45 Best Things to Do in Australia Sydney

Last Updated on December 16, 2022 by Helen E. White

Looking for what to do in Sydney? Surely you already know that when you are in Sydney you cannot miss the Opera House, the Harbor Bridge and the extensive and crowded Bondi Beach, we did not discover gunpowder! But Sydney is a huge city and there is much more to discover. We lived there for 6 months, that’s why we know everything you can’t miss. In this list discover  45 things to do in Sydney.

Things to Do in Australia Sydney

Sydney is the best-known city to see in Australia despite not being its capital. Located on the shores of the Pacific, it is known worldwide for its Opera, among other monuments. The city is huge and hides many treasures. In this post, we tell you 45 Things to Do in Australia Sydney. Also, many of the things to do in Sydney are free, which is nice because it is an expensive city.

Contents

Best 45 Things to Do in Australia Sydney

1. Bathe in Bondi Beach, an Essential Thing to Do in Sydney in Summer

Sydney’s beaches are famous the world over for their surf vibes. You can’t miss Bondi Beach, Manly Beach, Bronte Beach or Shelly Beach. Australian beaches have many dangers, but you can bathe calmly because all of them have nets to avoid incidents with sharks or jellyfish. Of course, be prepared because the water is usually frozen!

2. Visit the imposing Sydney Harbor Bridge, an unmissable thing to do in Sydney

This icon of Australia known as the Sydney Harbor Bridge, or simply The Bridge, spans the entire Sydney Harbor connecting the center (CBD) of the city with the north coast.

Sydney Harbor Bridge

This mega-construction took more than eight years to complete and opened to the public on March 19, 1932. The numbers do not reflect how imposing this work of art is. Not to mention that we think about what it meant for the time in which it was built. To give you an even better idea, taking into account the accesses, this bridge has a final length of 1,149 meters and not only has eight lanes for the more than 200,000 cars that pass through it daily but also has two lines of railway and a cycle path.

3. White Rabbit Gallery

White Rabbit Gallery

This gallery is located in the Chippendale neighborhood, where contemporary Chinese art exhibitions are exhibited. It was founded by Kerr and Judith Neilson and it focuses on works produced after 2000. When we went there was a very good show called Black (we don’t really remember the name, but the color black stood out in all of his works).

4. Sydney Opera House, one of the Symbols of Sydney

Sydney Opera House

How not to start with one of the most incredible and distinctive constructions we have ever seen: The Sydney Opera House or simply plain Opera for friends? It was declared a World Heritage Site in 2007It was designed in 1957 but it was only inaugurated on October 20, 1973. It is said that not even the architect himself imagined how his design would be reflected. It is made up of a series of large prefabricated shells. Words are not enough to define it, but we can say that it is impressive during the day, but for us, it is much more so at night.

5. Victoria Park and the University of Sydney

University of Sydney

This park is the one that frames the University of Sydney, the park itself is not something from another world. All the leading role is taken by the University of Sydney. You will feel like you are in a Harry Potter movie, the construction is gorgeous. It is the oldest university in Australia. It was founded in 1850, its architecture is inspired by the universities of Oxford and Cambridge in England. Admission is free, so be sure to get to know it and get lost in its corridors.

6. Darling Harbour, a Vivacious Area to See in Sydney

Darling Harbour

Darling Harbor is a recreational complex a touch the center of the city. There are plenty of shops, bars and restaurants with views of the skyscrapers of the business area. During the day you can walk around and visit the National Maritime Museum. When night falls the atmosphere is very lively and you can have a few drinks.

Money Saving Tips
Get a debit card to save yourself the bad exchange rates and commissions of conventional banks. We recommend using the Bnext card. Is free! We always use it to travel and it is a great saving. If you want Australian dollars in cash for the trip, you can exchange currency from home at a discount through Ria Currency Exchange. They have a great exchange rate and send your money home safely.

