Top 10 things to do in Sydney
From Barangaroo to Bondi and everywhere in between, these recommended attractions and activities will open your eyes to a fresh view of Sydney.
Whether you decide to stay in the CBD or book an apartment in a city-fringe suburb, Sydney's public transport system - trains, buses and ferries - will get you to where you're going. You can also get a lot of sightseeing done on your own two feet, especially around The Rocks, Circular Quay and Barangaroo.
1. Get enlightened during Vivid Sydney
Vivid Sydney is a festival of illuminations, projections, music and enlightened ideas. A focal point for the festival is the Sydney Opera House, which becomes an extraordinary canvas for light projections. You can make the most of Vivid Sydney by attending a selection of festival mini-events, which range from light installations and music performances to seminars and workshops. Top it all off with tickets to a performance at the Sydney Opera House. Unfortunately, Vivid Sydney 2020 has been cancelled on the recommendations of the Australian Government and health authorities but Vivid Sydney will shine brighter than ever in 2021!
2. Take a dip in an ocean pool
Ocean pools are a Sydney tradition that stretches back to the early 1800s. They're a way to enjoy a delicious saltwater swim without getting washed around in the waves. Bondi Icebergs Club runs Sydney's most famous outdoor pool, but there are other less-known pools that will give your swim a point of difference - Clovelly Ocean Pool, Giles Baths, Ross Jones Memorial Pool, Bronte Baths, McIver Baths (female only) and Wylie's Baths. More about ocean pools.
3. Hit the sand at Palm Beach
For a day trip that's all about sun and sea, wake up early to catch a bus from Circular Quay to Palm Beach. The most northerly of Sydney's beaches, Palm Beach is a self-contained coastal paradise. You can walk to the beautiful Barrenjoey Lighthouse, dangle your feet off the wharf, rent a board to catch some waves or dip into the ocean pool and swim some laps. Highlight of the day is lunch at The Boathouse, where you can enjoy a meal of fresh seafood waterside.
4. Find a bar with a view or a brew
Right in the throbbing heart of Sydney's CBD waterfront is Hyde Hacienda Sydney Bar & Lounge, an oasis of civility where you can sip a cocktail and nibble a prawn while the city's ferries float by. Or take a more rustic approach to quenching your thirst at one of Sydney's legendary pubs, like the Fortune of War, the Hero of Waterloo, the Glenmore Hotel or hip and happening Young Henrys in Newtown. It's not all about the beer; the menus are just as enticing as the brews.
5. Hop off to Barangaroo
West of The Rocks at the edge of the harbour is Barangaroo, a new area of downtown Sydney that includes great restaurants, beautiful parkland, enticing shopping and fascinating indigenous tours. To find Barangaroo, walk from The Rocks along the foreshore under the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Darling Harbour or take a ferry from Circular Quay to Barangaroo Wharf.
Even if you've been to Sydney multiple times, if you haven't seen the city from the breezy top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge it's time to step out. The Sydney BridgeClimb experience gets consistent five-star reviews for good reason. It's a massive, long-lasting thrill over and up one of the world's legendary harbour bridges.
7. Hike from Bondi to Coogee
If you only have time for one big walk in Sydney, make it this one. Divided into four stages, this six-kilometre coastal walking adventure leads you across beaches, around headlands and past beautiful coastal parks. The views are stupendous and there are plenty of opportunities for eating and drinking along the way. All the beaches along this walk are connected to the CBD by bus routes. See more about beaches.
8. Muse away an hour or two at the Museum of Contemporary Art
Conveniently located at The Rocks, this art museum always has something mind-boggling to show you. Exhibitions are often fully-immersive, with lighting, video projections and soundtracks to draw you into a deeper art experience. Visiting the MCA is one of the best free things to do in Sydney and the café on level four has spectacular views of the Sydney Opera House.
Appreciate Sydney's most memorable city feature by seeing it in action. There are seven venues within the Sydney Opera House, so it should be easy to find a production that grabs you. The largest is the Concert Hall; the tiniest is the Utzon Room. At any moment in time you'll find music, drama, dance, cabaret and comedy. Check the Sydney Opera House website for what's on.
10. Walk the city with a local
Want to see this city's coolest spots through the eyes of a local? Sydney walking tours are a great way to get insider stories on the most fascinating parts of the city. There are plenty of tours to choose from, so you can pick a focus that suits your interests. Take a street art tour of Newtown, a gallery and lunch trip around Redfern, inner city history and architecture tours or a night ghost tour of the historic Rocks area.