Whether you’re visiting Australia for the first time or you’re a local who loves to get out and explore, there are many amazing things to do in Sydney.
Some of the best Sydney tourist attractions are a bit more unique than the famous Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, like tropical gardens or stations where quarantined people were kept. We’ve picked out our top spots to visit in Sydney for a truly unforgettable experience!
1. Sydney Opera House
Perched on a tongue of land protruding into Sydney Harbour, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is the city’s most popular tourist destination. Designed like huge shells or billowing sails, the renowned landmark blends in beautifully with its harbor location.
Danish architect Jorn Utzon’s sailboat-inspired design submitted to an international design contest in 1956 is a true masterpiece. The building comprises six theater and music venues with top-notch acoustics.
The Opera House isn’t just a famous landmark; it also boasts an extensive program that seeks to reduce its energy use by 9%. This goal is being met by a number of environmentally friendly features, including green roofs and solar panels that collect power from the sun.
The Opera House is more than just a musical performance venue; it also includes theaters, rehearsal and reception rooms, restaurants and a spectacular open-air forecourt that stretches out beside the harbor. Learn more about the building’s history and unique features on a guided tour.
2. Art Gallery of New South Wales
If you have a few days in Sydney, it's well worth spending at least one day exploring this art gallery. This renowned museum draws more than a million visitors a year to see its impressive collection of international and Australian art.
Its Grand Courts and light-filled galleries display the finest colonial and 19th-century Australian art, alongside European Old Masters, plus contemporary works by local artists such as Fred Williams and Brett Whiteley. There are also dedicated collections for Asian and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.
The venerable state arts institution turns 150 this year, and a new $344-million building designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects SANAA is set to open in 2022. The gargantuan Sydney Modern, occupying space to the north of the existing structure, is set to double AGNSW's size and will centre on a new Indigenous gallery and a dedicated space for major touring exhibitions.
Founded in 1871, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is one of Australia's premier cultural institutions. Established within beautiful parklands overlooking Sydney Harbour, it's an ideal place to visit for a taste of Sydney culture.
3. Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia is a must-see for any savvy Sydneysider. Located on George Street in the swanky The Rocks neighbourhood, it has the distinction of being the only national museum dedicated to exhibiting and collecting modern and contemporary art. The museum also boasts a top-notch gift shop and an on-site café with sweeping views of Sydney Harbour.
The museum is anchored in a fine example of late Art Deco architecture, the former Maritime Services Building, which was renovated and reimagined in 2012. Its star-studded collection includes over 4,000 works by more than 500 Australian artists, many of which have been acquired since the museum’s inception in 1989. The museum also tries to push the boundaries of traditional museum design, most notably by creating public spaces that embrace the surrounding environment - in particular, one of the world’s most spectacular harbours. The museum has an illustrious history and a strong track record of innovation and excellence in audience engagement.
4. Sydney Tower Eye
A trip to Sydney is not complete without experiencing the views of the city from the top of the Sydney Tower Eye. It is the tallest structure in Australia, standing 309m high (a little shorter than the Sydney Harbour Bridge), and the second-tallest observation tower in the Southern Hemisphere, after Auckland’s Sky Tower.
- Its observation deck is located on the fourth level and offers stunning 360-degree views of Sydney and surrounding areas. The Observation Deck also features state-of-the-art technology, including high powered binoculars and multilingual touch screen panels that tell visitors interesting facts about the landmarks they are viewing.
- There is also an option to take the Skywalk, an open-air glass-floored platform encircling the Sydney Tower Eye at a height of 268 metres above the ground. This experience is a little more adventurous and involves harnessing to an external platform that allows you to walk outside the top of the tower and enjoy the sights of Sydney below.