Things to do in Sydney

The largest city in Australia, Sydney is a also a hub of perfect weekend and holiday activities that are suitable for both locals and tourists. While Sydney is well-known for its nightlife and urban hotspots, the city is also home to some beautiful natural attractions.

Not only is Sydney Harbour Bridge one of Australia’s most famous landmarks, it is also a great place to take in stunning views of the city. Visitors can wander along a special walkway to enjoy stunning views of Sydney and the coastline.

Circular Quay – Sydney, New South Wales

People dine, relax and basque in the glorious afternoon sun quayside in Circular Quay.

The sail-like rooftops of Sydney Opera House form one of the city’s most iconic sights and it makes the perfect photo opportunity for visitors who take the time to pause outside. Culture vulture should also try to time their trip so that they can catch one of the special performances that are held inside throughout the year.

Visitors who take a short stroll from Sydney Opera House will find themselves at the Rocks. This scenic spot is steeped in history and legend and features a maze of narrow cobbled lanes that are lined with shops, restaurants and market stalls where visitors can have fun browsing for bargains.

Animal lovers are sure to enjoy exploring Taronga Zoo, which is home to an impressive collection of Australian animals as well as cool and cute creatures from around the world. Some of the many highlights here include the chance to interact with koalas as well as rare species of animal such as Kodiak bears, Sumatran tigers and a large family of chimpanzees.

The large and lush Royal Botanic Gardens are the perfect place to unwind from the hustle and bustle of the big city. A series of walkways lead through the gardens while also offering visitors impressive views of the harbour as they run between towering trees and exotic plants.

Soaking up the sun and indulging in a little people watching on Bondi Beach is an experience that should not be missed. People who enjoy messing about in the water will also find that this is the perfect place to surf or simply swim in the cool, clear water that laps the sand.

The Rocks

The Rocks is a popular heritage strip adjacent to Circular Quay that attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. This destination is known for its unique historical atmosphere and fine waterfront views.

Take some time to enjoy the fascinating waters of the harbour as you watch sailboats and yachts. Walk along the weathered cobblestone streets of The Rocks to see interesting architecture from Sydney’s past. If you travel along the famous Argyle Street, you may see well-preserved terrace homes. Some of these structures have been standing since the 19th century.

Harrington Street – The Rocks, Sydney NSW

Typical restored 19th century terraced houses in The Rocks, now used primarily as restaurants and retail outlets.

When you explore The Rocks, you must visit Harrington Street. Visit the area’s boutique shops, or simply walk along the road to enjoy the charms of a 19th century city. After you admire the historical features of the neighbourhood, visit Campbell’s Cove. Campbell’s Cove is a gorgeous waterfront area that has several fine restaurants. Satisfy your cravings for delicious food before you enjoy a glass of one of New South Wales’ finest wines.

Experience the culture of the area by visiting one of the local pubs. You will appreciate a delicious meal of fresh fish and chips that is paired with a craft beer. Complete your adventure by listening to a local musician’s live performance.

Royal Botanic Gardens

The Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney will rekindle your appreciation for nature. Located in the heart of Sydney, the Royal Botanic Garden is an attraction that shelters plants from across the globe. You may encounter a variety of beautiful plants, including temperate flowers and tropical trees.

Today, the Royal Botanic Garden covers an area of approximately 30 hectares. This massive green space in New South Wales’ largest city is a great place to enjoy picnics with your companions. You may also explore one of the park’s many themed gardens. Take some time to experience the Royal Botanic Garden’s ponds, streams, rock gardens, forests, and lawns.

Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney NSW

City of Sydney at sunset from the Royal Botanic Garden.

If you enjoy learning about ecology, visit the Middle Gardens. This area of the park has several interesting locations, including the Threatened Plant Garden and the Plant Sciences Building. These areas of the park may not have the vibrantly coloured plants of the most popular gardens, but they are perfect for inquisitive minds. You will learn about recent breakthroughs in botany and ecology. You will also earn the rare opportunity to capture stunning photographs of plants that are rarely sighted in the wilderness. The Middle Gardens also shelter the iconic Palm House.

