The Sydney Opera House, in Sydney, Australia, is an iconic and historical building that is open for tours as well as offering a variety of cultural experiences. Guests should make sure to take a picture with the sails in the background; it’s an essential part of any visit. Designed in the modern expressionist style by architect Jorn Utzon in 1973, the opera house has become one of the most recognizable buildings in the entire world (even winning a prestigious architecture award in 2003).
It continues to be the top tourist destination in Australia, welcoming more than 8 million visitors annually. It regularly hosts more than 2000 different shows in all different mediums (with over one million guests coming to see them). The opera house is also considered a world heritage site.
Below is a recommendation of how visitors can make the best of any visit to the opera house, whether it's their first time or they are a long time returning guest. Make sure to make the best of any time spent at this cultural and historical icon!
Visitors, especially those here for the first time, should make sure to take that classic selfie of themselves and their family on the steps to the opera house. Take special care to include the sails in the background - that’s what makes it so iconic! It’s an essential part of remember a visit.
If there is extra time after that, make sure to head down to the Western Boardwalk and try to catch a seal out bathing in the sun. The seals, while noisy, are an iconic part of the opera house in their own right.
For guests who have longer to spend at the opera house and prefer a structured experience, the opera house offers guided tours. These tours are offered every day (with the exception of Christmas and Good Friday) between 9am and 5pm and, as they often sell out very quickly due to their popularity, it is strongly recommended that visitors who plan to go on one reserve as far in advance as possible. The tours leave from the opera house every 15 to 30 minutes, starting from the opera house welcome center and finishing up in the entry foyer.
All tours are given in English, but are also available on request in German, French, Japanese, Mandarin, Korean, and Spanish. There is a cost required per person for the tour, but there is a discount for guests who book online. Guests should also be aware that this is a walking tour, although it is considered “low impact.” During the tour, guests will climb stairs (200). Visitors who will have problems with this due to disability can take the “access” tour, which is available at noon.
Visitors who are able to stay until nighttime should not miss the daily sail lighting, called Badu Gili which literally means “water light.” Offered both at sunset and again at 9pm, the sail lighting is a seven-minute experience which introduces guests to the history of the First Nations through projections on the Bennelong’s eastern sail. This experience is offered free of charge and is wheelchair accessible and perfect for even the youngest guests.
The opera house offers a variety of educational programs for students in both primary and secondary school. Reservations are mandatory ahead of time and can be booked through the website. Full information about all available educational opportunities is available on the website as well, including cost, times, and lesson planning information. Teachers can also contact the opera house educational staff ahead of time with any questions or to discuss which program would be best for the age range of the class wanting to schedule a field trip.
Primary programs are meant to entertain while also teaching children in primary school about the history of the opera house. With plays, storytelling, and interactive learning, the education team at the opera house has designed each diverse program specifically with the youngest students in mind.
Secondary programs go more in-depth about the history of the area and the opera house. These field trips last slightly longer and are also more educationally rigorous, teaching in a more direct way while still being fun.
Dining and Shopping
There are multiple dining opportunities for guests visiting the opera house. From the formal dining restaurants like Bennelong, to the more casual like The Lounge, visitors from the slightly hungry to the absolutely starving will find something to calm their appetite. For shopping, guests should stop by the gift shop and pick up souvenirs like a Lego model of the opera house, stationery, jewelry, and more!
Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia, Phone: +61-2-92-50-71-11