7. Paddy’s Market

Paddy's Market

Paddys Market is one of the largest markets in the city and is located in the heart of Chinatown. It is the ideal place to buy cheap souvenirs, suitcases, backpacks, cell phone accessories, fruits and vegetables. Open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

8. Walk the Bondi to Coogee Promenade

This scenic route is a must-do in Sydney. The famous Coastal Walk starts at Bondi Beach and ends at Coogee Beach, passing several hidden beaches. The views are great! The route is 5.5km long but it is very easy. If you like to run, it’s also a great option to burn a few calories. There are a lot of locals who take advantage of this fantastic promenade to play sports surrounded by a unique setting.

See also  Where to Stay in Sydney

9. Swim in Bondi Icebergs Pool and Enjoy the Views

Do you like the pool more than the beach? No problem you can take a dip in one of the most photographed pools in the world. We are talking about Bondi Icebergs Pool, located by the sea. Watch out for splashes because the waves break on the edge of the pool. A unique experience to do in Sydney! Admission is $9.

10. A 30-hectare Garden in the Middle of the City: the Botanical Garden

Created in 1816, the Royal Botanic Gardens is a botanical garden located in the heart of the city. Take your time to get to know it since it has 30 hectares of extension. The botanical garden is located to the east of the Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay and Macquarie Street.

Botanical Garden

If you are looking for a quiet place to relax while enjoying a privileged view,  this is your place.  Here we leave you a post with all the information you need and some postcards that we captured from the place.

11. Being a Kid Again at Luna Park

Luna Park

Luna Park is Sydney’s best-known amusement park.  Its characteristic clown – with a mega smile – is located at the entrance, and is well-known by all the locals and tourists. Be careful, we are not saying that it is Disney World, but it is a good place to go to know – you do not even need to get on its attractions – and to photograph. The entrance to know the place is free, you only have to pay if you want to get to its attractions. We got on an elevator-style that allowed us to see the city from above. We recommend it if you are not afraid of heights.

When the sun goes down, from Circular Quay, or even better from Lavender Bay, you will be able to enjoy the lights of Luna Park that illuminate the ocean.

Luna Park is open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday and from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

12. Visit the More Than 70 Sydney Beaches

70 Sydney Beaches

Did you know that Sydney has more than 70 beaches? Yes! Sydney is so much more than Bondi Beach and Manly. Along its coast, you can meet different suburbs with their beaches: Coogee, Bronte, Tamarama, Palm Beach, Avalon, and many more. Some are more massive – Bondi and Manly – and others seem almost private beaches – Kutti Beach -. Our favorite is Curl Curl, although it was hard for us to choose just one, we chose it for its long beach of fine white sand, its green landscapes and because it is the special place if you are looking for tranquility, and for surfers, there are excellent waves!

13. Queen Victoria Building

The Queen Victoria Building is located in the heart of the CBD, it is nothing more and nothing less than a shopping center – although it was not originally. But even if you are not a fan of shopping, we recommend that you take a walk just to see this incredible 19th-century building that represents the Romanesque Revival. You will not be able to stop contemplating its beautiful stained glass windows.

Queen Victoria Building

In addition, the three upper levels have large openings which allow natural light to illuminate the place. In the place, two mechanical watches are exhibited. One of them, “the real one” is activated every hour and shows six scenes of English royalty.

Extra Fact: the building is huge, measuring 30 meters wide and 190 meters long, so it is very likely that you will get lost in its corridors! 

14. Take a Ferry from Circular Quay to Manly on a Sunday, something different to do in Sydney

As you may have already read in this post, if you use public transport on a Sundaythe most you will spend is $2.60 AUD. So if you are a backpacker or simply do not want to spend a lot, we recommend this Sunday plan. Take a ferry from Circular Quay to Manly, usually quite frequent, but always check first on the NSW Transport page.

Ferry from Circular Quay to Manly

Manly is a suburb of Sydney with a population of 11,165. It is the gateway to the northern beaches. Its main attractions are its beaches and activities such as surfing and diving. You can also enjoy whale watching between the months of May and August.

In the afternoon you can enjoy a few beers – or a coffee – with a dream view or walk the streets of the Corso – the main street of Manly – which has various items of shops – souvenirs, clothing, supermarkets – and bars.

