The posterboy of Australia, with its iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge skyline famous the world over, Sydney has long been the first point of call for internationals making the long (but worthwhile) journey to the sun-kissed Land Down Under.
Regularly up there among the world’s most liveable cities, Sydney is a sprawling cosmopolitan metropolis with a little bit of everything; the shores of infamous Bondi in the east and hipster Manly in the north are a beach bum’s paradise, while the CBD’s old and new malls beckon shoppers hunting for some retail therapy. With footy, rugby, soccer and cricket running through the city’s veins, the sporting crowd is never disappointed, while the slew of world-class museums will leave any culture vulture more than satisfied.
Its harbourfront attractions are constant favourites for locals and tourists alike; from the street performers, fine dining, and family-friendly activities at Darling Harbour to the traditional ferries and million-dollar views of Circular Quay and the historic Rocks neighbourhood around the corner, there’s something to suit everyone’s taste and leave a week-long itinerary jam-packed.
Despite the sheer size of the city (Australia’s biggest), with plentiful skyrises and suburbs that stretch for days, for all you nature lovers, whether near or far, you’ll have your fix of fresh air — the North Shore and Northern Beaches are full of greenery, the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk is one of the most beautiful in the world, and day trips to the Blue Mountains or Royal National Park are a must.
And we haven’t even touched on the incredible diversity of thrift markets, edgy cafes, award-winning restaurants, underground bars, and thumping clubs on offer in under-the-radar spots like Newtown, Glebe, and Surry Hills.
So whether you’re planning a trip from overseas or interstate, or are already lucky enough to live in this wonderful city where hidden gems lie around every corner, you’re truly spoiled for choice when it comes to fun things to do in Sydney.
With that said, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start exploring this East Coast tourist magnet!
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1 – See it all from the Sydney Tower Eye
The tallest building in Sydney and formerly the tallest structure in Australia (as of 2022, that honour now sits with Q1 on the Gold Coast), the Sydney Tower has long pierced the Sydney skies.
Casting a shadow over the CBD at 309 metres high, thanks to its observation deck, this Space Needle-like tower sells itself as the ideal spot to start any Sydney adventure to get the lay of the land.
Located in Westfield Sydney, the city’s largest shopping centre, on the corner of Market and Castlereagh Streets, getting to the top is a breeze. With high-speed lifts whisking you up in no time, once at the top you’re rewarded with unbeatable 360-degree views of not only the cityscape but also far out into the surrounding areas on a clear day.
Admire panoramas that take in landmarks such as Hyde Park, The Domain, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, and Darling Harbour — and on a clear day (which are most days in this sun-kissed city) even as far away as the Blue Mountains!
Dishing up more than just an Insta-worthy view, you can also learn all about the history of this 1980s tower with the 4D movie experience and read through the displays on the observation deck. Or, if a floor-to-ceiling window view just doesn’t cut it, the Skywalk experience – a 60-minute hair-raising tour that has you circumnavigating the outer perimeter of the tower on an external platform – is sure to get your heart pumping.
And for all you romantics or foodies, SkyFeast is perched 82 floors above the city CBD and serves up meals as impressive as the revolving panoramas which complement them. Whatever you do, make sure to bring your camera to snap some photos of this Sydney icon!
2 – Take a dip at Bondi Beach
A perfectly carved crescent moon of golden white sand, accented by a glimmering aquamarine ocean and framed by lush green headlands, world-famous Bondi Beach is the epitome of an Aussie beach.
Situated just seven kilometres from the Sydney CBD in the Eastern Suburbs, this bustling beach gets its fair share of visitors all year round – and thanks to the internationally-renowned Bondi Rescue TV show, its fair share of fame too.
While swimming, sunbaking, and beachy picnics are all popular activities (just make sure to swim between the red and yellow flags as there are strong rip currents), there’s plenty more on offer here too.
If you’re feeling active, consider renting a surfboard or signing up for a surf lesson with the pros. Whether you’re a total newbie or a seasoned surfer looking to up your game, you won’t find too many places more stunning to catch some waves.
Prefer to stay dry? Meander along the spectacular cliff-top coastal path which links up Bondi with nearby Tamarama and Bronte beaches – it’s one of Australia’s most scenic coastal walks!
Or, for a more leisurely activity, enjoy a coffee or bite to eat at one of the many beachside cafes on Campbell Parade, or take a dip at the seaside Icebergs Pool – undeniable one of the more picturesque spots in the city (and where you’ll also find the Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, if you prefer a jealousy-evoking cocktail to a swim).
With its vibrant atmosphere and postcard-perfect setting, it’s easy to see why Bondi is Australia’s most famous beach.
3 – Marvel at the Sydney Opera House
Finding itself on many a postcard and travel brochure, the Sydney Opera House is one of Australia’s most iconic buildings – and a must-see on any visit to the famed city. Situated on Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbour, with sweeping views of the harbour, bridge, and city skyline, this world-famous performing arts venue hosts more than 1,600 performances a year across its various theatres, studios, and exhibition rooms.
From ballet and orchestral concerts to theatre productions, comedy shows, and contemporary dance performances, there’s sure to be something on during your stay that will pique your interest. Simply check the website to see what’s on the agenda, and be sure to book in advance.
If you’re not in town for a show (or even if you are), make sure to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the iconic venue where you can learn all about its history, architecture, and construction.
There’s also a fabulous on-site restaurant, Bennelong at Sydney Opera House, where you can enjoy French fine dining with breathtaking harbour views – the perfect way to end a day of exploring this amazing city!
For a quick and affordable overview of the area, consider joining one of the walking tours. Led by a friendly and knowledgeable local, Harbour walking tours typically meander through The Rocks (where you’ll find Cadman’s Cottage, the area’s oldest surviving cottage, built in 1816), Circular Quay, the Sydney Opera House forecourt, the Royal Botanic Gardens, and around Mrs Macquarie’s Chair for some of the best harbour views in town (although every tour will differ slightly).
4 – Stroll around Darling Harbour
Darling Harbour is a bustling waterside precinct in the heart of Sydney, brimming with things to see and do. Situated on the western edge of the CBD, this popular spot is home to restaurants, bars, museums, galleries, and plenty of family-friendly attractions.
Ideal for a rainy day, one of the most popular things to do in Darling Harbour is to visit SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium – one of Australia’s largest aquariums where you can see everything from sharks and stingrays to turtles and penguins.
Or for something a bit different, check out Madame Tussauds Sydney where you can take selfies with your favourite celebrities (made entirely out of wax, of course).
But there’s plenty more where those came from: Other top activities in Darling Harbour include exploring the Australian National Maritime Museum, visiting the Chinese Garden of Friendship, catching a show at the Sydney Lyric Theatre, taking a ferry ride or water taxi around the harbour, and strolling through Cockle Bay Wharf – one of Sydney’s best spots for people watching and street performers.
Then, of course, there’s Darling Quarter, a vibrant outdoor precinct with a playground, water features, theatre, and plenty of cafes and restaurants where you can refuel after a day of exploring. Not to mention some of the only natural greenery in the CBD area.
5 – Meet giraffes at Taronga Zoo Sydney
Animal lovers, listen up. A crowd favourite for locals and tourists alike, especially for those with kids in tow, the family-friendly Taronga Zoo is one of best tourist attractions in Sydney.
Situated on the shores of stunning Sydney Harbour in Mosman, just a short ferry ride from Circular Quay, Taronga Zoo offers breathtaking views of the city skyline as well as up-close encounters with some of Australia’s (and the world’s) most fascinating animals.
With more than 350 species of Australian and exotic creatures and no less than 4,000 diverse residents of all shapes and sizes all up, Taronga Zoo is home to lions, tigers, giraffes, rhinos, elephants, chimpanzees…you name it. And, for that quintessential Aussie experience, bet your bottom dollar that cute-as-a-button koalas and kangaroos call this North Shore place home too.
After checking out some of the several daily educational shows on offer (such as Free Flight Birds, Seals for the Wild, Giraffe keeper talk, or Asian Elephant keeper talk, to name a few), one of the most popular things to do at Taronga Zoo is to take the Sky Safari cable car ride! As Sydney’s only cable car, you’ll experience panoramic views over Sydney Harbour that you can’t find anywhere else (just remember that it’s only operational from 10 am to 3 pm, so don’t miss out).
And, a new addition to the list of attractions, you can even stay overnight at Taronga Zoo as part of the Roar and Snore program. Complete with keeper talks, delicious food, intimate animal encounters, and safari-style accommodation, it’s a surefire way to take your visit to the next level.
Hot tip: if you happen to be visiting during late May or June, you’re in luck – that’s when the annual Vivid Sydney light show takes over the city and, with its Wild Lights events, Taronga Zoo is one of the best places to experience it in all its illuminated glory.
6 – Walk across (or climb) the Sydney Harbour Bridge
If you’re creating a list of the quintessential things to do in Sydney, it’d be a sin to overlook arguably its most iconic landmark – the Sydney Harbour Bridge. For the uninitiated, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of Australia’s – scratch that, the world’s – largest steel arch bridges and was opened in 1932 after eight years of construction and no less than 2,000 workers.
It spans 1,149 metres (that’s almost three-quarters of a mile for our American friends) across the shimmering Sydney Harbour from Milsons Point in the North (where you’ll find Luna Park) to The Rocks and Walsh Bay in the South, carrying trains, cars, bikes, and leisurely strollers who want to stretch the legs. Thanks to its shape, it makes sense why it’s commonly referred to as “The Coathanger”.
And did we mention that it offers some of the most incredible views of the harbour? If you’ve got time to spare, walk one way across the bridge between the CBD and North Shore (and then jump on the train on the way back). The free, flat walk is underrated and a noteworthy bucket list activity for penny-pinchers, but if you want to make it even more of an adventure and don’t mind a little splurge, join a Sydney BridgeClimb for the ultimate view.
Not for those with a fear of heights, and reserved for those 8 years and over, the Harbour Bridge Climb takes you to the top of the bridge – 134 metres (440 feet) above sea level, to be exact – for jaw-dropping panoramas of the harbour, the Opera House, and the city skyline.
While you’re exploring this world-famous landmark, save some time to check out the BridgeClimb Pylon Lookout & Museum. Documenting the history of the bridge, including rare video footage of the struggles of the forefathers, the museum is located inside one of the four massive pylons (the southeast one) and houses three levels of exhibitions. After 200 steps to the very top of the Pylon, you’ll be rewarded with wonderful open-air vistas.
7 – Visit the Featherdale Wildlife Park
If your idea of a memorable Aussie vacation features an up-close encounter with some of the country’s most iconic animals, Featherdale Wildlife Park is the place to be. Situated deep into Sydney’s western suburbs, about halfway between the city and the Blue Mountains (a perfect stop en route, perhaps?), this little-known animal delight is home to over 1700 different critters of all shapes and sizes; including kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, echidnas, and more slithery reptiles and squeaking birds than you can tip your hat at.
Besides browsing the enclosures, one of the most popular attractions at Featherdale is the chance to feed and pat and/or feed a number of the different endemic animals; including kangaroos, emus, lorikeets, and, of course, koalas! – still, these make up just a sliver of the some 260 different species that call this place home.
Never without an educational twist, there are also a number of keeper talks and animal shows held throughout the day; providing visitors with a unique insight into the lives of some of Australia’s most loved (and feared, and misunderstood) animals.
8 – Join a boat tour!
Few harbour cities around the world can hold a candle to Sydney when it comes to sheer beauty, and there’s no better way to soak up those postcard-worthy views than from the water. Whether you’re keen on a leisurely sightseeing cruise or an action-packed boat ride (jet boating, anyone?), there are plenty of operators offering tours around the harbour, and many include a hearty lunch or dinner as part of the package.
A few noteworthy options include Captain Cook Cruises, Sydney Harbour Tall Ships, and Magistic Two – a modern and ultra-luxe catamaran that offers a la carte dining as you cruise past some of the city’s most iconic landmarks. Plus, with live entertainment, onboard bars, and a knowledgeable crew on hand to answer all your questions on most tours, it becomes a far more complete experience compared to your typical water taxi.
Throw in whale-watching adventures, hop on hop off boat tours that allow you to play to your own schedule, private yacht charters, and ferry rides to the likes of Manly and Watsons Bay, and you’ve got yourself a whole day (or more!) of fun on the water.
Want something a little bit different from the stereotypical harbour cruise? Consider venturing over to the Blue Mountains, where journeys along the Nepean River offer a different – but equally as stunning – perspective of Sydney.
Embark on a sunset cruise
Oozing romance, a sunset cruise is a perfect activity for couples looking to add a touch of luxury to their Sydney stay; but hey, that doesn’t mean a troupe of friends can’t soak up that postcard-worthy panorama.
And, with so many different types of cruises on offer – from private charters and dinner cruises (with up to 6 courses if you don’t mind, depending on the tour) to BYO booze affairs and budget-friendly options – there’s definitely something to suit every taste (and budget).
Not to mention, with some of the best views in the city on offer, you’re guaranteed some pretty spectacular photo ops as well. So, whether you’re planning a special celebration or simply want to enjoy a beautiful summer’s evening on the harbour with live music to boot, make sure you add a sunset cruise to your list.
Hot tip: as one of the more popular fun things to do in Sydney, you can often save a few bucks by combining your cruise with another activity, like a ticket to the zoo.
Book a romantic dinner cruise
It’s Sydney – so obviously one of the best things to do is hop on a boat and enjoy a dinner cruise around the harbour. Not only will you get to see some of Sydney’s most iconic landmarks lit up at night (or, if in summer, when the sun stays up till past some of our bedtimes, a colourful twilight), but you’ll also be treated to a sumptuous meal as you sail past them.
And with a wide range of cruises available – from more casual BYO affairs to five or six-course degustations with matching wines – there’s something to suit everyone’s style, be that romance, live music, a little party, or just an old fashion buffet feast.
It’s not just the type of cruise that changes either – the ships themselves come in all shapes and sizes, from sleek catamarans to grand tall ships or private and intimate sailboats.
9 – Head to the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium
Teeming with more than 700 species of marine life spread across 14 themed zones, Sea Life Sydney Aquarium on the eastern side of Darling Harbour is one of the city’s top tourist attractions for animal lovers and galavanting families.
Dive into an underwater world as you explore the Shark Valley Zone, where more than 14 different species of apex predators await. Meet cute little penguins at Penguin Expedition Boat Ride (or go behind the scenes with the Penguin Experience where you can learn all about caring for King and Gentoo Penguins), and say hello to turtles, dugongs and stingrays in the Day and Night on the (Great Barrier) Reef section! With touch tanks, educational tasks, and the chance to even hand-feed some of the fish if you’re feeling brave, it’s interactive, educational, and a whole lot of fun.
