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21 BEST Places to Visit in Sydney (including Hidden Gems!)

21 BEST Places to Visit in Sydney (including Hidden Gems!)

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Sydney is not just a big city, but a very diverse one. It’s one of the most multicultural cities in the world, which means that there are lots of distinct and interesting neighborhoods to explore, and it’s also known for its dramatic landscapes and epic skyline. So it should really come as no surprise that there are a ton of amazing places to see in Australia’s most-visited city!

And of course, it pretty much goes without saying that there are a ton of famous landmarks to see while you’re here, including the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Whether you have one day in Sydney or are here for a while, you’ll want to visit these world-renowned places!

In fact, there’s so much to see in Sydney that it’s honestly difficult to know where to begin. But after traveling here a ton of times (and even living here, in Bailey’s case), we can definitely tell you with confidence where the best places to visit in Sydney are. 

Don’t have time to read the full article? Here’s a list of our absolute favorite places to visit in Sydney:

  1. The Sydney Opera House is one of the most stunning landmarks in Australia – take this behind-the-scenes tour if you have the time!
  2. Visit The Rocks, and take this walking tour to learn about the fascinating, dark, and sometimes bizarre history of Sydney’s oldest neighborhood.
  3. For panoramic views of the city, book tickets for Sydney Tower Eye.
  4. Visit Mrs Macquarie’s Chair for beautiful views over the harbor.
  5. At the Royal Botanical Gardens, you can admire many different plants, cute koala sculptures, a rose garden, and a lovely summer meadow – all for free!

Best Places to Visit While in Sydney

1. Sydney Opera House

Bailey on the steps of the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia
Bailey on the steps of the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia
Daniel and Bailey take a selfie inside the concert hall at the Sydney Opera House on a tour
Inside the Opera House!

Of course, we had to start with the Sydney Opera House! It’s one of the most iconic buildings in Australia, and it’s on the foreshore of Sydney Harbour, so you really can’t miss it. 

However, while it’s great to admire the spectacular exterior, you can actually take a tour inside the Opera House, which I highly recommend. 

This hour-long tour will take you behind the scenes at the Opera House and show you parts of the building that the general public doesn’t usually get to see. You’ll learn all about the building’s history which is really interesting – I had no idea what a struggle it was to get construction completed!

Plus, although the building is famously beautiful, I don’t think you can appreciate just how complex the design is until you get to explore inside and see it up close. I think this is one of the best tours in Sydney!

The tour costs $43 AUD per person and runs every day of the week. There are multiple time slots to choose from but make sure you book early because it’s very popular and sells out weeks in advance, especially during the summer!

And if you want to make your tour of the Opera House even more special, you can also choose this upgraded option for $80 AUD, which includes a drink and a meal at either the Opera Bar or House Canteen. Both serve light meals and offer amazing views of the Sydney Harbour! 

2. Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia
Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia
Bailey takes a selfie at Bondi Beach
I love Bondi!

Bondi Beach is another iconic Sydney destination and a total must-visit. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy the ocean – perhaps after a busy morning of sightseeing in Sydney

This is a great beach for swimming, and you can also check out the Bondi Baths at the southern end of the beach. There’s even an Olympic-length pool you can swim laps in if you’re feeling up to it! 

Bondi is also famous for surfing, so if you’ve ever wanted to learn, it’s the ideal place. You can book this 2-hour, small group lesson with a professional instructor who’ll show you all of the basics, so it doesn’t matter if you’ve never surfed before. Plus, this particular surf school is super reputable around Bondi and known for being friendly and welcoming.

The lesson is ideal if you’re looking to have fun and experience Sydney’s famous surfing culture. The lesson ranges from $99-$130 AUD per person depending on the season, and the group is limited to 5 people, so you get lots of attention from the instructor. If you want to get a taste of Sydney’s surf culture for yourself, reserve a spot for this small group surf lesson.

Swimming and surfing certainly work up an appetite, and there are tons of places to eat around Bondi Beach, but our favorite has to be The Depot. It’s a sustainable, family-run cafe and they serve delicious, hearty food, including brunch until 3 pm. We go there pretty much every time we’re at Bondi, and it never disappoints.

To walk off those brunch burgers or eggs benedict, we also love doing the Bondi to Bronte Coastal walk. It’s a short but stunning walk to Bronte Beach, which is like a smaller, less touristy version of Bondi. It’s 2.3 kilometers (1.4 miles) one-way so it’s not too far, although in the summer it’s a good idea to do it in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the midday heat.

And if you’re worried about fitting it all in, you can always take this half-day private sightseeing tour. It includes all of the must-see places in Sydney like the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, as well as taking you to Bondi Beach. 

Since it’s a private tour, you can tailor it to your interests and make sure you get enough time on Bondi’s famous sands. Prices vary between $115-$370 AUD per person, depending on group size. The tour lasts for 4 hours and you can choose to begin at either 8 am or 1 pm. To see Sydney’s most famous sights in a short time, book this Sydney half-day private tour here.

