  • Go beyond the beach: Short walks lead to waterfalls and stunning coastal views. Wear sturdy shoes to explore. 
  • Park early: Especially on weekends, the car park fills up fast. Get there before the crowds for the best spots. 

22. Find Little Bay Beach, Sydney's secret gem

little bay Sydney Australia

Credit: Mvdesign from stock.adobe.com

Forget the crowds of Bondi or Coogee!  

Little Bay is the beach locals love, tucked away on Sydney’s south coast. It's a small, sheltered cove with calm, clear water – perfect for a peaceful swim or float. The vibe here is friendly and relaxed, and because it's a bit of a secret, you'll often have space to spread out. 

Why go? 

  • Swim in peace: No big waves mean Little Bay is great for kids and anyone wanting to splash about. 
  • Snorkel time: Explore the rocky edges of the bay to spot fish and other marine life. 
  • Leave the city behind: This place feels far away from Sydney, even though it's not. Perfect for a mental reset. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Pack a picnic: While there’s a small kiosk with wraps and sandwiches, it’s no cafe, so it’s best to bring your own lunch and drinks and make a day of it. 
  • Weekday bliss: Come during the week if you can. Weekends get busier, but still nothing like the big beaches. 
  • Keep it simple: This is a place for enjoying swimming, the sun, and the simple life, not for wild waves or fancy restaurants.

23. Spend a day at Luna Park Sydney

Luna Park in Sydney Australia

Credit: FiledIMAGE from stock.adobe.com

That giant smiling face welcomes you to more than just rides – this is a piece of Sydney's soul! Luna Park has been making people laugh since 1935.  

The old-fashioned rides are a blast, the harbour views are amazing, and the whole place has a joyful energy you can't help but get caught up in. 

Why go? 

  • Nostalgia trip: Ride the Coney Island carousel, just like your grandparents did! Luna Park is classic fun that never gets old. 
  • Sydney views: Get some of the best harbour views from the top of the Ferris Wheel – don't forget your camera. 
  • Fun for everyone: Whether you're a thrill-seeker, a kid at heart, or just along for the ride, Luna Park delivers. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Nighttime magic: Luna Park is even prettier when the lights come on. Stay until after dark for the full experience 
  • Sideshow alley: Old-fashioned games like the Laughing Clowns are half the fun. Bring some cash for a few rounds. 
  • Check for events: Luna Park hosts concerts and festivals sometimes – plan ahead so you don't miss out. 

24. Walk to Hornby Lighthouse for history and harbour views

Hornby lighthouse

Credit: structuresxx from stock.adobe.com

Want a Sydney day out that's about more than just the city? The walk to Hornby Lighthouse is the perfect mix of scenery, history, and a little bit of exercise.  

That candy-striped lighthouse is a classic Sydney sight, but it's even better up close. The views from out on South Head are INSANE – all the way from the harbour to the wide-open ocean. 

Why go? 

  • Picture perfect: That lighthouse! The coastal cliffs! The city in the distance! This walk is full of photo ops and a great opportunity to spend some time in the fresh air. 
  • Whale season bonus: May to November, you might spot migrating whales breaching off the coast. Bring binoculars! 
  • History + views: Learn about Sydney's maritime past, then sit by the lighthouse and just soak up that sea breeze. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Make it a picnic: Pack a lunch and find a grassy spot near the lighthouse. You'll get amazing views with your sandwiches. 
  • Sunset is EPIC: If you can time it right, watching the sun go down with the Harbour as a backdrop is magical. 
  • Not just the lighthouse: The whole South Head area is beautiful. Make time to explore the walking tracks. 

25. Find your style at the Queen Victoria Building (QVB)

Queen Victoria Building, a heritage site in sydney

Credit: Mvdesign from stock.adobe.com

The QVB isn't just a shopping mall – it's a Sydney icon. 

From the moment you step inside, you're surrounded by soaring arches, glittering chandeliers, and gorgeous stained glass windows. This place was built in 1898 when they didn't do things by halves.  

Today, it's filled with high-end boutiques, cafes, and a sense of old-world elegance you won't find anywhere else. 

Why go? 

