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15 FUN Things to do in Manly Beach, Sydney (more than just swimming and beaching!)

15 FUN Things to do in Manly Beach, Sydney (more than just swimming and beaching!)

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Manly Beach is one of Sydney’s northern beaches – and one of our favorite places in Sydney to hang out whenever we’re in the city. We love its soft sand, shimmering blue water, and lovely tree-lined promenade. But aside from soaking up scenery and sunshine, there are also lots of things to do at Manly Beach!

This place is a hub for surfers, but you can also go scuba diving and whale watching here. We also love simply hanging out at the awesome local shops and cafes. And strolling along the beach or promenade is one of the best budget-friendly activities in Sydney. Seriously, what’s not to love?

We travel to Sydney often, and Bailey even lived here for a little while when she first moved to Australia. We never come to the city without visiting Manly Beach because we love it so much. It’s every bit as beautiful as Bondi Beach, but it’s way more chilled out, and the locals definitely favor Manly.

Since we consider visiting Manly Beach an absolute must when you’re visiting Sydney, we’ve written this complete guide. Read on to learn how to get there along with the best Manly Beach activities so you can enjoy a perfect beach day. And who knows, maybe we’ll even see you on the sand! 

Things to do at Manly Beach, Sydney

1. Relax at the beach

View of Manly Beach in Sydney, Australia
View of Manly Beach in Sydney, Australia

Manly Beach is huge – it’s actually three beaches in one. It’s roughly 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) long as the crow flies and stretches all the way from Queenscliff to South Steyne. Basically, there’s a lot of space for relaxing and lounging on the sand around here! 

There are also lifeguard towers and swimming flags dotted along the beach, and the water is refreshing but very comfortable to swim in. 

And if your idea of a relaxing beach day includes a scenic stroll, you can also walk north to Freshwater Beach or south to Shelly Beach, but more on that below. 

2. Manly to Shelly Walk 

Daniel on the Manly to Shelly Walk
On the way to Shelly Beach!
Views of Shelly Beach on the Shelly to Manly walk
Shelly Beach!

We love the Manly to Shelly walk. It’s one of our favorite things to do at Manly Beach, and it only takes around 20 minutes. The route takes you from Manly Beach to Shelly Beach, which is just south of Manly.

Shelly Beach is just magical. It’s smaller than Manly Beach and feels a bit more hidden. Its protected waters are ideal for snorkeling and swimming, and it’s such a lovely place to relax. 

Plus, the walk itself is really nice, and there are lots of places to stop along the way, despite its short length. We like to stop for refreshments at the Bower Manly Cafe, which has delicious food and epic sea views. It’s located roughly at the halfway point of this walk, so if you get hungry, stop by! They serve breakfast and lunch all day, and I really enjoyed their burger.

We also love visiting the Boathouse Shelly Beach, which is a super chic spot overlooking the water. It’s also a great spot for a sundowner! It’s located right on Shelly Beach and is open Monday to Wednesday from 7 am to 3 pm and Thursday to Sunday from 7 am to 9 pm.

Another great stop along the way is the Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve. It’s an outdoor pool filled with ocean water, so it’s ideal for kids – or just great if you want a change from swimming in the open water. It’s so pretty, and it’s free to swim! 

Once you reach Shelly Beach, you can also keep walking and head up to Shelly Headland Upper Lookout. It’s only an extra 5-10 minutes to get to the viewpoint. Not only do you get gorgeous ocean views from here, but you can sometimes see whales! 

3. Go whale watching 

Humpback whale watching in Sydney, Australia
So cool!

The Northern Beaches region is a popular place to spot whales traveling up and down the coast. Between May and November each year, over 40,000 southern right and humpback whales swim along Sydney’s coastline as they migrate up from Antarctica. However, you can sometimes spot them as late as December. 

Therefore, a trip to Manly Beach, Sydney, is the perfect opportunity to see whales. We love going up to Shelly Headland Upper Lookout to spot them. North Head is another great viewpoint, which is about a 50-minute walk south of Manly Beach or Shelly Beach. It’s mostly an easy walk, but there are a few steep sections, so sneakers will serve you better than flip-flops or sandals.

