Sydney is one of the most exciting cities in the world, home to famous landmarks, extraordinary museums, beautiful parks and beaches. See the famous Sydney Harbor Bridge, the world's tallest steel arch bridge, relax on Bondi Beach, or watch a performance at the Sydney Opera House. Best things to do in Sydney, Australia, with kids include the Wild Life Sydney Zoo, the Sydney Observatory and the aquarium.
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1.Sydney Harbor Bridge
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The Sydney Harbor Bridge is the world's tallest steel arch bridge and one of the world’s most famous icons. At a maximum height of 134 meters, this incredible feat of engineering connects the city center with the outlying suburbs of the city and can be explored in a variety of ways. One of the best ways to see and experience the bridge is to simply walk or cycle across it.
Alternatively, you can brave a Bridge Climb, where you learn about the fascinating history of the bridge as you climb your way to the top. Enjoy a scenic helicopter or tour of flight over the bridge to get a bird’s eye view of the bridge, or take a ferry cruise around the Sydney Harbor to see it from a range of different angles.
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2.Queen Victoria Building (QVB)
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The Queen Victoria Building (QVB) is a late nineteenth-century building in the central business district of Sydney that is home to a variety of businesses, shops, and restaurants. Designed by renowned architect George McRae in the Romanesque style, it was built as a monument to the long reigning monarch and later became a marketplace, which still stands today.
The exquisitely restored building consists of four main shopping floors, which are naturally lit through the stained glass windows of a mighty center dome. The building features magnificent design details such as intricate tiled floors, arches, balustrades, and pillars. The northern end, which was previously a beautiful Grand Ballroom, is now a popular tearoom.
Level 4, QVB, 455 George St., 02-9265-6800
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Home to one of the world’s most famous landmarks, the Sydney Harbor is not only the gateway to the city, but it is also the center for a variety of land and water-based activities that are synonymous with the capital city. The harbor bustles with locals and visitors enjoying the water from ferries, yachts, and kayaks, and it boasts a number of iconic landmarks and attractions, such as the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge.
The harbor, surrounded by miles of pristine shoreline, historic sites, and national parks, is home to an array of restaurants, cafés, and bars providing a vibrant nightlife and entertainment. Enjoy scenic ferry cruises, relax on a chartered yacht, or visit one of the islands in the harbor, including Fort Denison, Goat, or Cuckatoo Islands.
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4.Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach Pacific Trail
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The Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach Pacific Trail is a beautiful 3.7-mile cliff top coastal walk that explores Sydney’s eastern suburbs from Bondi to Coogee Beach. The coastal walk is a medium grade walk with some steep gradient paths and several staircases. It features breathtaking natural scenery of beaches, parks, cliffs, and rock pools.
There are plenty of picnic shelters and places to rest en route, as well as lovely swimming areas, play areas for children, and lively cafés and restaurants. Along the way, you can admire a number of attractions - explore the Sculpture by the Sea on the way to Tamarama from Bondi, watch surfers catch waves at Mackenzie’s Point, snorkel at Clovelly Beach, or visit the Waverley Cemetery, the most scenic burial ground in the world.
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© Nicholson Museum
Located in the historic Main Quadrangle at the University of Sydney, the Nicholson Museum is Australia's oldest University Museum. The museum is open to the general public free of charge, and it houses one of the largest collections of antiquities in the Southern Hemisphere. Sir Charles Nicholson founded the vast collection, which currently contains over 30,000 artifacts of artistic and archeological significance from Egypt, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, and the East.
The museum also offers a variety of guided tours, including The Heritage Tour, which explores the beautiful architecture of the Camperdown campus and the iconic Quadrangle and the Modernist Art Tour, which takes a look at the University’s modern art collections. The museum is open Monday to Friday and the first Saturday of every month.
The University of Sydney, 02-9351-2222
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6.Sydney Opera House
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The Sydney Opera House is world-famous performing arts center based in the Sydney Harbor, and it is one of the most recognized and iconic buildings in the world today. Designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon, the center is home to multiple performance venues that host a variety of performing arts companies, including The Australian Ballet, The Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Opera Australia, and the Sydney Theater Company.
