Welcome to the oldest and largest Australian city-Sydney. Settled on the harbor, there are so many iconic and beautiful structures you can visit here on your next trip. Established in 1788, its har to imagine that this was once a convict colony not too long ago. Walk along the historic streets and hear stories of how Sydney came to be what it is today on your next adventure!
1. Sydney Opera House
Starting off with the most iconic building in Australia, the Sydney Opera House is an iconic structure right on the harbor. Shaped like shells of sails, there are many ways to get a photo of this building to show to your friends back home, whether you take a harbor cruise tour, walk along the façade outside, or snap a picture waiting to head inside for a show. You can take a tour of the Sydney Opera House and learn more about it.
2. Sydney Harbour Bridge
The second most iconic sight in Sydney is the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Built in 1932, it is the world’s largest steel arch bridge. The bridge is of course used by cars but also have two train tracks that run over it. If you want to walk over the bridge, you can on your own or on a guided tour. And if you really want to come home with a great story about your time in Sydney, you can take a tour and climb up the 135-meter high bridge over a three and a half hour thrilling adventure.
3. The Rocks
While you’re exploring Sydney Harbor, stroll over to the Rocks historic district. Here you will find where European settlers first started to call Australia home. Once an area lived on by the Gadigal aboriginal people, convicts forced their way in in the early 1800s. Today you can walk around more than 100 heritage sites and see Sydney’s oldest surviving house, the Cadman’s cottage. There is also the Rocky Discovery Museum which shows visitors the time line for the area, from aboriginal peoples to modern day tourists. You can also join a daytime guided tour or a ghost tour in the evening.
4. Royal Botanic Garden Sydney
Established in 1816 over 39 hectares of lush green land, the Royal Botanical Garden at Farm Cove is a great way to spend a relaxing afternoon in Sydney—and its free to visit! See palms and trees, orchids and ferns, and the resident fruit bats! You can see the Palace Rose Garden with its 1,800 roses and the Glasshouse Latitude 23 and Fernery if tropical plants are what you’re looking for. Stop for a coffee at one of the nearby cafes and plan an afternoon picnic as you look out over the harbor.
5. Queen Victoria Building
Even if you just want to window shop, a visit to the Queen Victoria Building is a beautiful must stop. Refurbished in the 1980s, this 140 year old building is now home to more than 200 high end shops that live among the stained glass windows and intricate mosaic floors. If you’re looking to sit down for a minute inside, stop at the Tea Room for a fancy afternoon tea under chandeliers.
6. Sydney Tower Eye
See Sydney’s tallest building, the Tower Eye, from below or up top! Standing at 309-meters, you can take an elevator to the observation deck or if you’re feeling brave, go one step further and walk around the glass floor viewing deck. Get panoramic views of the city and stop for a meal at the revolving restaurant and café.
7. Bondi Beach
Sydney is one of those amazing and unique cities that blends the urban sprawl with natural elements. The most famous of the Sydney beaches is Bondi Beach. About 15 minutes away from the city, here you will find a surfers paradise as well as a great café scene and a more upscale vibe. If surfing isn’t your thing, don’t fret. There is a great, easy walking trail between Bondi and Coogee along the cliffs that give you a great view of the ocean and the happenings below.
8. Taronga Zoo
Australia is known for its interesting native animals, from koala bears and kangaroos, to snakes and spiders galore. You can see all of the native wildlife species, and more, at the Taronga Zoo. From koala encounters to a fantastic seal show, kids and adults alike will have a great time visiting. The zoo also hosts some interesting events, such as overnight zoo stays and a summer concert series. Right on the harbor, you can get to the zoo easily by taking a ferry to Circular Quay.
9. George Street
What was once a nameless street that convicts used to carry water to and from, George Street is the oldest street in all of Australia. Nowadays, you will find high-rise buildings, shops of all kinds, and historic buildings aligning the busy traffic street. In addition to the Queen Victoria Building, you can see the ornately decorated Sydney Town Hall, and the neo-Gothic St. Andrew’s cathedral. Staying or exploring around George Street is a must do, even if all you want to do is people watch on an afternoon.
10. Hyde Park
If you’re looking for some quiet, peaceful time amongst all the city noises and buildings, and afternoon meandering through Hyde Park is a must. Named after Hyde Park in London, this is a popular spot for residents to spend their lunch breaks sitting around the Archibald Fountain or in Queens Square. On the perimeters of Hyde Park is the Australian Museum, home to the largest natural history collection in Australia, and the Hyde Park Barracks. The Barracks were built by convict labor in the early 19th century and is now a museum focusing on those individuals who unwillingly came to Australia as the “first settlers”.
A city with sordid beginnings is now a top travel destination for families and couples alike. You will marvel at the beautiful architecture that has arisen from this former convict settlement. Sydney is a fun and interesting city and should definitely be your next vacation spot!