With Sydney's breathtaking views, excellent public transport, and foodie culture, what's not to love? This famous city has plenty to do, from iconic landmarks and stunning beaches to cultural institutions and parks.
15 Things To Do in Sydney Australia on Your Next Visit
Sydney isn't the cheapest city to visit, but that doesn't mean you must empty your wallet. There are plenty of affordable or free things to do. Our list of 15 items includes the best things to do in Sydney Australia on your next visit.
1. Luna Park
The iconic Luna Park, with its 1930's art deco style, stands out along the Sydney Harbor. It's just a short ferry ride from Circular Quay, and you'll enjoy beautiful views of the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House on your way.
Luna Park is a carnival-themed amusement park modeled after the original in Coney Island, New York. Entry is free, but if you want to go on rides, you'll need to purchase a wristband that gives you all-day access to its original and newly developed rides.
It still possesses the same '30s style, glamor, and eccentricity but with modern additions of thrill rides. While you may want to get here early to make the most of your Day Pass, you must experience the beautiful view atop the Ferris Wheel at night. Lines for food are long, so if you properly fuel up ahead, you won't waste time standing in a long queue for a sad serving of fries.
Luna Park is a must-do in Sydney and the perfect way to kick off your trip with adventure and thrills. This location has been impressively maintained and continually developed, putting its Melbourne counterpart to shame. In 2021, the park added nine new rides that appeal to younger children and older thrill seekers.
2. The Opera House
You can't talk about Sydney without conjuring up an image of the Sydney Opera House. It's like New York City without the Empire State Building or Egypt without the Pyramids. The Opera House is conveniently right next to Circular Quay.
The iconic arches of this building can be appreciated from afar, up close, or inside. The photo-op in front of the Opera House is obligatory on any trip to Sydney at this point.
The Opera House gets 10.9 million visitors annually and is one of the landmarks on everyone's bucket list. My recommendation? Don't just stand outside it for a picture; go inside!
The grand architecture of this building cannot be fully appreciated unless you experience it in all its glory. That means going to see a show in one of its inside theaters. Thanks to the remarkable acoustics, any seat in the house will leave you with second-to-none sound quality.
So many shows pop-up in the Opera House, including plays, dances, singing performances, and other acts. If you don't think a show is for you, then daily tours operate inside the building and are an hour long for $43 per person. You can even dine at one of the restaurants inside or enjoy a luxurious drink at the Opera Bar.
3. Bondi Beach
Bondi beach deserves an entire day on your itinerary to fully explore the beach town, lounge on the picturesque beach, swim in the Bondi Icebergs Club pool and stroll along the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk.
Bondi beach is just as beautiful as the postcards and Bondi Rescue would have you believe. As one of Australia's most famous surf beaches, there's plenty to enjoy, whether basking in the sun, catching some waves, or using the skate park conveniently located directly on the beach.
When you work up an appetite, you should explore the surrounding hole-in-the-wall shops and dining restaurants. One such small shop, Funky Pies, offers a delicious assortment of vegan Australian meat pies in a bohemian cafe.
4. Bondi Icebergs Club and Coastal Trail
Bondi Icebergs Club is a popular tourist spot along Bondi Beach, where you can swim in seawater pools overlooking the ocean. The pools are so close to the sea that the waves crash into them. You can also grab a bite to eat or a coffee while you're here.
Before calling it a day, you have to walk along the coastal trail that travels from Bondi beach to Coogee, overlooking the ocean, rock pools, cliffs, and unbelievable views that will have you wishing you had brought a GoPro with you. If the 3-hour walk is too intensive for you, you can make the shorter hour-long trail, which takes you to Bronte beach.
5. Queen Victoria Building
In the heart of the CBD, you can find the Queen Victoria Building (QVB), one of the city's oldest, most beautiful shopping centers. It's so architecturally captivating on both the inside and outside that you'll often find wedding parties taking photos here.
With over 162 boutique shops, specialty stores, and cafes spread along five levels, this building takes up an entire city block of George Street. You can get a fantastic cup of coffee at one of the many coffee shops inside, but I recommend Underground Espresso.
Half the glory of shopping in QVB is being taken aback by the sheer elegance of the spiral banisters, stained glass windows, and European architecture. The building is decadent and rich in history since it was built in 1893.
The shopping selection includes luxury designer brands, cafes offering afternoon tea, and jewelry stores. A breathtaking and sizable Christmas tree, decked in Swarovski crystals and dazzling lights, is placed under the glass dome during Christmas.
6. Royal Botanic Gardens
If Australia is known for anything, it's vast plots of lush gardens filled with plants, flowers, and tranquil water features, usually located right next to a river. If you need a break from the city, the breathtakingly peaceful stroll through the garden is an effective stress reliever.
With ample sunshine, over 28,000 plants from over 8,000 species are home to certain wildlife like birds and possums. The expansive botanic gardens stretch over 74 acres and pass through several great tourist spots. It takes about 1 to 2 hours to cover the entire thing, but it depends on how much of the garden you want to explore.
As you stroll along the harbor, you get magnificent views of the Sydney Harbor bridge and the Opera House in the background. This pristine garden has been magnificently maintained and is the perfect place to picnic in the middle of the day.
