Welcome to one of the world’s most beautiful natural harbours. Sydney Harbour has it all; sparkling blue waters, iconic tourists attractions, hidden beaches, pristine bushland, pretty botanic gardens brimming with native flora and charming islands that are made for exploring.
Things to do
Hop on a ferry at Circular Quay and glide past the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Taronga Zoo. There are all kinds of harbour cruises, including lunch cruises, tall ships and an Aboriginal cultural heritage cruise. Boating is popular too if you know how to steer a ship.
Walking is great way to see the harbour, which is also known as Port Jackson. You’ll find various walks with superb views of Sydney’s famous landmarks. One of the best city walks in the world is from Woolloomooloo to Barangaroo, stopping at Mrs Macquaries Chair for a perfect postcard selfie.
Spot native wildlife at Sydney Harbour National Park which includes The Heads, the dramatic sandstone cliffs at the entrance of the harbour, protects the surrounding harbour islands. Pockets of bushland are home to colourful birds, such as rainbow lorikeets and crimson rosellas and you can see little penguins near Manly wharf.
You can take a ferry to Cockatoo Island, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Australian convict sites. Fort Denison’s sandstone Martello Tower is the only one of its kind in Australia. Garden Island is home to a naval museum, the Royal Australian Navy Heritage Centre and Shark Island is a lovely spot for a picnic.
For a bird’s-eye view of the harbour’s splendour, scale the heights of the Sydney Harbour Bridge with BridgeClimb. The tour also includes a history of the bridge and the harbour. Another option is riding on a seaplane which takes off from Rose Bay and loops the harbour so you can see it from all angles.
The harbour is also a famous world stage. The Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks are a dazzling celebration, lighting up the skies and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The Vivid Sydney festival illuminates harbour icons in May and June, and the thrilling start to Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race is on Boxing Day. (Unfortunately the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race has been cancelled for 2020.)
Eat and drink
The harbour is home to four of the best fine dining restaurants in Sydney; Quay, Aria and Bennelong, which is set inside the sails of the Sydney Opera House are all right on the harbour. Café Sydney is on the rooftop of Customs House and the view takes in the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.
The view is just as magical, and the prices more budget friendly, at more casual venues that are also set along the edge of the harbour. Opera Bar has prime position underneath the Sydney Opera House then there’s Sydney Cove Oyster Bar, Hacienda, Bar Patron, Graze MCA, Cruise Bar and The Squire’s Landing.