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Since Sydney is Australia’s largest and most famous city, you’d probably expect that there’s a lot to do here … and you’d be totally right!
Sydney is one of the most desirable cities in the world to live in because there’s so much culture and natural beauty here. It’s one of those places where it feels impossible to get bored because there’s always something fun going on.
If you’re itching to get to know Sydney a little better, then there are some fantastic tours on offer here. From whale watching to wine tasting, there are so many fun activities in the city and day trips near Sydney to enjoy.
We’ve visited Sydney a ton of times and Bailey even lived here for a while when she first came to Australia, and we’re always trying tours when we’re back in town. So sit back, relax, and find your next adventure from the top tours Sydney has to offer!
- Our Top Choices
- Best Tours in Sydney, Australia
- 1. All Inclusive Small-Group Blue Mountains Day Trip from Sydney with Scenic World
- 2. Sydney Whale-Watching Cruise
- 3. Sydney Opera House Official Guided Walking Tour
- 4. Morning or Afternoon Half-Day Sydney City Sightseeing Tour
- 5. Sydney Harbour Tour by Helicopter
- 6. Journey Beyond Cruise – Sydney Harbour Dinner Cruise
- 7. Sydney City Bike Tour
- 8. Hunter Valley Small-Group Wine, Gin, Cheese and Chocolate Tour
- 9. Sydney Cocktail Harbour Bar Cruise
- 10. Sydney Half-Day Private Tour to see the Sydney Opera House and Bondi Beach
- 11. 30-Minute Sydney Harbour Jet Boat Ride
- 12. Opera Performance at the Sydney Opera House
- Where to Stay in Sydney
- Thanks for reading!
- Don't get Caught without Travel Insurance!
Our Top Choices
If you don’t have time to read through all the Sydney tour options, don’t worry! We’ve narrowed it down to our top three favorites that best showcase some of Sydney’s highlights.
All Inclusive Small-Group Blue Mountains Day Trip
For a day of exploring nature, you can’t miss this full-day tour to the Blue Mountains! This tour really includes it all with transportation, admission to Scenic World (a tourist park with sky-high attractions for amazing views), a guided bushwalk, entry to Featherdale Wildlife Park to see kangaroos and koalas, a boat cruise back to Sydney, and of course, a delicious lunch! It costs $285 AUD per person.
Sydney Harbour Tour by Helicopter
On this 20-minute helicopter flight, you’ll get stunning views of Sydney Harbour, the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, as well as the city’s gorgeous beaches and coves. We even spotted whales! It was one of the best helicopter tours we’ve ever done and our pilot was fantastic. The flight costs $240 AUD per person and includes free transfer from the city center to get to the helipad if needed.
Sydney Opera House Official Guided Walking Tour
You probably don’t need us to tell you that the Sydney Opera House is one of the most famous buildings in the world. It’s undeniably iconic, so you can’t pass up a chance to take this behind-the-scenes tour while you’re in the city. Your guide will take you around the Opera House and tell you lots of stories about its history. The tour lasts for an hour and costs $43 AUD per person.
Best Tours in Sydney, Australia
1. All Inclusive Small-Group Blue Mountains Day Trip from Sydney with Scenic World
The Blue Mountains is a beautiful wilderness area that’s just under an hour’s drive from Sydney. There’s a ton to do here, from hiking and bushwalking to riding a scenic railway overtop of the dramatic scenery, and of course, admiring the famous Three Sisters rock formation. We still haven’t done everything we want to here!
The only thing is that there’s so much to do that it can be a little overwhelming, which is why I think it’s really worth taking a full-day guided tour of the Blue Mountains from Sydney. With a carefully planned itinerary, you’ll see more in less time and not feel like you’ve missed out!
This small group guided tour of the Blue Mountains really does have it all! First off, we thought the ticket paid for itself just with entry to Scenic World, a tourist park with several rides for amazing views of the area. There’s the Scenic Railway that runs between cliff tops, or if you’re brave enough take a look below on the glass floor at the Scenic Skyway or head right into the Jamison Valley on the Scenic Cableway. This tour includes all of them … I mean talk about views for days!
You also get to go on a guided bushwalk in the area to visit lots of hidden viewpoints. We especially liked seeing the Three Sisters rock formation on this walk since it’s arguably the Blue Mountains’ top attraction!
