Sydney is indeed Australia’s most beautiful city with numerous tourist attractions which include these historical structures of British era at Sydney Cove as well as the most modern Harbour Arch Bridge, Opera House and National Parks. The historical buildings of the Rocks at the city’s museum that include heritage paintings on rocks shall tell you all about the adventurous life style of the dwellers of those times. The modern buildings provide the same adventurous spirit where in you can climb atop this mammoth Arch Harbor Bridge and fathom its length.
Chopper rides are also available for getting a bird’s eye view of this glorious and incredible city.
The height of tourist season is during December to February. However, if you want to beat the rush and enjoy an affordable and reasonably less crowded trip then you must plan your trip just prior to or immediately after the peak season. Even the weather during this pre/post peak season is fairly tolerable.
Top Tourist Attractions in Sydney
1. Sydney Arch Harbor Bridge
This 440 feet high arch bridge has a total length of 1149 meters (over one KM) with the arch span measuring 503 meters, making it the largest steel and arch bridge in the world but not the longest one which is in the US (New River Gorge Bridge). You can get the best view of this bridge from within the harbor from a boat. This bridge is also known as “Coathanger”, a name coined by the locals.
A visit to this bridge would last between two to four hours depending upon your choice of option. If you choose to climb on foot then you need 3 ½ to 4 hours based on your physical fitness and the number of stops you take. The managing company ‘Bridge Climb Sydney’ will provide you with the entry tickets, specially designed Bridge suit to protect your clothing and safety gear, plus a guide. Small groups are formed and the guide gives you a running commentary on all relevant issues and details. At the summit you get a great panoramic view of the Sydney Harbour, the Opera House which is co-located with the bridge as well as the glittering high rise buildings of modern Sydney.
You can also choose a ride that takes just one and half hours as you do the climbing to the half way mark on the ride inside the inner arch of the bridge. A two and a quarter hour trip across the bridge has fewer stops.
At the end of the trip you are presented with a cap with a logo and a certificate of climb with a Complimentary group photograph that you can carry home as a proof of accomplishment.
The best time to schedule this visit is just before dusk. This will give you the experience of seeing the place during day light, see the beautiful sunset and also the night view with glittering lights all round.
Crossing the bridge has a toll fee and the climb itself costs between AU$128 to AU$363 based on the time of the day, season and type of climb.
2. Sydney Opera House
This Structure is actually a declared UNESCO World Heritage Site and in-fact the building itself leaves you awe struck. The half shell shaped façade gives you the feeling of a ship moving with its sails filled with the sea breeze. If you view this structure while cruising along the Sydney Harbor you may feel that you are stationary, the building is a moving ship. Truly, a great iconic structure that has much more to offer when you get close to it.
Through entry to this place (only foyer & eateries) is free, a conducted tour of one hour with a good guide would take you behind the scene and tell you all about its historical existence.
The site includes exhibition halls, a concert hall, some cinema halls, studios, theatres and many restaurants. You would be prompted to take a photograph every few steps due to the very attractive surroundings.
You can take the one our tour between 9 am to 5 pm. The ticket is a flexi-ticket and you can choose the time based on your liking. The place is famous for world class performances where more than 1500 concerts / ballets / musical shows and plays are staged ever year.
The restaurants too provide you with the best of continental cuisine.
The foyer has one of the world’s largest pillar free chambers which leaves you totally awe struck.
3. Darling Harbour
Darling Harbour is located adjacent to the city centre of Sydney, New South Whales Australia. It is also a large recreational and pedestrian precinct on the outskirts of the central business district. The earlier name of Darling Harbour was ‘Long Cove’ and Cockle Bay is one of the water ways that is quite widely used.
Darling Harbour has many attractions for locals as well as tourists that include the Harbour side shopping centre of which KingPin Bowling Alley is a part, M9 Laser skirmish and the retail Jet flight simulator. Apart from shopping centre you have a lot of places that need a couple of days to experience a host of interesting activities. These are :-
- Chinese Garden of friendship that gives you an insight to Chinese heritage and culture especially of the Ming Dynasty.
- Sydney Convention and exhibition centre which has been demolished and rebuilt afresh in 2016 where large trade shows are held for consumers.
