16 April, 2018
Last updated on 29 June, 2022
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Posted by Spaceships Crew
It’s one of Australia’s most significant destinations and for good reason. The culture, innovation and spark of life that permeates this city is just part of why so many people come to visit it each year. With so much going on in Sydney, it’s easy to experience overwhelm, and a bit of anxiety may set in making you wonder if you can get the most out of it during your short trip. If you want your travels to Sydney to be unforgettable, here are 27 of the very top things to do.
1. Actually Watch an Opera at The Opera House
Nearly everyone knows this landmark when they see it. A pristine piece of architecture, tourists will do anything they can to get a look and especially a photo in front of it. This iconic photo is proof that they’ve been there but representative of an experience so generic that nearly everyone who has visited the city has had before.
If you really want an experience that you won’t forget, actually book tickets to see an opera within those picture perfect walls. If you really want to get in-depth with it, book on to a backstage tour that allows you to see the inner-workings of the show you are preparing to see. Grab breakfast and dive into a couple of cocktails at the onsite bar which overlooks the harbour.
Def check out the Opera House in Sydney
2. Stop Lazing Around Bondi Beach
This famous Australian beach is known for edgy vibes, perfect surfing conditions and topless sunbathing. While the thing to do is throw a towel down on the beach and laze under the sun, you should think twice about this if you want it to stand out from other beach experiences. Despite your age, physical shape or skill, book on to a surfing lesson and see what all of the fuss is about. Also, consider packing up your beach blanket and taking one of the scenic coastal walks from Bondi to Coogee or Bondi to Bronte.
3. Climb up The Harbor Bridge
It’s a site that visitors to the city love to see. Many people will look at it with awe, snap a few photos and be on their way. However, there are a whole host of ways to interact with this world-renowned structure. One of the most exhilarating is climbing it. Suit up, follow your guide and start the climb to the top for the best views of Sydney.
Sydney Harbour Bridge: an amazing sight any time of the day | photo: Marek Piwnicki
4. Take a Cruise on The Harbor
Taking to the seas is one of the best ways to explore the harbour. There is a huge selection of cruises that will take you out to explore the waters in a whole variety of themes. Do a dinner buffet, a booze cruise or a journey in a ship the style of those from the 1800s.
5. Wander The Royal Botanic Gardens
Dating back to the 1800s, the facilities are known to be the city’s oldest scientific institution. It’s perfectly located near the harbour so you can enjoy the flora while looking at the stunning views.
6. Dive Into Culture at Darling Harbor
Another harbour, this one is better seen on foot. The area is full of restaurants, bars, shopping and museums; making it a fantastic place for a stroll and a little look into the culture.
7. Have a Thrilling Time at Luna Park
This easy-to-recognise theme park offers an entranceway shaped like a huge mouth. Head inside the illuminated entrance and enjoy the carnival games, roller coasters and delicious fair food well into the evening.
Sydney Luna Park | photo: Annie Spratt (Unsplash)
8. Sydney Olympic Park
The site of the Olympics back in 2000, this area has since been converted into a green space for residents and visitors. It’s full of open spaces and those dedicated to sports and recreation. Swim, cycle, visit the skate park or just bring a picnic and let yourself relax away from the city bustle.
9. Go to The Top of Sydney Tower
If you aren’t afraid of heights, this is the place to get some of the best views in the city. It’s the second largest observation tower in the entire southern hemisphere and you can take an elevator to the top observation deck. Look out over the city, eat a nice meal or enjoy some cocktails while you do your viewing.
10. St. Mary’s Cathedral
If you are into history and love to view outstanding architecture, make sure to put this cathedral on the list. In fact, this cathedral is actually the longest of any in the entire country making it even more special than it already appears to be. Make sure to visit and wander around or take a tour.
11. Do a Pub Crawl
Sydney is absolutely sprawling and there are so many intriguing pubs and bars that you may never get a chance to even make a dent in them. If you want to avoid the overwhelm, book a pub crawl through a tourist office or your hotel so that the hunt for pubs is left up to someone else; leaving you to just enjoy the drinking part.
12. Seek Out The Street Art
One of the best ways to see what the local artists are up to is to check out the art that is displayed on the streets. Wandering around the city to find it can turn into a bit of a treasure hunt, making each mural or painted alleyway doubly exciting. Try wandering around May Lane in St. Peters, Foley Street in Darlinghurst, the Sydney University graffiti tunnel, Sydney steel road in Marrickville, and the Bondi sea wall.
