Skip to Content

6 BEST Cruises on Sydney Harbour +What to Know BEFORE Booking!

6 BEST Cruises on Sydney Harbour +What to Know BEFORE Booking!

This blog may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy for more info.

There are so many fun things to do in Sydney, that it can be difficult to experience the best of the best! Whether you’re looking for a high-flying adventure, like a helicopter tour of the city, or something more relaxing, there is something for every traveler of any budget in Sydney.

One of my favorite experiences in Sydney has to be going on a cruise in Sydney Harbour. In fact, we enjoyed this so much that we’ve done it 4 times! It is one of the best ways to see the city and holds a lot of historical significance for Sydney. 

Finding the right cruise that fits your travel style is important to having the best cruise experience possible! There are literally dozens of different cruises to choose from in Sydney! So, if you’re looking for a load of informative commentary, a fancy night out, or a cocktail hour on the water, there’s a Sydney Harbour cruise out there for you!

Below, we’ve compiled info about the 6 best cruises in Sydney Harbour and everything you need to know before booking, so you can enjoy this experience as much as we did!

Don’t have time to read the full article? We absolutely had a blast on our dinner cruise in Sydney. This is the exact cruise we booked the last time we were in town and loved every second of it! The food was amazing and an open bar is inluded!

1. Are Sydney Harbour cruises worth it? 

The Sydney Opera House lit up at night as seen from the dinner cruise in Sydney Harbour
The Sydney Opera House lit up at night!
Bailey looks out the window on a Sydney Harbour Cruise with views of the city
Sydney is best seen from the water!

Yes! We have done 4 cruises in Sydney Harbour and have loved them all. Not only is cruising Sydney Harbour on a boat a super fun experience, but I love the fantastic views from the water. Sydney is called the “Harbour City”, so it’s only fitting that you experience Sydney from the harbour itself! From out on the water, you’ll get the absolute best views of the iconic Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

There are quite a few different types of cruises that you can choose from in Sydney, which is why we’ve enjoyed doing this activity four different times.

If you book a lunch or dinner cruise, be prepared for a meal you’ll dream about afterward! The fine-dining experience on a Sydney Harbour cruise is hard to beat, and they bring in top chefs, fresh ingredients, and paired alcohol with each meal, so it really goes beyond measure. 

There are also sunset cruises, cocktail hour cruises, or those that focus on sightseeing and give a more in-depth explanation of the Harbour. This harbour was where Australia was first settled, so there is a lot of history to be explored here!

I always recommend these cruises to friends, even if they’re only visiting Sydney for one day. Regardless of which cruise you choose, you won’t forget sailing around Sydney Harbour!

2. What are the BEST cruises in Sydney Harbour? 

Journey Beyond Cruise Sydney Harbour (Dinner) 

Bailey poses for a photo with the Sydney harbour Bridge during a dinner cruise in Sydney, Australia
It’s just as stunning at night!
Bailey sits down with her started on the Journey Beyond Cruise Dinner in Sydney Harbour
The food is amazing on Journey Beyond Cruises in Sydney!

All-inclusive is my favorite word when I’m booking a tour– especially on a dinner cruise! Dinner cruises in the Sydney Harbour are probably my favorite way to experience it.

There is something so magical as the sunsets and the city lights up, and you can see the entire skyline from the water! Dinner cruises are typically rather formal, so it’s a good excuse to get dressed up and treat yourself to a fine dining dinner, open bar, and killer views.

This dinner cruise sets off on an impressively large 24-meter (78-foot) three-story boat– which is the largest I’d ever been on! The upper deck is open, and you’ll have time to explore the boat and maybe even catch the sunset. You’ll pass under the lit-up Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House, which I think are even prettier at nighttime!

But of course, this Sydney Harbor dinner cruise is truly all about the food. The chefs are top-notch and use fresh seasonal ingredients so the menu often rotates. When we did this cruise, we had a selection of seafood for a starter, slow-cooked lamb shank for the main course, and lemon meringue tart for dessert!

You’ll meet this tour at King Street Wharf on Darling Harbour and it lasts for 3 hours. Your dinner and unlimited drinks are included, so you don’t have to worry about a thing on this cruise! Honestly, this cruise is an unforgettable experience and can be reserved online here for $198 AUD per person.

Related Read: For an in depth review of the dinner cruise we did in Sydney, read our blog!

Journey Beyond Cruise Sydney Harbour (Lunch) 

Daniel poses for a photo on a Sydney Harbour cruise
The Opera House!
Sydney city skyline as seen from a Sydney Harbour Cruise
The Sydney Skyline!

Perhaps your time is limited in Sydney,and you don’t have an evening to spare. That’s okay, we have a lunch cruise in the Sydney Harbour that is just as amazing as a dinner cruise! This 2.5-hour lunch cruise is a great afternoon activity. You get to cruise around the harbour, take in the gorgeous scenery, enjoy a tasty lunch, and hopefully, catch a nice sunny day!