Admire the vibrantly coloured areas of the park by touring the Palace Gardens. This area of the Royal Botanic Garden can be easily recognised by its impressive stone architecture and fountains. Smell the sweet aroma of red roses while you feel the pleasantly warm rays of the sun. Continue your tour of the Royal Botanic Garden by following the Rain Forest Walk. This path will guide you through a forest of lush shrubs, flowers, and trees that are found in the tropical wilderness.

Learn about the Aboriginal heritage of Sydney by visiting Cadi Jam Ora. Cadi Jam Ora is a garden that honours the Cadigal Aboriginal people of Australia. You will learn about these indigenous Australians’ connection to the natural world.

Chinese Garden of Friendship

The Chinese Garden of Friendship is a serene place. Situated at the edge of Sydney’s Chinatown, the Chinese Garden of Friendship has a peaceful, soothing atmosphere. This beautiful walled garden has many shaded areas, so it is a great place to avoid the heat on summer days. If you become tired of the bustling atmosphere of the city, the Chinese Garden of Friendship will provide you with a break from the excitement.

This iconic garden in Sydney’s Chinatown was inspired by the gardens of Ming China. The Empire of the Great Ming ruled China during one of the nation’s greatest golden ages. During this time, Chinese artisans and urban planners perfected beautiful gardens that allowed people to relax and think. In 1988, the Chinese Garden of Friendship was constructed in Sydney by the government of Guangzhou. Guangzhou is often regarded as the sister city of Sydney.

The Chinese Garden of Friendship serves as an appropriate reminder of the close connections between the governments and businesses of Sydney and Guangzhou. In fact, the Garden of Friendship encourages many Australians to travel to China each year. You may also feel a desire to explore the Middle Kingdom after you experience the lovely sights of the garden.

When you explore the Chinese Garden of Friendship, you will encounter many iconic sights that are common in the gardens of mainland China. Keep an eye out for lion statues. These statues demonstrate that the people of Guangzhou designed the Garden of Friendship. While lion statues are not common in Beijing and northern China, they can be regularly seen in the southern Guangdong province. You will also be rewarded with appealing scenes of gardens and waterfalls. Listen to the gentle barrage of water on a pool as you think about your happy experiences in Chinatown.

The pavilions of the Chinese Garden of Friendship are adorned with red and gold decorations. These colours are typical festival colours in China, and they bring good fortune to passersby. You will also be amazed by the intricate Ming architecture of the tall towers that protrude above the forests. Climb to the highest platform of these towers to admire the sights of Chinatown and Sydney before you relax near a fountain. If you gaze into the garden’s serene ponds, you may see koi fish.

Chinese Garden of Friendship – Sydney NSW

People wander through the beauty and tranquility of the Chinese Garden of Friendship, a traditional chinese garden nestled in the middle of Sydney.

Visit the Chinese Garden of Friendship Teahouse to enjoy some delicious refreshments. You can enjoy a hot cup of green tea before you eat a meal of dim sum. Dim sum is a popular cuisine in the Cantonese areas of China. Dim sum meals typically consist of small foods like dumplings and steamed pastries. Enjoy a pleasant conversation with your companions as you experience an authentic Cantonese meal.

The Chinese Garden of Friendship is situated near Darling Harbour. This area of Sydney is easy to reach, so you may walk or use public transit . You may also use a bike to travel to Darling Harbour and other areas in Sydney.

Bondi Beach

This world-famous beach is located just 7 kilometres east of Sydney’s central district, so you can expect a bustling city atmosphere. In addition to a pristine beach, the Bondi area has scores of interesting shops and restaurants that will keep you entertained.

Since Bondi suburb is located near the centre of Sydney, you can easily reach the beach with public transport. Backpackers and tourists make use of the city’s bus system to travel to Bondi Beach. You may run into difficulties with parking near Bondi if you use your personal vehicle. Instead of attempting to park in the lots near the beach, you can easily park in the backstreets several blocks away from your destination.

Bondi will impress you with its clean white sands and a vast expanse of blue water. On the shopping stretch, you will encounter sidewalks packed with cafes and restaurants. These features allow Bondi Beach to provide visitors with a pleasant mixture of modern vibes and serene natural views.

Your senses will be rejuvenated as soon as you plunge into the area’s cool and refreshing waters. Swimmers should avoid the southern end of Bondi Beach due to strong rip currents.

