What to see in Sydney: the 17 best attractions and things to do

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

Although not the capital of Australia, Sydney is the largest city in the land of kangaroos, as well as one of the most exciting destinations in the world. Overlooking a magnificent bay and framed by green parks, it is a sun-kissed settlement inhabited by people who indisputably know how to enjoy life.

Are you planning a trip to Australia? Here what to see in Sydney, with all the tips on the best attractions and things to do!


  1. Sydney Opera House
  2. Sydney Harbor Bridge
  3. Royal Botanic Garden
  4. Sydney tower eye
  5. Sea Life Aquarium
  6. Taronga Zoo
  7. Hyde Park
  8. Hyde Park Barrack's Museum
  9. St. Mary's Cathedral
  10. Bondi Beach
  11. Museum of Contemporary Art
  12. Australian National Maritime Museum
  13. Blue Mountains Park
  14. Sydney Observatory
  15. Australian Museum
  16. Coogee to Bondi Costal Walk
  17. Manly and Manly beach
  18. Other attractions to visit
  19. 5 things to do in Sydney
  20. User questions and comments

Looking for a hotel in Sydney? We have selected the best offers on Booking.com for you

1 - Sydney Opera House

Created by the Danish Jorn Utzon with this futuristic "shell" design and inaugurated with great fanfare in 1973, the Opera House Theater is a masterpiece of modern expressionism. In 2007 it became part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Located in Sydney Harbor, it is among the most visited attractions in Australia, and mostly by tourists not necessarily interested in opera and ballet. Characteristic of this exterior design is the fact that it does not have a main facade as the architect wanted that his masterpiece was beautiful from every angle.

Inside of it has two major rooms, the Concert Hall and the Opera Theater. The first can accommodate about 2.700 people, and here is the large organ with 10.500 pipes, which was installed in 1979. In addition to these, the Opera House has over 1.000 concert halls and other rooms inside, and presents every year a calendar with over 2.000 performances between ballets, concerts, theater, comedies.

Book tickets onlineAs this is one of the most visited attractions in Australia, the availability of places on guided tours runs out easily! For this reason we recommend that you book your visit online, thus guaranteeing you a place

  • 5 minutes walk from Circular Quay station, at Bennelong Point, exactly in the middle of the CBD, the Central Business District. Walkable to the Royal Botanic Garden (500m, 5 min) and the Rocks Discovery Museum (1km, 15 min). It can also be reached by bus lines 333, 392, B1, L94 and by metro lines T2, T3 and T4, "Circular Quay" stop - Get directions
  • visitable with tour, every day 9: 00-17: 00
  • full from A $ 37,00 full (€ 22,50), reduced from A $ 20,00 (€ 12,10). To attend a show, consult the official website

2 - Sydney Harbor Bridge

Sydney Harbor is one of the most beautiful in the world, also thanks to the presence of the fantastic bridge.

The Sydney Harbor Bridge is one of the most evident symbols of the city, which connects the CBD (Central Business District) to the northern area of ​​the city (North Shore). Crossed by the Parramatta River, this bridge has spanned over the famous sydney Bay since its construction, which began in 1920 and completed in 1932. Even today, given its record size, represents a valid example of engineering and architecture which is worth visiting for its majesty.

Visit it on foot or ... climbing: by car or train the view is not so spectacular, better to walk it. From the Pylon Lookout in the southeastern part, you can go up for fantastic views. Alternatively, the bravest can also attempt the Bridge Climb!

  • in the heart of The Rocks neighborhood, in the Circular area. Walkable distance from the Opera House (1,3 km, 18 min), Observatory Hill Park (500 m, 6 min), The Rocks Discovery Museum (300 m, 5 min). Alternatively, metro lines T2, T3 and T4 stop "Circular Quay" and bus 324-325 to "Hickosn Rd" - Get directions
  • always accessible / Ascent to the pylon 10: 00-17: 00
  • free / Ascent to the full pylon A $ 15,00 (€ 9,00), reduced A $ 10,00 (€ 6,00)

3 - Royal Botanic Garden

Particularly suitable for nature lovers, the Royal Botanic Gardens offers great views of the Opera House and the bay, ideal place for a nice picnic or for a walk.