The Opera House presents more than 1,500 performances each year with an annual attendance of over 1.2 million people, and it has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Guided tours of the facilities are available, and there are a number of restaurants in and around the center where visitors can wine and dine in style.
Bennelong Point, 02-9250-7111
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7.Royal Botanic Gardens
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Situated in the center of Sydney, the Royal Botanic Gardens are one of the largest botanical institutions in the world. Founded in 1816, the gardens are open to the public every day of the year and access is free of charge. Spanning 30 hectares (74 acres), the gardens are divided into four sections, namely the Lower Gardens, the Middle Gardens, the Palace Gardens, and the Bennelong precinct.
These sections contain smaller gardens and wooded lawn areas, which form a natural amphitheater around a zone called Farm Cove. In the middle of the gardens is the Palm Grove Center, which has a modern visitor’s center, restaurant, and bookshop.
Mrs. Macquaries Road, 02-9231-8111
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What better way to explore Sydney than by ferry! Sydney Ferries provides a range of ferry services to local residents and visitors to Sydney. It offers residents a practical way to commute to work, while guests can enjoy a range of beautiful sightseeing tours to places such as Balmain, Parramatta, Double Bay, Manly, and Cockatoo Island.
Sydney Ferries has a fleet of 28 vessels, all of which are wheelchair accessible and provide access to 20 accessible ferry wharves around Sydney Harbor. Ferries have cafés that serve light refreshments and drinks, as well as special lunch and dinner cruises with onboard entertainment.
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Known as Sydney’s creative hub, The Rocks is a vibrant and dynamic precinct on Sydney’s foreshore that combines old and new to form a nucleus of markets, festivals, contemporary art, and ever-evolving pop-up spaces. Nestled on the edge of breathtaking Sydney Harbor with spectacular views of the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House, The Rocks boasts an array of attractions, from historic architecture and intimate cobblestoned laneways to bustling markets, busy restaurants, and stylish modern bars.
Visitors can enjoy guided educational tours through the gentrified neighborhood, which showcases its rich and fascinating heritage.
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10.Art Gallery of New South Wales
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The Art Gallery of New South Wales is dedicated to presenting and preserving fine international and Australian art through a range of distinguished collections, permanent and traveling exhibitions, and community outreach programs. Established in 1871, the museum is home to a collection of modern and contemporary works, as well as colonial and 19th-century Australian works and works by European old masters.
The museum also features galleries that showcase Asian, Aboriginal, and Torres Strait Islander art. More than 30 exhibitions are held throughout the year, including flagship annual exhibitions such as the Archibald Prize and ARTEXPRESS. Admission to the Gallery, the permanent galleries, and most exhibitions and events is free.
Art Gallery Rd, The Domain 2000, 1800-679-278
Next read: Best Time to Visit Sydney, Australia & Other Travel Tips
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Darling Harbor is the lively center of Sydney’s entertainment district, and it features an array of attractions, activities, restaurants, nightclubs, and bars. Extending northwards from Chinatown to the suburb of Pyrmont, the Harbor has a number of waterways such as Cockle Bay and Port Jackson, all of which can be accessed by ferry. Darling Harbor is home to the Harbourside Shopping Center, which has a bowling alley, M9 Laser Skirmish, and a Jet flight simulator for adventure-lovers to enjoy.
The area is also home to the Sydney Entertainment Center, Tumbalong Park, and the Darling Quarter Playground, which the kids will love. Other attractions and activities include the Star Casino and Entertainment Complex, the Chinese Garden of Friendship, the Sydney Aquarium, Madame Tussaud’s, and the world’s largest IMAX theater.
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12.Manly Scenic Walkway
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The Manly Scenic Walkway is one of Sydney’s most famous and scenic walking tracks; it boasts spectacular panoramic views of the entrance to Sydney Harbor and the beautiful natural surrounding landscapes of bushland as they were centuries ago. Comprised of a variety of connecting walks with walking grades to suit every level of fitness, the Manly Scenic Walkway passes through Sydney Harbor National Park, ancient Aboriginal sites, modern harbourside suburbs, and pockets of sub-tropical rainforest.