- National Maritime Museum – Apart from other historical information about Australian history/its discovery / sea trade / naval warships etc, that you can get to see here, there are three museum ships HM Bark Endeavour (a replica), the destroyer HMAS Vampire and the Submarine HMAS Onslow which can be boarded to look inside. There are other smaller vessels too which can be watched but not boarded.
- Power House Museum – this contains a large collection of science exhibits on technology, design and history where guests can interact and learn about different scientific aspects.
- Sydney Aquarium – This contains a very large variety of Australian aquatic life displaying more than 700 species comprising over 13000 fishes and other marine creatures. This area has 14 themed zones including Jurassic seas, shark walk, world’s largest Great barriers reef display etc. You also get to see unique animals like the sharks, stingrays, penguins & tropical fish among others.
- Sydney Wildlife World Zoo – Children will love to spend time here and learn and get entertained. You can take a short ferry ride to reach Darling Harbour or reach there by road/rail. The two stations are Paddy’s market and Pyrmont Bay. On all Saturdays there is a spectacular fireworks show casing unique pyrotechnics at 9 pm which is free to view.
4. Bondi Beach
This beach of Sydney has acquired the status of one of most popular beaches of the world. You can find visitors of all standards right from back packers to billionaires enjoying the mile long golden sandy stretch which is packed with facilities and activity hubs of sorts. The North end has fairly calm waters where you can swim, play, bask in the sun or just laze around. The Southern end has roughest of waves loved by the sea surfers. The Bondi life saving and safety organization is exceptionally professional, infact a Life saving club exists on the beach where volunteers are trained from a very young age.
This beach is only a few minutes’ drive from the main business centre of Sydney and very popular with weekenders when it is jam-packed. Throughout the year there are numerous events that are organized like the community art show, surf running marathon, annual kite flying festival, special Christmas celebrations. The New Year’s Eve Festival is also celebrated here along with the traditional fireworks show. During winters you have the Bondi Winter Magic Festival that includes ice skating in a skating rink on the beach. There is a Bondi Pavilion Community centre that houses indoor theatre, an Art Gallery and an outdoor amphitheatre plus a Marine Discovery Centre that has Australia’s amazing sea creatures.
The main street that runs along the length of the beach front is Campbell Parade which has much to offer ranging from stylish surf and fashion shops, cafes and bars. On Sundays and holidays the market is full of make shift stalls where you can collect local jewellery, handicrafts and vintage clothing. A special mention for the Bondi Iceberg up market restaurant where you can enjoy the best of local cuisine and company of celebrities who frequent the place very often.
5. Sydney Tower Eye & Skywalk
This 300 odd meter high structure gives you an experience of a lifetime. It affords a 360 degree panoramic view of the dotted Sydney city as well as the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Darling Harbour and at the far distance almost 80 km away the famous Blue Mountains.
If you claim to possess a lion’s heart take a trip on the glass bottom skywalk. Be sure you pass the breath test to confirm that you are not under the influence of liquor. For safety reason you are clad in a jump suit and harness belts.
You can also enjoy a delicious buffet lunch at the revolving restaurant perched on top of the tower. As the restaurant revolves you can enjoy delicious cuisine while viewing the changing scenes down below through huge glass windows.
Visiting Hours : 9am – 10pm
Sky Walks : 10am – 7 pm
Admission fee :
- Adult 26 AUD for Tower
- Child (4-15 yrs) 15 AUD
- Adult 29 AUD for Tower & Skywalk
- Child (4-15 yrs) 45 AUD for Tower & Skywalk
6. The Rocks
This is infact a heritage site where you can learn about the adventurous history of this slum of 19th century which has now been transformed into a modern tourist destination.
The Rocks Discovery Museum tells you about the historical past plus there are several other museums like the Cadnan’s Cottage and the Susannah Place Museum. The galleries include Sydney Learning Adventures, the Rocks Dreaming Aboriginal Heritage tour and the art galleries. ‘Big Dig Archaeology & Education Museum.
On Weekends i.e Saturday & Sunday. The Rocks Market is established and on Friday you have the Rock Foodies market. You can also visit the Sydney Observatory or take a bike or walking tour of the area or even enjoy the recreational facilities laid out near the rocks.
