Sydney is a beautiful seaside city lying on the East Coast of Australia. As a major city, it’s one of Australia’s top digital nomad hotspots. The modern city has everything that every digital nomad seeks. If you’re here to explore, plenty of amazing things are waiting for you. Sydney is famous for its scenic harbour, the Opera House, and Bondi Beach. But there’s more to discover in this massive city.
Sydney offers fun activities and attractions guaranteed to delight all kinds of visitors. You can walk the harbour bridge, cruise around Circular Quay, relax at Sydney’s golden beaches, or soak up the relaxing vibe at the Royal Botanic Garden.
Refer to this Sydney travel guide if you’re wondering what to see and do in this incredible city.
1. Walk the Sydney Harbour Bridge
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. Thus, one of the top things to do in Sydney is to walk along this bridge, considered the largest steel arch bridge in the world. Just like the famous Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco, walking over Sydney Harbour Bridge is only possible from one side since the other side is for cyclists.
During your walk, you can marvel at the most breathtaking views of the harbour and the other famous attractions, such as the Opera House, The Rocks, and Fort Denison. If you are adventurous enough, consider climbing the bridge’s 135-meter-high summit, where you can admire the best views of the harbour from above.
2. Marvel at the Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House is Australia’s most famous landmark. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s one of those attractions you should see while on a visit to Sydney. The graceful building glitters magically by the harbour and is a fascinating sight, especially at night.
There are various ways to admire the Sydney Opera House. You can take a relaxing cruise at the harbour and get your photo taken by the opera, dine at one of its restaurants, or wander around its exterior. You can also join organized tours with a local guide who will share insights about this famous structure. It’s also worth exploring its interiors, where you will find studios, exhibition centers, a concert hall, theaters, and a cinema.
3. Go on a Cruise around Circular Quay
One of the best ways to admire Sydney’s charm is on a cruise around Circular Quay. These cruises depart from Circular Quay, home to the main ferry terminal of Sydney. Cruising is a more relaxing and scenic way to go sightseeing in the city, taking you past all the highlights by the harbour, from the Opera House to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Fort Denison. Learn interesting sights about these famous sights as your boat glides along the harbour, and take as many photos as possible!
Some cruises will come with audio commentators where you learn fascinating facts about the places you will pass along the way. Aside from sightseeing cruises, there are also whale-watching cruises departing from Circular Quay, perfect for those who want to discover Sydney’s marine life.
4. Relax at the Darling Harbour
After going around the city, the best way to relax is to visit the Darling Harbour, a picturesque waterfront on the western side of Sydney’s CBD district. Home to shops, restaurants, cafes, entertainment venues, museums, an aquarium, and an IMAX theatre, it’s a popular hub for locals and tourists alike.
Some attractions you will find at the Darling Harbour include the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, Wild Life Sydney Zoo, and the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, which houses the world’s biggest collection of local marine creatures. Head to the Powerhouse Museum and enjoy the interactive exhibits about technology, science, design, and history. As you stroll around the harbour, you can stumble upon the colorful street art at the Street Art Trail.
5. Shop at the Queen Victoria Building
If you want to indulge in some retail therapy, the Queen Victoria Building is the best place to be. The Romanesque-style building is stunning, so even if you don’t plan to shop, it’s still worth a visit. As you wander around the building, marvel at the colorful mosaic floors and stained-glass windows of this wonderfully restored historic building.
One of the building’s highlights is the high central dome, surrounded by 20 smaller domes. The elegant structure was built as a market hall around the 1800 and later restored to its former glory. It’s now home to hundreds of high-end shops and boutiques.
6. Have a Picnic at Hyde Park
Named after London’s Hyde Park, Sydney Hyde Park is the oldest park in Australia and a great place to relax and enjoy a picnic. Set in the heart of the city, it has sprawling lawns, colorful flowers, lovely fountains, and shady areas for a picnic. Hyde Park offers the perfect setting to escape the bustling streets of Sydney and has become a popular place for locals to unwind and spend quality time with friends and family.
The 16-hectare park is also home to several monuments, such as the Archibald Fountain, built in 1932 to commemorate the alliance of Australia with France during WWI. At the southern end of the park, you will find the Art Deco Anzac War Memorial, built to honor the victims of the war. Head to the east side, and you’ll find the Australian Museum, holding a vast collection of the country’s natural history.
