Sydney’s star attractions are famous for a reason. Along with the glittering harbour, these world-renowned landmarks are destinations in their own right. They are easy to access and look great on film. Be sure to include some of these in your itinerary when you visit Australia’s global city.
The vibrant, bustling and dynamic heart of Sydney Harbour is a gateway to many different attractions, as well as being a transport hub for ferries, trains and buses. The view from the train station alone is breathtaking and the Opera House, Royal Botanic Gardens and Museum of Contemporary Art are all a short, harbourside stroll away. Circular Quay is a prime spot for viewing our world famous New Year’s Eve fireworks spectacular.
This popular entertainment precinct is home to some of the city’s best bars, restaurants and nightspots. If you want to get up close and personal to a shark, head to the Sydney Aquarium. The nearby Australian National Maritime Museum offers a closer look at a land girt by sea.
More than just a museum, the Powerhouse is a tribute to science, art, design, fashion, music and technology. Drawing from a collection of more than 500,000 pieces, its curators combine fascinating permanent exhibitions with must-see temporary displays.
Nowhere is the contrast between old and new more visible than at The Rocks. Some of Sydney’s oldest buildings can be found here, housing restaurants, boutiques, pubs and art galleries. Contemporary markets take over the main street on weekends and many free events are held throughout the year, including the Aroma Festival – a celebration of coffee.
With a backdrop of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House, the Royal Botanic Gardens make an irresistible spot for people to relax, have some quiet time, soak up the sun’s rays or learn about the 45,000 plants on display. Some 3 million people wander through this interconnected series of different gardens each year.
Free, 1.5 hour guided tours take place daily at 10.30am. A 1-hour tour leaves at 1pm on weekdays (except for Good Friday) between March and November. Self-guided and group tours are also available.
See 12,000 aquatic creatures from 650 species co-exist in a spectacular underwater playground. You can get up close and personal to a shark thanks to the unique underwater viewing tunnel, as well as seeing the world's biggest Great Barrier Reef display.
Six million hard-working little rivets hold the world-famous bridge – which measures 134 metres above sea level at the top of its arch – together. Work began on the national icon in 1923 and it was officially declared open in 1932. It has been central to the City of Sydney's New Year’s Eve celebrations for many years, as fireworks project over and under it.
You can wander across the bridge from the city to Sydney's north side 24/7; it takes about 20 minutes from pylon to pylon. Or walk up 200 stairs to the Pylon Lookout for a magnificent view and a browse around a museum dedicated to the bridge's history. For the ultimate view, book a spot with BridgeClimb and join a supervised excursion to the very top!
Audiences have enjoyed Björk, Bach and the ballet in the many and varied performance spaces under the Opera House's iconic white sails. Bars and eateries, including a world-class restaurant, share the space and spill over to the surrounding forecourt and promenade.
Visitors can enjoy a Sydney Opera House Tour (1 hour) or go behind the scenes on the Backstage Tour (2 hours, beginning at 7am, before cast, crew and equipment move in). French, German, Japanese, Korean and Chinese speaking guides are available as are tours in Auslan for people who are hearing impaired.
"Centrepoint" as it is known to the locals is an engineering and architectural marvel and underneath is Sydney’s latest shopping precinct, where international fashion labels sit seam-by-seam with local design talent. At the top of Sydney Tower you'll find amazing views and revolving restaurants. While you are there and if you are brave enough, step outside and onto the Skywalk platform.
Standing on the site of the original Sydney markets, the grand and majestic QVB is still a mix of shops and services. Finished in 1898, the building was a tribute to Queen Victoria. Stroll through and take in the high ceilings and intricate fixtures.
Last updated: Monday, 17 March 2014