Other highlights among the 13,000 animals which call this place home are the two resident dugongs at Dugong Island, the turtles, rays, and octopus! And for the little ones (or the young at heart), don’t miss the Discovery Rockpool where you can touch (gently) sea stars, shark eggs, shells and sea urchins!
10 – Admire the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ collection
A top-rated attraction for any venturing culture vulture – welcoming one million visitors annually, if you don’t mind – the Art Gallery of New South Wales is a stunning space that’s home to one of the largest and most diverse collections of art in Australia.
Free to enter and just a 15-minute walk from the city centre (on the edge of the Royal Botanic Gardens), it spans Australian, Aboriginal, European, Asian and contemporary art – so there’s truly something for everyone.
With more than 40,000 diverse and thought-provoking works on display (and a revolving selection of exhibitions to ensure that no two visits are alike), you could easily spend an entire day here exploring its many nooks and crannies.
While the multi-floor museum is always a delight to browse willy-nilly, for a more educational experience, consider joining one of the many free guided tours.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art guided tours are daily at 11 am; the Art Gallery highlights tour is daily at 12 pm and 2 pm (and an extra one at 5.30 pm on Wednesdays), and there are several free and paid options for hands-on workshops, neighbourhood walking art and coffee tours, and lectures – just check the calendar to see what piques your interest.
But even if museums aren’t really your thing, the gallery building itself, which dates back to the 1870s, is worth a visit for its sheer beauty and history.
Experience a live concert by candlelight in Sydney
Catch live performances of classics and tributes to your favorite bands and musicians, such as Taylor Swift, the Jackson 5 and Whitney Houston, all set to the ambiance of lit candles. Candlelight concerts take place in scenic venues across the city that don’t typically host concerts and events for an unforgettable backdrop to live renditions of your favorite tunes.
11 – Go skydiving!
Thrill-seekers, rejoice. A surefire way to get the heart thumping, and tick off an activity that’s likely been on the bucket list for years, skydiving in Sydney is an experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life – even if it’s just for the Instagram post.
As you roll out of the plane at 15,000 feet, you’ll reach terminal velocity in no time, with over 90 seconds of hair-raising freefall before the skydive master pulls the cord and you gently float back down to Earth, gliding for a few minutes as you take in panoramic views of some of New South Wales from an entirely new perspective.
Whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned adrenaline junkie, there are plenty of options available to ensure you get your skydiving fix. A couple of hours north of Sydney on the Central Coast is Newcastle – here, you’ll be blessed with spectacular views of the shoreline and get a sense of both city and nature.
It’s a similar story down south in Wollongong where the city meets the sea, however, up in the Hunter Valley – one of Australia’s premier wine regions – the jump is all about expansive nature, rolling hills, and pure blue skies.
With so many different locations to choose from, it’s easy to find a skydive that matches your personality and preferences – but one thing they all have in common is an unforgettable experience.
Feel the heart-racing thrill of Indoor skydiving
If you’re craving a heavy dose of adrenaline but haven’t quite mustered up the courage for a full-blown skydive – and we won’t blame you… a 15,000-foot leap of faith is no easy feat – then indoor skydiving may just be the perfect fallback option for you.
Guaranteed to lift the heart rate and plaster huge smiles on your faces, the experience simulates a real skydive, with all of the free-falling feels you’re after. The key difference: instead of jumping out of a plane, you’ll be doing it in an indoor vertical wind tunnel that’s capable of reaching insane speeds of up to 290km/h.
Most of the indoor skydiving experiences take place at iFly Sydney, which sits on the western side of the city in Penrith. Since it’s a 45-minute drive (or thereabouts), you might as well make the most of your trip.
If you’re up for more adventure, the Cables Wake Park & Aqua Park is right around the corner; if art’s your thing, cross the Nepean River to browse the Penrith Regional Gallery, or if you’d rather soak up some nature, the Blue Mountains are just a few minutes further down the road, home to a plethora of bucket list-worthy outdoor adventure activities.
12 – Embrace the unique style of The Rocks
Where old meets new; the Rocks is one of Sydney’s most historic neighbourhoods, home to cobblestone streets and colonial-era buildings that feel like a journey back in time, rejuvenated with an eclectic mix of shops, bars and restaurants.
The area gets its name from the sandstone foundations it was built on – way back in the early days of European settlement – and today, it’s one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations.
Wander through The Rocks Markets on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday for fresh produce, handmade goods and live music; explore the many nooks and crannies filled with bars, cafes and boutique stores; or learn about the area’s rich history at the Susannah Place Museum or modern culture at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
The Rocks is also a common spot on walking tours, sits within walking distance to some of Sydney’s other top attractions, including Circular Quay (more on that later), and is conveniently located as the end point for anyone wanting to stroll along the Sydney Harbour Bridge (from north to south), so it’s easy to make a day of this vibrant area.
13 – Ride the Ferris wheel at Luna Park Sydney
Accessible by ferry from Circular Quay, or by foot across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Luna Park at Milson’s Point is an old-school amusement park with a long and storied history as well as one instantly recognizable entryway.
The newer sister park to the one down in Melbourne, Sydney’s Luna Park was first opened in 1935 and has been wowing Sydneysiders – and visitors from all over the world – ever since.
With vintage rides like the Wild Mouse Rollercoaster, the Big Dipper, and the classic Carousel, plus a slew of sideshow games, your typical carnival food, and plenty of live entertainment and events, Luna Park is always a great day out for kids (and kids at heart).
While it doesn’t have the variety of heart-pumping rides you’d find somewhere like Dreamworld or Movie World on the Gold Coast, what it does have is a certain longstanding charm, a family-oriented atmosphere, and what is arguably the best view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the whole city.
And best of all? Entry to the park is completely free. You only pay for the rides you want to go on.
Visiting in October? Then you’re in luck. Right around Halloween season, the typically whimsical, family-friendly park gets a makeover — transforming into Hallowscream after dark. From 6pm to 10pm, it becomes a playground of horrors with spooky-themed attractions and terrifying characters roaming around. Special events include the 150-metre-long Halloween maze (chock-full of scars), a reimagined Coney Island, and plenty of sideshow games and spooky-themed food and drinks
14 – Hit up the highlights with a hop-on-hop-off bus
Ideal for anyone short on time or who doesn’t want the hassle of planning out their own itinerary, a hop on hop off bus tour is the perfect way to see all of Sydney’s top sights in one day (or spread out over a few days, if you’re feeling more leisurely).
With multiple routes and stops covering all of the city’s major attractions, you can tailor your own sightseeing experience and get off at any stop that interests you.
Then, simply wait for the next bus to come by (they operate on a regular schedule) and hop back on when you’re ready.
Some popular stops include Bondi Beach, Circular Quay, Darling Harbour, Manly Beach, the Botanical Gardens, Hyde Park, the Sydney Fish Market, The Rocks and Wynyard Park – but there are many more to choose from.
Keep in mind that, because Sydney is such a large city, the busses operate on a couple of different routes – depending on the company, typically one ventures around the city while another hits up Bondi and the coastal areas.
Besides the hassle-free experience (and saving money on buying individual transport tickets or car rental), the tours are also educational, with a pre-recorded audio guide unveiling interesting facts and stories about Sydney as you go. On sunny days, the open-aired top deck is always a hoot.
15 – Shop till you drop at the Queen Victoria Building
Beautiful, historic, and smack-bang in the middle of the city on George Street (around the corner from the Sydney Tower Eye, the Queen Victoria Building has long been one of the city’s more underrated landmarks.
Completed in 1898 and designed in a refreshingly quaint Romanesque Revival style, this grand building was originally built to honour the longstanding Monarch and house retail space and a concert hall. With a storied and fascinating history, today it now mainly serves as a shopping centre, with close to 200 stores across four floors.
There’s also a wide range of eateries, from upmarket restaurants to casual cafes, plus regular live music and other entertainment.
If you’re after some luxury goods or designer clothes, this is definitely the place to come – think Calvin Klein, Jimmy Choo, Ralph Lauren, Tiffany & Co., Pandora…the list goes on.
But even if your budget doesn’t quite stretch that far, it’s still worth coming in for a browse and to soak up the stunning architecture and unique atmosphere (or grab a treat from Haigh’s Chocolates), and there are plenty of more affordable options too.
Thanks to its central location, the Queen Vic Building (as the locals call it) is a common stop on CBD walking tours.
Have you considered a Sydney Pass?
Designed specifically with tourists in mind, a Sydney Pass guarantees you hassle-free entrance to many of the city’s top attractions. And thanks to its clever price structure, it’s a great way to save a few dollarydoos – you can pocket as much as 50% off normal admission fees.
The Sydney Pass guarantees you entry to dozens of different activities and excursions around town – and it’s not just the run-of-the-mill stuff either. Whether it’s a ferry tour, a 2-hour whale-watching cruise, a hop-on hop-off bus tour, a true crime walking tour, a trip to the Blue Mountains, virtual reality escape rooms, or even a surfing lesson at Bondi or Maroubra, this all-in-one ticket has you covered.
The Explorer Pass allows you to choose between 2 and 7 different activities from the list for one fixed price, and go at your own pace over a period of 60 days.
16 – Take a day trip to the Blue Mountains
When the high-speed hustle and bustle of Sydney city life starts to wear thin, there’s no better antidote than a day (or two) spent in the Blue Mountains. Just over an hour away by train from downtown, this World Heritage-listed wonderland is unsurprisingly one of the most popular day trips from Sydney.
And there’s plenty to do once you’re there. Take the scenic route on the world’s steepest incline passenger railway at Scenic World (where there’s also a Cableway, 270-metre-high Skyway that glides across the Jamieson Valley, and cliff walks aplenty), explore numerous walking trails and lookouts offering breathtaking views, take a leisurely stroll through Wentworth Falls or the Leura township, ride the Blue Mountains Explorer Bus, or take a hike to the famous Three Sisters (a trio of sandstone rock formations).
While the Three Sisters are the posterchild for the Blue Mountains, at a whopping size of 11,400 square kilometres, the hiking opportunities are near endless — and you’ll find no shortage of guided treks and tours if you need a helping hand.
Case in point: excursions to the Jenolan Caves. The biggest, most well-known and arguably the most spectacular caves in the country, these award-winning national treasures are home to some of the oldest known cave formations in the world. Throughout the breathtaking underground system, 10 show caves are open to the public – some are a relatively simple walkthrough experiences, while others are more suited to the adventure seeker, with crawling, squeezing and climbing a requirement.
If you’re up for some adventure, there’s also abseiling, canyoning, rock climbing, mountain biking and much more on offer, as well as options to zoom down some flying foxes or tackle high ropes courses at adventure playgrounds like Trees Adventure.
But if you’re not totally excited for strenuous activity, you can always sign up for one of the Blue Mountains jeep tours. Led by a knowledgeable guide, you can comfortably explore the rugged terrain and discover hidden gems that only a 4×4 vehicle can access. And you don’t have to worry about any of the logistics! What’s not to love?
17 – Join a whale watching adventure
While a heavily built-up area might not be the first place you’d think of for whale watching, it’s actually one of the best spots in Australia to do so.
From May to November each year, migrating Humpback and Southern Right whales can be spotted frolicking along the coastline (with peak season between June and September).
The best way to see them is undoubtedly by boat, with many operators offering up half-day or full-day excursions departing from Sydney Harbour. You might even spot some dolphins playing in the waves while you’re out there! Should luck strike, you might even catch a glimpse of orcas, blue whales, minke whales or sperm whales too.
If you’ve time some extra time up your sleeve, consider a day (or multi-day) trip down to Jervis Bay — a stunning marine park boasting some of the whitest sand beaches in the world. Picturesque Jervis Bay is about a three-hour drive from Sydney, and sells itself as one of the East Coast’s best whale-watching and dolphin-spotting areas.
Either way, whether you stay local or venture a little further from the main haunts, with 16,000 migrating whales every year, the odds are good.
18 – Pop into the Powerhouse Museum
Making for quintessential viewing for anyone with an interest in science, technology or design (or really, anyone who’s just curious about some of the off-the-beaten-track Sydney attractions), the Powerhouse Museum (which is the main stage of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences) is one of Sydney’s most beloved institutions.
Built in a converted electric tram power station and close enough to Darling Harbour to squeeze into any day of walkabout – yet hidden enough to seldom be crowded or crammed – this place is a must-visit.
A mecca for anyone drawn to innovation and advancement (plus art and science and a whole lot more), the Powerhouse Museum boasts a whopping 500,000 objects in its collection curated over 125 years — everything from ancient Egyptian artefacts and vintage cars to planes, Aboriginal artifacts, steam engines, astronaut suits, and a whole lot more.
Immerse yourself in exhibitions on space exploration and Australian fashion history, explore the inner workings of a real coal-fired steam engine or take a walk through what life was like in 19th century Sydney. With so much to see and do, and a neverending rotation of short-term exhibits (from topics like video games, experimentations, animation, and space cars) you could easily spend an entire day here (or come back time and time again).
The Powerhouse Museum is open every day from 10 am until 5 pm hours (with extended hours on Thursdays), so there’s plenty of time to explore the diverse selection of hands-on activities on offer.
19 – Venture up the Central Coast to the family-friendly Australian Reptile Park
Sure, Sydney has no shortage of zoos, but if it’s the slithery, slimy, scaly reptiles that float your boat, then a little road trip may be on the cards. Jump in the car and head north of Sydney instead – an hour from the CBD will have you at Australian Reptile Park in Somersby.
Severely underrated, the award-winning park plays host to dozens of species that call Australia home; the reptile gang – snakes, lizards, alligators and the like – make up the majority, but a handful of furry, friendly critters live here too (kangaroos, koalas, lorikeets, and more).
Make sure to say G’day to Hugo, the giant Galapagos tortoise, and Elvis, who sports the reputation of being ‘Australia’s Crankiest Croc. And (if you’re brave enough) be sure to pop into Spider World, where some of the nation’s biggest creepy-crawlies await.
The children’s adventure playground is a bonus – ideal for kids of all ages – and the cafe and picnic areas provide a great chance to recharge the batteries. Unlike most of the inner-city zoos, at the Australian Reptile Park you can interact with the majority of the wildlife too.
20 – Roll out the picnic blanket at Hyde Park
A beloved slice of greenery in the heart of Sydney’s CBD, Hyde Park is one of the city’s most popular parks.