15. Paddington Reservoir Gardens

Paddington Reservoir Gardens

The charming neighborhood of Paddington, in addition to beautiful houses and buildings, has a very unique green space that is different from the others: Paddington Reservoir.  It is a place that seems to be an unfinished construction. A mixture of Roman baths that converges with nature. The original construction was a water reservoir from the 1800s, but it was reused to build this beautiful garden. It is an ideal place to sit and simply relax, there are chairs – which can be moved – where you can lie down and enjoy nature. From time to time exhibitions are held, or even birthdays and celebrations. You can check more on the garden’s official site.

16. Observatory Hill

Observatory Hill

If you are looking for a place with good views to enjoy the city, we recommend Observatory Hill.  It is located in the neighborhood of The Rocks  – which we will talk about later – Ursu discovered it doing a free tour of this suburb. The truth is that there is no waste. Given its beautiful views, it is very common to find – especially – Asians making photographic productions for weddings and celebrations, or also groups of friends having picnics. We leave you some images that we took on some of our visits (every time there was someone new in the city we took them there).

Also in Observatory Hill Park, as its name indicates, the planetarium and exhibitions are held, and numerous guided tours.

17. Prince Alfred Park

When we lived in Chippendale, we used to spend all the time in this park, that’s why we became quite fond of it because it represented our spare time after work. It joins the Chippendale and Surry Hills neighborhoods, it is a nice green space to simply hang out, play tennis, or enjoy some time outdoors.

18. Centennial Park + Moore Park + Queens Park

Centennial Park + Moore Park + Queens Park

Centennial Parklands is a must-visit if you are in Sydney. Made up of three large parks covering 360 hectares, the Parklands are the ideal place to exercise or relax in the shade of one of the more than 15,000 trees. They also have a very significant historical footprint since the home of the monument of the Federation of Australia, the Federation Pavilion, is located there.

In the Parklands, you can enjoy the Australian fauna, lagoons, trails and statues. It is a perfect place to rest, have a picnic or practice some sport.

19. Wendy’s Secret Garden, A Secret Thing To Do in Sydney

Wendy's Secret Garden

Well, actually it’s not that secret anymore, however, it’s totally worth visiting. Wendy’s Secret Garden is a hidden garden in Lavender Bay, very close to Luna Park. The creator of this beauty is called Wendy Whiteley and she is an artist from Sydney who decided to create the garden after the death of her husband. The place is full of plants of all types and colors and also has incredible views. Anything else? The garden has a fig tree where you will not be able to resist sitting under its shade. Don’t forget to leave your words in the guestbook. And as Whiteley says: “Everyone needs a secret garden in their life”. This is definitely ours!

20. Hyde Park + St Marys Cathedral

Hyde Park – Sydney’s oldest park – is located in the heart of the CBD, and is over 16 hectares wide. It gives the city a great green lung, which is always greatly appreciated. Yes, it is the favorite place of rats and cockroaches, but, nothing happens, we recommend you visit it during the day if you want to avoid these inopportune visitors.

See also  16 Best Beaches in Sydney, Australia

Within its acres is the Anzac memorialSt Marys Cathedral and Archibald’s Fountain. The latter was designed by François-Léon Sicard and donated by JF Archibald in 1932 in honor of Australia’s contribution to World War I in France. The Anzac statue was created as a memorial to the Australian Imperial Force of World War I.

Whether you are Catholic or not, visiting the cathedral is one of the essential things to do in Sydney.  It is beautiful both outside and inside. Its English Gothic style undoubtedly stands out from the rest of the buildings in the area.

21. Library of NSW

Library of NSW

The NSW Library is a gem that not many know, we entered by chance. The truth is that its front is impressive, but not as much as its interior. It is the oldest library in Australia, having been established in 1826. The earliest collections were part of the Australian Subscription Library which was started by a group of wealthy Sydneysiders.

22. Museum of Contemporary Art

The Museum of Contemporary Art, or MCA, is located in the suburb of The Rocks, featuring modern and contemporary art and exhibits by both Australian and international artists.

