17 Best things to do in Sydney, Australia

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Sydney is one of the coolest cities in the world. An eclectic balance of a bustling cosmopolitan and a relaxing beach paradise, with great weather all year long, it has the best of both worlds. As Australia’s largest city and most visited tourist destination, there is always something to do in the exciting city.

Check out the interesting and fun things you can do in this fantastic city. But no pressure! While the atmosphere in other big cities like New York rush you from one attraction to the next, the vibe in Sydney is the exact opposite. The laid back city is best enjoyed in the sun, at your leisure and with a great cup of coffee or glass of delicious wine.

1. Take a photo at the Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House | best things to do in sydney

Sydney Opera House | Javen, Shutterstock

The stunning Sydney Opera House is probably what most people associate with Sydney. The performing arts venue hosts various performances and tours of the Opera House. Most tourists visit it for the iconic sailboat-inspired architecture and the picture-perfect boardwalk and trendy bar. Take a photograph of this spectacular architecture and prove you’re in the Land Down Under. The area truly comes alive at sunset when the surrounding cityscape brightens with twinkling lights.

Sydney Opera House
Bennelong Point, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Admission: AU$ 37 for adults and AU$ 20 for children
Ph: +61 2 9250 7111
Get directions

Best place to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• Tetsuya’s Restaurant (4.6/5 stars, Fine dining, $$$)
• Aria Restaurant Sydney (4.5/5 stars, Fine dining, $$)
• Restaurant Hubert (4.6/5 stars, French, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Sydney Opera House.

The best hotel to stay near Sydney Opera House based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

Meriton Suites Campbell Street Sydney (9.2/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

2. Admire Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbor Bridge | best things to do in sydney

Sydney Harbor Bridge | pisaphotography, Shutterstock

A staple of the Sydney skyline is the striking Sydney Harbor Bridge. The Coathanger, as it is nicknamed because of its distinct shape, is 1,149 meters long, making it the world’s largest steel arch bridge. Walk the bridge on the pedestrian-only walkway or climb to the top arch with the experienced climb leaders at BridgeClimb Sydney. Take a gander at the magnificent architectural feat, either from afar or up close.

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney NSW, Australia
Bridge climb costs (AU$): $318 a day, $278 for adults at night and $388 at twilight and dawn; $218 in the day, $198 in the night, $278 in twilight and dawn for children
Ph: +61 2 8274 7777
Get directions

Best place to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• Chiswick Woollahra (4.5/5 stars, Fine dining, $$$)
• Lentil As Anything (4.7/5 stars, Vegan, $$)
• Ester Restaurant (4.5/5 stars, Australian, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The best hotel to stay near Sydney Harbour Bridge based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

Cremorne Point Manor (8.9/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

3. Explore Sydney Harbour

Residents and visitors dine, relax and basque in the glorious afternoon sun quayside by the harbour, Sydney Australia | best things to do in sydney

Residents and visitors dine, relax and basque in the glorious afternoon sun quayside by the Harbour, Sydney Australia | Leah-Anne Thompson, Shutterstock

Sydney Harbour is one of the world’s most beautiful harbours. The aquatic expanse covers over 240 kilometers of shoreline, lined with pristine beaches, lush gardens and some of Australia’s famous landmarks. Start exploring at Circular Quay, the docking points for most ferries and other modes of transport, making it an epicenter of Sydneysider activities and attractions. Afterward, head over to the nearby harbour beaches and experience the quiet and calming waves.

Sydney Harbour
Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Get directions

Best place to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• William Blue Dining (4.6/5 stars, Fine dining, $$$)
• Next Door Restaurant (4.5/5 stars, Italian, $$)
• Saint Peter (4.5/5 stars, Seafood, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Sydney Harbour.