3. Sydney Harbour Bridge

Bailey climbs the Sydney Harbour Bridge at night in Sydney, Australia
I did the climb at night because it was cheaper!

There are multiple free viewpoints around Sydney where you can catch a glimpse of the famous Harbour Bridge. One of the most famous is Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, which we’ll talk about in a bit, but you can also get great views just by hanging out in Circular Quay and while exploring the Opera House.

You can also walk across the bridge, of course. It takes around 30 minutes one way, and the best views are when you walk from north to south. You can’t see much to the west, but you get awesome harbor views on the eastern side, so this is definitely worth doing. 

To really take things to the next level, though, you can do the famous Bridge Climb! This allows you to climb to the top of the famous “coat hanger.” It’s a really thrilling experience and you can see for miles – even as far as the Blue Mountains on a clear day! 

There are a few different options available for the Bridge Climb, and prices range from $294-$424 AUD. Bailey actually did the climb at night to save money and still had a fantastic experience. Plus, after dark, you get to see Sydney all lit up.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney opera House as seen from a cruise in Sydney
The Sydney Harbour Bridge from a cruise in Sydney
Sydney Harbour as seen from a helicopter tour
All the highlights from above on a Sydney helicopter tour!

If you want to enjoy views of the Harbour Bridge in a more leisurely fashion, you can take a lunch cruise in Sydney! My pick is this specific lunch cruise as you’ll sail right past the harbor and get fantastic, close-up views of the bridge, as well as glimpsing lesser-known scenic spots, like hidden beaches and bays. There’s also onboard commentary, so you get to learn more about all the places you pass!

This tour costs $70 AUD per person and we think it’s good value for money because you also get to enjoy a delicious barbecue lunch on board while you’re at it! It starts at 12 pm and lasts for just over 2 hours, which is plenty of time! You can book the Sydney Harbour Discovery Cruise online here.

And last but not least, if you really want to go all out, then you can enjoy amazing aerial views of the Harbour Bridge on this helicopter tour. It lasts for 20 minutes and you see so much of Sydney in that time, from the famous harbor and Circular Quay to the city’s best beaches, like Bondi, Manly, and Coogee. 

We hadn’t taken a helicopter tour in Sydney before and it was absolutely amazing. The helicopter was new and so fancy, and our pilot delivered some really interesting commentary. Plus we even saw whales as we were flying over! The flight costs $240 AUD per person. For the ultimate way to see Sydney Harbour, book this Sydney Harbour Tour by helicopter here.

4. The Rocks 

Bailey walks a small alley in The Rocks, Sydney, Australia
The Rocks is such a cute area!
Bailey enjoys a drink at the Fortunes of War historic pub in The Rocks Sydney while on a historic pub tour
Cheers!

The Rocks is the most historic area of Sydney – in fact, it was the city’s first neighborhood! It’s where settlers set up shop, and many convicts were held here, so this place definitely has a colorful history, to say the least. Plus, you get fantastic views of the Sydney Harbour as you explore the sandstone buildings and cobblestone streets.

We always make sure to visit The Rocks whenever we’re in Sydney because it’s such a fun area to hang out in. One of our favorite things to do here is to visit the pubs, including the oldest pub in Sydney: the Fortune of War

You can even take this historic pub tour and hear all of the seedy secrets as you learn about the gangs, convicts, and ghosts of The Rocks! You’ll visit 4 pubs and the price of the tour includes a drink in each one. This is not only a great way to dive into the history of The Rocks, but also a fantastic way to meet new people while visiting Sydney. 

The tour starts off at Harts Pub. It costs $116 AUD per person and lasts for 2.5 hours. You can go at 2:30 pm or 6:30 pm, but we’d recommend the latter because it’s a fun way to kick off a night out in Sydney. For one of the most entertaining ways to learn about the Rocks, reserve the Rocks Pub Walking Tour online here.

And if you’re in The Rocks on a weekend, then make sure to visit The Rocks Market. It’s on from 10 am until 5 pm and it’s so nice to stroll around and check out all of the handmade goods and delicious food. It’s one of the best places to shop in Sydney, but even if you don’t buy anything, it’s got such a great vibe.

Canon at the The Rocks Discovery Museum in Sydney, Australia
So cool!
Display of old bottles at the The Rocks Discovery Museum
Those are some old bottles!

For food and drink in the Rocks, we love Black and White Espresso Bar. It’s friendly and unpretentious, and the food is so good. They do great bagels and ciabatta sandwiches, or if you want a sweet treat then you can’t go wrong with their cookies! 

Since this is a super historic area, it’s also worth visiting The Rocks Discovery Museum. Here, you can learn about the area’s Aboriginal heritage, as well as the European settlers who lived here, and the days when the larrikin gangs ruled the streets. It’s really interesting and free to visit, so stop in if you’re in the area between 10 am and 5 pm.

And if you want to learn even more about history, you can take this walking tour which will take you through the fascinating, dark, and sometimes downright bizarre history of The Rocks. You’ll learn about the first convicts to arrive in Sydney and what life was like for them, so this tour will also give you a good insight into Australian history as a whole.

