35 of the Best Things to Do in Sydney, Australia
Sydney is filled with so much vibrance and so much fun. It’s one of those places that just has something for everyone. There’s art and history, epic structures and beautiful harbours. There’s amazing nightlife and even better beaches. No matter what it is you want to do, I can guarantee you’ll find it in Sydney.
I actually grew up in the Western Suburbs of Sydney before moving up to the Central Coast when I was 10. Still, Sydney is only an half and a half drive away – so it’s close enough to enjoy all the action went I want too, but far enough away to have some peace.
So, I like to think I’ve got a fairly good idea of what Sydney has to offer. The best things to see and do, where to eat and drink, plus all those local tips. Which is why I finally decided to write up this guide to all of the best things to do in Sydney. 35 of them to be exact.
Top-rated Attractions & Things to Do in Sydney
1. Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House is easily one of Sydney’s most iconic sights that you simply have to see. One of the world’s most distinctive buildings, it was built in 1973 and now sits in the heart of Circular Quay.
The Opera House is made up of several venues, which play host to many different kinds of shows and events. In 2007 it became a UNESCO world heritage site. You can opt to enter the foyers for free, and if you wish to explore more you can opt for a tour.
2. Head out on Oxford Street
One of the major streets running through the heart of Sydney, Oxford Street is one of the hearts of nightlife in Sydney.
On the end of Oxford Street closet to the CBD, you’ll find a huge range of restaurants, bars and nightlife, which come alive late. There’s something for everyone too, with The Oxford Hotel and Polo Lounge being good starting points.
3. Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk
The Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk is one of Sydney’s most epic easy walks, with incredible vistas to take in along the way. One way, the walk is about 4km and takes between 1 to 1.5 hours.
It’s relatively easy to walk, and follows the Coast through parks, beaches and broad walks. You can start the walk from Bondi or Bronte Beach, and you won’t be disappointed with the views along the way.
4. Indulge at Pancakes on the Rocks
Pancakes on the Rocks is a must try when in Sydney, and one of my favourites. With locations at both The Rocks (near Circular Quay), and Darling Harbour in Sydney, Pancakes on the Rocks has been a fan favourite for many years.
You can order epic pancakes at any time of the day here, no judgement whatsoever. They also have an amazing menu full of good food too, so make sure you go on an empty stomach!
5. Visit the Grounds of Alexandria
The Grounds of Alexandria is easily one of Sydney’s most instagramable spots. Located in Alexandria, the grounds feature gorgeous gardens, flowers and a range of amazing eateries.
Often done up in different themes, you can stop by for coffee, a meal, or a drink before getting some stunning shots for the gram.
6. Visit the Powerhouse Museum
One of the major branches of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in Sydney, The Powerhouse Museum is located close to Darling Harbour.
The museum encompasses a whole lot of science and technology, and you’ll exhibits on space science, technology, computer technology, costume, steam trains, media and communication.
7. Head to Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach is easily one of Australia’s most iconic and famous beaches. The white sands are filled with people basking in the sun, and the surf is always pumping for a surf.
Head across the beach to find trendy and healthy cafes, and bars after you’ve spent the morning on the beach. Head to Bondi Icebergs for an amazing meal overlooking the iconic Bondi pool. Surfing lessons are also a really popular activity that’s an epic experience at Bondi Beach.
8. Cockatoo Island
A UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Paramatta and Lane Cove Rivers in Sydney, Cockatoo Island is just a short ferry ride from Circular Quay.
It’s filled with historical significance, the island was a former convict establishment, and today you can learn about the history with a visit to the island. You can also stay at one of the heritages accomodation options or camp overnight and enjoy good food and drinks.
9. Sydney Harbour Bridge
The Sydney Harbour Bridge goes hand in hand with the Opera House, together making up so many iconic, post-card worthy pictures of Sydney. The bridge is home to the heart of Sydney with traffic flowing at every hour of the day from the CBD across to the North Shore.
Walk the length of the bridge in the pedestrian only lane, enjoying the views along the way and taking in the huge steel arches above you. Climbing the bridge is an even more epic experience, if you are up for it!
10. China Town
Located in the Southern part of Sydney’s CBD near Haymarket, Sydney’s very own China Town is home to incredible food and good vibes.
The area is incredibly vibrant, and all the food is good. From fine dining to secret bars and street food halls, there is always something for everyone. Shop and eat your way through the vibrant distract, which is even better at night.
