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6 Must-See Museums in Sydney and How to Visit

Sydney’s attractions go far beyond its beaches. Here’s a guide to the city’s best museums.

The Sydney Opera House on a sunny day in Australia
Hi, I'm Theodora!

A freelance writer and recovering nomad, Theodora divides her time between Britain and Bali. With bylines including CNN, BBC, the Guardian, Discover, Lonely Planet, and National Geographic Traveler, she’s working on a book, still blogs once in a while at EscapeArtistes.com, and spends far too much time on Twitter.

Australia’s largest and oldest city, Sydney is best-known for its harbor, the opera house, and the Harbour Bridge. But whether your tastes run to history or dinosaurs, waxworks or magic, its museums deliver the goods. Here are our top picks.

1. Australian National Maritime Museum

Australian National Maritime Museum, on the water, in Sydney in Australia.
The Australian National Maritime Museum on the water.Photo Credit: Dr. Victor Wong / Shutterstock

For Aboriginal canoes, submarines, and more.

A must for kids and history buffs alike, the Australian National Maritime Museum showcases the nation’s tens of thousands of years of maritime history. Exhibits run from Aboriginal canoes to a submarine, from a replica of Captain Cook’s HMS Endeavour to a history of migration, as well as short films and special exhibitions.

2. Powerhouse Museum

The modern exterior of Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.
The Powerhouse Museum from the outside.Photo Credit: Yoshiya Kusamura / Shutterstock

For science and design.

Set to relocate in January 2020, this vast museum occupies a converted power station not far from Darling Harbour. A great choice with kids, thanks to its focus on science and design, the interactive exhibits will please adults too. Discover everything from up-to-the-minute robots to the art of lace.

3. Australian Museum

Winter trees outside the grand Australian Museum in Sydney.
The Australian Museum is one of the top museums in Sydney.Photo Credit: seanlean / Shutterstock

For extinct giants.

With a history dating back to not long after the first settlers landed in Botany Bay, the Australian Museum spans the gamut from dinosaurs to extinct giant animals, from geology to Aboriginal spiritual beliefs. School holidays see a wealth of kids’ activities.

4. Sydney Jewish Museum

Outside the Sydney Jewish Museum on a leafy street.
The exterior of the Sydney Jewish Museum.Photo Credit: A SHOT OF BLISS / Shutterstock

For stories of Holocaust survivors.

After World War II, around 27,000 Holocaust survivors made their way to Australia. The Sydney Jewish Museum tells their stories, alongside those of other Jewish people who settled here: 16 arrived on 1788’s First Fleet.

5. Australian Museum of Magical Arts

Cabaret performers salute on stage at the Australian Museum of Magical Arts.
The Australian Museum of Magical Arts is located in The Magician's Cabaret.Photo Credit: The Magician's Cabaret

For a little magic.

Set inside the Magician’s Cabaret Theatre, which hosts regular magic shows, the Australian Museum of Magical Arts provides a fascinating glimpse into the art, craft, and mind of the conjuror.

6. Madame Tussauds

Madame Tussauds on the harbor-front in Sydney.
See celebrity waxworks at Madame Tussauds.Photo Credit: lkonya / Shutterstock

For celebrity wax figures.

The Sydney branch of the global waxwork brand continues to perform in the selfie era. Eerily realistic wax models include Australian celebrities from Kylie to Chris Hemsworth, while Marvel characters and interactive fashion shows update Tussauds for the 21st century.

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