It’s also really cool to hear about how The Rocks has transformed over time and survived many struggles, from overcrowding to the plague to almost being torn down by the local government. The tour begins outside the Customs House and it’s one of our favorite walking tours in Sydney!

The tour costs $52 AUD per person and lasts for 2.5 hours, and it’s definitely worthwhile for history fans. It’s leaves at 10:30 am, so it ends just in time for a yummy lunch at Black and White Espresso Bar! Book this Sydney Walking Tour to learn about the fascinating history of the Rocks.

5. The Blue Mountains

Scenic Skyway in Blue Mountain National Park, Australia
Scenic Skyway in Blue Mountain National Park, Australia
The Three Sisters in Blue Mountain National Park, Australia
The Three Sisters in Blue Mountain National Park, Australia

The Blue Mountains is a wilderness area about an hour’s drive from Sydney, where you can really appreciate the dramatic landscapes of New South Wales. It’s probably best known for the dramatic Three Sisters rock formation, but there are also pretty waterfalls, bushwalks, hikes, and even a wildlife park here. 

You can also visit Scenic World, which has rides such as a cableway and a railway, that offer epic views over the entire area. It’s actually home to the steepest railway in the world, as well as a walkway and skyway.

It’s possible to rent a car and visit the Blue Mountains independently, but if you’ve only got a couple of days in Sydney, we think that you’re better off doing a tour. It takes all of the planning out of it and ensures that you get to see all of the area’s highlights. For that reason, we decided to do this all-inclusive tour of the Blue Mountains and had such an amazing time! 

We got to visit lots of secret viewpoints that the larger tour groups just can’t get to and the price of the tour includes entry to Scenic World, so you get to enjoy all of the rides. We especially loved the views of the Jamison Valley and the Three Sisters!

Hanging Rock in Blue Mountains National Park
Hanging Rock in Blue Mountains National Park

You also get a guided walk through the rainforest, during which you’ll hopefully spot some wildlife and a chef-prepared lunch at a local restaurant. 

The tour also includes a visit to Featherdale Wildlife Park, where you can see lots of native Australian animals, including kangaroos and koalas. And finally, the day concludes with a boat ride back to Sydney, so you get a great view of the city as you arrive back.

Basically, we think that this tour is the best way to experience the Blue Mountains in just one day. It costs $285 AUD, including pickup from one of three central meeting points, all entrance fees, lunch, and the boat ride back to Sydney. It lasts for about 11 hours in total and you leave Sydney just before 7 am, so no partying the night before! 

For the ultimate experience in the Blue Mountains, reserve this all-inclusive day trip here!

6. Sydney Tower Eye

Sydney CBD seen from the Sydney Tower at sunset
I could stare for hours!
Food and drinks at a window seat at Bar 83 at Sydney Tower
Food and drinks at a window seat at Bar 83 at Sydney Tower

For panoramic views of Sydney, head up the Sydney Tower Eye. It’s a 360-degree indoor observation deck and it’s one of the best places in the city to admire the skyline. Plus, they even have binoculars that you can use to get close-ups of some of Sydney’s coolest landmarks! 

You also get to learn more about Sydney’s most famous places while you’re up here via interactive displays – although we must warn you, you can’t see the Opera House from here as it’s obscured by other buildings. 

Tickets for the Tower Eye observation deck cost $27 AUD for adults. We booked our tickets in advance and breezed past the ticket queue when we arrived, so we recommend that you do the same. It doesn’t cost any extra, and you save time! 

And if you want to enjoy a really memorable meal while you’re here in Sydney, you can also book the Skyfeast lunch or dinner experience. You’ll enjoy a buffet meal in the Tower Eye’s rotating restaurant, so you’ll basically get to see the whole of Sydney while you dine. It costs $105 AUD (or $120 AUD from Friday-Sunday) and you get 1.5 hours in the restaurant.

There are lots of timeslots to choose from but we should mention that you still have to buy your Sydney Tower Eye admission separately, as it’s not included with the Skyfeast.

If this sounds a little pricey for you, then we’ve also got a great local tip that can save you some money. Instead of heading up to the Sydney Tower Eye, you can visit Bar 83.

It’s one floor below the observation deck and isn’t related to the Tower Eye, so you access it via a separate entrance and there’s no need to buy a ticket. There is a minimum spend of $30 AUD per person, but your money is going towards nice cocktails rather than just admission! You’ll need to book Bar 83 in advance as it’s really popular, and a nice way to see the city. They do accept walk-ins, but it’s better not to risk it. 

7. Darling Harbour 

Bailey poses for a photo while on a walking tour through Darling Harbour, Sydney
Darling Harbour!
Walkway in Darling Harbour Sydney, Australia
Walkway in Darling Harbour in Sydney, Australia

Darling Harbour is the best place to take a nice stroll and soak up Sydney’s glorious atmosphere. You can really get a feel for the city as you walk around this waterfront playground, and there’s plenty to do here, as well. It’s also a great place to visit with kids as there are lots of family-friendly attractions in Darling Harbour. 