And it’s easy to see why. With well-manicured gardens welcoming many a picnicker, a beautiful fountain, plenty of trees for shade and meandering paths to explore, Hyde Park is the perfect place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city life.
The park also plays host to several events throughout the year — from open-air film screenings in summer to live music performances and food markets. So keep an eye out for what’s on while you’re in town.
How to fit it into a day: If you’re up for a solid day of walking, start your journey at Museum train station; wander through Hyde Park before continuing onto the Royal Botanic Garden, then past the Sydney Opera House and finish up the stroll at Circular Quay for a sunset dinner or twilight boat cruise!
Journey Through Banksy’s Artistic World
Step into the electrifying world of street art at “The Art of Banksy: Without Limits”, an immersive exhibition showcasing over 160 pieces of the elusive artist’s work. From original art and photos to sculptures, installations, and even digital experiences, this museum-quality showcase promises a thrilling journey through Banksy’s genius.
21 – Take to the skies with a helicopter tour
From street level, the New South Wales capital is a constant hubbub of activity, energy and motion. But take to the skies on a helicopter tour and you’ll see Sydney in a whole new light — quite literally.
You’ll spot famous landmarks like the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Bondi Beach and Royal Botanic Garden as well as get an aerial view of other popular attractions including Manly Beach, The Rocks district and Taronga Zoo.
With multiple tour companies and plenty of different itineraries (including options for combination packages), there’s a helicopter tour to suit everyone’s needs — whether you’re after a quick buzz around town or something a little more comprehensive.
Hot tip: book early to secure a twilight flight. By day, a helicopter flight shows the lay of the land in a surreal light. But come sunset, you’ll see the city begin to light up as the day fades into night.
22 – Learn something new at the Australian National Maritime Museum
Immediately recognisable thanks to its moored Navy ships and waterfront Darling Harbour location, the Australian National Maritime Museum boasts a huge range of interactive and educational exhibitions that dive into all things maritime — from Australia’s naval history to the science of the sea.
Set foot on a real Navy battleship (‘Vampire’), climb aboard the replica of Captain Cook’s famous HMB Endeavour tall ship, explore an immersive submarine experience or let the tots loose at the interactive Kids on Deck workshops. Plus, with plenty of stimulating short-term exhibitions (on unique topics like pirates, sea monsters, or Wildlife Photographer of the Year) there’s always something new to see and do.
The Australian National Maritime Museum is open every day from 10 am until 4 pm, so you can seamlessly squeeze it into any day of Darling Harbour sightseeing. And with free tours as well as expert volunteers on site who can wax for days about the fascinating and integral Australian maritime history, you’ll leave having learned a thing or two, for sure.
After you’re all boated out, refuel at the onsite Yots Café or grab a maritime souvenir at The Store before meandering around the area to any of Madame Tussauds, the IMAX theatre, the aquarium, the Sydney Fish Market, or the Chinese Garden of Friendship – a slew of family-friendly attractions within walking distance.
23 – Cool off at Raging Waters Sydney
With mid-summer temperatures often soaring into the high 30s or scraping into the 40s (celsius), many Sydneysiders flock to the beaches to cool off. For those who want to combine their reprieve with a splash of adventure, Raging Waters Sydney – formerly known as Wet’n’Wild Syndey – is the place to be.
This massive waterpark (the largest in the city, in fact) boasts more than 40 slides and attractions, a heated wave pool, kids’ play areas and an epic lazy river that winds its way through the eastern side of the park.
For thrillseekers, it’s heaven on earth. T5, 360Rush, Bombora, and Tantrum are classified as intense – ride them and you’ll understand why. And despite being a few extra bucks, the Sydney SkyCoaster, a 50-metre-high Superman-style giant swing is definitely worth the extra cash.
But if you’re more about the slow-paced relaxation, with a handful of cabanas and daybeds available around the park, you can easily while away an afternoon lounging poolside with a good book or working on your tan.
And with many cafes and kiosks on-site, you’re sorted for when the hunger pangs strike (hot tip: if you’re pinching pennies, bring a packed lunch).
Raging Waters is open every day from late September until early April, making it the perfect summertime activity for all ages. And with a range of ticket options (like group discounts and season passes), there’s an option to suit everyone.
24 – Go snorkeling at Manly Beach
While Bondi bears the brunt of the fame (and Instagram snaps), Manly is Sydney’s most beloved beach – especially among locals. Located a 30-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay, this North Shore seaside spot boasts golden sand, crystal-clear water, heaps of amenities and a relaxed vibe that’s contagious.
After working up an appetite swimming, surfing or stand-up paddleboarding in the sea, or sunbaking on the sand, feast on some local fish and chips (an Aussie pastime) at one of Manly’s many beachside cafes before strolling along The Corso – a pedestrian mall lined with boutique shops, ice-cream parlours, restaurants and the occasional outdoor weekend market.
And when you’re all shopped out, take to the water again for some snorkeling in Sydney! With abundant marine life (including colourful fish and gentle turtles) and the protected marine reserve that is Cabbage Tree Bay, there’s plenty to see beneath the surface.
Rounding out the options, Manly is also a common starting point for kayaking tours, boat rental, bike tours and surf lessons. Whatever floats your boat, just remember to pack your sunscreen, swimsuit and towel, and you’re good to go!
25 – Check out the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Straddling the shores of Circular Quay and nestled at the foot of the historic and vibrant Rocks precinct, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) is one of Sydney’s must-see art destinations.
The MCA is home to a constantly rotating selection of exhibitions and installations, as well as several permanent collections featuring Australian artists from the last two centuries. And with free entry for all visitors, it’s easy to while away an afternoon exploring the museum’s many nooks and crannies and admiring the 4,000-piece strong collection that spans paintings, photography, sculptures, drawings, and video. And with a strong focus on embracing works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, you’ll get an insight into the longstanding local culture too.
But the MCA isn’t just about the artwork – there’s also a stellar line-up of talks, tours, workshops and performances on offer, as well as an excellent café serving up healthy salads, gourmet sandwiches and delicious cakes. So whether you’re an art aficionado or are just meandering around the city and looking for some air conditioning or shelter from the rain, the thought-provoking, not-for-profit MCA seldom disappoints.
26 – Witness the nation’s endemic creatures up close; take a wombat tour!
When you picture Aussie wildlife, what comes to mind? Kangaroos, koalas, maybe even wallabies? And, of course, there’s the more sinister collection of snakes, crocs and spiders. But there’s one fuzzy, cuddle-worthy creature that often gets overlooked – the wombat.
These cute, furry marsupials are native to Australia and are known for their burrowing abilities. They also have a reputation for being tough as nails – they can run at speeds of up to 40 kilometres per hour, chew through tree bark, and dig themselves into the ground to protect themselves from bushfires and predators. Pretty cool, hey?
If you want to get up close and personal with these furry little guys, an official wombat tour is your best bet. While each tour is slightly different, the premise remains the same; you’ll be whisked away to wombat country, where you’ll get to walk amongst and interact with these amazing creatures (and plenty of kangaroos as well).
Plus, with knowledgeable guides leading the way – those who can give you all sorts of interesting facts about wombats and other wildlife in the area – you’re bound to walk away having learned a thing or two.
27 – Be impressed by the size of St Mary’s Cathedral
Looking like something you’d find on the Oxford campus in the UK (or Hogwarts, for that matter), it’s amazing to think that St Mary’s Cathedral is little-known to tourists (well, comparative to the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, at least).
An immaculate example of Gothic Revival-style architecture, the sprawling cathedral has a topsy-turvy history of fires and rebuilds, taking 100 years to finally complete, yet now stands on College Street overlooking Hyde Park as one of the most photographed non-harbourside buildings in the city.
Towering 75 meters tall with the title of being the longest church in Australia (over 107 metres in length), the cathedral is open to visitors every day from early morning until late evening, with free guided tours available every Sunday following the 10.30 am Mass.
Even if you’re not religious, it’s worth taking some time to admire the beautiful stained glass windows, intricate wood carvings and grand pipe organ.
Hot tip: little-known to the public and with an impressive terrazzo floor, the Crypt under the Cathedral is open between 10 am and 4 pm Monday-Friday and, for a donation of $5, is well worth checking out.
28 – Hold on tight for a jet boat ride!
Ready for some hair-raising thrills? Forget about the leisurely dinner cruises and the gentle ferry rides – instead, take the adrenaline up a notch and jump on board a jet boat for one heck of an exhilarating ride around iconic Sydney Harbour!
With speeds of up to 75km/hr, these boats are not for the faint-hearted (or those prone to seasickness), but if you’re looking for a rush with drifts, 360-degree spins and blasting music the whole way through, then this might just be exactly what the doctor ordered.
You’ll zoom past all the major landmarks – including the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and Luna Park – as well as get up close and personal with some of the more hidden gems such as Fort Denison Island and Shark Island. And with skid stops thrown in for good measure, you’re guaranteed a set of white knuckles by the end of it all.
Hang on tight, wear something you don’t mind getting a little wet, book yourself a day when the sun’s out, and gear up for the 30-minute ride of a lifetime.
29 – Make the splendid drive down to Mogo Wildlife Park in Bateman’s Bay
If you’ve already checked off the main zoos and wildlife parks in the area, but you’re still craving some animal encounters, it’s time to head further down the coast to Batemans Bay. An underrated slice of the state, where a go-slow vibe and beautiful beaches reign supreme, Batemans Bay (and the Southern Highlands which surround it) is a beloved regional getaway for locals looking to ditch the inner-city tourist crowds.
Besides the beaches and quaint town centre, the area is home to one of Australia’s most family-friendly animal parks: Mogo Wildlife Park, an award-winning zoo that offers a more immersive, up-close experience with their animals.
You can book a handful of private behind-the-scenes encounters where you’ll get to feed and cuddle the animals — from red pandas to white rhinos, binturongs, tigers, squirrel monkeys, African servals, meerkats, hyenas and giraffes (to name a few), which is why it’s a particular hit with families.
And for all you budding photographers out there, the Mogo Zoom Through The Lens experience has your name on it. Led by a professional nature photographer, this unique educational program teaches you how to snap stunning photos of animals in their element, learning all about how the pros navigate the challenges associated with outdoor wildlife photography.
Make sure to mark the show times in your diary as well — throughout the day, the park’s keepers give talks on gibbons at 10:30 am, lions at 11 and otters at 1.30 pm, each covering an array of fun facts about the critters.
30 – Hop around Sydney’s other great beaches
We’ve chatted about Bondi and Manly, Sydney’s dynamic duo of world-famous beaches, but what about some of the lesser-known spots? From the family-friendly and serene Balmoral Baths to the surfer’s paradise of Cronulla, there’s definitely a beach to suit everyone’s taste. And with over 100 beaches across the Emerald City, you’re spoilt for choice!
Staying within the central (read: eastern) areas, Coogee Beach is just a 15-minute drive from Bondi and dishes up a stellar surf beach with lifeguards and seaside eateries with smaller crowds than its more famous northern neighbour. If you’re up for burning a few calories, the pleasant 2-hour meander along the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk is a local favourite. And in between the two, Bronte Beach, Clovelly Beach (with an oceanside lap pool) and Tamarama Beach each draw modest crowds.
Popular with locals but less so tourists, Maroubra Beach (and the small yet scenic Malabar Beach), and the aptly-named Little Bay Beach are all certainly worth checking out if you’re not in a rush.
If you’re after activities, Shelly Beach near Manly is a snorkelling paradise; Cronulla is arguably the best surf spot on the south side of Sydney, and the family-friendly Balmoral Beach is chock-full of amenities like kiosks, paddleboard and boogie board rentals, change rooms and a heated saltwater pool.
And for some peace and quiet away from the crowds, you can’t go wrong with any of Wattamolla Beach (in the Royal National Park – great for a day trip), Freshwater Beach (a relaxing alternative to Manly), and Dee Why Beach (with a fabulous Rockpool at the southern end).
So whether you’re looking to catch some waves, build sandcastles with the little ones or just soak up some rays, remember that Sydney’s beaches are never more than half an hour away by car or public transport.
31 – Spot some dolphins
Head out on the open seas in search of some of Sydney’s most beloved residents – the bottlenose dolphins! These friendly mammals are often spotted frolicking in the waters around Sydney, and there’s nothing quite like being up close and personal with them in their natural habitat.
There is a bounty of different dolphin-watching cruises to choose from, many of which set sail from Sydney Harbour. But it’s the Port Stephens dolphin-watching adventures that typically offer the best chance of spotting these beautiful creatures, as well as humpback and southern right whales (during the whale-watching season).
The 90-minute (or thereabouts) cruises take you out to the waters off Port Stephens – about a three-hour drive north of Sydney – where you’ll have plenty of opportunities to take photos and learn all there is to know about dolphins from the onboard marine biologists.
While you can make your own way up to Port Stephens via Newcastle to get the lay of the land of New South Wales, you’ll also find a handful of all-inclusive and hassle-free options that whisk you to and from Sydney for a day trip.
32 – Go kayaking around Port Jackson
A hotspot for kayaking, fishing, swimming and picnicking, Port Jackson – which is more famously called Sydney Harbour – is far more than just a pretty face and a posterchild; it’s one of Sydney’s most beloved outdoor recreational areas.
The area – which comprises several different bays and inlets that separate the city’s northern coastline from its central (CBD) area – is home to a slew of underrated beaches (Lady Martins, Rose Bay Beach, and Shark Beach, to name a few) that are protected from the main ocean by a natural land barrier, making for calmer waters and ideal swimming and kayaking conditions.
But that’s not all; you can also find plenty of walking and cycling tracks along its shoreline (from Potts Point to Banagaroo Reserve and everywhere in between), as well as an endless list of restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating and stunning harbour views. Thanks to its sheer size, there’s really something for everyone in Sydney Harbour.
Take note: A true hidden gem, Goat Island – located a little further inland from the Harbour Bridge – is the largest island in Sydney Harbour and is steeped in history. As both a former convict shelter and home of the Marine Discovery Centre, there’s plenty to be learned; and with snorkelling, diving, and glass-bottom boat tours, there’s plenty to do too.
33 – Pay respects at the Anzac Memorial
Hidden in plain sight at the southern end of Hyde Park, the Anzac Memorial is a powerful representation of, and tribute to, the lives lost during a pivotal moment on the Australian and New Zealand military history timeline.
Designed by C. Bruce Dellit and completed in 1934, the heritage-listed Art Deco monument – which was built to commemorate the brave soldiers and workers of World War I – is a thing of striking beauty, in terms of both its aesthetics and its meaning.
