As the saying goes — a city of iconic attractions and brilliant beaches, Sydney is a destination you'll never forget. One of the largest and arguably the most popular cities in Australia, Sydney is a destination visited by millions of people each year, tourists and Aussies alike. Whether you’re crossing international borders or simply a fellow Aussie looking to explore your own backyard, Sydney is one of the greatest holiday destinations that literally has something for everyone. If you are planning on embarking on a great adventure to the glorious Emerald City, you’ve most certainly landed on the perfect article.
Today, we share 10 top hotspots to hit on your next trip to Sydney. Whether you’re looking for a week of stunning scenery or the ultimate foodie adventure down under, we guarantee that you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in Australia’s iconic Harbour City. Ready for the ultimate adventure in the southern hemisphere? Simply read on to find out more!
The Parramatta Eat Street
We don’t know about you, but one of our favourite things about travelling anywhere in the world is all the amazing food we get to sample…and thankfully, Sydney is home to one of the country’s most popular eat streets located right in the middle of the multicultural Parramatta district. Church Street (aka Eat Street) in Parramatta is one of Sydney’s most exciting dining precincts, and a must-visit destination for anyone who is a true foodie at heart. This well-known destination is lined with dozens of restaurants, bars and cafes, including El-Phoenician, Mama and Papas, Ray and Lou’s, The Meat and Wine Co and Coco Cubano. Whether you’re looking to sink your teeth into some juicy buns at a burger restaurant or enjoy a snazzy cocktail with friends, you’ll find everything you need to keep your rumbling tummy content at the Parramatta Eat Street.
Sydney Opera House
You knew this one was coming — no trip to Sydney is complete without visiting the iconic Sydney Opera House at least once…or twice! It comes as no surprise that the Opera House is Sydney's best-known landmark, featured in TV shows, movies, magazines and travel shows around the globe. This multipurpose performing arts facility features a 2,679-seat Concert Hall which hosts a wide variety of symphony concerts, choir performances, and popular music shows. Whether you’re planning to simply stroll by or book a guided tour to see the Opera House from the inside and learn more about it, this magnificent piece of engineering is sure to leave you in awe.
Find out more about the tours and experiences on schedule at the Opera House here.
Taronga Zoo may have been in the news recently thanks to a couple of lions escaping their enclosures, but don’t let that scare you off. This amazing zoo is located on the shores of Sydney Harbour, only 12 minutes by ferry from the Sydney CBD. One of Sydney's most famous attractions, the award-winning Taronga Zoo is home to over 4,000 animals, including Australian native wildlife, as well as rare and endangered exotic animals.If you are an animal lover who would love to get up close and personal with chimpanzees, giraffes, meerkats and thousands of other amazingly majestic animals, there is no better day than one spent at the Taronga Zoo.
Bonus Tip: If you’re up for a real adventure, you even have the option of booking overnight accommodation experiences from tranquil eco-lodges, African-style safari, glamping to camping in Sydney (Wildlife Retreat at Taronga, Roar and Snore) and Dubbo (Zoofari Lodge, Savannah Cabins, Billabong Camp).
Sydney Harbour Bridge
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is yet another iconic destination that is world famous and one of Sydnye’s most recognisable landmarks. Opened in 1932, not only is it the largest steel arch bridge on the planet, but it also spans one of the globe's finest natural harbours. If you’re up for an adventurous day on the cheap, one of the most popular activities for tourists and Sydney-siders alike is walking across the bridge on its purpose-built pedestrian walkway. The views of the Opera House and Circular Quay from the bridge are absolutely stunning and a sight to behold. Alternatively, you can take part in the famous BridgeClimb that will guide you all the way to the summit at various times of the day. Do note that you’ll have to purchase tickets in advance, so be sure to book early!
If you’re interested in soaking up a bit of Sydney history, nothing beats spending a day strolling around The Rocks. This neighbourhood of historic laneways in the shadow of Sydney Harbour Bridge was once home to the Gadigal aboriginal people, later becoming the country's first site of European settlement. The area is peppered with dozens of amazing pubs, upscale restaurants, cobbled lane-ways, historic buildings, and many great events that happen throughout the year. It is also home to the Museum of Contemporary Art that offers numerous local and international exhibits at any given point of time. Treat yourself to amazing food at the open-air Rocks Markets, talented buskers along the busy harbourfront promenade and unique shops and boutiques selling handmade fashions, ceramics, art and more.
