Best Places to Visit in Sydney
Sydney is the oldest, largest and most beautiful of all Australian cities, situated at the enchanting intersection of land and sea. Glide a ferry through the shimmering harbor, see the white sails of the Opera House gleaming in the sun, and marvel at the graceful arches of the Harbor Bridge and you’ll understand why this is one of the best cities in the world.
It’s hard to imagine that this vibrant NSW capital was once a prison camp. In 1788, in Sydney Bay, Captain Arthur Philip, commander of the First Fleet, established the first British colony in Australia. Today, you can explore Sydney’s deep-rooted history in the narrow cobblestone streets and historic buildings of The Rocks, learn about the Gadigal Aboriginal people and the country’s traditional protectors on guided tours, and the city’s magnificent museums.
Sydney is still known for the adventurous spirit of its settlers. Climb the Harbor Bridge, surf the Green Barrel on Sydney’s golden sands, or fly over the city on a scenic tour. The adventure does not end in the city. The wildlife-rich wilderness areas surrounding the city offer attractive day-trip opportunities.
Have a look at our list of the Best Places to Visit in Sydney and make your trip enjoyable.
Top 15 Best Places to Visit in Sydney
Here are the top 15 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Sydney:
1. Visit Sydney Opera House
One of the world’s greatest landmarks, the Sydney Opera House is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a star attraction in the glittering harbor. Shaped like a seashell or undulating sail, this elegant building is perched on land surrounded by water.
There are several options for visiting the Sydney Opera House. Take a photo while gliding on the harbor cruise, relax in one of the restaurants, wander outside or arrange a tour of this magnificent building. Inside you will find theatres, studios, exhibition halls, a concert hall and a cinema.
Take a guided walking tour of the Sydney Opera House to learn about the history and look behind the scenes of this famous building. This is a flexible ticket that allows you to join any of the tours every half hour from 9 am to 5 pm throughout the day.
Note that the building has undergone a 10-year $275 million upgrade, but will continue to operate during restoration.
Location: Bennelong Point, Sydney, NSW
Official website: https://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/
2. Climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge
Nicknamed ‘The Coat Rack’, the Sydney Harbor Bridge is another Sydney landmark. Supported by huge double piers at both ends, it was built in 1932 and remains the largest steel arch bridge in the world. You can go over it, under it, over it on a train, or take a photo from afar. But one of the best ways to appreciate this engineering marvel and take in breathtaking views of Sydney Harbor is to climb its 135-meter summit.
Bridge climbing is one of Australia’s top outdoor adventure activities, and you can choose from a number of different tours. Sydney BridgeClimb guides the group to the outer vault on a roughly 3.5-hour climb. Tours continue throughout the day, starting with the dawn ascent and ending with the night climbing. You can also choose from different types of climbs, including Aboriginal story experiences, and climb directly from the arch to the other side – the bridge that connects the north and south shores of the harbor.
Guided climbs of the bridge include pre-climb preparatory talks, safety equipment and summit photos. Along the way, you’ll learn all sorts of interesting stories about the history of the bridge. Before he became famous, one of his most famous workers was Paul Hogan, known as Crocodile Dundee.
Address: 5 Cumberland Street, Sydney, NSW
Official website: https://www.bridgeclimb.com/
3. Hike The Rocks
Want to learn about Sydney’s history? Wander around the rocky area. Located on a piece of land in Sydney Harbour, The Rocks Historic District was once home to the Gadigal Aboriginal people. It later became the first European settlement in the country.
The District of the Rocks is named for the rocky shore on the west side of Sydney Bay where the prisoners set up their tents. Today, more than 100 sites and structures fill the narrow streets, including Sydney’s oldest surviving home, Cadman Cottage, built in 1816.
The first stop should be to visit the Rock Discovery Museum. Here you can learn about the region’s fascinating transformation from traditional Aboriginal land to a captive ghetto and tourist hotspot. You can also take a free 30-minute guided tour between 13:00 and 13:30 daily.
Afterward, wander the narrow cobbled streets. Grab some souvenirs at the gift shop, shop for crafts at the market stalls (Friday nights, Saturday and Sunday), and view Aboriginal and contemporary art in the galleries. Here you can also find many atmospheric restaurants and cafes.
Guided services cover everything from Aboriginal heritage walks to photography excursions, and if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary in Sydney, you can book a night ghost tour.