11. Go for a swim at North Sydney Pool
If you want a pool with a view, this is it. North Sydney Pool sits directly on the harbour, just in front of Luna Park. The best thing is, you get sweeping views of the Harbour Bridge as you swim – what more could you want? Get in some exercise while enjoying the view at this iconic Sydney spot.
12. Explore Circular Quay
Circular Quay is the heart of Sydney. Home to the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and so much more, there is something for everyone. Wander the streets surrounding the quay to find amazing shops and hidden gems, and stop by at one of the many cafes, bars and restaurants lining the harbour.
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to food and drink here, and it’s the perfect place for a fancy dinner or night out. Try Bennelong, Mr Wong or Bar Patron for some epic food, and hit up Opera Bar (more on this below!), for the best cocktail you’ve ever had.
13. Luna Park
Sydney’s very own and very iconic amusement park sits on the North Shore side of Circular Quay overlooking the harbour and the Harbour Bridge.
It’s truly an iconic view from the Ferris wheel that is a must. It’s a fun day out with loads of fun rides, and there’s also several nice restaurants and bars on side, all with epic views.
14. Hyde Park night noodle market
If your time in Sydney coincides with the Night Noodle Markets, then think yourself lucky. Hyde Park turns in to a bustling and vibrant food festival with the smells of delicious noodles amongst burgers and sweet treats wafting. Check the dates for when the festival is running.
15. Museum of Contemporary Art
Located at The Rocks, Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art features a huge and incredible range of contemporary art in a picturesque setting. With art from both Australia and around the world, and art fans won’t be disappointed.
16. Watson’s Bay
Situated Harbourside in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, Watson’s Bay is a picturesque spot well worth visiting.
The calm waters make it the perfect spot for kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding, and there’s a bunch of lovely restaurants to stop by at for a bite to eat. Walk along the South Head heritage trail to head up to the famous Hornby Lighthouse, and soak in the epic views.
17. Darling Harbour
A beautiful harbour in the middle of Sydney, Darling Harbour has got something for everyone. From the IMAX Theatre and the aquarium to keep kids entertained, to Harbourside shopping centre which is perfect shopping, as well as a huge range of restaurants and bars, there’e something for everyone at Darling Harbour.
You can easily spend a whole day exploring here, and you can stop by at the Hard Rock Cafe or Pancakes on the Rocks for lunch, before heading to one of the many bars with a view for a cocktail overlooking the harbor.
18. Sydney Fish Market
A huge marketplace located in Pyrmont, not far from Darling Harbour, Sydney Fish Market is the place to go in Sydney to buy fresh seafood.
It has a hugely vibrant atmosphere, and it’s worth popping in for the experience. Pick up some of the best fresh seafood you can imagine.
19. Wander George Street
Sydney’s original high street, George Street is at the heart of Sydney’s CBD. One of the busiest streets in Sydney, connecting a huge range of important locations in the Sydney.
Amongst high rise buildings, business centers and hotels, you’ll find shops, restaurants, bars and cafes. You can at one end of the street, near The Rocks, and wander right up to Central Station.
20. Head to Sydney Flower Market
Located in Parramatta, Sydney Flower Market is Australia’s largest market for flowers. The markets supply nearly all florists in the local Sydney area, but it’s also open to the public, so you can pop in and enjoy the atmosphere, and of course, smell the flowers!
21. Chinese Garden of Friendship
An inner-city oasis which seems miles away from the hustle and bustle of the Sydney CBD, the Chinese Garden of Friendship is the perfect place to relax, unwind, or just take a moment.
Focusing on the Taoist principles of Ying-Yang and Wu-Xing, you can wander the serene pathways, enjoy the lake, flowers and greenery. You can also head to the Gardens by Lotus Cafe and restaurant for some great Chinese food.
22. Glebe Markets
One of Sydney’s most epic and well-known markets, open on a Saturday. A local favourite spot, its vibrant and cool, and the perfect place to support small, local businesses.
With over 200 market stalls, you’ll find just about anything, and there’s always good places to pick up a bite to eat and listen to live music.
23. Hyde Park Barracks
The Hyde Park Barracks are a UNESCO World Heritage site with a whole lot of history. Now a museum, the barracks were originally built to house convicts in early colonial Australia times, and later served as an Asylum, immigration depot and government office.
There’s lots of learn, so 90 minute tour sessions are offered to help you get the most out of your visit.
24. Shop on Pitt Street and the Queen Victoria Building
The shopping hub of Sydney, Pitt Street is located in central Sydney CBD and is the heart of shopping.