Two favorite walks are the 10 km-long Manly to Spit Bridge, which boasts beautiful views of the harbor and city skyline, and the 9.5km-long North Head circuit track which takes visitors via Shelly Beach, Spring Cove, and Little Manly Reserve.
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13.I'm Free Tours of Sydney
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Explore Sydney’s sights on a fun-filled and informative walking tour of the city. Two masters students with a passion for the arts, architecture, culture, and energy of Sydney wanted to share this passion with visitors, and so they founded I’m Free Tours Sydney.
Friendly, local guides lead tours around the city and delve into the lifestyle, culture, history, and secrets of Australia’s most famous coastal city. Visitors can enjoy a tour of Sydney’s most famous sites or an interesting tour of The Rocks, the site of Australia’s first European settlement – the tour touches on the area’s infamous history. Private tours for groups can be arranged.
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14.Australian National Maritime Museum
© Australian National Maritime Museum
The Australian National Maritime Museum is dedicated to educating the public about the nation’s rich maritime history, which it preserves through its distinguished collections, exhibitions, and world-renowned research. The museum presents one of the largest floating historical vessel collections in the world, which includes vessels such as the former Navy destroyer HMAS Vampire.
Visitors can enjoy guided tours of the vessels and explore the once hallowed life at sea. The museum also offers an array of educational workshops and hands-on sessions for students and learners run by experienced teacher guides.
Wharf 7 Heritage Centre, 58 Pirrama Rd, Pyrmont, 02-9298-3777
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15.Sydney Architecture Walks
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Architecture aficionados, city-lovers, and aesthetes will delight in taking an informative walking tour with Sydney Architecture Walks. See the city from a different point of view during these fascinating and historically informed tours, which take visitors through the streets of Sydney and share the city's inner machinations, hidden architectural gems, and the local way of life.
Visitors can enjoy tours on a bicycle or by foot, taking in famous works by world-renowned architects such as Renzo Piano, Christoph Ingenhoven, Joern Utzon, and Richard Johnson. Bicycle tours explore the suburbs of Surry Hills, Redfern, and Chippendale, which have undergone a renaissance in the past decade and enjoy a thriving contemporary art, architecture, and design scene.
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Affectionately known as “the lungs of the city,” Centennial Parklands is one of the worlds leading public parklands, providing an urban green space for people to enjoy nature and the outdoors. Located approximately 5 km southeast of Sydney’s central business district, Centennial Park is reminiscent of a grand European park, featuring formal gardens surrounded by tree-lined avenues, beautifully restored heritage buildings, and shimmering ponds, statues, sculptures, and sporting fields.
Walkers, joggers, rollerbladers, and cyclists, frequent the park, as well as horse riders and their charges, all of whom make use of the beautiful natural landscapes. The park is filled with unique and diverse flora and fauna, including Port Jackson figs and Holm oaks. You will also find a restaurant, café, and kiosk that serve refreshments and light meals, an education and exhibition space, and a modern visitor’s center.
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Experience Sydney in a different way and enjoy a range of food and drink related walking tours and activities with Foodi Tours. The company offers a variety of tours, such as the Craft Beer Walking Tour, which delves into the history of craft beer in the city with tastings along the way.
The three-hour tour takes visitors to the vibrant neighborhood of The Rocks and explores six historic pubs, their histories, and the ways in which they have contributed to Sydney’s burgeoning beer industry. Enjoy samples of beer and food at each stop and learn about the history of craft beer and how it is brewed. Tour participants must be over 18 years of age and wearing comfortable shoes is recommended as tours involve a substantial amount of walking.