And while it might be easy to mistake the war memorial for just another building, its interior is home to an incredible mosaic frieze that tells the story of the ANZACs (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps), as well as a Hall of Memory that pays respect to the over 60,000 ANZAC soldiers who lost their lives during WWI.
You’ll find over 7,000 objects (medals, badges, uniforms, books, photographs, and more) that unpack the personal stories of servicemen and servicewomen from over a century ago, plus several spaces dedicated to reflection and contemplation.
Regularly temporary exhibits rotate through, entry is free, and the Anzac Memorial is open every day from dawn to dusk.
34 – Mingle with the locals at Wild Life Sydney Zoo
If you’re after the highlight reel of Aussie animals — the big 5: koalas, kangaroos, crocodiles, wombats, and the misunderstood platypus — without the need to venture too far or lock-in an entire day to explore a sprawling zoo, then the small yet mighty and conveniently located Wild Life Sydney Zoo beckons.
Tucked away on the Darling Harbour foreshore, right next to the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium (did someone say back-to-back animal activities?), the zoo spans just one level and can easily be navigated in a couple of hours.
This means that you can take your time to learn about (and meet) all sorts of Aussie critters – from bilbies and echidnas to kookaburras and dingoes – without feeling rushed or overwhelmed, making it ideal for families with small children or those short on time. And if the weather is less than stellar, rest assured that most of the exhibits are undercover and air-conditioned too.
Simply follow the 1-kilometre-long walkway that snakes through exhibits on native and exotics critters from the forest, grassland, and Outback, keeping an eye out for the zoo’s lesser-known locals like echidnas, quakkas, kookaburras, and wallabies along the way.
And if you want to get up close and personal with a koala or kangaroo (and who doesn’t?), for an additional fee, you can do just that at one of the zoo’s animal encounters – Breakfast with a Koala being the most unique. Just be sure to book in advance!
35 – Meander the halls of the Museum of Sydney
A treasure trove of Sydney history, the Museum of Sydney sits atop First Fleet Landing Place – the actual spot where Governor Arthur Phillip set up his headquarters way back in 1788.
The brainchild of Australian architect, Peter Muller, who also designed the iconic Opera House, this multi-award-winning museum uses a combination of traditional displays and modern multimedia technology to tell the story of Sydney from its earliest indigenous beginnings through to today, celebrating the people, the culture, and the events that have shaped the soul of this now iconic city.
You’ll find everything from Aboriginal artefacts and colonial artworks and a fascinating insight into the First Fleet’s voyage, with a particular affinity for telling unique stories that, while often focused on individuals, can resonate and relate to a much broader moment in the city’s rich history.
Entry is just $15 for adults, making it one of the most affordable things to do in Sydney (especially on a rainy day), and the museum is open every day from 10 am.
36 – Hear the roar at CommBank Stadium
A 30,000-seat sporting mecca in the heart of Western Sydney, CommBank Stadium is home to the NRL’s Parramatta Eels, A-League’s Western Sydney Wanderers, and regularly welcomes home crowds for the Wests Tigers (rugby league), Canterbury Bulldogs (rugby league) and NSW Waratahs (rugby union).
The stadium opened its doors in 2019, and features the steepest grandstand in Australia, making it one of the most modern and well-equipped rectangular fields in Australia with some of the best views of the action.
And whether you’re a sports fan or not, with fans as loud and passionate as anywhere you’ll find in the country, a game is worth checking out for the electric atmosphere alone.
So, if you’re looking for a uniquely Australian experience that will have you on the edge of your seat, add CommBank Stadium to your list.
Just be sure to check the website for a list of upcoming events before you go, whether it’s a rugby or soccer game or a concert or festival, there’s usually something exciting on almost every weekend.
37 – Stretch the legs with a bike tour
Blending sightseeing with a half-decent workout and a whole lot of fun, a bike tour is one of the more rewarding ways to explore Sydney – you’ll be able to ditch the massive crowds, see some landmarks you may have missed on foot, and get a little bit of education and exercise into the bargain.
You’ll find a truckload of half-day inner-city tours that wind their way through leafy neighbourhoods and past some of Sydney’s most iconic landmarks like Hyde Park, The Rocks, and the Opera House; and while some are all about sightseeing, others combine the fun of a bike tour with pub crawls, ghost tours, or grazing at a handful of notable and hidden eateries.
There are plenty of companies offering tours in different pockets of town, but if you’re feeling confident and want to explore on your own, simply hire a bike from one of the many rental shops around town and map out your own route – be that along the coast or skirting your way through the city streets.
A few must-sees include riding across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, taking a spin through Hyde Park or The Domain or the Centennial Parklands, or following one of the many dedicated cycleways along the sparkling harbour foreshore.
Just be sure to brush up on your road rules before you go as there are a few things unique to Australia (like riding on the left side of the road for all you northern hemisphere folk!) that might take a little getting used to.
38 – Get a history lesson at the Australian Museum
One for the history buffs, the Australian Museum is the country’s oldest public museum, beginning life as a natural history collection in 1827 and blossoming into an astounding and incredibly diverse collection of over 21 million specimens.
An internationally renowned showcase, the enormous portfolio spans everything from Indigenous artefacts and dinosaur bones to minerals, meteorites, and mummies; as well as an ever-changing program of exhibitions that cover topics as diverse as the environment, fashion, wildlife, space exploration, and ancient cultures.
With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder the Australian Museum is one of Sydney’s top attractions – especially for families with kids who are guaranteed to be kept entertained for hours on end.
You’ll find this coveted institution on the eastern flank of Hyde Park among a collection of other notable landmarks. Entry is free (yay!), making it one of the most affordable things to do in Sydney – though donations are always welcome if you’re feeling generous.
39 – Try your hand at scuba diving
On land, Sydney is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Australia; but head underwater and you’ll find a whole other world just waiting to be explored.
Whether you’re a certified diver or someone who’s never even dipped their toe in the water, there are plenty of scuba diving experiences on offer around Sydney at places like Shelly Beach that will suit your skill level – from short and shallow dives perfect for beginners to longer and deeper excursions for those with more experience.
There are also heaps of wrecks to explore, like the Coolooli, Apollo, and Dee Why Ferry, and if you’re lucky you might even spot some turtles or rays!
If scuba diving doesn’t quite float your boat (sorry, we had to), there are also plenty of other surface-level water-based activities to enjoy like stand-up paddleboarding, sailing, kayaking, snorkelling and surfing.
40 – Unwind at the Chinese Garden of Friendship
An easy stroll from Darling Harbour, and a wonderful breath of fresh air as well, the Chinese Garden of Friendship is one of Sydney’s most pretty and peaceful oases.
A gift from the city of Guangzhou (from where the early Chinese immigrants originated, and a sister city to Syndey) to the people of Australia in 1988, the garden was designed to symbolise the friendship between the two countries; and its tranquil ponds, bridges, pavilions, and landscaped gardens are inspired by those found in classical Guangzhou gardens.
While it might not be on the same scale as some of the city’s larger green spaces (read: particularly the Royal Botanic Garden), its unique charm and serene atmosphere make it well worth a visit – especially on a hot day when you need to cool off and escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
Once you’ve got your dose of R&R and soaked in the beauty of the waterfalls, lakes, and exotic plants, keep on wandering around the area to find notable attractions like the Powerhouse Museum, Paddy’s Market, and the slew of delicious offerings of Chinatown.
41 – Enjoy the fresh air of Lane Cove National Park
Hidden away in the northwestern suburbs of the city – certainly not an area a tourist would venture to accidentally – Lane Cove is one of Sydney’s best-kept secrets. Covering just under 4 square kilometres, the national park is a haven for native wildlife like echidnas, wallabies, bandicoots, goannas, and even the occasional koala; and is home to over 200 bird species (including cackling kookaburras and colourful lorikeets), making it a popular spot for birdwatchers.
The Fairyland Pleasure Gardens and Carisbrook Historic House are steeped in history, while the Gallery Lane Cove + Creative Studios show off diverse exhibitions of modern art.
The park also boasts some of the best bushwalking tracks in Sydney (the aptly-named Riverside Walking Track is a popular choice), with plenty of serene spots to stop and take in the scenery along the way; as well as a dozen different picnic areas, BBQs, and playgrounds dotted around.
Hire a boat from the Lane Cove Boatshed, jump on a bike, or take a dip in the Greenwich Baths if you want to make a day of it.
42 – Spend a morning at the Sydney Jewish Museum
Dedicated to educating about the Holocaust, the Sydney Jewish Museum is one of the most moving and thought-provoking museums in the city, with a collection of stories, artifacts, and exhibitions that will stay with you long after you leave.
Located in the heart of Sydney’s historic Darlinghurst neighbourhood – once home to a large portion of the city’s Jewish population – the museum is housed in the historic NSW Jewish Memorial Hall, dating back to the 1920s.
The museum offers a range of different tours and educational programs, as well as temporary exhibitions that cover topics like Jewish life in Australia, the experience of refugees, and antisemitism; complementing the permanent insights into pre-war Europe, the realities of the Holocaust including life in concentration camps, and rebuilding of Jewish life post-1945 with topics like ‘Culture and Continuity’, ‘Serving Australia’, and ‘The Holocaust and Human Rights’.
A visit to the Sydney Jewish Museum is a must for anyone interested in learning more about this dark period of history; and an important reminder that we must never forget. However, with art shows and regular events, it’s also a wonderful celebration of Jewish life and a strong culture.
Entry is free for all visitors, though donations are appreciated; and fascinating guided tours are available if you want to learn more about the exhibits on display.
43 – Fuse history with nature at Ku-ring-gai National Park
Steeped in Aboriginal culture and history, Ku-ring-gai National Park is a beautiful spot about 40 minutes drive north of Sydney that’s perfect for a little day trip into nature. The park is home to more than 800 Aboriginal sites, including rock art, engravings, cave paintings, and grinding grooves; as well as several walking tracks that wind through the bushland (keep your eyes peeled for kangaroos, wallabies, and echidnas!) and seafront.
A much-needed breath of fresh air and greenery for anyone who’s based themselves in the clutches of the inner city, Ku-ring-gai is also home to picturesque swimming holes, like the ones at The Duck Holes and Apple Tree Bay.
There are plenty of picnic spots and BBQs dotted around the park if you want to whip together a picnic; or you can even stay overnight at one of the camping grounds (notably, The Basin campground) if you’re feeling adventurous.
Due to its mix of nature, history, and aboriginal significance, a ranger or guide-led walking tour comes highly recommended.
44 – Walk the Hermitage Foreshore Track
Probably the city’s second most famous coastal walk after the seaside Bondi to Coogee route, the Hermitage Foreshore Track is a stunning (and relatively easy) walk that takes in some of Sydney’s best harbour views.
The track starts at the end of Bayview Hill road (aptly named) at Nielsen Park, just around the corner from Rose Bay Beach and winds its way up the coast past Queens Beach, Hermit Point, Hermit Beach, Little Tangara Beach, Little Bay, and Sunset Place (ooh, ahh, so romantic) before finishing up at just shy of Steele Point and Whale Rock; looping back around to the beginning and taking in plenty of lookout points and green spaces along the way.
Ideal for those sizzling summer days, or after you’ve worked up a sweat after a good walk, there are plenty of places to stop for a swim or a bite to eat along the way; including popular spots like Milk Beach, Camp Cove, and if you want to keep the walk going, Shark Beach in stunning Vaucluse Bay.
All up, you’ll find yourself walking for around two hours there are back – more if you take your time and make stops along the way; but it’s worth it for those harbour views.
45 – Snap selfies with koalas at Koala Park Sanctuary Sydney
Searching for that quintessential photo op that’s unique to Australia? Look no further than the Koala Park Sanctuary in Sydney’s northwestern suburbs in West Pennant Hills. As the name suggests, this rainforest-looking park is home to many Australian animals; including cute-as-a-button koalas aplenty, plus kangaroos, wallabies, echidnas, peacocks, Little penguins, cockatoos, endangered golden possums, emus and dingoes.
A haven for birdwatchers too, a bounty of native birds can also be found amongst the park’s greenery.
A hit among the younger crowd, you can grab a bag of food for $2 at the entrance to feed the friendly kangaroos, and if you happen to coordinate your wander with one of the four daily Koala feeding times, you can pet the adorable bears and snap a few pictures with it at no extra charge. Twice daily are farmyard and reptile presentations too, while the on-site souvenir shop and café are great spots to refuel.
Bearing in mind the importance of education and conservation, the on-site Koala Research Hospital cares for injured animals while simultaneously educating the public on the problems these wonderful creatures face – especially koalas – as a result of living close to human areas.
All up, with plenty of chances to get up close and personal with some of Australia’s most iconic animals, Koala Park is perfect for animal lovers of all ages; and makes for a fun (and fascinating) day out.
46 – Say hey to pop stars at Madame Tussauds
The closest you’ll get to meeting your heroes and favourite movie stars, athletes, and musicians, Madame Tussauds is one of Sydney’s most popular tourist attractions.
A wax museum like no other, Madame Tussauds lets you get up close to some incredibly realistic (and lifelike) wax figures; with everyone from Aussie heartthrobs like Chris and Liam Hemsworth to international superstars like Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Kylie Jenner and Margot Robbie on display.
Throw in a slew of diverse names like Spider-Man, Steve Irwin, Captain Marvel, Audrey Hepburn, Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, Heath Ledger, Jackie Chan, and Ned Kelly (if you haven’t heard of Kelly, ask the onsite staff to explain his intriguing story), to name but a way.
You can even have a go at being a movie star yourself with countless fun photo opportunities, or feel the music alongside Troye Sivan in the new Music Zone – both surefire ways to light up the ‘gram.
With dozens and dozens of different wax figures spread throughout the building’s 11 zones of famous faces, Madame Tussauds is big enough to keep you entertained for at least an hour or so while leaving ample time to explore the long list of neighbouring Darling Harbour attractions — SEA LIFE, the IMAX theatre, the Australian National Maritime Museum, and the list goes on.
47 – Admire Mrs Macquarie’s Chair
If it’s postcard-worthy views of the Coathanger you’re after, make a beeline for Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. Situated at the northern tip of the Royal Botanic Garden, this sandstone outcrop offers one of the best vantage points in the city; with panoramic views that take in The Opera House, The Harbour Bridge, and even some of Sydney’s more far-flung northern suburbs.
A popular spot for both locals and tourists alike, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is best visited early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds; although it’s worth noting that there is never a bad time to take in those views.
Bring a few snacks for a sunset picnic, lace on the walking shoes to make the most of the Garden’s plant-lined trails, and don’t forget your camera.