  • Shop in style: The QVB has a mix of Australian designers and top international brands. It's for finding something special, not just basics. 
  • Afternoon tea goals: Elegant tearooms make the QVB the perfect place to treat yourself. Book ahead, especially on weekends. 
  • History + shopping: Even if you're not buying, the building is stunning. They offer tours or just wander and admire the details. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Gifts with flair: The QVB has unique shops selling jewellery, homewares, and gourmet treats – perfect for special occasion presents. 
  • Dress up a bit: This place has a fancy vibe. Leave your sneakers at home and enjoy feeling a little posh. 
  • Weekday bliss: Weekends get CROWDED. If you can, go on a weekday for a more relaxed experience. 

26. Escape to Vaucluse House for history and high tea

Vaucluse House is a 19th-century mansion, surrounded by its original gardens and wooded grounds in the Sydney suburb of Vaucluse, Australia.

Credit: Debu55y from stock.adobe.com

Vaucluse House is like stepping into a Jane Austen novel.  

This grand old mansion, tucked into a harborside suburb, was once the home of Sydney's most powerful family. Imagine strolling through the gardens, wandering from room to room filled with antiques... then finishing with a fancy afternoon tea. 

It's the perfect way to slow down and feel a million miles from the city. 

Why go? 

  • History comes alive: Vaucluse House isn't just a bunch of old stuff – you get a real sense of what life was like back in the 1800s. 
  • Gardens with a view: The gardens are stunning, with sweeping lawns and hidden paths to explore. Pack a picnic blanket! 
  • Tea and scones upgrade: The Vaucluse House Tearooms are famous for their high tea. Dress up a little and make it an occasion. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Always prebook: While entry is free, the house and gardens have a limited capacity, so book a time to avoid disappointment 
  • Take the guided tour: Learn about the Wentworth family and all their secrets – the guides tell the best stories. Who knows what you may learn? 
  • Explore the grounds: Don't just stick to the house. The estate has hidden corners, stables, and a view that's worth the walk. 
  • Avoid weekends: Weekdays are quieter, especially in the mornings. It feels like you have the place to yourself. 

27. Connect with country at Dharawal National Park

Maddens Falls under Blue Sky in Dharawal National Park

Credit: Michael from stock.adobe.com

Experience the beauty of Dharawal National Park in a whole new way. Sure, it’s a bit of a long haul - about an hour and a half drive south of the city, meaning you’ll probably want to make a day trip out of it - but man is it worth it. Whether you’re solo trekking the area or taking a guided tour (which is recommended if you want to know the ins and outs of the area), there’s a lot to discover. 

Take the walking tours. These aren’t just about the bush and the land – they're led by Aboriginal guides who share the stories and secrets of this land. 

You'll learn about bush tucker, traditional medicine, and the deep connection between the Dharawal people and their country. It's more than a walk; it's an experience that will stay with you. 

But if the tour is not your thing, don’t worry. This is still a fantastic wildlife and natural haven to explore, with plenty of cycling, hiking, walking, swimming, picnicking, and even waterfall-seeking opportunities. 

Why go? 

  • Learn from the experts: This is your chance to learn directly from Australia's First Nations people, who have thousands of years of history to share. 
  • Nature + culture: See the bush with fresh eyes. You'll spot things you'd never notice and understand the landscape in a whole new way. 
  • Deeper connection: This isn't just about ticking off a national park. It's about connecting with a culture and place on a more meaningful level. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Book ahead: These tours are popular and often fill up, so don't just turn up. 
  • Listen and learn: This is a chance to experience another culture. Be respectful, ask questions, and let your guide lead the way. 
  • Dress for the bush: Walking shoes, sunscreen, and a hat are a must, even if it's cloudy when you start. 

28. Find something new at Elizabeth Bay House

Interiors of the grand Elizabeth Bay House, Sydney

Credit: Museums of History NSW

Imagine a house so grand it was called "the finest in the colony." That's Elizabeth Bay House, built in the 1830s for Sydney's top official.   

Walking through those rooms is like walking into a historical drama – you can almost hear the rustle of silk dresses and the whispers of scandals past. But there's more to it than just fancy furniture.  

The story of this house is full of ambition, passion, and a family who lost it all. It's a fascinating glimpse into the past. 

Why go? 

