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Sydney is one of the most famous cities in the world, and it’s a bucket list destination for many. So it makes sense that helicopter tours are one of the super popular things to do in Sydney because soaring over the city’s iconic skyline is a surefire way to make your trip memorable.
Despite the fact that Sydney is Australia’s largest city and home to lots of famous landmarks like the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, it also boasts a lot of natural beauty, and you can see it all at once on a helicopter tour.
We’ve both visited Sydney countless times and Bailey even lived here for a while, but taking a helicopter flight was something we hadn’t done yet. The helicopter tour we took was amazing and showed us Sydney in a whole new light.
After our tour, we wanted to share all the tips we learned so you can book your own flight. For example, one of the biggest misconceptions is that Sydney helicopter tours are super expensive. And while it isn’t a free activity in Sydney, there are still affordable flights that can work for a lot of different budgets.
So if you’re planning a trip to Sydney, we’ve compiled a guide containing everything you need to know before you book an epic helicopter tour for yourself!
- 1. Is a helicopter tour in Sydney worth it?
- 2. How much is a helicopter ride in Sydney?
- 3. How long are helicopter tours in Sydney?
- 4. Where do helicopter tours in Sydney leave from?
- 5. What are the highlights on a Sydney helicopter tour?
- 6. What are the best helicopter tours in Sydney?
- 7. Do you need to book your helicopter tour in Sydney in advance?
- 8. When is the best time to do a helicopter tour in Sydney?
- 9. Who can participate in helicopter tours in Sydney?
- 10. Are helicopter tours in Sydney safe?
- 11. How much time do you need for a Sydney helicopter tour?
- 12. What should you bring for a helicopter flight in Sydney?
- 13. Tips for the best helicopter ride in Sydney
- 14. Is a helicopter tour in Sydney suitable for children?
- 15. Would we recommend a helicopter tour in Sydney?
- 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 helicopter tour in Sydney worth it?
Yes! We absolutely loved it. It was amazing to see some of the best places in Sydney, like the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, and of course, the beautiful coastline from the sky. It’s also a great way to view multiple sites if you only have one or two days in Sydney.
We chose this helicopter tour in Sydney, and we have zero regrets. We did the group flight rather than the private flight, and there were five of us in the helicopter in total. It was such an amazing experience and definitely one of the best tours in Sydney that we’ve ever done.
2. How much is a helicopter ride in Sydney?
It costs around $240 AUD for a 20-minute flight, which is the most popular flight length. You can also get flights that last for half an hour for around $360 AUD. These prices are for group flights – naturally, you’ll pay a bit more for a private experience.
3. How long are helicopter tours in Sydney?
Usually, they’re pretty short.
Most Sydney helicopter tours last for around 20 minutes. Running a helicopter is expensive and companies don’t want to price out customers, so they tend to offer shorter flights. Plus, you can still see a ton in that time! Longer flights are available, but they cost extra.
We booked this 20-minute flight and it was plenty of time to see the coastline and enjoy some amazing views of the Sydney Harbour and the Opera House.
You often get a bit of extra time in the air anyway, because Sydney Airport is really busy, and it’s located near where the helicopters take off from. Our pilot told us that this means that landings are frequently delayed, and we certainly didn’t mind having an extra five minutes in the air while we waited for the all-clear to enter the air space!
4. Where do helicopter tours in Sydney leave from?
All helicopter tours in Sydney leave from around this location off of Ross Smith Ave. It is a bit outside the city because there are no airports or helipads within the CBD. Most flights leave from a depot next to the domestic airport terminal, which is about 15 minutes south of central Sydney.
This means you’ll have to travel outside central Sydney to catch your flight, but fortunately, most tour companies include pickup and dropoff from the CBD and Circular Quay area. Just remember to organize this when you book your flight! When you book through Viator, you can message the tour operator directly to discuss your pickup point and time.
We actually booked our flight right before we left Sydney, so we brought our luggage with us and then headed straight to the airport after our helicopter tour. This worked really well for us and proved to be a super convenient option. The company was great at accommodating us and didn’t mind storing our luggage while we enjoyed our helicopter tour.
It’s also worth noting that if you have your own car or a rental car and want to drive to the heliport yourself, there’s free parking available.
5. What are the highlights on a Sydney helicopter tour?
Sydney Harbour Bridge
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of the most recognizable symbols of Australia. It spans across Sydney Harbour from the CBD to the North Shore, and people come from far and wide to see it.