48 – Relax, unwind, and appreciate the sights, sounds and smells of nature at Sydney’s best botanical gardens
As Australia’s most populous city, Sydney can get a bit hectic at times. You’ve got the crowds of Bondi Beach, the hustle and bustle of the CBD, and the cocophony of attractions (read: bounty of tourists) of Darling Harbour.
So when you’re in need of some tranquility amidst all that energy, Sydney has some stunning botanical gardens scattered throughout the city. These green spaces are not only beautiful to explore, but they also provide a bunch of educational, entertaining, and often hands-on activities for nature lovers — join a guided walk or a bird watching tour, watch a play in the park, or simply sit back, relax and have a picnic.
From the beloved Royal Botanic Garden right next to the Opera House, to the lesser-known (but no less beautiful) Auburn Botanic Gardens and Australian Botanic Garden a bit further out, let’s take a look at the must-visit botanical gardens in Sydney.
Stop to smell the roses at the Royal Botanic Garden
Swept under the rug in favour of its more famous manmade neighbours (looking at you, Opera House), the Royal Botanic Garden is a welcomed breath of fresh air from the bustling harbour, yet remains a stone’s throw from all the main attractions – and it’s free!
Sitting on the eastern fringe of the CBD and flourishing with native Australian flora as well as exotic plants from around the world, the garden dates back to 1816, and while it’s undergone many changes over the years, its original purpose remains: to be a scientific research facility, an educational hub, and a place of recreation for Sydneysiders and visitors alike.
Whether you want to escape the city heat with a leisurely stroll through the cool, shaded Rainforest Garden, throw down the picnic rug at Mrs. Maquarie’s Point (where you’re blessed with exceptional views of the bridge), explore one of the many special nature exhibitions, or join in one one of the many workshops and festivals (check the website to see what’s on), make sure you add this little gem to your Sydney itinerary.
These days, it covers more than 30 hectares (74 acres) of prime real estate on the edge of Sydney Harbour and is home to over 27,000 plants of all shapes, colours and sizes.
Wander aimlessly through its sprawling grounds or join one of the many free guided tours available throughout the week (including a popular Aboriginal Heritage Tour). And don’t miss The Calyx – a stunning glasshouse filled with exotic flowers, rainforest plants and cascading waterfalls.
Wander around the Auburn Botanic Gardens
Hidden away off the beaten track in Sydney’s western suburbs – not too far from the Olympic Village and GIANTS Stadium, in fact – is the Auburn Botanic Gardens; a little oasis of calm and serenity if ever there was one.
Featuring manicured gardens, tranquil ponds and reflection pools filled with gliding fish and ducks, weeping willows, bonsai trees, a sunken rose garden, half a dozen various aviaries, a native and rainforest garden, a scented garden, and even a beautiful Ryoan-ji style Japanese Garden, this diverse coming-together of nature is the perfect place to spend an afternoon exploring with friends or family.
There’s also a playground for the kids (or the young at heart), BBQ pits for those days when you just can’t be bothered cooking dinner, and walking trails that wind their way through the different gardens and give you a chance to take in all the wonderful flowers and plants on offer.
Spanning just shy of 10 hectares, the Auburn Botanic Gardens are a beacon for any green thumb or nature lover (and have been since they were established in 1977); and best of all, entry is free during the week ($4 on weekends for adults).
Add The Australian Botanic Garden to the bucket list
Acting as both a recreational park and an important scientific institution, the Australian Botanic Garden is an enchanting place to explore, with more than 400 hectares of land to discover (making it the largest botanical garden in Australia, if you don’t mind!).
Featuring more than 4,000 individual plant species spread out a range of themed zones, the Garden is home to an impressive array of flora from all over Australia and beyond — including endangered and threatened species — making it the perfect place to spend a day if you’re looking to learn more about the country’s unique ecosystem.
A great spot to stretch the legs and beat the city crowds, there are also plenty of walking tracks and picnic areas if you just want to relax and take in the sights and smells of nature, as well as a cafe serving up light snacks and all your classic refreshments.
Free to check out, with a handful of occasional events and exhibitions hosted throughout the year, if you want to see what life in the suburbs is like, away from all the tourist traps (perhaps en route to some of the rural national parks), then it’s a grand choice for the bucket list.
49 – Spend an afternoon exploring Royal National Park
An enchanting getaway just south of the city, the Royal National Park is one of Sydney’s – nay, Australia’s – best-kept secrets.
Nestled between Cronulla and Otford (a short drive from Sutherland station), this sprawling 150-square-kilometre national park offers bushwalking trails galore, breathtaking coastal lookouts, sheltered coves, sandy beaches, rock pools, cascading waterfalls and lush rainforests, all just waiting to be explored.
And if you’re feeling a little more adventurous (or want to explore the park without having to worry about finding your way back on the same day), there are also camping grounds where you can pitch a tent, build a fire and roast marshmallows (although check for fire bans first), and sleep under the stars.
While many folks hop in the car (or on the train) and meander down to the Park on their own accord, making their own way to highlights like Garie Beach, Wattamolla or the Coast Track, organised tours also operate out of Sydney if you’d prefer to explore with a group and have a more educational experience.
Choose between small group tours for the most budget-friendly guided option or splurge on a private excursion that combines the quintessential spots of the Royal National Park with camping and stops in nearby suburbs like Cronulla or Bundeena.
50 – Take a boat to Cockatoo Island
As Sydney Harbour’s largest island as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Cockatoo Island is one of those places that have a bit of everything – and is well worth a visit for those wanting to brush up on their Aussie history.
Just a short 15-minute ferry ride from Barangaroo (or, for the more energetic among us, a kayak paddle from one of the inner west’s inlet and mini-harbours) at the junction of the Parramatta and Lane Cove Rivers, Cockatoo Island boasts incredible 360-degree views of the harbour, with lush greenery and, most notably, plenty of significant history.
Winding the clock way back to 1839, Cockatoo Island was originally used as a convict penal establishment and later became a reform school before being slowly transitioned to one of the country’s most important shipyards, officially declared the dockyard of the Royal Australian Navy in 1913.
These days, it’s all about the tourists, becoming a popular spot for picnics, guided history tours, camping overnight, and a simple breath of fresh air from the big smoke.
Hot tip: make a beeline for the visitor centre when you arrive to pick up a handy guidebook and map of the island.
51 – Seek seclusion at Gordons Bay
Accessible only by those meandering along the Coastal Walk, Gordons Bay is one of Sydney’s best-kept secrets. A secluded little beach cove (no bigger than 200 metres) located between two larger and more popular beaches – Coogee to the north and Bronte to the south – Gordons Bay is a well-loved spot among locals, with its clear turquoise waters, soft white sand and sheltered swimming area making it ideal for a summer dip.
But Gordons Bay isn’t just about the swimming; there’s also plenty of snorkelling to be had among the rocky outcrops that line either side of the bay.
Keep an eye out for colourful fish, stingrays and even the odd turtle as you explore this little slice of underwater paradise! While you can easily hop in the water, snorkel on, and explore as you see fit, the area is also part of an underwater nature trail – a self-guided 600m trail cherished by diving or snorkelling adventurers alike.
Just remember to pack your sunscreen, hats and plenty of water, as there’s not a lot of shade to be found at Gordons Bay.
52 – Fly high with a hot air balloon ride
So long as you can brave the early-morning alarm clock, a hot air balloon ride is one of the most magical experiences Sydney has on offer. As day breaks and the city slowly comes to life beneath you, there’s no better way to spend an hour or two than gently floating above it all in a basket suspended thousands of feet in the air, taking in sweeping panoramic views of Greater Sydney and rural New South Wales as the sun paints the sky in a spectrum of oranges, pinks and reds.
With multiple launch sites located throughout NSW (including the Hunter Valley wine country, an area of outstanding natural beauty just a few hours drive north of Sydney); The Macarthur Region south-west of Sydney, where suburbs come face to face with the countryside; and the Mudgee Region, a food and wine lover’s paradise in the state’s central west, there’s plenty of options when it comes to choosing a hot air ballooning adventure.
Just be sure to book ahead, as spots fill up quickly – especially during peak season! And dress warmly with layers – it can get chilly up there in the wee hours!
53 – Do a ghost tour of the Quarantine Station
Among the top things to do in Sydney for anyone with an inkling for dark tourism and a passion for the paranormal, a ghost tour of the former Quarantine Station on North Head is an absolute must!
From 1828 to 1984, this site was used as a quarantine station for new arrivals to Australia, with many of those suffering from infectious diseases being treated (and often dying) within its walls.
Nowadays, with over 150 years of misfortune written on its walls, it’s one of Sydney’s more eerie tourist attractions, with guided history tours and ghost walks available throughout the week after sundown (8 pm). With tales of hauntings, apparitions and mysterious encounters aplenty, the 2.5-hour tour is restricted to brave visitors 15 years and over – and those under 18 need to have a parent with them.
If you’re feeling brave enough (or foolish enough), why not try a Paranormal Investigator tour where you’ll be armed with EMF meters and infrared cameras in an attempt to capture evidence of those who live in the shadows in the haunted shower block, Hospital and the infamous Gravediggers cottage.
Travelling with kids? Quarantine Station also has a much more kid-friendly option called Ghost Trackers. Despite being designed for youngsters 8-14 years, it’ll still send a shiver down some spines.
54 – Stargaze at the Sydney Observatory
Dating back to the mid-1850s, the Sydney Observatory has long stood as a symbolic feature in the city skyline and is one of the oldest working astronomical observatories in the Southern Hemisphere.
A visit to the Observatory – located on top of Observatory Hill just behind The Rocks – is a must for anyone interested in the great unknowns of space, science or Sydney’s history, with plenty to see and do including stargazing through one of the two Italianate-style telescope domes (one of which houses the country’s first refractor telescope).
Besides the chance to stare up into the stars, those wanting to learn a thing or two about local science are spoiled for choice. Space-curious visitors can try their hand exploring exhibitions on Sydney’s Aboriginal astronomy traditions, sit in on a handful of events and presentations conducted by Australian scientists, pop in for a show at the 3D space theatre, read about the meaning and location of Southern Hemisphere stars, check out miniature models of our solar system, or even participate in a hands-on workshop.
It’s free to walk about the grounds and, thanks to its hilltop position, you’ll be blessed with sweeping panoramic views of the harbour – some of the best that the city has to offer.
55 – Check out the wetlands of Bicentennial Park
The western suburbs around Homebush bay were originally built upon wildlife-abundant and peaceful wetlands, and the 40-hectare Bicentennial Park is a testament to that. One of the great things to do in Sydney for nature lovers and birdwatchers, the park is home to over 100 species of birds as well as lizards, eels, turtles and fish which all call the wetlands here home.
But it’s not just about the wetlands. There’s also an abundance of walking and cycling tracks (8 kilometres worth) meandering through bushland and along the water’s edge – perfect for a leisurely Sunday morning stroll or an afternoon bike ride with friends. The duck pond, cafe, Treillage Viewing Platform, a Peace Monument’, a ‘Sundial’ sculpture, and playgrounds, not to mention the endless open grassy areas inviting a low-key picnic lunch, make this off-the-beaten-track green space one to seriously consider.
Sitting about 16 kilometres west of the Sydney CBD, not too far from Olympic Park and Qudos Bank Arena, it serves as a wonderful spot to come and unwind, recharge the batteries and get back to nature.
56 – Day trip out to the Hunter Valley
For when the hustle and bustle of the big smoke starts to wear thin, head three hours north to the Hunter Valley – one of Australia’s oldest and most famous wine regions (particularly known for Semillon and Shiraz).
A day trip from Sydney (or even a weekend if you have the time), will see you sipping on world-renowned wines, indulging in gourmet local produce and perhaps even going for a hot air balloon ride over rolling green hills as far as the eye can see.
Whether you choose to go it alone or join an organized tour, there are plenty of ways to make the most of your time in this stunning part of New South Wales. Visit one (or several) cellar doors, explore quaint country towns like Pokolbin, Broke and Denman, take a scenic walk or drive, go horse riding, zip-lining or abseiling, play a round of golf, relax in a day spa… the list goes on!
Make sure you come hungry too as the Hunter Valley is also home to some of the best restaurants in NSW – and its plethora of cheese-tasting venues don’t go unnoticed either. With an emphasis on seasonal, local and organic produce, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to dining out.
Foodies will also love the weekly farmer’s markets held in towns throughout the region where you can buy fresh regional produce direct from the growers.
Are any oenophiles out there? The Hunter Valley isn’t just a foodie hotspot. With over 150 wineries and cellar doors, it’s a paradise for wine lovers as well. From boutique family-run wineries like Pepper Tree Wines and the Iron Gate Estate Winery to larger well-known brands like De Bortoli, you can taste something new at every stop. Don’t miss out on trying the region’s famous Semillon, known for its crisp and refreshing taste. And don’t worry if you’re not a wine expert – you can simply join one of the wine tours from Sydney that will take you through the best wineries and teach you all about the different blends (and you won’t have to worry about a deso driver either!).
Hot tip: check out our selection of fun things to do in Hunter Valley.
57 – Hit up a few waterfront spots in Harbour National Park
Criminally underrated, the Harbour National Park is a series of hidden gems in plain sight, offering some of the best inner-city opportunities to escape the crowds and get your daily dose of nature.
Doing a loop from Manly all the way back around to Little Manly – like an arm of nature hanging down from the buzzing tourist beach – the main area of the park, North Head, is where you’ll find the best views, not to mention the eerie Quarantine Station.
And while North Head around Manly is arguably the most accessible and popular, it’s far from the only section. In fact, you’ll find pockets of greenery spread all along the coastline, each with its own unique offerings:
For example, there’s Bradleys Head next to Tooranga Zoo, Camp Cove in Watsons Bay for a more secluded sunbathing experience, and Nielsen Park – also in Watsons Bay – which has a lovely beach as well as a café serving up delicious food and drinks.
There are numerous walking tracks to choose from (of varying difficulties), but if you want to make a day of it there are also plenty of sheltered picnic spots and BBQs to set up camp for lunch with a view. Don’t forget to pack a camera!
So, with over a dozen areas, which spot are you to choose? Well, history buffs can let the historic sites like Greycliffe House dictate their direction, or go check out the old military buildings at places like Georges Head Battery, Fort Denison, and North Head.
But with so many choices, the most hassle-free way is to simply tack one of the foreshore park areas onto a day of exploring whichever area you’re in – and just hit up whichever is closest. After all, they’re all free (bar the occasional parking fee), and there’s bound to be one within a short walk or drive.