Bondi Beach – Bondi, Sydney NSW

People swimming in the fresh water swimming pools built in to the sea with waves rolling in to Bondi in Sydney.

Manly Beach

Manly Beach is one of the most popular beaches of Sydney. Located near Sydney’s central business district, Manly Beach is a convenient place for short holiday retreats. You may easily access Manly Beach by relying on public transit or driving there and parking in the back streets.

The endless skies off the coast are complemented by the strikingly beautiful gold sands that the tides wash smooth each morning. Walk along a well-maintained path at the south end of the beach as you listen to the waves crashing on the rocks. The grass and pavement along the main stretch of Manly Beach is sheltered by tall pine trees.

Manly Beach receives its larger swells during the winter months and its waves are well regarded by surfers with the beach being the location of the Australian Open surfing competition each year.

The Corso – Manly, Sydney NSW

Shopping and recreation area named The Corso in Manly.

Manly Beach has a long outdoor mall where you can shop local and international surf and swimwear brands for hours. There’s also a huge selection of cafes and restaurants to choose from, with everything from fine western dining and Asian cuisine to take-away fish and chips, burgers and ice cream.

Getting to Manly by ferry from Circular Quay is well-worth making part of your trip here. You can also catch a ferry from Darling Harbour, however ferries to and from Circular Quay are much more frequent.

Dee Why Beach

Dee Why Beach is located in the suburb of Dee Why in the Sydney metropolitan area. This beach is known for its picturesque ocean views, clean sands, and for being less commercialised and busy than its nearby beaches Manly and Bondi.

Many Sydney locals visit Dee Why Beach to avoid the large crowds of tourists that descend daily on other local beaches such as Manly and Bondi. Dee Why is characterised by a long stretch of golden sand and an expansive sea of blue water. The beachside park is lined with towering old Norfolk Pines. The area under these trees is a great place for picnics. Purchase a meal from a nearby restaurant, fish and chip shop, or pack something from home.

Visit Dee Why Lagoon to encounter wildlife. Dee Why Lagoon is hidden behind the dunes of Dee Why Beach. This sheltered marine area is an important area for migratory birds. Throughout the year, you may spot seabirds from places like Japan and Taiwan. This area has calm glassy water, so you will find that it is perfect for calm water-sports too.

Dee Why Lagoon – Dee Why, Sydney NSW

Picturesque views south across Dee Why Lagoon towards Dee Why Beach on a magical sunrise morning in summer.

Travel to the nearby Jackson Reserve to see rock pools and other interesting natural features. Jackson Reserve has several lookouts that peer over the ocean, so remember to bring your best binoculars. This protected park also has several lovely picnic areas.

If you would like to see all of the best features of Sydney’s Northern Beaches, follow the Bicentennial Coastal Walk. This famous path will guide you to other nearby coastal bushlands, lagoons, and beaches.

Palm Beach

Palm Beach is a secluded suburb in Sydney, a great place to escape the rush of Australia’s busiest city (though summertime parking at Palm Beach might make you think twice). Unlike the busy city centre, Palm Beach is characterised by quaint coastal views and a spacious beach.

The main stretch of sand at Palm Beach is two kilometres long, so you will have plenty of space to enjoy the fun and peace of a day by the ocean. If you travel to Palm Beach’s Barrenjoey area, you will be rewarded with a peaceful view of Broken Bay. You will also encounter the tall sandstone cliffs of Little Head.

During the winter months, you can watch migrating whales from the shore of Palm Beach, and especially from the lookout at Barrenjoey Lighthouse. Whales regularly visit the bay near Sydney between May and September.

There are various food options around the area. Some of our favourites are brunch at the Boathouse on the Broken Bay side, fish and chips at Palm Beach Fish and Chips on Barrenjoey Road just near the ferry jetty, and dinner and drinks at Barrenjoey House just next door.

Barrenjoey Head Lighthouse – Palm Beach, Sydney NSW

Barrenjoey Head lighthouse overlooking Palm Beach, Pittwater and Broken Bay.

Many locals and travellers admire the beautiful architecture and personalities of the homes that adorn the hills of Palm Beach. Palm Beach is one of the wealthiest areas in Australia; it is filled with picturesque mansions and cottages.