As a group, you’ll also enjoy a chef-prepared lunch and a visit to Featherdale Wildlife Park, which has one of the largest collections of native Australian wildlife in the world. You can meet kangaroos, koalas, quokkas, penguins, and more!
Then, the day ends with a scenic boat ride along the Parramatta River for yet more amazing views. You’ll get to enjoy views of the countryside and arrive back in Sydney Harbour, which is a pretty cool experience.
One thing to note is that this is a big day at 11 hours long! So, be sure to get a good night’s rest the evening before and pack anything you might need for a full day of exploring.
We think that the Blue Mountains wilderness area is one of the best day trip destinations from Sydney. It’s perfect for getting out of the city and exploring some of the dramatic natural landscapes that Australia is known for!
This tour costs $285 AUD including all admission tickets and activities, as well as lunch and pickup from one of three meeting points. It’s such a fantastic way to experience the Blue Mountains, as evidenced by the thousands of 5-star reviews! You can read up on the reviews and book your own ticket online here.
2. Sydney Whale-Watching Cruise
If you’re in Sydney between May and November, then don’t pass up the opportunity to go on this whale watching cruise! More than 15,000 humpback and southern right whales pass through Sydney each year as they migrate to the Great Barrier Reef, so why not get out on a boat and spot some?
What made this one of the best cruises in Sydney for us was that it also included some sightseeing from the water. You’ll pass right by the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, and Manly Beach before entering the Pacific Ocean. There’s also a buffet breakfast or barbecue lunch provided if you’re feeling hungry.
Once you’re on the ocean, the guide is great at providing commentary so you know where to look and more about the amazing creatures you’re trying to spot! I loved getting to learn all about whales, including local conservation efforts. The humpback whale population in Sydney actually once dwindled as low as 200, so it’s great to hear about how those numbers were brought back up again.
There’s complimentary tea and coffee on board the boat, and alcoholic drinks are available to buy at the bar. The tour also has a whale-sighting guarantee, so if you don’t spot any whales then you can return for another tour, free of charge!
The tour lasts for around 4 hours and costs $99 AUD per person, which we think is great value for money since you get to do some sightseeing as well as spotting whales! So if a whale watching tour is on your radar, make sure to book this one!
Related Read: Splurge on a couple tours in Sydney and then check out our list of the best free and cheap things in Sydney to balance it out!
3. Sydney Opera House Official Guided Walking Tour
You’d be hard-pressed to name a building more famous than the Sydney Opera House. It’s one of the most recognizable buildings in the world, and this guided walking tour is a rare opportunity to take a peek behind the scenes at areas that are normally closed off to the public!
I was so excited the first time I saw the Sydney Opera House, and I couldn’t wait to get inside! Once you’re exploring this iconic place, your guide will spill all of the secrets about what goes on in the world’s most famous Opera House, from scandalous stage stories to fun pre-performance traditions.
This is one of the best Sydney Opera House tours and such a great way to dive deep into the heart of Sydney’s culture and gain a deeper appreciation for the building’s unique architectural style.
Can you believe that over 1,500 performances take place here each year?! When we did the tour, our guide also told us a lot about the current shows taking place at the Opera House, as well as how they set up everything in such a unique space.
The tour costs $43 AUD per person and lasts for around an hour. There are multiple departure times, so it’s really easy to fit into a day of sightseeing – especially if you’re a fan of walking tours in Sydney. You can also upgrade to add a drink and a meal at the Opera House Bar or Canteen for an extra $37 AUD.
4. Morning or Afternoon Half-Day Sydney City Sightseeing Tour
A sightseeing tour is a fantastic way to get to know a new city, and we love taking tours like this to get our bearings and find new favorite spots. That’s why we think this half-day sightseeing tour of Sydney is such a great option.
Over 3.5 hours, you’ll get to see so many of Sydney’s highlights. It’s perfect if you’re short on time or just want to get all those Instagram-worthy photos!
The tour starts in Sydney Old Town and the CBD as you stroll along the banks of Sydney Harbour. One of the best views of Sydney is from the area around Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. Yes, there really is a “chair” here (it’s made of stone) and you’ll get the entire story of why it was built, so I won’t spoil it for you!