There’s also an abundance of wildlife waiting to be discovered – keep your eyes peeled for seals, penguins, dolphins and even whales during migration season!
If you’re looking for a challenge, try completing the entire Manly-to-Spit Bridge Coastal Walk which leads to the Grotto Point Lighthouse and takes in some of the most spectacular scenery Sydney has on offer.
58 – Watch some rugby at Accor Stadium
Capable of housing over 80,000 screaming fans, this imposing stadium has been the home of some of Australia’s biggest sporting events and international games since the turn of the century.
From rugby union and rugby league to Aussie rules football and soccer, as well as a host of special events and concerts, there’s always something going on at the entertainment mecca that is Accor Stadium (once down as ANZ Stadium).
And with a prime location in the heart of Olympic Park – one of Sydney’s major tourist destinations for the sporting savvy – with direct access on the train line, it couldn’t be easier to get to.
As the stomping ground of NRL clubs Canterbury Bulldogs and South Sydney Rabbitohs, as well as the spot for many Socceroos and State Of Origin games, not to mention the occasional GWS Giants footy match (although they now have their own purpose-built stadium right around the corner), you can expect a lively atmosphere no matter what’s on.
Even if sport isn’t your thing, with world-famous artists like Ed Sheeran, Harry Styles and Guns N Roses all gracing the stage in recent years, there’s bound to be a concert or two that tickles your fancy.
Throw in a stadium tour, and you’ve got yourself a fun-filled day out for the whole family.
59 – Swim at the Bronte Baths
A picturesque swimming pool built into the southern cliffs of Bronte Beach, this saltwater spot has been a local favourite since 1887. With stunning views of the coastline to complement the protected lap pool, it’s easy to see why – and if you can brave the chilly winter waters, you can even take a dip year-round!
What’s more, there’s also a smaller kids’ pool for the little ones to enjoy, as well as a café serving up light snacks and drinks.
So whether you’re looking to cool off on a hot day or just want to take in the breathtaking scenery, Bronte Baths — which you’ll find is typically less crowded than its more famous neighbour, the Icebergs pool at Bondi — is certainly worth a visit.
And the best part? It won’t cost you a darn thing.
Hot tip: for a scintillating view, make your way up the top of the rocks at Bronte Baths viewpoint before setting up for a snack or picnic at the large and beautiful Bronte Park.
60 – Have high tea at the historic Gunners Barracks
Steeped in history yet now a haven for luxury views and modern high tea, Gunners Barracks is a wonderful locale for any Sydney-sider looking for something just a little bit fancy. Sitting within a secluded national park in Mosman on the northern edge of the sparkling harbour, this 19th-century heritage site was once an army fortification, but today it’s home to a stunning tea room overlooking the harbour, as well as beautiful gardens perfect for a summertime stroll or an event.
High tea (with freshly baked scones) aside, the cliffside venue also offers a lunch a la carte style, with a three-course menu that includes everything from goats cheese and prosciutto nibblies to more substantial dishes like roasted lamb rump and pan-fried barramundi, there’s something to suit every taste (and, with the option for just 1, or 2 or 3 courses, every budget).
And if you want to make a day of it, why not combine your Gunners Barracks visit with a trip to the nearby Mosman Art Gallery or Georges Head lookout?
61 – Notch up some canyoning thrills
One for the adrenaline junkies, canyoning involves descending into a canyon via a variety of methods, including abseiling, swimming, jumping and climbing. And there’s no better place to do it than the Blue Mountains National Park, which boasts some of the most stunning scenery in Australia.
With expert guides on hand to show you the ropes (literally), you can rest assured you’re in good hands as you make your way through one of the many canyon systems on offer.
From beginners’ courses that require no prior experience to more advanced options for those with a head for heights, there’s something to suit everyone – just be sure to bring your sense of adventure!
A popular alternative to the Blue Mountains, and a little closer to home, the tropical rainforest around the Illawarra Escarpment feels like a world away from the hustle and bustle of Sydney, and there’s a good chance to spot local wildfire (think echidnas, water dragons, and wombats) in this 30-million-year-old region too.
Rather than driving out yourself, most pre-organised tours will include transport from the city or a nearby train station, as well as all the essential gear (and lunch!) you’ll need for a day of canyoning fun.
62 – Head to Kamay Botany Bay National Park
The site where none other than James Cook and the crew of the Endeavour first stepped ashore on Australian soil back in 1770, Kamay Botany Bay National Park is now a protected heritage site and home to some of the most beautiful coastline in Sydney.
With over a dozen kilometres of walking tracks to explore in both the northern La Perouse area (near Maroubra) and the southern Kurnell area (near Cronulla), there are plenty of opportunities to take in the stunning views (find the secret cave at Cape Solander for that killer ‘gram shot!), spot some local wildlife, and learn about the area’s rich Aboriginal and European history.
For a bit of light walking on the northern side, cross the footbridge from the mainland to Bare Island. But for something more substantial on the southern side, why not try the Burrawang Walk? A great mix of exercise and education, you’ll meander past a collection of the area’s historic sites, including Captain Cook’s notorious Landing Place.
Hot tip: while several monuments await, the best way to learn about Aboriginal, Australian, and First Fleet History is to join a guided tour – be that a hike or a boat cruise around botany bay.
63 – Score a hole-in-one at Putt Planet
Ideal for a rainy day or a little bit of friendly competition, Putt Planet is an indoor mini-golf course with a twist. Located over in Miranda, a southern suburb close to bother Cronulla Beach and the Royal National Park, Putt Planet takes your typical game of mini-golf and gives it a historic makeover, with 18 holes that are inspired by Mombasa, the ancient Kenyan city where a mix of cultures, white sandy beaches, and lush jungle all come together.
With old-timey photographs, African artifacts, a whole lot of greenery, and the chance to putt your way through themed holes like bustling market places and town squares of Old Mombasa, it’s the perfect place to pretend you’re on an exotic holiday way back when in simpler times.
Pop into the Jungle Jokers Café for a spot of lunch or a cheeky post-golfing pastry, or make a day of it and explore the nearby Cronulla Mall and Cronulla Esplanade afterwards.
64 – Make the Southern Highlands a day trip destination
Just a short drive from the city (around 90 minutes if you’re coming from the CBD), the Southern Highlands is one of Sydney’s most popular day trip destinations, and thanks to its cooler climate, it’s the perfect place to escape the summer heat.
A verdant region of rolling hills, quaint country towns, and stunning gardens, it’s home to some of New South Wales’ best wineries as well as plenty of great places to eat and stay overnight should you want to make a weekend of it.
The picturesque towns of Bowral, Mittagong, and Moss Vale are all worth a visit (locals recommend stopping in at one of the many quaint cafes for a coffee or bite with charming small-town hospitality aplenty), but if you’re looking for something a little more active, there are also plenty of bush walks and bike tracks to explore in the area.
For all you sporting nuts, Bowral is also home to the Bradman International Cricket Hall of Fame – a must for any cricket fan visiting Sydney!
With the choice of winery-hopping small group tours, excursions that combine wineries with waterfalls, and private tours where you can tailor your itinerary to your own interests, there’s no excuse not to head south for a day or two!
65 – Admire the artwork at the Yiribana Gallery
Culture vultures, take note. Found over in the Art Gallery of New South Wales next to the Royal Botanic Garden, Yiribana is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art gallery with many stories and history lessons to tell, and it’s entirely free to enter.
A space that celebrates the incredible Indigenous cultures of Australia, it’s home to a constantly-evolving collection of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, as well as a series of rotating exhibitions and installations from some of the country’s most celebrated as well as lesser-known artists.
For guests searching for something a little more hands-on, like many of the museums around the city, the Art Gallery of NSW and the Yiribana Gallery also offer a series of free guided tours, talks, and workshops led by knowledgeable gallery guides. You can find out more about what’s on and when on the Art Gallery of New South Wales website.
Open 10 am to 5 pm (and till 9 pm on Wednesdays), you’ll have plenty of time to explore what, proudly, is the world’s largest permanent collection of Aboriginal art.
66 – Grab a bite at the Sydney Fish Market
One of those things to do in Sydney that every local adores, yet tourists rarely hear about, the longstanding Sydney Fish Market is a beloved institution amongst Sydneysiders, a world-famous seafood destination, and the world’s second-largest seafood market in terms of variety.
It’s not only home to some of the freshest seafood in all of Sydney (if not Australia), but it’s also one of the best places in town for a cheap and cheerful meal, with a hodgepodge of casual cafes and restaurants dotted around the market serving up everything from fresh oysters to fish and chips.
You can shop for your seafood to take home or dine in at one of the many eateries on-site, as well as stock up on other gourmet groceries like cheese, charcuterie, and locally-made jams and sauces.
There’s also a cooking school where you can learn how to sizzle up like a pro, and a regular program of events and festivals celebrating all things seafood, food, and culture. The market is open daily from 7 am to 4 pm, but if you want to get the full experience, we recommend going early on a Saturday morning when it’s at its busiest (and most atmospheric!).
Hot tip: consider a behind-the-scenes or private tour for an insider look into the market, to learn about the longstanding (and tastiest) vendors, and uncover the best-kept secrets.
67 – Stop into The Rocks Discovery Museum
Just a hop, skip and a jump from the bustle of Circular Quay is The Rocks – one of the most historic and picturesque parts of Sydney. Once a working-class neighbourhood (and home to a large number of the city’s convicts back in the day), it’s now a thriving precinct full of cobbled streets, heritage buildings, great bars and restaurants, and some pretty amazing views of the harbour.
The Rocks Discovery Museum is one of the area’s must-visits, and it’s completely free!
Housed in an 1850s sandstone warehouse that was once part of Sydney Harbour’s busy maritime trade, today it tells the story of The Rocks from its earliest days and the longstanding Aboriginal and Gadigal history, through to its years as a colonial outpost and convict settlement, right up to the present day as a buzzing tourist hotspot.
Through art, photographs, documents, and objects from bygone eras, you get a holistic understanding of the colonies and transformations of this storied locale.
You can explore the interactive exhibits at your own pace, join one of the free guided tours offered by museum staff, or take part in one of the ad-hoc events like poppy-making workshops, kids’ art classes, or special guest lectures.
Open daily from 10 am to 5 pm every day, it’s worth adding this little gem to your list of things to do in Sydney.
68 – Crack the code at a Sydney escape room
Fancy yourself a bit of a Sherlock Holmes in the making? Well, grab your nearest and dearest and put your money where your mouth is with a code-craking, puzzle-solving, mind-bending escape room experience.
For the uninitiated, an escape room is a physical adventure game in which players are locked in a room and have to use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles and riddles to get out within a set time limit (usually 60 minutes).
It’s the perfect activity for budding sleuths, as you get to flex your mental muscles, work as part of a team, and – if you’re lucky enough to crack the code – have one heck of a sense of accomplishment when you make your great escape.
There are plenty of different themes and difficulty levels on offer around Sydney – like secret service missions, bank heists, jailbreaks murder mysteries, and a whole host of VR escape experiences at Virtual Room Sydney — so there’s bound to be something that appeals. And if you manage to beat the clock, you can always head to the nearest pub for a celebratory pint (or three).
69 – Catch a game or show at Qudos Bank Arena
Whether it’s live entertainment or some front-row basketball action, Qudose Bank Arena has got you covered for a night of non-stop action. Tucked away in the western suburbs as the focal point of Sydney Olympic Park (built, alongside most of the park’s facilities, for the 2000 Olympics), the Qudos Bank Arena is one of the premier entertainment and sporting venues in Sydney. And with a capacity of 21,000, it is the largest indoor arena in Australia.
The arena has hosted some of the biggest names in music, including Madonna, Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Metallica, and Bruce Springsteen, to name a few. But when the speakers aren’t blaring, it’s also home to major sporting events such as basketball (including the 2000 Olympic Games), netball and tennis.
And, for galavanting families looking for an entertaining evening, with occasional fantastical shows like Disney on Ice or The Wiggles, or even motocross events there’s also something on offer for the kids.
70 – Find inner-city solitude at Wendy’s Secret Garden
Well, not so secret anymore, this public green space is open day and night for all to enjoy. Wendy’s Secret Garden was once a neglected, overgrown mess of a garden, but thanks to the efforts of local volunteers and Wendy herself, it has been transformed into a serene oasis in the heart of Sydney that feels like stepping back in time into the Victorian age.
Named after Wendy Whiteley – the artist and former wife of famed Australian painter Brett Whiteley – the tiered garden is now a beautiful place to wander, with fragrant jasmine and bougainvillea climbing the walls, bamboo shoots, lush ferns and palms dotting the paths, and no shortage of artistic hidden treasures.
Entry is free, and despite its aura of romantic seclusion, sits merely a stone’s throw from Milson’s Point and Luna Park, where top-notch views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge await.
71 – Browse the city’s best markets
This one goes out to all the shopaholics, thrifties, foodies, and bargain-hunters. No matter where you’re staying in Sydney, there’s bound to be a market nearby where you can get your fix.
For artisanal goods and fresh produce hand in hand, head to Foodies & Farmers Market or one of the many others in Sydney, like Bondi Farmers Market (where you’ll also find pop-up yoga classes and handmade jewelry) or Carriageworks Farmer’s Market (held every Saturday in an 1880s railway precinct). Or if you’re looking for something a little more eclectic, check out Glebe Markets for vintage finds, second-hand goods, bric-a-brac, and handmade crafts.
And then there are the dedicated food markets! If you love nothing more than grazing your way around an epic spread of international cuisines, make a beeline for Marrickville Organic Food Markets (Sunday mornings) or Cambridge Markets EQ (twice weekly on Wednesday and Saturday).
Paddington Markets (held on Saturdays in Paddington) is a top spot for fashionistas, with 150 unique stalls selling all kinds of quirky clothes, while Paddy’s Markets boasts a few locations with night food markets and swap-meets.
Local goodies (like honey, olive oil, and artisanal cheese) abound at Sydney’s many community markets too – just ask a local for their fave.
72 – See a show at the Sydney Lyric Theatre
A night at the theatre is always a special occasion, and Sydney’s Lyric Theatre does not disappoint. The 2,000-seat Lyric, adorned with artistic touches, is one of Australia’s premier live entertainment venues, and has played host to some of the world’s biggest musicals, including The Lion King, Mamma Mia!, Chicago, The Book of Mormon, Matilda, and everyone’s favourite Oz prequel, Wicked.