  • Colonial elegance: This isn't some stuffy museum. Elizabeth Bay House feels lived-in, with gorgeous original furniture and stunning views of the Harbour. 
  • Juicy history: The story of the family who lived here is WILD – fortunes won and lost, secret romances... the guides really bring it to life. 
  • Hidden gem: Even a lot of Sydney locals don't know about this place. It's a lovely escape from the busy tourist spots. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Garden time: Don't just rush the house – the gardens are beautiful, with amazing views for photos. 
  • Check for special events: Sometimes they host dinners or concerts in the house.

29. Take Sydney to new heights at the Sydney Tower Eye

City buildings including the Sydney Tower Eye in Sydney's CBD

Credit: Daniel Tran for Destination NSW

Sydney is a beautiful city, but have you seen it from above?   

The Sydney Tower Eye is your chance to get a whole new perspective.   

Imagine stepping out onto the observation deck and seeing the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, even the beaches stretching out into the distance... it's breathtaking.  

Why go? 

  • Views for days: It's more than just looking out the window – they have interactive screens that let you zoom in, see the city at night, and really understand what you're seeing. 
  • The SKYWALK experience: Looking out not enough? The SKYWALK takes you OUTSIDE the tower for a heart-pounding, glass floor platform 260 metres up! (They give you a jumpsuit, so don't worry about your clothes.) Join a guided tour of Sydney Tower SKYWALK for the ultimate experience.
  • It's not just scary: They have a 4D cinema with a film about Sydney that's honestly really fun, even for kids. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Sunset magic: Time your visit for sunset, and watch the city lights sparkle below. It's unforgettable. 
  • Pre-book: Save time and money by booking your tickets online, especially if you want to do the SKYWALK. 

30. Learn a vital part of history at the Sydney Jewish Museum

The inside of the Sydney Jewish Museum

Credit: Sydney Jewish Museum

This isn't just a museum about the past. At the Sydney Jewish Museum, history is brought to life through stories of survival, courage, and the enduring human spirit. Whether you're Jewish or not, these stories will move you.  

Learn about the Holocaust from those who lived through it and discover the rich culture and vibrant community of Jewish Australians.   

This is a place to reflect on the past and consider what we can do today to create a more just world. 

Why go? 

  • Stories that stay with you: The museum is incredibly moving. Prepare to learn, to feel, and maybe even to shed a few tears in remembrance. 
  • Understanding the Holocaust: Learn the lessons of one of history's darkest chapters and how it still shapes our world today. 
  • More than just sadness: Yes, there's sorrow here, but also hope, resilience, and the celebration of a vital culture. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Take the tour: The guides, often survivors themselves, bring the exhibits to life in a way you won't get on your own. 
  • Don't rush: This is a place to take your time, listen to the audio stories, and really think about what you're seeing. 
  • It's about today too: The museum connects past events to modern issues of prejudice and human rights. Leave with questions for yourself. 

31. See Sydney in miniature at Customs House

Pictured is the facade of Customs House a landmark heritage building repurposed.

Credit: Rose Makin from stock.adobe.com

Customs House is one of those Sydney buildings you've probably walked past a hundred times, but have you ever actually been inside? You're missing out!  

This gorgeous historic building is full of surprises – exhibits, a stunning scale model of the city, even a hip little library.   

Plus, it's right on Circular Quay, with amazing views of the Harbour Bridge. It's the perfect place to take a break from the crowds and get a sense of how Sydney grew into the city it is today. 

Why go? 

  • History fix: Learn about Sydney from its early days as a port city. It's brought to life with cool artefacts and interactive displays. 
  • The city in miniature: The scale model of Sydney is excellent, especially when they light it up at night. Kids go MAD for it. 
  • Chill out zone: The library is a hidden gem, with comfy chairs and views to die for. Grab a coffee and relax. 
     

Tips for going 

  • It's FREE: Customs House is totally free to explore, including the exhibits (though donations are welcome). 
  • Go at night: After the sun sets, the model city is lit up. It's even cooler than during the day. 
  • Make an evening of it: There are a couple of nice restaurants around Customs House, perfect for a pre-Opera dinner or casual bite. 

