10 Excellent Sydney Attractions

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On my travels, I have discovered that there are some cities you really need to visit just once. They are very nice cities – don’t misunderstand me here – they just don’t have enough going on to warrant multiple return visits. I can say that Sydney, Australia is not one of those cities. The long list of impressive Sydney attractions makes Australia’s most famous city a multi-visit destination for anyone who loves to go Down Under.

By way of introduction, Sydney is the most populous city in both Australia and Oceania. Many people make the mistake of thinking Sydney is the capital of Australia, but it’s not. That designation belongs to Canberra. But Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales.

You’ll find Sydney on Australia’s south-east Coast on what is known to be the world’s largest natural harbour. It welcomes millions of visitors every year – some estimates suggest as many as half of the total tourists that visit Australia. Sydney offers a tremendous number of things to do within its confines borders, but it’s also a great home base for discovering the Blue Mountains and the Woronora Plateau.

Top 10 Sydney Attractions

Understanding that it will probably take multiple visits to the city for you to truly appreciate all it has to offer, I have put together a list of the top 10 attractions in Sydney to see on your first one or two trips. From there you can build on my list depending on your preferences.

  1. Sydney Opera House Backstage Tour

The Sydney Opera House is one of the most iconic buildings in the world. You cannot mention Sydney, let alone visit, without referencing it. I recommend taking a backstage tour that takes about an hour to complete. Tours depart every 30 minutes during normal business hours; tours are available in six different languages. Individual prices are AUS $37 for adults and $20 for children; the entire family can take the tour for $95.

Sydney Opera House at Night - Attractions in Sydney
Sydney Opera House at Night

 

  1. The Rocks – Sydney History

An important historical area of the city known as The Rocks tells the story of how the British came to be in Australia. Within this region, there are more than 100 heritage sites, including the Rocks Discovery Museum and Cadman’s Cottage. You can browse The Rocks yourself or take a guided walking tour for less than $30. One of the great Sydney attractions.

The Rocks Sydney - Sydney Attractions
The Rocks, Sydney

 

  1. Royal Botanic Gardens

If you are looking for something less expensive in your Sydney attractions, the Royal Botanic Gardens is about as inexpensive as you can get. The free gardens consist of 30 hectares of walking paths, beautiful foliage, research facilities, and wide-open spaces. The gardens offer Aboriginal heritage tours along with a scenic train ride for the kids.

Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens - Attractions in Sydney
Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney

 

  1. Blue Mountains National Park

Although the Blue Mountains are a couple of hours from Sydney, it is well worth the trip. The Blue Mountains National Park is a favourite for trekkers and climbers looking to see a part of Australia that doesn’t seem to get the same kind of attention as the Outback.

Blue Mountains National Park - Sydney Attractions
Blue Mountains National Park

 

  1. Circular Quay

Back in the city itself, Circular Quay is a retail and business district on Sydney Cove. It was originally built by convict labour back in the day. Here you’ll find Sydney’s main ferry terminal along with a large selection of busy cafés, restaurants, shops, and traffic-free walkways. This is also where you can catch one of Sydney’s popular harbour cruises.

  1. Queen Victoria Building

More than 200 shops now occupy the space in the Queen Victoria Building. It is linked to Town Hall Station by a series of underground arcades. The venue is admired for its beautiful architecture as well as the shopping. It is open Monday through Saturday from 9am to 6pm and Sunday from 11am to 5pm.

Queen Victoria Building Sydney - Attractions in Sydney
Queen Victoria Building, Sydney

 

  1. Sydney Harbour Bridge – BridgeClimb

Behind only the opera house in terms of worldwide recognition is the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Admire it from the ground or, if you’re brave, go for the Sydney BridgeClimb. They offer short sampler climbs starting at $158 per adult or, for the more daring, 3.5-hour climbs starting at $278 during the day. Night, twilight, and dawn climbs are also available at a higher cost. So for all the adrenaline junkies out there, this is one of the attractions in Sydney that is sure to get the blood pumping.

Sydney Harbour Bridge - Sydney Attractions
Sydney Harbour Bridge

 

  1. Sydney Tower and Skywalk

The Sydney Tower is the tallest structure in the city. As you might expect, it also offers the best views. You can travel to the top daily from 9am to 10.30pm at the cost of $18.20 for adults and $10.50 for children. You can also have a meal at the Skywalk alfresco viewing platform. There are a number of restaurants and cafés at the Skywalk level.

Sydney Tower - Attractions in Sydney
Sydney Tower

 

  1. Taronga Zoo

It’s not often that people recommend you see a local zoo when you travel. However, the Taronga Zoo in Sydney is an exception. The zoo is located on the north side of the harbour, making it prime real estate for displaying an extensive list of exotic animals. Within the zoo, you will enjoy a koala encounter, the lemur adventure park, and a seal show. There are overnight programmes available during the summer months, as well. Zoo hours vary during the seasons; admission is $44 for adults and $22 for children between 4 and 15. This is one of the more popular Sydney attractions.

  1. World-Famous Sydney Beaches

Every visit to Sydney should include at least one of the world-famous beaches. There are so many to choose from that it’s hard to go wrong. You might start at Bondi Beach, where the surfers love to hang out. If you want something a little more remote, try Cronulla or Manly. Or just ask a local for a recommendation. As I said, you can’t go wrong. When it comes to Sydney attractions, Bondi Beach has to be right up there.

