This is the gateway to all the wonderful things that Sydney Harbour has to offer. Circular Quay in Sydney Cove is bordered by the Sydney Opera House and Royal Botanic Garden on one side and the Sydney Harbour Bridge on the other. It’s also the main ferry terminal in Sydney, making it easy to explore one of the world’s great natural harbours.
Things to do
Catch a ferry ferry across the sparkling harbour to Manly, Watsons Bay, Taronga Zoo or under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and along the Parramatta River to UNESCO World Heritage-listed convict sites in Parramatta. Trains and buses depart the quay too, such as the 333 bus to iconic Bondi Beach.
Check out the exciting events calendar for world-class shows at the Sydney Opera House, a World Heritage-listed architectural masterpiece and then spend the afternoon among native flora at the Royal Botanic Garden and checking out an exhibit at the Calyx, a purpose-built horticultural exhibition space.
Stroll along the western side of the busy transport hub to the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and The Rocks, where the British colony began in 1788. On the other side of the quay, explore Sydney’s dark past at the Justice and Police Museum housed in a former colonial court and police station.
Walk along the foreshore and be rewarded with spectacular views. Stroll under the world’s largest steel arch bridge to Walsh Bay, a theatre precinct with heritage wharves. Follow the same path along the water and you’ll arrive at Barangaroo Reserve and if you continue further down you’ll get to the Barangaroo precinct.
A great range of tours leave from the quay, including guided walks, tall ships, jet boats, delicious lunch and dinner cruises and Aboriginal-led Tribal Warrior Harbour Cruises. Between May and November, whale-watching cruises depart for the ocean outside The Heads to spot humpbacks.
Eat and drink
Dotted around the quay are enticing places to eat and drink, including acclaimed fine dining restaurants Quay, Aria Sydney and Bennelong, which is inside one of the Opera House’s white sails. For stunning harbour views, head for Cafe Sydney on the rooftop of heritage-listed Customs House or Hacienda in the Pullman Quay Grand.
The Gateway food court is home to over 25 fast casual dining options. Nearby, Mary’s Circular Quay does a mean cheeseburger, head to Tapavino for Spanish tapas, Bar Patron offers Mexican fare and Botanic House is a pan-Asian restaurant in the Royal Botanic Garden.
The Squire’s Landing is a brewhouse boasting world class views on the northern end of the Overseas Passenger Terminal and Cruise Bar, in the same building, is all about cocktails. On the other side of the harbour, Opera Bar is a favourite with locals and tourists and Bulletin Place is a great small bar.