Last Updated on May 12, 2022 by Alice Benny
Sydney Australia City Guide – Sydney is an amazing place. No matter how much time you spend, make the most of it with these things to do in Sydney Australia. There is something for everyone.
There is an incredible public transport ferry network serving the city of Sydney, New South Wales. The Sydney Ferries are located in Sydney Harbour are a very budget-friendly way to see inner and outer harbour stops.
As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and the most populated city in Australia, Sydney has a rich history and many fun and interesting sights to see. Use this city guide to Sydney to plan your holiday. It explores many of the places my friend and I visited and what we recommend as worth seeing on a visit. This includes must-see tourist spots as well as interesting restaurants and nightlife.
Things to Do in Sydney Australia
Sydney is full of stunning natural beauty, making it a great place to visit. Sydney is the capital of the state of New South Wales, Australia. It is located on the eastern coast of Australia, on Sydney Harbour and Port Jackson. Check out this mega list of things to see and do when visiting Sydney, from the serene beaches to the iconic Opera House. Top sights in Sydney include:
Sydney Harbour Bridge: The iconic bridge is a must-visit for any tourist. It is the largest steel arch bridge in the world. The bridge connects downtown Sydney and the central business district to the North Shore and Manly. You can walk or drive across or take a cruise tour or dinner cruise under the bridge.
Sydney Opera House: Another Sydney landmark, this cultural and architectural gem is a must-see for any visitor. It is a
UNESCO World Heritage Site and located in Sydney Harbour. You can visit this performing arts center on your own or take a tour. You can also see a performance.
The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney: A beautiful oasis in the heart of Sydney, the Royal Botanic Gardens are a sight to behold. See and learn about thousands of plant species on 74 acres.
Sydney Olympic Park: This area was redeveloped for when Sydney hosted the Olympic Games in 2000. You can take a ferry here from Syndey Harbour; it is considered an outer ferry stop. If you are interested in sporting, musical or cultural events, check out their schedule. They also host several annual festivals.
Bondi Beach: One of Sydney’s most famous beaches, Bondi is a must-visit for any beach lover and lots of fun. It is conveniently located
located 7 km east (just over half a mile) from the Sydney central business district. To take advantage of beach weather, learn the best time to visit Australia.
The Rocks: One of the oldest areas in Sydney, The Rocks offers a glimpse into the city’s history. It is located in the state of New South Wales, in the Sydney Harbor area. Explore open markets with local vendors for food, fashion, and more. If you are into history, The Rocks should be on your must-see list! Here you can visit museums such as:
- The Museum of Contemporary Art
- The Rocks Discovery Museum
- Susannah Place Museum
Manly: This lively beach-side suburb in north Sydney is a mix of beach vibe and urban vibe. Manly is famous for Manly Beach, every surfers’ dream and the host of many surfing competitions.
Taronga Zoo: Most visitors of will delight in seeing wildlife when on a holiday. Explore native animals on this side of the hemisphere. Located on the shores of Syndey Harbour, the Taronga Zoo is a quick ferry ride from Sydney’s city centre. You can also visit Balmoral Beach on this ferry route.
Young and old will enjoy the exhibits on the Great Southern Oceans, the seal show, the aviary, and much more. See animals such as koalas, red kangaroos, tree kangaroos, Sumatran tigers, chimpanzees, Asian elephants, gorillas, giraffes, sun bears, and more.
Best Things to Do in Sydney
While my friend and I made our way around as inexpensively as possible — this means, on our own, no tours — taking a tour is really neat way to get a feel for all the hot spots as well as see a bit of life from a local perspective. Take a biking tour, walking tour, tour by bus or a day cruise. Of course, you can also make your own itinerary and see what interests you most, especially if you are short on time.
Sydney Opera House
No Sydney Australia city guide would be complete without a nod to the Sydney Opera House. Wherever you live, you’ve likely seen it featured as a major landmark in Sydney. Check out Sydney Opera House up close, and after trying to get a good picture (which is almost impossible – with so many tourist around – the best pictures are taken from a ferry going across the harbor toward Manly Beach), continue to the Royal Botanic Gardens.
If you want a good view over Sydney, go to Lady Macquaries Chair, where you find an amazing view over the city and the harbor. The chair was once carved out of a rock ledge for Elizabeth Macguires, as she was known to visit the area and sit enjoying the panoramic views of the harbor – something you can understand.