13. Treat Yourself at The Spa
After all of your sightseeing, outdoor activities, caffeine highs and hangovers, there is only one thing left to do. Before you leave the city, treat yourself to some relaxation at one of the many spas. Try out Balmain Bath House where you can get gem-stone healing therapies, drink herbal tea that is on tap, try out acupuncture or get a Reiki massage.
Check out the SpaQ for an old-fashioned barbershop treatment where men can get hot towel facials, coffee and sea kelp contour treatments, an authentic hammam or the Bond treatment where men can get eyebrow and beard trims, a wet shave and a massage from a “bond” girl. Head to The Darling for a hot stone massage or Fleur De Lys Medispa for clay wrap sourced from Morocco.
14. Wander Around Parramatta
History lovers rejoice; this area in Sydney’s western district is the 2nd oldest European settlement on the entire mainland of Australia. The place is full of farms, old buildings, and historical landmarks. It’s not only intriguing but makes for a great escape from city life at least for a day.
15. Take a Foodie Tour
This international city is packed with culture, craft cuisine and a thriving culinary scene. There is almost too much to tackle yourself so consider taking a guided foodie tour. The options are endless and you can choose one that best suits your style. Try a winery tour outside of the city, eat your way through China Town, take a historical culinary tour, a gourmet food tour, a chocolate tour and more.
16. Learn About History on Macquarie Street
Home to a cluster of Sydney’s most historic sites, this street makes for a great stroll back in time. Check out the Mint, the first hospital, Hyde Park Barracks and the Conservatorium.
17. Pop Into a Museum
The city is full of good ones and some of them, like the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Gallery of New South Wales are free to get in to. Wander through the Australian Museum for natural history, the Art Gallery of NSW for classical, Aboriginal art and modern works and the Powerhouse Museum to learn all about technology.
18. See Real Wildlife
Instead of trying to see the animals that are enclosed in the zoo, head off to places around the city to see them in the wild. Go whale watching from Darling Harbor as they make their Pacific migration or stand on the east side of the Opera House at sunset if you want to see the bats feeding. You can also make a trip to Royal National Park to get a glimpse of kangaroos and wallabies too.
19. Learn About The Aboriginals
Aboriginal history is a huge part of Sydney and there are plenty of places around the city to learn more about it. Start with the Meeting of Civilizations interpretive centre, the landing spot of Captain Cook. Look for rock carvings too by visiting various areas such as Kuringai National Park, Balls Head and Berry Island. The Art Gallery of New South Wales also has plenty of aboriginal art to view as well.
20. Do Some Kayaking
There are plenty of waterways around Sydney that will give you the chance to get active and get outdoors while visiting. You can rent one at Manly beach to kayak the harbour, paddle around Royal National Park or paddle down the Georges River leaving from Wororora.
21. Make a Day of Royal National Park
Both one of the oldest national parks in the world and part of the Australian National Heritage list, Royal National Park is definitely worth a visit. There are cycling and walking trails, a tramway, and mountain biking paths. Visitors can do the Coastal Walk, go camping and hiking throughout the different ecosystems that exist here. There are also multiple beaches here to visit, some of them even allow nudity.
22. Partake in The Café Culture
Café culture in Sydney is strong and there are almost as many of them to check out as there are bars. If you want to take a break from being active and sightseeing, opt for a mini-tour of the cafes. Sit down, enjoy a Flat White and watch the city go by. Some of the top places to check out include Coffee Alchemy, Campos Coffee, and Three Blue Ducks.
23. Experience The Fish Markets
Since it is a city of harbours, it only makes sense that this destination would be full of intriguing fish markets. Many of them can be found in Pyrmont where you can choose your own fresh seafood and have it cooked for you.
24. Relax at Manly Beach
Alright, here’s a beach where you can spend some quality time getting some R&R. With the shops, bars, nightclubs and restaurants here, you won’t find yourself getting bored. Lounge on the beach, take a swim and just take some time to enjoy yourself in the sun.
25. Take a Cooking Class
Why not learn something new while visiting this great city? While you’re at it, you might as well dive into the culinary scene in a way that doesn’t only involve shoving food into your face at one of the restaurants. There are plenty of cooking schools throughout the city and you can learn a few new recipes to take home with you while still getting to try the food. Try taking a class at Brassiere Bread, Salt Meats Cheese, Sydney Seafood School or The Cooking School.
26. Explore The Rocks
OK, so it’s not literally a pile of rocks. This area has much more to offer than just that. North of the city centre, this historical area is characterized by its sandstone buildings, culture, nightlife scene and laneways. Make sure to check it out both during the evening and during the day.
27. See Some Live Music
Sydney has a lot going on in the ways of innovative and quality live music. Try to catch a live show at one of these venues; The Metro Theater, Oxford Art Factory, Enmore Theater or the Vanguard.