And if you want to head out on a boat for a whale watching tour, Manly Ocean Adventures runs them in this area. They offer friendly, small-group tours between May and November. Sightings are guaranteed, so if you don’t spot any whales, you’ll get to do the tour again for free. The tours last for 1.5 hours and cost $119 AUD per person.

If you’d like to check out other options for tours and tips on when to go, check out our guide on whale watching in Sydney!

Related Read: Do you love wildlife? Well, Perth, Australia, is full of it! Here, you can visit cute quokkas on Rottnest Island or see the world’s smallest penguins on Penguin Island.

4. Learn to surf

A group of people learn to surf at Manly Beach, Sydney
The waves here are great for learning!

Manly is a surfer’s paradise, so it’s an ideal place to learn to surf. Manly Surf School runs surf lessons every day, and they cater to all ability and experience levels. Whether you’re a beginner, looking for a refresher course, or trying to go pro, they’ve got you covered. 

You can book into a 90-minute adult group class for $80 AUD, although packages are available. For example, you can get 5 lessons for $250 AUD. There are also hour-long private lessons costing $125 AUD for one session.

There are group lessons available for kids at low tide, which costs $70 AUD for one session, and up to $370 AUD for 10 lessons. This is a ton of fun for children and an awesome way to build up their confidence in the water. 

Or if you already know how to surf and just want to rent a board, Manly Surf Hire has plenty available for $20 AUD per hour or up to $50 AUD for a full 8 hours. You can also rent lockers to keep your belongings safe from just $14 AUD. 

5. Go for a bike ride

Manly Beach is also an awesome area to explore by bike. There are so many beautiful paths and scenic viewpoints to check out, and cycling around the area allows you to see a lot in just a few hours. 

You can even reserve a rental bike online and collect it close to the beach. And if you do rent a bike, Manly Beach is your oyster! 

Cycling along the promenade is a good place to start. It’s a flat, easy ride that’s about 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) in total, so it’s great for riders of all ages and abilities. 

Meanwhile, another popular route is from Manly Beach to North Head, which takes you through Sydney Harbour National Park. As we mentioned earlier, North Head is also an excellent spot for whale watching, and there’s a paved cycle path the entire way, so it’s a fairly easy ride.

Plus, you’ll pass St. Patrick’s Estate, which is a super impressive heritage building, and you can even stop off at the stunning Collins Beach along the way. This ride can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the detours and stops you’d like to make. But overall, we’d rate it moderate in terms of difficulty. 

The bike rentals cost $42 AUD for a full day. The bike rental office is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm and is located right by the wharf. However, we definitely recommend reserving your bikes in advance online!

6. Go snorkeling

A man snorkels at Manly Beach in Sydney with fish around him
Keep an eye out for seals!

Manly Beach, Sydney, is an amazing place to go snorkeling. As you explore its clear waters, you can see everything from starfish and seahorses to Port Jackson sharks – which are harmless and very unusual-looking bullhead sharks! 

There are a couple of places around Manly where you can rent snorkel equipment, although we think that this guided snorkeling excursion is the ultimate way to do it. You’ll be in a small group of no more than 10 people and have an expert guide to help spot as many fascinating marine creatures as possible. 

The trip also includes a short guided walk along the headlands. You’ll enjoy amazing views of Sydney’s northern beaches before you hit the water and even get to use binoculars. Honestly, it’s the perfect balance between land and sea, and you’ll get a beautiful overview of Manly Beach.

The whole experience lasts 2.5 hours in total, with a 1-hour guided snorkeling excursion at the Cabbage Tree Aquatic Reserve. Tours leave at 9:30 am and cost $109 AUD per person, including snorkeling equipment, rash vests, and wetsuits if necessary.

This is a popular tour, and it does sell out, so check availability and book well in advance!

Related Read: Are you also traveling to Fiji and can’t get enough beach time? Check out our list of the best beaches in Fiji – including some you just HAVE to see!