Bondi Beach Sydney - Sydney Attractions
Bondi Beach, Sydney

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Image Attribution:

  1. Sydney Opera House (main image): By Jacques Grießmayer (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
  2. Sydney Opera House at Night: By No machine-readable author provided. AnthonyWinning assumed (based on copyright claims). [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
  3. The Rocks: By Mike Cogh [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
  4. Royal Botanic Gardens: By AussGa (Self-published work by AussGa) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
  5. Blue Mountains: CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=234811
  6. QVB: By Pedro Szekely from Los Angeles, USA (Queen Victoria Building, Sydney) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
  7. Sydney Harbour Bridge: By Adam.J.W.C. (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
  8. Sydney Tower: By Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia – Centrepoint, Sydney Tower, AMP SkywalkUploaded by berichard, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8133761
  9. Bondi Beach: By Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia (The Famous Bondi Beach) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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18 Comments
  1. Patrick says

    Hey Tony, Bro the second I seen the page on Australia I had to read it and digest all the visuals. I love that place, always wanted to go and one day I shall! Thanks for this and great work!

    1. Tony says

      Thanks for your kind words Patrick. Yes, there are a couple here that I wouldn’t mind visiting myself. Problem is trying to find the time at this juncture in my life. One day though, I hope …

  2. Trevor Moy says

    I was here in 1999 – 2000. I remember all these places. I walked over the bridge – scary! One disappointment I had was the opera house. In all the pics that you see it’s beautifully white, when you see it yourself, it’s a smokers yellow. I was on Bondi beach for the millennium. We gate crashed a party on the beach. I remember talking to a policewoman and asking what they do if people jump the fence, her reply was that it was not up to them to stop people doing this so, my friends and I climbed over the fence right in front of her. She did nothing except watch. We were then chased by security guards but soon we were lost in the crowds and the chase was over. Great times!

    1. Tony says

      Great story 🙂

      It’s interesting what you say that about the Opera House. I’ll really need to check that one out. Do you think it’s been done up by now?

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  5. Hari says

    I have always wished to visit Sydney if I ever happened to be in the land down under, I have friends there so I will probably going soon, thanks to your top ten list, I now know where to go. I am very interested to visit the opera house and take a view of city from the Sydney tower..Awesome site Tony, keep up the good work:)

    1. Tony says

      Many thanks for your kind words Hari. Let me know if you ever make it there.

  6. Adrian Prince says

    Hi Tony, my wife and I have had the pleasure of going to Sydney a few times now and we’ve always enjoyed it; I agree with your top 10 list, the only things we haven’t done are the Bridge Climb and Taronga Zoo. When we last went to Sydney, we stayed right near Darling Harbour which has a lot of restaurants, cafes, nightclubs and the Maritime Museum.

    It’s become a real entertainment precinct and I understand James Packer is building a big casino there as well which won’t be ready till 2021. I love the inner city area of Sydney, there’s so much to see and do, you’ve done a good job with this post.

    1. Tony says

      Many thanks for that Adrian. I didn’t know about the casino, so thanks for bringing that one up. I’ll have to check that out for future research/reference.

  7. Scott says

    You have officially made me want to visit Sydney! The Queen Victoria Building looks like nothing I have ever seen before. I don’t know if I could do the bridge climb though. The Sydney Tower reminds me of the CN Tower in Toronto, which I have visited. It would be neat to compare!

    1. Tony says

      Glad you liked it Scott. It’s funny because someone else told me the other day that the tower in Sydney reminded them of the CN Tower.

  8. Eve says

    Interesting post….how expensive is Sydney in terms of the basics like food, getting around, and accommodation? And, is there any specific place in the city you would recommend for someone who has never been?

    Also, since Australia is home to spiders, snakes and the lot, how should an unfamiliar tourist adapt to the environment, or is there anything in particular we should watch out for? lol

    1. Tony says

      Many thanks for your comment. In answer to your first question, check this page out; it’ll answer everything: http://www.priceoftravel.com/9/australia/sydney-prices.

      Every where in my post would be the answer to your second question. But, of course, I would say that, lol. In all fairness though, there are just so many things to do in Sydney that it would be impossible to list them all on one page. And for your last question: https://www.sydney100.com/snakes-spiders-sharks/.

      Hope this has been helpful.

  9. Cheng says

    Hello Tony,
    I have to agree with you on some cities we just need to visit once. I’ve been to Melbourne several times, and looking at your input on Cairns and Sydney, I see similarities in these cities with Melbourne.
    One thing that draws me to revisit MEL is the National Art Gallery. I can never forget how I enjoyed the Monet exhibition. And I’m getting excited with Van Gogh exhibition, which will be on in April 2017.
    One destination that I think I must visit is Ayers Rock, Central Australia. And I’m wondering what else I can do in Central Australia… any clue? Is it a place you’ll be keen to explore… I’m hoping you can write up on this destination.
    Regards,
    Cheng

    1. Tony says

      Many thanks Cheng. Ayres Rock is right up there at the top of my list for things to see in Australia. I obviously have never been, but I can’t wait to actually see it ‘in the flesh’, as it were 🙂

  10. Janeen says

    Hi Tony, I love this article about Sydney, I have to say, having lived there for three years from 2000 I visited all those places. I agree they are all well worth a visit. Bondi Beach would be my favourite with lots of cafes and people watching. The Bondi Baths and Bondi Surf Life Saving Club for lunch were always a favourite of mine followed by the coastal walk to Coogee. There was usually an art exhibition on the walk once a year which I presume still exists. Janeen

    1. Tony says

      Many thanks for your insights Janeen. Much appreciated 🙂

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