The top things to do in Sydney

Whether you're looking for Vivid Sydney harbour cruises, aquariums, zoos, jet boat experiences, discover & book the best things to do in Sydney and book online today.

The top things to do in Sydney

Whether you're looking for Vivid Sydney harbour cruises, aquariums, zoos, jet boat experiences, discover & book the best things to do in Sydney and book online today.

Other things to do in Sydney

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Top 10 Things to do Sydney

A trip to Sydney is an essential part of any Australian holiday, and the country's largest city is often labelled as one of the most beautiful in the world due to its idyllic balance of architecture, iconic landmarks, beautiful harbour, botanic gardens and impressive skyline. In fact, Sydney is the most visited city in the country and even the world-famous harbour featuring the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House doesn't fail to wow Australians who visit.

A truly vibrant city that is full of a consistent buzz and high degree of energy, Sydney will have something to captivate you regardless of whether you're an Aussie visiting from interstate or an international visitor from overseas. The city is so large and full of things to do that there are a wide range of "must see" Sydney landmarks and Sydney attractions. If you miss them, you will be missing out on some of the unique features that give Sydney its own distinct personality.

For example, no visit to Sydney would be complete without jumping on a Sydney Harbour Cruise and iconic Sydney activities like visiting the top of Sydney Tower Eye for the best city views. Or if your in Sydney during May-June enjoy the annual Vivid Sydney light festival with the best views being on a Vivid Sydney Harbour Cruise.

A popular pick among the Sydney tours are excursions to the Blue Mountains from Sydney or if you have a tase for fine wine then may want to join on a Hunter Valley winery tour. If you prefer to spend your time in the city then Sydney attractions will manage to keep the history buff, sightseer and wildlife lovers happy too. Think a Taronga Zoo and Ferry adventure, a Sydney Hop on hop off bus tour or a walking tour of the Sydney Opera House and The Rocks.

Regardless of whether you're exploring the city centre and its metropolitan areas, the northern and southern surf beaches that have gained their own fame, popular civic venues, landmarks and scenic spots, there is seemingly a "must-see" location around every corner! In order to make things easier on the first-time traveller to New South Wales' capital, we've put together a list of the Top 10 things to do in Sydney for every traveller to help ensure a great balance of all the highlights and Sydney attractions and its wonderful surrounds are covered. So, without further ado, here's the list!

1. Sydney Opera House

Location: Bennelong Point, Sydney Harbour NSW

While we suppose that "Sydney Harbour" in general could be listed here, the Sydney Opera House stands apart from the rest of the harbour's icons.

Perhaps Australia's most famous man-made icon worldwide, the Sydney Opera House is a unique feat of architectural design and engineering that helps add tremendously to the character of the already scenic Sydney Harbour.

A structure that was formed out of a rare combination of innovation, creativity and controversy, the Sydney Opera House is a remarkable building that is host to over 1,500 performances that draw audiences of around 1.2 million people each year.

The Opera House can be found on Sydney Harbour's Bennelong Point at the northeastern tip of the Sydney CBD and is surrounded on three sides by the harbour, and is often seen in pictures and postcards along with the nearby Sydney Harbour Bridge, both of which usually combine to provide an overall representation of the Sydney Harbour panorama.

A triumph of modern architecture for which its designer, Danish architect Jorn Utzon, won the Pritzker Price (the field of architecture's highest award) in 2003, the Sydney Opera House has been labelled as one of the great iconic buildings of the entire 20th century, and is an image of great beauty that has become known throughout the world as a symbol for not only the city of Sydney, but for the entire country and continent of Australia as a whole.

Numerous tours are available which aim to encompass all of the main highlights and features of Sydney Harbour, with some placing specific emphasis on the Opera House itself - no visit to Sydney is complete without taking in the majesty of this famous feat of construction.


