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Sydney is Australia’s gateway to the world. There are so many places to see in this cosmopolitan city, it’s hard to decide which truly are the best places to visit in Sydney. Here, you’ll encounter a heady mix of sun, surf, culture, and cuisine, classical music recitals, climbing tours of the Harbor Bridge, indigenous art, and native wildlife. With so many things to experience and see in Sydney, it’s hard to decide what deserves a place on your Sydney bucket list. So we've listed the top 10 must-visit places every traveler must visit atleast once on a trip to Sydney.
The languidly sweeping crescent of white sand has made Bondi one of Australia’s most iconic beaches. A people-watching paradise, Bondi’s emerald waves exert a magnetic pull on surfers and hedonistic sun worshipers alike. Nearby, doughty locals swim year-round in the Icebergs ocean pool, while walkers looking for a good hike in Sydney make a beeline for the dramatic cliff top Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk, with its dramatic scenery and annual Sculpture by The Sea art installations.
- Best time to visit: Spring and summer (from September to February) for fabulous sunshine, blue skies, and sublime surf.
- Entrance permit: Access to Bondi Beach is free.
If you are wondering where to go in Sydney, start with the iconic Sydney Opera House. Truly one of the world’s architectural marvels, it tops the list of things to see while taking a trip to Australia. Danish architect Jorn Utzon’s inspired design created a world-class performing arts complex, set against the Sydney Harbour seascape. As you explore this architectural masterpiece, you will discover the history and colorful stories that are Sydney’s UNESCO World Heritage pièce de résistance.
- Best time to visit: Sydney Opera House is an ideal destination that can be visited at any time of the day throughout the year.
- Entrance permit: You can enjoy a leisurely walk around the Opera House and access some areas for free.
To Sydneysiders, the Bridge is more than an iconic landmark, it is part of their heritage and a world-renowned symbol of Australia. Affectionately known as the “coathanger” the Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened in 1932. Today, visitors can see Sydney at its best by joining a bridgeclimb experience, getting to the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge and experiencing one of Sydney’s most photographed landmarks. As you ascend the Bridge’s arches you will see an epic sweep of one of the most beautiful harbors on earth laid out before your eyes. Not a fan of heights? Walk across the bridge to get the best views of the Sydney Opera House and Circular Quay. The Sydney Harbour Bridge should definitely be on your list of top places to visit in Sydney.
- Best time to visit: Spring, summer or early autumn to enjoy the stunning views of Sydney Harbor.
- Entrance permit: Walking across the pedestrian walkway is free. Entrance fee for the bridge climb starts from USD 100 for children and USD 174* for adults. Prices vary depending on the time of the day and tour length.
One of the world’s great zoos, Taronga Zoo is a short 12-minute picturesque ferry ride from Circular Quay. With over 4,000 animals to see, daily live shows and twenty keeper talks complemented by lively tours, the animals are almost upstaged by the zoo’s breathtaking views of Sydney Harbor. Taronga Zoo is a “must see” on any Sydney visit. You can even sleep over in the zoo’s safari-style tents.
- Best time to visit: The zoo and the harbor views are at their best in spring and summer.
- Entrance permit: Gate prices are quoted at USD 18 for children and USD 32* for adults. The zoo opens from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Home to a world-class collection of Australian masters spanning the early 19th century to the present, together with a treasure trove of Indigenous art connecting us to this continent’s vast past. Complementing these treasures are collections of Western, Asian and Pacific art, which provide a captivating chronology of taste, style, and constantly evolving social, cultural and political values.
- Best time to visit: The museum is open everyday except on Christmas and Good Friday. Visit the museum in the early opening hours when the museum is relatively less crowded.
- Entrance permit: Admission to the gallery and most major exhibitions is free. The gallery is open daily from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm and on Wednesdays until 9:00 pm for Art After Hours.
The green lungs of the city center, the Royal Botanic Gardens are an oasis nestled on Sydney Harbour. Home to world-leading botanical science and stunning horticultural displays set on 30 hectares (74 acres), the Garden is a large natural amphitheater, wrapped around the Sydney Harbour foreshore and the adjacent Sydney Opera House. It is a wonderful setting to explore the many plants on exhibition or simply enjoy the expansive lawns and greenhouses.
- Best time to visit: Anytime, however, the gardens are at their best in spring and summer between September to February.
- Entrance fee: Admission to the gardens is free. While the gardens remain open from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm during summer and 7:00 am to 6:00 pm during winter.
Australia’s national center for maritime collections, exhibitions, research, and archaeology, inside the museum displays Australia’s maritime history, connecting the stories, objects, and people to this island continent’s seaborne narrative. Outside, visitors will discover a replica of Captain Cook’s HMS Endeavour, a flotilla of preserved small ships the ex-Navy destroyer HMAS Vampire, submarine HMAS Onslow and the patrol boat HMAS Advance.
- Best time to visit: Visit the museum early in the morning to get enough time to view the exhibits and also take a cruise on the HMS Endeavour.
- Entrance fee: Adult USD 22, Children (under 4) Free, Children (4 to 15) USD 14, Family USD 56*. The museum is open daily from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm except on Christmas Day.
The Rocks is a historic neighborhood of convict-hewn stone heritage architecture and narrow cobblestone lanes set in the shadow of Sydney Harbour Bridge. With the nearby Museum of Contemporary Art hosting local and international exhibits, The Rocks is emerging as a vibrant cultural precinct. The area is also home to some of Sydney’s oldest pubs and fine dining restaurants featuring magnificent harbor views.
- Best time to visit: Visit the rocks anytime of the day or month for a cultural experience of Sydney.
- Entrance fee: Entrance to The Rocks area is free.
Cockatoo Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located at the confluence of the Lane Cove and Parramatta rivers, in the beautiful Sydney Harbor. Jump on a ferry and spend the day exploring this islands rich history. A former shipbuilding site and naval base, Cockatoo Island have retained all its rich character and heritage from decades of use, spanning convicts to shipbuilders and naval personnel.
- Best time to visit: Anytime but spring and summer offer the best weather for the ferry trip
- Entrance fee: Entrance to is free aside from the ferry ticket. The visitor’s center is open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Sydney and its surrounding coastline offer many beautiful spots to watch the whales cavort on their annual migration past Australia’s largest city. The scenic natural bushland also makes the National Park the perfect venue for bushwalking and picnicking or for surfing or swimming while you watch these majestic giants cruise past.
- Best time to visit: The whales migrate annually from May to November.
- Entrance fee: Entrance to the National Park is free, however, parking fees apply to the different National Park car parking areas.
There are so many great places to visit in Sydney. Whether your passion is the beach and fun in the sun, art, and culture or fine cuisine, there is so much for travelers to experience and do. Read our travel guide on best time to visit Sydney to pick the best season to visit Sydney. Take the time to explore these evocative Top 10 sights, we guarantee you’ll come away with memories that will stay with you forever!
*Note: Prices listed have been updated as per December 2019.
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