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11 Things to Know BEFORE Booking a Lunch Cruise in Sydney

11 Things to Know BEFORE Booking a Lunch Cruise in Sydney

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There are a lot of things you can do to experience Sydney, but I think taking a cruise and exploring the Sydney Harbour is the best way! A lunch cruise is perfect to fit into your busy itinerary, as you can spend a few hours sailing around the Sydney Harbour, taking in the sights, and eat a delicious, and often quite fancy, meal at the same time! 

The last time we visited Sydney we joined a lunch cruise, and let me tell you, it was great! We saw all of Sydney’s iconic sights all while filling our bellies with great food and drinks!

There are a few lunch cruises in Sydney that really stand out and have an array of options, from duration to the type of food served. You can even choose an all-inclusive option and have access to an open bar for a really fun afternoon!

To help pick your ideal Sydney lunch cruise, I’ve narrowed down the top things you should know before booking, and the best lunch cruises out there!

Don’t have time to read the full article? A lunch cruise in Sydney is the perfect way to enjoy the best sights of Sydney all while filling your belly with delicious local food. This particular lunch cruise is our favorite as the meal is amazing and all drinks are included, too!

1. Why book a lunch cruise in Sydney?

Bailey poses for a photo on the back deck during a Sydney Harbour Lunch cruise
The Opera House!
Daniel and Bailey pose for a photo on a Sydney Harbour cruise
We loved it!

Sydney is known as the “Harbour City” so it’s only fitting to experience it from the water! You get totally different views of Sydney’s most beautiful sights than you do from the mainland. Sydney was built around the harbour, so it’s really the only way you can see all of the sights from one location. 

A lunch cruise makes for an unforgettable afternoon in the gorgeous Sydney sun! Sydney is a rather temperate city, so you can really enjoy a lunch cruise year-round. It’s hard to beat a warm sunny day out on the water on a luxury boat, plus a yummy meal and stunning sights!

While you cruise around, you’ll get unique viewpoints of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, Luna Park, Point Piper, and the Taronga Zoo

Each cruise has a different menu, but it’s a lunch cruise so the meal is almost as important as the views! They range from a plated seafood meal to locally sourced steak paired with wine, or a BBQ buffet if you’re looking for something more casual.

There is a lot of variety between the lunch cruises, so you can really find one that fits your travel style the best. Regardless, you’ll be sure to have an amazing time on the water and experience Sydney in a totally unique way!

2. What are the BEST Sydney lunch cruises?

Sydney Harbour Discovery Cruise including a Buffet Lunch (the cheapest option!)

Our Sydney Harbour cruise sails towards the Sydney Opera House
Oh Sydney you are beautiful!
Food trays on a Sydney Harbour lunch cruise
Ready for lunch!

While lunch cruises in Sydney can quickly become an expensive activity, we love that this tour is budget-friendly at only $70 AUD including your meal! It is a great cheap way to experience Sydney, and still have an amazing day on the water seeing Sydney’s epic sights. 

You’ll meet this tour at the dock in Circular Quay and board your multi-tiered vessel for the afternoon. This cruise lasts for 2 hours and will take you by the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, as well as gorgeous secluded beaches and sandstone cliffs to see Sydney’s outdoor beauty.

This lunch cruise also has live commentary on board, so you’ll get bits of information about the sights you’re seeing along the way. I think it’s actually one of the best sightseeing tours in Sydney because of this. When we did it, the gentleman who was giving the commentary was very friendly, informative, and funny!

I also appreciate that this cruise is more laid-back and casual, so it can easily fit into a full day of activities. You’ll dine on a BBQ buffet that has a huge selection including Thai-style chicken filet, Australian prawns, Moroccan-style chickpea salad, and so many other yummy dishes. Complimentary tea and coffee are also served, and you can purchase alcohol too! 

This is my top pick if you’re traveling with kids, as the price is more budget-friendly, and it is more casual than some of the other tours. Whenever I’ve taken a lunch cruise, the kids really enjoy having the freedom to explore the boat on their own, which a laid-back cruise like this one is ideal for. 