It cannot be said for sure that public parks are in short supply in Sydney and the Royal Botanic Gardens are the most striking example of this, given their extension of 30 hectares and the incredible variety of native plants present inside, classified in the th century by the botanist Charles Fraser. During a pleasant walk through the beautiful flower meadows, it is not uncommon to come across the works of art displayed in the gardens.

His visit is ideal for getting away from the chaos of the city and to enjoy a quiet day, perhaps having a bite to eat in the park restaurant and shopping in the gift shop.

Take a free tour: in the park from Monday to Friday at 10:30 and 13:00 it is possible to participate in several free walking tours offered by volunteer guides. Meet at the information point just outside the Garden Shop and the walk lasts 1 hour. Of course, a small tip is welcome ...

  • in Mrs Macquaries Rd, just off Hyde Park. Walkable to the Opera House (500m, 5 min), Sydney Museum (400m, 5 min), Circula Quay (200m, 3 min). By bus "Circular Quay" stop and metro lines T2, T3 and T4 "Circular Quay" stop - Get directions
  • every day from 7:00 until sunset
  • free

4 - Sydney Tower Eye

With its 309 meters high, it is the tallest building in the city. Equipped with 3 lifts and 1.504 steps from the base to the observation deck, has a viewing platform 250 m high from where you can admire the city and enjoy a splendid panorama.

The view can be even more impressive if you get to the roof with the Skywalk, where you can watch a 4D Experience movie that offers a bird's eye view. The panoramic restaurant at the top is a must.

Climb to the top at sunset: the perfect time to climb this tower is at sunset, when the sun goes down on the bay and the city begins to light up. In addition to the observatory, inside the tower there are two revolving restaurants that offer incredible views to admire between courses. To save on admission, purchase the Sydney Attraction Pass, which includes the tower and other attractions

  • on Westfield Center / 100 Market St, on the corner of Pitt Street Mall and Market Street. Close to Saint Mary's Cathedral (500m, 6 min), Hyde Park (550m, 7 min) and the Darling district (1,2 km, 16 min). By metro T2-T3-T4-T7-T8 stop "St. James Station" or bus stop "St. James Station" - Get directions
  • from May to September 9: 00-21: 30; from October to April 9: 00-22: 00
  • full from A $ 24,80 full (€ 15,00), reduced from A $ 17,60 (€ 10,30), Skywalk A $ 70,00 (€ 42,50)

5 - Sea Life Aquarium

A city like Sydney that lives in close contact with the sea, could not fail to have one of the largest and most beautiful aquariums in the world, like that of the SEA LIFE Aquarium. Opened to the public in 1988, inside 5 marine habitats have been recreated and there are over 10.000 specimens of marine creatures of about 700 different species.

The beauty of this place is that in addition to the pools along the walls, there are also pools under the floors and two large tanks that are crossed through a tunnel of transparent plastic, where it seems to walk accompanied by sharks and rays. Among the main attractions are dugongs, moon jellyfish, seahorses and clown fish.

Skip the line and ... dive into a shark tank: it is one of the most visited attractions, and you risk losing an hour in line at the ticket office. Better to buy the ticket online with a skip the line option. In addition, the aquarium is practically attached to the Wild Life Sydney Zoo, you can visit them on the same day especially if you are traveling with children.

An incredible but somewhat expensive experience is that of diving with sharks: with the support of experts and professionals, you can dive in a tank full of bull sharks ... without protection barrier! Info and costs here.

  • on 1-5 Wheat Rd in the Darling Harbor area. Reachable on foot from the National Maritime Museum (700 m. 9 min). By bus stop "Town Hall Statio" - Get directions
  • Mon-Thu 9: 30-18: 00, Fri-Sun and holidays 9: 30-19: 00
  • full from A $ 38,40 (€ 23,50), reduced from A $ 28,00 (€ 17,00)

6 - Taronga Zoo

After the SEA LIFE Aquarium, the Taronga Zoo is the structure that home to the largest number of animals in Sydney, with over 2.600 specimens living in about 21 hectares.

The zoo is divided into eight zoogeographic zones, each of which hosts the species present in different areas of the world, perfectly simulating their natural habitat and letting the animals feel at ease in a controlled and protected environment. It is about a safe and educational place to get to know Australia's friendly people up close.

