Sydney Holidays: 14 Top Things To Do in Sydney
Wondering what are the best places to see in Sydney? Or the top things you can do in the New South Wales capital?
Australia’s largest city is certainly one of its most popular tourist destinations—visitors are drawn to Sydney’s waterfront hubs, iconic architecture, and cultural institutions.
To help you plan your Sydney holidays, here’ is PARKROYAL Darling Harbour, Sydney’s essential guide to Sydney, where you can discover:
For guests at PARKROYAL Darling Harbour, Sydney, our hotel offers modern comforts and convenience, with easy access to renowned Sydney attractions such as the Sydney Opera House, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium, the Art Gallery of NSW, and The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.
Read on to find out what this superlative Aussie city has to offer.
The Best Spots for Sydney Photos
Begin your Sydney explorations at attractions where you can capture breathtaking holiday photos.
1. Marvel at the Grandeur of the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Nicknamed the “Coathanger,” the Sydney Harbour Bridge is featured in virtually every Sydney traveller’s photos. Made from almost 53,000 tonnes of steel, it’s one of the world’s most impressive steel bridges.
A great place to snap a souvenir shot is at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. This “bench” located by the Royal Botanic Gardens was carved out of sandstone for Elizabeth Macquarie—the wife of Lachlan Macquarie, an early governor of New South Wales. It was said to be her favourite spot to gaze upon the harbour, and is particularly scenic at sunset. (Other places to photograph the bridge include Milson’s Point, Hickson Road Reserve, and Wendy’s Secret Garden.)
For a truly memorable experience and photo opportunity, scale the harbour bridge with BridgeClimb Sydney, which has been voted by visitors as one of the best things to do in Sydney.
2. Capture the Sydney Opera House in Her Full Glory
The grand dame of Sydney—the Sydney Opera House—has also graced countless Sydney photos, and no wonder, for she is effortlessly photogenic. To take a perfect shot of the Sydney Opera House, head to the Overseas Passenger Terminal located next to the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. But don’t forget to pay a visit to the opera house too; within the walls of this iconic cultural institution, gripping tales await an audience. Join the Backstage Tour to learn about the dramas and scandals that have raged on behind the scenes. And if you need your moment in the spotlight, contact Opera Australia to secure a silent walk-on role in an upcoming stage production.
3. Enjoy a Glorious City View at the Royal Botanic Garden
A green sanctuary and one of the best photography spots to capture Sydney’s CBD, the Royal Botanic Garden is one attraction you shouldn’t miss. Visit early in the morning—just after sunrise, if possible—and you will be mesmerised as the city comes to life, bathed in a picturesque golden light.
The Must-See Sydney Places of Interest
No Sydney holiday will be complete without checking off these popular tourist destinations.
4. Get Your Culture Fix at the Art Gallery of NSW
Some consider the Art Gallery of New South Wales to be Sydney’s premier cultural institution—a testament to the gallery’s success in opening its visitors’ hearts and minds to the wonder, richness, and sheer pleasure of art. The five genres of art represented in this comprehensive museum are aboriginal art, Asian art, Western art, contemporary art, and photography. Admission is free for the permanent galleries and most events.
5. Discover The Rocks’ Wild Past
This is a historic attraction worth visiting, as The Rocks is just a short stroll from the city's two most famous landmarks—the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. Here, you’ll find cobbled walkways, and some of Australia’s oldest pubs. It’s also a place with a raucous history, as The Rocks was once the stomping ground for convicts, sailors, and street gangs.
Visit The Rocks Discovery Museum to hear the full story of how The Rocks came to be. You’ll learn about the area’s traditional custodians, how it changed when Australia was established as an English colony, as well as how sailors, whalers, and traders built a life for themselves here. And finally, feel the fury of union-led protests in the 1970s, without which, The Rocks might not have continued to thrive today.