For example, you can visit the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, where you can see over 700 species of fish and marine life. There are 14 different themed zones in total, including the Shark Walk and the Great Barrier Reef display, so there’s plenty to see, and you can also watch penguin feedings! Admission costs $41 AUD for adults and $31 AUD for kids normally, or $51 AUD and $38 AUD during school holidays.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested in maritime history, the Australian National Maritime Museum is also located in Darling Harbour. It’s actually considered to be one of the best maritime museums in the world, and it’s a great place to dive into the history of both Aboriginal and European explorers. 

You can also learn about the Australian Navy or discover more about Sydney’s modern-day surfing culture and how it came to be. There are also some awesome ocean science exhibits where you can learn all about what’s going on beneath Sydney’s sparkling waters. Tickets to the Australian National Maritime Museum cost $25 AUD for adults. 

Darling Harbour is also a great place to eat and drink, so you should definitely check out its bars and restaurants. Personally, we like to eat at Anason. It’s a Turkish restaurant with a big focus on vegetarian cuisine, although meat and seafood are on the menu. Whatever you order, it will be super tasty and full of flavor! 

If you want something quick, though, you can always grab one of the yummy cheese toasties from Toastiesmith

Meanwhile, for drinks, Planar is a super trendy spot that serves cocktails that have been perfectly crafted for Instagram, and they’ve got a cute outdoor seating area. Get there between 3-6 pm to score a happy hour deal.

Or for views, head to Zephyr. It’s a rooftop bar on the 12th floor of the Hyatt Regency Hotel and you get amazing views from up here, so it’s the perfect spot for a sundowner.

8. Hunter Valley 

Enjoying a glass of wine on the Hunter Valley near Sydney Australia
Wine anyone?
Hunter Valley wine region
The Hunter Valley!

The Hunter Valley is a famous Australian wine region that’s especially well known for its white wines. There are some fantastic boutique wineries around here, not to mention lovely scenery. It’s about 3 hours away from Sydney by car, making it one of our favorite day trips from Sydney.

But of course, wine tasting isn’t much fun when someone has to be the designated driver, and to be honest, this would be quite a lot of driving in one day anyway. For that reason, we recommend taking a Hunter Valley wine tour from Sydney. Plus, a wine tour selects all the best wineries for you, so you don’t have to spend ages doing research (which would be quite a task, since there are over 150 wineries in the Hunter Valley!).

We think that this small group wine tour gives you a great overview of the Hunter Valley. In addition to visiting three wineries, you’ll also visit a spirit distillery for a vodka and gin tasting, as well as sampling lots of cheese and chocolate along the way. You also get to enjoy lunch at a scenic local spot and you’ll go behind the scenes at one of the wineries to see how the magic is made.

And as a bonus, you might even spot some wild kangaroos along the way, as they’re commonly seen in the Hunter Valley. This tour costs $225 AUD per person and lasts for 11-12 hours in total, so it’s a full-day adventure! For a day filled with wine, gin, cheese, and chocolate, reserve a spot on this Hunter Valley Tour here.

If you appreciate good food as much as good wine, then this full-day gourmet Hunter Valley tour is perfect instead. Your guide is a professional chef, who will take you to the Sydney Fish Market to sample fresh fish and seafood, before heading to some of the Hunter Valley’s top wineries. Here, fine wines are paired with local delicacies like kangaroo steak and barramundi. Truly a unique Aussie experience! 

The tour costs $257 AUD per person which we think is a good deal because the price includes hotel pickup and drop off, breakfast, lunch, multiple wine tastings, and a professional chef as your guide. It departs at around 9 am and is only available on Mondays, Wednesdays, and some Saturdays. Be sure to plan ahead and book your spot early to take this Hunter Valley Gourmet Food and Wine Tour

Related Read: If you’re looking for more food-related sightseeing, Sydney has lots of amazing dinner cruises to choose from! Our absolute favorite is the Journey Beyond Cruise for a gourmet meal and epic views.

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

9. Mrs Macquarie’s Chair

Bailey enjoys the view from Mrs Macquarie's Chair in Sydney of the opera house and harbour bridge
Mrs Macquarie’s Chair
Daniel at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair in Sydney, Australia
I hope you get better weather!

Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is one of the most famous viewpoints in Sydney. You get amazing unobstructed views of the Harbour Bridge from here, as well as the Opera House. 

In fact, the whole reason there’s a sandstone chair here is because Elizabeth Macquarie, the wife of the Governor of New South Wales, used to love to sit here and look out across the water at the ships coming in and out of the harbor.

This was in the early 1800s, so the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House obviously weren’t here back then, but it’s still not hard to see why Lady Macquarie loved this place so much! 

Plus, Mrs Macquarie’s Chair is also super easy to get to. It’s a 20-minute walk from the Opera House, and you can even go via a walk through the Botanic Gardens!

Related Read: For even more views of the harbor, we’ve broken down all the best cruises in Sydney Harbour in this guide.

10. Royal Botanic Gardens 

Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney Australia
Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney Australia
Rose at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Sydney, AUstralia
Beautiful!

