A lively city that embraces change, Sydney offers a new experience each time you visit. Its cosmopolitan energy and iconic landmarks never lose their charm, and hidden surprises can be found at every turn.
From soaring over the CBD in a helicopter to catching award-winning shows and chef-hatted dining at the Opera House – here are seven unmissable Sydney experiences.
With so many fantastic restaurants, Sydney CBD is the perfect place to plan your very own foodie tour.
Begin your epicurean adventure at Darling Harbour, where you could start with brunch at Antidote, then move on to dinner at ABODE Bistro & Bar, followed by a scoopy of ice cream at Gelato Messina. Catch the ferry over to Manly for beloved local favourites such as American-Italian Pocket Pizza, izakaya and sushi bar Sunset Sabi, and the rooftop bar at Manly Greenhouse. Bondi is unbeatable for sunset drinks – we highly recommend stopping for a spritz at Icebergs or wine on tap at Ode.
If you have the time, spend a full day tasting your way through the Crown complex’s 14 restaurants. From Japanese fusion at Nobu to Australian fare cooked over wood, charcoal and steam at Woodcut, and fine-dining Cantonese at Silks, this is a neat capsule of culinary expertise.
Anyone looking for cultural experiences is spoilt for choice in Sydney. The Art Gallery NSW, founded in 1872, is a great place to start. Its classical building houses an impressive collection of art, from European Old Masters to contemporary pieces. For something a little different, check out the cutting-edge art at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in The Rocks. Its 4,000-strong collection focuses on local art and Indigenous works and is constantly evolving.
Stop by the Museum of Sydney for a fascinating rundown of the city’s history, told via an evolving display of artefacts and captivating exhibitions. Continue your exploration at the Australian Museum, officially the country’s oldest museum. A $57.5 million revamp has turned the 1827 icon into a home of glossy interactive exhibitions, covering everything from dinosaurs to climate change.
You may have seen Sydney’s world-famous Harbour Bridge, but have you scaled it yet? The unique BridgeClimb experience is led by experienced ‘Climb Leaders’, who’ll guide you to the top of this iconic landmark for 360-degree panoramic city views.
The three-hour ‘Summit’ experience is the most popular and includes a guided tour, keepsake photograph, BridgeClimb cap and certificate of achievement. Climb along the bridge’s upper arch on the Opera House side, stopping for a summit celebration when you hit the top. Cross the Darling Harbour side before making your descent back to base with memories to last a lifetime.
Whether you’re into entertaining productions like Disney’s Frozen The Musical, thought-provoking masterpieces like Come From Away – opening in June 2021 – or after a light-hearted comedy, there’s always a show to suit in Sydney. Tony, Grammy and Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Hamilton is an absolute must-see, hitting the Sydney Lyric Theatre in March 2021. This record-breaking masterpiece tells the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton to a unique soundtrack of jazz, R&B, hip hop and classic Broadway-style tunes.
Sydney Opera House is, unsurprisingly, one of the best places for opera in the world. Shows for 2021 include a Great Opera Hits compilation with Opera Australia, Tosca and Bluebeard’s Castle. The Handa Opera on Sydney Harbour will also play host to La Traviata between 26 March and 25 April.
Plan ahead and organise your visit to coincide with a hit show or book something last minute and hunt down tickets for hidden gems in Sydney’s smaller venues.
You can’t get more ‘Sydney’ than dining within the sails of the Opera House as you take in stunning views of Harbour Bridge. The fabulous chef-hatted Bennelong restaurant is a city favourite, attracting both locals and tourists with its exquisite food and iconic surrounds.
Australian wine and produce are the stars at Bennelong, where celebrated chef Peter Gilmore presents a menu inspired by conversations with passionate farmers, fishermen, breeders and providores nationwide. Raw scallops with oyster cream, hand-shelled mud crab with palm heart corn and white peach bellini are just some of the dishes that keep dedicated foodies coming back for more.
There are few experiences with better views than the summit of Sydney’s Harbour Bridge and a table at Quay or Bennelong, which is why you can choose to combine the bridge climb and an award-winning dining experience with BridgeClimb’s unique Pinnacle: Quay x Bennelong package.
You can’t picture Bondi without seeing the famous pool at Bondi Icebergs Club. Open to the public all year round, a generous lap pool and smaller kids’ pool create a safe swimming environment with lifeguards on hand. A historical Bondi landmark for over 100 years, the pool offers fabulous ocean views as you swim lengths – or simply relax with your toes in the water.
Bondi Icebergs Club doubles up as a great place to refuel post-swim. The casual onsite bistro overlooks Bondi Beach and offers a great selection of wines and classic meals, from Tasmanian mussels to wagyu beef burgers and comforting chicken schnitzel.
It’s always special to see things from a new perspective – and with Sydney HeliTours you can get an incredible birds-eye view of the city’s iconic skyline. Choose from a range of shorter flights and day tours, soaring above Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Bondi or even out to the Blue Mountains. Fly at night to watch Sydney come alive after dark, twinkling with millions of magical lights.
HeliTours’ lunch tours are a truly decadent experience, beginning with a scenic flight over the Harbour, before heading out to Hunter Valley wine country. After a gourmet lunch, you’ll return to the CBD for another glimpse at the city from above.
For more unmissable Sydney moments and inspiration for things to see and do, visit Sydney.com.
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