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The best hotel to stay near Sydney Harbour based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

Citadines Connect Sydney Airport (9.2/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

4. Ride the ferry to Manly Beach

Manly Fast Ferry boat at Manly wharf ready to pick up passengers and depart to Sydney Cirqular Quay | best things to do in sydney

Manly Fast Ferry boat at Manly wharf ready to pick up passengers and depart to Sydney Cirqular Quay | Catrin Haze, Shutterstock

As one of Sydney’s most famous beaches, Manly Beach attracts active Sydneysiders and tourists. The popular long, sandy beach is a favorite for swimming and surfing.

However, the journey to get to Manly Beach is perhaps the highlight. To reach Manly Beach, hop on the Manly Ferry that runs from Circular Quay to Manly Wharf to experience what locals call “the most beautiful commute in the world”. The scenic 30-minute ride allows you to view the impressive cityscape with the iconic landmarks and the huge headlands.

Ferry to Manly Beach
Ocean Promenade, N Steyne, Manly NSW 2095, Australia
Ferry cost (Manly Fast Ferry): $9.90 – Adult; $5.90 – Child (4-15); $31.60 – Family (2A, 2C)
Ph: 02 9583 1199
Get directions

Best place to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• Peanutbutterlove (4.9/5 stars, Dessert, $$$)
• Whistler Street Pizza (5/5 stars, Pizza, $$)
• Sunset Sabi (4.7/5 stars, Japanese, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Manly Beach.

The best hotel to stay near Manly Beach based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

Drummond House Royal Far West (8.9/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

5. Visit The Rocks

Detail of the historical The Rocks area of Sydney | best things to do in sydney

Detail of the historical The Rocks area of Sydney | faithie, Shutterstock

The Rocks is a district full of history, culture, and adventure where European settlers first stepped ashore in 1788. The historic heart of Sydney has amazing views of the harbour, historical sandstone buildings and museums, and cobblestone lane ways. Walk around the area to visit the markets and galleries that pique your interest. The Rocks are best explored on foot; you can join a walking tour if you want more in-depth guidance.

The Rocks
The Rocks NSW 2000, Australia
Get directions

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Best place to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• 6HEAD (4.9/5 stars, Modern Australian, $$$)
• Firestone (4.6/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)
• Dare cafe (4.6/5 stars, Cafe , $$)

See the full list of places to eat near The Rocks.

The best hotel to stay near The Rocks based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

Pier One Sydney Harbour, Autograph Collection (8.6/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

6. Eat Pancakes on the Rocks

Strawberry with pancakes and vanilla ice cream is a popular menu at Pancake on the Rocks Restaurant | best things to do in sydney

Strawberry with pancakes and vanilla ice cream is a popular menu at Pancake on the Rocks Restaurant | ArliftAtoz2205, Shutterstock

Being the birthplace of Sydney, The Rocks has some of the oldest and best places to experience delicious food and drinks. One establishment that has been open since 1975 is a breakfast lover’s dream. Chow down at Pancakes on the Rocks any time of the day since it is open 24 hours. The restaurant features a great atmosphere, friendly service, and world-famous buttermilk pancakes. Try the Devil’s Delight pancakes, a beautiful medley of fluffy chocolate pancakes, fresh strawberries, and chocolate ice cream.

Pancakes on the Rocks
22 Playfair St, The Rocks NSW 2000, Australia
Ph: +61 2 9247 6371
Get directions

Best place to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• The Bund – Walsh Bay (4.8/5 stars, Chinese, $$$)
• BISTECCA (4.6/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)
• Punjabi Fusion Sydney (4.6/5 stars, Indian, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Pancakes on the Rocks.

The best hotel to stay near Pancakes on the Rocks based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

Four Seasons Sydney (9.1/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

7. Take the Coastal Walk at Coogee Beach

A view of Coogee Beach on a clear day from Dolphin Point | best things to do in sydney

A view of Coogee Beach on a clear day from Dolphin Point | Mynameisben123, Wikimedia Commons

Sydney has no shortage of beautiful beaches. Coogee Beach is one of Sydney’s biggest open ocean beaches, and it is lined with hip restaurants, cafes, and hotels. It also features one of the most stunning coastal walks of Sydney. Walk along the scenic coastal walk to absorb the calming atmosphere and spectacular views of the ocean. The best part is you end up on another popular beach: Bondi. Check out Wylies Baths, a classic Australian ocean pool with a wooden deck.