And speaking of the Royal Botanic Gardens, they are definitely worth a visit while you’re in Sydney! There are thousands of different plants here, as well as cute koala sculptures, a rose garden, and a lovely summer meadow.

One of the biggest draws, though, is the views of the Sydney Harbour, Harbour Bridge, and Opera House that you get as you stroll through. Plus, it turns out to be one of the best cheap activities in Sydney since the gardens are completely free to wander through!

The gardens are open from 7 am until sunset daily and you can easily walk here from the Opera House.

11. Taronga Zoo

Giragffe at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia
The giraffes!

Taronga Zoo is amazing both in terms of visitor experience, and the conservation work that it does! 

Although it’s one of Australia’s most popular zoos, Taronga Zoo is not-for-profit, so all of the money made from purchasing tickets goes towards research and protecting animals and habitats all over the world. 

The zoo is home to over 5,000 animals from 350 different species, which is pretty impressive. You can see animals here that are native to Australia, such as wombats and koalas, as well as creatures from all over the globe, like giraffes and gorillas! You can also see some wonderful birds in the Australian Rainforest Aviary.

Another big draw here, though, is the view. Taronga Zoo is right across the harbor from the Sydney CBD, so you can enjoy great views while you explore. Plus, it means it’s super easy to get to because you can just hop on the ferry from Circular Quay

Taronga Zoo tickets cost $51 AUD for adults and $30 AUD for kids under 16.

And if you’re planning a fun family day out at the zoo, we think that this tour would be a great experience! As well as your zoo admission, it includes a 1.5-hour guided tour with a zookeeper in either the morning or afternoon, during which you’ll learn a ton about Australian wildlife. Better still, you’ll even get to meet animals who were hand-raised in the zoo, and you can even feed some of them! 

The tour costs $105 AUD for adults and $83 AUD for kids. Your tour group will be small, with no more than 10 people, and the price also includes an all-day access pass for the zoo, so you can carry on exploring by yourself afterward. If you or your kids love animals, book your Taronga Zoo Adventure Tour here!

Related Read: Looking for another place to visit from Sydney? We have the perfect 1-day Melbourne itinerary which makes for a great a great quick trip!

12. Hyde Park 

Huge trees above a path in Hyde Park, Sydney
Huge trees above a path in Hyde Park, Sydney
Anzac Memorial in Sydney, Australia
Anzac Memorial in Sydney, Australia

Hyde Park is a huge park in the Sydney CBD, and it’s a nice place to come and escape the hustle and bustle for a while. Although that’s not to say that nothing is going on in Hyde Park because it’s a prime spot for people watching!

Hyde Park is perhaps most famous for the Anzac Memorial, which is a tribute to all of the Australian military men and women who have lost their lives in conflict since the First World War. This art deco memorial is usually the site of commemoration ceremonies on days like Remembrance Day and Anzac Day.

You can find the memorial in the southern section of Hyde Park, while in the northern part, you can see the more ornamental Archibald Fountain, which commemorates the Australian military’s efforts in France during WWI. 

Aside from war memorials, you can also often find buskers, street dancers, and markets in Hyde Park. It’s always worth taking a stroll to see what’s going on on any given day! 

13. Australian Museum 

Daniel walks The Australian Museum in Sydney Australia
There is so much to see for free!
The Australian Museum in Sydney, Australia
It’s huge too!

The Australian Museum is a free museum, and it’s right on the edge of Hyde Park, so you may as well stop by to check it out! There are usually a few paid exhibits taking place, but we found there’s a ton to explore for free!

The museum is absolutely huge, with almost 22 million artifacts that range from dinosaur fossils to precious gems and cultural objects from all over the world. You can see masks from the Zulu people of South Africa that date back to the 1800s, over 1,000 ancient Egyptian artifacts, Peruvian pottery, and Balinese dance costumes. 

Kids love the Australian Museum, too, because there are tons of creative and interactive experiences to spark their curiosity. There’s even a mini museum just for children on Level 2 where under 5s can play. 

If you’ve got time, you could easily spend 3-4 hours here!

14. St Mary’s Cathedral 

Bailey out the front of St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney, Australia
Bailey at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, Australia
Close up of St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney
It’s just stunning!

St Mary’s Cathedral is a stunning cathedral – in fact, we think it’s easily one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Australia. It’s very grand and it looks like one of those cathedrals that you only find in historic towns in Britain, but nope, it’s made of Sydney sandstone! It’s also the seat of the Archbishop of Sydney.

The cathedral is definitely worth stopping by, especially since it’s really close to both Hyde Park and the Australian Museum. You can also go inside to explore the interior if you want, and it’s free to do so. They do ask for donations, but this is totally voluntary. 

15. Manly Beach

Manly Beach, Sydney
Manly Beach, Sydney
Daniel on the Manly to Shelly Walk
On the way to Shelly Beach!

Manly Beach is our favorite beach in Sydney – sorry, Bondi! 

It’s one of the Northern Beaches, and we always make a beeline to come and hang out here whenever we’re in Sydney. It’s pretty easy to get to since you can catch the public fast ferry from Circular Quay to Manly Beach. You can book online but there’s really no need. We always just turn up on the day and pay for our tickets at the wharf – typically it’s around $10 AUD.