7. Get an ice cream at Anita Gelato

gelato selection at Anita Gelato in Manly, Australia
The hardest part is choosing!
Daniel enjoys an ice cream at Anita Gelato in Manly
It’s so good!

You have to try this amazing gelato while you’re in Manly Beach, Sydney! Anita Gelato has over 150 flavors of handmade gelato and frozen yogurt, and we are obsessed. They actually have a couple of branches around Sydney, so whenever you see one, take full advantage!

Anita Gelato is conveniently located between the wharf and beach and is open from 9 am until 11 pm every day. It does get really busy, so you need to either go early or just prepare to wait in line. We promise that it’s 100% worth it! 

8. Enjoy a delicious brunch

Bailey enjoys a meal at Dolce Terra Manly
Ready to dig in!
Healthy meal at Dolce Terra Manly
Dolce Terra Manly

There are so many amazing cafes and brunch spots in Manly, and nothing beats a leisurely brunch by the beach! 

With this much choice, picking a spot can be difficult, but we recommend heading to The Pantry Manly for the best view. It’s located right by the water’s edge, which really adds to the vibe. It’s open 7:30 am – 9 pm Friday through Sunday and 8 am – 9 pm Monday to Thursday. When we visited, I went for their classic eggs Benedict and an espresso martini to jump-start the day!

If you want a healthy meal, visit Dolce Terra Manly, which serves incredible salads, as well as a few hot options and wraps. It’s open daily from 10 am – 3 pm and is located just a few blocks from the beach. We loved all the fresh ingredients in our brunch dishes here!

Lastly, we also love Fika Manly, which is a Swedish-style cafe serving delicious brunch food. It’s open from 7 am to 2 pm every day. And again, it’s conveniently located by the beach!

9. Go shopping

Daniel and Bailey in the shopping are at Manly Beach
In Manly!

There is tons of shopping to do in Manly, especially at The Corso pedestrian mall. We think it’s an awesome place to shop because there’s so much variety here! They have everything from surfer-style shops and independent boutiques to homeware stores. You’ll also find excellent outdoor markets on the weekends.

If you feel like you’re in need of some retail therapy, you can certainly scratch that itch here!

And if you need inspiration on where to start, Desire Books & Records is a must for anyone who loves books and/or music. They’re open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. If you’re passing by one of these days, you’ll find some awesome second-hand novels and vinyls here! 

En Saison Flowers is also a great place to grab a bouquet. And just around the corner is Uuli’s Unique & Unusual Antique Store, where you’re guaranteed to find something interesting. Even if you don’t buy anything, window shopping around here is still a lot of fun.

10. Have an oceanside drink

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

Whether you’re into beer, wine, or cocktails, there’s no denying that they always taste better by the ocean. There are a ton of places in Manly Beach to grab a drink near the water, but our favorite is the New Brighton Hotel.

As promised, it’s located close to the beach. The front upper deck gets plenty of sun and has an amazing view, and we love coming here whenever we’re in Manly. It’s open on weekends from 9 am and weekdays from 10 am. It doesn’t close until past midnight, so it’s a great place to go for a late drink too!

You can also get fantastic ocean views from The Glasshouse rooftop bar, which is open from Thursday to Sunday from noon till late. Finally, we love visiting The Wharf Bar because you can sit out on the jetty and enjoy the beautiful scenery. It’s located right where you’d expect (on the wharf!), so you can grab a meal or drink before catching the ferry back to Sydney. It opens at 11 am and closes between 12-1 am.

Related Read: If you’re visiting Perth, check out my favorite breweries in the city. And you can trust me – I’m a local and absolutely love craft beer!

11. Fairfax Walk

The Fairfax Walk is one of the best walks to do in Manly Beach. It’s an easy, 1-kilometer (0.6-mile) paved loop starting and ending at the North Head. It offers fantastic views, not to mention whale watching opportunities. 

The walk will take you to the Yiningma Lookout, which is one of my favorite spots in Manly. It has excellent ocean views and is a prime spot for seeing whales between May and November. It’s also connected to the Burragula Lookout, where you can see across the harbor and admire Sydney’s iconic skyline. 