Like I said, this tour is super affordable at only $70 AUD for adults and $50 AUD for children. I recommend booking this tour in advance to ensure you book the day you want, and you can book this tour online here!

Sydney Harbour View Lunch Cruise (3-course meal!)

A close up of the Sydney Opera House as seen on a Sydney Harbour cruise
There she is!
Bailey looks out the window on a Sydney Harbour Cruise with views of the city
Sydney is best seen from the water!

If you’re looking for an elevated lunch cruise experience, this Sydney Harbour View Lunch Cruise certainly steps up! While the views are incredible, of course, the food is really what stands out on this cruise. I guess that’s exactly what you hope for on a lunch cruise! 

You’ll meet at the King Street Wharf in Darling Harbour and board a yacht-styled multi-tiered boat at noon.

This tour offers a selection between a 1.5-hour 2-course meal and a 3-hour 3-course meal. I recommend booking the 3-hour cruise, as 1.5 hours just isn’t enough to see the entire Sydney Harbour. Plus, with the food being this tasty, you’ll definitely want the third course. 

The menu varies seasonally, but they often serve pumpkin, ricotta and goat cheese ravioli; Black Angus Riverina beef sirloin; and lemon and lime tart – my stomach is rumbling as I write this! There is also a bar on board to purchase drinks if you’d like, and you can upgrade your table to sit next to a window for amazing views the entire time. 

After lunch, you’ll have time to head to the open upper deck and see the incredible views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. Be sure to snap some photos to remember this fun afternoon on the water!

If you select the 1.5-hour 2-course meal experience, this lunch cruise is $95 AUD. The 3-hour 3-course cruise is $115 AUD. You can book this experience online here!

Journey Beyond Cruise Sydney Harbour (all-inclusive drinks and food!)

Bailey stands at the front of the boat during a Sydney Harbour Cruise and enjoys the sunshine and views
Cheers!

Part of the appeal of a Sydney lunch cruise is the boat itself! All of the Sydney tours on this list have amazing food and views, but cruising around on a luxury boat is something that makes this tour stand out amongst the rest. This 78ft luxury cruiser called Spirit of Migaloo will make this experience one of the most memorable activities during your time in Sydney. 

This is one of the well-known Journey Beyond Cruises in Sydney (they are loved for a reason!) and it departs from Darling Harbour where you will board your 24-meter (78-foot) luxury cruise boat. This tour follows the same route as the others as you will first head towards Sydney Harbour Bridge, pass the Opera House, Luna Park, and enjoy other iconic sights along the way. The views paired with the boat make for a simply gorgeous afternoon!

It gets better as lunch is served, too. All of the dishes are made with fresh local ingredients using Hunter Valley beef to fresh seafood.

Drinks are included on this tour, so you can grab a pint of local beer or sommelier-picked wines to pair with your food. This is the only lunch cruise that includes alcoholic drinks in the price, so if you’re looking for a good excuse to get a little afternoon tipsy, this is your best bet!

This 2.5-hour cruise will serve up Sydney’s finest scenery along with the incredible food! This tour is $159 AUD per person and can be booked in advance online here!

Related Read: Most dinner cruises in Sydney included drinks – read about our favorite ones!

Lunch Cruise with Music on Sydney Harbour (the longest cruise)

Views of the Sydney harbour Bridge from a Sydney harbour cruise in Sydney, Australia
You get plenty of amazing views!

This 3-hour lunch cruise is a fun experience with live music on board, prizes and giveaways, a photographer, and an open upper deck to get 360 views! This tour also has the longest cruise route along the Sydney Harbour, so you get to see more than most other travelers taking a lunch cruise in Sydney. 

This tour departs from Darling Harbour and will have stunning views from the get-go! You will pass under the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge that opens up to a picturesque view of the harbour. This is the best way to experience Sydney, as you pass by Luna Park and the Opera House, all the way up to Taronga Zoo and Point Piper.

All the while, you’ll have live music and singing to give this tour a little extra fun!

You’ll get to indulge in a 3-course meal prepared of seafood and a carvery lunch set including various meats and side dishes. They also make the best desserts and have a bar with drinks available for purchase to finish it off! 

This three-hour cruise will fly by between the delicious food and great views. You can reserve this Sydney lunch cruise online here for $95 AUD per person.