The ferry takes 22 minutes and then voila, Manly Beach is your oyster! There’s so much to do here, but we always make a beeline to get ice cream at Anita Gelato. There’s pretty much always a queue outside unless you get here super early, but trust us, it is oh-so-worth-it. 

The beach itself is about 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) long, and it’s nowhere near as touristy as Bondi, so there’s plenty of space to chill out and relax on the golden sand. There are also flags to indicate where you can and can’t swim, so look out for those if you feel like taking a dip.

It’s not all about lounging around in Manly Beach, though. If you’re up for something a little more adventurous, you can join this guided kayaking tour. You’ll get to see tons of marine life as well as check out the beautiful scenery. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never kayaked before, either, because you’ll be with an expert guide who’ll help you along the way. 

The tour costs $95 AUD per person and it lasts for around 2.5 hours. You can go at 8 am or 11 am, so if you can stomach the early morning, we’d recommend choosing the early option to beat the Sydney heat. Also, bear in mind that the tour isn’t available on Tuesdays or Thursdays. The tour is very popular and typically sells out, so make sure to book your spot on this kayak tour in advance here.

A beer on the balcony of the New Brighton Hotel in Manly, Sydney
New Brighton Hotel in Manly, Sydney

Alternatively, you can also enjoy a spot of snorkeling in Manly Beach with this 2.5-hour snorkel trip and nature walk. You’ll start by taking a short walk along the headlands, where you’ll get awesome views of the northern beaches. Then you’ll head into the water to discover the amazing marine life that the Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve has to offer, including sharks, seahorses, blue gropers, and cuttlefish. 

The tour costs $109 AUD per person, which includes your guided walk and snorkeling session and all necessary equipment, such as rash vests, masks, and wetsuits if the water is cold. It’s usually available on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, but other days of the week vary. If you really want to enjoy the wildlife at Manly Beach, book the Manly Snorkel Trip and Nature Walk here.

And for something a little more low-key, one of our favorite things to do around here is the walk from Manly Beach to Shelly Beach. It only takes around 20 minutes and it’s super easy, but you get gorgeous coastal views along the way, and Shelly Beach itself is just wonderful. 

Shelly Beach is absolutely pristine and it’s surrounded by rainforest on both sides, so it feels like a real hidden treasure. Plus, the sea is calmer here than at Manly Beach, so it’s perfect for swimming.

There are a few nice places to eat on the Manly to Shelly walk, including the Bower Manly Cafe and the Boathouse Shelly Beach. However, if truth be told, we tend to save our appetites for after we walk back to Manly Beach and then head to Dolce Terra Manly for a super healthy AND delicious meal. Honestly, it’s kind of mind-blowing that their food is so nutritious and so satisfying! 

And if in the evening you’re in the mood to visit a pub, head to the New Brighton Hotel. It gives you that classic Aussie pub experience, but it also has a nice balcony with lovely views of the area, so it’s a good place to go for sunset.

16. Royal National Park

Magnificent landscape with ocean and cliffs at the Royal National Park in Sydney, Australia
Royal National Park in Sydney

Royal National Park is 32.6 kilometers (20 miles) from Sydney, and it’s one of the oldest national parks in the world, second only to Yellowstone in the USA.

It’s a huge national park with a lot of natural beauty to see, including some stunning hidden beaches. One of these beaches is Jibbon Beach, which is a beautiful crescent-shaped beach at the eastern end of Bundeena, a village that’s surrounded by Royal National Park.

You can also see lots of Aboriginal engraving sites in Royal National Park, often along the park’s excellent walking tracks. For example, there are many engravings of spirit beings, snakes, and bears to spot along the Uloola Walking Track. This track is 11 kilometers (6.6 miles) long one-way, but it leads to a beautiful waterfall and there’s a campground if you feel like an overnight stay! 

There’s also the Wedding Cake Rock, which is a large sandstone rock that looks like – you guessed it – a slice of wedding cake! You can also visit the Wattamolla Beach area, where you’ll find a small beach and waterfall, and a calm lagoon that’s perfect for swimming or SUPing. 

To be honest, all the stuff we’ve just listed is really only scratching the surface. There’s a ton to see here, so if you’ve only got a day to explore, we recommend taking this private day trip to maximize your time here. 

This tour has a fantastic itinerary that ensures you won’t miss out on any of the highlights at Royal National Park. You’ll see Wedding Cake Rock, several gorgeous beaches, and have time to hang out at Wattamolla Beach. This is a private tour so you can tailor it to your interests and make sure that you don’t miss out on any of the area’s must-see features. Plus, we love the fact that your guide will take photos of your day with a professional SLR camera, and they’ll be sent to you for free afterward! 

The tour costs between $190-$360 AUD per person depending on how large your group is. A group can include up to 6 guests. The price includes transport, lunch, snacks along the way, and photos. It’s a full-day experience, so you’ll be picked up in Sydney at around 9 am and be dropped off again at around 6 pm, although timings are a bit more flexible with a private tour.

