This blog may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy for more info.
It’s no secret we love traveling around Australia and exploring the most iconic spots, including the beautiful Sydney Opera House. We’ve visited this well-known landmark multiple times and captured that iconic selfie with the sails. We’ve even taken a few tours inside, and we can confirm that it’s worth all the buzz.
Opera House tours allowed us to go behind the scenes and stand on the famous stages where legends have performed. Trust me, this is the best way to experience this unique place – and one of the top things to do in Sydney. After all, the Sydney Opera House is a great place to learn about Australia’s art, culture, and history. And while we’ve taken many tours in Sydney, Opera House tours were some of our favorites.
We loved exploring the inside of the building and understanding why this place is so famous – and we want to help you do the same. In this article, we break down everything you need to know before visiting the Sydney Opera House. And if you want to go behind the scenes (as you should!), we’ve included our favorite tours. Keep reading for all the insider info!
Don’t have time to read the full article? The Sydney Opera House is iconic for a reason! We loved this 1-hour official guided tour for a behind-the-scenes perspective, but booking tickets to a performance is bucket list worthy!
- 1. Is a Sydney Opera House guided tour worth it?
- 2. What are the best tours of the Sydney Opera House?
- Sydney Opera House Official Guided Walking Tour
- 2. Sydney Opera House Tour and Meal + Drink at Opera Bar or House Canteen
- 3. Sydney Opera House Guided Backstage Tour
- 4. Great Opera Hits at the Sydney Opera House
- 5. Sydney Opera House Architectural Tour
- 6. Opera Performance at the Sydney Opera House
- 7. Sydney Opera House VIP Guided Tour Ticket, Two Course Dinner and Drinks
- 3. Do you need to book a tour of the Sydney Opera House in advance?
- 4. Are tours of the Sydney Opera House suitable for children?
- 5. When are Sydney Opera House tours available?
- Other Things to do While You’re in Sydney
- Where to Stay in Sydney
- Thanks for reading!
- Why We Book Tours with Viator
- Don't get Caught without Travel Insurance!
1. Is a Sydney Opera House guided tour worth it?
Let’s cut to the chase: Is a guided tour of the Sydney Opera House worth your time and money? In a word: absolutely. We’ve strolled through those hallowed halls, and let us tell you, it’s mind-blowing. You’ll get to see the Opera House from angles you never thought possible.
The Sydney Opera House is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one we were eager to explore. Although the outside of the building is spectacular, it’s a whole different ballgame when you’re on the inside. The moment we walked in, it was like stepping into another world. These tours allowed us to explore areas usually off-limits, like the grand halls and hidden corners of the theaters.
Plus, the guides are amazing – like walking encyclopedias of knowledge. They filled us in on the history, the architecture, and even some juicy backstage gossip.
We know there is so much to do in Australia … you may not think a tour inside the Opera House is worth the investment, especially if you’re not a huge opera fan. We aren’t either, and we still found so much value in the tour.
What we love about the Sydney Opera House is how diverse it is. It doesn’t just invite opera singers; it attracts a wide variety of talents and famous people to its stages.
Within these walls, Arnold Schwarzenegger won bodybuilding titles, and Sting performed a concert. World leaders like Pope John Paul II and Nelson Mandela also had conferences in the theatres. As you can see, the Sydney Opera House is really home to it all. But to learn more about this place’s incredible history, you’ll just have to take a tour yourself!
Top Tip – we do highly recommend booking a mid-week tour if possible. This way, you’ll skip the weekend busyness as it can get quite crowded and chaotic.
2. What are the best tours of the Sydney Opera House?
Sydney Opera House Official Guided Walking Tour
When it comes to getting the full Sydney Opera House experience, nothing beats the Official Guided Walking Tour. This one-hour tour paired us with a local expert who took us behind the scenes of this famous landmark. It gave us a great overall introduction to the Opera House, and we learned a ton of new information.
The tour kicks off at Bennelong Point, the Opera House’s main entrance. There’s no pickup or drop-off service, so you’ll need to get to the Opera House on your own. We had a comprehensive look at this unique building, both inside and out. We walked through grand halls, explored hidden nooks, and even got to stand on some of the famous stages.
This tour also felt so exclusive! We learned all about the Sydney Opera House’s history and explored areas that usually aren’t open to the public. What we loved most was the storytelling and diving into the history and architecture. We learned about the blood, sweat, and tears that went into building this masterpiece.
