OVERVIEW

One of the most beautifully located cities in the world, Sydney is all about life by the water and it's chock full of things to do. Iconic buildings, history, capital city attractions and "enjoying life" combine to create an unforgettable destination to visit.

Capital of New South Wales and home to approximately 5million people, Sydney is the biggest city in Australia. It's divided in two by the beautiful harbour, with most of the action(and CBD) on the southern side of the magnificent bridge.

You could do the main attractions in a couple of days, but you wouldn't get bored if you spent 2 weeks here.

Nearby Destinations

Port Douglas Things to do
Melbourne Things to do
Hobart Things to do
Travel Unpacked backpack transparent.png

All Things To Do In Sydney

Ranked by popularity

Load More

See below for the section on Suburbs and Islands to visit in Sydney

Need info on 'How to get to Sydney?' or 'Where to stay?'

Go to the second page of our travel guide for the full run down.

Or, go to the third page for all the 'Essential info' like getting around, food, shopping, and much more.

Extra tips for visiting Sydney

Photo spots


You can get great photos of the Opera House on the eastern walkway of the bridge and from beneath the bridge at Cambells cove (around the Park Hyatt) A good shot of the bridge can be had from Observatory Point. Both icons can be taken in together from outside Luna Park, Mrs Macquaries chair and from the first floor platform at Circular Quay train station.




Food With A View


For the best views of the city whilst you eat in the city centre, try the following: - - 4th level rooftop cafe at MCA - Cafe Sydney at Customs House - Restaurants outside the opera house and in Cambell's cove - On a harbour cruise - Bennelong, which is inside the opera house - Aqua, and others, next to Luna park - Take a picnic to a number of harbour side parks Or just get a drink and relax - so many places have a great view that there's not generally any mark up on food or drinks like other popular tourist cities can have.




Safety


If you plan on swimming or surfing at Bondi, or any other beach in Sydney, be aware of the flag system and about ripe tides and what to do if you get caught in one. Most people who get into trouble on Sydney beaches are tourists who don't understand the dangers. Follow this link for more - surflifesaving.com.au/beach-safety




Money Saving Tip for Sea Life, Wild Life, Tussauds and the Tower Eye


For Sea Life, Wild Life, Tussauds and the Tower Eye, they are all under the same owner (Merlin), so you can save by buying tickets together if you intend to visit more than one. It's also cheaper to book tickets online, which makes entry a bit quicker too (long lines can form at peak times).




Gay Sydney


Sydney hosts Australia's biggest Mardi Gras event (in early March), and so bags the title of having the most developed gay scene in Australia. See this guide for a run down on the events and clubs that may be of interest.




Ticket Tips


There are a few ways to save on your tickets if you plan to visit multiple places: - - iventure card - click here - go sydney - click here - Sydney living museums pass - click here - Merlin attractions (sea life, wild life, tussauds, sydney eye) - click here See this guide for a breakdown of the differences.





Travel Unpacked backpack transparent.png

Inner City Suburbs To Visit In Sydney

 

Aside from the suburbs like Woolloomooloo and Manly mentioned above, there are a few others not too far from the CBD that you may wish to visit.

INNER CITY - SOUTH

Darlinghurst

Here you will find an area focused very much on entertainment. If you want a drink, bite to eat, live music or clubbing, you will find it here. This is also the main gay and lesbian area of Sydney and host of the annual mardi gras on Oxford Street.

Click here for more info.

Surry Hills

South of Darlinghurst, this area is full of interesting shops and more good nightlife and food options.

The Belvoir Street Theatre is well respected. There are some art galleries to check out here too.

Click here for more info.

Redfern + Waterloo

Further south still, these two areas used to be no-go areas. They are still a little rough, but have been gentrified by creatives with galleries, shops, a comedy club, restaurants, a market and an aboriginal dance theatre.

Click here for more info.

INNER CITY - WEST

Pyrmont

The main attractions - the fish market and star casino - have been mentioned already.

You may also find of interest, Pyrmont point park, beautiful historic buildings in Union square, colonial heritage spread around the area and the historic Jones Bay Wharf.