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Coogee Beach
New South Wales 2034 Australia
Admission: Free
Get directions

Best place to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• Reel Food & Drink (5/5 stars, Restaurant, $$$)
• Sugarcane Restaurant (4.6/5 stars, Asian, $$)
• Fnky Mnky Restaurant (4.9/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Coogee Beach.

The best hotel to stay near Coogee Beach based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

Veriu Green Square (9.1/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

8. Sunbathe at Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach, NSW | best things to do in sydney

Bondi Beach, NSW | Mo Wu, Shutterstock

Bondi Beach, with its pristine white sand and crescent-shaped coastline, is perhaps Sydney’s most famous beach. With a thriving and vibrant beach culture and some of the trendiest beach side restaurants and shops, you’ll linger here for an entire day and still want to come back.

Lay out your beach towel, lie back, and soak up the sun. Don’t forget to put on your sunscreen and get that perfect sun kissed golden skin. Popularity comes with a price though! Be ready to make your way through the crowds as Bondi is known to attract a large number of people, even in cold winter months.

Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach NSW 2026, Australia
Admission: Free
Get directions

Best place to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• Elva (4.7/5 stars, Italian, $$$)
• Bondi Road Seafoods (4.6/5 stars, Seafood, $$)
• Eden Bondi (4.7/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Bondi Beach.

The best hotel to stay near Bondi Beach based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

Mrs Banks Hotel (9.3/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

9. Watch the fireworks at Darling Harbour

Saturday night fireworks at Darling Harbour in Sydney | best things to do in sydney

Saturday night fireworks at Darling Harbour in Sydney | One Two Five, Shutterstock

Darling Harbour is a hotspot of lively activity with a number of cafes, restaurants, and bars dotting the area, perfect for a special night out. Also, Saturdays at 8:30 pm is apparently a special occasion in Sydney as Darling Harbour comes alive with a spectacular display of fireworks. Surprise your family and friends as you watch the pyrotechnic wonders against the backdrop of the gorgeous Sydney nightscape

Darling Harbour
Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Admission: Currently cost AU$20.14, while a popular guided tour starts around AU$23.63 per person
Ph: +61 2 9240 8500
Get directions

Best place to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• Twin Peeks Restaurant (4.6/5 stars, Restaurant, $$$)
• Prime Steak Restaurant (4.6/5 stars, Steak house, $$)
• Zhang Chef Restaurant Sydney CBD (4.5/5 stars, Korean, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Darling Harbour.

The best hotel to stay near Darling Harbour based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

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Ovolo Woolloomooloo (9.3/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

10. Stroll through the Royal Botanic Garden

Explore the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney | Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, YouTube

Featuring an impressive collection of flora and fauna of the world and a sprawling, grassy expanse, the Royal Botanic Gardens is worth a visit. The gardens were established in 1816 and are Australia’s oldest scientific institutions. Stroll through the gardens and enjoy the offered respite from the busy metropolis. It is also a beautiful space to have a picnic with family and friends or just lay down and revel in the beautiful Sydney weather. The garden is open daily from 7 am to 6:30 pm. Check the website for exhibits during your visit.

Royal Botanic Garden
Mrs. Macquaries Rd, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Admission: Free
Ph: +61 2 9231 8111
Get directions

Best place to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• Soi 25 Restaurant and Bar (4.6/5 stars, Asian fusion, $$$)
• Bea Restaurant (4.6/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)
• The Fairmont Restaurant (4.5/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Royal Botanic Garden.

