Sydney Harbour

Sydney Harbour is known for being home to the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but there's so much more to discover. Spend some time here and you'll be awed by its natural beauty, from hidden beaches to pristine bushland and charming islands that are made for exploring.



Things to do

If you want to explore the harbour on water, hop on a ferry at Circular Quay and glide past the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Taronga Zoo or Manly. Choose from a myriad of harbour cruises, including lunch cruises and tall ships, or go kayaking or boating. To learn about the harbour's fascinating history, join an Aboriginal tour.

Credit: BridgeClimb Sydney

BridgeClimb Sydney, Sydney Harbour

Did you know the harbour is also known as Port Jackson? Discover more about the area on one of the various walks that take in stunning Sydney landmarks. One of the world's best city walks is from Woolloomooloo to Barangaroo, stopping at the Royal Botanic Garden and Mrs Macquaries Chair for a perfect postcard selfie. Alternatively, hire a bike or join a guided tour and explore on two wheels.

Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney

View from Mrs Macquarie's Chair in the Royal Botanic Gardens

Spot native wildlife at Sydney Harbour National Park, such as rainbow lorikeets and crimson rosellas. It's also home to The Heads, the dramatic sandstone cliffs at the entrance of the harbour, which protect the surrounding harbour islands.

Islands that should be on your bucket list include Cockatoo Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Australian convict site. 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 as it spans out, plus a little history, scale the heights of the Sydney Harbour Bridge with BridgeClimb. Or you can climb aboard a seaplane with Sydney Seaplanes or Sydney by Seaplane, taking off from Rose Bay and looping the harbour so you can see it from all angles.

Sydney Seaplanes, Rose Bay

Sydney Seaplanes, Rose Bay

Events on the harbour

The harbour is also used as an awe-inspiring backdrop to huge events, such as the electrifying Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks. Opera Australia stages an annual opera on the harbour in March and April, the Vivid Sydney festival illuminates harbour icons in May and June, and it’s the starting point of the thrilling Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race on Boxing Day

View across Sydney Harbour during Vivid Sydney

View across Sydney Harbour during Vivid Sydney

Eat & drink

Four of Sydney's best fine dining restaurants sit on the water’s edge. QuayAria 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.

Cafe Sydney at Circular Quay

Views at Cafe Sydney, Circular Quay - Credit: Cafe Sydney

The vista is just as magical, and the prices are more budget-friendly, at more casual venues along the edge of the water. Opera Bar has a prime position underneath the Sydney Opera House, then there’s Hyde HaciendaBar Patron, Graze MCA, Cruise Bar, The Glenmore and The Squire’s Landing.

Couple enjoying champagne with harbour views at Opera Bar in Circular Quay, Sydney City

Opera Bar, Circular Quay

Altitude Restaurant at the Shangri-La Sydney takes things to new heights, featuring what has to be the best indoor view of the harbour in the city. The vista is just as stunning at nearby InterContinetnal Sydney's rooftop bar Aster. At Milsons Point, Ripples practically sits directly underneath the Harbour Bridge and has outdoor seating to best enjoy the scenery, while in Pyrmont, LuMi Dining matches its enviable outlooks with delicious degustations.

In the Barangaroo precinct, a number of venues offer dining with a water view, including Zushi, Cirrus, Lotus, Bea and Smoke. Heading east, Catalina enjoys panoramas over Rose Bay; Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel and Doyle's both dish up seafood with views of the city skyline; and at Woolloomooloo’s Finger Wharf, Otto, Il Pontile, Kingleys and Alibi make the most of their alfresco harbour-side setting.   

Friends enjoying food and drink at Otto Ristorante, Woolloomooloo

OTTO Sydney, Woolloomooloo

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