3. What is the absolute BEST Sydney lunch cruise? 

bailey enjoys a glass of wine as a our boat travels underneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge on a Sydney Harbour Cruise
It’s even better with a drink!
Bailey is excited as we see the Sydney Harbour Bridge from a Sydney Harbour Cruise
I was pretty excited!

Journey Beyond Cruise Sydney Harbour 

Our top pick is the all-inclusive lunch cruise in Sydney. We love all-inclusive tours so you really feel like you are getting a more valuable experience. You don’t have to worry about bringing extra cash or adding to the cost of something you already paid for, you can simply relax and enjoy the lunch cruise!

This cruise in particular has an excellent menu and incredibly high ratings, so you know you’ll be getting a delicious meal. 

The views are sure to not disappoint either! While many of these tours follow the same route and you’ll be getting the same views on any of them, the type of boat plays into it. This tour has a large upper deck, so you will be able to enjoy the views at any time and truly get the full Sydney Harbour experience.

Book the lunch cruise in Sydney that we think is the best online here!

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.

4. Where do Sydney lunch cruises go?

A boat sails in front of the Sydney Skyline as seen on a Sydney Harbour Cruise
A boat sails in front of the Sydney Skyline as seen on a Sydney Harbour Cruise

All of the Sydney lunch cruises depart from either Darling Harbour or Circular Quay and set sail into Sydney Harbour. The harbour is made up of 240 kilometers (150 miles) of coastline, so there is a lot to see!

You will sail under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and right next to the Sydney Opera House, which are the big-ticket sights to see. You will also head out to Point Piper, which is the most expensive part of Sydney and has some gorgeous buildings that overlook the water. 

You will go as far as the Taronga Zoo, an iconic Sydney sight, and pass by many beaches and historic sights along the way. You won’t quite make it to the mouth of the Tasman Sea, as you might need a longer cruise to get that far! Each cruise follows its own specific route and keeps great views as its main priority, so have your camera ready!

Related Read: For another awesome view of Sydney, consider going on a helicopter flight in Sydney – the coastline is beautiful from up in the sky!

5. What are the highlights of a Sydney lunch cruise?

Point Piper as seen on a Sydney Harbour Cruise
Your looking at houses in the range of $50 to $100 million.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is a staple of the Sydney cityscape. Built in 1932, it has that historic feel, and you can just imagine how many millions of people have passed over and under it.

Taking a stroll across the bridge is one of those must-do free activities in Sydney, but I would also say passing under it is just as necessary! Luckily, Sydney dinner cruises sail right under the bridge, which gives a perfectly framed harbour view that is like none other!

Sydney Opera House

As the most distinguishable sight of Australia, catching a glimpse of the Sydney Opera House is on nearly every traveler’s bucket list. All of the Sydney dinner cruises take a slow drive past the Opera House and get much closer than I expected! It’s one thing to see it on land, but it’s 10x more beautiful seeing it from the water!

Sydney Skyline

I don’t feel like you can fully experience a city without getting an epic view of its skyline! From a cruise, this is probably the prettiest view of the Sydney skyline I’ve ever seen (with the Sydney Tower Eye coming in at a close second!), as you can get out far enough to see the glimmering lights reflecting on the water after the sun sets.

The skyline is nearly as iconic as the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge themselves, so all three paired together make for simply gorgeous views. 

Point Piper

Point Piper is Sydney’s most expensive neighborhood, so you will see some mind-blowingly impressive homes overlooking the harbour. Many of these homes are to be seen on the new TV show called Luxe Listings Sydney. It has become a staple along the Sydney Harbour and quite a sight to see!

6. How long do Sydney lunch cruises last?

Bailey on a Sydney Harbour Cruise with views of the Sydney opera House
Sydney is one of the most beautiful cities in the world!

Each cruise varies in length but they are all either 2 or 3 hours. In my opinion, this is the perfect amount of time because it gives you enough time to see the classic Sydney sights, enjoy lunch, and still have the rest of your day for other activities! Taking a cruise around Sydney Harbour was definitely my favorite way to experience the city, but with so much to do in Sydney, these shorter cruises give you enough time to experience it all. 