The best hotel to stay near Royal Botanic Garden based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour (9.3/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

11. Get snap happy at Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair

Mrs Macquarie's Chair in Sydney, Australia | best things to do in sydney

Mrs Macquarie’s Chair in Sydney, Australia | BkBook, Shutterstock

One of Sydney’s most famous landmarks, Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair was carved into a sandstone rock ledge in 1810 and dedicated to Mrs. Macquaire, who admired the beautiful vistas of the harbor from this vantage point. It truly is one of the most photogenic places in the city as it offers a sprawling panoramic view of the Sydney Harbor, with the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge on the horizon.

Bring your camera and get snap-happy at Mrs. Macquaire’s Chair. The area has a couple of benches where you can sit and reflect on the beauty in front of you.

Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair
1d Mrs. Macquaries Rd, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Admission: Free
Ph: +61 2 9231 8111
Get directions

Best place to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• Prime Steak Restaurant (4.6/5 stars, Steak house, $$$)
• Bopp & Tone (4.6/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)
• Son of Frank (4.6/5 stars, Cafe, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair.

The best hotel to stay near Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

Vibe Hotel Sydney Darling Harbour (8.6/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

12. Shop at the Queen Victoria Building

People shop at Queen Victoria Building | best things to do in sydney

People shop at Queen Victoria Building | superjoseph, Shutterstock

The Queen Victoria Building is an amazing piece of Victorian architecture right in the heart of Sydney. Nicknamed QVB, the building has a wonderful selection of high-end shops and upscale restaurants punctuated with gorgeous ceilings and staircases.

Explore the nooks and crannies of this beautiful building while you browse through merchandise from artworks to clothing. For a more in-depth look at the history and architecture of the building, join a paid guided tour every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Note that shopping stores in Sydney generally close early! QVB is open from 9 am to 6 pm Mondays-Saturdays and 11 am to 5 pm on Sundays.

Queen Victoria Building
455 George St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Admission: Free
Ph: +61 2 9265 6800
Get directions

Best place to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• The Restaurant Pendolino (4.5/5 stars, Italian, $$$)
• Ester Restaurant (4.5/5 stars, Australian, $$)
• Sugarcane Restaurant (4.6/5 stars, Asian, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Queen Victoria Building.

The best hotel to stay near Queen Victoria Building based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

Meriton Suites Sussex Street, Sydney (9.3/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

13. Embrace your inner child at Luna Park

Beautiful couple having fun at Luna Park | best things to do in sydney

Beautiful couple having fun at Luna Park | Gutesa, Shutterstock

Volaré, Luna Park Sydney’s Latest Ride | Luna Park Sydney, YouTube

Accessible through Milson’s Point Ferry from Circular Quay, Luna Park is Sydney’s famous harbourside amusement park. Featuring a mix of thrilling rides, the classic Ferris wheel, and the kitschy carousel, the park promises a fun-filled adventure for all ages. Let your inner child run wild and have fun at the exciting attractions of the park. It’s perfect for a date or for explorers who want a calmer atmosphere. There aren’t a lot of kids at night so you can explore at your leisure.

Luna Park
1 Olympic Dr, Milsons Point NSW 2061, Australia
Admission: $5
Ph: +61 2 9922 6644
Get directions

Best place to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• ARRIN (4.8/5 stars, Restaurant, $$$)
• Oski Cafe (4.7/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)
• Ferris Wheel Dining (5/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Luna Park.

The best hotel to stay near Luna Park based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

Park Hyatt Sydney (9.1/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

14. Enjoy the Sydney nightlife at Oxford Art Factory

Nightlife at Oxford Art Factory | best things to do in sydney

Nightlife at Oxford Art Factory | Oxford Art Factory

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Sydney has had a shift in its nightlife culture, as stringent lockout laws established in 2014 killing the nightlife scene were recently abolished. Once offering one of the best nightlife experiences in the world, Sydney is now ready to take the perfect night out to the next level.

Check out the Oxford Art Factory, a two-room live music space dedicated to showcasing performances to over 5,000 people every week. It is a lively venue staging live musical performances with local and touring acts and a full bar. It is a premier live music venues that shaped Sydney nightlife for years.