Coogee Beach

While Coogee Beach is located in the busiest city in Australia, you will be able to enjoy the quiet ocean atmosphere throughout the year. This locality is situated eight kilometres southeast of Sydney’s central district, and is popular among Sydney’s locals. It does not receive the same level of tourist traffic as beaches like Bondi and Manly.

One of the best ways to get a feel for the intense natural beauty of the area is by following the path that leads along the cliffs from nearby Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach. People who choose to follow this Cliff Top Walk will be treated to stunning ocean views as well as glimpses of the pristine stretches of sand that grace the coastline.

Dolphin Point – Coogee Beach, Sydney NSW

Dolphin Point – facade of a former gym building which stands overlooking the Coogee Bay.

Situated at the south of Coogee Beach, Wylies Baths is a natural ocean pool that boasts a raised deck. This is a popular place for both visitors and local people to sit and gaze out at the ocean as well as take in the enchanting views along the coast to Coogee Beach.

People who can bear to tear themselves away from the beach for an hour or two can get fit at Grant Reserve. This pretty park boasts an outdoor gym, while the kids are sure to have fun playing in the huge and imaginatively created children’s playground that comes complete with a network of rope swings and climbing frames.

Also known locally as Thomo’s, Gordon’s Bay is a great place to relax and unwind for a while. People who enjoy snorkelling are sure to be in their element here as a unique underwater snorkelling trail is just waiting to be explored, while the bay can be reached by taking a short walk along the cliff top from Congee Beach.

Cockatoo Island

Cockatoo Island is a popular holiday destination among history buffs, urbanites and backpackers. This 18-hectare island is situated at the confluence of the Lane Cove and Parramatta Rivers in Sydney Harbour. Admire the fascinating views of Sydney as you walk along the historic grounds of Cockatoo Island. Cockatoo Island has been an important site for thousands of years prior to European settlement, and it is listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO. Take some time to learn about the interesting historical events that occurred on Cockatoo Island.

Learn about the events and past people of Cockatoo Island by touring the prison and shipyard. You may enjoy a self-guided tour, or you can listen to an informative audio tour as you walk across the island. You will feel as if you are alive in a different era when you encounter the island’s cells, work sites, and shipyard.

Cockatoo Island is also a popular camping destination with permanent tents along the water available for booking. Camping on Cockatoo Island is a unique experience that combines the excitement of Sydney with the serenity of sleeping by the water.

Cockatoo Island – Sydney NSW

People walking into the visitor information centre on Cockatoo Island. The largest island in Sydney Harbour, it once served as a convict prison and shipyard.

Royal National Park

The Royal National Park is a prime destination for breathtaking views of coastal scenery. The Royal National Park is located 29 kilometres south of Sydney’s CBD, and is a convenient day-trip destination to get you into nature and onto some great beaches.

When you explore Royal National Park, you will immediately be impressed by the area’s geographical features. In the coastal areas of the park, you will witness lovely beaches and sheer cliffs. These massive stone guardians form a barrier between the sea and the inland areas.

Travel to one of the rock shelves near a beach like Garie Beach to see tide pools. These lovely pools of water are completely hidden during high-tide, but they remain full during low-tide. You may use these gorgeous natural pools of clear water to swim, or you can search for rare marine species. The innermost portions of the coastal landscape are adorned by heathland.

Garie Beach – Royal National Park, New South Wales

Cliffs and vegetation surrounding Garie Beach, Royal National Park.

The coastal heathland of the Royal National park supports a wide variety of plants and animals that can survive in salty conditions. Walk beyond the heathland to explore bushland that span across low valleys and rolling hills.

If you enjoy relaxing days near the sea, visit one of Royal National Park’s much-loved beaches. Wattamolla Beach is a popular destination for both sunbathers and sightseers. This stretch of soft sand is nestled below massive rock formations. You may hop across the large boulders to access a stunning lookout above the sea.

Wattamolla Beach – Royal National Park, New South Wales

Families and friends enjoying the day at Wattamolla Beach in Australia’s Royal National Park.

Challenge your endurance and bush skills by following the Coast Track. This difficult 26-kilometre route will guide you through the beautiful coastal wilderness between Bundeena and Otford.

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