23. Sydney Art Gallery

The building can already be seen imposing on the outside, and inside you can visit a wide variety of modern, contemporary and aboriginal artworks. The building is made up of spacious rooms with lots of natural light that make the visit very pleasant.

24. Get to Know the Financial Center of Sydney, the CBD

Financial Center of Sydney

The CBD, or the city, is the financial center of Sydney, home to the Australian Stock Exchange, the Reserve Bank, and the Law Courts. CBD, for us, is synonymous with costumes and traffic, although very beautiful for its historic buildings and skyscrapers, The City is a bit chaotic.

In addition to the town hall and the Queen Victoria Building, a place that you cannot miss – and that not everyone knows – is a passage called Angel  Place. We don’t want to tell you too much because it’s good to be surprised, but we can tell you that the place pays homage to all the birds of Sydney that left the city when all the construction began.

25. Tour Watson Bay and Rose Bay

Nothing is more beautiful than a day on a ferry ride and beautiful beaches! Watsons Bay is Australia’s oldest fishing village, located at the southern entrance to Sydney Harbour.

Watson Bay and Rose Bay

Enjoy the view of the spectacular cliffs that are found on the walk to the lighthouse of Watsons Bay (Horny Lighthouse) and the sunset in its port. At lunchtime, we recommend that you savor the famous fish and chips in one of the most famous seafood restaurants in Sydney.

26. Learn about Sydney’s Origins at The Rocks

Sydney's Origins at The Rocks

The Rocks are one of our favorite neighborhoods. Walking through its cobbled streets, you will feel like you are in another era. It is the oldest suburb of Sydney since it was built in the colonial era in 1788. The most beautiful thing about The Rocks is getting lost among its streets – which tell stories – walking through its hidden passages and corridors and why not enjoy a beer thrown in the oldest bar in the city – created in 1828 – Fortune of War.

You can also enjoy good views from Observatory Hill and a shopping trip through the market that runs on weekends.

We recommend you take a free tour – by donation – to learn more about the history of the prisoners who lived there and the first Europeans who came to Australia.

27. Partying at King’s Cross

King Cross, or The Cross – to locals – was known as Sydney’s red light district.  Today he is quite far from that description. However, it retains its style and its nightlife. It is one of the favorite neighborhoods for backpackers because in it you can find countless bars and nightclubs, but also brothels, motels and game rooms. In addition, this suburb is well known for its old illuminated Coca-Cola sign, which welcomes you as you enter its streets.

28. Enjoy a 360º View at the O Bar

It is a  revolving restaurant that is located in the center of the city. Yes, it rotates 360 degrees. You arrive and they place you at a table and 10 minutes later you will want to find the bathrooms and magically they will not be in the same place. The restaurant obviously offers a menu and drinks and wine list, so if you are saving money, you don’t have to spend money on dinner, you can just have a beer or a snack. The prices – of the beers and snacks – are not much more expensive than what we are used to in Sydney and especially the CBD. The views from the O Bar are simply incredible, and best of all, you can see the Opera from a very good angle!

Open every day from 5:00 p.m. If you are going to dine- keep in mind that the prices are different. You don’t have to wear a suit and tie, but it’s not a place to wear sneakers and a cap.

29. The Grounds of Alexandria

The Grounds of Alexandria

We love getting to know the local markets, that’s why we made a post about the best places in Sydney. And this is our favorite market, it is located in the heart of Alexandria and it is a foodie market or food market. But there are also flower shops and you can see animals. The aesthetics and setting of the place are incredible, the bathrooms are decorated as if they were part of a stable, and the place itself looks like it came out of a chic Aussie farmhouse.  All the tables are decorated with plants and flowers, and the fountain upon entering the restaurant adds beauty to the place.

It opens every day from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., but weekends are when there are more stalls and there is also a craft sector, of course, there are also many more people.