Basically, this easy walk gives you a big reward for relatively little effort! It’s also wheelchair and stroller-friendly since it’s flat and paved. It’s suitable for pretty much everyone.

12. Sydney Harbour National Park

Views of Sydney from Sydney Harbour National Park
Views of Sydney from Sydney Harbour National Park

Sydney Harbour National Park includes several beaches and the forested south of Manly Beach. You can access the North Head portion of the park from Manly Beach. It’s located roughly a 45-minute walk south of Manly Beach or a 15-minute bike ride, and there are some cool things to do here. 

For example, the park is home to Quarantine Beach, which is a secluded beach that’s a great place to escape the crowds. It’s named after the old Quarantine Station, which you can also visit!

The Quarantine Station was where quarantined ships used to drop off their passengers. When we came here, we could actually see the names of different ships and passengers engraved on the cliffs! The station is also home to a hotel and some restaurants, and you can also walk out along the Quarantine Station Wharf.

The North Head viewpoint and the Fairfax Walk that we’ve mentioned are also within the bounds of Sydney Harbour National Park. 

13. Manly Art Gallery and Museum

Manly Art Gallery and Museum
Photo credit: Manly Art Gallery and Museum

As well as its stunning shores, Manly Beach is also known for being an artistic hub. The Manly Art Gallery and Museum features lots of cool temporary exhibitions focusing on different aspects of Australian art. These are always changing, but it’s definitely worth checking out the current exhibit while you’re in town!

There’s also a smaller gallery on site which is dedicated exclusively to artists who are local to the Northern Beaches. It’s such a cool way to get a glimpse of just how much talent resides in the area. I guess living in such a beautiful area must really help get those creative juices flowing!

The Manly Art Gallery and Museum is located right by the wharf. Admission is free, and it’s open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am – 5 pm.

14. Go kayaking

We absolutely love kayaking, and it’s certainly a great way to explore Manly’s incredible scenery. If you don’t know the area super well, we definitely recommend going with a guide who can take you to all of the best spots and help you avoid the rougher waters. Plus, this guided tour also allows you to discover what’s going on underwater because you’ll be in a clear-bottom kayak!  

As you paddle around Manly Cove and the pristine surrounding beaches, you’ll be able to see the fish and marine creatures beneath you, which we think is pretty amazing! You get the best of both worlds because you get to see above and below the water at the same time. 

Plus, we like the fact that this tour takes things at a leisurely pace. You can even stop for a stroll along one of the beaches or head into the water for a quick swim. It’s a very beginner-friendly tour, so there’s no need to worry if you’ve never been kayaking before.

There’s a maximum of 8 people in a group, so it’s nice and chilled out. Plus, you’ll get plenty of personalized attention from your guide.

This experience costs $95 AUD including all of your kayak gear as well as dry bags for your stuff, snacks, and hot drinks. Tours last 2.5 hours, leaving at 8 am and 11 am every day except Tuesday and Thursday, but it does book up fast. Click here to reserve this kayaking tour before it sells out!

15. Scuba diving

daniel and bailey taking a selfie while scuba diving
Selfie!

We’re scuba-obsessed, and Manly Beach offers some excellent diving opportunities thanks to its clear waters and abundant marine life. 

If you’re looking to scuba dive here, we recommend Dive Sydney. They offer excursions from Manly Beach that take you to secret caves, swim-throughs, and overhangs to marvel at Sydney’s incredible underwater world. 

Unguided boat diving with Dive Sydney starts at $70 AUD per person for a single dive or $100 AUD for a double session. There are also guided shore dives beginning at $55 AUD per person. This price doesn’t include equipment, but that’s available to rent, starting at $65 AUD for two tanks and weights or $125 AUD for full gear. 

You can also learn to dive in Manly Beach, with PADI courses starting at $595 AUD. We definitely think that this would be an awesome place to learn to dive, especially because there are so many other great things to do in Manly Beach when you’re off the clock!