Home to Centre Point Tower Westfield plus a whole bunch of high end and mid range shops, you’ll find amazing shopping and great places to eat. Also make sure to visit the Queen Victoria Building (QVB), home to Town Hall Station and a bunch of cool shops and spots to eat.
25. Paddys Markets
Located in Haymarket, Paddy’s Markets are the spot to go for just about anything. From fresh fruit and vegetables, souvenirs, cheap clothes and giftware, you’ll find it here. Located in the heart of Haymarket, you’ll find lots of market eats around too.
26. Madame Tussauds
Sydney’s very own Madame Tussaud’s is located in Darling Harbour and is a must visit for families. With a huge range of wax figures (both Aussie icons and international icons), it’s the perfect stop on a day out in Darling Harbour.
27. Have a drink at Opera Bar
Easily one of Sydney’s most Iconic bars, Opera Bar is, as the name suggests, is located just outside the Opera House on Sydney Harbour.
With bistro food and pizza always on the menu, and a huge range of cocktails, you simply can’t go to Sydney without checking out Opera Bar. Sit back and relax with epic views of Sydney Harbour with a drink in hand, and trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
28. Royal Botanic Gardens
A 30 hectare site located at Farm Cove, Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens are beautiful. With gorgeous gardens, exhibits and events always on, you can’t miss checking out the gardens, a place that flora and fauna lovers will adore.
29. Visit Manly Beach
Situated in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Manly is one of Australia’s most famous beaches (after Bondi, of course!), having been home to the world’s first ever surfing competition in 1964.
Since then, the beach is ever so inviting for surfers from around the globe. Whether you want to surf, snorkel or simply lounge on the beach, Manly Beach is the perfect spot. It’s also a great spot for a picnic or a bike road, and there’s lots of top cafes to try.
30. See the view from Sydney Tower
Sydney’s tallest tower, Sydney Tower oversees the whole of Sydney, providing on the most epic view points. Tickets to head to the top of the tower to soak in the 360 vistas can be purchased here, and if you are feeling adventurous, you can opt to do the SkyWalk experience around the outside of the tower.
31. Have a night out in Newtown
A bustling and cool neighbourhood in Sydney’s inner west, Newtown is home to Enmore theatre and lots of cool cafes and bars. It’s also one of the top spots for a night out in Sydney. There are loads of spots to choose from – try The Newtown hotel, Black Sheep, Corridor or Bank Hotel.
32. Visit Vivid
Vivid is an annual festival of light that lights up Sydney each year (generally sometime between May and June, but it sometimes changes!). Epic structures such as the Opera House are lit up with light and art, and Sydney truly comes alive. If you are in Sydney during Vivid, it’s worth a visit.
33. See a game at the SCG
The Sydney Cricket Ground is one of Australia’s oldest and most prestigious sporting grounds, which is used for a huge range of sports including international cricket and test matches, NRL, AFL and rugby union. The epic venue is one of the best places to experience sport in Australia, so check if there’s anything on and try to grab some tickets.
34. Australian Museum
Australia’s oldest Museum is located in Sydney’s CBD, and is internationally recognised for it’s natural history and anthropology fields. The museum features loads of exhibits and collections, with natural history and anthropology being its main points of focus.
35. Sydney’s oldest pub – The Fortune of War
Considered to be Sydney’s oldest pub, The Fortune of War is located at The Rocks and dates all the way back to 1828. it’s retaining its old charm, and the heritage bar is a favourite for both locals and tourists. Grab a beer and a great pub feed at this historical pub and soak in the history.
Getting around Sydney
Sydney has a whole range of transport options which makes getting around really easy.
- Walking – Many of the attractions in Sydney CBD are within walking distance of each other, so you can get around easily in central Sydney on foot.
- Trains – Sydney has a good train system with routes that will take you not only within the city, but to many other places such as Bondi and Parramatta. Check out the train routes here.
- Tram – One of the more recent editions to Sydney’s public transport system, the tram is a great way get around the city and CBD.
- Bus – There’s a whole heap of bus services running frequently in Sydney.
- Uber and Taxi – If in doubt, you can easily grab a taxi or order an uber or ride share service from anywhere in Sydney.
Where to stay in Sydney
Looking for accomodation? There’s no shortage of places to stay in and around Sydney, no matter what your budget or style is. Here’s some top rated choices!
- Original backpackers Sydney
- Sydney Central YHA
- Wake up! Bondi Beach
- Sydney Harbour bed and breakfast
- Vulcan Hotel
- Fraser Suites Sydney
- Meriton Suites Kent Street
- Park Hyatt Sydney
- Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour
- Shangri-La Hotel
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