Bonus Tip: The Rocks is also the perfect place to view the iconic Harbour Bridge from close by, if you needed another reason to visit.
The Royal Botanic Gardens
If you’re interested in a couple of hours away from the hustle and bustle of city life, look no further than the Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens. This iconic attraction is a place where people come for events, and to learn more about science, gardens, plants and horticulture. A visit to this tranquil oasis is one of the best relaxing things to do in the city for free – especially if you're in need of a serious nature fix – and it also happens to be only a short stroll from the Sydney Opera House. Featuring 30 hectares of stunning, lush greenery, flowers and foliage, the Sydney Botanic Gardens is the perfect place for a quiet picnic with friends, all while taking in the glorious views and landscapes. If you are interested, you can also take part in a number of Aboriginal Heritage Tours to learn about the ways the plants in the Garden are used by the Gadigal.
Top Tip: The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney is open every day of the year, but opening hours are seasonal. Be sure to check this page to find out more
If you’re into all things related to pop-culture, you most certainly need to spend a couple of hours at the famous Madame Tussauds wax museum, located in Darling Harbour and situated on the Aquarium Wharf. This amazing museum features hundreds of life-like wax sculptures of your favourite Aussie and international celebrities, politicians, stars and icons. Treat yourself to an afternoon of walking down the red carpet, strutting down the runway and getting up close and personal with the likes of Superman, Johnny Depp, Nicole Kidman, Chris Hemsworth and more! Do note that if you are visiting with an Annual Pass, multi-attraction ticket, or gift voucher, then you will need to pre-book a time slot before visiting. Holders of general admission tickets may also Guarantee entry by booking online.
Darling Harbour is Sydney’s largest recreational and pedestrian precinct, home to a great variety of attractions for the whole family. Located on the western side of Sydney's CBD, this hub is packed with tourist attractions, making it incredibly popular amongst tourists and locals alike. This must-see iconic destination has something for everyone, from waterfront fine-dining and regular fireworks displays to exciting museums and huge playgrounds for the kids. It is also a stone’s throw away from Madame Tussauds, the Sydney Aquarium, Chinese Garden of Friendship and more. While you're wandering around, don’t forget to keep an eye out for colourful artwork along the Darling Harbour Street Art Trail.
Sun, surf and sand! Nothing is more iconically Sydney than the amazing, world renowned Bondi Beach. Located just 8km east of the Sydney CBD, Bondi is the closest ocean beach to the city centre. It quite literally has something for everyone — beachside cafés, exciting surf, dazzling ocean pools and iridescent blue water teeming with marine life. There are many great outdoor picnic areas to enjoy with friends and family, and the suburban streets of Bondi are heavily populated with a ton of pubs, shops, boutiques and more. Most importantly, there is no entry fee charged for visiting Bondi Beach, so you can visit this absolute stunner without any charges for a relaxing and wonderful time by the water.
Bonus Tip: Love an adventure? Be sure to immerse yourself in the amazing Bondi to Coogee coastal walk — Sydney’s most popular walking trail. The views from start to finish are incredible, with many restaurants, cafes and parks along the way for a rest stop.
Queen Victoria Building
Last but not least, if you’re up for an entire day of endless shopping, nothing beats spending a day at the iconic Queen Victoria Building. Built in the 1890s, the heritage-listed Queen Victoria Building (commonly referred to as QVB) is one of Sydney’s many historical buildings, located in George Street in the middle of the central business district. Originally built in 1898 and designed by 28 year old architect George McRae, the QVB has undergone several major upgrades and renovations, now making it one of Sydney’s most popular shopping destinations, offering a great variety of boutiques, jewellers, cafes, restaurants, and more. The perfect hotspot for shopaholics, this is one destination where you spend an entire day window shopping through the atrium's five levels for high fashion brands, enjoy chocolate and coffee at the cafes, and listen to the Royal Clock strike.
Bonus Tip: Feeling peckish after a long day of shopping? The Tea Room QVB hosts a popular High Tea under crystal chandeliers. Spectacular!
And there you have it – 10 must-see hotspots on your next trip to the wonderful city of Sydney.