32. Taste the best of NSW at the Carriageworks Farmers Market

Carriageworks Farmers Markets, Eveleigh

Credit: Andre & Dominique for Destination NSW

Sydney foodies know – THIS is where to shop on Saturdays. The Carriageworks Farmers Market isn't just about groceries; it's an experience.  

Imagine rows of just-picked heirloom tomatoes, cheeses made that morning, bread still warm from the oven... And it's not just staples.   

This is where you find that unique honey, the jam that tastes like your grandma used to make, all made by people who love what they do. 

Why go? 

  • Fresher than fresh: Forget supermarkets. This is where top Sydney chefs shop, so you know the quality is incredible. 
  • Talk to the makers: Learn where your food comes from and get cooking tips... the farmers here are passionate about their produce. 
  • Foodie paradise: Even if you're not a big cook, the market is a feast for the senses. Samples galore, artisan treats, and beautiful flowers too. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Hungry is good: Come ready to graze! There are food stalls alongside the produce, turning your shop into a yummy brunch. 
  • Bring a tote: This place is all about sustainability. BYO bag, and maybe a cooler for cheese and meat if it's a hot day. 
  • It's not just produce: Keep an eye out for artisan crafts, plants, and unique homewares – perfect gifts and souvenirs. 

33. Hike out to the Blue Mountains

Sunrise over three sisters, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Credit: andriislonchak from stock.adobe.com

The Blue Mountains aren't just a view; they're an adventure! Just a short drive of about 50 minutes from Sydney, you'll find yourself in a world of waterfalls, rainforests, and those famous hazy blue cliffs.   

Now, this area is massive, with a ton of entry points and landmarks, depending on what you want to see and do. The Three Sisters tends to be the highlight for most people, which is about 2 hours 20 minutes west of Sydney’s CBD, so plan where you want to go and make a day trip of it. 

Whether you want a challenging hike, a cosy village stroll, or something in between, the Blue Mountains has it all. 

Why go? 

  • That view: See the Three Sisters rock formation with your own eyes and walk the cliff tops for panoramas that will blow your mind. 
  • Not just hiking: Take a scenic railway through the bush, explore caves, or wander through gorgeous gardens. There's something for everyone. 
  • Village vibes: The little towns in the Blue Mountains are adorable – cafes, antique shops, and maybe even a traditional Devonshire Tea. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Pick your adventure: Check out a guidebook or the National Parks site to choose activities that fit your fitness level and interests. Planning is key here because the region is huge and everything’s spaced out and accessible from different directions. 
  • Travel for views: Even if you're not a big hiker, some of the best views are a short walk from the road. Don't be afraid to give it a go! 
  • Guided tours rock: They take the stress out of planning, and you'll learn way more about the area's history and nature. 
  • Book a day trip:  Take a group tour from Sydney to Blue Mountains to see the famous Three Sisters Rock Formation, while enjoying a Rivercat Cruise and learning about the Aboriginal history and culture

34. Lose yourself in Wendy's Secret Garden

Wendy Whiteley's Secret Garden, Lavender Bay

Credit: James Horan for Destination NSW

Who doesn’t want to explore a place called the “secret garden”? 

Hidden away in Lavender Bay, there's a garden that feels like a dream. Wendy's Secret Garden isn't manicured lawns and perfect roses - it's a tangle of paths, hidden benches, and flowers spilling over walls.  

Every corner has something different to discover – a sculpture, a waterfall, a view of the Harbour that will make you gasp. 

It's a place that's whimsical, wild, and deeply personal. 

Why go? 

  • Escape the ordinary: This isn't a park, it's an artist's vision made real. Wendy created the garden after tragedy as a way to heal. You can feel that love in every leaf. 
  • The perfect slow afternoon: Pack a picnic, find a hidden bench, and just... be. Read a book. Listen to the world. Watch it float by. This is a place to forget about to-do lists and soak up the beauty. 
  • A love story: Wendy built the garden for her late husband, the artist Brett Whiteley. It makes it even more special, and you can feel it in the atmosphere. 
     

Tips for going 

  • No map needed: The best way to explore is just to wander. Get lost on purpose and see what you find! 
  • Bring a book: This is a great place to curl up with something good to read. The birdsong is your soundtrack. 