We will warn you that this tour involves climbing about 200 stairs. We enjoyed the climb, but if you have mobility concerns or are traveling with children, it may not be the tour for you. The only downside was we wished it lasted longer. Just when we were getting into the groove, absorbing all that history and culture, it was time to wrap up.
Tours are offered daily, and there are several start times between 9 am and 3:30 pm. There are a few different options with this tour depending on the language you’d like and whether you want food included.
The basic tour costs $43 AUD for adults and $23 AUD for kids (ages 5-15). If you want food included, the cost jumps to $80 AUD for adults and $45 AUD for kids. With the food option, you’ll get a meal and a drink at the Opera Bar or House Canteen directly after the tour. Regardless of which tour you choose, children under 4 are free.
If you’re looking for a quick yet comprehensive dive into the Sydney Opera House, this tour is a no-brainer. It was like a crash course in architecture and history, all while standing in one of the most awe-inspiring buildings we’ve ever seen. Plus, it’s an affordable option for those traveling to Sydney on a budget!
However, if you have a specific date in mind, book your tickets well in advance! It’s a popular tour and does sell out.
Related Read: Are you also visiting Perth? Check out the best tours in Perth, Australia – from a local!
2. Sydney Opera House Tour and Meal + Drink at Opera Bar or House Canteen
It’s no secret we love to eat, so when a tour includes food, we are instantly more tempted! If you’re a foodie or just want to have a reason to hang out longer inside the Opera House, this tour is for you!
You’ll start with a guided tour of the Opera House, followed by a meal at an onsite restaurant. We really felt the added meal made it a more relaxed, leisurely experience.
This tour begins at Bennelong Point, the same as the Official Walking Tour. The main difference here is that after the 1-hour tour wraps up, the ticket stub can be redeemed for a meal and a drink at either the Opera Bar or House Canteen. They also have kids options, so this is a great choice for families.
The House Canteen offers Pan-Asian cuisine with menu items like sushi, sashimi, dumplings, and bao buns. Know that Asian food in Australia is generally quite good, and the food here looks delicious! The Opera Bar menu changes seasonally, so expect fresh, local ingredients. They offer a variety of foods, including burgers, pizzas, pasta, and salads.
We chose the Opera Bar mainly because we wanted to soak up the stunning harbor views. We opted for a late lunch, but the tickets can be redeemed anytime between 11:30 am and 6 pm. Bear in mind that if your 1-hour tour ends at 10 am, you’ll have to wait around for the restaurants to start serving meals. However, that’ll give you a chance to snap those iconic Opera House photos!
This tour itself is similar to the walking tour, offering a comprehensive look at the Opera House. Explore the halls, stages, and even some restricted areas. The guides did a great job of detailing the history and architecture of the building and seemed to really enjoy their jobs. So, if you have any burning questions about this landmark – this is the time to ask!
However, our absolute favorite part of this tour is the relaxed vibe. After the tour, we could just kick back, enjoy a meal, and soak in the views. It felt like a full-day experience, not just a rushed tour.
The tour is offered in several languages: English, Mandarin, German, and French. It costs $80 AUD for adults, $45 AUD for kids (ages 5-15), and is free for children under 4. The guided tour portion lasts 1 hour and has multiple start times, depending on the language. English tours are offered between 9 am and 3:30 pm.
But if you have a preferred date in mind, we suggest securing your spot on this tour ASAP!
3. Sydney Opera House Guided Backstage Tour
You know that feeling when you’re watching a show, and you wonder, “What’s going on behind that curtain?” Well, we got to find out, and it was so cool! This Sydney Opera House Guided Backstage Tour gives you an in-depth look into the Opera House.
It’s an early morning tour because it showcases parts of the theater that aren’t open later in the day. You may even see some actors or musicians warming up for their performances!
The tour is led by a knowledgeable guide who’ll share insider stories and fun facts about the Opera House and its performers. But what really stood out for us was the sense of exclusivity. We felt like insiders, getting a glimpse into the Opera House’s hidden world. We visited costume rooms, prop storage rooms, and the rooms where artists chill before hitting the stage.
This tour is limited to just 10 people, so you really get personalized attention. We did say it’s a morning tour, so you’ll need to meet your group at 6:45 am at the Stage Door on the ground level. However, early mornings are also great for beating the rush. This is definitely important when visiting a place as popular as the Sydney Opera House!