We should also mention that Royal National Park is HUGE. In fact, it covers over 150 square kilometers (58 square miles), and a lot of it is pretty wild, so going with a guided tour ensures that you won’t get lost! If you only have a short time to spend in Royal National Park and want to see as much as possible, reserve your private full-day tour here.

17. Port Stephens

A dolphin swims in Port Stephens on a cruise in Australia
A dolphin swims in Port Stephens on a cruise in Australia
Sand dunes in Port Stephens, Australia
The sandboarding was fun!

If you love the great outdoors as much as we do, then you’ve got to visit Port Stephens

Port Stephens is a natural harbour and it’s surrounded by no less than 26 beaches. Plus, there are a ton of water-based adventures to be had here. The area is well known for its dolphin cruises and you can also enjoy paddling, kayaking, and discovering secret swimming holes. During winter, whale watching cruises are also popular.

There are also lots of walking trails in the nearby coastal forest and you can even go sandboarding on the Stockton Dunes, which is so much fun. 

I actually think it’s worth staying for a night or two in Port Stephens, and if you have the time for that, then you can easily drive here or use public transport. However, since Port Stephens is 203 kilometers (126 miles) from Sydney, traveling there and back in a day is a lot of effort.

The good news is that you can experience the best of Port Stephens in a day with this guided tour. It’s so much easier when someone else is taking care of all the logistics for you, and this tour covers three of the best things to do in Port Stephens: a 1.5-hour dolphin cruise, a 4WD and sandboarding adventure on the Stockton Dunes, and enjoying beautiful Stockton Beach. 

The tour costs $179 AUD per person and is only available on Sundays, so plan accordingly! You’ll also need to be up early, because the tour leaves Sydney between 7-7:30 am, and it lasts for around 11 hours in total. You can always nap during the journey, though. To see Port Stephens without any extra hassle, reserve a spot on this Sydney to Port Stephens day trip.

Related Read: To see even more marine life, you can swim with dolphins in Perth!

18. Luna Park

Luna park ferris wheel with a view of the harbor bridge in Sydney, Australia
Luna Park Ferris Wheel with a view of the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, Australia

I won’t lie to you: the clown face entrance to Luna Park terrifies me slightly. But if you can get past the creepy gates, this has to be one of the most beautiful amusement parks around, purely because of its amazing location on Milsons Point in Sydney Harbour. This means you’ll get views for days from the ferris wheel, the drop tower ride, or one of the four roller coasters! 

Some of the rides here are pretty thrilling but there’s plenty for families with younger kids to enjoy, too, like the Happy Swing and the rotating Road Runner ride.

This theme park is bright, fun, and colorful, and the retro Coney Island makes for some fun Instagram snaps. Luna Park is only open from Friday to Monday, and I recommend buying your day pass in advance online. Day passes vary from $34-$75 AUD online, and you can shop around for cheaper dates, whereas you’ll have to pay $75 AUD at the gate.

19. Barangaroo Reserve

People walk along Barangaroo Reserve with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background
It’s a fantastic place for a walk!

Barangaroo Reserve is one of the best places to take a stroll in Sydney. With its plethora of trees and bushes and its abundance of open green space, you’d never believe that this public park was once a storage site for old shipping containers.

Fortunately, Barangaroo Reserve has undergone quite the transformation in recent years, and the gorgeous Sydney Harbour views don’t hurt, either.

There are lots of walking and cycling trails to explore here, but what we like to do is walk there along the coast from Darling Harbour, stroll around the reserve, and then continue to Circular Quay. This is a flat, easy walk that should only take you around an hour, but it’s really beautiful and an awesome way to soak up Sydney’s magnificent scenery. 

20. Newtown 

Meal at Rolling Penny Newtown Cafe in Sydney
Meal at Rolling Penny Newtown in Sydney
Bailey poses for a photo in Sydney while on a walking tour
Exploring Newtown!

Newtown is without a doubt one of the coolest areas of Sydney. Students, hipsters, and artists can always be found hanging out in the area’s trendy cafes, independent bookshops, and great thrift stores (where you can often find some real treasures, just FYI!).

It’s easy to catch the train to Newtown from either Circular Quay or Wynyard Station. You’ll be there in approximately 15 minutes, so it’s hardly a trek. The best thing to do is just turn up, stroll around, and see what hidden gems you discover in this ultra-hipster neck of the woods.

King Street is a good place to start for fashion finds, and if you’re into vinyl records make sure to pay a visit to Repressed Records. And as for bookstores, Elizabeth’s Bookshop and Better Read Than Dead are both absolute treasure troves. 

However, for us, the real draw to Newtown is food! We love coming here for breakfast at Rolling Penny Newtown, which is one of our favorite places to eat in the whole of Sydney. You just can’t beat their breakfast menu, which has a fun gourmet twist.

We also think that this food and street art tour is a great way to really get to know Newtown. It showcases the neighborhood’s artistic culture as you learn the stories behind some of the area’s striking murals. We love that this tour takes you to eateries offering food from all over the world. The itinerary changes, but you might get to try Egyptian, Pakistani, Turkish, or Japanese food – or something entirely different! 