Located in the heart of Sydney’s Pyrmont district, the chic venue is just a short walk from Darling Harbour, making it the perfect place to start (or end) an evening out on the town. Musicals are just one slice of the pie, however. With ballet, opera, theatre, and more on the Lyric’s packed schedule, there’s sure to be something to suit every taste.
Suggested itinerary: Since the Lyric Theatre is located in the lively Darling Harbour area, you can tack it on to a day of sighseeing rather easily. Check out the Australian National Maritime Museum next door for a dose of history, or head to the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium if you’ve got kids in tow. Thanks to the bounty of bars and restaurants within arm’s reach. If you fancy a post-show tipple, Cargo Bar and Bungalow 8 both act like magnets for late-night partygoers.
73 – Drive down to Canberra for a day!
Just a short drive from Sydney is the nation’s capital, Canberra. A visit to Canberra is a great way to learn about Australia’s history and culture, and there are plenty of things to see and do. Start with a tour of Parliament House, then check out some of the other iconic buildings like Old Parliament House and the National Library of Australia.
For something different, take a stroll through the National Arboretum or go for a bike ride around Lake Burley Griffin. And of course, no trip to Canberra would be complete without visiting one (or more!) of the many museums and galleries on offer.
The National Museum of Australia, the National Gallery of Australia, and the Australian War Memorial are just some of the highlights — and if travelling with kids in tow (or anyone with a curious mind, for that matter), the Questacon science museum is known Australia-wide for its incredible exhibitions.
Despite being the capital city, Canberra has a small-town feel compared to Sydney, and flies under the radar for most international visitors. But with so much to see and do, and a handful of hassle-free tours that scoot you to and fro Sydney, it’s definitely worth a visit if you’ve got an extra day or two.
74 – Get a little artsy at Carriageworks
Never dull, with activities galore, Carriageworks is an ever-evolving arts and events precinct in the heart of Sydney. A former railway workshop dating back to the 1800s, Carriageworks has been given a new lease on life as a creative hub for artists, performers, and makers of all kinds.
Throughout the year, the lively locale plays host to all sorts of events — from major art exhibitions and musical performances to farmers’ markets (every Saturday) and film festivals, flower-arranging workshops, metalsmithing, wine festivals, art exhibitions, dance festivals, and everything in between. With a schedule curated by artists, there’s really something for everyone.
And if you’re looking for a unique gift or souvenir, be sure to check out the on-site shops selling local handicrafts, vintage finds, and more.
75 – See what’s on at the Sydney Showground
One of the main features of Olympic Park in the city’s west, where you’ll also stumble across GIANTS Stadium and Qudos Bank Arena for all you sports fans, is the sprawling Sydney Showground.
A multi-purpose venue that was originally built to host the 2000 Summer Olympics (and did an admirable job, we might add), today the Showground is used for all sorts of events, from trade shows and conventions to product launches, concerts, music festivals, dog shows, Comic Cons, and corporate functions.
With dozens of facilities on site, and a roster of events that are always dishing up new and exciting things to see and do, if something big is happening in town, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself here — just check the website to see what’s on.
Just to give you a little sneak peek into the seriously diverse event lineup, in recent times, it’s played host to Jurassic World: The Exhibition, the Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe World Tour, Book Fair Australia, the Dreamstate Australia music festivals, and the Oddities & Curiosities Expo, to name a few.
And when you fancy a post-event feed, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Ribs and Rumps is a crowd favorite for BBQ, the Bella Panini Bar is great for anyone in a rush, and both the Boulevard Brasserie & Bar and Mexica Cocktail Bar are terrific options for a pregame drink or two.
76 – Snap a photo of the Hornby Lighthouse
A visit to Sydney’s South Head is not complete without snapping a photo of the beautiful Hornby Lighthouse. The picturesque lighthouse, which was built in 1858, is one of the city’s most underrated yets beautiful landmarks, offering stunning views out over the ocean and reminding all Sydneysiders that there’s a quiet and peaceful side to the buzzing metropolis.
For those passing by the postcard-worthy red and white striped tower who are interested in learning more about the area, walking tracks and lookouts offer panoramic views of Sydney Harbour — perfect for an afternoon stroll before a sunset picnic.
Case in point: the Rose Bay to Watson’s Bay and Hornby Lighthouse trail is sure to work up an appetite — at just under 11 km, expect to clock up close to 16,000 steps as you meander your way along the coastline.
77 – Soar above the city with an airplane tour
As one of the world’s most famous skylines, it’d be a sin not to see Sydney from above at least once in your lifetime. While there are a few ways to do this, like the Harbour Bridge Climb, an airplane tour is by far the best choice to take it all in.
In as little as 15 minutes (although you can definitely opt for longer flights up to an hour or more) you can see everything from Bondi Beach and the Eastern Beaches to Hyde Park, The Rocks, Circular Quay, and beyond — not to mention getting a bird’s eye view of some of Sydney’s most iconic landmarks like the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
Fancy a dose of adventure more so than the typical sightseeing? Over in Camden, you can experience the heart-racing thrills of barrel rolls, hammerhead turns, and zero gravity with an adrenaline-pumping aerobatic joy flight; while seaplane fishing flights, 737 flight simulators, and Southern Lights flights (these are more time-consuming and more expensive, obviously) round out the options.
78 – Watch ballet or opera at the Walsh Bay Arts Precinct
Known for being one of the Meccas of Australian theatre, Walsh Bay is home to a number of iconic arts venues that are certainly worth popping into — even if you’re not particularly interested in the performing arts.
First established as a working dockyard back in 1900, the waterfront precinct has undergone something of a transformation over the years and is now one of Sydney’s most popular places to see (and be seen at!) live theatre, dance, and music performances.
Besides the neverending performances from the likes of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Sydney Dance Company, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, and Sydney Theatre Company, you’ll also discover myriad great restaurants and bars in the area if you fancy grabbing a bite or drink before or after the show, as well as some stunning views out over Sydney Harbour to enjoy.
And being just a brisk 15-minute stroll from Circular Quay, you can easily make it the cherry on top of a day of inner-city exploring.
79 – Try out an underwater scooter!
A relatively new-wave water sport that serves up a perspective of the Sydney Harbour or coastline you won’t get anywhere else, underwater scooter-ing is an activity that’s becoming increasingly popular with both locals and tourists.
With companies aplenty now offering tours (complete with all the gear you need), you can enjoy all the wonder of snorkeling and diving at spots like Gordons Bay without having to put in the extra effort, as the scooter does all the hard work for you — leaving you to take in the stunning views and sea life at your leisure.
You don’t need any prior diving experience to take part, as you’ll be kitted out in a wetsuit and given comprehensive instructions before being let loose on your sea-scooter — meaning anyone can enjoy this one-of-a-kind activity.
Just make sure you book in advance as spots can fill up.
80 – Play a round of golf
Want to practice your drive? Or chip out of a few bunkers? Sydney has countless terrific golf courses to choose from, whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out.
Some of the more popular (and picturesque) choices include Bonnie Doon Golf Club in Leichhardt, The Coast Golf Club on the cliffs of Botany Bay (south side of Sydney), The Australian Golf Club (the country’s oldest, surrounded by towering trees), and the challenging and championship-calibre Lakes Golf Club over in Eastlakes — but really, there are options to suit all budgets and skill levels all across the city.
If you don’t fancy too much of a commute, the Royal Sydney Golf Club, Bondi Golf & Diggers Club, and Moore Park Golf in the Centennial Parklands are all minutes from the CBD with exceptional facilities.
Or if you’re staying out west, try your hand at one of the many courses in the Blue Mountains region.
81 – Knock back beers at the city’s best beach clubs
With more coastline than you can tip your hat at, and 9 months of sunny weather year-round (or thereabout), a tipple at one of the city’s laid-back beach bars – or, a more energetic part at one of the city’s beach clubs is one of the best things to do in Sydney for anyone looking to let their hair down on a sizzling summer day.
So, which spots beckon? Famous Bondi Icebergs, to start with, of course. With its million-dollar views of one of the world’s most famous stretches of sand, it’s a bucket list spot for many a traveller.
Speaking of which, not too far away, also on Bondi, is the aptly-named Bucket List! With nightly drink and nibblies specials, and always pumping summertime Beach Club Sundays, it’s a great place to start your day or end your night.
If you’re keen on heading further afield, Coogee Pavilion is another excellent choice – especially if you’re looking for more of an all-rounder in terms of food and drinks.
Throw in Watsons Bay Beach Club, one of the city’s most ‘grammable locales, the Cuban-themed Havana Beach, The Island (a floating beach bar), and Opera Bar, right in the heart of the action, and you’ve got yourself a definite bar crawl in the making.
To finish things off, we’ve got to give a shout-out to Manly Beach. While it might be better known as a surfing destination, the Northern Beaches spot is also home to one of Sydney’s best beach clubs in the form of the Manly Wharf Hotel Bar, Manly Wine, and Daniel San.
82 – Pop into the White Rabbit Gallery
Get your art fix at White Rabbit Gallery, a temple to contemporary Chinese art that’s unlike any other museum in the Emerald City. Housed in an old 1940s Rolls-Royce service depot in Chippendale, the not-for-profit space is devoted to promoting and championing the work of Chinese artists living both inside and outside of China, with an ever-growing and thought-provoking collection of more than 2000 works by almost 700 artists.
With two new exhibitions every year (making sure no two visits are the same) featuring everything from painting and sculpture to installations and video art, there’s always something new and exciting to see at White Rabbit – making it one of Sydney’s essential (yet perhaps most underrated) galleries.
And, if you get peckish during your visit, make sure to stop by the onsite Tea House for a vast range of the finest Chinese and Taiwanese teas.
83 – Get involved in the Vivid festivities
Every year, just when you thought the shimmering Sydney Harbour couldn’t be any more extravagant, Vivid lights up the city with an array of colourful light displays, projections, and installations for three glorious weeks.
See the Opera House and Harbour Bridge lit up from head to toe in dancing projections, walk past giant animatronic robots and iconic Aussie animals, or play around with the interactive street art that responds to your movement.
Around every corner of the city – on facades of buildings, smack-bang in the middle of parks, and even in the water itself – there’s something new and incredible to see at Vivid.
But it’s not just about the lights; during Vivid, you can also catch talks from world-renowned writers and thinkers, listen to live music under the stars at places like the Royal Botanic Garden or go on a hella romantic Vivid-themed dinner cruise around the harbour.
From the end of May to the middle of June, there’s no better place to be. No matter how you choose to experience it, one thing’s for sure: Vivid is an unmissable event on Sydney’s calendar.
84 – Sit mezzanine level at the Capitol Theatre
Dress to the nines and enjoy a night of unadulterated luxury at Sydney’s historic Capitol Theatre. One of the city’s most iconic venues, the Capitol has been entertaining Sydneysiders since the turn of the 20th century (yes, 20th), and continues to do so today with a packed program of toe-tapping musicals, theatre, ballet, and opera.
With a lineup of modern masterpieces like Moulin Rouge (playing in 2022) and 9 to 5, and a long list of superstars who’ve graced the stage in bygone decades (think names like Kylie Minogue, Sting, and INXS), the Capitol is a must-visit for any music or theatre lover.
And, if you really want to push the boat out, make sure to book one of the behind-the-scenes tours; led by a knowledgable local, these roughly 2-hour walkthroughs explore everything from the history of the building to the inner workings of a world-class theatre.
And, as a heritage-listed building that epitomises glitz and glam, with intricate and quirky architectural elements quintessential to John Eberson’s theatrical design vision, even the venue itself is a work of art.
85 – Grab the popcorn (and a drink) at the Golden Age Cinema and Bar
A rare and utterly charming vintage cinema, Golden Age Cinema and Bar is the perfect place to enjoy an intimate film screening in style. Housed in the old screening room of the former Paramount Pictures building in Surry Hills, the independent cinema shows a wide range of movies – from cult classics and new releases to foreign films and documentaries – with a focus on quality over quantity.
With comfy armchairs, red velvet curtains, a licensed bar serving gourmet snacks and drinks (including wine, beer, and Champagne), plus regular live music performances, it’s no wonder this place has become such a hit with Sydney’s cinephiles.
A heritage-listed building, an old-school cinema, and an air of sophistication — sounds like the perfect date night.
While you’re there: thanks to its locations in upmarket Surry Hills, the Golden Age Cinema and Bar is surrounded by some of Sydney’s best eateries. Take your pick from NOMAD Sydney for upscale Middle Eastern, Chin Chin for delectable Asian Fusion, or Alberto’s Lounge for a welcoming trattoria-style Italian evening. Of course, if the weather’s nice, you could always grab takeaway and set up a little picnic in Harmony Park.
86 – See Home & Away royalty at Palm Beach
Known around the world as the setting for Summer Bay in the long-running Aussie TV show, Home and Away, Palm Beach has a reputation that precedes it – even though many don’t make the initial connection.
Still, while it might be better known as a place to spot celebrities, there’s plenty more to this gorgeous stretch of sand than meets the eye. From stand-up paddle boarding and swimming with dolphins to bushwalking and picnicking, there’s no shortage of family-friendly activities in Palm Beach.
For diehard fans, don’t miss the chance to visit the Home & Away filming locations (with companies like Flamin’ Galahs Sydney Tours). Sporty folk, head to the golf course, and for all you curious shoppers, the monthly Palm Beach Market is always a hoot if you time your trip right.
Not to mention, with its turquoise waters, white sand, and lush greenery, it’s also one of the city’s most beautiful beaches – making it well worth the hour-long drive from the CBD.
87 – Watch a game at the Sydney Cricket Ground
Capable of a roaring atmosphere, the Sydney Cricket Ground is one of Australia’s most iconic sporting venues. As well as being the home of cricket in New South Wales, the ground has also hosted rugby league, rugby union, soccer, and AFL games over the years; but it’s typically cricket and AFL that really bring the crowds flocking.
So whether you pop in for a test match or one-day international (ODI), or cheer on the Sydney Swans at an AFL match, a visit to the SCG remains one of the quintessential things to do in Sydney for anyone who considers themselves a sports nut.
Even if there’s no match on during your visit, there are still plenty of things to see and do at the SCG; visit the museum which holds all kinds of memorabilia from Australia’s sporting history, or take a guided behind-the-scenes tour through the club rooms, corporate suites, and broadcast booths among other typically off-limits spots at Sydney’s home of sport.
88 – Experience a drag show at The Imperial Erskineville
If you’re going out in Newtown (which, if you like live music, you will), then you’re going to the Imp. An infamous staple of the area, The Imperial has been slinging beers since 1983 and today is just as popular as ever.