There’s also a stop The Gap which is a famous spot right at the entrance of Sydney Harbour that has breathtaking panoramic views.
Of course, no trip to Sydney is complete without seeing Bondi Beach! I love Bondi and this stretch of golden sand is pretty famous and one of the busiest beaches in the entire country. This tour gives you about a half hour of free time to wander along the sand and watch the surfers. I’d recommend coming back again, but come early in the morning so you can grab a coveted spot on the sand to lay your towel!
The tour finishes off in Darling Harbour where you can choose to stay or get a ride back to the tour’s starting point. I recommend exploring Darling Harbour since you’re already here! It’s an area that has been totally revitalized with shops, an aquarium, museums, and restaurants galore, so if you’re hungry after the tour, there are a ton of options – including waterfront dining!
The tour includes hotel pickup and drop-off in either Darling Harbour or The Rocks, and you can choose to go in the morning or the afternoon, so it’s super convenient. It costs $135 AUD per person and there’s a maximum of 14 people in a group, so it doesn’t feel too crowded.
5. Sydney Harbour Tour by Helicopter
One of the best ways to admire the beautiful city of Sydney is from above! We took this scenic helicopter flight over Sydney and it was one of the best helicopter tours we’ve done anywhere in the world.
The views were insane. It really is amazing to see famous landmarks like the Sydney Harbour and the Opera House from a bird’s eye perspective!
The helicopter was also brand new and super swanky, and our pilot was awesome – we loved his commentary, and we found it so interesting even though we weren’t first-time visitors to Sydney.
Seeing Sydney on a helicopter tour also allows you to marvel at all of the natural beauty surrounding the city. You’ll fly over the iconic Bondi Beach, as well as Coogee Beach, Manly Cove, and the beautiful eastern coastline. It really showcases the fact that Sydney is one of those cities that gives you the best of both worlds – it’s both super cosmopolitan, and has tons of natural beauty.
To top it all off, when we did this helicopter ride we actually saw whales too! The pilot told us that it actually isn’t uncommon during the whale watching season in Sydney and that all of his flights on that day saw whales down below as we flew over the ocean.
Even though this flight is only 20 minutes long, it feels way longer when you’re up in the air, and you get to see so much. As well as being a really memorable experience, this is also a very time-effective way to go sightseeing. I definitely think it’s a must if you aren’t in the city for long!
You can book a spot on a group flight for $240 AUD per person, which is what we did, or you can book a private flight for $330 AUD per person, which can accommodate up to three people (this would be a perfect way to propose or celebrate something special!). The price includes refreshments at the heliport and transfers from the city center if necessary, or free parking if you want to drive yourself.
6. Journey Beyond Cruise – Sydney Harbour Dinner Cruise
We think that a cruise through Sydney Harbour is among the best things to do in Sydney. So when we were looking for an extra special night out, this Journey Beyond Cruise in Sydney Harbour was our pick. And let me tell you it delivered on everything we were hoping for and more!
This was an all-inclusive style cruise, so it’s a show-up and enjoy kind of experience which is so nice when you’re on vacation. This cruise is on a luxury catamaran boat and also includes a 3-course gourmet dinner, an open bar, and the best views!
Dinner cruises in Sydney mean you get to glide past some of the city’s most beautiful sights like the Opera House, Taronga Zoo, and the dramatic scenery of Sydney Harbour National Park. Plus, since it’s an evening thing, you get to see it all at sunset! Then, after dinner, you’ll see the Opera House lit up at night when you return after dark, which is even more spectacular than seeing it during the day.
Often, dinner cruises are buffet meals, and while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, we think that this cruise really takes it to the next level with a 3-course plated dinner made with locally sourced ingredients.
Our starters were based around poached chicken and wagyu bresaola and the delicious main course was slow-cooked Junee lamb shank. The menu is also paired with wine from New South Wales which is excellent. And make sure you have room for dessert – we loved the chocolate mousse and lemon meringue tart.
When you’re not eating, you can also head up to the top deck to snap panoramic photos of the scenery as you sail past.
We think this is such a wonderful way to spend an evening in Sydney. It costs $205 AUD per person including all of your food and drinks, and given the quality of the food, we think this is very good value! You can reserve a spot on this luxury dinner cruise online here.
