Things to do in Sydney

Things to do in  Sydney

Serious lifestyle envy

From the soaring white sails of the Sydney Opera House to the golden sands of Bondi, Sydney is simply a stunner. This spectacular Australian city blends natural beauty with all the thrills you'd expect of a modern metropolis, yet somehow exceeds even the highest expectations. Though you might be dazzled by its beauty, you'll find plenty of things to do in Sydney, from sailing around the glittering harbor to exploring the historic Rocks neighborhood and heading into the nearby Blue Mountains.

Top 15 attractions in Sydney

Sydney Harbour

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With the iconic silhouette of the Sydney Opera House and the dramatic arch of Sydney Harbour Bridge etched against a backdrop of the glittering ocean and soaring skyscrapers, Sydney Harbour is Australia’s quintessential postcard image. The harbor, the natural heart of Sydney, features more than 150 miles (240 kilometers) of coastline lined with golden beaches, lush gardens, and vibrant neighborhoods.More

Sydney Opera House

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A world-class performing arts venue and iconic Australian landmark, the Sydney Opera House—with its distinctive design by Danish architect Jørn Utzon—defines the Sydney Harbour district. Distinguished by soaring halls with a white ceramic–tiled exterior shaped to evoke the sails of a yacht, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must-see Sydney attraction.More

Sydney Harbour Bridge

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Few sights are as instantly recognizable as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the grand centerpiece of Sydney Harbour and one of Australia's most photographed landmarks. The historic structure dates to 1932 and is among the world's largest steel arch bridges. It's also an important transport hub, linking downtown with the north shore, Manly, and Sydney's northern beaches.More

Featherdale Wildlife Park

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Located just outside Sydney, Featherdale Wildlife Park is home to one of the largest collections of Australian wildlife anywhere in the world. Visitors can see and learn about the park’s 1,700 native Aussie critters, including koalas, kangaroos, echidnas, saltwater crocodiles, emus, and some of the world’s most venomous snakes.More

Bondi Beach

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As Australia’s most famous beach—and the star of its own reality TV show, Bondi Rescue—Bondi Beach delivers with its crescent of golden sand, crashing waves, and crowds of bronzed sunseekers. Just minutes from downtown Sydney, this is the spot to work on your tan, hit the waves, sip cocktails at a beachside bar, or hike along coastal cliffs.More

The Rocks

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Located in central Sydney, the historic precinct of the Rocks is the oldest area in the city and the site of the first European settlement. Full of history and character, today the Rocks is home to fashionable boutiques, artisan markets, historic pubs, trendy restaurants, and a thriving arts and culture scene.More

Circular Quay

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Perched on the edge of Sydney Harbour and backed by the sleek skyscrapers of the city’s central business district, Circular Quay is the scenic gateway to Manly Beach, Taronga Zoo, and Watson’s Bay. From this transportation hub—from which ferries depart every few minutes—you can enjoy unobstructed views of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge.More

SEA LIFE® Sydney Aquarium

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The SEA LIFE® Sydney Aquarium encapsulates the diversity of Australia’s aquatic life. Wander exhibits that showcase everything from saltwater crocs and Southern Ocean penguins to turtles from the Great Barrier Reef and jellyfish. Plus, its prime Darling Harbour location lets you combine the aquarium with other family-friendly stops.More

Mrs Macquarie's Chair

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Positioned on a headland in The Domain park, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is a sandstone bench offering spectacular Sydney Harbour views. Hand-carved by convicts in 1810 as a viewpoint for the then Governor’s wife—Mrs Elizabeth Macquarie—it now features on most Sydney visitor bucket lists.More

Darling Harbour

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One of Sydney’s top attractions, Darling Harbour boasts fine-dining restaurants, a shopping center, one of the largest IMAX cinema screens in the world, and two entertainment staples for families: SEA LIFE® Sydney and WILD LIFE Sydney Zoo. Extend your visit into the evening to view the city lights reflected on the water.More

Royal Botanic Garden and The Domain

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Stretching along the coast of Sydney Harbour against a backdrop of the Sydney Opera House, Sydney’s Royal Botanic Garden and neighboring park, The Domain, offer spectacular views and beautiful scenery. This inner-city oasis boasts exotic plants, a tropical rain forest, woodland, flowers, and rare horticultural exhibits.More

Paddington

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Paddington is an upmarket suburb of eastern central Sydney that’s famous for its heritage terraced houses with attractive wrought-iron balconies and fences, as well as boutiques and fine dining. The Saturday Paddington Markets stretch along the main road, Oxford Street, and are a popular place to find local arts, crafts, and fashion.More

Manly Beach

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The lively suburb of Manly is one of Sydney’s most vibrant seaside areas and a popular destination for surfers from across the globe. Visit Manly Beach to enjoy the golden sand, catch world-class waves, and shop and eat along the lively Corso promenade, which is lined with cafes and restaurants.More

Watsons Bay

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Watson’s Bay is a Sydney suburb that forms the eastern edge of Sydney Harbour. It claims to be Australia’s oldest fishing village, and is still a popular place to dine on seafood. With city views, white-sand beaches, coastal walks, parks, and plenty of restaurants and boutiques, Watsons Bay appeals to all kinds of travelers.More