35. Enjoy the hidden oasis of Auburn Botanic Gardens

Auburn Botanic Garden

Credit: Hari from stock.adobe.com

Want to get away from it all without leaving Sydney? Auburn Botanic Gardens is your secret weapon.  

Take a stroll through a Japanese garden with cherry blossoms in spring, explore a rainforest boardwalk, or watch lorikeets squabble in the aviary.   

All this is just a short drive of about 30 minutes from the CBD! 

Why go? 

  • It's not just flowers: There's a sunken rose garden and a traditional tea house... each area has a totally different vibe. 
  • Wildlife spotting: The gardens are full of birds, especially around the lake. Bring binoculars if you have them! You’ve never seen wildlife like this in a city. 
  • Stress relief: This place is pure tranquillity. Pack a picnic, find a shady spot, and let the city melt away. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Check what's blooming: The gardens are gorgeous anytime, but if you want peak colour, see what's in season on their website. 
  • Kid-tastic: The Peacock Playground is awesome, themed like a giant bird's nest. Great spot to let the little ones run loose. 
  • Festival fun: They have cool events throughout the year - from cherry blossom celebrations to open-air movie nights. Check the events calendar to see what’s going on. 

36. Go bush at Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Gardens

Native waratah located within the Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden, St. Ives.

Credit: Wolter Peeters for Destination NSW

If you ever get tired of beaches, Sydney has another side. The Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Gardens are where you go to get up close to the real Australian bush – towering gum trees, wildflowers bursting with colour, and maybe even a wallaby if you're lucky.  

It's a proper adventure, with bushwalking trails for all levels, but still right on the edge of the city. 

Why go? 

  • Feel miles away: The minute you step onto the trails, the sounds of the city disappear. It's just birdsong and the wind in the trees. 
  • It's not just flowers: This is the Australian bush in all its glory. Learn about native plants, spot birds and lizards, and breathe in that eucalyptus smell. 
  • Free fun: Entry is free, and there are picnic areas so you can stay all day. It's an escape without breaking the bank. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Blooming brilliant: Spring is WILD with wildflowers – check what's in season on their website for the best experience. 
  • Check out the events: There are tons of events going on here all year round, from family animal walks to survival skill training, especially for kids. Check out the Facebook page for the most up-to-date information. 
  • Little explorers: They have kid-friendly events and trails, so it's a great day out for families too. 
  • Even on hot days, the trails are shady: It's perfect for summer when you want a break from the beach crowds. 

37. Get back to nature at the Royal National Park

Beautiful Coastal walk in Royal National Park

Credit: Michael from stock.adobe.com

The Royal (as locals call it) is more than a park – it's Sydney's wild side! Imagine bushwalks to hidden waterfalls, empty beaches perfect for surfing, and maybe even spotting whales from the cliffs.  

It's big enough for a whole week of exploring, but you can still get a taste of the wilderness even on a day trip. 

Why go? 

  • Choose your adventure: Hike through rainforest, trek the coastal path, swim in a secret waterhole, or just find a quiet spot to read a book with a view. 
  • Beach vibes: The Royal has some of the best beaches near Sydney, which are way less crowded than those in town. 
  • Wildlife wonderland: Kangaroos, wallabies, kookaburras... this is where you see REAL Australian animals, not just in a zoo. 

Tips for going 

  • Start early: Especially on weekends, popular spots get crowded fast. Get there ahead of the masses for a more peaceful experience. 
  • Hidden gems: Ask at the Visitor Centre about less-known trails and swimming holes for a true off-the-beaten-path feel. 
  • Pack a picnic! There are spots with BBQs, but it's more fun to find your own perfect lunch lookout. 
  • Join a tour: Not sure what you’d like to do? There are over 17 different tours that venture out to various areas of the park, so you’re sure to find something that fans your flame. 

38. Explore Cockatoo Island

Aerial view of Cockatoo Island 0n the Parramatta river, Sydney, Australia.

Credit: 169169 from stock.adobe.com

Cockatoo Island is one of those places that make you wonder what stories a city could tell if it could talk.  

Once a convict prison and a shipyard, today it's part history lesson, part art gallery, and part excellent sleepover spot. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so that should give you an idea of the island's calibre. 