There are so many different angles to view the Sydney Opera House, I am not sure which is the best angle, but for me it was while taking a ferry over to Manly Beach. You get to see the arches which have come to best symbolize the Sydney Opera House. You will also have a great photo op from the Sydney Harbor Bridge. If you have visited Sydney, which is your best angle?
SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium
Start the day discovering the incredible Australian underwater life at the Sydney Aquarium right in the center of town (Darling Harbour) and get an insight in what’s under that nice warm water you might be swimming in later that day (although be prepared to change your mind about that swim – when you see the sharks…!)
Get there first thing in the morning when they have just opened up, at that time you can basically get the whole place to yourself. Without all the crowds you can really soak up the experience, and walking through a quiet practically empty aquarium you really get to feel the closeness to the animals and be able to walk in your own pace.
In some aquariums the glass actually makes the fishes look smaller than they really are, with that in mind seeing the white sharks makes your legs weaken a bit!
This park is very beautiful and full of surprises and little stories. Australia’s wildlife and nature is quite special, and you can notice this even in this park in the middle of the city, where the huge trees are crowded with bats and the fish crawls up from the ocean making their way to a pond once every year.
If you are lucky (?) you might even see a bull shark while visiting Sydney Harbor! Sharks are such eerie and mysterious creatures. While you’ll enjoy seeing one from shore, you won’t want to see one while at the beach.
Love beaches? You will have your pick. Whether you want to swim, beachcomb, surf or relax in the sun, Sydney’s beaches are gorgeous. To the north visit Palm Beach and Manly Beach. If you are traveling south, visit Coogee Beach and Bondi Beach. There are others to consider as well.
- Palm Beach: Clear water and white sand
- Manly Beach: Popular for surfing, families and backpackers
- Shelly Beach: Located in Manly; protected marine reserve; good for snorkeling and scuba diving
- Coogee Beach
- Bondi Beach: Most famous Sydney beach. It’s very popular. You can enjoy the walk and the views and walk to Coogee Beach from Bondi Beach.
- Balmoral Beach: Located in the suburb of Mosman; Harbor beach; no lifeguards; not many waves
- Edwards Beach: Located in Mosman; can swim, kayak, windsurf, snorkel
- Bronte Beach: Famous for the two rock pools
- Shark Beach: Located in Nielsen Park which has three large picnic areas
- Lady Martin’s Beach: Located in Felix Bay; small beach area accessed by a trail; at northern tip of Point Piper
There are additional Sydney beaches to explore as well. If you have a spare day, I really recommend you to check out Manly Beach. It’s the little brother to Bondi Beach, with more of the local feel, more beautiful, less crowded and less touristy. You can easily spend a day surfing or swimming, and there is a nice little shopping street along the way from where the ferry lands down to the beach.
Plus, you get the absolute best view of the Opera House from the ferry running between Manly and Darling Harbour. It’s a beautiful scene in the afternoon with the golden sun shining on the building.
Take in the views of Sydney at sunset from the Sydney Tower. You will enjoy 360 degree views. It is located in the busy CDB district. It’s the second largest tower in the southern hemisphere. For the ultimate experience, dine at one of the revolving restaurants which also offer 360 degree panoramic views. Enjoy an upscale experience with two or three-course lunch and dinners on the 81st floor at Infinity at Sydney Tower. There is also SkyFeast, which features a self-serve buffet showcasing 30+ international dishes.
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Fancy some culture? The Art Gallery of NSW has free entry, which considering its fantastic reputation in Sydney society is definitely something to take advantage of. There are three permanent collections: Australian, post sixteenth-century European, and Asian. They offer free guided tours. Along with the art collections, there are also concerts, screenings and celebrity talks – not one to be missed!
Royal National Park
The Royal National Park is a breathtaking coastal park. You will find this park inland from the eastern coastline of Australia, just south of Sydney. It is the second oldest National Park in the world, including dramatic cliffs, golden beaches and amazing rain forests. Aspects such as the coastal walk from Bundeena or the opportunity to go surfing at Gari or Burning Palms are all very popular attractions.
Walking around the different areas of the park is free, but to make the trip that little bit more special you can also hire rowboats, canoes and kayaks from Audley Boat Shed for about AUD$45 a day in order to paddle up Kangaroo creek or the Hacking River. Most Scenic Drives in Australia
Walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge from The Rock is Luna Park. This heritage-listed, 1935 amusement park is well-known for providing a family fun-filled day out. It operates year round.