Oxford Art Factory
38-46 Oxford St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010, Australia
Admission: $$
Ph: +61 2 9332 3711
Get directions

Best place to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• Maeda Japanese Restaurant (4.9/5 stars, Japanese, $$$)
• The Farmhouse Restaurant (4.7/5 stars, Restaurant, $$)
• Enya (4.7/5 stars, Japanese, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Oxford Art Factory.

The best hotel to stay near Oxford Art Factory based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

Little Albion, a Crystalbrook Collection Boutique Hotel (9.5/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

15. Wander around the Art Gallery of New South Wales

The Art Gallery of New South Wales | best things to do in sydney

The Art Gallery of New South Wales | EQRoy, Shutterstock

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is one of Australia’s leading museums. It has an outstanding collection of permanent installments as well as exciting temporary exhibits with around 40 organized exhibits yearly. Try to time your visit on a Wednesday when you can enjoy art after hours as the gallery extends its hours to 10 pm. Experience culture with a cocktail on hand with the gallery’s special hours events.

Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery Rd, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Admission: Free
Ph: +61 2 9225 1700
Get directions

Best place to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• Mazzaro Restaurant (4.5/5 stars, Restaurant, $$$)
• Bennelong Restaurant and Bar (4.5/5 stars, Fine dining, $$)
• Lentil As Anything (4.7/5 stars, Vegan, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Art Gallery of New South Wales.

The best hotel to stay near Art Gallery of New South Wales based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

QT Sydney (9.3/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

16. Have lunch at Sydney Fish Market

View of the Sydney Fish Market | best things to do in sydney

View of the Sydney Fish Market | EQRoy, Shutterstock

Sydney Fish Market is the largest fish market in the Southern Hemisphere. The market has public tours to catch the early morning fish auctions as well as classes to learn more about the fishing industry. There is also a nearby school for those curious to learn the best way to cook seafood. For the casual visitor, though, it is one of the best places to get a delicious lunch.

Sample the freshest seafood cooked to the delight of your taste buds. Take your food to go and sit down on the many benches near the wharf for an enjoyable lunch experience.

Sydney Fish Market
Corner Pyrmont Bridge Rd &, Bank St, Pyrmont NSW 2009, Australia
Ph: +61 2 9004 1100
Get directions

Best place to eat nearby according to locals and visitors:
• Kiyo japanese restaurant (4.7/5 stars, Japanese, $$$)
• Souks Mediterranean Street Food (4.6/5 stars, Mediterranean, $$)
• Yuzu Restaurant (4.5/5 stars, Japanese, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Sydney Fish Market.

The best hotel to stay near Sydney Fish Market based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney (9.5/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com

17. Catch flicks at the Open Air Cinema

Westpac Open Air Cinema | best things to do in sydney

Westpac Open Air Cinema | Westpac Open Air Cinema

During the summer months in Sydney, which starts in December, the city hosts open-air viewing of the latest released movies. The distinct feature of some of these open-air cinema venues is that you have the gorgeous Sydney Harbour as your backdrop.

Visit Westpac Open Air Cinema that offers stunning cinema experience. Gather your friends for a fun night out to watch movies under the stars. Grab drinks and some bites at the nearby restaurant and bar. Make sure to get there early to get the best seats for the movie and the view.

Westpac Open Air Cinema
Mrs. Macquaries Point Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Admission: $$
Ph: +61 1300 366 649
Get directions

Best place to eat near Westpac Open Air Cinema according to locals and visitors:
• Social Brew Cafe (4.6/5 stars, Cafe, $$$)
• Nour (4.6/5 stars, Middle Eastern, $$)
• Lentil As Anything (4.7/5 stars, Vegan, $$)

See the full list of places to eat near Westpac Open Air Cinema.

The best hotel to stay near Westpac Open Air Cinema based on overall price, location and amenities according to travelers:

The Fullerton Hotel Sydney (9.3/10 stars, $$$) – Booking.com


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