Catch the ferry over, and suddenly, you're on your own little island in the middle of the Harbour! 

Why go? 

  • Creepy-cool ruins: Explore the old jail cells and imagine what life was like here... then be glad you're visiting, not staying! 
  • The views: Seriously, some of the best harbour views from anywhere. See the Bridge and Opera House in a whole new way. 
  • Not just old stuff: They host art shows, music festivals, and cool night tours. It's one of Sydney's most unique event spaces. 
     

Tips for going 

  • Make it a night: You CAN just day trip, but the glamping and heritage apartments are SO cool. Waking up on the Harbour is magical. 
  • History comes alive: Even if you hate museums, the audio tours here are awesome. Ghost stories, escapes, all that good stuff. 
  • Bring layers: Even on sunny days, it gets windy by the water, and those old buildings can be chilly inside. 

18 more things to do in Sydney

Sunrise at Bronte Baths, Bronte

Credit: Keith McInnes for Destination NSW

  1. Get an epic picture of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair
  2. Ride the ferry from Circular Quay to Manly
  3. Have a drink at Opera Bar
  4. Tackle one or more tracks of the Bondi to Manly Coastal Walk
  5. Catch a theatre show at Walsh Bay
  6. Eat a fancy dinner at Quay
  7. Try one of Messina’s unique ice cream creation
  8. Buy second-hand clothing at Kirribilli Markets
  9. Go for a swim at Camp Cove
  10. Discover secret beaches along the Spit to Manly coastal walk
  11. Enjoy fresh seafood at the Sydney Fish Market
  12. Watch the sun rise from Bronte Baths
  13. Sample the best craft beers on the Inner West Ale Trail
  14. Visit Brett Whiteley’s studio 
  15. See Sydney explode in light, colour and music during the annual Vivid Sydney festival 
  16. Explore the Surry Hills food and bar scene
  17. Get takeaway fish and chips at Watson’s Bay
  18. Have a drink with harbour views at the secret The Library Bar

 

Top 5 things to do in Sydney with kids 

Family enjoying the rides at Raging Water Sydney, Prospect near Blacktown.

Credit: Jem Cresswell for Destination NSW

Sydney's got your back!  From sharks to playgrounds, keeping the little ones entertained is easy with these top picks: 

  1. Go on an underwater adventure at SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium: Sharks, turtles, penguins... this place is guaranteed to get the "wows". 
  2. Let loose at Ian Potter Children's WILD PLAY Garden: Nature meets adventure at this awesome garden designed just for kids to go wild. 
  3. Visit the world's biggest Lego Store: Forget souvenirs - they can build their own!
  4. Cool off at Raging Waters: Sydney's biggest waterpark is the perfect way to beat the heat and burn off energy.
  5. Run wild at Darling Harbour Children's Playground: This giant playground, complete with a flying fox and water play area, will keep them happy for hours. 

 

Top 5 things to do in Sydney for young adults 

Young people out enjoying live music at Kellys on King in Newtown

Credit: Alexandra Adoncello for Destination NSW

Sydney knows how to have a good time, and there's a whole lotta fun waiting for you beyond the usual tourist spots.  Here's how to hit Sydney's coolest side:

  1. Go bar hopping in Newtown: Ditch the dingy pubs and explore Newtown's backstreets packed with live music venues and quirky bars.
  2. Take a surfing lesson in Manly: Catch a ferry to Manly and learn to hang ten (or just try not to fall off!) at Australia's most famous surf beach.
  3. Try your hand at axe throwing: Yep, it's a thing! Embrace your inner Viking and book an axe throwing session at one of Sydney's axe throwing bars.
  4. Enjoy barefoot lawn bowls in Clovelly: This is an Aussie classic and one of the best group acitivities in Sydney. Grab your mates, a few drinks, and try to get your bowls close to the little white ball. Ocean views included.
  5. Dance until morning at the Ivy: This club complex is legendary. Dress to impress and get ready to party all night.

