Sydney: Main Sights
The Cultural Hub of Australia's East Coast
You will never struggle to find something to do in Sydney. Just trying to fit it all in will be the difficulty as Sydney offers a vast array of sights, attractions and activities to suit every holidaymaker. Discover its award-winning museums, magnificent parks and beautiful beaches as well as its stunning harbours and sparkling culture. These are just some of the many world class attractions and sights Sydney that has to offer.
In the summer season Bondi is a thriving cosmopolitan centre for sun, surf and fun as tourists and locals mix on the street and beach to show off their bronzed bodies. The sun-drenched beach is the hub of a large, moon-shaped bay of glorious white sands and breaking surf. Running the length of the beach, and across the bustling Campbell Parade, is a score of eateries, hotels, shops and tourist outlets for determined souvenir seekers. Set immediately behind the shops are apartments and accommodation for as well as a fine selection of restaurants to suit any culinary taste. Bondi can be reached by a mere 30 minute drive from the centre of Sydney leads to the southern entrance of Bondi Beach. Bus 380 from Circular Quay will get you there in about 40 minutes or the train to Bondi Junction, then buses 381 or 382 will drop you off right on the beach as well. The bus from Bondi Junction to the beach takes roughly 15 minutes.
One of Sydney's major family attractions, this former dockside area has been transformed into a major tourist site and leading convention/exhibition centre that boasts an iMax and Aquarium as well as a host of other maritime museums. Frequent monorail services run from the Central Business District to Darling Harbour and makes stops all along points the harbour. In addition to plenty of appeals for the little folk, the advent of the Cockle Wharf restaurant and cafe complex has added a new dimension to Darling Harbour.
In recent years this darkened pocket of Sydney has undergone a substantial makeover and started to evolve into a richly vibrant part of the city. The strip clubs, topless waitresses, adult shops and tacky nightclubs are still there; but small, hipster cafes have sprung up on the fringes of the Cross and are attracting a different type of visitor. King’s Cross is most sleazy at night, when the bright lights come on and the action hots up, but during the day it is a lot less threatening. Visitors to the area should of course be careful, especially at night, as people do get mugged here. But regardless of the incidental dangers, King’s Cross promises some bizarre and brilliant sights and is truly an area composed of people from all walks of life.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of Sydney's most iconic landmarks and offers unique views of the city and Pacific. Completed in 1932, the bridge was an admirable economic feat as well as a significant engineering achievement. Known locally as the "Coat Hanger", the bridge was manufactured in segments on a site that is now occupied by Luna Park funfair. The arch spans 503 metres (1650 feet) and supports the weight of the bridge deck, with hinges at either end bearing the bridge's full weight and spreading the load to the foundations. The hinges allow the structure to move as the steel expands and contracts in response to wind and changes in temperatures. Officially opened in March 1932, The Sydney Harbour Bridge is a must see for all visitors. Highly recommended is the Pylon Lookout, which offers a fascinating insight into how the bridge was built. Entry to the Pylon is from the pedestrian walkway on the Harbour Bridge. You can get to the walkway via the stairs in Cumberland Street, The Rocks, or from near Milsons Point Station on the north side.
Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House, prominently situated on Sydney Harbour at Bennelong Point, is recognised by many to be one of the genuine wonders of the modern world. Designed by Jørn Utzon and constructed under some controversy, it was opened in October 1973. The Opera House is one of Sydney's most popular icons with tourists and travellers alike the world over, who stand in awe of what represents the cultural centre of Sydney. Performances by various companies are being conducted all year round at the Opera House with tickets for performances of Opera, Ballet and Symphony Orchestra easily available. Alternatively, a one or two hour tour allows you to take in the extraordinary history, breathtaking architecture and take you behind-the-scenes workings. A must for all visitors to Sydney.
Taronga Zoo is the nation's foremost zoological garden, featuring Australia's finest assortment of native animals as well as a diverse collection of rare and exotic species. What sets Taronga apart is its location: situated at an elevated perch along the waterfront in a beautiful vantage point on Sydney Harbour, it overlooks Sydney Cove, the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. So as you make your way along the weaving paths among the animal enclosures, you are also able to enjoy magnificent harbour views. The Taronga Zoo has its own jetty so you can always hop off a boat and stroll directly into the zoo. Braver visitors who wish to get up close to the animals should also consider the ‘Animal Encounters’ experience. For a small charge you can, with the assistance of several rangers, enter the enclosures of some of animals on display and have your picture taken with them.
The Australian National Maritime Museum
The Australian National Maritime Museum has thousands of exhibits on display depicting every acre of Australia's maritime history and traditions - from ancient Aboriginal times right up to the present day. Visitors get to see what life was like on the convict ships; how Australia "rode on the whale's back"; how its first submarine fought bravely (and lost) in World World I at Gallipoli; what people packed when they sailed to a new life on these shores; why surfboards have become shorter and much more. There are displays, hands-on exhibits, a cinema and the latest museum computer games, with guided tours on offer at no cost. Visitors can also choose to go aboard the HMAS Vampire, the former Royal Australian Navy destroyer. A complete guided tour shows how the crew lived, worked and relaxed.
The Chinese Garden of Friendship
The Chinese Garden of Friendship can be located at the south end of Darling harbour and is a short walk from Chinatown. The gardens capture a quiet solitude the ancient Chinese architecture and it's relationship with nature; combining the elements of water, plants, stone and architecture. Running water, towering willow trees, cool lagoons with lotus plants and large colourful fish all make this an idyllic spot for anyone looking for somewhere out of the ordinary. The gardens occupy several acres combining waterfalls, lakes, pavilions, sculpture and animals. The key features to look out for are the Courtyard of Welcoming Fragrance, Dragon Wall, Water Pavilion of Lotus Fragrance, Twin Pavilion, Gurr, Rock Forest, and the Penjing.
The Rocks is one of the most-visited areas of Sydney. Upon arrival, it is not hard to see why. Resting at the foot of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on the western shores of Sydney Cove, The Rocks is the foundation place of Sydney and Australia, and of enormous historical significance to the region. Often described as “Sydney's outdoors museum”, The Rocks are the oldest area of Sydney and have recently being transformed into a vibrant pocket of cafes and restaurants as well as a clutch attention-grabbing tourist shops and stalls. Sydney's town planners have put in place a sensitive conservation program that has preserved the heritage and character of The Rocks and brought about an interesting fusion of modern amenities in an old and valued setting. Most activities centre around walking, looking and eating. The Rocks is Sydney's oldest preserved colonial district so the main emphasis is on the historical importance of the area.
The Royal Botanic Gardens
The Royal Botanic Gardens are situated just a short walk from the Sydney Opera House, and offer up some of the most breathtakingly beautiful settings you are likely to see anywhere, with acres of lush garden filling an area of land between the harbour and the eastern part of the central business district. The gardens sit on the side of an undulating piece of land and the harbour views from halfway up the hill are superb. The gardens have over one million specimens and there is also small train service catering for the less energetic. The gardens are an excellent place to escape the noise of Sydney and are situated quite close to some of the major city hotels around Hyde Park. They open daily at 6.30am and close at sunset. Entry to the gardens is free.