We will also warn you there are about 300 stairs to climb, so prepare for a bit of a morning workout. The whole thing lasts from 7-10 am, so you’ll be walking around for quite a bit. Luckily, the tour wraps up with a light breakfast!
This tour is really a one-of-a-kind experience that offers a whole new perspective on the Sydney Opera House. You won’t look at a stage the same way again! In total, the tour lasts about 3 hours and explores the best areas of the Opera House. It’s available to travelers 10 years and older and costs $175 AUD per person.
So, if you’re a curious soul, don’t hesitate to book this behind-the-scenes tour right here! It’s popular and will sell out!
4. Great Opera Hits at the Sydney Opera House
Ever dreamed of experiencing an opera in one of the world’s most iconic venues? While we admittedly aren’t the biggest opera enthusiasts, when in Rome … or, in this case, Australia!
We loved being able to experience this iconic landmark in the way it was originally intended – with this beautiful opera performance. Honestly, we didn’t expect to enjoy this show as much as we did! It’s incredibly impressive to see some of the best talents performing on one of the greatest stages in the world.
The Great Opera Hits at the Sydney Opera House is not a tour; it’s a full-blown experience. It isn’t focused on a tour of the Opera house, but instead, you get a full live opera performance. The atmosphere was electric, and the emotion was so palpable. From the second the curtain rose, our eyes were glued to the stage.
The types of operas performed can vary, so it’s a good idea to check the schedule in advance. Whether you’re a seasoned opera-goer or a first-timer like us, the performance is designed to captivate.
As we mentioned, this isn’t a guided tour like the others on our list. With this Great Opera experience, you’re buying a ticket to enjoy a show. If you want to learn more about the building, we’d recommend booking the Official Guided Walking Tour as well.
The price depends on your seat, costing $69 AUD for a reserved seat or $89 AUD for a premium seat (the best seats in the house!). This tour is for people 8 years and older and is not suitable for young kids. Be sure to check your timing, as the tour is not available every day.
If you want to experience the Sydney Opera House in all its glory, this is the best way. You will get to take in the show listening to the greatest hits of opera. And if you’ve never been to the opera, this is an epic location for a first experience! Click here to check the schedule and book your seats!
5. Sydney Opera House Architectural Tour
Looking at the Sydney Opera House, you can’t deny its impressive architectural work. We had seen the pictures and knew it was going to be cool. But honestly, it was a lot more stunning in real life than we expected. If you are someone who appreciates architecture, this is definitely the tour for you!
Expect a masterclass in design. Your knowledgeable guide will take you inside and outside the building, exploring all its architectural details. You will learn all about all the work that went into making this building. You’ll leave understanding all the challenges, setbacks, and breakthroughs that made the Opera House what it is today.
Even if you aren’t an architecture buff, it’s hard to not have an appreciation for this building. This tour is like a crash course in architecture, set in one of the most awe-inspiring classrooms you’ll ever find. Plus, it’s great for budding photographers since you’ll see the Opera House from such unique angles.
If we had to pick a downside, it would be the technical jargon. Some of the architectural terms went over our heads, but hey, we were there to learn, right? And learn what we did. By the end of the tour, we felt like we’d taken a semester’s worth of architecture classes – in the best way possible.
The one-hour tour costs $43 AUD for adults and $23 AUD for kids (ages 5-15). You get a headset, which is great for those in the back of the tour or those with hearing difficulties. The tour starts at 10 am and is available on most Saturdays, so be sure to plan your trip accordingly.
This tour has limited availability, but you can book it online right here!
6. Opera Performance at the Sydney Opera House
Hands down, the absolute best way to experience the magic of the Sydney Opera House is by seeing a show. Prepare for a night to remember, as the theater is known for some of the best performances in the world. We love that there is so much variety in the shows happening here, so you can pick one that suits your interests.
We’ve seen shows all over the world, and this is in a class of its own. The atmosphere is electric, the acoustics are phenomenal, and the talent is top-notch. There are evening and matinee performances offered, and you can check available dates online. We opted for an evening performance and highly recommend it as we found it gives a more luxurious vibe.
You can make a whole day or evening out of it. Get dressed up, grab a meal and a cocktail, and head out on the town. You can soak up the stunning harbor views before watching an incredible show. It’ll definitely be a night to remember and a great way to spend a date night or a romantic honeymoon in Sydney.