This lunch cruise follows a similar path as the dinner cruise, past the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, Taronga Zoo, and Luna Park. Daytime harbour cruises in Sydney are great because you can get out of the hustle and bustle of the city and experience it from the water, which is a much more relaxed day! It becomes a two-in-one excursion: sightseeing and lunch!

Speaking of lunch, you’ll want to come hungry to this cruise. They bring the same high-caliber as on dinner cruises, so you can expect mouthwatering mains like Cowra beef cheek, roasted Marayong chicken breast, or Hawkesbury bream. Plus, an open bar on a lunch cruise is always a good idea! You’ll leave this cruise full and happy (maybe that’s from the alcohol!). 

This tour departs from King Street Wharf and includes everything! It can be booked for $158 AUD per person. Reserve this lunch cruise in advance here!

Sydney Cocktail Harbour Bar 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!
Our Sydney Harbour cruise sails towards the Sydney Opera House
Oh, Sydney you are beautiful!

What’s better than lunch and dinner? Cocktail hour! I love this cocktail hour cruise, not just for the drinks (although that’s a plus) but it’s a more affordable way to have the same amazing experience cruising in Sydney Harbour. 

This cocktail hour cruise sails for 2 hours, which is an ideal amount of time for sightseeing and enjoying the water. You will be greeted with a cocktail of your choice and are free to roam the large cruiser! This boat is equipped with plenty of lounge chairs, so you can find somewhere cozy to watch the views pass by. This tour also includes a charcuterie board with a spread of Australian cheeses– yum!

You’ll pass by the classic buildings along the Sydney Harbour, and can enjoy live music on the weekends. This tour departs at 5 pm from King Street Wharf in Darling Harbour. You’ll enjoy the golden hour and maybe even the sunset, which will be perfect for photos. 

This is one of the best ways you can experience Sydney Harbour, with a cocktail in hand and a gorgeous view! This tour can be reserved in advance online here for $75 AUD per person.

Lunch Cruise with Music on Sydney Harbour 

Sydney Harbour Bridge as seen from the water
The music makes the cruise that much more enjoyable!

Here we have another harbour cruise in Sydney that is sure to deliver on views and food! This Lunch Cruise with Music is an occasion in itself with a 3-course meal, 3 hours of sailing along the harbour, and a lively atmosphere.

This tour departs from King Street Wharf at 12:30 pm. You’ll make your way across Sydney Harbor, under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and past the Opera House and other iconic locations. You’ll really enjoy the atmosphere, as it has live music and entertainment the whole cruise as if the views weren’t enough!

The lunch is a 3-course plated dinner, serving up penne pasta and salad as a starter; herb and garlic roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, and roasted veggies for the main course; and dessert to finish it off. Complimentary tea and coffee are served, and there is a cash bar on board if you want to have a cocktail or cheeky glass of vino as you cruise! 

You really can’t go wrong with a luxury lunch cruise along the Sydney Harbour. I can’t think of any better way to experience it! This cruise is $95 AUD per person, which is actually a great price for a 3-course fine-dining experience and a sightseeing cruise all in one! Be sure to book this experience in advance here, as it is sure to fill up quickly. 

Sydney Harbour Sightseeing Cruise 

A close up of the Sydney Opera House as seen on a Sydney Harbour cruise
There she is!
The Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney opera House as seen from a cruise in Sydney
The views of both are my favorite

If you’re booking a cruise around Sydney Harbour solely for the purpose of sightseeing, this is the tour for you! Sydney Harbour is the heart of Sydney and has held significance since its historic beginnings. I appreciate that this tour takes the time to give commentary about these notable places in Sydney and their history, as you will learn so much about Sydney Harbor by the end of this cruise.

You’ll meet your tour at Circular Quay on the Eastern Pontoon Wharf. The tour is only 1.5 hours, which is just enough time to circle the harbour and see the iconic sights along the way. You’ll pass by the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, just like the other tours, but you’ll also see the Royal Botanic Garden, Luna Park Sydney, and other historically important areas! 

This tour is ideal for those who are interested in learning the history of Sydney and stick to a budget. It has an entirely different feel than the lunch or dinner cruises, so if being fancy isn’t on your agenda, this tour is still a great option to get on the water and see the Sydney Harbour.

This is also the only cruise that doubles as a sightseeing tour in Sydney because it offers live commentary! Most now just skip the commentary altogether or play recordings. On this cruise, a nice gentleman walks around with a microphone and tells you about everything you are seeing. He will even answer your questions! When we did this cruise, he was extremely friendly and chatted with each of the guests individually, as well.

I also think this is a great tour option for those traveling with kids, as they have the freedom to move around the boat and it isn’t terribly long so it will hold their attention the entire time!

