10 surprising things to do in Sydney

Brimming with character, Sydney is the quintessential destination for beach-lovers, nature and wildlife enthusiasts, Instagram-savvy cafe hoppers and adventure-seekers.

Destination NSW

Destination NSW

Aug 20 -
min read

Go on a ghost tour of The Rocks

Venture back in time on a historical ghost tour of The Rocks, and maybe even make contact with wandering souls of Sydney past. Lantern Ghost Tours takes guests on a spooky tour through the historic Sydney suburb, under the shadows of Sydney Harbour Bridge, where travellers can listen to eerie tales of public executions, mass burial pits, opium dens and vengeful spirits during a 1.5hr tour.

View of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from Observatory Hill, Millers Point

Observatory Hill, Millers Point

Experience glamping at Taronga Zoo

Take your zoo escapades to the next level with an unforgettable overnight stay at Taronga Zoo Sydney. Here, you’ll be privy to fascinating zoo keeper talks, get to feed and have close encounters with the wildlife, and even go on an exclusive night safari. You can also enjoy spectacular views of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge at the campsite (without the crowds!) – complete with canapés and beverages for the ultimate glamping experience.

Roar and Snore Taronga Zoo at Taronga Zoo

Roar and Snore Taronga Zoo at Taronga Zoo, Mosman

Explore an island in the middle of Sydney Harbour

Cockatoo Island is the largest of 13 islands dotted throughout Sydney Harbour. Take a short ferry ride from the CBD to visit the former convict prison and ship dockyard, now on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. Join a guided walking tour to better understand the island’s history, or take in the gorgeous harbour views from one of many tranquil picnic spots. You can even glamp on the island. The deluxe package includes a furnished tent set on the waterfront for ultimate sunset views.

Family relaxing and roasting marshmallows at their Cockatoo Island waterfront campsite

Cockatoo Island waterfront campsite, Sydney Harbour

Admire the sunrise as you explore Sydney by kayak

Get off land and explore Sydney’s iconic harbour on a kayak. Here, you’ll be able to watch the sunrise in front of the spectacular Sydney Harbour Bridge while sipping on a warm cup of coffee, delivered fresh to the boat ramp before departure. Then explore the beautiful foreshores of Blues Point and Lavender Bay. Don’t fret if you’ve never been in a kayak – this tour is perfect for complete beginners and expert kayakers alike, and is led by experienced guides.

Friends enjoying a day of kayaking on Sydney Harbour

Go on an open-air movie date

Watching a movie may not be top of your usual travel itinerary, however you can't miss an outdoor movie screening overlooking Sydney’s magnificent cityscape. Available from early January to mid-February, we recommend booking tickets with WestPac Open Air for a harbourside movie date like no other. Located at the famous Mrs Macquarie’s point, the movies all come with with stunning views of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background.

The Westpac OpenAir Cinema is located at Fleet Steps, Mrs Macquaries Point, Sydney

Westpac OpenAir Cinema, Sydney

Spend an afternoon at one of Sydney’s secret beaches

You’ve heard of Manly and Bondi Beach. But if you’re looking to escape the crowd and explore Sydney’s hidden jewels, why not head to some of its very own secret beaches? Hire a kayak from Manly Wharf and make your way to Store Beach, a secluded spot that’s perfect for some much needed respite. You can also head down to Chinamans Beach in Mosman for a quiet little picnic or an undisturbed snorkelling adventure.

Chinaman's Beach in Mosman

Chinaman's Beach,  Mosman

Take a guided walking tour

Exploring Sydney by yourself is one thing, but going on a guided walking tour provides an in-depth experience. For a peek into Sydney’s Indigenous history, sign up for the Aboriginal Cultural Tours in Barangaroo, led by a team of Aboriginal educators. For those who are interested in Sydney’s street art scene, join a Sydney Street Art Walking Tour led by local artists and designers, giving you the opportunity to uncover the rich culture of Sydney’s vibrant graffiti art and murals.

Woman learning about Aboriginal culture on a tour with Aboriginal Cultural Tours, Barangaroo Reserve

Aboriginal Cultural Tours, Barangaroo Reserve

Blend your own whisky

Why buy a bottle of whisky when you can blend it yourself? Aside from just going on an ordinary tour of a whisky distillery, get up to some whisky business when you sign yourself up for a masterclass at Archie Rose Distillery – Australia's most highly awarded distillery. Here, you’ll be able to participate in the process of blending a selection of scotch whiskies for a unique flavour profile that suits your palate. Talk about memorable!

See Sydney from above on a Sydney HeliTour

Take in the sights of this gorgeous harbour city from above on a scenic HeliTour, where you’ll be able to spot iconic attractions like Bondi Beach, the Sydney Opera House and even Blue Mountains and the Hunter Valley, all while sitting comfortably in your private helicopter charter flight. You can also choose to fly to locations outside of Sydney, such as to a lunch tour in the Hunter Valley, or to a guided bushwalk in the beautiful Blue Mountains.


Sculpt your own personalised crockery

Learn from Sydney’s best ceramicists, and bring home pots and plates crafted by your own hands when you attend the Intro to Ceramics class at Maker Space & Co. You’ll be able to work the pottery wheel on your own and use trimming tools to create intricate designs on your ceramic masterpieces. Experienced ceramicists can also sign up for some of the more advanced masterclasses for a more in-depth and challenging experience.

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