The Harbour Bridge is the highest steel arch bridge in the entire world! It’s actually nicknamed “the coat hanger” due to its shape and when you fly over it, you’ll definitely understand why! You’ll also see lots of people walking, driving, and cycling across.
The Sydney Opera House has to be the most famous building in the city, and perhaps even in the whole of Australia! It’s on the foreshore of the Sydney Harbour and hosts over 1,500 performances every year, which are attended by over a million people.
Seeing the Sydney Opera House from the air really is an amazing experience, because it’s just so iconic – after all, it’s one of the most recognizable buildings in the whole world.
Bondi Beach, Coogee Beach, and other eastern beach bays
As well as its iconic architectural feats, Sydney is also well known for its stunning beaches. On a helicopter tour in Sydney, you’ll fly over Bondi Beach, which is really cool because let’s be honest, it’s rare to meet a person who hasn’t heard of Bondi Beach!
You’ll also fly over Coogee Beach, which is one of the most beautiful beaches in Sydney, and lots of other eastern beach bays.
The coastal cliffs
For us, one of the best parts of our helicopter tour in Sydney was seeing the gorgeous coastal cliffs. Watching the waves crashing against the beautiful, dramatic cliffs that line the ocean was just amazing to see from high in the air. It really makes you appreciate how varied Sydney’s landscape is!
We saw humpback whales in the ocean during our helicopter tour! This was a fantastic surprise, but our pilot told us that during whale watching season, it’s very common to see humpback whales during your flight.
Humpback whale season in Sydney lasts from May to December, so if you book a helicopter flight during this time, the chances are that you will see them!
Related Read: If you want to get in the water for a cool experience in Australia, we recommend swimming with whale sharks in Exmouth! This is one of the best places in the world to swim alongside these gentle giants.
Another cool thing about Sydney helicopter tours is that you get to see some of the huge mansions that line the city’s coast. Sydney is known for being super wealthy and on a helicopter tour, you get to see the sheer size of the homes that the mega-rich live in. They’re huge and a lot of them have ocean-front pools, which is nice to daydream about!
6. What are the best helicopter tours in Sydney?
20-minute Scenic Group Flight
This Sydney Harbour tour is the one we did, and it was amazing!
We were in a small 5-person helicopter, so there were four passengers and then the pilot. The helicopter was brand new and super fancy – we loved it. We’ve done quite a few helicopter tours now, and this was the newest and swankiest one we’ve ever been in.
We felt like we got a really great overview of the city, and had amazing views of the Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, and the beautiful coastline with all of the gorgeous mansions. We also really appreciated the fact that the tour company picked us up in the CBD for free with all of our luggage, and stored it for us during our flight so that we could go to the airport straight afterwards.
This tour costs $240 AUD per person, or they have a private option for $330 AUD per person. We did the group option and would definitely do it again! The group tours leave in either the late morning or early afternoon. There’s a safety briefing before your flight and time to grab photos in front of your helicopter before getting on, which we loved!
30-Minute Flight and City Tour
You’ll see lots of the stunning, white-sand beaches along the Sydney coast and fly over some of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods to see how the other half lives, as well as fly over famous city hotspots like the Opera House, Taronga Zoo, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
This tour is operated by the same company that we flew with, it’s just a longer flight, so you’ll also be in a state-of-the-art helicopter and get the same excellent service that we enjoyed.
It costs $360 AUD per person, and again it includes free pickup from the CBD and the Circular Quay area. The entire tour lasts about 2.5 hours including pick up, time for photos in front of your helicopter, 30 minutes of flying time, and then complimentary beverages like tea and coffee when you’re back on the ground.
It’s a fantastic flight if you want to spend a little longer soaring over Sydney’s beautiful coastline, so make sure to book this flight in advance!
Private Night Helicopter Flight
Flying over Sydney at night is an amazing way to enjoy the city lights and see the Opera House lit up after dark. And if you book your flight during Vivid Sydney, the annual light festival in May and June, then you’ll really be in for a treat.
This private night flight lasts for 25 minutes, and it focuses on the cityscape rather than the coast since it takes place after dark.
The best time to do this tour is during Vivid Sydney, which lasts for 23 days from late May until mid-June. Dates do vary from year to year, so make sure to check the Vivid Sydney website before you book.
This tour can accommodate up to six passengers and lasts for 25 minutes with a total cost of around $971 AUD. It’s worth noting that, unlike other helicopter tours, it doesn’t include transport to the airport, so you’ll have to make your own way there.
Whether you want to make the most of the Vivid Sydney festival, or just to appreciate the vibrant city lights, booking this private night helicopter flight is sure to be unforgettable!