You can reserve this Sydney Harbour Sightseeing Cruise online here for $45 AUD and $29 AUD per child. This price only includes your cruise as well as tea, coffee, and water. There is a fully licensed bar onboard though too, and you can buy a sneaky drink if that’s what you fancy!

Sydney Harbour Discovery Cruise including Lunch 

Bailey looks out the window from the dinning hall on a Sydney Harbour cruise at the Sydney Harbour bridge and Opera House
If you want lunch with a view, this is it!

Our final Sydney Harbour cruise is another fun lunch tour, with a side of sightseeing! This 2-hour tour takes you to the best sights of Sydney Harbour, along with some hidden gems along the way. You can sit back and enjoy a lovely buffet meal and spend an afternoon cruising along the harbour, which is the absolute best way to experience it!

This tour departs from Eastern Pontoon Wharf in Circular Quay. You will take off and sail under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, past the Opera House, and all along the harbour. This tour also includes on-board live commentary (it’s operated by the same company as the sightseeing cruise we mentioned above) so you can learn about all of the historical sites you’re passing. 

After enjoying the scenery for a while, it’s time for lunch!

I like that this is a laid-back style of cruise. While the fancy ones are fun for sure– this is a nice and chill mid-day cruise. You’ll enjoy a gourmet BBQ buffet, and just because it’s a buffet doesn’t mean the food isn’t incredible! I was pleasantly surprised at the high quality of food on this cruise. They can accommodate any vegetarian or dietary restrictions that travelers might have, so it’s open to all! 

Tea, coffee, and water are included, and there is a fully-licensed bar onboard where you can purchase other beverages.

This 2-hour cruise can be reserved for $70 AUD. I recommend booking this cruise in advance here, as it’s a steal of a deal, and as such, is often full booked! 

3. Do you need to book a Sydney Harbour cruise in advance? 

A boat cruises under towards the Syndey Harbour bridge at night during a dinner cruise
Cruising towards the Sydney Harbour Bridge!
People enjoy the back deck of a Sydney Harbour cruise
The sundeck!

Yes, cruises in Sydney Harbour almost always need to be reserved in advance. The best cruises fill up quickly, especially on weekends and school holidays during the summer (December and January).

You don’t want to miss out on cruising the Sydney Harbor simply because you waited too long to book it! 

Booking tours through Viator is great because they offer free cancellation or changes so if your travel plans change, as they often do, it’s not an issue. They also offer “buy now pay later” so you’re essentially reserving the date without having to make any payments. I always recommend booking tours in advance, especially with the flexibility Viator provides!

4. What are the highlights on a Sydney Harbour Cruise? 

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

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, is probably the prettiest view of the Sydney Skyline I’ve ever seen, 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 as seen on a Sydney Harbour Cruise
You’re looking at houses in the range of $50 to $100 million. The house center top with the red rough is $130 million!

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!

Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour is the pinnacle of Sydney’s entertainment being home to the city’s biggest shopping, dining, nightlife, and family-friendly activities. It leads to King Street Wharf, where most ferries and cruises depart. It is a hub of activity!

5. When is the best time to go on a cruise in Sydney Harbour?

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

You can take a Sydney Harbour cruise year-round, as Sydney has nice weather most of the time! Although, I certainly think that summer is the best time of year to go. The weather is warmer and sunnier, and while it can get a bit breezy on the water, it will be nearly the perfect temperature to cruise. Plus, The gorgeous sun on the harbor is hard to beat! 

If you are visiting during the winter, I recommend going on a lunch or dinner cruise. These tend to have more inside seating and better viewing windows, so even if it is a cool day, you can still enjoy the cruise. 

6. Can you get seasick on a Sydney Harbour cruise? 

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

The Sydney Harbour is protected from the large swells of the Pacific Ocean, simply by the way it is shaped and situated. However, some swells still make it into the harbour and can cause the water to get a bit rougher. So on these rough days, seasickness is possible but it’s really not likely!

If you’re prone to seasickness, I’d bring some medication along anyway, just in case.

Related Read: One of our other favorite cruises was in Melbourne! Read our review of the Spirit of Melbourne Dinner Cruise before you book.

Other Things to do While You’re in Sydney

Flying above the Sydney Opera House in Sydney Harbour, Australia
View from a helicopter!
Daniel and Bailey take a selfie inside the concert hall at the Sydney Opera House on a tour
Inside the Opera House!

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 for free, but if you want to see the inside, then you’ll have to join a guided tour of the Sydney 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!
  • 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 while on a dinner cruise in Sydney Harbour Australia
Thanks for reading!

As you now know, Sydney Harbour cruises are super popular, and for good reason! They are a fun activity and the perfect way to check out some of the most iconic sights of Sydney. I hope this blog has helped you decided which type of cruise you would enjoy the most.

For more similar blogs just like this one, check out a couple related blogs below:

Where to Stay in Darwin, Australia

Complete Guide to Rottnest Island, Australia

21 BEST Things to do in Exmouth, Australia