Address: 66 Harrington Street, 6th Floor, The Rocks, Sydney, New South Wales
Official website: www.therocks.com
4. Take a harbor cruise at Circular Quay
Sydney is known for its sparkling waterfront setting, and one of the most popular things to do in Sydney Harbor is a sightseeing tour. Most harbor cruises depart from Circular Quay in Sydney Bay, which is also home to the city’s main ferry terminal.
short time? Book a two-hour Sydney Harbor Coffee Cruise that takes you through all the harbor’s highlights to some of Sydney’s most scenic landmarks, including the Opera House, Sydney Harbor Bridge and Fort Denison. Learn fun facts about the main attractions along the way and get your camera ready – you’ll have plenty of photo manipulation.
Want to spot some wildlife during your travels? During the annual Great Winter Whale Migration, Sydney Whale Watching Cruises will take travelers through Cape Sydney to see these amazing creatures.
Don’t have time for a harbor cruise? You can still take a ferry around the harbor to see some of the best attractions. Ferries depart from Circular Quay to key destinations such as Manly, Watsons Bay and Taronga Park Zoo.
Insider Tip: From Circular Quay you can easily walk to Sydney’s other top attractions. Follow the south promenade to the Sydney Opera House and Royal Botanic Gardens and take a short walk north to Sydney Harbor Bridge and The Rocks Historic District. To the west, the free Museum of Contemporary Art, housed in an Art Deco building, showcases cutting-edge and often controversial exhibits.
5. Spend a day at Darling Harbor
Darling Harbor has something for everyone. This coastal area on the west side of Sydney’s CBD is home to many tourist attractions and is a hub for tourists and locals alike. You’ll find everything here, from shops, restaurants and entertainment venues to museums, zoos, aquariums and IMAX theatres.
Families will love Madame Tussauds, the Wildlife Sydney Zoo, and the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, home to the world’s largest collection of Australian marine life. SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium tickets are a great way to stand out from the crowd.
The Powerhouse Museum offers interactive exhibits on science, technology, design and history, and maritime history buffs can board a replica of Captain Cook’s HMB Endeavor at the Australian National Maritime Museum. As you wander around, look out for the colorful artwork on the Darling Harbor Street Art Trail.
Younger kids will love the carousel, playground, Darling Harbor Ferris wheel, and water park. IMAX and 9D cinemas, harbor jet boats, flight simulations and racing adventures round out the exciting attractions.
Looking for a peaceful patch of green? Enter the Chinese Friendship Garden and enjoy a cup of tea among the willows and koi ponds.
As well as providing families with a one-stop-shop for Sydney attractions, Darling Harbor also hosts a variety of exciting events, from art exhibitions and film festivals to concerts at the Aware Super Theatre.
Official website: http://www.darlingharbour.com/
6. Smell roses at Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens
Need to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city? Relax at the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney in Farm Bay. Visiting this peaceful oasis is one of the city’s many free leisure activities – especially if you need a scenic restoration – and it’s just a short walk from the Sydney Opera House.
Established in 1816, the gardens are Australia’s oldest botanical gardens. It includes 30 hectares of themed gardens with tall trees, palms, orchids, ferns, succulents, tropical gardens, rainforest plants, herbs and oriental gardens.
Garden lovers will be in heaven. About 1,800 roses bloomed in the Royal Palace Rose Garden. Latitude 23 greenhouses and ferns covered with tropical plants, begonias and orchids; Cadi Jam Ora – First Encounters Garden tells the story of the Gadigal people, the traditional guardians of the country, and explores the relationship between humans and plants.
It offers Aboriginal cultural tours and guided walking tours, as well as activities like bush tuck morning tea and picnics. Check the website for detailed information.
Wondering what’s nearby? The garden is surrounded by the Domain, a popular activity venue with open green spaces and sports fields. While visiting the gardens, you can enjoy views of the government buildings, and the residence of the NSW Governor.
Address: Lady Macquarie Road, Sydney, New South Wales
Official website: https://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au
7. Shopping at the Queen Victoria Building
Is shopping high on your agenda? Proceed to the Romanesque-style Queen Victoria Building (“QVB”). Even if you don’t mind buying something, this beautifully restored building with its colorful stained glass windows and mosaic floors is worth admiring.
Surrounded by 20 small domes, the high central dome crowns this elegant building, originally built as a market hall between 1893 and 1898. After decades of neglect and even planning for demolition, this magnificent sandstone building was restored to its original state in the early 1980s.