Private Sunset Helicopter Flight
If you’re looking for a romantic Sydney helicopter tour, then this private sunset flight is just the ticket. I don’t think it could get much more romantic than flying over the city’s most iconic landmarks and gorgeous cliffs and beaches as the sun sinks over the horizon and the sky turns red.
You even get a glass of bubbles before your flight, so this really is the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion or enjoy a romantic outing in Sydney.
Sydney is such a beautiful city, and it’s even more impressive at sunset. Getting aerial views of the gorgeous beaches while the sun sinks below the horizon is a really special experience and not one that you get to enjoy every day!
This private helicopter tour costs $1,487 AUD for a group of up to 3 people. It’s not cheap, but it’s also a once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience the sunset from the air! You can check all the available dates and book your VIP flight online.
Hunter Valley Helicopter Tour with Lunch
Of course, you can also book a helicopter tour that takes you out of Sydney. This private helicopter tour takes you for a day trip from Sydney to the scenic Hunter Valley, which is Australia’s oldest winemaking region. So you get a scenic flight and a Hunter Valley wine tour all in one!
You’ll begin with a helicopter flight over Sydney, during which you’ll see the Harbour and the Opera House, and then you’ll fly along the coastline and over the beautiful northern beaches as you head towards the Hunter Valley.
The flight takes around 50 – 60 minutes each way, and then once you land in the Hunter Valley you’ll head to a local winery to taste some of the region’s best wines, including Semillon and Shiraz. There are over 150 cellar doors here, and the Hunter Valley is famous around the world as a luxury getaway spot, so you’ll definitely feel like a bit of a celebrity … especially since your ride here is by helicopter!
Then, you head to one of the award-winning restaurants in the area for a fancy lunch prepared with fresh, local ingredients and another bottle of wine (yes, please!). Finally, to cap off the experience, you’ll get another scenic flight back to Sydney.
We think that this tour is amazing because you get to see such a diverse range of landscapes during your flight, from the world-famous landmarks in central Sydney to the dramatic coastline, the Hawkesbury River, and the vineyards of the Hunter Valley. Plus, you get to go wine tasting and eat some delicious local food, so all in all it sounds like a pretty incredible day out to us!
This exclusive helicopter tour is offered by the same company we took our flight on and honestly, they impressed us every step of the way. This wine tasting helicopter tour is definitely on my bucket list now!
As well as flights, a 3-course lunch, and the wine tasting session, this helicopter tour includes pick up and drop off from the CBD and Circular Quay area, and lots of informative commentary from your pilot. The price does vary by group size: it costs $3,644 AUD for 2 people or $1,457 per person for a group of 3-6 people.
Related Read: If wine is calling your name, don’t miss a wine tour in Margaret River! It’s one of Australia’s best wine regions and gets compared to Tuscany in Italy.
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.
7. Do you need to book your helicopter tour in Sydney in advance?
Yes, you do – in fact, this is a must! The helicopter company needs time to organize the flight and make sure that there’s room on board for everyone.
Plus, Sydney helicopter tours are incredibly popular, so they book up fast. You need to reserve your spot well in advance to secure your place.
During the slow season, we almost missed out because we only booked three days ahead of time – in hindsight, this was cutting it way too close! If you’re going to be in Sydney during the summer, you should book as far in advance as you possibly can.
8. When is the best time to do a helicopter tour in Sydney?
Helicopter tours in Sydney run all year round. Flights are more likely to be canceled due to bad weather during the winter, but you can just reschedule if this is the case, so it’s not the end of the world. Besides, during winter you have a very high chance of seeing whales on your flight!
All in all, Sydney helicopter tours are a great year-round activity, and you get amazing views whatever the weather because the helicopter flies low enough that you’ll be below the clouds. So even on a cloudy day, you get fantastic views!
9. Who can participate in helicopter tours in Sydney?
Most people, although there are a couple of limitations. For example, if you want to take children under two years old on a helicopter tour, you’ll need to book a private flight.
There are also some weight limits in place, which do vary from company to company. For the flight that we did, the weight limit was 135 kg (297 lbs) per person, whereas for this private tour, the limit is a bit lower at 125 kg (275 lbs) per person. There’s also often a combined weight limit for two passengers checking in together – usually 180 kg (397 lbs) per couple.
The flight that we did was also wheelchair accessible, as is this 30-minute flight, this private nighttime flight, and the Hunter Valley tour. However, the helicopters can only accommodate collapsible wheelchairs and the pilot is not allowed to assist passengers in getting on or off of the helicopter due to health and safety rules.
