Ah, Sydney. From the sail-like roof of the Opera House to the world famous Bondi Beach, Sydney is home to many of the most famous Australian landmarks. Here are our top ten picks for things to do in Sydney, Australia.
1. Climb the Harbour Bridge
This is your opportunity to don a very attractive grey jumpsuit, fight the winds and scale the massive Sydney Harbour Bridge. Not only is the view from the top pretty spectacular, it is one of those achievements you can throw into every conversation for the next ten years. Plus, you’ll even get a photograph to show off your feats back home! Save time by booking your bridge climb tickets with PlacePass. Afraid of heights? You’ll want to skip this one.
2. Walk around Circular Quay
Most of Sydney’s attractions are within walking distance, so it’s a great way to see the city. Probably the most famous route (for good reason) is around beautiful Circular Quay.
After admiring the Harbour Bridge – as well as all the glitzy mansions around its edges (this is Australia’s Hollywood) you can easily move onto admiring the sail-roofed Opera House. You can even stop in for a show if you want. However, be warned – this place was built for beauty, not for acoustics. It’s rumored that most opera singers actually hate performing here! Need help planning your stroll around Circular Quay? Book a guided excursion through PlacePass.
3. Hang with a quokka at Taronga Zoo
No visit to Australia is complete without getting up close and personal with its unique and cuddly wildlife. Taronga Zoo is a great place to revert back into an over excited child as you try to spy koala’s up in the trees or snap a picture of a quokka.
4. Walk with sharks at the SeaLife Aquarium
Visiting an aquarium may not seem like the most exciting thing to do in Sydney, but hear us out. SeaLife is home to more than 13,000 fish and sea creatures, including (cue the Jaws music) plenty of sharks. See what it’s like to get up close and personal with reef sharks at the Shark Walk.
If taking a stroll through shark-infested waters doesn’t sound like your thing, check out the Great Barrier Reef or crocodile exhibits.
5. Explore Sydney Harbour by cruise or jet boat
Sydney Harbour is not only home to Australia’s most famous bridge, but also many of its most well-known, and wealthy, residents. See how the other side lives with a cruise around the Harbour. Splurge on the top-deck lunch version (complete with canapés and champagne) so you can pretend you too live in a harbourside mansion.
If you prefer adrenaline and action to champagne and canapés, another option is the high-speed jet boat. Jump onto a small boat with a dozen other excited tourists as you’re whisked around Sydney Harbour at breakneck speed. Just be sure you’re passport isn’t in your pocket: this is a wet ride!
6. Bondi & the Northern Beaches
Sydney’s northern beaches are more Australian than chucking a u-ey in your Holden ute. They’re beautiful, crowded and quintessentially Sydney. If crowds aren’t your thing, you can try beaches that are a bit further afield such as Warriewood or Bungan Beach.
If you go swimming (and you definitely should), be sure to swim between the flags, and only as far out as you’re comfortable.
No matter how gorgeous the Bondi lifeguards are, you don’t want video of them pulling your bedraggled self out of the water beamed around the world on the next episode of Bondi Rescue. They offer awesome surf lessons on the beach as well for a true Aussie experience.
7. Learn about Aboriginal culture
Australia is home to the oldest surviving culture in the world. Unfortunately this part of Australia’s society is often overlooked by visitors. Take a day trip from Sydney to the Blue Mountains, where you can visit the Waradah Aboriginal Center and experience the rich history and culture of the first people to inhabit Australia.
8. See the alternative side of Sydney in New Town
While Sydney’s glittering landmarks are well-known and impressive, the hidden sides of Sydney can be even more fun. One of the most beloved local haunts is New Town. New Town is a university town that boasts a large student population.
Priding itself on its progressive attitude; the zebra crossings here have been permanently rainbow since residents coloured them in during Mardi Gras and then successfully campaigned to keep them that way.
Spend an afternoon exploring the many shops, including delicious cafes and alternative bike stores. As the afternoon becomes evening, check out any one of the beloved local bars, such as Earl’s Juke Joint with a cool, New Orleans vibe.
9. Eat your way through Chinatown
One of the things that makes Sydney so fantastic is the many different puzzle pieces which come together to make up Australia’s largest city. One of the most important is Sydney’s Chinatown.
A buzzing hub that’s today home to a variety of shops, cafes and restaurants, Chinatown is located at Haymarket, between Central Station and Darling Harbour. Nearly all the restaurants are great here, but a particular local favorite is Mamak, which serves delicious, cheap Malaysian food.
10. Sample Sydney’s nightlife
Although Sydney’s nightlife has suffered from a pretty intense shake up in recent years, there are still plenty of spots to find the famous Sydney parties. Catch a ‘neo-burlesque’ show at Slide, a cool bar in Surry Hills. Or perhaps some local talent at the Chinese Laundry in Darling Harbour.
The good news about the 1:30am lockout is you can be up nice and early to keep on exploring Sydney.