Today, more than 200 luxury shops line their light-filled galleries. Among Australian stores, R.M. Williams, Lorna Jane and Haigh have chocolate shops and many Australian designer boutiques, and you’ll also find homeware shops, gift shops and galleries.
Address: 455 George Street, Sydney, NSW
Official website: http://www.qvb.com.au/
8. Enjoy the sun on Sydney beaches
Sydney is famous for its beautiful beaches. There are many hidden coves around the harbor with its calm waters and sugary sands.
You don’t have to be far from the CBD to find a stunning stretch of sand and sea. Iconic Bondi Beach is less than a 15-minute drive from town and offers great surfing, lively cafes and a cosmopolitan atmosphere. You can walk along the cliffs from Bondi to Coogee Beach for stunning ocean views.
If you’re traveling by public transport, Cronulla is the only beach accessible from the city by train, while Manly Beach is just a 30-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay. Here, you can swim in the surf or net ocean pool, take surfing lessons, or stroll along the promenade and stop at great shops and restaurants.
Further out of town, surfers will find great breaks at Collaroy, Dee Why and Narrabeen. Swimming is fun on most Sydney beaches – especially in the summer – but you should always stay between the red and yellow flags.
9. Cycling or hiking in the Barangaroo Conservation Area
The Barangaroo Conservation Area is a great example of a successful urban renewal project. Named after an influential female Indigenous leader from European colonial times, the area was transformed from an ugly container terminal and opened to the public in 2015, dedicated to sustainable development and community well-being.
With more than 75,000 native trees and shrubs, as well as hiking and biking trails, this 22-hectare waterfront area is ideal for walking or cycling along the harbor. Here you will also find shops, restaurants, event and exhibition spaces.
One of the most popular activities in Barangaroo is the Wulugul Walk. This scenic promenade wraps around the redeveloped 6-hectare Sydney Harbor promontory, which stretches 2 km between Walsh Bay and Darling Harbour, at the northern end of the reserve. Along the way, you can admire a number of evocative public art installations. Look out for the Shell Wall, a 22-meter-high vertical panel created by two of Australia’s leading Aboriginal artists, located on the side of a building at the south gate of the reserve. You can learn about the region’s rich Aboriginal heritage with an Aboriginal Cultural Tour.
Wondering how to get here? Barangaroo is just 4 minutes walk from Wynyard Station and you can also take a direct ferry to the new Barangaroo Pier.
Official website: http://www.barangaroo.com/
10. Go wild at Taronga Zoo
At Taronga Zoo you can see all your favorite animals and amazing city views. Situated in a prime location in Sydney’s upscale suburb of Mossman at a point on the north side of the harbor, the zoo is one of Sydney’s best places to play for kids.
Here you can get up close and personal with iconic Australian wildlife and other animals from around the world. Highlights include the African savanna exhibit, tiger walks, chimpanzees and gorillas.
Daily breeder presentations and animal shows add to all the fun. Feed giraffes, meet Asian elephants, get up close with cute koalas or befriend meerkats. Another bonus: Your ticket includes entertainment, including a wild seal show and a free-flying bird show.
Buses from the city to the zoo leave from Wynyard. Better still, catch the ferry at Circular Quay. The zoo’s live events calendar includes “Roar and Snor” overnight zoo stays and a summer concert series. You can pre-purchase Sydney Taronga Zoo tickets, which include a ride on the Sky Safari Gondola.
Address: Bradleys Head Road, Mossman, NSW
Official website: http://talonga.org.au/taronga-zoo
11. Walk along George Street
The bustling George Street in the city center is Australia’s oldest street. The nameless track, where convicts once brought water, is now one of the main streets of the city. It is worth exploring to feel the pulse of this lively city and browse the shops.
Here you will see a variety of architectural styles. Luminous tall office towers juxtapose with historic buildings. A highlight is the elegant Romanesque Queen Victoria Building with its graceful domes, stained glass windows and luxury shops.
Nearby Sydney Town Hall (1869) is a major landmark with a variety of architectural styles (resembling an ornate wedding cake). Another notable building is the neo-Gothic St Andrew’s Cathedral, which was completed and opened in 1868.