 

Top 5 things to do in Sydney for free

Shark Beach in Nielsen Park - one of the entry points for the Hermitage Foreshore walk

Credit: Andrew Gregory for Destination NSW

Don't worry, Sydney knows how to do amazing without breaking the bank.  From stunning views to iconic buildings, there are loads of ways to experience the city's best side for free. Here's your top 5 to get you started:

  1. Walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge: Those views never get old, and walking the bridge puts you right in the middle of them.
  2. Take in the epic harbour views from Observatory Hill: It's the perfect picnic spot, with million-dollar views that won't cost you a cent.
  3. Step back in time at the Australian Museum: Dinosaurs, Aboriginal artefacts, and weird stuffed animals galore – this place is fascinating for kids and grown-ups alike.
  4. Swim at the secluded beaches along the Hermitage Foreshore Walk: This stunning coastal walk leads to hidden coves most tourists miss. Pack your swimmers!
  5. Explore the grand architecture of the QVB and Strand Arcade: Even if you don't buy anything, these heritage arcades are like stepping back in time.

 

Most unique things to do in Sydney

A Sydney Seaplane flying over Sydney harbour

Credit: Sydney Seaplanes

Sydney's got the beaches and the views, but for something truly unforgettable, you gotta dig a bit deeper. Get ready for adventures that will have you bragging to your friends back home.  

Here's how to find that special Sydney magic:

  1. Climb to the top of the Harbour Bridge with a BridgeClimb experience: It's not exactly budget-friendly, but those views and the feeling of accomplishment are worth it.
  2. Explore Aboriginal rock art sites in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park: Connect with Australia's ancient history in this stunning park north of the city.
  3. Take a scenic flight to Palm Beach: Lunch with a view takes on a whole new level when you arrive by seaplane!
  4. Stargaze on a Sydney Observatory night tour: Learn about the southern sky, then peek through giant telescopes.
  5. Find tranquillity at Wendy Whiteley's Secret Garden: This hidden oasis in Lavender Bay is a love story in garden form.

 

FAQs about visiting Sydney

Secluded Milk Beach in Vaucluse, along Sydney Harbour

Credit: Jeremy Shaw for Destination NSW

What are the best places to visit in Sydney? 

Sydney's got something for everyone, so "best" depends on your style!  Here's a quick hit list to get you started: 

  • The icons: You can't miss the Opera House and Harbour Bridge (walk across the Bridge for FREE views!). 
  • Beach lover: Bondi and Manly are famous for a reason, but smaller beaches like Balmoral or Freshwater are just as beautiful, without the crowds. 
  • Nature fix: The Royal Botanic Gardens is an oasis in the city, OR take a ferry to Taronga Zoo for animal encounters with a view. 
  • Hipster haven: Newtown and the Inner West are full of street art, vintage shops, and amazing cafes and pubs. 

 

Which area should you not miss when visiting Sydney? 

Honestly, it depends on how long you're here: 

Short trip: Stick to the CBD (Central Business District) for maximum tourist attractions. It's got the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, ferries at Circular Quay, museums, gardens, and shopping all within walking distance. It's also the best hub for public transport to other can't-miss areas of Sydney like Bondi, Manly and Coogee. 

One to two weeks: Base yourself in a neighbourhood like Surry Hills or Potts Point. They're still close to the sights, but have way more local flavour. 

Feeling adventurous?: Take a train to the Blue Mountains for a day trip. It's a totally different side of Sydney, with bushwalks and jaw-dropping views. 

 

Is 2 days enough for Sydney? 

Honestly no, but it's a good start. If you can take some time to plan your trip, you can get the most of 48 hours. Mostly, you’ll want to hit the highlights (Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay, Bondi or Manly Beach, maybe a museum or ferry ride).   

That said, the longer you stay, the more you can slow down and really get the feel of Sydney, which is the best part. 

 

What are the most special things to do in Sydney? 

Ditch the guidebook and try these for an only-in-Sydney experience: 

Catch a gig: Sydney's live music scene is HUGE. Skip the big venues, and find a band at a local pub. 

Market crawl: Spend a Sunday wandering markets like Glebe, Bondi or Paddington, hunting for treasures and eating your way through the food stalls. 

Secret beaches: Ask a local about their favourite secluded beach spot. Pack a picnic, and have a whole stretch of sand to yourself. 

Festival fever: Time your trip to catch a festival like Vivid Sydney (light shows!), Sydney Festival (arts overload!) or one of the smaller neighbourhood fests happening all year round.