Sydney Harbour Bridge
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of the world’s most recognisable landmarks. Not only is it the largest steel arch bridge on the planet, but it also spans one of the globe’s finest natural harbours. Affectionately named the Coathanger by locals, it’s an intrinsic part of the city; you can walk or cycle across it and even climb to its peak for incredible views.
The iconic bridge took eight years to build and opened in 1932. It’s made of 53,000 tonnes of steel and six million hand-driven rivets. During construction, the two steel halves of the towering arch met in the middle of the span on 19 August 1930 at 10pm.
Other fascinating facts about the famous Australian bridge include:
- The arch spans 503 metres.
- The top is 134 metres above the water.
- The pylon granite was quarried near Moruya, on the NSW South Coast.
- The father of the bridge is J.J.C. Bradfield, an engineer.
Things to do
The bridge walk is on the eastern side. Start at the pedestrian crossing near the Australian Heritage Hotel, on Cumberland Street in the historic Rocks, and follow the stairs up. As part of the walk, you’ll pass the south-eastern Pylon Lookout, which offers a spectacular panorama.
The cycleway is on the western side of the bridge. Access is near the Sydney Observatory, a beautiful heritage-listed building with telescopes for stargazing. You can hire bicycles in the city or join a guided tour such as Sydney Bike Tours or Bonza Bike Tours.
BridgeClimb Sydney is a truly unique experience that will take you to the top for 360-degree views of Sydney and beyond. BridgeClimb is on Cumberland Street, near where the road curves under the bridge and stairs go down to a colonial military battery at Dawes Point (Ta-Ra) Park.
Hop on a ferry to marvel at the bridge from another angle. Take a ferry from Circular Quay past the bridge and the Sydney Opera House to Taronga Zoo, Manly or Watsons Bay. Or glide underneath the bridge to destinations including Barangaroo, Darling Harbour, Cockatoo Island and Parramatta.
A harbour cruise is also a delightful option. There’s a delicious range of options, including lunch, high tea, sunset cocktails or dinner cruises. There are wonderful sailing tours, too. For a bird’s-eye view, fly in a seaplane from Rose Bay or a helicopter from Mascot.
Eat & drink
The Sydney Harbour Bridge’s location in The Rocks means you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to surrounding heritage pubs. The Australian Heritage Hotel and The Glenmore are both on Cumberland Street and around the corner, the Harbour View Hotel is situated just under the bridge. Sit outside and look up.
Dine at nearby restaurants along Walsh Bay and The Rocks, such as fine diner The Gantry at Pier One Sydney Harbour, which is just around the corner from the bridge. If you want views of it while you dine, catch a ferry to the north side of the harbour and pull up a seat at Sails on Lavender Bay or head to Altitude Restaurant at Shangri-La Hotel Sydney for a seriously ‘wow’ panorama.
Four of Sydney's best fine dining restaurants sit enjoy bridge vistas. 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.