Click here for more info.

 

Chippendale

Just west of Central train station is this small area with a couple of interesting points. The modern and sustainable Central Park building features greenery up the building and an overhanging "mirror", plus a mall at the bottom. White Rabbit is a multi level art gallery.

Click here for more info.

Balmain

Located on the peninsula directly west of the harbour bridge, Balmain has some great views along Darling Street that leads down to a small park and the ferry wharf.

It has a village like feel and features many boutique shops, lovely pubs and Balmain markets.

Click here for more info.

Newtown

Just after Sydney Uni and Carriageworks, Newtown is a thriving creative centre. King street is where is all happens and you'll find great places to eat and shop, including a book arcade, and the two theatres.

Click here for more info.

Leichhardt

This area is Sydney's little Italy. Head here if you want some fine food or a cultural tour.

Click here for more info.

EAST OF THE CBD

Paddington

Just east of Darlinghurst and Surry Hills, this area is known for it's shopping along Oxford Street and in the Paddington Markets on Saturdays. There are lots of nice streets and old houses to have a wander past in this 'heritage village'.

Click here for more info.

Double Bay

North east of Paddington is Double Bay, a harbourside area with more shops and cafe's, plus the added benefit of being between Darling point and Point Piper, where you can find expensive mansions to be jealous of and parts of the walk that starts at the nearby Rushcutters park. Seven Shillings beach is a good place for swim in the enclosed tidal swimming pool.

Click here for more info.

Neilson Park

Beside Vaucluse is this waterside park which sits perfectly facing back across the entire harbour. Aside from the spectacular views, it features the historic Greycliffe House, picnic areas, shark beach and a cafe.

Click here for more info.

Watson's Bay

Right at the end of the peninsula is the historic centre that started as a fishing village (Australia's oldest) not long after colonial settlement. It's a short walk from the harbourside to the ocean side, at the Gap lookout. The southern head heritage trail and national park is just north(see above). There is an aboriginal culture tour available, waterside restaurants and the secluded camp cove beach.

Click here for more info.

Coogee

Heading south from Watson's bay will bring you to Bondi, which then leads onto Bronte and Coogee (see above for the walk). Coogee is smaller and quieter than Bondi but still with some life and party to it and a worthwhile place to visit for the quaint beach, swimming baths and laidback vibe.

Click here for more info.

NORTH OF THE HARBOUR

Middle Harbour

This is the largest inlet of the harbour and can be explored on foot from middle head and on the Spit to Manly walk or is also great if you can get on a boat or kayak.

 

Balmoral Beach

Here you will find a great beach that's as big as a lot of Sydney's coastal beaches, but here it's sheltered from the waves. There is a netted section of water with swimming lanes at the southern end. You can hire kayaks, take a sailing lesson or hire stand-up paddle boards.

Click here for more info.

 

IN THE HARBOUR

Islands

Beside Cockatoo Island mentioned above, there are some smaller spots you can try and get too: -

Goat Island

Closest to Balmain but a stones throw from Barangaroo and the CBD, this historic island is perfectly positioned for fantastic views. You can visit on a heritage tour from Circular Quay to discover the convict history and incredible views.

Click here for more info.

Fort Denison

On the opposite side of the bridge and perfectly positioned for defence, this tiny island fort can usually be visited on a tour but it is currently closed for conservation work until the end of 2021.

Click here for more info.

Shark Island

Positioned between Bradleys head and Neilson park, this is the last island before the ocean. The island is largely empty(a gazebo and toilets) and provides an incredibly unique place for a picnic. Get here via a tour operator from circular quay, such as captain cook cruises.

Click here for more info.

Clark Island

This island is located between Shark island and Fort Denison. It is another picnic spot but rockier and with more foliage. It can only be reached by private vessel or water taxi.

Click here for more info.

AUTHORED BY

Christopher Jubb, Founder of Travel Unpacked

More information available on our About page

more Destination guides

Port Douglas Things to do
Melbourne Things to do
Hobart Things to do