Wild Ropes Experience: in this place it is possible to have an incredible experience! The Wild Ropes is a 90-minute trek through the trees that allows you to see animals and views while walking on footbridges, pipes and ladders, all of course made of wood! And for those wishing to sleep inside the zoo, there is an internal campsite that offers much more than just a night in a tent! For a complete experience, we recommend that you opt for the Harbor Cruise, Taronga Zoo and Sky Safari package

  • on Bradleys Head Road in Mosman, on Sydney Harbor. Accessible by ferries departing from Circular Quay in Mosman (12 min). Alternatively, bus 430 to Taronga Zoo from Central, Town Hall and Wynyard train stations (15 min) - Get directions
  • from September to April 9: 30-17: 00, from May to August 9: 30-16: 30
  • full A $ 44,10 (€ 27,00), reduced A $ 26,10 (€ 16,00)

7 - Hyde Park

Among the most famous parks in Sydney there is certainly Hyde Park, the city public garden, which houses the Barrack's Museum. It is Australia's oldest botanical garden, sandwiched between Elisabeth Street to the west, College Street to the east, St. James Road and Prince Albert Road to the north and Liverpool Street to the south. Named after the homonymous park located in London, it measures 16 hectares and is open all week since its inauguration in 1878. Inside it is possible to visit the fountain donated by JF Archibald, journalist and creator of the homonymous prize.

Very particular is the Giant Chess, a giant chessboard on which it is possible to play with the pieces made available (8: 30-16: 30).
Various events take place in this park throughout the year such as the Sydney Festival, Australia Day, ANZAC Day and the Food & Wine Fair, all excellent opportunities to see this place immersed in an even more lively atmosphere

Walkable to the Tower Eye (550m, 7 min), and Circular Quay (1,5km, 20 min). By metro T3-T8 stops "St. Jaes" or "Museum" - Get directions

Visit the Japanese gardens inside Hyde Park: the tiny Nayoga Gardens are characterized by a zen atmosphere, created to sanction the friendship between Sydney and the Japanese city of Nayoga. Here you can admire different Japanese plants such as bamboo, azaleas, plum trees perfectly integrated between the ponds, the fountains and the stone lanterns.

8 - Hyde Park Barrack's Museum

Hyde Park Barrack's Museum is UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the original "Australian Convict Sites". Today it is considered a real museum and archaeological treasure, recommended for those who want to understand the history of the city. Initially it housed inmates employed in the public works of the city, then in 1848, with the end of the deportations of convicts it was converted into an immigration office, with accommodation reserved for single women who came to Australia to work as servants and later became a care center for sick or destitute women. Finally, in 1991 the renovations began for transform this building into a museum open to the public.

It is a touching and exciting place where many people have left testimonies such as everyday objects, clothes and letters that allow visitors to understand the reality of that time. Very interesting are the various permanent collections and temporary exhibitions that are organized from time to time. It offers tourists an interactive guided tour aimed at illustrating and making people understand the life and use of the structure in different historical periods.

  • on Elizabeth St in Hyde Park, a 5 minute walk from St James station. Also accessible on foot from the Royal Garden (1km, 14 min) and Circular Quay (1km, 14 min) - Get Directions
  • every day 10: 00-17: 00
  • full A $ 12,00 full (€ 7,20), reduced A $ 8,00 (€ 4,80)

9 - St. Mary's Cathedral

The Cathedral of St. Mary, patron saint of Australia, was the first ever Christian house of worship built in Sydney, built in neo-Gothic style and completed in 1928. Inaugurated by the first two Catholic priests, John Terry and Philip Connoly, it was later enlarged to become a cathedral. The imposing neo-Gothic facade with its high spiers stands out on College Street and invites everyone to discover the wonders inside.

The polychrome windows allow you to color the walls and naves with plays of light but also of illuminate the works of art visible to the faithful and visiting tourists. It is the main Christian place of worship in Sydney, visible even in the distance thanks to the very high spiers. You can join a free guided tour inside the church every Sunday at 12 noon, but on any day you can go inside and have a look at this beautiful building during its opening hours.

