Whether you’re heading Down Under to say hello to friends and family or are here to see all the sights, we can all agree that this really is the long haul of long haul – so you better bloody well make the most of your time over there! To get the ball rolling, we’ve whipped together the 12 best things to do in Sydney. From sipping cocktails in the highest bar in the city, to gorgeous coastal walks and right on to the spot that will get you the very best Insta shot, guaranteed.
Psst: It can be pretty close quarters when staying with family! If you need a little me time (or a little me + you time 😉) then say no more, we can hook you up with a hotel, easy.
12 best things to do in Sydney
1. The Calyx at the Royal Botanic Gardens
At the very heart of the Royal Botanic Gardens you’ll find a real gem: the Calyx. This fancy sounding place, named after the sepals of a flower (that’s the green bit you often see at the base), is home to the largest living interior green wall in the southern hemisphere. A major centre for horticulture, there’s always some kind of stunning exhibition going on here.
2. Kayak under the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Now this is one way to start your morning! Float over the silky waters of the harbour as the sun cracks over the horizon and Sydney wakes up – and with a big fat cup of barista-made coffee in your hands! You’ll get mega views of the the bridge as well as the Opera House from a different perspective. Sydney by Kayak offer tours leaving from Lavender Bay and Blues Point in the summer, and Goat Island or Sawmillers Reserve in the cooler months.
3. Luna Park, Sydney’s oldest theme park
This place goes all the way back to 1935! A super rare
surviving thriving example of an amusment park with loads of fantasy architecture in an Art Deco style, it was actually based off the original Luna Park over in New York’s Coney Island. It’s fought off developers and a bad spell or two and now sits proudly on the NSW State Heritage Register. Come for rollercoasters, family and thrill rides, as well as a classic carousel and Ferris wheel.
4. Sydney Opera House Behind the Scenes tour
It all starts at Stage Door with this trip behind the (literal) curtain to see what goes on behind the scenes at one of the most iconic music venues on the planet. A small bunch of you, keeping it nice and intimate, will get to experience the dramatic world of top-tier performers, with a load of stories and tid-bits thrown in for good measure. You’ll get to see all the nooks and crannies of the place, and then you get to round it all off with a proper good breakfast at the House Canteen with mega views of the harbour.
You’ll have to forgive it for not having views of the, er, Opera House.
5. Bar 83
It’s bottoms up really, er, high up in the sky at Bar 83, named because it’s – you guessed it, you clever lot – on the 83rd floor of Sydney Tower.
With some mega floor-to-ceiling windows, giving you a nice 260 degree view of the city, here you can enjoy cocktails crafted with a focus on Australia’s best seasonal ingredients, from an Aloe M’Dear to a Red Dwarf.
6. Taronga Zoo
They say they’re the “only zoo with a harbour view”, but it’s about more than belting views here. There’s over 5,000 animals to see, including some new Dingo pups – Warada and Kep Kep – and some squirrel monkey babies. Their Immersive Australian Habitat, Nura Diya Australia, opens in April, and the Twilight at Taronga Summer Concert Series will be back this year too.
7. Wolseley Road
For all you rubber neckers out there who love having a gander at the rich and sometimes also famous, we’re right there with you! This next spot will be right up your street (sorry.) Wolseley Road, in the Point Piper suburb of Sydney and nestled right on the harbour, is lined with some very, very expensive houses. It’s the most expensive street in Australia, and the 6th most exclusive in the world, according to those knowledgeable folks over at Sotheby’s. It’s said every square meter is worth $40,000, but quite frankly we don’t really know what a square metre is, so we’ll just say that a gaff with this postcode could set you back up to $39 million!
Sydney’s actually home (ha – get it?) to the second and third most pricey streets in Australia too – Tivoli Avenue in Rose Bay, which just sounds rich, and Carrara Road, just north of Tivoli Avenue. You know what they say, birds of a feather…
8. Spit to Manly coastal walk
Look, there’s a lot of gorgeous coastal walks in Sydney. Bondi to Coogee is a super popular one, but we reckon you should give the Spit to Manly one a go instead. Starting at Spit Bridge (but you can go from either end, really), this 10km wander will take you about 3-4 hours and will amble along past sandy beaches (see below), ancient Aboriginal sites, and some stunning lookout points, before rocking up at cosmopolitan Manly for a well-earned slap up meal and some drinks.
Way better than the trek to find the loos at your local Spoons, which takes about just as long.
9. Castle Rock Beach
Speaking of that lovely coastal walk, it’ll also drop you off at Castle Rock Beach, one of Sydney’s smallest sandy beaches and perfect swimming spot with a pretty decent view across Balmoral. It’s much quieter, but this does mean that you can’t expect all the usual conveniences like lifeguards, shops, or loos. This is nature at it’s finest!
Oh, and they’ve thrown in an ancient Aboriginal rock carving down there too. Just because.
10. Q Station ghost tour
In Sydney Harbour National Park, you’ll find Q Station. Set up way back in 1832 to quarantine early immigrants affected by disease, it’s now a centre for telling the story of those who arrived in Australia and the cultural and social changes that followed. There also happens to be a ghost tour, because it’s said this is one of Australia’s most haunted sites, with paranormal activity recorded throughout its history.
11. Bondi Icebergs
The only licenced Winter Swimming Club in the world, this place dates back all the way to 1929. It’s now a super popular hangout, and not just for swimming! There’s a cafe here, a gym, even somewhere to get a massage. Locals can join the club, but day visitors are more than welcome for a small fee. You can’t beat doing laps in calm water of the pool whilst the the sea waves crash down below – and it’s got a belting view.
12. 1A Waruda Street, AKA Kirribilli Lookout Point
We’ll end this list with a very fitting final entry, something that pretty well encompasses all the bests bits that make up the city. Kirribilli Lookout is one of the best – dare we say the very best – vantage points from which to view all the Sydney greats. We’re talking the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, Circular Quay and the CBD – all in one frame. Now that’s something to send back home!