3 Best Tours that Visit Manly Beach

1. Private Sydney Full-Day Tour

Bailey enjoys the view from Mrs Macquarie's Chair in Sydney of the opera house and harbour bridge
Mrs Macquarie’s Chair
Manly Beach, Sydney
Manly Beach, Sydney

If you’re short on time in Sydney, then we think that this private full-day tour is an excellent way to make the most of your time here! It’s totally customizable, so you can ask your guides to take you to Manly Beach and check out the area’s highlights. Or, just spend a little time lounging on the shore if you prefer! 

And, of course, you can check out world-famous attractions like the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. You can also explore Bondi Beach or some of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods. On this private tour, Sydney’s top attractions are truly right at your fingertips! 

Tours are available every day, and since it’s private, you have some flexibility on start time. However, we recommend leaving by 10 am since it’s roughly 8 hours long. If you’re only in Sydney for a few days, this is such a great way to make sure that you get plenty of time at Manly Beach – while still ticking off your other must-see Sydney attractions!

The price of this tour depends on how many people are joining. For example, it’s $550 AUD each for 2 people, $280 AUD each for 4, or $200 AUD per person for a group of 6. It covers transport, including hotel pickup and dropoff, your guide, and bottled water. Any ferries or food will cost extra.

To see both Sydney and Manly Beach, book this private tour online right here!

2. Sydney City Highlights and Hidden Gems

Bailey on the steps of the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia
Bailey on the steps of the Sydney Opera House
Shelly Beach in Manly
Beautiful!

We love the itinerary for this private sightseeing tour because it combines iconic Sydney highlights with local hidden gems so well. Plus, since it is a private tour, you can adjust it to suit your needs and make sure that you don’t miss out on anything. 

You’ll get to see famous places like the Sydney Opera House – which is naturally a must-see! – and walk across the Harbour Bridge to The Rocks, which is one of our favorite areas of Sydney to explore. It’s one of the best sightseeing tours in Sydney we’ve come across.

This tour also whisks you to Bondi Beach so that you get to see this Sydney icon. I loved being able to see both beaches and really get a feel for Syndey’s beach culture. Plus, you’ll have the chance to do a section of the Bondi to Coogee Walk, which takes you along the coast on a gorgeous clifftop.

And, of course, you’ll visit Manly Beach to soak in the great atmosphere and admire its beautiful golden shores. You can even ask your guide for some extra time here if you’d like to stick around for a little longer. This is why we love private tours – you can be flexible and take things at your own pace.

This tour includes hotel pickup and drop-off in a comfortable vehicle, your knowledgeable guide, and bottled water. It costs $448 AUD per person, although the price per person is cheaper for bigger groups. If you have 4, it’ll be $282 AUD each. Your group can expect to leave between 8 am and 9:30 am, returning 6 hours later.

You can click here to check availability and book this private tour. It’s a great way to see all the sites in one day without ever feeling rushed!

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.

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

3. Half-day Manly Beach and more

The Corso in Manly Beach, Sydney
The Corso in Manly Beach, Sydney

Are you looking for a tour that specifically focuses on Manly Beach? Well, we highly recommend this private, half-day one! It’s all about soaking up the scenery of the Northern Beaches and taking you to the best spots in Manly.

You’ll stroll along Balmoral Beach’s beautiful boardwalk, followed by a walk from Manly Beach to Shelly Beach. We discussed this walk earlier in this article – it’s one of our favorite walks in Sydney, and we love the sightseeing along the way!

This tour also takes you to North Head, and you’ll get to check out Sydney Harbour National Park. Plus, if you do this tour during the winter or spring months, you’ll probably spot some whales, too!

Your guide will also take you to some lesser-known local spots and hidden beaches. Of course, you can always make requests if there’s something specific you’d like to see – that’s the beauty of a private tour. 

This tour lasts 5 hours, and prices depend on your party’s size. For example, it costs $280 AUD per person for groups of 2 or $130 AUD each for groups of 6. This price includes lunch during the tour, as well as hotel pickup and dropoff. It’s our top choice for exploring the best of the Northern Beaches! 

If Manly is your focus, don’t hesitate to book this private tour online!

Related Read: Whether you don’t mind being in a group or like the private tour experience, check out the best walking tours in Sydney for all the options!

