Things To Do In Sydney
From the heights of the Tower Eye to the waters of Sydney Harbour, some of Australia's most iconic landmarks and attractions can be found in the capital of New South Wales. Being a city by the sea, Sydney's delights come in all forms, from whale watching on the cusp of the South Pacific to a stroll through Taronga Zoo and tours of the Sydney Opera House.
To make the most of your trip to Sydney, consider giving the following activities a try:
1) Big Bus Sydney-Bondi Explorer:
No matter where you are in the capital of New South Wales, you're likely to find yourself within easy walking distance of one of Big Bus Sydney's numerous hop-on hop-off bus stops. With such diversity and a sightseeing ticket valid for either 24 or 48 hours you'll be able to plan your own itinerary confidently, as well as visit the landmarks and attractions at your own pace.
The red route weaves its way through the heart of the CBD, while the blue route connects travellers to the golden sands of Bondi Beach. Be sure to take your camera to capture all the excitement! Also remember to grab a Sydney sightseeing tourist map so you can plot your trip and make the most of your visit.
2) Sydney Opera House:
Head over to Bennelong Point and appreciate the elegant sail-like roof of the Sydney Opera House up close. If you plan on seeing a ballet show, orchestral concert or theatre production, then there's no better place than this iconic performance venue.
If you're not in town for the arts then there's still the popular guided tour, which provides insights into the building's history and facilities.
3) Whale Watching Cruises:
During the May to September breeding season don't miss a chance to embark on one of Sydney Princess Cruises' weekly whale watching excursions. These unforgettable excursions cast off from King Street Wharf and include either a hot breakfast or BBQ lunch depending on the time of day you choose to set sail. All trips include a sightseeing circuit of Sydney Harbour.
4) Darling Harbour:
Darling Harbour is a recreational district dotted with fun family attractions such as: SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, Madame Tussauds and Wild Life Sydney Zoo. These three activities along with Sydney Tower Eye are included with the Sydney Merlin Attraction Pass, which lets you access each one up to a month from first use.
5) SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium:
Admire countless sea creatures at the watery sanctuary of SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium. Their Dugong Island experience is the only place in Australia where you can witness one of the planet's most unique marine mammals in a captive enclosure. The Bay of Rays lets you get up close to the country's largest collection of rays, many of which are threatened or endangered. Also watch out for their striking tropical critters, which include elegant but deadly lionfish and a giant humphead wrasse.
6) Madame Tussauds Sydney:
Madame Tussauds Sydney is home to stunning models some of the world's most famous figures past, present and fictional. Pose with one of your favourite rock or pop stars in the Music Zone, be mister/misses ambassador and meet Bob Hawke (Australia's longest serving Labour prime minister), and size yourself up against Wolverine and Iron Man in the Film Zone.
7) Australian National Maritime Museum:
The Australian National Maritime Museum hosts exhibitions focused around humanity's relationship with, and use of, the oceans, as well as on the discovery of Australia and the Australian Navy. ANMM is also home to three incredible museum ships: a replica of the HM Bark Endeavour, the destroyer HMAS Vampire, and the submarine HMAS Onslow.
8) Sydney Harbour Bridge:
Daring sightseers might want to dawn a harness and scale this famous harbourside landmark. BridgeClimb Sydney also operate night climbs for that even more spectacular view of the city. Or if you want to just kick-back and admire the ironwork from down below then consider a relaxing lunch or high tea harbour cruise.
9) Harbourside Shopping Centre:
Need a short break from sightseeing? Hop off at the Harbourside Shopping Centre. This sprawling complex houses everything you'd expect from a modern mall, such as cafes, bars, top brands and boutiques. It even serves as a brilliant vantage point from which to view the skyline of the central business district.
10) Australia Museum:
A visit to the Australia Museum is a must for any lover of history and culture. It's the oldest institution in the country dedicated to the showcasing and appreciation of science, nature and anthropology. Three of its best permanent exhibitions are the Albert Chapman Mineral Collection, the Australian Birds Exhibition and the Indigenous Australians Exhibition.
11) Sydney Fish Market:
West of Darling Harbour near Harris Street you'll encounter the Sydney Fish Market. If you love your seafood then this is a place you can't afford to miss. Browse daily catches displayed throughout the retail stalls and enjoy a freshly cooked dish in one of the outdoor restaurants along Blackwattle Bay. There's also a cooking school, sushi bar, fruit and veg market, and even behind-the-scenes guided tours.
12) Tumbalong Park:
To the south of Darling Harbour lie three attractions that we'd recommend to everyone: Tumbalong Park, the Chinese Garden of Friendship and the Powerhouse Museum. Tumbalong Park is a great place to have fun if you're travelling with kids. It's filled with playground amenities such as big slides, high-flying swings and bouncy nets. If the sun's out in full force then take a run into the middle of the water jets, 26 of which spray pillars of water high into the air.
13) Chinese Garden of Friendship:
The Chinese Garden of Friendship offers a more tranquil atmosphere and is excellent for a lazy stroll. Modelled after a traditional Ming Dynasty private garden these public grounds contain magnificent sculptures, calming waterfalls, koi ponds and a teahouse. Look out for the beautiful Dragon Wall, a glazed ceramic structure depicting two dragons playing with a pearl of friendship amidst a restive ocean. The scene is intended to depict the bond between New South Wales and Sydney's sister city, Guangdong.
14) Powerhouse Museum:
The Powerhouse Museum is a vast and eclectic building filled with around 500,000 technological artefacts. Explore a large variety of subjects from science and transportation to media and the arts. The exhibitions provide context and insight into humanity's constantly evolving need to innovate and create by displaying the fruits and tools of this progress within a series of themed showcases. See the world's oldest operational rotative steam engine and marvel at a working replica of Strasbourg Cathedral's astronomical clock.
15) Queen Victoria Building:
The Queen Victoria Building is an iconic landmark and shopping mall located right at heart of the city centre. With its sandstone façade, copper domes and Romanesque architectural design it certainly stands out among the surrounding skyscrapers. Originally constructed as a Municipal Market the Queen Victoria Building now houses most of Sydney's best fashion boutiques and jewellery stores as well as a number of fine restaurants and cafes. Even if you don't intend to purchase anything you won't regret a walk through the QBV's stunning Art Deco-esque interior.
16) Art Gallery of New South Wales:
At some point be sure to explore the extensive Royal Botanical Gardens, where you'll find the Art Gallery of New South Wales. This building's general exhibitions are completely free to access and include wonderful pieces of Indigenous, Australian/European and Asian art.
17) Hyde Park Barracks:
Designed by a convict architect, built by convict hands, and having housed thousands of males convicts between 1819 and 1848, the Hyde Park Barracks provides riveting insights into Australia's social, judicial and colonial past. Now functioning as a 'living' museum it offers visitors a chance to experience what life was like as a deported criminal, see excavated artefacts from the early 1800s, and become immersed in the soundscape system.
There's also exhibitions which reflect the building's post-transportation functions. Discover how it became a hostel for orphaned girls fleeing the Irish famine, a female immigration depot, and finally an asylum for old, poverty-stricken women.