  • in St Mary's Road. Walkable to the Australian Museum (300m, 4 min), Hyde PArk and Hyde PArk Barracks Museum (300m, 4 min) and Circular Quay (1,2 km, 16 min). Several train stations nearby, the closest St. James (2 min) - Get directions
  • every day from 6:00 until the last mass
  • free

10 - Bondi Beach

A few kilometers from the center of Sydney, reachable by bus there are several beaches but the most famous is that of Bondi (Bondi Beach or Bondi Bay). It takes its name from an ancient Aboriginal word which means "sound of water breaking on rocks".

Characterized by about a kilometer of sand bordered by two cliffs, it offers bathers a perfect surf atmosphere in full Australian style, which allows you to spot the fins of whales, dolphins or even penguins in the summer months. This is therefore the ideal place to try surfing, so we recommend you take a 2 hour surf lesson at each level!

However, if you want to bathe safely without fear of sharks and waves, you should know that here, as elsewhere, there are several ocean pools carved into the rock and natural-looking thanks to sea water.

Reachable in 35 minutes by bus from Museum Station to the Bondi Beach stop. 7km south of Sydney city center, accessible via bus 333, 380, 2 - Get Directions

11 - Museum of Contemporary Art

Near the port is this highly regarded museum a showcase of Australian and international contemporary art, where much attention is given to the art of the Aboriginal peoples. In rotation, exhibitions from the permanent collection alternate with temporary ones.

Divided into several large large rooms, the exhibits are arranged on three levels. Very interesting is the exhibition of the paintings and drawings of the inhabitants of the Tiwi islands, an archipelago in the north of Australia about a hundred kilometers from Darwin, completely inhabited by aborigines and a permit is even required to visit them.

The Sydney Museum of contemporary art is also a place to socialize thanks to the presence of the auditorium, where documentaries and films are screened, the library and rooftop bar for a drink or a bite to eat overlooking the famous Sydney Harbor Bridge and the Opera House.

  • at 140 George St., in Circula Quay very close to the Rocks Discovery Museum, The Rocks district and the Sydney Harbor Bridge. It can be reached on foot from the port and the closest metro stop is Circular Quay, where the T2, T3 and T4 lines arrive.Get directions
  • every day 10: 00-17: 00, Thu until 21:00
  • free

12 - Australian National Maritime Museum

Under an imposing roof in the port area, the Maritim Museum illustrates the indissoluble link between Australia and the sea, thanks to the thematic exhibitions ranging from the canoes used by the natives, to the surfer culture, up to the Navy. The gigantic white building was opened in 1991 ed it houses large collections of objects related to the sea, divided into six galleries.

A place suitable for the whole family and especially for those traveling with children; maybe on the same day you can also visit the Sydney Sea Life Aquarium, given the proximity.

Free or big ticket: admission is free but with the big ticket it is allowed to board some ships moored in the port, including the famous submarine Onslow and the destroyer Vampire. In addition, some videos illustrate some operations in which these ships were involved and through the interesting free guided tours it is possible to know the characteristics of each boat.

  • at 2 Murray ST., in the Darling Harbor area. Reachable on foot from the Sea Life Aquarium (700 m, 9 min), from the Sydney Fish Market (1 km, 13 min) and from Circular Quay (10 min, metro T2, T3 and T4) or by bus 389 Pyrmont Bay stop - Get directions
  • every day 9: 30-18: 00
  • Free Museum / Big Ticket A $ 20,00 (€ 12,00)

13 - Blue Mountains Park

As the name suggests, Blue Mountains National Park will make you fall in love with the blue hues on the horizon of the area declared a World Heritage Site, home to towering acres of forests, waterfalls and natural rock formations untouched by man.

In addition to the vegetation, this park offers visitors the experience of living in close contact with the local fauna. Furthermore, the park is so large that there are so many activities to do inside it: from bike rides to breathtaking trekking sessions, interspersed with a stop in one of the picnic areas or in the restaurants in the park.