One very interesting observation you would make out here is that despite the modernization the original heritage character of the buildings and structures has been retained to a large extent.
7. Queen Victoria Building
This is a very attractive building that has been transformed from a dilapidated structure of the original market place of 1950s into a very modern four storey structure padded with exquisite Roman architectural features and an highly impressive central dome. The refurbishing was completed in 1980 and great care was taken to retain most of its original structural character like staircase along the central dome.
The present structure has been coined by one of the famous fashion designers Perrie Cardin as ‘world’s most beautiful market place’.
Initially this market place had a huge concert hall, showrooms, offices, tailors, hairdressers florists and such tradesmen shops. As the purpose was to provide facilities to meet the urgent daily needs of citizens. However, as time passed and extensive development took place, numerous modifications were done to the layout to accommodate a municipal library and offices for Sydney City Council.
There are the two huge mechanical clocks that speak volumes of the history of this place as they run. The ‘Royal Clock’ has scenes painted on the moving dial that depict incidents of the colonial period from the signing of the ‘Magna Carta’ by king John to the execution of king Charles I. Infact every hour the head of king Charles I is seen rolling off the chopping block. The other clock is the ‘Great Australian Clock’ that has 33 scenes from Australian history.
- Monday : 9am – 6 pm
- Tuesday : 9am – 6 pm
- Wednesday : 9am – 6 pm
- Thrusday : 9am – 9 pm
- Friday : 9am – 6 pm
- Saturday : 9am – 6 pm
- Sunday and public Holidays : 11am – 5 pm
Location : 455 George Street (Next to Town hall)
How to Get there
Cityrail – Town Hall Station
Facing the Town hall in the front lawn are two statues of Royal Wishing Well and Queen Victoria. The market place is open for business from 9 am to 6 pm except on Thursdays when it remains open till 9pm. On Sundays and public Holidays the market closing time is 5pm.
8. Taronga Zoo
The Sydney Zoo is yet another popular tourist destination where there is adequate excitement and entertainment for all age groups apart from the educational angle. You can choose from a number of guided tour/independent packages based on your area of interest and time availability.
The Wild Australia Experience
This is a tour led by the zoo keeper wherein you are given an insight to the working and various zoo keeping routines followed by the zoo keeper and staff. This includes the upkeep of the animals, their meal and health aspects. You will also get to see the nocturnal creatures as well as the Australia specific animals like Kangaroos, Wallabies, Emus and Kolas and also the platypus, wombats, bilbies and echidnas.
VIP Aussie Gold Tour
Here too you get to see all of the above plus you get a closer view of the in mates and are also served refreshments.
Nura Diya Aboriginal Discovery Tour
Those interested in deeper study and knowledge regarding the connection and relation between the animals, planets and land forms/landscape as well as the aboriginal dreamtime can opt for this tour and add the Roar and Snore tour which permits you to camp within the zoo premises and observe the animal behavior at night.
The Independent Visitors can enjoy on their own with the guidance of an interactive iphone app that guides you through different zoo enclosures and advises you on how to get the maximum out of your 60 or 90 minutes walk through. It also provides a Mandarin language map for this purpose.
You can also get a bird’s eye view of the zoo if you choose to Wild Ropes adventure where the zip lines and suspension bridges carry you across the zoo premises.
The access to the zoo also has many options to choose from. After you reach the Sydney Harbour you can get into a gondola or get hop on to a bus shuttle. The gondola follows a route close to some animal enclosures like the Asian elephant’s orangutans and more. You get a first site glimpse of these inmates.
The tours end with free light snacks that you can enjoy at the Harbour view café which gives you a panoramic view of the Harbour and the Bridge. A complimentary souvenir gift will also be handed over to you.
The zoo timings (daily): 9:30 am to 4:30 pm
Admission fee :
- Adults AUD 44
- Children (4-15 years) AUD 22
FULL DAY TOUR OPTIONS FROM SYDNEY
1. Blue Mountain Including Wild Life Tour
Far from the madding crowd, though only an hour and a half away from Sydney, you can enjoy the tranquil quite of mother nature as you enter the wilderness of the Blue mountains. This park is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site that offers a panoramic grand view of Eucalyptus Forests and hill sides showing massive ancient rock formations.