Fort Denison

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What is now a popular destination for history buffs once served as a defense facility that kept watch over the bay. Fort Denison Island, located northeast of the Royal Botanic Gardens, was where some of the most gruesome acts against convicted felons took place.Today, travelers can wander the grounds of this recently restored island and see the gibbet where criminals were hanged. Explore the fort built to protect the island from invaders and climb the historic Martello Tower, the only one of its kind in the country. The island is home to an informative museum, as well as a number of landmarks that illustrate its dark and violent past.Please note: Fort Denison is currently closed for maintenance. The reopening is scheduled for late 2021.More

Trip ideas

Where to Find the Best Views in Sydney

Where to Find the Best Views in Sydney

An Insider’s Guide to LGBTQ+ Sydney

An Insider’s Guide to LGBTQ+ Sydney

Top activities in Sydney

Sydney Opera House Official Guided Walking Tour
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Skyfeast Dining Experience at the Sydney Tower
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All about Sydney

When to visit

The best time to visit Sydney is summer (December–February), when the air and ocean temperatures are warm and perfect for playing. But that also brings tons of tourists from all over Australia and beyond. Other times of year are still great for visiting Sydney, since it never really gets too cold, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge and views of the Opera House are impressive rain or shine.

Getting around

There are many ways to traverse Sydney. The city has a well-connected train, light rail, and bus system that can get you to most places cheaply and efficiently. There are also well-marked bike paths for cyclists. One of the most iconic ways to get around Sydney is to hop on the yellow ferries with the breeze in your hair and harbor views all around.

Traveler tips

When in Sydney, make sure to get to the beach. Each has its own feel, so do a little beach-hopping to find your favorite. Tourists flock to expansive Bondi for its many restaurants and lifeguard-protected waters. Famous surf spot Manly is the go-to in the northern beaches. But try out more relaxed sandy spots, like Camp Cove in the harbor, Congwong in La Perouse, and Avalon and Palm Beach in the north.

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A local’s pocket guide to Sydney

Shalinee Singh

After a last-minute decision to “go to Australia for a bit,” Shalinee is still in Sydney six years later. When she’s not by the ocean, you’ll find her at a gig, drinking coffee, or stuffing her face.

The first thing you should do in Sydney is...

check out the views from Darling Harbour to Barangaroo, then jump on a ferry to Circular Quay and hit two Sydney landmarks in one as the Opera House appears under the Harbour Bridge.

A perfect Saturday in Sydney...

includes eating avo toast and coffee by the water at sunrise, paddleboarding in Rose Bay, and relaxing on one of our many beaches. Finish with dinner in Chinatown and sunset drinks in the Rocks.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

the Coogee to Bondi stretch of the coastal walk. Watch whales between May and November before getting affordable drinks and nibbles overlooking the iconic Bondi beach at Bondi Icebergs Club.

To discover the "real" Sydney...

head outside the CBD and get a taste of Sydney’s migrant culture—sample Sri Lankan food in Toongabbie, Vietnamese in Cabramatta, and Indian in Harris Park, to name but a few.

For the best view of the city...

cross to the north side of the Harbour Bridge around sunset to look back at the CBD from Kirribilli, Lavender Bay, or Cremorne Point.

One thing people get wrong...

is thinking Sydney is all style and no cultural substance. Our nightlife needs TLC, but we have great food, bars, grassroots arts, and plenty of beaches and nearby national parks.

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People Also Ask

What is Sydney best known for?

Sydney is best known for its distinctive sailboat-like Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Taronga Zoo, and Bondi Beach. It’s also well-known for its hot summers (December–February), when locals and visitors alike flock to the many beaches along Sydney’s coast.

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What should you not miss in Sydney?

While in Sydney, don’t miss the sights around Circular Quay and the Rocks. With a blend of old and new architecture, many art galleries and museums, and lovely views, it’s a great place to spend a day. With more time, take the ferry across the harbor to Manly.

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What are Sydney's top five attractions?

Five famous attractions located in Sydney are the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Taronga Zoo, Queen Victoria Building, and Art Gallery of New South Wales.

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What can you do in Sydney at night?

Sydney has vibrant nightlife, and there’s lots to do in the evening. Take a sunset dinner cruise on Sydney Harbour, sip cocktails at Darling Harbour, or join a pub crawl through the Rocks or Kings Cross. In winter, check out Vivid Sydney festival, when light installations brighten up the city.

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What are some leisure activities in Sydney?

In summer, the best Sydney leisure activity is spending time at a beach, either relaxing on the sand or doing laps in a natural outdoor pool. In cooler weather, walk the Royal Botanic Garden or hike the national parks in and around Sydney. Cruises and scenic ferry rides run year-round.

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What do locals do in Sydney?

Sydney locals avoid the big-name tourist attractions and spend time outdoors and dining in hip, local neighborhoods like Newtown or Cabramatta. Locals get around the harbor by ferry—a scenic way to travel—and spend summer days at beaches, such as Narrabeen, that fewer tourists know about.

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