7. What should you wear on a Sydney lunch cruise?  

Bailey poses for a photo on the deck of a Sydney Harbour Cruise
I was pretty casual!

Sydney lunch cruises are your chance to put on the best clothes you packed, as they are usually pretty formal and classy occasions. I will say that the lunch cruises are a bit less formal than dinner cruises in Sydney, but it’s still best to dress up a bit. We were short on clothes when we took a lunch cruise, as we were traveling with a carry-on, so we just wore what we had and it was no big deal!

Some of the cruises are more formal than others, and you can fit the cruise that fits your travel style best. For example, this budget-friendly BBQ buffet lunch is less formal, but it’s still a fun and exciting way to see the harbour. But this all-inclusive lunch cruise in Sydney is definitely the fanciest option on this list, so you can go all out for it!

8. Are Sydney lunch Cruises suitable for children?

The Sydney Opera House as seen from a Sydney Harbour Cruise
The Sydney Opera House!

Lunch cruises aren’t necessarily suited for children, but they are welcome to join. There aren’t many activities for kids to do on the cruises as a lot of it is sightseeing or relaxing at your table over a meal, which doesn’t always hold kids’ attention. However, most cruises allow children 3 and under to go join for free, and kids 4 and older can join at a discounted price. There are also high chairs available on all of these cruises. 

9. Are there vegetarian options available on a Sydney lunch cruise?

The Sydney Harbour Bridge sits in the distance as seen from the water
The Sydney Harbour Bridge!

Yes, all Sydney lunch cruises offer vegetarian options! They also can accommodate other dietary restrictions and usually will have a tasty alternative. Be sure to make a note of your dietary preferences as you’re booking the tour, and they will be sure to accommodate. 

10. Are the Sydney lunch cruises wheelchair accessible?

People enjoy the view of Sydney Harbour Bridge from a Sydney Harbour Cruise
Those views though!

Not all Sydney lunch cruises are wheelchair accessible, so it’s important to pay attention to which cruise you’re booking. Two of the tours listed on this blog are wheelchair friendly, although they are restricted to the main deck as there are no elevators on the boats. But, you can still get a table next to the window and see the amazing views! If you do need wheelchair access, you can book the Sydney Harbour View Lunch Cruise and All-Inclusive Lunch Cruise

Unfortunately, this Sydney Harbour Discovery Cruise and Lunch Cruise with Music tour are not wheelchair accessible.

11. Is a Sydney lunch cruise worth it? 

Daniel enjoys a glass of wine on a Sydney harbour Cruise
Yes!
Sydney city skyline as seen from a Sydney Harbour Cruise
The Sydney Skyline!

Yes, a lunch cruise in Sydney is totally worth it! This was one of my favorite activities that we did in Sydney, as it gave such a unique perspective of the harbor and other iconic spots. Plus, it’s a great way to experience the city if you only have 3 days to spend in Sydney.

Sydney has gorgeous weather most of the year, so it’s hard to beat a beautiful day out on the water. I can’t stress enough just how good the food is, which really makes these cruises worth it! You’ll enjoy fine dining, on a luxury boat, with incredible views– what more could you ask for?!

Related Read: For another epic experience in Australia, consider going swimming with whale sharks in Exmouth on the West Coast!

Other Things to do While You’re in Sydney

Bailey smiles at the camera while the helicopter pilot fly's over Sydney
So much fun!

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! But it’s even more stunning from the sky on a helicopter ride! 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!
  • 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 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. 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

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

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.

Thanks for reading!

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie on a cruise in Sydney, Australia
Thanks for reading!

Surely, after reading about these amazing tours, you’re ready to book your own lunch cruise in Sydney. These cruises are guaranteed to be a fun time, and I’m sure it’ll be one of the most memorable experiences that you have in Sydney.

Be sure to browse some of our other blogs about Australia including a few related blogs below:

21 BEST Places to Visit in Sydney Including Hidden Gems!

Spirit of Melbourne Dinner Cruise Review – Is it Worth it?

FREE and Cheap Things to do in Sydney

35 BEST Things to do in Darwin, Australia