11 of the best things to do in Sydney
With great weather, famous attractions, incredible nature, rich history, a cool creative scene and an enviable lifestyle, Sydney is one of the world’s greatest cities to explore over a weekend or a week.
Whether you want to see the iconic Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, laze about on Bondi Beach, or book tables at the hottest cafes and restaurants, Sydney has something for every type of traveller. If you’re exploring the city for the first time, tick off these quintessential Sydney experiences and get to know where the locals hang out.
Climb the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge
Ascend to the summit of the world’s largest steel arch when you tackle the BridgeClimb Sydney. This exhilarating experience takes you across Australia’s famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, offering incredible 360-degree views over the city and the water. Your guide will share juicy stories and facts about the iconic bridge, which has been a Sydney landmark for nearly 100 years, and delve into its engineering and cultural history.
Catch a show at the world-famous Sydney Opera House
Sydney’s other architectural masterpiece is the Sydney Opera House, with its instantly recognisable sails. Within the halls, designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, there are always performances and concerts going on, so take a look at the schedule and take advantage of your chance to see this legendary beauty from within.
Alternatively, join a guided tour and learn about the venue’s history, as it continues to challenge conventions and celebrate culture. If you don’t catch a show, at least stop for a drink at the Opera Bar and enjoy views of this spectacular and inspiring space, along with the Sydney Harbour and its famous bridge.
Bondi to Coogee Coastal walk
Lace up your sneakers and put on your activewear – it’s time to hit the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk. Popular with locals looking for sunshine, sea breezes and a chance to sweat it out, this paved oceanfront trail is a must-do in Sydney. Soak up the beachfront views with a flat white or takeaway juice in hand, then pause at a cafe for brunch and take a dip at the world-famous Bondi Beach. Don’t forget a hat and sunscreen!
Learn to surf at Bondi Beach
While you’re in Bondi, why not tick surfing off your bucket list? Let’s Go Surfing will take you out into the ocean where qualified surf instructors will teach you how to ride waves and give you all the best tips and tricks to perfect your timing and wave riding. Plus, there’s no better place to learn than at one of Australia’s best and most famous stretches of sand.
Take a dip at the famous Icebergs Pool
If you prefer cutting laps to navigating waves, take a swim at Australia’s most photographed ocean pool – the famous Icebergs. This 50-metre saltwater pool is set right on the beach at Bondi and entry gives you access to both the pool and a sauna.
Treat yourself to a spectacular meal
As one of the world’s great cities, Sydney is home to an unbeatable dining scene where it’s hard to put your foot wrong. Lock in a reservation at one of the city’s top spots helmed by big-name chefs and rising stars for a meal to remember. Try Margaret, Mr Wong, Cafe Paci, Saint Peter, Quay, Sixpenny, Long Chim or Restaurant Hubert, just to name a few.
Shop through the city centre
Sydney is home to a brilliant fashion scene. Shop your way through the streets of the city centre around George St and Pitt St, including the architecturally rich and historic Queen Victoria Building (QVB).
This grand 1890s-built neo-Gothic masterpiece is now home to more than 180 of the city’s top boutiques, jewellers and homewares stores, plus cool cafes and restaurants set over five levels. Go window shopping or simply admire the original stained glass windows, wrought-iron balconies and mosaic floors.
Embrace nature at the Royal Botanic Gardens
The Royal Botanic Gardens form a 30-hectare oasis in the heart of the city. Wander over when you need a break from the concrete jungle and kick off your shoes to feel the grass beneath your feet.
The gardens, which opened in 1816, are filled with native and exotic species, including rare and threatened flora. You can even join a bush tucker or Aboriginal heritage tour with a First Nations guide to see the gardens through the lens of the Gadigal people.
Take the ferry to Manly
You’ll no doubt see city ferries criss-crossing the water as you stroll around Sydney. Now it’s your turn to jump on a boat and take a half-day or full-day trip to Manly, a suburb on the northern shores of the city. On the half-hour journey you’ll pass the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, Taronga Zoo and plenty of harbourside beaches and to-die-for properties.
Manly Beach was home to the world's first surfing contest back in 1964, and its stunning 1.5 kilometre stretch of golden sand is lined by towering Norfolk pines. Here you can learn to surf, take a swim in the ocean, walk the foreshore or just enjoy fish and chips by the beach.
Find your wild side at Taronga Zoo
This not-for-profit zoo isn’t just for kids. Meet lions and tigers and bears as you unleash your wild side at Taronga Zoo. Say g’day to more than 4,000 animals, from local koalas and kangaroos to exotic, rare and endangered species such as giraffes and elephants at this award-winning harbourside zoo.
Meet and greet Sydney’s unique residents as you enjoy views over the harbour while wandering the pathways. Take a 12-minute ferry to get here from the CBD, and make sure you leave time for the daily keeper talks and free-flight bird show.
Tick a cultural institution off your list
Fans of art and culture shouldn’t skip a visit to one of Australia’s foremost cultural institutions. Within the halls of the Art Gallery of NSW, you can expect to see around 40 exhibitions a year, including shows that pull from the gallery’s significant collection of Australian, European and Asian art.
Here on a Wednesday? You’re in luck – the gallery is open late until 10pm with workshops, talks and film screenings.
Hungry for more epic things to do in Sydney? How about going under the sea at Sealife, attending a drag show in Australia’s LGBTQIA+ capital, or riding the ferris wheel at Luna Park? There’s so much more to see and do in spectacular Sydney – this is just the tip of the Icebergs!