Don't miss the best: these mountains cover an area of ​​over 11.000 sq km and exploring them entirely takes time, effort and money. To make sure you see the highlights, which don't have to be the most touristy, we recommend the Blue Mountains Explorer bus tour with Scenic World pass from Katoomba (easily accessible from Sydney by train). Alternatively, you can opt for an all-inclusive tour from Sydney

  • Approximately 90 minutes drive from Sydney. Reachable by train from Central Station. The journey takes approximately 2 hours 17 minutes and there is a change at Richmond Station by taking a bus at the East Street Market stop to the Berabing picnic area.Get directions
  • always accessible
  • Free

14 - Sydney Observatory

Dating back to the 1850s in the Italianate style and topped by a copper dome, Sydney's sandstone observatory sits atop Obesrvatory Hill, overlooking the bay and historic The Rock district. Inside it is possible observe a collection of vintage instruments, an ancient telescope and understand the history of astronomy in Australia.

The route includes the Space Theater, where with 3D glasses you can venture into a virtual journey among galaxies, sun, stars, planets and moon. In the section of the planetarium you sit under a wide vault for admire the projected images of the sky in its daily evolutions while you can hear interesting stories about the relationship between Aboriginal tribes and astronomy. The last stop of the visit is on the top floors where the telescopes are located.

CuriosityAt the top of the observatory tower you will see a sphere, once used to mark the time for ships and the port post office. At 13:00 it was made to go down along a pole and accompanied by a cannon shot.

Take a night tour with the astronomers: the planetarium can be visited for free together with the outdoor gardens and the various exhibitions or you can book a day or night tour in which you will be accompanied by expert astronomers. The Sydney Observatory is very interesting, both for adults and children, thanks to the interactive exhibits and the 3D cinema where you can "fly" between stars and planets of the solar system.

  • at 1003 Upper Fort St, in The Rocks neighborhood. Walkable from Circular Quay. Nearby is the Sydney Harbor Bridge (200m, 5 min), the Museum of Contemporary Art (500m, 8 min) and the Sydney Museum (1,2km, 15 min) - Get Directions
  • every day 10: 00-17: 00 / Guided tours and evenings consult the official website
  • free / Guided tours A $ 10,00 (€ 6,00)

15 - Australian Museum

The Australian Museum is the oldest museum in the country and enjoys an excellent international reputation for history and anthropology. The flagship of this recently modernized museum is the collection dedicated to the indigenous peoples of Australia.

Also not to be missed is the gallery of stuffed animals, while the dinosaur gallery houses specimens of local herbivores and the huge jobaria, a dinosaur similar to the brontosaurus. The sections are also beautiful dedicated to large extinct animals and Australian fauna, while the "Oceania" sections are intended for the colorful collection dedicated to the Pacific islands.

Curiosity: this museum a few years ago was the scene of a rather funny episode, in which an intruder sneaked in at night to take a selfie with a dinosaur.

  • in William ST. in the center of Sydney 2 min walk from Hyde Park and close to Sydney Tower (600 m, 10 min). It can be reached by metro T2- T3-T4-T7 -T8 feramata Museum (4 min walk) or by bus stop William St - Get directions
  • every day 10: 00-17: 00
  • A $ 15,00 (€ 9,00)

16 - Coogee to Bondi Costal Walk

In the south-east of Sydney, 8km from the city center, is Coogee Beach, very popular with families with children who here can find placid waters, picnic areas, swim in natural pools and have fun in the play areas.

Besides being able to spend a relaxing day, this place is famous for the beautiful and panoramic promenade 6km from South Bondi right here. In addition to the beautiful view, during the walk you can observe various attractions such as the aboriginal drawings on the rocks of Mark's Park in Tamarama and in spring admire the works of local artists who exhibit along this path on the occasion of the Sculpture by The Sea. take a dip at the beautiful beach of Bronte, where there is a natural swimming pool.
Various events are organized on this beach throughout the year, like the Coogee Arts Festival in February, which features a series of outdoor exhibits and theater performances, and the Coogee Family Fun Day (first Saturday in December) with stalls and rides next to the beach.

About 8 km from Sydney it can be reached from the city by direct bus B377 stop "Oberon St Before Arden St" in 40 minutes, or on foot from Bondi Beach following the Costal Walk (6 km, 1 h) - Get directions

17 - Manly and Manly beach

On a strip of land in the north of Sydney is the quiet neighborhood of Manly, shaded by trees and known for its beautiful beach and long sidewalks for walking and running. Unlike Bondi Beach, loved by young people, Manly is frequented mainly by families who find calm sea here, and by surfers since most of the surf schools are concentrated in this area.

