Sydney, Australia’s beautiful Harbour City is a playground ready to be explored. From its gold sprinkled beaches to its impressive structures, there is much to see, do and experience
Sydney Opera House
On a platform jutting out into Sydney Harbour, the Sydney Opera House is without a doubt Australia’s most iconic landmark. Designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon, construction took 16 years and a heap of controversy to complete, finally opening in 1976. Today, the Sydney Opera House is a UNESCO World Heritage site and attracts roughly 8.2 million visitors a year. Perhaps its most recognisable feature is its overlapping sail-sculpted roof, which is made of 2,194 concrete sections held together by 350km of steel cable. If you laid every piece of cable together, it would reach all the way to Australia’s capital of Canberra.
The opera house has six theatre and music venues hosting all kinds of entertainment, from opera and dance, to comedy and talks. There are two daily tours each day, but we recommend the backstage tour, which gives you small group access to private rehearsal spaces and more.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
When it was first constructed in 1923, it cost just six pence to drive a car across Sydney Harbour Bridge. For its scenery alone, we would have driven backwards and forwards all day long. Nicknamed the coat hanger, the bridge is another of Sydney Harbour’s esteemed landmarks.
A stroll across the pedestrian pathway is a great way to explore the intricate steel networks of the bridge, work a few muscles and grab some Instagram worthy shots, particularly at sunset. For the adventurous, why not go one step further and ascend the arches of the bridge? With Bridge Climb, visitors can experience it all with a guide regaling you with stories and history about the bridge. For the truly brave, climb to the summit 134m above sea level for uninterrupted panoramic views of the city.
This mishmash of cobblestone streets, cul-de-sacs and sandstone buildings constitutes Sydney’s oldest area. Its colonial buildings and narrow lanes tell a story that dates back to the formation of the colony in 1788. Thanks to the acts of residents in 1971, the area avoided a transformation into residential dwellings and today is a synthesis of past and present. On one hand, The Rocks is home to two of Sydney’s oldest pubs, while on the other it also houses trendy cocktail bars, artisan foodie markets and galleries, all waiting for you to explore.
This dreamy waterfront wharf is in the heart of the city and is a popular recreational spot. Darling Harbour is home to fun and funky nightclubs, great dining options and the Australian National Maritime Museum. The area has been used as a filming location for Neighbours and MTV. Film buffs may remember Darling Harbour from the original (and far superior) 1995 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie.
One of the world’s most famous beach destinations, Bondi Beach shimmers with golden sands and incoming arching waves. The beach is only 20 minutes from the city centre and hosts surfing and kite flying competitions, festivals and markets throughout the year.
It’s not unusual to see people with picnics, or fish and chips from one of the cafés on Campbell Parade. The waves, although somewhat crowded, are perfect for surfing and the southern end of the beach is largely reserved for this purpose. If you prefer to keep your feet dry, there is also a skate ramp and markets along the parade.
Royal Botanical Garden
An oasis in the very heart of Sydney, the Royal Botanical Garden is the oldest scientific institution in Australia. Awash with vibrant landscapes gardens, the garden is home to thousands of plant specimens, colourful birds, insects and fruit bats. Entry is free, but for a fee, visitors can take a 90-minute guided aboriginal heritage tour.
Hyde Park, Sydney
Taking the prestigious title of oldest park in Australia, Hyde Park is 39 acres of themed gardens, public artworks, monuments and triumphant water features. As far as parks go, Hyde Park is oodles of fun. Special events and parties are held throughout the year, such as the Sydney Food & Wine Fair and parts of the Sydney Festival. The park is home to large, shady trees should you need a minute away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Experience unrivalled panoramic views of Sydney atop this incomparable tower. High above the city centre, visitors can experience the Skywalk attraction, a guided walk along a glass-floor viewing platform. Not for the weak of heart, this is twice the height of Sydney Harbour Bridge, but well worth the visit. Reservations are definitely recommended here!
Sydney Olympic Park
The gargantuan Sydney Olympic Park complex is a sanctuary for sports and entertainment. Redeveloped for the 2000 Olympics, the area is a mix of five parks, a skate park, aquatic centre and stadium. Some of the biggest events in Australia take place here, from rugby and AFL, to music festivals – AC/DC and Depeche Mode are two recent examples of the stadium's star power.
The former defence facility is the only Martello tower built in Australia. Standing for over 150 years, Fort Denison features a gun powder store, museum and café. Visitors can go on a guided tour around the structure, particularly if you’re going at 1pm when the time gun is fired, a traditional originally started to coincide with the fall of the time ball at Sydney Observatory.