7. Soak up the Relaxing Vibe at the Royal Botanic Garden
Another tranquil place to relax in Sydney, away from the hustle and bustle, is the Royal Botanic Garden. Founded in 1816, the green oasis is only a short walk from the famous Sydney Opera House and is considered the oldest botanic garden in Australia. It has about 30 hectares of gorgeous gardens with towering trees, orchids, palm groves, ferns, tropical gardens, rainforests, and succulents.
Nature lovers will find the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney a fascinating place to explore, especially the Palace Rose Garden, which has over a thousand roses. Another highlight is the Latitude 23 Glasshouse, with striking begonias, tropical foliage, and orchids. Aside from relaxing at the park, you can also join guided walking tours.
8. Stroll Around the Barangaroo Reserve
Another fantastic place for nature lovers in Sydney is the Barangaroo Reserve, a waterfront park with scenic walking and cycling paths and various trees and grassy areas. The area used to be an unsightly container terminal before it was converted into a tranquil oasis. It opened to the public in 2015 to promote sustainability and enhance the community’s well-being.
The 22-hectare waterfront reserve has more than 75,000 native shrubs and trees. It’s a beautiful place to stroll around and has several shops and restaurants. Hike the Wulugul Walk, a scenic waterfront trail starting at the northern end of the reserve and extending for two kilometers between Darling Harbour and Walsh Bay.
9. Check out George Street
One of Sydney’s most popular areas to stroll is the bustling George Street, which lies in the city center. Considered the oldest street in Australia, it used to be a nameless track where convicts used to walk to fetch water supplies. Nowadays, it’s now one of Sydney’s most bustling streets with several shops and restaurants.
As you wander around George Street, keep your eyes peeled on the beautiful buildings featuring different architectural styles. One of the buildings that stood out is the Queen Victoria Building, with its gorgeous Romanesque-style structure complete with stained glass windows and mosaic floors. Another famous structure along George Street is the Sydney Town Hall, one of the city’s landmarks built in 1869. You will also find the St. Andrew’s Cathedral in the area, which has a neo-Gothic architectural style built in 1868.
10. Lounge at the Beach
Your visit to Sydney won’t be complete without visiting one of its beautiful beaches. Many beaches surround Sydney’s harbour, including sheltered coves with powdery white sands and calm waters. Of all these beaches, Bondi Beach is the most popular. In fact, it has become an icon of Sydney.
What’s great about visiting Bondi Beach is you don’t need to travel far since it’s only a short drive from the city. It’s a wonderful place to relax and bask in the sea, sun, and sand. Those who are into surfing will find great ways to surf in Bondi. What’s more, the area is home to fantastic beachside cafes overlooking breathtaking ocean views and is a great place to relax and enjoy some refreshments. If you fancy taking a walk, take the coastal trail along the cliffs towards Coogee Beach.
11. Wander around the Rocks
One of the best ways to soak up Sydney’s history is to stroll around The Rocks, a picturesque area protruding into Sydney Harbour. The historic area used to house the Gadigal aboriginal people until it became the first European settlement in the country. Nowadays, the area has numerous heritage sites and historic buildings along its narrow streets, including Cadman’s Cottage, the oldest surviving house in Sydney.
While exploring the Rocks, check out the Discovery Museum, where you will learn about the area’s history as a convict slum before being converted into a popular tourist spot. If you come here around 1 PM, you can join a 30-minute guided tour, where you learn more about The Rocks’ fascinating history. After wandering around its cobbled streets, check out the shops selling handicrafts and all kinds of souvenirs. You will also find numerous cafes and restaurants to rest in between exploring.
12. Discover Wildlife at the Taronga Zoo
Wildlife lovers should visit Taronga Zoo, where you can see different animals up close. Surrounded by spectacular city views, it lies along the northern part of the harbour and is home to iconic Aussie wildlife and other animals. Some of the highlights include the Tiger Trek and the African Savannah Exhibit.
There are also animal shows and keeper presentations on some days, which makes for a more enjoyable experience. Visitors will have the chance to meet Asian elephants, feed the giraffes, and get close to kangaroos and koalas!
13. Visit the Art Gallery of New South Wales
Visiting the Art Gallery of New South Wales should be one of the top things to do in Sydney, especially for art lovers. The art museum is housed in a beautiful building surrounded by stunning parklands. It has a vast collection of art pieces ranging from the works of top Asian artists to European masters. The gallery also features Australia’s extensive collections of Aboriginal art pieces.
The art museum has recently been renovated and now occupies a vast exhibition area flowing through indoor and outdoor spaces. After admiring the art collections, relax at the museum’s café or restaurant, or shop for souvenirs from the gallery gift shop.