Meet up is at the “I Have a Dream Mural” on King Street. This is such a great way to gain a deeper understanding of and appreciation for one of Sydney’s most fascinating neighborhoods.

The tour costs $75 AUD per person and only runs on Sundays. There’s a maximum group size of 10 people, so book ahead if you’re keen to do this one, as spaces are very limited. It usually leaves at 3 pm, so don’t eat a big lunch beforehand! The tour is very popular and usually sells out, so make sure to book your spot on the Street Art and Food Tour in advance here.

21. Art Gallery of New South Wales

Bailey walks the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia
Walking the gallery!
Art work on a wall at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia
The Aboriginal art!

With five floors and over 40,000 artworks, it’s safe to say that the Art Gallery of New South Wales is pretty extensive. The collection includes works of art from all over the world and many different time periods. Here, you can see art from Mongolia, Japan, Victorian England, and Renaissance Italy, all under one roof.

I do think that the best reason to come here, though, is to check out the collection of Australian and Aboriginal artwork. I mean, it’s the Art Gallery of New South Wales, after all. The pieces here give a really interesting insight into the country’s history and culture and show how attitudes have shifted over time. 

If you decide to visit the museum, I suggest taking advantage of the free guided tours that they offer. You don’t even need to book them, you can just turn up, so why not, right? 

There are multiple tours daily that depart at different times and there are lots of options available. The Welcome Wanderer is good if you just want a general overview of the museum, and it leaves daily at 3 pm. However, there are also tours that focus on specific areas of art, such as Aboriginal, Asian, or 20th-century art. You can see the full tour schedule here.

Where to Stay in Sydney

Get the best views of Sydney at Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, Australia
Photo credit: Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

If you’re planning a trip to Sydney, you’re going to need a place to stay. Luckily, Sydney has a huge variety of accommodations to fit every budget. If you’re overwhelmed with where to start, check out our top picks for places to stay, from luxury rooms to budget-friendly hostels. We’ve got you covered!

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney – $$$

For stunning views of Sydney Harbour and the iconic Opera House, book a room at the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney. You’ll have unobstructed views of the city from the comfort of your room. The hotel is located in the city center within the historic Rocks neighborhood – nice and close to lots of activities and restaurants.

Rooms here start at $400-$500 AUD per night and can be reserved with Booking.com.

Meriton Suites Kent Street Sydney – $$

Stay right in the heart of Sydney in a modern luxury apartment at Meriton Suites Kent Street. The suites are air-conditioned and have laundry facilities, and either a kitchenette or full kitchen to make longer stays more comfortable. You’ll also have access to an indoor swimming pool, fitness center, and hot tub.

These full apartments are $230 AUD nightly when booked in advance with Booking.com.

Sydney Harbour YHA – $

For a hostel with a view, head to the rooftop terrace at the Sydney Harbour YHA. Located in the historic Rocks district, you’ll have amazing views of the harbor and be within walking distance of all the major sights. You can opt for a shared dorm room or a private room here. There’s a communal kitchen, TV lounge, billiards, and a 24/7 reception desk.

Dorm rooms are around $70 AUD nightly and private rooms are more around the $180 AUD mark. You can check for the best rates and book on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.com.

Renting a Car in Australia

Driving through the outback in a rental car in Australia
Outback Australia!

With many must-see destinations in Australia outside city limits, one of the best ways to get around is in a rental car.

Australia is a huge country and traveling between cities or getting to some of the most scenic spots requires driving. While public transit is sometimes an option, it often adds a lot of time and planning. Plus, we love the freedom of a rental car to stop wherever we want and not have to stick to a set schedule.

Car rental in Australia is super affordable, especially if you choose a smaller vehicle. We use the website DiscoverCars.com. It’s a search engine that compares multiple car rental companies for you – saving you from visiting each website individually.

If you plan to be based in a main city like Sydney, Melbourne, or Perth and do a few day trips while returning your car to the same location, we’ve booked rentals for as cheap as $25 AUD a day! Full coverage insurance can be added for around an extra $12 AUD a day too. The price will vary depending on the time of year, type of car, and if you’re able to pick up and drop off at the same location.

Discover Cars also offers handy filters so you can search for cars that offer features like child seats, GPS, or let you have an additional driver. There are also free cancellation options if your trip changes. Read our honest review of Discover Cars here for more details!

Check out the selection and book your car rental online here!

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey pose for a photo on a cruise in Sydney
Thanks for reading!

There are so many places to visit in Sydney that there really is something for everyone! We hope that you love the city just as much as we do and that this guide has helped you pick out some of the sites you want to see while visiting.

As you plan your time in Australia, make sure to read our other blogs about Australia. You can click on one of our related guides below:

10 Things to Know BEFORE Whale Watching in Sydney

How to Spend a Weekend in Sydney, Australia!

21 BEST Things to do in Exmouth, Western Australia

15 Things to KNOW Before Visiting Litchfield National Park