E' frequented at any time of the yearespecially on weekends, when people come for great fish & chips, ride the waves, go for a walk or relax in a bar. Furthermore, in Manly there are several hiking trails that allow you to discover the coast or the nearby hinterland. Very famous is the 10km costal walk from Manly leading to Spit Bridge. Here you will find the Manly Art Gallery Museum and the Manly Sea Life Sanctuary suitable for children.

Curiosity: the name Manly was given by Captain Arthur Phillip in the late 1700s as he was struck by the strong and proud attitude (in English "manly") of the local Aboriginal population.

12km east of Sydney can be reached easily in 30 minutes by ferry from Circular Quay, F1 (pier 3) and MMF Manly Fast Frrry (pier 6), or by bus 151 from Wynyard Station to Manly - Get indications

Travel to Manly Beach by ferry: the best and most scenic way to reach this beach is by ferry from Circular Quay. Try to return to the city at sunset when the colors on the bay seen from the sea are spectacular

Other attractions to visit

Sydney is a city that has a lot to offer; in addition to the attractions already mentioned not to be missed, there are also many others to visit if you still have time.

Among the many museums, we mention the Rocks Discovery museum (free) and the Susannah Palace Museum (A $ 12,00 / € 7,00), which trace the history of The Rocks neighborhood. Then the Museum of Sydney where you can learn about the history of the city (A $ 12,00 / € 7,00) and the Powerhouse Museum, the huge museum of science and design (A $ 15,00 / € 9,00).

If you want to stay outdoorsinstead, take a trip to the Barangaroo Reserve (free), a park that stands on a promontory and offers splendid views, or to Centennial Park (free), where you can go for a run, ride or walk. Also not to be forgotten is Nielsen Park, a sandy beach park overlooking Sydney Bay and where a shark net ensures the safety of swimmers.

If you are in the mood for fun instead, take a ride to the Sydney Luna Park, always overlooking the bay which can also be reached by ferry to Milsons Point (free).

5 things to do in Sydney

  1. Bay cruise: Enjoy a hop-on hop-off harbor cruise to see the bay and the city of Sydney from another perspective, also being able to get off at various stops
  2. Walk in The Rocks neighborhood: do not miss a walk in the old quarter of "The Rocks" where you can admire the buildings, old hotels and a spectacular view of the bay. For a first approach, we recommend the guided walking tour
  3. Discover the Hunter Valley: Hunter Valley is a rich wine region where organic spirits are also produced. We recommend the wine, cheese and chocolate tasting tour to better savor the identity of the region
  4. Sydney Fish Market: you cannot miss a visit to this fish market where over 15 million kg of fish pass by every year. Take a seat in one of the restaurants inside and enjoy the cuisine and the atmosphere
  5. Cockatoo Island: Take the ferry from Sydney Harbor to this island dotted with examples of industrial archeology, old prison structures and art installations

Plan your stay in Sydney: flights and hotels

If you are considering a trip to Sydney, the best time is the austral summer, from December to March. To save money, the best times are the middle seasons, spring and autumn, less touristy and therefore cheaper.
The flight takes an average of 30 hours, and the prices are obviously high (compare flights from € 600,00). The airport is 10 km from the center.

Once in town, the best way to getting around is by means of transport (metro, tram, ferry and bus). In this regard, we recommend that you purchase the Opal Card, for transport that can be recharged anywhere and can be used on any vehicle.

Regarding the overnight stay, we suggest you choose something downtown, close to metro and bus stops (compare the best accommodations on Booking.com). Here you will also have all the services at your fingertips and you will find numerous bars and restaurants!

If you are traveling with children, know that the city is baby-friendly and the experiences to do with them are many: among these the visit of the Taronga Zoo, the Sea Life Aquarium, the Astronomical Observatory but also the maritime museums and the numerous parks such as Hyde Park and the Royal Garden are ideal for a run or a picnic, without forgetting the beautiful beaches.

If you are traveling low cost, we recommend that you book your accommodation and flight as soon as possible. Australia is a very expensive destination, as the cost of living is high. So take your time and, to save even more, we recommend that you buy city passes. There are several to choose from to suit your needs, such as the Sydney Attraction Pass or the Sydney iVenture Pass.

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