Planning a trip to Sydney? The city and its surrounds are blessed with so many things to do that it can be hard to know where to start when planning your visit, particularly if you’re a first-time visitor with little knowledge about the incredible city. With that in mind, and with tried and trusted reviews from customers and knowledgeable locals, we’ve put together a selection of the very best things to do in Sydney for visitors (and locals living it up like a tourist).
We think the list below are absolute must-dos (at some stage) for anyone in the Harbour City, ticking off classic sights and icons, as well as giving you a little of the flavour of what it’s like to live here. Add them to your Sydney itinerary to get more from your trip. And, if you happen to be reading this and you live locally, you have our permission to treat yourself to them too!
The Sydney Bridge Climb is hardly a well-kept secret, but there’s a good reason for that. Visitors from across the globe (and around the nation) flock to the city with an appetite to climb this most famous of bridges and take in the breathtaking 360-degree views. There’s arguably no better sight than the world’s most beautiful harbour from the summit of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Climbs are available during the day, at twilight and at night, so take your pick and enjoy an experience you’ll never forget.
Sydney Tower Eye Observation Tower
Sydney’s tallest building is an easier climb than the Harbour Bridge, but the views are no less impressive. The Tower Eye can be seen from miles around, and when you’re at the top on the observation deck you’ll be able to look out at all those looking up at it from in and around the city and way beyond. As you can imagine, this is the perfect spot for first-time visitors to get a lay of the land. Tower Eye Observation Deck admission also includes entry to the 4D cinema. Don’t forget your camera!
With its stunning harbourside location, there are some locals who’ll tell you the giraffes at Taronga Zoo live on Sydney’s most sought-after piece of real estate. Thankfully, the spot was snapped up a long time ago and we’re all invited to visit. This scenic spot is also home to creatures from around the world (Asian elephants, lions and more), as well as a variety of Australian wildlife (from kangaroo and koalas to platypuses and snakes). The Taronga Zoo entry and a 2-day Sydney Harbour hop-on, hop off cruise pass gives you the option of arriving in style and enjoying more of the city’s harbourside spots before or after your visit. Taronga is a not-for-profit organisation, which aims to help endangered species around the globe by supporting conservation and breeding programmes.
Jet Boat Circular Quay
More than just a scenic boat trip (although you’ll see plenty of sights along the way), the Jet Boat rides departing from Circular Quay are a blistering ride perfect for all thrill seekers. The boat pilot will take you around this iconic harbour, hitting full throttle and unleashing the power with plenty of slides, twists, turns and manoeuvres that are sure to put a smile on your face. It’s the perfect way to liven up any day. Scream if you want to go faster!
Sunset Dinner and Harbour Cruise
Cruise the water at a leisurely pace and take in the city skyline, Opera House and Harbour Bridge while the sun sets on another day. The Sydney Harbour Sunset Dinner and Drinks Cruise is the perfect way to unwind after a busy day of sightseeing. Your two-course meal comes with unlimited house wine, beer and soft drinks, as well as those famous views
Combination 4 pass
Four big attractions, one pass, great value for money. The combination 4 pass covers your admission to Tower Eye, Madame Tussauds, WILD LIFE Sydney and Sydney Aquarium. Once you visit your first attraction, you’ll have 30 days to visit the rest. There’s no need to try and cram everything in to one day, and you’ll even be able to skip the queues with faster entry.
Kayaking Sydney Harbour
Get active and get out on to the water for the kayaking adventure of a lifetime. What better way to start the day than with a paddle past the Opera House? Your friendly and qualified local guides will be on hand to help you make the most of your Sydney Harbour kayaking adventure, taking you to spots including the Royal Botanic Gardens, Garden Island Navy Base, Fort Denison, Kirribilli and Admiralty Houses, as well as sharing interesting information about Sydney.
Seaplane and Dine at Jonah’s
Add a touch of the spectacular to your time in Sydney with a seaplane flight, plus lunch at the acclaimed Jonah’s at Palm Beach (aka Summer Bay in TV’s Home and Away, which is filmed here). Your flight takes off from Sydney Harbour and heads north, taking in the stunning Northern Beaches before touching down in the vast waterway of Pittwater. Enjoy delicious Asian and European influenced food before making your way back to the city with a scenic circuit taking in the Harbour Bridge and Opera House.
Surf Lesson at Manly or Bondi
Sydney and surfing go hand-in-hand. We may be biased, but the beaches in Sydney are among the very best in the world, and with some fantastic surf schools, it’s the ideal place to learn to surf. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or looking to improve your skills, a surf lesson in Manly or Bondi is a must. These are arguably two of the most famous surf spots globally and the professional instructors pride themselves on helping even the most nervous of newcomers to catch a wave! As an added bonus, the golden sands are the perfect place to relax after your efforts or for anyone coming along and not taking part.