7. Sydney City Bike Tour
If you’re keen for a sightseeing tour but don’t feel like sitting inside a tour bus, this bike tour is a fantastic way to see the sights while enjoying some fresh air.
On this tour, you’ll be led by an expert guide who will take you on a cycling route that really showcases the beauty of Sydney. You’ll see iconic landmarks like the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, as well as diving deeper into the city’s history and culture. Your guide will even share some beloved local spots with you, which is always something we really appreciate!
We always enjoy bike tours because they’re such a great way to cover a lot of ground in a pretty short space of time, and you can get close up to the attractions you visit. Therefore, we think that this tour is a good introduction to Sydney and a fun way to get some exercise, too.
There are a few different options when it comes to this tour. You can book a 2.5-hour highlights tour, which takes you to Circular Quay, Walsh Bay, Darling Harbour, Hyde Park, and the Royal Botanic Gardens for $100 AUD per person. There’s also a special deal for families with a discounted rate for kids!
Or, if you want to see as much as possible, you can book the classic tour that runs on Fridays and Saturdays. This lasts for 4 hours and includes passing by Chinatown, the Sydney Tower Eye, the Queen Victoria Building, the ANZAC Memorial, and riding over the Sydney Harbour Bridge for $130 AUD per person. This tour is the best value for money!
Of course, I’m a sucker for a good sunset and Sydney has plenty of those! So Fridays and Saturdays also offer the chance to take a sunset bike ride to Manly Beach and North Head. The $151 AUD tour includes the ferry ride across Sydney Harbour and the chance to marvel at the skyline with all its twinkling lights. Just make sure you’re up for a more challenging ride since there’s a pretty big hill to bike up on the way to North Head!
8. Hunter Valley Small-Group Wine, Gin, Cheese and Chocolate Tour
The Hunter Valley is a gorgeous wine region that’s known for producing Semillon grapes, which are used to produce white wines and dessert wines. It’s one of Australia’s oldest wine regions and it’s known for producing some of the country’s best wine, so it’s a must-visit if you’re partial to a glass or two.
The Hunter Valley is a 3-hour drive from Sydney, so it’s not ideal to drive there and back in a day. Plus, it would mean someone would have to play designated driver and miss out on all of the delicious wine! So if you don’t want to stay overnight in the Hunter Valley, then we think that this wine tour is a must.
But, it’s not just a wine tour! In fact, you’ll sample some of the region’s amazing cheese, chocolate, gin, and vodka as you visit three wineries and a local distillery. One of our favorite things about the Hunter Valley region is all of the artisanal goodies on offer, so we really like the fact that this tour showcases this so well.
There’s also lunch at a scenic spot which includes more wine, or you can switch to craft beer or cider if you want to shake it up.
This is a relaxed tour with beautiful scenery and tons of tastings and we found it to be the perfect way to experience the Hunter Wine Valley. We like that it’s a small group tour because it’s easy to make new friends as you bond over all of the booze, cheese, and sweet treats.
This tour costs $225 AUD per person, including pickup and dropoff from central Sydney, all food and drink tastings, and lunch. The guides are also a ton of fun and make sure that everyone has a good time.
9. Sydney Cocktail Harbour Bar Cruise
A harbor cruise is such a relaxing way to do some sightseeing in Sydney, and we always try to get on one while we’re visiting. Most recently we hopped aboard this cocktail hour cruise and loved seeing the sights – with a drink in hand!
The cruise lasts for two hours and starts off right with a cocktail of your choice as soon as you step on board. There’s an outdoor deck and a comfy lounge where you can enjoy the views of the Sydney Harbour as you sail past all of the city’s most famous spots. Plus there’s a charcuterie board with lots of delicious local cheeses to sample which I was more than happy to munch on!
On the weekends, there’s also live music on board, so remember this if you’re looking for a lively experience!
The boat departs at 5 pm with an additional sailing at 7 pm on Friday and Saturday. Because of this departure time, you’ll get to enjoy that Golden Hour before sunset which is beautiful for photos! Depending on the time of year, you may well be able to catch the sunset during the cruise.