30. See Wax Figures at Madame Tussauds

In Darling Harbor, you can meet a lot of celebrities, although not in the flesh! You will have to settle for its wax version inside the Madame Tussauds museum. You will be able to take a selfie with the British royal family or a lot of Hollywood stars, for example.

31. Boat Trip Around the Bay

Taking a boat trip around the bay is one of the most interesting activities to do in Sydney. It will allow you to see the city from another perspective and observe the most emblematic buildings of the city from the water. You can book a one-hour boat ride. If you want to make it even more special you can choose a boat trip with dinner.

32. Take the Free 555 Bus Down George St

George St. is one of the longest in Sydney and runs through most of the center. A fantastic way to explore it saving energy and money is taking the 555 bus. Yes, it’s free.

33. Attend a Tribute at the Anzac Memorial

In this memorial, you will be able to see personal objects of Australian soldiers who have served in various wars, as well as documentaries about Vietnam and other wars. Every day at 11 a.m. they hold two minutes of silence in tribute to the victims. Visiting it is a very emotional thing to do in Sydney.

34. Lie Down in Hyde Park

Hyde Park is one of the best parks in the city. Relaxing on your grass surrounded by the tallest buildings in the city is priceless. This is another cool thing to do in Sydney without spending a dollar.

35. Marvel at the Cathedral of Santa María

Santa María

This neo-Gothic cathedral is the most famous in the city. It is also the largest in Australia and is located next to Hyde Park. In addition, right in front, there are some fountains where the little ones splash around in summer and create a beautiful contrast with the facade of the cathedral.

36. Visit the Art Gallery of New South Wales

This museum house works of art from many periods and by many artists. It’s not the Louvre, but it has works by big European names like Monet, Gauguin, and Délacroix … We particularly enjoy the modern art section, it’s very entertaining. Also, admission is free.

See also  Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney

37. Visit Chinatown

Like most large cities, Sydney also has a ChinatownYou can move to Beijing for a moment by walking under the traditional Chinese door on the main street or shopping in typical shops of the Asian country.

38. Try the Messina Ice Cream Parlor, an Essential Thing to Do in Sydney for Those With a Sweet Tooth

Being so far from Italy, we were surprised to find such delicious gelatos. There are several Messina venues in Sydney, although not quite central. Don’t get overwhelmed in the queue, there are usually quite a few people.

39. Take in the Best Views of the City From Mrs. Mcquarie’s Chair

Mrs. Mcquarie's Chair

Although it is very subjective, we found Mrs. McQuarie’s Chair to be the best viewpoint in the city. The view of the opera with the Harbor Bridge behind is beautiful. In addition, the walk to get there is very beautiful. As a curiosity, you will see many people doing sports. In general, Australians lead a very healthy lifestyle and sport is paramount in their routine.

40. Subir a la Sydney Tower

The Sydney Tower is one of the most emblematic buildings to see in Sydney. In the end, it costs a lot to surpass the beautiful Opera! At 309 meters tall, it is the third tallest tower in the southern hemisphere.

If you like viewpoints, you can go up to its observatory located at 251 meters. From there you can enjoy one of the best views of the city, especially the CBD and Sydney Harbour.

41. Stroll Through the Rocks and Feel Like You Are in Europe

This neighborhood was the first European colony in the city and its European touch can still be seen today. Pubs abound and the nightlife is one of the best in the city. He teleported us to DublinSpending an afternoon there is one of the essential things to do in Sydney.

42. Hunter Valley is an Essential Visit to Do in Sydney for Wine Lovers

Did you know that Australia is one of the largest wine producers in the world? Near Sydney, you can visit Hunter Valley. It is a wine region where you can visit some wineries and, of course, try a few glasses of wine Contemplating the landscape full of vineyards is also a real delight.

43. Appreciate the Beauty of Sydney City Hall

Sydney City Hall

The town’s Town Hall is one of the main tourist attractions in the city. Its steps are the meeting point for many locals and give rise to many demonstrations. Without a doubt, a curious building to see in Sydney.