It's not often that one of the best things a city has to offer is entirely free. There are some incredible historical artifacts and locations that you will spot along your walk, including Fort Dension. This island was a prison for convicts in the early days of Sydney's settlement.
7. Circular Quay
You can think of Circular Quay as the central hub in Sydney, as it's located right off the harbor, positioning you right in front of the infamous Sydney Harbor Bridge. It's situated between the Sydney Opera House and the Royal Botanic Gardens.
8. Sydney Harbor Bridge
If you want to get closer to the bridge, along with a beautiful view overlooking Circular Quay and the harbor, you can pay to do the bridge climb, which is a few hundred dollars. Alternatively, you can climb the Pylon Lookout, which is connected to the bridge and has an interesting museum inside.
While this lookout is lower than climbing over the highest points of the bridge, it is only a fraction of the cost at $19 per person and still provides beautiful city views. Undoubtedly, this area is jam-packed with tourists clamoring for photos, but you'll also find many dining options offering unparalleled views and impressive street performances.
9. Contemporary Art Museum and The Rocks
Food and drink options in this area are pricier than elsewhere in the city, given the location, but having a glass of wine or a cup of coffee overlooking such a beautiful view is worth the extra few dollars. In the area, you can go to the Contemporary Art Museum, which is free.
Since Circular Quay is the main station for ferries, this would be the best place to enjoy views of the harbor onboard and travel to another area via ferry. A short distance from Circular Quay is The Rocks, a town paved with old cobblestone streets and rich in history. You'll find plenty of old pubs, markets, and historical museums.
10. New South Wales Art Gallery
These are separate buildings, but they're best explored on the same day if you want a taste of Sydney's history and culture. The Art Gallery of NSW is about 15 minutes away from the city center, and entry is free for all visitors.
Browse through the collections of aboriginal, Asian, contemporary, and Australian art, or take a free guided tour. Museums and art galleries naturally go together. They're like an extension of one another, giving you a glimpse into the past through depictions in paintings or carefully preserved artifacts.
11. The Australian Museum
The Australian Museum has excellent exhibitions on Australian history and culture. You need to check out the Wild Planet and dinosaur exhibitions. There's a section of the museum that displays 200 treasures of the museum, all with fascinating backstories.
12. State Library of New South Wales
Finally, stop at the State Library of New South Wales to end your night. Bookworms will be fascinated by the vast collections of books, but this library also has broad appeal for its stunning architecture.
The beauty of this building is so mesmerizing that you'll often find bridal parties taking photos on the steps. It is a great quiet, peaceful place to get some work done, find some peace, or silently reflect on your day as you browse through the collections of books and admire how silent it is inside.
13. St. Mary's Cathedral
You don't need to be religious to admire the mysticism of a beautiful gothic cathedral. St. Mary's Cathedral is a famous church in Sydney and a major tourist destination. There are free guided tours every Sunday at 2 pm.
If there isn't a service, you can walk around and take in the beauty of the grand arches and fine craftsmanship. You'll spot over 40 pictorial stained glass windows as you walk around.
St. Mary's Cathedral is the longest church in Australia and is completely free to visit. The beautiful scenery of Hyde Park also surrounds the location. The divine inspiration for this church can be best experienced during a service when both locals and tourists join together in prayer.
14. China Town
If you're looking for cheap eats and affordable shopping in a cultural enclave, China Town is the place to be! It is a great nighttime spot to get a delicious meal for a reasonable price. If you still need to pack any minor necessities or gadgets, you can find them at a discounted price in many shops here.
It is the largest China Town in the country, and it's lined with markets, shops, restaurants, Chinese art, and architecture. You aren't limited to Chinese cuisine either, as you'll find many Asian culinary options, including Japanese, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and Korean food.
Another tourist attraction on this list is Paddy's Markets, located just next to China Town in Market City. A wide variety of accessories, souvenirs, and apparel are on sale here at a discounted price compared to anywhere else in Sydney.
Don't buy your souvenirs in the CBD. You can get a ton of artfully crafted souvenirs for a fraction of the price at Paddy's Markets! The markets offer hundreds of stalls open from Wednesday to Saturday, 10 am to 10 pm.
15. Darling Harbor
One of my favorite areas in Sydney, Darling Harbor, is home to many exciting shopping outlets, dining options, and entertainment precincts. You can enter Darling Harbor through a walking bridge over Sydney Harbor.
Some standouts in the area are the Chinese Garden of Friendship, a beautiful and serene heritage-listed garden, and Darling Square, a cultural food mecca featuring food from over 20 countries.
There are plenty of museums to visit on the waterfront, like the Australian National Maritime Museum or Madame Tussauds. Darling Harbor has many activities for kids and nightlife for adults, including rooftop bars and The Star, Sydney, a 5-star hotel featuring a 24-hour casino.
Final Thoughts on Sydney
Sydney has excellent weather, people, and food, so even when you aren't jumping from tourist attraction to tourist attraction, you'll enjoy your time in this mesmerizing city. There is plenty to check out, and everything is close to each other. Best of all, public transport is cheap and easy to use, so you can easily explore Sydney's many destinations.
This article was produced by The Money Dreamer and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.