10. Are helicopter tours in Sydney safe?
Yes, they’re very safe. In fact, Australia has one of the safest aviation industries in the world. All companies have to follow strict rules and regulations, and your pilot is a trained professional. There will be a safety briefing before your flight and you have to wear a lifejacket throughout. We felt totally safe!
11. How much time do you need for a Sydney helicopter tour?
If you’re taking a 20-minute flight, I would allow two hours in total. You have to arrive 30 minutes before your departure, and then you’ll also need some time to travel to and from the heliport.
12. What should you bring for a helicopter flight in Sydney?
Honestly, you don’t need to bring a ton of stuff with you. You should definitely bring your camera or smartphone, though, as you are allowed to take pictures and videos during the flight, so don’t miss that opportunity!
It’s also a good idea to bring some sunglasses, as it’s pretty bright when you’re up in the air.
You aren’t allowed to bring bags on board the helicopter flight but you can store belongings at the heliport and collect them after your flight. We actually brought all of our luggage with us and went to the airport straight afterward to fly out of Sydney!
13. Tips for the best helicopter ride in Sydney
You can’t pick your seat, but you can ask
Seating is based on weight because there needs to be an even distribution. It’s not really possible to select a seat but with that being said, it’s always worth asking.
Truthfully, there are no bad seats on board, but sitting in the front in the co-pilot seat is definitely the best. This seat typically goes to the lightest passenger, which usually ends up being Bailey! Of course, if everyone on the flight is evenly weighted you can ask and often they will say yes.
You get amazing views no matter where you sit
You really don’t need to worry too much about where you sit on the helicopter. These flights are set up to ensure that everyone gets an amazing view. The windows are huge so even if you get the middle seat, you’ll still see everything.
They have storage
You can bring your camera or phone and a pair of sunglasses on board, but you’ll be asked to leave everything else at the heliport. There are lockers there that are free to use, so you don’t need to worry about leaving your wallet or other valuables behind. You won’t need them when you’re up in the air!
Weight limits must be observed or you may have to book a private flight
The helicopter companies aren’t wishy-washy about weight limits. They’re there for a reason, and you will be weighed on arrival, so don’t try and push it. If you are heavier than the weight limit, you may still be able to do a helicopter tour but you’ll need to book a private flight.
14. Is a helicopter tour in Sydney suitable for children?
Yes! Kids over the age of two are welcome on all of the flights we’ve mentioned in this blog. However, kids under 2 aren’t allowed on group flights, so if you want to fly with very young children you’ll need to book a private helicopter tour. Infants and toddlers also need to sit on an adult’s lap during the flight.
15. Would we recommend a helicopter tour in Sydney?
Yes, of course! We loved the tour that we did, and we highly recommend it to others – we even included it in our 3-day Sydney itinerary. We’ve done a few helicopter rides all over the world, but this was easily one of the best.
The pilot was friendly, the helicopter was new and fancy, and the views were just incredible. It was also really easy to book our flight through Viator and organize our transport, so there was no hassle involved!
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:
- Dinner Cruise – In Sydney, getting out on the water on a cruise is a must-do! And the best type of Sydney Harbour cruise? A fancy Sydney dinner cruise, of course! We did this dinner cruise the last time we were in Sydney and it was a ton of fun! We enjoyed beautiful city views from out on the water, an open bar, and a delicious three-course meal!
- 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!
- Tour the Sydney Opera House – Did you even visit Sydney if you didn’t go to the Opera House?! You can walk around the Opera House for free, but if you want to see the inside, then you’ll have to join a guided tour or buy tickets to a show. We did this guided tour and found it super interesting! They took us to all of the different theatres and we learned all about the history of the building – all for only $42 AUD!
- 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 is 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. This trendy harbour features more restaurants, bars, and cafes than I can count! Plus, almost everything is waterfront! Here you can also enjoy the Chinese Garden of Friendship, walk across the Pyrmont Bridge, or visit other popular attractions like Madame Tussauds, the SeaLife aquarium, and Wildlife Sydney Zoo.
Where to Stay in Sydney
With so many things to do in and around 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.
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!
A helicopter flight is one of those epic experiences that you’ll be talking about for years to come! And Sydney is such a great place to take flight. The views over the Sydney Harbour are incredible and it’s worth splurging a bit to make some incredible memories.
Hopefully, our guide on all the things to know before booking a Sydney helicopter tour has helped you pick a flight and prepare for your tour. If you have any questions, leave a comment below or check out our other Australia travel guides for more ideas for your trip!