When in Sydney you have to visit the City Centre (the CBD), the area of the Rocks, Circular Quay, Chinatown, or Darling Harbour. You can easily spend a full day exploring the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge or the Royal Botanic Gardens. Here are the top 5 must-see places in Sydney CBD.
1) Sydney Opera House
We do have to start with the Sydney Opera House. It is by far the most recognized symbol of Sydney and of Australia and it’s one of the most distinctive buildings in the world. The building has been on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list since 2007.
The performances in Sydney Opera House are visited by about a million people a year. Some of the performances are very affordable. Even if you’re not planning to attend any of the performances at the Opera, you can get a hint of what the interior of the building looks like by popping inside the foyer, where the gift shop is situated. You might get lucky and witness a free projection mapping on a large part of the roof of the building, for example on this occasion. There is, however, a regular projection show with aboriginal motives displayed on the Opera House’s eastern Bennelong sail. The show takes place every day at 8:30 pm, 9:00 pm, and 9:30 pm.
Tourists that see the Opera House for the first time are naturally drawn to it and admire it from many different angles. Don’t forget to take a picture of all the sides of the Opera to find out which one you like the best. You might find interesting photo ops on the Harbour Bridge, in the Botanic Gardens, on a ferry or from the North Shore.
2) Harbour Bridge
A huge steel bridge connecting the CBD and the North Shore might be a number two symbol of Sydney. If you want to get your blood pumping, try the Bridge Climb, however, it’s fairly pricy (AUD 268 and more), even with the discount at the moment. You can take the bus or the train to the other side of the bridge, enjoy a picnic in the park and take in the views crossing the bridge back to CBD walking.
Try and find a place from where you can squeeze Opera House and Harbour Bridge in one picture, that way you’ll have both the iconic structures in one place!
3) Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Isn’t it amazing that you can admire the contemporary Australian art for free? Even if you don’t want to go through every room and exhibition, at least browse through, you might find something interesting. The museum itself is not the only interesting thing about the building. On the top floor you’ll find an amazing café with the views of the whole Sydney Harbour including the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Part of the café is indoors and part outdoors. The prices are similar to any other place.
4) Darling Harbour
On the way to Darling Harbour admire the Queen Victoria Building and visit the Chinatown. At the harbour, take a walk on the promenade and be sure to stick around for the evening fireworks. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic situation at the moment, the fireworks are not happening.
5) Royal Botanic Gardens
On a sunny day, it’s a great idea to escape the crowds near the Opera House and relax a bit in the Royal Botanic Gardens nearby. It is a huge area and you might spend a few hours just walking around if you want to. You can admire the Opera House from afar, as well. In the middle of the gardens, you’ll find a shop with books and souvenirs. The shop is closed at the moment. The gardens are opened 7 till evening.
A Secret Tip
Did you know the ferries in Sydney are part of public transport? If you have plenty of time and you’re bored of CBD, feel free to catch a ferry from Circular Quay and visit Manly, Double Bay, Watson’s Bay, and so on. You won’t spend more than 10 dollars for a ride and it’s a pretty cool way to see the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, and CBD. Don’t forget that if you take a ferry with your Opal card on Sunday you only pay AUD 2.80 for the whole day! That’s almost for free!