However, if you’re interested in learning about the Opera House, we suggest booking one of the other tours on our list first. These will give you a behind-the-scenes look at all the magic. The Official Guided Walking Tour is the quintessential option, which gives you a 1-hour tour inside the building and doubles as one of the best walking tours offered in Sydney.
Once you’ve gained an appreciation for the Opera House, watching a live opera or Broadway musical will be so much better. Shows vary based on the date you choose, so be sure to check the performance schedule before you book.
The prices for shows vary based on your seats. There are five seating options, and you really get what you pay for. If you want to go all out with the best seats, opt for premium seating for $349 AUD. Section A seats cost $298 AUD, B seats cost $243 AUD, and C seats are $179 AUD. The cheapest option is D seating, which costs $109 AUD.
Prices are for your seat only with drinks and food costing extra – and trust me, you’ll want a glass of champagne or two to celebrate! For an incredible Sydney Opera House experience, check dates and secure your seats online!
7. Sydney Opera House VIP Guided Tour Ticket, Two Course Dinner and Drinks
Do you love VIP treatment? Well, we’ve found the perfect tour for you. This Sydney Opera House VIP Guided Tour offers an all-inclusive and luxurious experience. You get a comprehensive 1-hour tour of the building followed by a delicious 2-course meal.
Your tour meets at 4:15 pm at the Opera House. From there, the guide will take you through both the public and private areas of the Opera House. You’ll learn about its history, its architecture, and the countless performances that have been put on here.
Following your tour, you’ll enjoy a meal at the restaurant of your choice. Bennelong serves classic Australian fare and does excellent wine pairings. Meanwhile, Midden by Mark Olive is my top choice in nice weather since they offer alfresco dining under the Sydney Opera House sails.
Both restaurants are right next to the Opera House, making it super convenient. You can enjoy a leisurely dinner between 5:30-7:30 pm. And not only do you get tasty food, but it’s served with stunning vistas and two glasses of wine.
This tour felt super relaxing and interesting from start to finish. We got to explore, dine, and unwind, all without lifting a finger. Well, we did have about 200 stairs to climb, but it was definitely worth it!
This tour price varies based on the restaurant you choose. For dinner at Bennelong Restaurant, tickets are $305 AUD. For dinner at Midden by Mark Olive, the experience costs $199 AUD. You can choose between an entree and main or main and dessert at either restaurant, as well as two beverages (including wines).
If you’re on vacation, go ahead and splurge! Treat yourself to dinner and a show at the Sydney Opera House.
Related Read: Looking for other novel activities for your Australian vacation? Click here to learn about swimming with whale sharks in Exmouth!
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.
- 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.
3. Do you need to book a tour of the Sydney Opera House in advance?
The Sydney Opera House isn’t your run-of-the-mill theater. It’s one of the most prestigious and famously recognized buildings in the world. Since it’s such a popular destination, you can count on quite the crowd both inside and out of the building. As such, it’s important to book your tour in advance to secure your spot.
If there is one thing you can count on, it’s that these tours are popular with both tourists and locals. Whether you’re coming for a tour of the building or here for a show, you will want to book at least a week in advance.
It’s also important to consider that some tours are not offered every day. This adds to their exclusivity. For example, this Sydney Opera House Architectural Tour is only offered on Saturdays at 10 am. Furthermore, tickets to shows (like a beautiful opera performance) depend on the venue’s schedule.
If you want a tour that is offered in another language, you should also consider booking ahead of time. All the tours we mentioned are offered in English. The Official Guided Walking Tour is also offered in French, German, and Spanish and this 1-hour guided tour and meal is also available in French, German, Mandarin, and Spanish.
We always book with Viator when we travel because we love their online booking process. They’re also quite organized on the ground, which makes the whole experience run smoothly. Plus, you can read reviews from other travelers so you know what to expect.
When you book with Viator, you just head to the Opera House counter. Show them your Viator confirmation, and they’ll issue your tickets on the spot. It doesn’t get any easier than that!
4. Are tours of the Sydney Opera House suitable for children?
Are you wondering if an Opera House tour is suitable for your kids? The answer is … it depends. We know that’s not super helpful, but hear us out.
Most tours are available to children. However, they focus primarily on the history and architecture of the building. This might not keep the little ones hooked for long!
However, the beauty of these tours is that they’re fairly short. Most of them are around an hour or so, making them a great timeframe for kids. If you have older kids who like to climb on stage, peek behind curtains, and check out props rooms, it can be a lot of fun.