2. Vivid Sydney Festival

Location: Circular Quay, Sydney Harbour, Darling Harbour. NSW

Enjoy the amazing must-see Vivid Sydney festival spectacular held each year in Sydney in May-June. The best way to view the panarama of lights is on a Vivid Sydney Harbour Cruise. Cruise around the waterways of Sydney at night viewing the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Darling Harbour and more in the spectacular light display of Vivid Sydney. Select your cruise and dates and book online today with Experience Oz.


3. Jet Boating on Sydney Harbour

Location: Circular Quay- Eastern Pontoon, Sydney Harbour

If you are looking to add a bit of excitement into your day then a spin on an extreme jet boat ride may be just the thing to pick you up in between sightseeing.

This popular activity operates in the heart of the city from Circular Quay- Eastern Pontoon – just metres from the Sydney Opera House.

Thrilling 30 minute jet boat rides are a fun way to see the iconic sights of Sydney Harbour including the Harbour Bridge, The Rocks precinct, Sydney Opera House and majestic cruise liners that dock right in the city.

Race past harbour front mansions and iconic sights for a ‘hot lap’ where you will be taken on 270-degree spins, speeds, slides and fishtails and wave jumping and surfing.

Add a dose of excitement to your day with a hot lap of Sydney Harbour on a Sydney jet boat ride. It’ll be hard to wipe the smile off your face after the 270-degree spins and fishtails past the Harbour Bridge and Opera House.

Go flying through the air at incredible speeds that will get your adrenaline pumping. On board music add to the experience providing a soundtrack to your exciting adventure.

At times, the captain will stop to point out interesting landmarks and provide you with commentary before the adventure continues past Luna Park, Shark and Clarke Island and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

All eyes are on you as the turbocharged jet boats spin through the water creating a mass whitewash capturing the attention of passersby who watch on with envy.

Expect to get wet! It is the name of the game here but waterproof ponchos are available if you wish to reduce the amount of water you get hit with.

Whether you are looking for a weekend activity or a fun yet extreme sightseeing adventure, consider jet boating ride along the Sydney Harbour.


4. Sydney Seaplane Flights

Location: Various Locations, Sydney

There is no better way to see the landmarks of Sydney than to take to the skies on a scenic flight high above the city and be rewarded with impressive aerial views.

Joy flights are a great way to discover to a new city and get the lay of the land. They may also give you ideas on what other areas you might like to visit after your flight.

Unlike other international cities, Sydney is not just a concrete jungle but a growing urban, city by the coast with large green spaces and one of the most beautiful harbours in the world.

Join a scenic flight to discover the city sights from the air including the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, Darling Harbour and waterfront homes with their million dollar views.

Unlike other international cities, Sydney is not just a concrete jungle but a growing urban, city by the coast with large green space and one of the most beautiful harbours in the world.

Depending on the length of the scenic flight, you may also get the chance to fly over Bondi Beach, Taronga Zoo, Rose Bay and other popular city sights.

Sydney has a range of scenic flight options including seaplane flights over the city highlights, helicopter flights and even hot air balloon rides at sunrise.

Although scenic flights can often be pricey, Sydney really is a beautiful Australian city and passengers all agree afterwards that it is money well spent.

Land based tours can provide you with a close up look at a variety of tourist attractions but aerial flights will give you the chance to capture the entire harbour in one spectacular photo.

Whether you are a local, a visitor doing some sightseeing or an eager photographer, a flight over Sydney is one activity that you should add to your bucket list at least once in your lifetime.


5. Bondi Beach Surf Lessons

Location: Bondi Beach, Sydney

When people think of Sydney or indeed Australia, one of the iconic images they get in their mind is of surfers at Bondi Beach.

This world famous beach is home to the oldest surf lifesaving club in the world with a colourful history of the bikini and beach inspectors, festivals, sculptures, Bondi Rescue and the now infamous Bondi Hipster.

It is also one of Australia’s National Surfing Reserves. Don’t just sit on the beach and watch, get in amongst the action and learn to surf with your very own surf lesson.

