Sydney, Australia, has a seductive outdoor lifestyle and great natural beauty. The iconic Sydney Opera House is well worth a visit, and if you have a head for heights, take the Sydney Harbour BridgeClimb for stunning views and a great adventure. Be sure to see the city from the water, explore hidden beaches on beautiful coastal walks, hit the surf, and relax over a long lunch at one of Sydney’s incredible restaurants.
Here are the 15 best places to see and things to do in Sydney, Australia:
1. Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House at sunset
Discover the fascinating history of this iconic Australian landmark and World Heritage site. Set below the famous white sails and the granite Monumental Steps, the Forecourt offers patrons stunning harbor and city views. Or take a tour of the Opera House and uncover the mysteries of the backstage world. Afterward, make your way down to the Opera Bar, located on Sydney Harbour. This lovely terrace bar on the waterfront has free live music each night and on weekend afternoons.
2. Sydney Harbour
Known as the most beautiful natural harbor in the world, those who come to see it will understand why. Did you know that Sydney Harbour is part of Sydney Harbour National Park? You’ll find many bushwalks with natural flora and, if you’re lucky, local fauna such as the long-nosed bandicoot and little penguin. Whether discovering hidden coves and bays, kayaking, chartering a yacht, flying above in a seaplane, booking a dinner cruise, or simply catching a commuter ferry, there are many ways to experience Sydney Harbour.
3. Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour BridgeClimb at night
Positioned across Sydney’s breathtaking natural harbor, this bridge has become one of the most photographed features of the city. Walking across Sydney Harbour Bridge is free; starting at the southern end, take the pedestrian walkway on the eastern side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge roadway and walk to Milsons Point at the northern end. On your return to The Rocks neighborhood, stop for pizza and a beer at the Australian Heritage Hotel, one of Sydney’s oldest intact pubs.
4. The Rocks
The Rocks is essentially the birthplace of modern Sydney. Over the last 200 years, it has morphed from a rowdy settlement of convicts, soldiers, sailors, and street gangs to a thriving, modern neighborhood. The area is a well-known creative and cultural arts hub, as well. Be sure to check out the Argyle Gallery, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and The Rocks Discovery Museum. Visit the weekend markets and explore Sydney’s history and culture with a tour of the historic Rocks area. Explore the cobbled laneways, cozy cafes, and oldest pubs in the country.
Smoke rooftop bar in Barangaroo. Image: Tourism New South Wales
Barangaroo is Sydney’s hottest new development, located within easy walking distance to top attractions like the Sydney Opera House and The Rocks district. Here, you’ll find a number of great restaurants, local artist stalls, and a spectacular nature reserve on the edge of Sydney Harbour featuring sweeping views of the water and skyline.
6. Royal Botanic Gardens
Just a short walk around the water’s edge from the Sydney Opera House, you’ll find the natural beauty of the Royal Botanic Gardens. The Gardens boast magnificent harbor views—an excellent place to escape the noise of the city for some peace and relaxation.
7. Bondi Beach
Surfers hitting the waves at Bondi Beach. Image: Tourism New South Wales
Golden sands, blue waters, and perfect waves make Bondi Beach an iconic Sydney attraction. In the mornings, you can enjoy breakfast and coffee followed by walking the Bondi to the Coogee coastline. You can learn to surf and catch some waves before heading to the Bondi Farmers Market (Saturdays only).
8. Manly Beach
One of Sydney’s favorite beaches, Manly Beach has a casual atmosphere that feels a world away from the city, all the while just a 30-minute ferry trip from Circular Quay. Experience Sydney’s beach lifestyle firsthand and explore on foot, rollerblades, or bike.
9. Taronga Zoo
Located along the waterfront overlooking Sydney Cove, the Harbour Bridge, and the Opera House, you’ll find Australia’s leading zoological garden: the Taronga Zoo. Discover native Australian animals and exotic species. If you like to get up close and personal with the animals, try the Animal Encounters experience.
10. Darling Harbour
View from the pool at Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour. Image: Tourism New South Wales
Just a 10-minute walk from Sydney’s central business district (CBD), Darling Harbour boasts a fantastic harborside location in the heart of Sydney with some great dining options. Cockle Bay and King Street Wharf also offer funky nightclubs, wine bars, and bistros serving fine food, great cocktails, and late-night dancing.
11. Australia Museum
The Australia Museum has an international reputation for its natural history and indigenous studies research, community programs, and exhibitions. The museum was established in 1827 and is Australia’s first museum, with unique and extensive collections of natural science and cultural artifacts.
12. St. Mary’s Cathedral
Located across from Hyde Park, St. Mary’s Cathedral stands in the center of Sydney as a statement of grace and beauty. It is one of Sydney’s most treasured historic buildings and one of the finest examples of English-style Gothic churches in the world.
13. Spice Alley
Dining in Spice Alley. Image: Tourism New South Wales
This open-air food court brings a taste of Asian street markets to Sydney’s fashionable Chippendale neighborhood. Bring a bottle of wine from the nearby Handpicked Cellar Door, stroll beneath the canopy of red paper lanterns, and sample your way through street stalls featuring cuisine from Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and beyond.
14. Paddington Market
Paddington Markets in Sydney. Image: Tourism New South Wales
Every Saturday, rain or shine, Paddington Market has been open since 1973! The market has over 150 unique stalls filled with creative fashion and accessories, beautiful soaps and candles, and pictures that inspire. Take a look at the Australian Made section in the market courtyard or try some handmade chocolates and local bread. Relax under the trees with a coffee and soak up the day.
15. Inner West
Sydney’s Inner West neighborhood boasts a variety of local attractions, from family-friendly streetscapes and Victorian buildings to wide-open parks and community-run events. Suburbs like Ashfield and Strathfield are vibrant places to discover the local history on a heritage walk during the day and enjoy a bit of indie rock by night. Newtown’s King Street is the hub of the Inner West and just under 2 miles from the city center. On the weekends, check out the popular Carriageworks Farmers Market (Saturdays 8 am-1 pm) or the trendy Glebe Markets (Saturdays 10 am – 4 pm).
Our Australia travel specialists have visited Sydney several times and are happy to chat about the best things to see and do! Call us at (888) 229-0082 to start planning your trip to Sydney, or browse our Australia travel packages.