Known for the staple Ferris Wheel, Big Dipper and Flying Saucer, as well as many others, it can provide a good combination of nausea and excitement. The park is free to enter, and you can either pay as you go on the rides or buy an unlimited height restriction pass. Visit the second oldest National Park in the world. And remember, people watching is free!
Idyllic Icons and Quaint Quay
Next stop is Circular Quay, where you get a nice view of the two most famous icons of Sydney. The Sydney Opera House and The Sydney Harbour Bridge. Make sure to check out The Rocks, which is the oldest part of Sydney. This is the place the British convicts claimed and built their camp in 1788.
Walk along the street in and out of boutiques in buildings dating back to when the European settlement began. Many of the boutiques have really restored that old feeling, and entering a “Puppet Boutique” in some sort of back yard it feels like you’ve just stepped back a century in time.
After a stroll around the area, check out the famous market in The Rocks, where the farmers market and designer market blend in with each other. All from farmers to young new designers come here to sell their stuff, and whatever you’re into, I guarantee you’ll find something you like here.
Tara Tearoom at The Rocks
After a bit of shopping, sit down for a tea break on the outside seating at Tara Tearoom right next to the market. It is in The Rocks. It is a very charming Irish café with tasty freshly warm scones in all kinds of flavors mixed with fairy/Irish music and pretty knitted tea pot warmers.
Shopping In Sydney Australia 19th Century Building
Go shopping in the impressive Queen Victoria Building, a beautiful old shopping mall from the late 19th century. The mixture of these new modern shops in an old building blend in well, and the details inside are really one of a kind.
This is a place to go even for the one who aren’t interested in shopping, you can find many memorials and historic spectacles. The building is awesome and reminds you of the first class rooms in the scenes of “Titanic” movie. After this, walk down the street and grab an ice tea drink with jelly pearls from EasyWay, a weird but tasty drink.
Bondi, Beer and Fish ‘n Chips
Take the bus down to Bondi beach and soak up the afternoon sun, check out the surfers, sunbathe or take a swim. After a sunny salty hour go and get some typical Aussie food: fish ‘n chips and beer at a bar/restaurant with a view over the beach. Beer is more than just a beverage in Australia, it has become part of their culture.
There are so many different types of Australian beers, ‘Tooheys New’ is one of the typical NSW beers.
Party Hard in the Sydney Harbor
If you feel for some partying, there are quite a few clubs spread along the Darling Harbour, which must be the most beautiful place to spend the evening.
Enjoying Sydney Australia on a Budget
Sydney is well known for being a city of excitement, culture and adventure. As a popular destination for gap year students, there is a lot to discover upon arrival but as we know flights to the other side of the road in Australia aren’t exactly cheap.
However, that should not stop anyone from pursuing an Australian adventure holiday and having the experience of a lifetime. So here are some activities that won’t break your bank balance but will ensure that you have an incredible time.
Photograph the Sydney Harbor Bridge
On every list of things to do in Sydney Australia, is the taking pictures of the iconic Sydney sights. Home to one of the most astonishing views in Sydney, the Harbor Bridge is loved by all. Just as you can see everything from it, you can also catch sight of the bridge from all over the city. The best way to experience the views is by foot.
A footpath runs right across the eastern side and will provide you with a totally free and true Sydney experience, as well as a lovely stroll. If you are not quite fulfilled by this view then you can climb the bridge itself for a few hundred dollars!
Peruse the Stalls of Paddington Markets
Paddington markets provide the perfect Saturday afternoon experience in Sydney. They are long established markets and turn Paddington upside down with their quirkiness. They started back in the 1970s and used to be where the more alternative crowd of punks, skinheads and hippies used to hang out together.
Now it is a little more mainstream but more than worth a visit for its variety of stalls and a fun mix of tourists and locals.
Eating in Sydney is a wonderful experience that definitely hits the stop when your tummy grumbles, and the nightlife is just as wonderful! It’s a very good life down under, one I would truly recommend to anyone considering such an adventure!
How to Enjoy the Good Life Down Under
Sydney, Australia was the last stop for my friend and I after 5 months of traveling around South East Asia. Although it was strange to be in a more Westernised environment again, we soon found our feet sampling all the restaurants and bars that our purse strings could possibly handle.