Bondi Beach surf lessons are suitable for beginners with no experience necessary. Expert local and international surfers guide you through the process from boarding up to learning the basics to get you up catching your very first wave.

2 hour group lessons are available and are run in groups no larger than five so that each surfer can get the personalised attention needed to get you on your feet in the very first lesson.

Once you grasp the basics, this is one skill that you can take away with you for the rest of your life and try out at any beach destination in the world leaving you with long lasting memories.

A surf lesson is a great activity to do and will definitely leave you with a smile on your face even if it is just to laugh at yourself when you first attempt to stand and fall off your board.

Once you grasp the basics, this is one skill that you can take away with you for the rest of your life and try out at any beach destination in the world leaving you with long-lasting memories of that time when you learnt to surf and caught your first wave on Bondi Beach, Sydney.

If you are really serious about learning how to surf or you would like to improve your ability then we recommend taking a private lesson so that you have the undivided attention of your surf instructor to master the skill.

Surf lessons are available 365 days of the year unless the surf conditions are unsafe.

A surf lesson at Bondi Beach is one of the most popular things to do in Sydney and for many is an authentic travel experience that you can take away with you and remember long after your visit to the city.

6. Madame Tussauds Sydney

Location: Aquarium Wharf, 1-5 Wheat Rd, Darling Harbour

Pay a visit to this zany tourist attraction in Darling Harbour, Sydney and you can have your very own brush of fame mingling with the stars.

Madame Tussauds world famous wax museum arrived on Australian shores in 2012 and showcases an evolving display of sporting legends, superheroes, infamous characters, political leaders and moments in pop culture.

The Australian location can be found on the Darling Harbour foreshore welcoming visitors through its doors between 10am to 6pm daily.

Made famous worldwide with the help of social media, come along and capture an Instagram worthy pic with your favourite movie star, musician or popular figures.

Marvel at the uncanny likeness of the stars here with waxworks that typically take four months to make by a team of 20 skilled artists using real hair and costs over $300, 000 to produce.

The museum is broken up into separate zones that are elaborately themed to immerse you into each setting.

Walk the red carpet and meet all your favourite celebrities and sports stars at Madame Tussauds. You can even rub shoulders with the royal family or strike a pose with Aussie pop royalty.

Madame Tussauds Sydney begins with a journey back into Australian history to see figures such as Captain Cook and the HMAS endeavour and famous outlaw Ned Kelly.

Meet influential political leaders and politicians such as Gandhi, members of the Royal Family and Australian Prime ministers and US President before heading into the next area with all your favourite sporting legends.

Next, step into the recording booth and lay down some tracks with Adele, Taylor Swift, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga or John Farnham plus party at a live music festival in a virtual reality experience.

Madame Tussauds Sydney now has a dedicated zone featuring Marvel and Justice League superheroes. In this interactive experience, help superman save the day alongside Batman, wonder woman, dead pool and more.

Then walk the red carpet with supermodels and fashion icons, step into a Hollywood party and meet the Hemsworth brothers, Steve Irwin, Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie.

Madame Tussauds Sydney gives visitors their 15 minutes of fame and once in a lifetime chance to meet all your favourite stars. For a bit of a fun and a giggle, make sure you add this quirky wax museum to your Sydney top 10 sights to visit.


7. SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium

Location: 1-5 Wheat Road, Sydney NSW

One of the staple wildlife adventures in Sydney, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium is a great aquatic attraction that features five separate habitat exhibitions of Aussie ocean, estuarine and river creatures and also serves as one of the best things to do with your kids in Sydney to boot.

An underwater adventure in which you'll be able to walk and explore the rich and diverse aquatic life and habitats of Australia's ocean-dwelling animals, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium is situated in a convenient location near Sydney Harbour's Circular Quay making accessing it a breeze due to all the available transport options.

Home to thousands of tropical, cold, fresh and salt water fishes, mammals and dozens of others of amazing species on display, expert commentary is also provided along the way via a range of free show-and-tell sessions as you see the animals being fed and much more.