A pub by day and a pumping music venue by night (welcoming all folks, but also a well-known institution of the LGBTIQA+ community, the Imp plays host to some of Sydney’s best up-and-coming bands; it’s also not uncommon to see bigger international acts gracing the stage here too.
While there’s always cold beer on tap and a parma the size of your face at the read, from Wednesday to Sunday nights, the Imp puts on their beloved drag and cabaret shows. Full of colour, cheek, and a whole lot of sass, it’s an experience not to be missed — you’ll be lipsyncing and toe-tapping the whole night through, killer cocktail in hand.
89 – Explore the area around Martin Place during Christmas time
A pedestrian mall in the heart of the CBD, Martin Place is one of Sydney’s busiest and most vibrant spots. On any given day you’ll find office workers grabbing lunch at the myriad cafes which line the street, tourists taking photos of the memorials and sculptures, and buskers playing music by the Lloyd Rees fountain to the hordes of foot traffic; but come Christmas time, Martin Place really comes alive.
Families gather to watch the lighting of the giant Christmas tree (with more than 110,000 LED lights), carols fill the air, and there’s even an occasional visit from Santa himself!
Martin Place is also home to some of Sydney’s best shopping, with high-end stores on George Street at one end, Castlereagh street cutting through the middle, and the Queen Victoria Building not far away either.
And for all you finance buffs, it’s also where you’ll find the headquarters of the Reserve Bank of Australia. No matter what time of year you visit, Martin Place is always worth a wander.
90 – See an exhibition at the Customs House
Famous for two very different reasons — its exhibitions and its fine dining restaurant — Customs House is one of Sydney’s most iconic buildings. Situated on the edge of Circular Quay with views out to the harbour and bridge, this 6-storey grand sandstone building was constructed in 1845 as – yep, you guessed it – a working Customs House for the port of Sydney.
Nowadays, however, it plays host to art exhibitions from all over the world; there’s always something new and exciting to see inside. From historical displays about early European settlement in Australia, to contemporary installations by Aboriginal artists, Customs House has something for everyone.
But if museums aren’t your thing, you can always enjoy a meal or a drink at one of Sydney’s most upmarket restaurants, Cafe Sydney, located right inside the building and spread out onto its rooftop. With its gorgeous views out over the water, exquisite menu, and world-class wines, it’s the perfect place for a special occasion.
91 – Wet your whistle at Sydney’s best rooftop bars
Speaking of rooftops, there’s no better place to enjoy Sydney’s stunning summer weather than from one of the many rooftop bars that dot the city. From glamorous cocktail bars like Smoke to relaxed rooftop beer gardens like The Rook, there’s a rooftop bar to suit everyone’s taste.
And with sweeping views out over the harbour, the city skyline, or even Darlinghurst and Surry Hills, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding the perfect spot to soak in the landscapes.
So, where does your tipple begin? Open year-round, East Village Sydney is far enough from the CBD to offer sublime skyline views; a multi-style pub and bar that has pub vibes on one level and classy cocktails on the other, Royal Hotel Paddington feels like an English garden, with enchanting fairy lights and a relaxed atmosphere to boot.
While not that high above the ground, Helm Bar & Bistro in Darling Harbour is a convenient spot to soak in either a beer garden or a rooftop terrace with top-tier water views of Cockle Bay. Meanwhile, Above 8 Rooftop Bar is a chic and contemporary spot 9 stories high that’s rarely too busy (but always atmospheric) thanks to its suburban location. The laid-back Bar Ombré Rooftop is your go-to in Circular Quay with its Italian influences and dedicated spritz menu.
But if you’re all about heights, make a beeline for the rouge and white Bar 83 – the highest outdoor rooftop bar in Sydney, located on Level 83 of the Sydney Tower. Toast to panoramic views of the city and harbour with a cocktail in hand as the sun goes down.
92 – Head to the Skyline Drive-In Blacktown
Grab the popcorn, it’s time for a movie! But not just any movie — an outdoor movie, at one of Sydney’s oldest drive-in cinemas. The Skyline Drive-In has been around since 1963, and while it may have had a couple of facelifts over its impressive tenure, its retro charm remains firmly intact.
With its two large outdoor screens and vintage cars lining the perimeter, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a classic film (or two) under the stars – and with new releases and nostalgic hits both part of the regular sessions, you’ll have a much greater variety than your typical indoor (read: boring) cinema.
Top it off with a fully licensed bar and Happy Days diner-style restaurant on site, and you can indulge in some delicious snacks and giant milkshakes while you watch!
The pastime is still cheap as chips compared to going to the normal cinemas. and there’s plenty of old-world memorabilia – think hubcaps, licence plates and steering wheels – on-site for any petrolhead to enjoy.
93 – Listen to some live music
After wetting your whistle at one of the rooftop bars, it’s time to hit the ground and enjoy some live music. As a city that’s bursting at the seams with talent, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of venues to choose from when it comes to catching a gig.
The century-old Enmore Theatre in Newtown is one of Sydney’s most iconic live music venues, having played host to everyone from The Rubens to The Jezabels to Bonobo.
But if you’re after something a little more intimate, check out The Vanguard in Darlinghurst – a cosy little venue hidden away down an alleyway off Oxford Street that regularly features up-and-coming local artists as well as international touring acts.
Meanwhile, over in Marrickville is The Red Rattler, a not-for-profit community arts space that’s well known for its diverse range of live music, theatre, comedy and cabaret shows. Don’t forget The Imperial, the Hordern Pavilion, The Lansdowne Hotel, and the Marrickville Bowling Club either!
94 – Race around town, check off must-see attractions as part of a scavenger game
If you’re hunting for a way to tick off some of the city’s most iconic sights while also upping the ante and excitement, you’ve got to consider a scavenger game. Not only do you get to explore Sydney’s popular sites, but you’ll also be faced with head-scratching riddles, photo challenges and fun tasks along the way.
When it comes to scavenger hunts in Sydney, you’ve essentially got two different structures to choose from. Either sign up for an Amazing Race-style hunt, where you’ll have guides meeting you at different locales; or opt for a smartphone-led game, where you’ll be able to explore the city at your own pace. Both options are equally enjoyable, and you’ll need to use your problem-solving skills, teamwork, and street smarts to finish victorious either way. complete challenges and ultimately cross the finish line first.
Take your pick from hunts in The Rocks, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Chinatown, the so-called “Secret Sydney” – we won’t spoil that one for you – and the CBD’s hidden laneways. For something a little different, you’ve also got a murder mystery-themed city hunt, and an eerie ghost-hunting game – best attempted after dark to up the spook factor!
95 – Get ready to laugh at The Comedy Store
Better wear two pairs of socks cause you’ll be laughing your first one off at The Comedy Store. Constantly voted and regarded as one of the best comedy clubs in Australia, this is where some of the nation’s funniest people take to the stage every night to make you laugh ’til you cry.
With a mix of local and international talent on offer – including big names like Rhys Nickelson, Rove McManus and Felicity Ward – there’s always something (or someone) new to see. And with a stock bar on site, a few pre-show drinks to help get you into the laughing mood are ritualistic!
While The Comedy Store certainly holds its own as one of the premier laugh factories in town, it’s far from the only one. The humble Staves Brewery in Glebe puts on its celebrated Powerbomb Comedy every second Saturday night; Kelly’s On King welcomes a diverse lineup of comedians competing for cash prizes in its regular Wednesday Joke Off nights, at the Rat Klub (inside the Mosh Put) in Newtown puts on a Monday night stand-up show featuring both local legends and up-and-comers.
Still searching? Hotel Harry in Surry Hills is known for its provocative Monday night meet-ups, Kween of Comedy remains a Friday night hidden gem and Yeah The Girls Comedy at The Chippo Hotel is guaranteed to have your in stitches with its all-female Sunday night spectacular.
96 – Join a beer-tasting pub crawl
If you’re on the hunt for things to do in Sydney where you can get a little loose, then a beer tasting might be just what the doctor ordered. And with literally hundreds of bars dotted all over the city — in the CBD, Bondi, Manly, Newtown, Marrickville and everywhere in between (including day trips up to the breweries and wineries of the Hunter Valley) — you’ll never be too far away from a tipple.
While each tour is different, what’s constant is a bar-hopping adventure, complete with more than a few cheeky samples, lunch, transport, a guide to show you around, and (of course) a few new drinking buddies to enjoy it all with.
Just remember to pace yourself – with tours lasting up to 6 hours, there’s a lot of ground (and beer) to cover!
97 – See what’s on at the Riverside Theatres
The Western Sydney go-to for all things theatre, Riverside Theatres is a world-class performing arts centre that hosts more than 400 shows across drama, dance, music and comedy each year.
Situated on the banks of the Parramatta River in the heart of the CBD, Riverside Theatres comprises three main venues – the main Riverside Theatre, the mid-sized seat (200-seat) Lennox Theatre, and the more intimate 88-seat Raffety’s Theatre – as well as a rehearsal room, function spaces and an outdoor amphitheatre.
With such a diverse program on offer, there’s bound to be something that tickles your fancy – whether it’s a new Australian play, an internationally acclaimed dance work or a beloved musical.
So if you happen to be exploring this side of town, you could do far worse than an elegant evening at the theatre!
98 – Button-mash at the B. Lucky & Sons games bar
Gamers, listen up! The brainchild of the guys behind Holey Moley and Strike Bowling; a slew of new game bars has arrived in Australia, Sydney included, and they’re ready to take your nights out up a notch.
B. Lucky & Sons is a vintage-themed arcade bar meets pawn shop where you can enjoy all your favourite classic games – think Mario Kart, Walking Dead zombie adventures, basketball hoops, Mario Kart and the like – while sipping on Japanese whisky, beer or wine.
Tucked away over in the Entertainment Quarter, this player’s paradise is open until late most nights, making it the perfect spot for a fun fiesta with friends.
And, unlike your classic games zone, you’re not playing for bouncy balls and candy bars – the prizes here pack a serious punch.
99 – Party till the sun comes up at the city’s best nightclubs
Craving a night of debauchery where you can let your hair down and really let loose? No worries, Sydney’s got you covered. The city is absolutely crawling with nightclubs, each offering something unique to party-goers – whether it’s world-class DJs, waterfront views, relaxed lounge vibes or a more intimate clubbing experience.
Just remember to dress to impress and, unless you plan on rocking up early, be prepared to queue – the best clubs are always in high demand!
Local favourites include Ivy, Goros, Club 77, Soda Bar, Oxford Art Factory, and The Junction; but if you head to either Newtown or King’s Cross and walk down the main streets, it’s hard to go wrong. We won’t ruin the surprise, but Frankie’s Pizza by the Slice should certainly be on the list too.
How to get to Sydney?
Heavily underrated, airport transfers in Sydney are a great way to avoid the hassle (and expense of individual train tickets if travelling as a group) of getting into town from the airport.
Sydney has many different options available, from private chauffeur services to group shuttle buses, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs and budget.
And there’s always something special about seeing your name on a placard.
Where to stay in Sydney?
You’re not short of choice, that’s for sure. From five-star luxury digs to cosy Airbnbs and everything in between, Sydney has accommodation options to suit every traveller. And with world-famous beaches, stunning national parks and a bustling city centre all within close proximity, you really can have it all here.
So whether you’re looking for a place to rest your head after a big night out or somewhere to lay low and escape the hustle and bustle of city life, there’s sure to be a hotel (or two) that fits the bill. Check out the top picks below!
• The Langham Sydney – an upscale hotel located in the heart of the CBD with stylish rooms, an Insta-worthy pool and both a cocktail bar and international luxury buffet.
• The Old Clare Hotel – a trendy boutique hotel in the hip neighbourhood of Chippendale with a rooftop bar and pool.
• QT Sydney – a luxury hotel with an Art Deco design located right in the thick of things next to the Queen Victoria Building.
• The Darling at The Star – a five-star hotel attached to the Sydney casino complex with a day spa, indoor pool and designer rooms.
• Hostels – if you’re looking for something that won’t break the bank, there are plenty of great hostels dotted around the city. Some favourites include Sydney Central YHA, Wake Up! Sydney and Nomads Sydney (formerly Base Backpackers Sydney).
Visiting Sydney on a budget?
In addition to free walking tours in Sydney, cheap eats, and budget-friendly accommodations, there are also great deals on Sydney passes that offer discounted entry to a variety of activities and attractions. The GoCity Sydney Explorer Pass allows you to choose between 2 and 7 different quintessential activities for one fixed price, and you can use it at your own pace over a period of 60 days. Scroll up to learn more…
And make sure to check off as many of the free things to do in Sydney as possible too. From a day at Bondi Beach to a stroll around Circular Quay, a walk across the Harbour Bridge or a picnic in the Royal Botanic Gardens, there are plenty of free activities in the city to fill your days with.
Where to go next?
After you’ve had your fill of the Harbour City, why not jet over to Adelaide? The lineup of things to do in Adelaide will keep your Insta busy – we’re talking buzzing art festivals and coffee shops that seriously know their beans. If you fancy a wild detour, Kangaroo Island is just a hop away. It’s chock-full of things to do in Kangaroo Island, with its rugged cliffs and dozy koalas; it’s like Mother Nature’s own adventure park.
Now, can we talk about Melbourne? This city’s got a rhythm all its own, and the things to do in Melbourne? Let’s just say you’ll want to clear your calendar – from the graffiti lanes to the footy games, it’s a vibe. Don’t skip Phillip Island, though – especially if you’re into furry parades. The things to do in Phillip Island are pretty special, especially when those little penguins strut their stuff at sunset.
Swing over to the west coast, and you’ll hit Perth. The things to do in Perth? Endless. Crystal-clear beaches, killer sunsets, and a side of quokka selfies – what’s not to love? Up north, Cairns is your jump-off point to the reef and rainforests. You won’t run out of things to do in Cairns, that’s for sure – it’s all about that underwater magic and jungle drama.
And for the grand finale, hit up the Gold Coast. If you’re chasing that sun-kissed life, the things to do on the Gold Coast will sort you out – from surf breaks to scream-your-lungs-out theme parks.
Well, that’s a wrap on our list of 99 fun things to do in Sydney! We hope this guide has helped you plan your trip and given you some ideas for how to spend your time in the Land Down Under.
Grab a bevvy at one of Sydney’s rooftop bars, say G’day to the cuddly critters at Taronga Zoo, and take a scenic ferry ride to Manly Beach for some fish and chips. Whatever your adventure hold, you’ll quickly see why Sydney is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations!
Can you think of any other fun things to do in Sydney that we missed? Let us know in the comments below.
As always, happy travels!