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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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- Sydney Opera House (main image): By Jacques Grießmayer (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- 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
- The Rocks: By Mike Cogh [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- 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
- Blue Mountains: CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=234811
- 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
- Sydney Harbour Bridge: By Adam.J.W.C. (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- 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
- 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