Such animal highlights as giant stingrays, a variety of sharks, giant sea turtles and much more await to be encountered, with the often-praised highlight being the walk-through exhibit that will leave you surrounded by marine life on all sides.

The seal show is also a big hit! Due to its high level of popularity, SEA LIFE Sydney Aquarium can often get quite crowded; this problem can be alleviated however by buying your tickets online with Experience Oz which will allow you to skip the queue!


8. Taronga Zoo & Sydney Harbour Ferry Pass

Location: 100 Market St, Sydney NSW

Taronga Zoo is one of the most picturesque zoos in the world sitting on the banks of Sydney Harbour. Book a Taronga Zoo & Sydney Ferry pass to enjoy a Sydney Harbour Cruise and entry to the famous zoo.

9. Sydney Tower Eye

Location: 100 Market St, Sydney NSW

Formerly known as Centrepoint Tower, Sydney Tower Eye is a great place to use as a starting point from which to get your bearings when visiting Sydney for the first time.

Offering magical 360-degree views of the city, it will give you not only some panoramic scenery to look at by also an idea as to what and where everything is situated which can help greatly for planning out your transport options for the rest of your trip.

Binoculars are available at the top of the tower free of charge, allowing you to zoom in on points of interest when gazing upon them from afar, and as with any viewing tower, be sure to take your camera for some unforgettable snapshots of the view that stretches out to the harbour, the Blue Mountains and beyond.

Offering magical views of the city, the Sydney Tower Eye is the place for visitors of all ages to go to enjoy the scenery. If you are brave you can book a ticket on the skywalk or sit down for a meal at the rotating restaurant.

Admission to Sydney Tower Eye also comes with a bonus "4-D" show included in the price that provides a simulation of an amazing flight through Sydney, showcasing the sights and sounds of the city while including in-theatre effects including bubbles, wind and fire which add an extra dimension to the experience.


10. Sydney Harbour Bridge

Location: 3 Cumberland St, The Rocks, Sydney, NSW

Affectionately known to Australians as the coathanger due to its arch design, the construction of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge was completed in 1932 and alongside the Sydney Opera House has become an international symbol of Australia.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is the largest steel arch bridge in the world linking Sydney and the North Shore. The bridge was a significant infrastructure project of the 20th Century that is now heavily used (almost at capacity) to move traffic on rail, vehicles, bicycle and pedestrians around the city.

The bridge is positioned over the Sydney Harbour and stands tall at 134 metres above the water level and its striking design is one of the first thing that visitors via plane or cruise ship will see as they enter Sydney.

The steel bridge weighs 52, 800 tonnes and is supported by two high concrete pylons which are purely aesthetic and hold no structural purpose but are now home to a museum, tourist centre and a bridge climb facility.

The incredible engineering feat took almost 11 years to complete and despite incredibly lax safety by today’s standards only two men fell from the bridge during construction.

The bridge was formally opened on 19 March 1932 with the intention of the New South Wales Premier to cut the ribbon, however, right before the ribbon was to be cut a man in military uniform rode on horseback and cut the ribbon on behalf of the people. The ribbon was quickly retied so that the ceremony could be re-performed.

Aside from its incredible history, the Sydney Harbour Bridge has become home to the Bridge Climb Experience which began in 1998 offering locals and visitors the chance to climb the steel arches.

This experience has quickly become one of the most sought after activity in Sydney that even many dignitaries and celebrities have joined the tour and climbed the steps to the top of the harbour bridge.

The draw for visitors is the incredible views once you reach the summit. Climbers are rewarded with a backdrop of the Sydney Opera House, the city skyline and then the multi-million dollar mansions and beaches as far as the eye can see.

Sydney Harbour Bridge climbs are often both day and night but for a truly memorable experience, we recommend a sunrise or sunset climb to get a bird’s eye view of the city waking up or winding down for the day.

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We acknowledge and pay respect to the Traditional Custodians of Country and their connections and continuous care for the skies, lands and waterways throughout Australia.