Ancient mountain town Leura has a lot to offer including the Featherdale Wildlife Park where you can see the Koalas, Kangaroos, Wallabies and exotic species of native birds.
As you commence this Nine and a half hour day tour after being picked up from your hotel around 8 am and drive through the iconic Sydney Harbour Arch Bridge in your AC Coach, you suddenly start rising up into the mountain and get a fantastic aerial view of the ancient plateaus and valley below. The three attractions that await you after the breathtaking cliff drive are the Scenic Sky way, the Scenic Railway and the Scenic Cableway. Each one is extraordinary in its own way. The sky way offers a 7 minutes cable car ride giving you an awe inspiring view of the Jamison Valley some 200 m below. During the ride you can view the Three Sisters i.e., Katoomba Falls, Mt. Solitary and Orphan Rock.
The Scenic Railway is the world’s steepest incline railway at 52 degree gradient. You descend about 400 m through the cliff side tunnel and rain forests giving you a lifetime experience.
The scenic cable way is yet another exciting ride, the steepest in Australia that takes you along a 550 m path into the World Heritage listed rain forest of Jamison Valley. Even wheel chair bound tourists can avail of this ride.
At Leura you have plenty of antique shops where you can pick up souvenirs as well as there are restaurants where you can enjoy local cuisine for lunch.
2. Port Stephens Day Tour Including Dolphin Watching, Cruise And Sand Boarding On Dunes
This is a whole day almost 11 hour tour at Australia’s North Coast at Port Stephens located just an hour’s drive outside Sydney.
Four exciting activities are clubbed into one tour, each one lasting approximately one hour except for the cruise that is about an hour and a half.
Here again you get picked up in a AC Coach from your hotel at around 8 am and return about 7 pm. Your first stop is at the Australian Reptile Park where you get to see many species of native wild life of Australia including the famous Tasmanian Devil, the wallabies, wombats and the platypus. From here you driver straight to Port Stephens where you have an hour long lunch break at Nelson Bay before you ready yourself for the Dolphin watching cruise.
The yacht takes you straight to the site where you get a close encounter with the famous bottle nose dolphins. From here you also get a very attractive view of the Tomaree and Yacaaba Head lands and the 160 m high Tomaree Head Walk located at the entrance of Port Stephens. You are also treated to complimentary tea/coffee & biscuits during the cruise.
Returning to mainland you have 4 WD vehicles waiting to take you to Australia’s largest Sand Dune zone.
The 4 WD itself over the steep sand dunes and loose golden sand slopes is an exciting experience. After this shake up at Stockton Bright Sand Dunes some of which are 100 feet tall, you get off the vehicles and slide down the steep slopes of the Sand Dunes on sand boards, once you are soaked in the golden sand and exhausted you then prepare for the return trip back to the hotel.
3. Hunter Valley Wine Tasting Tour
Hunter Valley is world famous for producing some of the world’s best varieties of wine. During this 10 hour tour which will commence at 8 AM from your hotel you will visit a number of Vineyards as well as wine tasting facilities /wineries and gain abundant knowledge about the complete process of making beer and wine from your guide.
After a two hour drive through the vast country side and along the Hawkerbury River plus a ride over a convict built road you start climbing into the hills. As you go over the top and descend into the Hunter Valley you get to see a sea of vineyards, truly a breathtaking view.
You will come across wineries such as McGuigan wines Leogate Estate wines, Leogale Wines and many more. Here you can chose a stopover to learn about the complete process of growing the plants , harvesting and preparation of wine as also taste some of the best wines of the Valley like the Semillon, chardonnary, the Shiraz and certain blended ones like the low alcohol brands and Rose, Frizante, etc. Infact Mc Guigan is the oldest winery of the area dating as far back as 1880s.
Stopover for lunch at the Hunter Valley Resort and enjoy some really tasty local cuisine.
On your return journey you can collect some gifts at the Hunter Valley Garden gift shop. The Garden Cellars could also help you quench left over thirst, if any, with additional wines, beer and liquor. You generally return back to your hotel by 6:30 PM.