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With its golden sands, turquoise waters and myriad activities to enjoy, Bondi Beach is one of Sydney’s most famous attractions. While its perfect waves attract surfers from around the world, Bondi also offers beautiful coastal walks, vibrant shopping markets, fine dining, and a buzzing nightlife – there is something for everyone. Soak up the beautiful natural scenery along the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk or hit the waves with a surfing lesson from one of the many surfing schools along the beach.
Stroll through the idyllic Bondi Farmers Market and taste a variety of artisanal foods or lunch at one of the many award-winning restaurants in the area. Experience Bondi’s buzzing nightlife and dance the night away at one of the countless bars and clubs, such as Panorama or Icebergs, along the coast.
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19.Museum of Contemporary Art
© Museum of Contemporary Art
Located on the edge of Sydney Harbor, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) is dedicated to exhibiting, collecting, and interpreting contemporary art. Established in 1991, the museum is home to world-class exhibitions of contemporary art from Australia, the Asia-Pacific region, and around the world. The museum also has innovative educational and interpretative programming to engage, encourage, and inspire audiences to take an interest in art.
Two floors of the establishment are dedicated to showcasing the collections through permanent and traveling exhibitions, and a National Centre for Creative Learning houses a number of digital and multimedia studios, a library, and a lecture theater for educational purposes.
140 George Street, The Rocks, 02-9245-2400
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20.Sydney Wildlife Tours
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Sydney Wildlife Tours is a unique family-owned business that offers visitors the chance to see more of Sydney than just the usual attractions. The company provides six set tours, as well as tailor-made private tours, including Dolphin and Whale Watching Cruises, Touching and Feeding Kangaroos, Koalas and Native Bird-life, Hiking through National Parks, Mountain Climbing, and Gourmet Food and Wine tours.
Tours are conducted over one or two days and include meals, snacks, and refreshments, as well as entry fees to attractions and parks and overnight accommodation on two-day trips. Tour groups are no larger than 10 people, and all ages are welcomed.
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21.Sea Life Sydney Aquarium
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Situated on the city side of Darling Harbor, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium is home to more than 12,000 animals from 650 species and is one of the city’s top attractions. The popular family-friendly venue offers a variety of exhibits, displays, and interactive activities for all ages. Popular features include glass viewing tunnels, touch pools, and hands-on educational programs.
The Aquarium takes visitors through Australia’s varied aquatic habitats with its 14 themed zones, including Shark Walk, a Bay of Rays, and the world’s largest Great Barrier Reef display. The Aquarium offers special guided tours, glass-bottom boat trips, feeding experiences, and behind-the-scenes tours of the of the marine park, as well as special public events throughout the year.
1-5 Wheat Road, Darling Harbor, 1-800-199-657
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Situated on top of Observatory Hill in the center of Sydney, the Sydney Observatory is a working museum where visitors can observe the stars and planets in the evenings. Built in 1858, the observatory was once a fort that only later evolved into an observatory. Today, it is one of the most significant sites in the nation’s scientific history. Visitors can view the night sky through a state-of-the-art Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope or a historic refractor telescope from the late 1800s.
The observatory also features a virtual reality 3-D space theater, digital planetarium, and a range of exhibitions about the history of Sydney Observatory, astronomy, and meteorology. Guided tours about science, archeology, and weather measuring can be booked for school and community groups.
1003 Upper Fort St, Millers Point, 02-9921-3485
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The Australian Museum is the oldest museum in the country, and it boasts a world-renowned reputation in the fields of natural history and anthropology. The museum is home to a broad range of collections that cover the areas of zoology, paleontology, anthropology, and mineralogy through a variety of permanent and traveling exhibitions.
The museum also plays a significant role in indigenous studies research and offers a range of educational workshops and community outreach programs.
1 William Street, 02-9320-6000
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24.Fix Wine Bar and Restaurant
© Fix Wine Bar and Restaurant
Fix Wine Bar + Restaurant is one of the premiere wine bars in Sydney, opened to the public in 2006 near the city's shopping district. The restaurant is helmed by sommelier Stuart Knox, offering an acclaimed extensive wine list showcasing more than 250 bottles, including rare, small handcrafted, and natural wine variants. Unique menu options focus on seasonal ingredients and locally-sourced produce, including dishes such as soy-glazed lamb ribs, dijon cauliflower and gouda bakes, and vindaloo-spiced kingfish wings. An extensive charcuterie program highlights fine meats and cheeses sourced from around the world, with a large list of dessert wines and digestives available for after-dinner service.