How to get to Manly Beach in Sydney

Bailey rides the public ferry from Circular Quay to Manly with views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House in the background
The ferry is a scenic cruise too!

Public ferry

Whenever we visit Manly Beach, we usually catch the public ferry from Circular Quay. It only takes around 22 minutes, so it’s fast and cheap! A single ticket costs $10.20 AUD. You can pay at the wharf using either an Opal transit card, a contactless debit or credit card, or a digital device to tap. 

The Manly Fast Ferry to Manly Beach runs from 6 am until 8:20 pm on weekdays or from 9 am until 8:40 pm on weekends. Ferries leave every 20 minutes, although departures are more frequent during the weekday rush hour. From the Manly Wharf, it’s just two blocks to the main beach.

Return ferries to Circular Quay run from 6 am to 8:50 pm on weekdays and 9:30 am – 9:10 pm on weekends and holidays. They also run every 20 minutes and even more frequently during rush hour.

Hop-on Hop-off Cruise

The public ferry is definitely the preferred option among locals. However, this Hop-on Hop-off Sydney Harbour Cruise is also a great way to get to Manly Beach. If you’re not in the city for very long, then this option allows you to work a visit to Manly Beach into a full day of sightseeing. 

The cruise leaves from Circular Quay Wharf 6, and you’ll cruise past the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Since this is an open-air sightseeing cruise, you’ll be able to take amazing photos of these Australian icons as you glide by. 

Plus, this boat also stops at Taronga Zoo and Watsons Bay before you get to Manly Wharf. You can easily hop off and explore these Sydney attractions along the way if you wish. After Manly Beach, you can also continue on to Shark Island and the Clifton Gardens. Sydney really is your oyster! 

This is such a fun and easy way to get to Manly Beach, and it’s perfect for first-timers in Sydney. It’s $40 AUD per person for a single-day pass, or you can buy a 2-day pass for $56 AUD and take your time to enjoy Manly Beach. You can purchase the Hop-on Hop-off Harbour Cruise online here.

Drive/Uber/taxi

You can drive or take an Uber or taxi to Manly Beach, but this is our least favorite option. It’s not as novel or scenic, and it can take 30-50 minutes, depending on traffic. Plus, it costs around $45 AUD for a regular Uber from Circular Quay to Manly Beach, so it’s more expensive than the ferry, and way less fun than the sightseeing cruise! 

Other Things to do While You’re in Sydney

Bailey enjoys a drink at the House Canteen at the Sydney opera House
Cheers from the Sydney Opera House!
Prince Henry cliff walk on a Blue Mountains Tour from Sydney
Prince Henry cliff walk on a Blue Mountains Tour from 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 sights 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!
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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 this Sydney Attractions Pass!).
  • Tour the Sydney Opera House – Did you even visit Sydney if you didn’t go to the Opera House?! You can walk around for free, but if you want to see the inside, then you’ll have to join a guided tour of the Opera House 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!

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. It’s also just a 10-minute walk to the Circular Quay, where you can catch the Fast Ferry or Hop-on Hop-off Ferry to Manly Beach.

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. It’s about a 10-minute drive to the Circular Quay ferry terminal.

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. Plus, you’re just a 15-minute walk from the ferry to Manly Beach. 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!

When in Sydney, we can’t turn down a visit to Manly Beach. This area is absolutely gorgeous, and it’s such a cool place to hang out. Whether you want to hike to viewpoints and see whales or visit the cute local shops and eateries, you’re bound to have fun. It’s one of our top places in Sydney, and we hope our list has helped you plan a visit here!

If you found this guide useful, check out our other blogs about Australia. We’ve also visited the nearby country of Fiji, and we’ve spent several years in New Zealand. To get an idea of what we write about, click on the links below.

Journey Beyond Cruise Sydney Review: Is it Worth it?

Where to Stay in Darwin, Australia – An Unbiased Guide to Darwin Accommodation

17 Things to KNOW before Visiting Kakadu National Park, Australia

25 BEST Things to do in Busselton, Australia