13 of the best places to sightsee in Sydney

Sydney Opera House
Walsh Bay
Darling Quarter
Explore the Sydney Botanic Garden.
The Finger Wharf at Woolloomooloo, Sydney.

There’s so much to sightsee in the Harbour City. From spectacular gardens, galleries and historic sights just steps from your cruise ship to the city’s smaller neighbourhoods with their distinctive personalities, Sydney charms every visitor. Find fun things to do with the family, from calm beaches to thrilling theme parks and up-close animal encounters. There are also plenty of free sightseeing options, meaning you won’t have to break the budget to experience the best the city has to offer.

Around the harbour

Many of Sydney’s iconic sights are just a few steps from where cruise ships dock at the Overseas Passenger Terminal. (If you’re lucky, you might even have a five-star view of the Sydney Opera House from your cabin window.) Take a stroll around the shores of Sydney Harbour and soak up the city’s most spectacular attractions.

Sydney Opera House

One of the most famous buildings in the world, the Sydney Opera House is an instantly recognisable symbol of the city. Beneath its iconic sails, the storied concert halls host more than 40 performances a week with theatre, music, opera, dance and more. If you don’t have time for a show, join a guided tour to go behind the scenes and see how the magic happens. You can also dine at the exceptional Bennelong restaurant that sits beneath the dramatic cathedral ceilings.

Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Sydney, (02) 9250 7111, sydneyoperahouse.com

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Affectionately known as The Coathanger, the Sydney Harbour Bridge has been spanning the two sides of the water for 100 years. And it’s one of the most iconic places on Sydney’s sightsee route. A pedestrian footpath runs along one side of the roadway, offering a unique perspective on the city below. But for the most spectacular views, join BridgeClimb Sydney and head all the way to the top. The thrilling climbs along the arches and to the 134-metre summit run every day and take 2.5-3.5 hours.

BridgeClimb, 3 Cumberland St, The Rocks, (02) 8274 7777, bridgeclimb.com

Royal Botanic Garden & The Domain

Most of the eastern headland of Sydney Harbour is covered by the lush greenery of the Royal Botanic Garden. The oldest botanic garden in the country, it is made up of 15 themed gardens that house more than 27,000 plants from around the world. Visit the rotating exhibitions inside The Calyx or join the free guided tours held every day. Joining onto the garden is The Domain, a grand outdoor event space that frequently hosts huge concerts, opera and festivals, and is also home to the Art Gallery of NSW.

Royal Botanic Garden, Mrs Macquaries Rd, Sydney, (02) 9231 8111, botanicgardens.org.au

On the water

The largest natural harbour in the world, Sydney Harbour stretches for more than 19 kilometres. Hop aboard a Captain Cook Cruises ferry for a sightseeing cruise that will show you more of its natural beauty. You can stop off at Shark Island or Cockatoo Island, two of  the harbour’s eight islands, to learn about their Aboriginal and convict history.

Captain Cook Cruises, Darling Harbour(02) 9206 1111, captaincook.com.au

Unique villages

There’s more to inner Sydney than meets the eye. Tucked away within the city are a number of unique neighbourhoods, each with their own distinctive personality and its a great time to sightsee in Sydney. Spend some time exploring these interesting areas and you’ll soon discover what makes them special.


A glittering strip running along the western edge of Darling Harbour, Barangaroo is the city’s newest suburb. It’s a place where work and play come together, with top financial institutions occupying the skyscrapers towering above chic bars and restaurants. At the headland is the leafy Barangaroo Reserve where a guide from Aboriginal Cultural Tours will explain the area’s rich Indigenous history and show you plants that have been used as food and medicine for thousands of years.


Walsh Bay

This historic neighbourhood is based around wharves dating back to the mid-1800s. Today, these beautifully refurbished piers are a hub of arts and culture. You’ll find the Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney Dance Company and Bangarra Dance Company, Australia’s acclaimed Indigenous dance troupe. Be sure to stop for a drink at The Theatre Bar at the End of the Wharf for its spectacular views of the Harbour Bridge.


Darling Quarter & Darling Square

Tucked away behind Darling Harbour, Darling Quarter and Darling Square are a buzzy series of laneways and plazas home to some of the city’s best eats. Cafes and restaurants spill out onto the wide footpaths, serving up cuisine from all over the world with a particular focus on Asia. There’s also an excellent playground and water play area, and regular festivals or live music.

darlingquarter.com; darlingsq.com


Another of the city’s revitalised wharf precincts, Woolloomooloo is to the east of the Royal Botanic Garden. There’s still a working naval base here and you’ll often see huge ships docked just offshore. Enjoy a long lunch at one of the stylish restaurants that line the wharf or have a swim in the stunning Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool, which is perched right on the edge of the water.


Dating back to the 1920s, Sydney’s Chinatown has long been the heart of the city’s Asian community. Centred around the pedestrian Dixon Street, it’s packed with restaurants and shops. Yum cha (a Cantonese brunch of dumplings and tea) is a tradition in Sydney and there are lots of delicious options here. Duck into the labyrinth of Paddy’s Market, a bustling shopping hub where you can buy everything from fresh food to fashion.

How to see Sydney

Locl Tour offers Sydney Sightseeing Bus Tours and Free Walking Tours of Sydney and The Rocks. Tours complement each other by covering different areas of Sydney. The Sydney Sightseeing Bus Tour covers Kings Cross, Rose Bay, Watsons Bay, Bondi Beach. It offers a 3-hour guided bus tour of Sydney, with multiple stops for amazing lookouts and also a stop for coffee.


Local Sauce Tours

Local Sauce Tours offers Sydney’s “funnest” small-group experiences, bringing together locals and visitors to make friends and discover the city from a different perspective. Walking tours explore inner-city pockets including Chinatown, Pyrmont, Glebe and Newtown highlighting the city’s history, culture, nightlife and street art. Perfect for solo travellers, couples, small groups and families.



SydneyTravelGuide.com.au is the ultimate guide to visiting Sydney. It provides up-to-date information on attractions, places to visit, restaurants, shops, visitor information and transport. The site is published by Cruise Media Australasia, a Big Splash Media company. Editor-in-Chief and Publisher: Peter Lynch.

All map distance references are taken from the Sydney Overseas Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay.
Images courtesy Destination NSW

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