6. Swim with Sharks at the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium
Boasting sharks, seals, and two of only a handful of dugongs in captivity in the Southern Hemisphere, the SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium is a must-see destination. Home to over 6,000 marine creatures, this aquatic playground offers guests an incredible opportunity to get acquainted with the dazzling world of water-dwellers.
For the fearless, the Sydney Aquarium is also the place to participate in Sydney’s only cageless shark dive experience. This enticing invitation to swim alongside grey nurse sharks is open to participants aged 14 and above. No prior diving experience is required, but participants will have to attend a training session.
7. Chill Out Like a Local at Bondi Beach
“Bondi is one of the world’s great beaches,” says the Manager at PARKROYAL Darling Harbour. “It’s the closest ocean beach to the city centre (8km away), has consistently good—though crowded—waves, and is great for a rough-and-tumble swim.”
Looking for calmer waters? Try the child-friendly saltwater sea baths at either end of the beach. To enjoy warmer sea temperatures, the best time to visit Bondi Beach is during the summer, from December to March.
To spend a day at Bondi, begin with a morning or midday swim, and cool off at the Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, where celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and model Alexa Chung have been spotted. Post-lunch, you can shop along the nearby Gould Street, where you can find international labels as well as homegrown designer fashions.
The Most Interesting Sydney Tours
Need a local guide to show you the highlights of Sydney? Book these memorable tour experiences—you won’t regret it!
8. Experience Sydney’s Diversity through Food
With Taste Cultural Food Tours, you’ll get to sample mouthwatering delights from different ethnic cuisines, prepared from the city’s freshest ingredients, and paired with juicy stories about food, history, and culture. Sign up for the “Taste of Sydney” tour if you’re a first-time visitor and need a quick introduction to the city’s best eats.
For adventurous foodies, the “Taste of Afghanistan, Syria, and Persia” tour promises a unique and memorable experience. Here’s another compelling reason to choose Taste Tours: the organisation supports local and immigrant communities with training programmes and employment opportunities.
9. Take a Foraging Walk with an Expert Guide
You won’t truly appreciate nature’s bounty until you’ve made a date to walk with expert forager Diego Bonetto. Bonetto grew up on a dairy farm in northern Italy, during a time when it was common practice to collect the wild produce of the land for personal use. When he moved to Australia, he decided to help city folk “rekindle” their connection to nature with his foraging tours. With Bonetto as your guide, you can learn how to harvest wild edible mushrooms in pine forests, as well as the art of identifying wild food and medicinal plants.
10. Explore Sydney’s Hidden Gems
To meet artists, designers, and makers, as well as curious locals, book a walking tour with Culture Scouts. Experts in all things culture-related, their guides will introduce you to Sydney’s most interesting sights, such as the arty and eclectic Newtown or the city centre’s hidden laneways. Strictly for visitors looking to get off the beaten tourist track.
The Top Places to Eat and Drink in Sydney
Looking for the best cafes, restaurants, and bars in Sydney? These places come highly recommended.
11. Have a Classic Australian Breakfast
Why begin your day at Bills? It’s run by Bill Granger, celebrated Aussie chef and the undisputed “egg master” of Sydney. At Bills, the scrambled eggs are said to be creamy to a fault, the sweet corn fritters have been proclaimed the city’s best, and the ricotta hotcakes have earned a devoted following too.
12. Dine at One of Sydney’s Best Restaurants
13. Visit A Restaurant that Chefs Love
Run by Josh Niland, winner of GQ’s Chef of the Year award, Saint Peter is a favourite dining spot for notable Sydney chefs such as Chiswick’s Matt Moran. The restaurant specialises in locally and sustainably sourced seafood, prepared expertly and served simply.
14. Revel in the Nightlife at Australia’s Best Bar
Here’s a good reason to stop at Maybe Sammy for a drink: it’s made it to the World’s 50 Best Bars list, and for now, it’s the only Australian bar to claim that honour. Expect an inventive cocktail list, luxe surrounds, and a warm welcome that will have you feeling right at home.
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