Experience fine dining, opera, coastal walks and history on this Top 10 list of things to do in Sydney.
Sydney's combination of surf beaches, a sparkling natural harbour and the Sydney Opera House is irresistible. In addition to its man-made wonders, Sydney is blessed with many natural assets, such as beautiful public gardens, harbour islands and unspoilt foreshores. An excellent transport system and tailor-made tours make Sydney a joy to explore.
Visit the animals of Taronga Zoo at their incredible waterside address. The zoo houses 2,900 exotic and native species including gorillas, tigers, leopards, chimpanzees, giraffes, kangaroos and koalas and is a short ferry ride from Circular Quay. For the ultimate sleepover, book the Roar & Snore package, where guests camp overnight at the zoo.
Walk around Circular Quay and see why the Sydney Opera House continues to dazzle. With a varied and full program, the Opera House is one of the city’s busiest music, arts and performance venues. To learn about the inner workings of this icon, take a Backstage Tour. These tours are highly informative and available in several languages, including Japanese, Mandarin and French.
Nicknamed “The Coathanger”, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a great engineering feat, originally opened in 1932. Visitors are free to walk or cycle across this vast structure that spans Sydney Harbour. Better yet, book one of the many BridgeClimb expeditions which will take you high into the superstructure. No special climbing skills are required – twilight and dawn climbs are available.
There are several beaches near Bondi that are just as beautiful, including Tamarama, Bronte and Coogee. To appreciate this amazing piece of coastline, join the Bondi to Coogee Walk which links all these beaches and showcases Sydney’s finest ocean views. There are also plenty of cafés en route, interesting landmarks and naturally, some great swimming spots.
Dine at Quay – with stunning views of Sydney Harbour, it’s renowned as one of the best restaurants in the world. In the heart of the city, Australian Restaurant of the Year winner Sepia features Japanese-inspired contemporary food and wine. Don’t miss Rockpool, a fine-dining gem that blends sophisticated classics with Asian flavours.
Delve under the glossy exterior and you’ll find a colourful history. The Rocks is an historic reminder of the colonial era. While visitors can wander the cobbled laneways, The Rocks Walking Tours provide an entertaining portrait of Australia’s first European settlement. Complete your history lesson by visiting Fort Denison, an island with its own mini fort and canons.
Taking a ferry ride to Manly remains one of Sydney’s signature travel experiences, but sailing your own yacht on the harbour is even better. A number of companies, including Sydney By Sail, offer yacht charters. Why not sign up for a sailing lesson on one of the world’s most dazzling waterways?
The beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens are extensive and a place of scientific research, running many educational programs. There are walking paths and scenic train rides for kids. Learn about the gardens through free-guided walks through the 30-hectare site, plus special Aboriginal Heritage Tours and sample tasty bush foods.
With its postcard-perfect sweep of golden sand and sparkling water, Sydney's Bondi Beach attracts visitors from all over the world, and many hope to make Bondi the first place they ride a surfboard. The good news is that it's easy to surf Bondi's waves, thanks to Lets Go Surfing's range of lessons. Visitors can sign up for a two-hour beginner's lesson or a private lesson for one-on-one instruction and experience the thrill of surfing in an iconic location.
Famous for its blue-tinged escarpment and Three Sisters rock formation — along with graceful hotels and quaint townships — the Blue Mountains National Park is just a few hours from Sydney. The mountains have been a popular spot for walkers, climbers and outdoor types for 100 years so get active and try a spot of mountain biking or abseiling.