Need a shopping fix? You’ll find plenty of luxury shops in the Queen Victoria Building, while designer boutiques and jewelry stores can be found along the Victorian Strand Arcade. If you’re looking for more accessible brands, the Pitt Street Mall, one block east of George Street, is one of the city’s main shopping areas.
12. Enjoy a picnic in Hyde Park
Sydney Hyde Park, named after London’s Hyde Park, is Australia’s oldest park. A peaceful haven in the heart of the city and a great place for a picnic. Spacious lawns, shady picnic spots, flowers, fountains, and fig trees provide a welcoming haven, and the park is ideal for people-watching, especially at lunchtime, when city workers come to kick their shoes.
Various monuments and monuments adorn this popular 16-hectare green space. The park’s bronze Archibald Fountain (1932) commemorates Australia’s alliance with France during World War I, and the Art Deco Anzac War Memorial (1934) in the park’s southern half honors its victims.
On Queens Square at the north end of Hyde Park are three beautiful Georgian buildings that are masterpieces by convicted architect Sir Francis Greenway: Hyde Park Barracks, St James’s Church, and the Supreme Court. Built by convicts in 1817-19, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hyde Park Barracks was restored in 1975-84 and now houses a museum depicting the life of the first half-hearted “settler” in Sydney’s history.
On the east side of Hyde Park is the Australian Museum, which houses the largest natural history collection in the country.
Address: Elizabeth Street, Sydney, New South Wales
Official website: http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/explore/facilities/parks/major-parks/hyde-park
13. Admire masterpieces at the Art Gallery of New South Wales
Surrounded by beautiful parkland, the Art Gallery of NSW is one of the most outstanding art museums in the country. Dating back to 1885, the building is home to expansive, bright galleries and the Grand Court, with evocative contemporary art from European masters and Asian artists from around the world. The gallery also houses one of Australia’s largest collections of Aboriginal art.
Currently, the Art Gallery of NSW is undergoing transformation and expansion in the Sydney Modern Project, including a brand new sustainable building, the addition of a public art garden and a large forecourt, and the restoration of historic buildings. When completed by the end of 2022, the museum will occupy twice as much exhibition space flowing between indoor and outdoor spaces and will remain a major destination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.
Address: Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney, NSW
Official website: http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/
14. Macquarie Street and the NSW State Library
In 1816 the Sydney Hospital on Macquarie Street opened, encouraging doctors to set up offices nearby. However, hospital capacity exceeded demand and legislatures moved into some buildings. Today, the Houses of Parliament, located in the north wing of the hospital, is open to the public when the NSW Parliament is in session.
Starting from Hyde Park to the south and Sydney Opera House to the north, Macquarie Street was Sydney’s most popular street. Governor Macquarie even commissioned many of the colony’s major public buildings, some of which were designed by convicted architect Francis Greenway. The impressive sandstone residences feature balconies with beautiful views of the surrounding parkland and Sydney Harbour.
One of the main attractions on Macquarie Street is the State Library of New South Wales, Australia’s oldest library. Treasures include the diaries of Captain Cook and Joseph Banks and the reward diary of Captain Bligh. The permanent and temporary exhibitions here are always worth a visit, and you can relax with a snack in the cafe or pick up interesting Australian souvenirs from the gift shop.
Official website: http://www.sl.nsw.gov.au/
15. Kings Cross
About 2 km east of the CBD, Kings Cross is Sydney’s diverse red-light district and the city’s nightlife hub. If you’re interested in experiencing an edgy part of the city, this is a great place to visit. You can also catch a show at one of the theatres.
Known to the locals as “The Cross”, it has a fascinating Bohemian history. The area was an arts district from the 1920s until the 1950s, and then hippies became a popular beatnik haunt. During the Vietnam War, when large numbers of U.S. soldiers came here for “rest and rest” holidays, the area slowly began to slide into corruption. You can learn more about the spicy history of the area on a guided walking tour.
Although the area has a bad reputation at night, it has a different face during the day. Backpackers from the many hotels in the area flock to the trendy cafes. Boutique hotels offer shelter for fashionistas, and gourmets come here to dine at trendy restaurants.
To find King’s Cross, look for the large Coca-Cola billboard at the intersection of William Street and Darlinghurst Road. It is a well known landmark in Sydney and is often referred to as the “Gateway of the Cross”.
Hope you like our choice of the best places to visit in Sydney. If you think there are some more best and beautiful places to visit in Sydney, we should cover. Write us below in the comment box.