On the flip side, it’s important to remember that some tours climb 200-300 stairs. This is not ideal for young kids and parents traveling with strollers.
At the end of the day, it really depends on your kid’s personality and age. Older kids with a sense of curiosity and an interest in theater may enjoy the tours.
5. When are Sydney Opera House tours available?
We’ve listed our 7 favorite tours of the Sydney Opera House. These include classic guided tours, watching shows, eating food, and marveling at architecture. The timing for the tours varies based on the tour you choose and sometimes even the time of year you visit. Most of these tours are available year-round and are a great way to escape the cold this winter.
The standard Official Guided Walking Tour operates every single day, while this Opera Performance Tour happens only on select nights. Meanwhile, this Sydney Opera House Architectural Tour is only offered on Saturdays at 10 am.
Timing is yet another reason to book your ticket well in advance and check the schedule before you go. If you’re planning to have a meal or a drink as part of your tour package, keep an eye on the dining hours. For example, this Tour and Meal package allows you to redeem your meal only between 11:30 am and 6 pm on the day of your tour.
Related Read: If you’re also visiting Darwin, we got you covered! Before you book accommodation, read our unbiased guide on where to stay in Darwin, Australia.
Other Things to do While You’re in Sydney
Sydney is a city full of exciting things to do and see, so you’re going to want to fill your schedule while visiting this iconic city. Below are a few of our favorite activities that you should consider adding to your Sydney itinerary:
- Helicopter Ride – Sydney is a beautiful city; there is just no doubt about it! And one way to take in all the sites is on a helicopter tour! We did this helicopter ride the last time we were in the city, and it was incredible! We got the most amazing views of the bridge and Opera House, not to mention the beautiful coastline. And to top it off, we even saw whales!
- Visit Manly Beach and/or Bondi Beach – There are some pretty amazing beaches right in Sydney, so you should definitely plan for a beach day (or three!). Manly Beach is one of our favorites, and you can easily get there via the public ferry. Or, head to the famous Bondi Beach! Once there, you can do the walk to Bronte or Coogee Beaches – they are both also stunning!
- Take a Sydney Harbour Cruise – In the city, you absolutely must take a Sydney Harbour Cruise! It’s a great way to take in the sights while leisurely sailing down the water. They have both lunch cruises and dinner cruise options. On this dinner cruise, we had a fabulous time watching the skyline and enjoying a gourmet meal with bubbly in hand.
- Day Trip to the Blue Mountains – The Blue Mountains is a beautiful wilderness area where you can enjoy hiking, waterfalls, mountain views, and charming local towns. It’s about an hour’s drive and makes for a great day trip from Sydney or even a weekend getaway. This Blue Mountains day full-day tour would be our top choice as it includes a gourmet lunch, Scenic World, the wildlife park, as well as a cruise! Plus, the 3,400 5-star reviews are pretty reassuring that it’s an excellent tour!
- Explore Darling Harbour – One of our favorite areas in Sydney is Darling Harbour, which features more restaurants, bars, and cafes than I can count! Plus, almost everything is waterfront! Here, you can enjoy the Chinese Garden of Friendship or walk across the Pyrmont Bridge. You can also visit popular attractions like Madame Tussauds, the Sea Life Aquarium, and Wild Life Sydney Zoo (which are all included on the Sydney Attractions Pass!).
Where to Stay in 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 – $$$
For stunning views of Sydney Harbour and the iconic Opera House, book a room at the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney. You’ll have unobstructed views of the city from the comfort of your room. The hotel is located in the city center within the historic Rocks neighborhood – nice and close to lots of activities and restaurants. It’s also just a 15-minute walk to the Sydney Opera House.
Rooms here start at $400-$500 AUD per night and can be reserved with Booking.com.
Meriton Suites Kent Street Sydney – $$
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 apartments are just a 10-minute drive from the Sydney Opera House.
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. It’s also about a 20-minute walk along the waterfront to the Sydney Opera House. 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.
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
Thanks for reading!
What screams Australia more than visiting the Sydney Opera House? We don’t consider ourselves architecture buffs or die-hard opera fans, but we still loved exploring this building. When in Sydney, you have to visit this famous landmark, and taking a tour will help you understand why. As such, we really hope this list has helped you find the right one!
If you found our guide helpful, check out our other blogs about Australia. We’ve also traveled all over the globe, and you can learn about other destinations right here. To help you out, I’ve linked to some articles below.