Delightfully unexpected Sydney experiences

Sydney has some impressive tricks up its sleeve to surprise and delight you on your next Australian holiday or extended weekend escape.

Whether you're planning your first-ever visit to Sydney or your 15th, you'll want to know about the places, activities and attractions that's new and on trend. Use this list to sprinkle extra fun into your itinerary.

Spend a night at Taronga Zoo

If you love camping and animals, here's a chance to combine the two for a night you'll never forget. An all-inclusive price covers accommodation, gourmet pre-dinner nibbles, interactions with animals, a wonderful buffet-style dinner and a night safari of the zoo before bed. The Roar & Snore glamping site looks across Sydney harbour to the Sydney Opera House and cityscape. Alternatively, wake up alongside Australia's unique wildlife at the Wildlife Retreat, the iconic Zoo's newest accommodation option. Exclusive after hours guided tours are included in the tariff and gives a glimpse of the animals in their habitats, with the option to help feed unique native animals and learn how the Zoo works behind-the-scenes.

Rooftop lunch at the MCA

Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art will expand your mind with its collections and satisfy your appetite with an excellent rooftop café. The huge view includes the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and star menu items take their inspiration from current exhibitions. This secret eating spot is open Tuesdays to Sundays until 4pm, plus there's a late night on Fridays if you fancy an art filled casual dinner.

Whale watching while you walk

If you find yourself on the Bondi to Coogee walk, keep an eye out for migrating humpback whales. From May until mid-August, they're heading north to the warm waters of Queensland; from mid-August to November, they're on their way back to Antarctica. During the southern migration, mothers and newborn calves often swim very close to the shoreline.

Art After Hours at the Art Gallery of NSW

On Wednesdays the Art Gallery of NSW stays open late for Art After Hours. As well as exhibitions, there are art talks, films, lectures, workshops and live music performances. Charges apply to some lectures and workshops, but the rest of the programme is entirely free of charge. The gallery's website has full details of each night's programme.

Shopper Hopper for bargains that will float your boat

Now there's an easy and highly scenic way to get Sydney's largest outlet shopping centre at Birkenhead Point - the Shopper Hopper ferry service. You can catch the Shopper Hopper from Circular Quay or Darling Harbour. On the journey to Birkenhead Point you'll see the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, Luna Park and Cockatoo Island.

Music and food at the Lansdowne

First opened in 1932, the Lansdowne Hotel in Darlington was once notorious for misdeeds, miscreants and shady goings-on. Today it's one of the best places in Sydney to enjoy live music and talented DJs. They have good food too, including the Monday to Friday Ten Buck Lunch.

Illuminated fun during Vivid Sydney

The largest festival of its kind in the world, Vivid Sydney shines each year over 23 days from the end of May to middle of June. This year it runs from 6-28 August. Stay in the CBD to enjoy large-scale light installations and projections, live music performances, workshops, talks and debates. You'll arrive home brighter in every way.

Home & Away Tour at Palm Beach

At the very tip of Sydney's northern beaches is Palm Beach, the filming location for one of Australia's best-loved television exports - Home & Away. On a Home & Away Tour you can see Palm Beach as Summer Bay, visit the set and re-live some of your favourite Home & Away moments. Operated by Flamin' Galah Sydney Tours, you need to book this experience in advance.

Behind the scenes at the Sydney Opera House

This one-hour backstage tour takes you to places usually off limits to the general public as you hear the insider secrets of the Sydney Opera House from expert guides, ending with a brunch beneath the sails at Opera Kitchen.

Sydney sunrise from a sea kayak

Sydney's sheltered CBD harbour is ideal for sea kayak adventures and the best time to start is sunrise, before the ferries get going. The water is calm as you explore Lavender Bay and Blues Point right next to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. With the Sunrise Kayak and Coffee tour, you can sip a flat white while you glide along.

Keep exploring Sydney