111 Elizabeth St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia, Phone: +61 2 9232 2767
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25.Wild Life Sydney Zoo
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The Wild Life Sydney Zoo is a wildlife park located next to the Sea Life Aquarium on Darling Harbor. The award-winning zoo is designed to recreate the iconic habitats of Australia across 10 different zones, showcasing Australia's most incredible and iconic animals. You can see Tasmanian Devils in Devil's Den or visit Daintree Rainforest, the land of the Cassowary, Kangaroo Walk-About, or Gumtree Valley, which is filled with koalas.
Kakadu Gorge, on the other hand, is packed with crocodiles. The park features indoor and outdoor exhibits and is open year-round. It also hosts a range of conservation events throughout the year and offers educational resources, classes, and workshops for school groups.
1-5 Wheat Road, Darling Harbor, 1-800-206-158
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25 Best Things to Do in Sydney, Australia
- Sydney Harbor Bridge , Photo: Courtesy of Javen - Fotolia.com
- Queen Victoria Building (QVB), Photo: Courtesy of Leonid Andronov - Fotolia.com
- Sydney Harbor, Photo: Courtesy of jovannig - Fotolia.com
- Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach Pacific Trail, Photo: Courtesy of jovannig - Fotolia.com
- Nicholson Museum, Photo: Nicholson Museum
- Sydney Opera House , Photo: Courtesy of dinozzaver - Fotolia.com
- Royal Botanic Gardens, Photo: Courtesy of Leonid Andronov - Fotolia.com
- Sydney Ferries, Photo: Courtesy of Leonid Andronov - Fotolia.com
- The Rocks, Photo: Courtesy of Leonid Andronov - Fotolia.com
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Photo: Courtesy of aure 50 - Fotolia.com
- Darling Harbor, Photo: Courtesy of jummie - Fotolia.com
- Manly Scenic Walkway, Photo: Courtesy of katacarix - Fotolia.com
- I'm Free Tours of Sydney, Photo: Courtesy of Altair de Bruin - Fotolia.com
- Australian National Maritime Museum, Photo: Australian National Maritime Museum
- Sydney Architecture Walks, Photo: Courtesy of Ignatius Tan - Fotolia.com
- Centennial Parklands, Photo: Courtesy of white_bcgrd - Fotolia.com
- Foodi Tours, Photo: Courtesy of Feel good studio - Fotolia.com
- Bondi Beach, Photo: Courtesy of Dan Breckwoldt - Fotolia.com
- Museum of Contemporary Art, Photo: Museum of Contemporary Art
- Sydney Wildlife Tours, Photo: Courtesy of unclepodger - Fotolia.com
- Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, Photo: Courtesy of Fotolia.com
- Sydney Observatory, Photo: Courtesy of Chee-Onn Leong - Fotolia.com
- Australian Museum, Photo: Courtesy of esmehelit - Fotolia.com
- Fix Wine Bar and Restaurant, Photo: Fix Wine Bar and Restaurant
- Wild Life Sydney Zoo, Photo: Courtesy of xiaoliangge - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of sara_winter - Fotolia.com
Sydney Harbor National Park
The Sydney Harbor National Park is a designated area that protects a number of islands and foreshore areas that surround one of the world’s most famous harbors. The park provides a fantastic outdoor arena for visitors to enjoy the great outdoors through activities such as swimming, bushwalking, hiking, jogging, and picnicking. Explore convict-built buildings and military fortifications and learn about the history of the park.
See native wildlife that once roamed the region on which Sydney was built and soak up the beautiful city skyline and harbor views from the park’s winding trails and lookout points. Be sure to keep an eye out for migrating whales during the winter months. Next read: Darling Harbour, Taronga Zoo