44. Get Lost in Newtown, the Quintessential Hipster Neighborhood

Newtown is an alternative suburb. It is full of bars with a lot of atmospheres and spectacular graffiti. Located just 10 minutes by train from Central Station, on Enmore Road and King Street there are good restaurants for cheap eats. Also, if the party is going for you, surely you will not regret entering any of its venues.

45. Go Hiking in the Blue Mountains

Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains National Park will not leave you indifferent. It is famous for the rock formations known as the Three Sisters, but it offers much more. Do not miss its hiking trails and go hunting for its impressive waterfalls. It is an essential excursion to do in Sydney.

You can book an organized tour so you don’t have to worry or arrive by public transport on your own. We recommend going at sunset to avoid the crowds that form in the morning.

46. See the City From Above, Something Special to Do in Sydney

If you want to treat yourself, you can book a helicopter ride to fly over Sydney. Contemplating the skyline of the city and seeing the surfers like ants on the waves of the beaches is priceless.

47. Watch the Sunset From the Hornby Lighthouse

To finish our list of things to see and do in Sydney, we recommend you visit the Hornby Lighthouse. It is north of the city, about 40 minutes by public transport. From the foot of the lighthouse, you will have a beautiful view of the sea. If you go at sunset the picture is even more beautiful. In addition, from May to October you will have the opportunity to see whales pass by during their migration season.

Extra: Excursions From Sydney

If you have some time, why not visit the outskirts of Sydney? These are the proposals for day trips :

  • Lose yourself in the Blue Mountains. This National Park is a real surprise just a few kilometers from the asphalt of the city. You can visit it for free ( we visited it during our road trip) or with this organized tour (with transportation, tickets, rides on the Cable Car, Skyway and Railroad, as well as a ferry cruise).
  • Another very interesting one is the Royal National Park where the Figure 8 Pools are located, some natural pools carved into the rock in the shape of an 8.
  • And if you’ve never seen kangaroos, you can go to Morrisett National Park, we didn’t know it but several readers and friends recommended it to us!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Where to Sleep in Sydney?

We spent 5 nights in Sydney, the first three at the Sydney Central YHA and the other two at the Sydney Harbor YHA . The first one is just a few meters from Sydney’s Central Station, in a very central area, with lots of options to go out to eat, Chinatown is next door and there is a very good atmosphere. The second is located in the heart of The Rocks neighborhood, very close to the southern end of the Harbor Bridge and with impressive views of the port and the Opera from the terrace.

How do Get to Sydney From the Airport?

The best means (and practically the only one, with the exception of obviously the taxi) is the train. The line that connects the airport with the center of Sydney is the T8 and makes stops at Central, Museum, St James, Circular Quay, Wynyard and Town Hall. In order to get on you will have to purchase an Opal Card (free, with a mandatory first top-up of $20).

If you have to return to the airport, know that you can leave the card negative, it is enough that you have a minimum balance of $3 on the card to be able to enter your station in Sydney and when you leave the airport the machine will tell you that you are staying negative, but will let you through.

If you dare to walk to the closest train stop to the airport ( Mascot Station ), you will save the airport tax and the trip will be much cheaper. Thanks, Felipe for that little trick.

If you’re a bitch, or you can divide the cost among several people, you can always hire a private transfer from the airport.

How to Get Around Sydney?

The first thing you have to do is buy an Opal Card (a rechargeable card that will be used for bus, ferry, and tram…). It’s free but you have to make an initial top-up of $30. More information about the individual rates of each trip. But there is a trick: the maximum amount that they will charge you in one day is $15.40, so if you organize yourself well and make all the visits by means of transport in one day… well, it can be much cheaper than normal!

And pay attention to the fact: on Sundays, this maximum is only reduced to $2.50! So if you are in Sydney on a Sunday, take the opportunity to visit further afield, such as Bondi Beach, Mandy’s or even the excursion to the Blue Mountains, and the rest of the days explore the center.

The opal card can be bought at the airport, train stations and even at 7-Eleven.

Conclusion

These are for us the best 50 things to see and do in Sydney. Do you know more things to see and do in Sydney? Leave us a comment…

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