If you enjoy live music, I would highly recommend the Lansdowne Hotel. This is an iconic venue, which is very much part of the underground scene and hosts an eclectic range of different bands each night.
Not only is the music great but the drinks are also relatively cheap and they have a 2-for-1 cocktail hour every night from 10pm-11pm, which we took full advantage of!
Tank nightclub in Bridge Lane
However for a real clubbing experience that truly demonstrates the essence of Sydney’s nightlife I would suggest the Tank nightclub in Bridge Lane. Many DJs come from around the world just to play here and you can understand why the second you enter the underground clubber’s paradise.
Everything has been taken into consideration: a stunning sound system, mesmerizing lighting and even interactive live-mixed video projections, which are always entertaining after a few drinks! The music is usually funky house, and the drinks are not too pricey and well worth the visual audio experience. For the morning after the night before, there are hundreds of great restaurants to nurse the hangover.
For an experience to remember, Universal Restaurant is definitely worth a try, with its unique and beautifully presented food. I chose the seared sea scallop with lotus root samphire and wasabi avocado, which is every bit as delicious as it sounds!
The great thing about this restaurant is that you’re never completely sure what you’re ordering, but once you’ve eaten it you’re glad you didn’t go with the usual. However, though this is a wonderful place with amazing food, it is quite expensive for people on a budget.
Jasmin’s in Haldon Street
For a delicious place to eat in Sydney that won’t burn holes in your pockets I would recommend Jasmin’s in Haldon Street. This is one of the best Lebanese restaurants I have been too! The falafel was to die for and the bread and humus was not far behind. My traveling buddy loved the meat too, particularly the lamb kebab, which came with some yummy salad and vegetables. I would really advise giving this place a visit if you enjoy Lebanese cuisine, but be warned it can get very busy.
Go to the IMAX theatre cinema and get blown away by the 3D on this HUGE screen (the largest film format in the world!). You really get sucked into the film and it feels as if you can touch it. These are more common now in larger cities but if you are looking for a relaxing time to take a break, this is a fun thing to do.
Things to Do in Sydney FAQs
What are some fun things to do in Sydney?
There are lots of fun things to do in Syndey. Going up the Sydney Tower and taking in the 360 degree views of Sydney is exciting. Renting a kayak or even taking the ferry from Syndey Harbour is a fun way to see the city and enjoy the water. The beaches are always a good time as well as visiting the SEA LIFE Aquarium and the Taronga Zoo.
What to do when you are bored in Sydney?
Getting out for a walk around Sydney Harbour or spending some time at the Taronga Zoo will be fun and be entertaining. I like the idea of taking a ferry ride from Sydney Harbour because it’s inexpensive, and an interesting opportunity to do something out of the ordinary. You will experience a “boat ride” and being on water, and at the same time have the chance to see the magnificent Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Going to one of the Sydney beaches is also a great way to spend the day. There are restaurants and lots of activity in Sydney. It’s all interesting to explore. There is no reason to be bored there!
What should you not miss in Sydney?
Visiting the Sydney Opera House is always on the lists of what to do in Sydney. I also really recommend taking a boat ride from Sydney Harbour. Being on the water is a wonderful way to “feel like you are on vacation” and also to see Sydney from a different vantage point. There are several options: You can take the ferry for a very inexpensive fee and get to see the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, both iconic structures. If you are more adventurous, you can rent a boat such as a kayak and explore on your own. Another idea is to take one of the cruise tours or a dinner cruise.
What to Do in Sydney
Sydney is a world-famous city located in the Australian state of New South Wales. There are many things to do in Sydney, including visiting world-class tourist attractions such as the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Other popular tourist attractions include Bondi Beach, the Royal Botanic Gardens, and Taronga Zoo. Sydney is also home to a vibrant nightlife, with plenty of pubs, clubs, and restaurants to choose from. There are also many festivals and events that take place in Sydney throughout the year, such as the Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks.
In conclusion, Sydney is a city full of culture and activities that are perfect for any traveler. With so much to do, it can be hard to choose what to do first. Whether you have two weeks, one week, or even one or two days, you can maximize your time. Of course, I really recommend you try and spend longer than just one day there to really see everything.
This guide to things to do in Sydney Australia gives you a quick idea about points of interest and can help you get started. No matter what you decide, Sydney is sure to leave you with amazing memories. So get out there and explore everything this beautiful city has to offer!