This is one of the more affordable Sydney tours since the cruise costs $75 AUD per person and includes a charcuterie board to share between two people, a welcome cocktail, and one beer or wine. Then, you can always buy extra drinks if you’d like!
10. Sydney Half-Day Private Tour to see the Sydney Opera House and Bondi Beach
If you want to take a sightseeing tour of Sydney but would prefer a private experience, then look no further than this half-day tour, which has nearly all 5-star reviews!
What’s great about private tours is that you get lots of one-on-one time with your guide so you can ask questions and learn more about the city’s history, as well as what life is like here today. As well as seeing famous landmarks like the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, and Bondi Beach, you’ll also explore some cool neighborhoods like Paddington and Darlinghurst.
All along the way the guide does a great job of telling you all about the different areas of the city and stopping at all the best places for photos. This tour is awesome for making sure you have lots of photos to remember your trip by!
While we do a lot of group tours, there’s something so nice about taking a private tour like this one. It’s super convenient and a really good introduction to the city. It’s also perfect if you’re short on time, and want to make sure that you get to see the places you really want to see!
The tour cost varies depending on how many people will book – for example, it’s $370 AUD each for two people but drops to $145 AUD per person for a group of six. It lasts for 4 hours, with pickup from your hotel in Sydney at either 8 am or 1 pm, so you’ve got the rest of the day to explore independently – or even to do another tour!
11. 30-Minute Sydney Harbour Jet Boat Ride
If you want something a bit more thrilling than your typical sightseeing tour, then jet boating in Sydney Harbour should scratch that itch!
On this tour, you’ll take in the sights from the water as you speed through the harbor making fast twists and turns, and fishtails. You’ll be traveling at speeds of up to 75 km (47 miles) per hour while music blasts from the boat. As you zip by, you’ll see famous landmarks like the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, Taronga Zoo, the Australian Navy fleet, and even the Prime Minister’s home in Sydney.
The tour only lasts for 30 minutes so it’s a short and sweet activity to fit into a day of exploring, but you do get to see a lot during that time since the boat zooms through the water so fast!
Also, it should be a given, but prepare to get wet on this tour! On our ride, the spins and skids made some pretty big splashes … but we loved it! Our boat driver also slowed down when we passed close by the famous landmarks so we did get to enjoy the sights before ramping up the speed again.
This is such a fun and unique way to see Sydney, and we think it’s perfect for groups of friends or families with kids. We’re kids at heart and had a ton of fun zooming around the harbor, but the kids on our tour seemed to be having the BEST time, at least based on all the giggling and happy screams we heard!
The tour costs $89 AUD for adults and $59 AUD for kids aged 5-15, and includes ponchos to help you stay dry and lockers to store all the stuff you don’t want to get wet. There are a range of departure times throughout the day but do be aware that this tour books up fast, so try to secure your spot at least a few weeks in advance!
Related Read: Australia is one of the best winter vacation destinations read about the other safest places to escape the cold this winter here!
12. Opera Performance at the Sydney Opera House
Seeing a performance at the Sydney Opera House is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so don’t pass up the chance to catch a show while you’re in Sydney.
If you’re not worried about what you see, then you can book your tickets here way in advance to make sure that you don’t miss out on seeing a show. Matinee and evening performances are available, and you can choose from different levels of seating depending on your budget and preferences.
There are over 1,500 performances every year at the Sydney Opera House, from operas and classical music concerts to Broadway shows, so you’re bound to see something good! I’ve never been disappointed by a show at this famous theatre.
If you do happen to see an opera here, typically these shows will be performed in Italian. But don’t worry if you don’t speak Italian, there are English subtitles on a big screen above the stage so you can still follow along.
The tickets start at $109 AUD for the most basic seats, ranging up to $349 AUD per person for premium seats. Booking a show through Viator really does take the hassle and stress out of it, so you can just focus on enjoying the experience!
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!
Sydney is one of our favorite places to explore in Australia! There’s so much to see in this famous city and a tour makes sure you don’t miss the highlights – whether you’re cruising on the water, flying over the city, or touring behind the scenes of the famous Opera House. I hope you found a tour or two calling your name for your next trip to Sydney!
If you need more ideas for your trip here, have a look through our other blogs about Australia including a few related reads below: